Soundtrack and Score


What is the difference between soundtrack and score? A simple way to think about it is:

  • Score is a composition written specifically for film. John Williams, Ennio Morricone, and Trent Reznor write score for films. Score has motif and may be diagetic or non-diagetic. The Imperial March is score.
  • Soundtrack refers to music that adds musical texture to a film. Soundtrack can be songs characters sing or songs that play over title sequences.

As an SFTV filmmaker, you have several options for music in your project.  


There are many talented composers and musicians (many are your fellow classmates) who offer their services for your projects.  

Don’t forget to have a written agreement with your composer! You can download the agreement here


SFTV students have access to Score Keepers Music Library. Score Keepers is a service where you can download high quality songs and film scores. Access is free for SFTV students. For login information, contact the RECA desk or email Jim Watts.


You may want to consider using music that is in the public domain. This means that the copyright has expired and is no longer held by an individual or entity. These are usually much older songs, but give a good, cheap option. Visit this link to see a list of available options.  


All previously published music or pre-recorded must be cleared, regardless of how much or how little of that music is used in your project. Failure to get permission to use a piece of music opens you to a potential lawsuit from the owners of the copyright. 

Keep in mind there are different rights associated with any piece music. The three that you as a filmmaker need to be concerned with are: 

Synchronization Rights  – are the rights to record music as a part of your film. They are usually controlled by one (or more) publishers. Having Synchronization Rights gives you the ability to use the underlying composition (song, lyrics or melody) in timed synchronization with your picture. 

Performance Rights – getting this right allows you to recite, play, sing, dance or act out a piece of music.  

Master Use License– this is a contract to license a recording. It is usually controlled by a Record Company. 

The following companies can help you find out who owns the music you are interested in and also help with securing the proper rights. They do so for a fee, however. 

ASCAP Clearance Express 
Clearance Desk: 
BMI Hyper Repertoire Internet 
Customer Service:
Licensing Assistance:
Harry Fox Agency  
Theatrics Department:


The fees for the use of pre-recorded and/or published music are based on a number of factors including how the music will be used, the duration and the number of times the music will be used and where the film will be exhibited. 

Synch fees usually run between $15,000 and $50,000 for commercial productions. Fees are always negotiable and not all record companies and music publishers charge the same amount. Students can negotiate reduced fees for educational screenings and film festivals. 

Composer Roster

Below are a list of contacts from musicians who have expressed an interest in working with students on their films. These contacts are neither vetted or LMU-based. Do your due diligence!

  • Name: Octavio Tomás Rombolá
    • Email:
    • Phone Number: +5491158440107
    • Bio: Buenos Aires, Argentina – based music composer for films and video games.
    • Music Composition Reel
    • Website
  • Name: Christian Engquist
    • Email:
    • Phone Number: 323 492-3802  
    • Bio: “I am a Swedish composer who recently completed the Certificate for the Film Scoring Program at UCLA Extension. I also have a Master’s Degree from the Royal College of Music in Stockholm. After many years of composing and producing music in a lot of genres, I have decided to focus on film music.”
    • Past Work #1
    • Past Work #2
    • Website
  • Name: Andreas Russo
    • Bio: “Composer, sound designer, Berklee College of Music graduate and Berlinale Talents alumnus. Over the course of 10 years I have worked on three features, several dozen shorts, and a few TV episodes. My general approach to film scoring is somewhat minimalistic. As one of the many colors in the director’s palette, I believe music should be used sparingly and I work hard to try and maximize its impact with the least amount of notes possible. I find that the story is generally best served when the score focuses on its subtext rather than what’s on the surface, as that highlights different narrative layers and elevates the scene into more than the sum of its parts.”
    • Reel

Music Licensing Companies

Below is a list of further resources for finding music for your film:

  • Company: The Rights
    • Website
    • Cost: Fee+10% service that includes clearance of all rights for a track
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