This Grad Chooses Songs for Hit TV Shows

As the Senior Director of Music Supervision at Raedio, Eric Medina selects music for TV shows and movies.

Eric Medina smiles at the camera. He is wearing a black zip-up jacket, black t-shirt, and gold chain necklace.

Full Sail grad Eric Medina was always interested in the intersection of music and television.

“Instead of just listening to songs and resonating with the lyrics and the vibe, I would always associate them with characters or shows… Even starting as a kid, I used to annoy my mom when commercials would come on, and I would say, ‘What's the name of that song? I like that song.’ Or I would hear songs on the radio when I was like five or eight years old and say, ‘Hey, Mom, this song would go good in a Toyota commercial,’” he laughs.

Today, Eric is matching music to TV shows and movies on a professional level. He’s done music supervision for shows like Sweet Life: Lost Angeles, Queens, Godfather of Harlem, The Horror of Dolores Roach, and the upcoming Hotel Cocaine. He’s currently the Senior Director of Music Supervision at Raedio.

Eric wasn’t aware that finding music for movies and TV shows was an actual job until he studied audio production and music business at Full Sail. He got to experience the process firsthand in his Music Supervision class.

“I remember we had a project in the Music Supervision course where we took a film that had no music, and then we had to add music to it from [Full Sail’s] music library. I remember I told the other kids in my group, ‘Hey, if you guys don't want to do that much on this project, it's totally okay because this is one I really, really want to do.’ I just kind of fell in love with it,” Eric remembers.

After Eric graduated, he spent a few years climbing the industry ladder from internships to full-time roles in creative sync and music supervision. He finally landed in his current role at Raedio, an independent music production company founded and led by actress Issa Rae.

Music supervisors oversee all aspects of the music that goes into movies and TV shows. They creatively assess where a piece of music should go, manage budgets, work with composers, communicate with a project’s producers and directors, and work with record labels and publishers to get clearance rights for songs. Eric is involved with a show or movie for the entire production process.

“When we start [working on] a show, we have to read the scripts and assess where all the music moments could happen. [For example, the script could say that the characters] go into a restaurant and there's a band playing in the background. So we coordinate with the producers and talk about, if there's a live band, do you know what kind of music they’re going to be playing? We'll have to license the music beforehand and clear all the music that they're going to shoot to,” Eric explains.

“And that's just one scenario. Sometimes in scripts they'll say that there's a montage moment of scenes happening, and they might want a song there. Sometimes they want original music, so they want us to create original songs for a show,” he continues.

Selecting music for a project is more complicated than choosing a song that’s enjoyable — a music supervisor has to choose songs that serve the project’s creative vision.

“We can't be biased and add a song just because we like it. It's more about tapping into the director's mind and the showrunner's mind and trying to figure out what they’re going for creatively. Is this song going to help drive the creative direction of the show? Do these songs apply to specific characters lyrically?... We pitch the direction that we're thinking, and then the producers tell us what they're thinking, and then we just figure out what the sound of the show is going to be. The network and the studio also get involved; everyone has a say of what they want creatively. So as music supervisors, we have to kind of service every single person,” he says.

In addition to managing the needs of different people on a project, Eric juggles multiple projects at once. Right now, he’s working on three documentaries, a movie, and two scripted shows. On a typical day, he might be reading scripts and highlighting music moments for one project, going to set for an on-camera music performance for a second project, and clearing songs for an episode of a TV show.

Eric’s balancing his responsibilities well: In 2022, he won the Guild of Music Supervisors award for Best Music Supervision — Reality Television for season one of Sweet Life: Los Angeles. He’s also excited about his work on the upcoming series Hotel Cocaine, a 1970s thriller from the creator of Narcos with a soundtrack that’s “wall-to-wall disco and Latin music.” His advice to up-and-coming music supervisors is to get started early.

“The best way [to get involved in music supervision] is to try to get in early at an internship while you're in college… Music supervisors always keep a list of potential interns and potential coordinators. Don’t be shy to reach out, say a little bit about yourself, share your interests. Go to as many sync events as you can. There are sync events everywhere that just talk about music supervision… By surrounding yourself with the sync/licensing or music supervision world, you’ll be networking with all the right people you’ll need to know to help land your first internship or job.”