The 7th Women of West One Music Spotlight series

23 Oct 2020
We spoke with Team France's Creative Sync Manager, Ophelie Ndouga. Even though based in the London office Ophelie travels to Paris and works from our French office throughout the year (pre-Pandemic). Ophelie talks about how her previous experience as a music journalist and working for a global advertising agency prepared her for the Production music world. She also shares some fantastic advice for people wanting to work in the industry and delves into her role at West One Music.

Tell us a bit about your journey into the music industry?

At 22 I had an idea of what I wanted to do and that idea along with a lack of inhibition meant I did everything I could to gain experience and work in the music industry. First, I started as a music journalist for a French website, writing articles, editorials, press releases, news and culture pieces, and conducting interviews with artists. The part I found most enjoyable was reviewing gigs and live performances. I was also frequently out at night seeing bands and I sometimes travelled for work.

After I graduated college, I hit the ground running and sent my CV to music labels enquiring about positions. I had to explain why a gal who went to a Marketing and Communication college wanted to be in the music business! After little luck from the music industry, I was finally hired by DDB, the global advertising agency. I presumed my college degree and experience was better suited for the advertising world.

Starting out as a Junior Project Manager for an international advertising agency first in Paris and then in New York prepared me well for my career in the music industry! I gained a first-hand understanding of the diverse and sometimes conflicting departments that work in advertising agencies, as well as the structure of power, the creative process, the dynamics of relationships, and, ultimately, how decisions are made. Most importantly I learnt about sync and music for media, working alongside the creative team, TV producer and art buyer. I become passionate about how music plays an integral role in the media landscape and I quickly learnt that I had a passion and ear for music and visual. Whilst these were vital skills, I knew these were only a small part of what it takes to be an expert.

It was then that I decided to use my experience from the advertising industry and move into the music business world, at the same time as moving from Paris to London.


How has your role at West One Music developed?

I started from the bottom and now I am here (joke!!)… my first role at West One Music was a Music Licensing Assistant and I am now a Creative Sync Manager. I am responsible, along with my team, for placing West One Music’s diverse catalogue of music in TV, films, radio and adverts, by pitching, securing, and negotiating deals. I respond to briefs on specific requirements but also proactively seek out opportunities. This job is the fine line between creativity and business, and you’ve got to have both – your brain must move in both avenues all of the time.

On any given project I’m working with a team of creatives that may all have very different thoughts on what the sound of the project might be. I liaise with the Label Manager for new releases and assist the development of some albums: working with both the studios and writers, composers and artists to update them on sync projects and assist in pitching them to a specific production. What I personally believe works best for a scene may not actually be the right music for that moment or may not best serve the narrative. We carry our own emotional weight with us and that can change how we perceive certain music or how it complements a specific story. It’s important to step back and be impartial in helping create someone else’s work.


What advice do you have for anyone starting out in the industry?

Keep your focus right, invest in yourself because it’s an ever-changing and enlightening journey. No matter your background, ethnicity, or degree you can make it in this industry as long as you’re willing to learn more.

Also, it’s very important to understand that knowing and loving music doesn’t mean you know everything about the music business.


What is your favourite album on the West One Music catalogue?

 ‘Future Beats’ from our Electronic Dance Series label.

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