Why 'Euphoria' and 'Atlanta' Rely On This Music Supervisor For Pivotal Scenes

Hunter Schafer (left) and Zendaya in Euphoria.
Eddy Chen/HBO

Hunter Schafer (left) and Zendaya in Euphoria.

Jen Malone spent a decade working as a music publicist, representing Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson, before deciding she needed a career shift. While watching Iron Man in 2008, she says, “the music supervisor credit rolled by, and I was like, ‘That’s what I want to do.’ ” She moved to Los Angeles the following year, and after a month of cold-emailing music supervision firms (while washing dishes at a café to pay rent) she landed a summer internship with Iron Man music supervisor Dave Jordan. Ten years later, Malone’s résumé includes HBO’s new drama series Euphoria, which debuted in June and already has been renewed for a second season, and FX’s Atlanta, written by and starring Donald Glover, which earned her a 2018 Emmy Award nomination for outstanding music supervision.

Courtesy of HBO
Jen Malone

Season 1 (2016), Season 2 (2018)

From contacting the estate of Doe B to secure the rights to the late artist’s music to having rapper Tay-K’s manager visit him in jail to sign off on the use of his viral hit “The Race,” Malone’s knowledge of music licensing earned her the gig on Glover’s acclaimed series. Meanwhile, she says her team’s picks outside of hip-hop, like Beach House’s “Space Song,” which plays in a season-one scene where Glover’s character awakens to a gun in the room, always keep Glover on his toes. “It was so out of left field,” she says, but “it evoked the dreaminess on-screen.” She’s staying onboard for Atlanta’s third season, which is expected to air in 2020.

Creed II (2018)

Atlanta co-music supervisor Fam Udeorji contacted Malone about handling boxing drama Creed II, which stars Michael B. Jordan as Rocky Balboa’s protégé, while she was vacationing in Hawaii. She hopped on a plane home to help guide the movie’s Mike WiLL Made-It-produced soundtrack, which tapped Kendrick Lamar, Ella Mai and more for brand-new tunes. She was most excited about the training montage, for which Jacob Banks and A$AP Rocky recorded the comeback anthem “Runnin.” She FaceTimed Rocky to explain the scene before meeting in the studio. “He was writing [lyrics] while watching the scene above the board -- it was brilliant,” she says.

Season 1 (2019)

The drama series -- starring Zendaya as a high schooler fresh out of rehab and executive-produced by Drake -- focuses on the interwoven lives of suburban teens. “This is about kids, and they’re always listening to music,” says Malone. She sourced fresh sounds through her relationships with labels, featuring singles from rising artists gabriel black and Sasha Sloan just days after their release. With 100 scenes per episode, each contains dozens of songs, from Beyoncé’s “Hold Up,” which needed clearance from its 15 co-writers, to Megan Thee Stallion’s “Cocky AF.” Malone’s proudest moment? In an upcoming episode, all songs but one are by female artists.

This article originally appeared in the July 20 issue of Billboard.