MUSIC+SOUND AWARDS TALK TO...
Sam Stockham, Key Account Manager
UNIVERSAL PUBLISHING PRODUCTION MUSIC
What advice would you give to composers these days on getting their music placed? Don’t worry so much about current trends and focus on being a great composer. Although there are periods when music syncs (especially in advertising) follow a certain genre or style there are so many opportunities across other media that focusing on great tracks and composition will always get you work.
What’s the most significant change you’ve witnessed in the industry since you started out? Since I started almost 4 years ago I would say the biggest change for me has been getting involved in projects much sooner. Music often felt like an afterthought and it was rush to find a great track and to make sure it is licensed in time. Obviously this still happens but we are more regularly brought in at the beginning of a project and this can help us find the perfect track for a project or help develop an amazing sound track across a show.
In terms of the music, what’s the best TV show or film you’ve seen recently? ‘Master of None’ the Netflix show by Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang. Zach Cowie was the music supervisor and apparently Aziz was heavily involved in all the music choices as well. The show used music to set the tone of a scene so well but without using clichéd choices. Plus there was such an eclectic choice of music from Aphex Twin, Spandau Ballet, Todd Terje, Lou Reed, Donald Byrd, X-Ray Spex and Toto. One episode used country music from beginning to end as it was set in Nashville, yet it never felt contrived. It was just so cleverly done and you could tell they really put a lot of effort into making sure the score really added personality to the show.
If there was one thing you could change about your industry, what would it be? The fact that some people / companies are still so shocked they have to pay for Production Music or that they think 0.1% of a budget will be more than enough to cover it all. I’m not sure people realise the amount of work that goes in to producing a good production music track. We often use the same studios/writers/engineers/musicians they do in the commercial or film world so our costs and quality are the same yet the expectation is that the music should cost next to nothing.
Have you placed anything in the last year that you’re really excited about? And why? I have worked across some episodes of ‘The Hunt’ on the BBC which I was excited about, I grew up watching these amazingly detailed and fascinating Attenborough shows so to see some of my work make one of those series was great. Also the trailer for ‘Maggie’ was fun purely for the fact that it’s a Schwarzenegger movie.
Have you noticed a shift in trends with regards to what type of music is being licensed? I think that the perception of production music has definitely changed over the last few years. For a while it had the stigma of being a naff, ‘paint by numbers’, musical option. However we work with world-class composers and have partnered with labels such Peter Gabriel’s Real World, Deutsche Grammophon and Lo Recordings. We also actively search out new, up-and-coming artists – all of which is reflected in the quality of our music and has seen an increase in the use of production music over the last few years. In regards to specific musical trends I would say it totally depends on the show, advert or trailer, however music with a ‘hint of’ has been our most requested buzz word recently. Something with a hint of Africa or a hint of the Middle East. People want the music to allude to a destination or a feeling and not smack the audience around the head with a big musical cue.
Desert Island Disc? Anything by the band Reuben