What is a Music Editor?
The Music Editor curates all of the music featured in a production, including the soundtrack, any music performed within the scenes, and the score – produced by the Film Composer.
The key duties of a Music Editor
The Music Editor’s job usually begins during the picture editing process. Working closely with the Picture Editor, they develop a temporary score, made up of sourced music, which gives both the Editor and the Composer a broad template and a basic idea of what the final result will be.
They then attend a Spotting Session with the Director, Picture Editor, Music Supervisor, Producer and Composer. The purpose of this Session is to identify all the music cue points and produce a written template to start composing the score, and possibly a Cue Breakdown.
Music Editors have to keep the Composer updated on any changes in the picture editing, as they may influence the composition itself. They are responsible for designing a click track for the film, to be used during the recordings to help musicians keep the right tempo and be perfectly in sync with the picture. They attend all of the recording sessions to make any last-minute changes and to supervise the final result.
They work with a mixer to produce different mixes of the tracks, making sure that the sound is in perfect harmony with the picture and dialogue. They lay all of the tracks down on computer software and get ready for the Final Mix, where they will be able to hear the final result and fix any last-minute issues.
At the end of the editing, they have to prepare the Cue sheet, with all of the music featured in the film, so that the competent bodies can be informed and royalties can be paid each time the film is screened.
A Musical ear and musicality skills are clearly a requirement of this role, together with a thorough knowledge of the production, recording and mixing processes. A vast repertoire of music knowledge is also hugely valuable, in order to have a wider choice when thinking of the appropriate score for a movie.
Technical skills and experience with audio and video editing software are also necessary for this role, together with good efficiency, concentration and a sense of timing.
How to become a Music Editor
There is no typical career path for this role but, after graduating, you can expect to start as a trainee or a Runner in the post-production sound department, before working your way up, progressing to a Sound Editor or Re-recording Mixer role and then specialising from there within the Music department.
Alternatively, independent post-production studios offer entry-level positions. Larger motion pictures and television series will look to hire interns.
A degree in Music, Sound Technology, Sound Engineering or a related subject is often required, and a postgraduate qualification might also be beneficial. The MetFilm School offers a variety of undergraduate, post-graduate and short courses for those looking to pick up some extra qualifications.
If you are just starting out, you could look to volunteer at local community productions or radio stations to gain some experience before trying for an entry-level role such as a Runner.
Salary and working hours
While specific salaries for Music Editors are not available online, BECTU provides the rates for editors working across feature films, TV dramas and factual and entertainment. An editorial trainee can expect to earn £632.50 for a 55-hour week on a low budget production for a feature film. On a premium production, they can expect to earn £825 for a 55-hour week. You can view all the rates here.
Where can it take you?
The next step in the Sound Post-production department would be progressing to a Music Supervisor role.
Become a Music Editor today
If you are ready for the next step in your career, why not take a look at the latest Music Editor vacancies on our jobs board? You can view our latest vacancies here.