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Job Title: Music Clearance

Job Overview

Responsible for obtaining clearances for all music used in film and television projects and trailers produced by the company.

Special Skills

A background in music publishing or knowledge of music licensing is required. “You have to be able to handle multiple tasks at the same time,” say music clearance executive Julie Butchco. “Literally, you're talking on the phone, researching a song, making notes as you're going along, and thinking about what your next step is as far as clearing or finding a song. You have to be organized. You have many different projects at different junctures. You're working on movies that are in postproduction and movies that are done, from the initial clearing of songs, to writing up the cue sheets and registering copyrights. You really have to be resourceful, as far as tracking down the owners of songs and the artists that recorded them, and who owns the master rights.”

What do you like least about your job?

“All the paperwork that lingers on for months on end, sometimes after a film is done. I wish things could be wrapped up as quickly as they are started.”Julie Butchco

What do you love most about your job?

“I love the feeling you get when you can finally clear a song with an artist or the songwriter. A song that your director really wants and you know it's going to be great for the film, but it's a really hard clearance, or it might be particularly expensive. Just knowing that in the end you got the approval, and you got it at a price that you thought was fair, and you know that everyone was just waiting for that song to clear because they really wanted it in their movie. It's a really great feeling to know you helped.”Julie Butchco

Advice for Someone Seeking This Job

“Don't be embarrassed to start out as an assistant,” say Butchco. “Soak up any possible information that you can while you're at that desk. When you're an assistant, you hear a lot more about what's going on, about all kinds of different transactions and pieces of business that you may not necessarily hear if you're just in one specific position in an office. I think when you're an assistant you have a good opportunity to be exposed to a lot of different sides of the business. You can learn how things are done and at what stage they're done.”

Professional Profile: Julie Butchco, Music Clearance for DreamWorks


* “It's important to be open and honest.”—Julie Butchco

* Build relationships with fellow clearance people that you can ask for advice and to compare deals and pricing with.Julie Butchco

Julie Butchco's introduction to the entertainment business came as a result of her high school student government activities, when she was assigned to hire bands and organize performers for school dances. Upon entering the University of California at Santa Barbara, she considered going into entertainment law, but wasn't convinced she wanted to be an attorney. “I just decided to get a job in the industry and see if I liked it.”

Sending out résumés and going on interviews failed to produce results, until a cousin was able to get Butchco an interview with the producer of The Young and the Restless through a contact with one of the show's writers. The interview was purely informational, as the show had no openings, but did result in a referral to a producer at Columbia Pictures Television. That interview got her hired as an assistant in the television licensing department.

After a few years in television licensing, Butchco landed an assistant position in film licensing. Not anticipating another move quite so soon, it came as a surprise when a friend called in 1996 to say he had suggested her for a position at newly-created DreamWorks, and advised her to call Todd Homme for an interview.

Many candidates were anxious to work at the prestigious new studio, but Butchco was a perfect fit for the job of clearing music for film and television. Since joining DreamWorks, she has worked on numerous projects, including box office hits Almost Famous and Gladiator, and two Best Picture Academy Award winning films: Saving Private Ryan and American Beauty.

Additional topics

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