Composing : Music Cue sheet by Cary Patrick Martin

Cary Patrick Martin

Music Cue sheet

Has anyone done a music cue sheet for a film before??? A friend of mine has questions. Let me know and I'll connect you.

Joel Irwin

I am certain you will get some composers here who have done cue sheets, but let me point out one other great source. In fact, as it goes with any industry or line of work, there is an 'educational' component and certainly that is true for music composition for film - both artistic and business. Now of course, learning about spotting and cue sheets I am sure is part of any course of film scoring, but courses have textbooks. And while I can not say they all use the same one or that there are some 'standard' / 'well known' textbooks out there, here is one I am certain many agree is one that should be on every film composer's shelf. While I personally feel that these texts pertain more to higher budget and studio feature films and not necessarily to lower budget independent shorts (where they have never heard of spotting, cues, temp tracks and the rest of our jargon), I still highly recommend this text be purchased and read cover to cover. Chapter 11, "The Music Editor" in particular does a great job on cue sheets. The text is definitely part of my book shelf and has been amply highlighted in yellow:

Cary Patrick Martin

Thanks so much, Joel!

Joel Irwin

Brandi - cue sheets serve two purposes in my mind. Ultimately, as you say, it is what is used to pay the composer. There are many different 'types' of cues which are paid at different rates. The cue sheet becomes very important for TV & Cable associated payments and for foreign theatrical showings (by law royalties are not paid for US theater showings). But initially, cue sheets act as a written set of instructions, as an agreement, shall we say as to what/where the composer will be creating music. Cue sheets are used almost always for studio films and films with higher budgets (where ther are many 'stakeholders' in what music is created). As the number of people and budgets get smaller, so does any 'paperwork' including cue sheets. As many of us here work on shorts and lower budget features, cue sheets are rare. Filmmakers and directors who have never or rarely worked with a composer have no idea what the composer does and are grateful they have music at all and so more often than not, they just ask the composer to create the score and give it them without any input at all. That is why you likely have yet to create a cue sheet. Only one of the filmmakers I have worked with has become involved with the creation of music and with him I used an Excel spreadsheet with columns similar to a cue sheet describing the location, length and type of cue. Only one other filmmaker knew anything about spotting/cue sheets but like all the other filmmakers I have worked with, just told me to score and give them the result. There is a lot more 'trust' at the lower end and as you know, short films don't generate revenue (at least none of mine have so far) necessitating a cue sheet for royalty payments.

Cary Patrick Martin

Yes, my friend is filling out the paperwork for an indie he's producing. As I understand from him, he now has all the info he needs. Thank you so much, this has been a huge help.

Timothy Andrew Edwards And ALWAYS file a cue sheet regardless of budget, where it's performed, etc because the film, etc may show up on cable, network tv, etc.

Ace Vaptsarov

Hi Cary! I've done a bunch of cue sheets, clearance logs and also dubbing logs on Excel spreadsheet. Let me know if you still need someone to do the work or help out! :)

Maurice Mcgee


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