'Vampire Diaries' music supervisor: How 'The O.C.' started a trend that could save indie music

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Image Credit: Everett Collection

If you want to hear about the latest Katy Perry song or find out when Miley Cyrus’ sure-to-offend new album comes out, all you have to do is open the page of any magazine, check out the homepage of any (and every) blog, or just head on over to your favorite form of social media and see what’s buzzing. But how do you discover smaller indie bands anymore? If they’re not creating chaos at an awards show or topping the Billboard charts, it’s not always as obvious as music fans would like it to be. Enter Chris Mollere, music supervisor for hit shows The Vampire Diaries and Pretty Little Liars.

Mollere recently spoke to Rolling Stone about how he sees his job as an opportunity to feature great bands, both known and unknown, on a possibly unexpected (but rather large) platform — television — a trend that he credits to the 2003 hit show The O.C.

The O.C. was where music really jumped out at me on TV,” Mollere said. “Easy Rider was one of the first movies to have a song soundtrack, but The O.C. was the show that changed that format on television and showed that you could do things like have a song with lyrics play during a scene with dialogue. Before The O.C., that was not an accepted thing. The O.C. also broke bands like Death Cab and the Killers. A placement on that show took bands to another level.”

Now the supervisor on two dramas known for their great music moments, Mollere seizes every opportunity to feature lesser-known indie artists, such as MsMr, Telekinesis, Arctic Monkeys, Yuck, Cults, and more. But Mollere doesn’t leave the audience on its own to Shazam what they’ve just heard. During episodes of TVD and PLL, Mollere tweets the song lists. And that level of accessibility is what Mollere thinks could save the indie music industry.

“I started as a music fan and musician first, so when we hear that artists are getting bumps in sales after we feature them on the show, that’s great, especially because no one is buying records these days,” Mollere said. “My big goal is to keep artists as artists. I don’t want artists to be working in a coffee shop or selling real estate. They need to be making music. If they can be working as musicians that means there will be better music out there for everybody.”

So perhaps the best mouthpiece for smaller acts right now is to be the background music to a Delena kiss or an Ezria kiss, because you never know when another O.C.-Imogen Heap or even a Grey’s Anatomy-Snow Patrol moment will catch fire.

As Mollere put it: “The music industry is in limbo right now. And I think film and TV placements are a really important part of the solution. Music supervision is going to be a very huge part of the music industry. We need to allow creative people to be creative and by using their music in television shows, everyone benefits.”

Can we get a “Hallelujah“?

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