MUSIC+SOUND AWARDS TALK TO...
Head of Sync at
HUMMINGBIRD MUSIC, London
On founding in 2015, our sponsors, London's Hummingbird Music, set out to disrupt the production and library music model with their non-exclusive search, sync and licensing service, offering a way for advertisers, brands, film and program makers to discover affordable music.
They've successfully bridged the gap between the traditional record label and music publisher, and the production music industries by representing the musical works of independent talent for synchronisation.
As a published musician herself, Head of Sync, Anne Booty, has an intrinsic understanding of both sides of the industry and tells us here a bit about how she and the company are playing their part in shaking up the sync industry...
Hummingbird Music seems to be challenging the traditional label and publisher business models by positioning itself differently in the market. What was the driving force behind the company and its idea to try and disrupt the normal way of doing things?
We live in a super privileged time when it comes to music. It’s more affordable than ever to make, and it’s easier to market. Having said that the money in the old-school music biz pot isn’t as lucrative as it used to be so labels and publishers are taking less and less risks when it comes to nurturing artists and bands. Setting up a platform like Hummingbird allows unsigned artists a place in which to gain some exposure and money through sync. The industry is always evolving, you need to keep moving and adapting or you’ll get left behind.
How do you help your clients find just what they’re looking for – even if they’re not sure what that is?
Clients, more often than not, know what they’re looking for but sometimes we have to read between the lines and appreciate that not everyone comes from a musical background and talks the language we do. We ask for as much information as possible, from tempo to genre, to lyrical content, we’ve even been given colours as a reference before. It’s great to get involved early on in the process. If we can get music on the first edits this is the stage where everyone falls in love with the ‘temp’ track! Sometimes you can bounce back and forth several times until the right piece of music is found. Our artists and composers are generally very flexible, providing stems and edits so the client has something as bespoke as possible without pursuing the full composition route.
What projects have you worked on recently that you’ve really enjoyed?
The Killing of a Sacred Deer was amazing. To have found a home for two of our artists (Death Panthers and Joe Smith & The Spicy Pickles) in such an amazing piece of cinema was a genuine thrill. We recently wrapped on a Chivas Whisky ad for NBA that’s going out in stadiums in China. New York hip hop artist Binnie Freud, whose track UNO has been used on the ad, is a massive NBA fan so this was huge for him. We occasionally go off piste on existing track sync; at the end of last year we landed grime artist C Cane a VO job on the new KFC radio campaign. C Cane is predicted to be huge in 2018, so we were chuffed to be with her on her journey to the top.
Can you tell us about any recent interesting signings? And how do you find your artists?
One of our recent favourites is Gourmet. A great South African artist whose music is entirely its own genre; it’s daft, clever, brilliant, glitchy. Gourmet found us as they’re from the same scene as Death Panthers who we got the aforementioned Killing of a Sacred Deer sync for. We found Death Panthers through a deep dive into SoundCloud one day that surfaced a crazy fertile music scene in Cape Town. We find a lot of our artists through SoundCloud, Bandcamp, Spotify etc, but we also try to get to as many SoFar, and similar, new music nights as we can and check out their channel regularly to scope for international talent. More and more we find we’re getting people sending music to us because one of our artists has recommended them, so we always find time to listen to submissions to discover that little gem.
You sign artists on a non-exclusive basis, how does that work what was the reason behind it?
The selfless answer is so that artists can have freedom. They’re not tied down to any binding publishing deals for 10+ years. The selfish answer is that it means we get the highest quality music because artists know they can remove it whenever they want and keep working it outside of our relationship.
Have you noticed any particular trends in the kind of music you’re placing recently?
2018 so far has seen a return to indie and also psych. Late 2017 was all about trap, hip hop and grime. Couldn’t get enough of it!
What are the long term goals for Hummingbird and where would you like to see it go?
We’d like to continue our growth in the States and delve deeper into non-western music made by authentic local artists around the world. We’ve got some superb artists in our catalogue that are getting some real heat. To be able to land them all that dream sync would be fantastic.
Visit Hummingbird's site to find out more... www.hummingbirdmusic.uk