January 13, 2015
When competing radio stations often play the same music to talk about the same hot topics, what differentiates one from the other could very well be the "sound" or production of the station's broadcast. While a station's aural quality is primarily created and maintained in-house, high-quality production music can also raise a station's production value. Enter Warner/Chappell Production Music ... here, Pres./CEO Randy Wachtler offers an overview of production music and how it could benefit radio.
What were you doing before joining Warner/Chappell Production Music?
I was teaching Film/TV/Music at Middle Tennessee State University and really enjoyed that. Thirty years prior to that, I started the company 615 Music in Nashville and grew it until the company was acquired by the Warner Music Group in 2010. Then Warner/Chappell Production Music was launched in 2012 by joining several successful independents, including 615 Music, Non-Stop Music, Groove Addicts, CPM and V.
What made you decide to get back in the business?
I semi-retired after I sold the company in 2010, and teaching was fun, but then Cameron Strang, CEO of Warner/Chappell, called me and said, "We're making a change at the CEO position and would you consider coming back to the company?" And here I am.
Discuss the challenges facing the Production Music division.
The biggest challenge we face here is the oversupply of music in the marketplace from not only other production music companies, but also a lot of indie labels and artists who want get their own music into film and TV, so more than ever there's a whole lot of competition in the marketplace.
Is it like promoting records to radio, where relationships matter when it comes to getting business?
Definitely, relationships mean a lot in this business, but when the project producers have so much choice in music, it really comes down to a combination of things, such as how easily you can deliver the music. We're home to some of the world's major catalogs -- 84 catalogs in all, 300,000 tracks, so one thing about us is that we have all genres and styles of music to offer -- and we're pretty deep on all those offerings, so we can serve big broadcasters very well, and only a few companies can offer that kind of variety and depth.
Isn't keeping track of 300,000 tracks difficult to oversee?
It certainly can be. It comes down to having a great production and IT team. We pride ourselves on our customer service. We also believe in finding quality collections around the world and signing them, so we have a pretty good handle on the music itself. It then comes down to how well we create and embed our metadata within our Soundminer online and hard drive systems. We know creating effective search algorithms will generate quality search results for our customers.
Describe your relationship with clients - do you offer them specific music for their projects, or do they come in, asking for specific songs?
Customers come to us in both instances you describe. One customer might be looking for a specific song or artist; other times it's a larger customer who says, "I need all kinds of songs and styles and we like working with you guys, so what do you have that'll work with our projects?" We have an extremely wide base of customers, yet it inevitably comes down to close relationships and good service.
Is the price for your product negotiable? Does some content cost more than others?
We definitely charge more for certain copyrights than others. I want to be clear that there are two divisions within Warner/Chappell Music. I'm in charge of Warner/Chappell Production Music and we feature more than 84 catalogs with more than 300,000 cuts. Some of our popular catalogs are Full Tilt, 615 Music's Scoring Stage, Non-Stop's Premiere series, Promo Accelerator and many more that are popular with broadcasters. What I call "core" is the other side of Warner/Chappell that is headed by my colleague Ron Broitman in L.A., which works with such great artists such as Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Katy Perry and Led Zeppelin. Both of our divisions are within the Warner Music Group.
Are you more of a buyer of catalogs or a seller of music production?
It's both, really, because as busy as we are in offering music to broadcasters, we're always looking to buy or license the available catalogs that are out there. Essentially, we are our own label, a true one-stop shop, since we also own many of our master recordings and the copyrights.
Besides the trailers, how involved are you in getting your music in the movies themselves?
Most A-list movies hire A-list composers to actually score those movies. Where our music becomes very popular is in the theatrical trailers, promos and ads. In addition, we have had our music licensed within big movies such as Nebraska, Big Eyes, Foxcatcher and The Imitation Game. We also license to videogame producers and videogame trailers.
Yes, we definitely license to many TV shows on broadcast and cable TV.
...Such as reality shows?
We definitely service that industry. The quality has gotten so good in production music that TV studios and production companies are more interested in using our music. Not only is our price affordable, the speed we can deliver specific music to them is very desirable.
Do you derive some of your income from YouTube play?
Yes, our music is on YouTube quite a bit these days. Some of it does quite well when the videos go viral. More and more people are going online to post videos with our music in them; on a number of websites and we monetize those performances on YouTube through AdRev and the YouTube content ID system.
Where does Warner/Chappell Production Music stand on the current royalty brouhaha?
Our music is available to consumers on YouTube, Spotify and iTunes for personal use, but we're primarily a business-to-business company, so we don't have the same issues that labels have when it comes to streaming rates. But some of our trailer music is quite popular to consumers so we're in that discussion as well. Personally, I think streaming rates are too low. I'm on the same page with the labels on that.
Is Warner/Chappell Production Music available for radio?
Absolutely! We have a section on our website devoted to radio. Our VP of Business Development, Tom English, used to run the Clear Channel cluster in Nashville, so he's very familiar with radio. Also one of our reps in our San Francisco office, Hakim Draper, is devoted to radio sales exclusively. We're just getting started in radio; I don't think radio knows much about us yet, but we're working to change that. We have a lot to offer the radio industry.
What's the best way for radio station management or its Production Director to reach you?
The best and quickest way would be to go to www.warnerchappellpm.com/industries/radio. Our contact info as well as radio-specific features are there to help!
What are the advantages for radio in using Warner Chappell Production Music?
The way I understand it, radio today is more competitive than ever, and we feel that anything broadcasters can do to optimize their stations' production value is a good thing, which gives them an edge over competition. We've created catalogs specifically for radio. We're excited by radio and we want to be good partner. Tom English and Hakim Draper have been in the radio business for many years; they know what's needed and they've helped tailor Warner/Chappell Production Music's offerings to provide a great service to radio.