Out Take with Deva Anderson

Music Supervisor

Website: imdb.com/name/nm0026620/

Most recent: Masters of the Air

Deva Anderson’s expansive career in the music industry initially began on the business side, working at publishing companies, in band management and at Hits magazine. But a pull to the creative side got her interning with music supervisors and eventually landing a music supervision role for That Thing You Do!, working alongside Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman. The gig with the hit '96 musical was career-changing: Anderson was hired as Head of Music for Hanks’ production company, Playtone, where she has overseen all in-house productions for the past 25 years in addition to working as an independent music supervisor. Since then, she’s worked across the genres and with directors such as Denis Villeneuve and Jonathan Demme. 

 “The distinctive styles of different directors it what makes this job continually renewing. There are some who have a very clear idea of what the music should be like for their project, and there are some who have no idea and can only talk about music emotionally—then it becomes almost like a game of psychology. Both are fun. [Music supervision] is one of the only roles where you’re involved with a project from start to finish, which means you’re on a ride with the director.” 

Anderson says music supervision is more than just sourcing and licensing songs, and courses—such as those offered through UCLA Extension—can be helpful to aspiring music supervisors in understanding the different facets of the job, including in the areas of publishing and music law.  

Having worked on many documentaries and period projects, Anderson sometimes faces the challenge of figuring out the appropriate sounds or songs for a time period with little documentation on music. “For projects like that, you have to go deeper and maybe work with a musicologist. That’s the type of research I love to do—unfolding deeper layers for historical projects,” she says.