He’s known as Broke Mogul, and his specialty is hustling up just the right songs to play with your Entourage or when you’re struggling with How to Make It in America.
In the credits for those HBO shows, he’s listed as Scott Vener, music supervisor. That means he makes it his business to know the hottest music and make sure it gets into the series upon which he’s working. To do that, Vener works the internet to stay ahead of the curve, scouring blogs and Twitter (follow him at @brokemogul), maintaining his own Tumblr and even putting out a mixtape for How to Make It in America’s new season (download it as a .zip file or stream it below).
More than almost anything, Vener is a master at the art of finding a killer track for the closing credits of an episode. See, for example, his use of James Blake’s “The Wilhelm Scream” on Entourage when Vincent and Turtle bust in on a friend who has just put a gun to his head (Vener almost went with Beanie Sigel’s “One Shot Deal”). Or Vener’s use of Led Zeppelin’s “Going to California” for Entourage’s season finale last month.
Wired.com asked Vener about his tricks of the trade, the uncanny way he became a music supervisor and what he enjoys most about his job. We also got him to talk about one of the best music cues he ever arranged — coming up in Sunday’s episode of How to Make It in America.
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“I was sitting in [friend and Entourage creator] Doug Ellin’s living room before HBO picked up the pilot. He said, ‘I want you to check out my show and tell me what you think.’ We started watching it and he was like, ‘Why aren’t you laughing?’ and I’m like, ‘Because the music is so bad I can’t really pay attention to the jokes.’ [Eds. note: Burn.] He said, ‘If you think you can do better, do it, but just watch it.’ I liked the show a lot and afterwards he sort of asked me for a few songs, and I handed them to him. Then when the show got picked up and they were going into Episode 2 and 3, he was still asking me [for songs] and I was just like, ‘I’m sure there’s no room for me in your budget now, but why don’t you just make me a consultant on the show?’”
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“I would say right now that the internet is the biggest contributor to the music that ends up in my iTunes. Music blogs, recommendations, seeing what people talk about on Twitter. I have a pretty active role on Twitter. I use it more as tool than just telling people what I’m doing.”
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How to Sort Through All the Subsequent Tracks: Multiple iTunes Lists
“As I listen, I have folders in my iTunes where I will say, ‘OK this is a potential end-credits song because I feel like it’s a big song, or it’s really emotional, or it adds value.’ When it comes time to work on a scene I’ll decided what’s needed. As soon as I get the first producers’ cut, I’ll put in the songs I want to use. I’ll take my cue from producers. I’ll see where they’re trying to with it. The end-credits stuff is just finding the right moment. Give them three different tones. I don’t even enjoy music anymore because I’m constantly consuming it.”
How to Make a Great Music Pairing: Don’t Be Too Obvious
“I try to not be on-the-nose tonally, or even lyrically. I try to be subtle as possible. Sometimes it makes sense, but I think with these two particular shows (Entourage and How to Make It in America), they’re trying to be more based in reality, or grounded in reality in some way.”
How to End This Sunday’s Episode: Turn a Song About Drugs and Hookers Into a Triumphant Anthem
“That’s in my top three favorite cues that I’ve done. I’m using Bobby Womack’s ‘Across 110th Street’ (video above). I’m really excited; I can’t wait for people to hear it. The song is, obviously, about drugs and hookers and that’s not really what it is [in the episode]. But I feel that that song is also really about struggle and trying to make it. And Cam finally gets his own apartment and he’s pushing the stove out into the street really excited, like this is one step further toward him becoming a man. I just thought tonally it works perfectly, and then you get to see the backdrop of New York City, which the song is about. It just worked perfectly to me. I tried to use it on Entourage for the last three years.”
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“The end credits of Entourage, truth be told, I used ‘Going to California’ by Led Zeppelin and I had no backup. If we didn’t get to clear [the rights to] that song, we were really going to be screwed.”
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“In year six or seven of Entourage I had The Beatles’ ‘Lady Madonna’ in an end-credits spot that was perfect. They shut us down.”
How to Make a Mixtape: Pick Good Songs, Get Good DJs
“This is our second one. I think it’s been the most fun for me to work on. Those are all songs I picked and are representative of my individual taste. They’re spreading around online which is really cool for me. Getting to work with great DJs (Mick Boogie for the latest incarnation) and putting it together and making it sound legitimate has been really cool.”