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How MTV’s ‘Catfish’ Gets Its Music


Nev Schulman and Max Joseph of MTV’s “Catfish: The TV Show”

It’s easy to miss all the music that’s in a single episode of your favorite TV show whether it’s a hip-hop song giving the scene a boost of attitude, or a string instrumental swelling with the protagonist’s emotional heartbreak.

Music supervisors are the maestros of this medium, and every show has one. That’s why I was excited to talk with Sam Carlin music supervisor for the hit MTV series, “Catfish: The TV Show,” which recently wrapped up its sixth season. He shared some of the industry’s secrets and revealed how to successfully score a moving half-hour of content. Here’s our chat:

Danny Ross: Is there a specific style you’re going for in the music of the show?

Sam Carlin: One of my favorite things about “Catfish” is that there isn’t really a super specific style that we go for, except that everything is a bit indie and left-of-center. I personally love music that sounds a little different or quirky  interesting voices or instrumentation. We run the gamut using folk, rock, punk, singer-songwriter, hip-hop, all sorts of genres  but they all have a more indie, quirky feel to them.

Ross: What does a music supervisor do exactly?

Carlin: We supervise all the music in a show whether that means picking the songs, composers, instrumentals, vocals or even sound effects sometimes. It’s also choosing the theme song or anything sung within the show. And then we license it. I think the biggest thing I had to learn when I became a music supervisor was to listen to music not just for my own pleasure, but with the frame of mind to see what would work for the show  putting in the best music possible to support

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