Check out the full interview below (originally published on 29/06/23) to get to know us a little better…
HOW DID WEST ONE MUSIC GROUP FIRST BEGIN? WHAT DID THE BUSINESS LOOK LIKE IN THE EARLY DAYS COMPARED TO HOW IT LOOKS NOW?
The origin of West One Music goes back several decades. Throughout the 80s and 90s, two of our founders, Tony Prior and Richard Harvey, created production music alongside their commercial and film music careers. The production music part of their creative output proved to be extremely successful and resulted in the release of over 120 albums from some of the best composers in TV and film. As they reached the start of the 2000s, it became clear that building a new brand and having direct relationships with the end users of the music was really the next step for the development of the business and their musical aspirations.
At the time, I was a music producer at Boosey & Hawkes and together, we set about creating a new company and catalogue, West One Music Group.
We started building the catalogue in London’s Soho, where production music has a strong and rich history. The focus when we started, which is still the case today, was always to make the best and most relevant music possible and to always remain a music-first company.
Fast forward 21 years and West One Music is still thriving in the production music business, and we now have over 40,000 minutes of music from our catalogue appearing on TV all around the world every day. The production music space is hugely competitive, but we have our own, independent global footprint including offices and production studios in 11 countries, a team of over 70 people, and a custom music division spearheaded in Los Angeles. This year we’re also expanding into India—certainly a big shift from the early days of hand-delivering CDs to clients in Soho!
WHAT KINDS OF SOUNDS OR GENRES HAVE BEEN MOST IN DEMAND FROM YOUR CLIENTELE RECENTLY AND HOW HAS THAT EVOLVED OVER THE YEARS?
When we first started out, there was a much greater focus on background and supportive music, and certainly much less of a need for songs. Previously, a great production music track was one that didn’t get in the way or stand out.
Today we’re much more focused on music that makes an impact, which is what our clients want now too. The driver for us is to bring something unique to our clients to help their production stand out, whilst also making it a priority to showcase the artists, musicians, producers, and composers behind the music.
This has been a positive shift from more anonymous production music to clients now wanting to know who the artists and composers are behind the music. It’s this shift that has also impacted the reputation of the production music industry globally.
I would say that it’s now a much more diverse and dynamic industry with music that can stand up to anything in the traditional charts. We’re seeing much more songs- and artist-led music, particularly driven by the wave of new TV production, but across the board in movie trailers (including cover songs and remixes), TV promos and commercials too. Often, it’s the same writers, artists, and producers working on production music, original scores and commercial music.
IS THERE ANY SPECIFIC CUSTOMER SECTOR THAT’S EXPERIENCING RAPID GROWTH RIGHT NOW?
We’ve seen growth in custom music across all sectors from film trailers to theme songs, to sonic branding, commercials and TV shows. A lot of our clients now want to have music tailored to their projects.
From a territory perspective, we’re also still relatively new players in some of the key global markets, particularly North America and Australia/New Zealand. We launched our own offices in both regions in the past few years, so there is still so much opportunity for growth. We’re continuing to see increased demand and usage as clients discover West One Music for the first time.
WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO GET A MUSIC SUPERVISOR TO LISTEN TO YOUR TRACKS AND HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR CATALOG FRESH?
Ensuring that all our creative and licensing teams have a personal and direct relationship with the music supervisors, editors and producers is paramount. This enables us to understand what our clients are working on and put forward tracks that fit their needs and make their projects stand out.
Making sure that we have a strong and diverse catalogue also means that there’s always something new to discover. We have 13 dedicated labels in our catalogue, ranging from retro 60s and 70s recordings to EDM and featuring over 80,000 tracks. This year we’re launching two new labels, both very much driven by the requirements of the media industry and our clients.
We’re incredibly proud to have worked with over 1,500 artists and composers all around the world across the entire catalogue. This diversity helps keep things fresh and exciting for our clients.
DOES WEST ONE MUSIC PURSUE ANY MARKETING INITIATIVES TO MAKE THE COMPANY STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD? OR DOES MOST BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT HAPPEN THROUGH DIRECT COMMUNICATION?
A hugely positive part of the recent shift to songs and artist-led music is that our clients also want to understand the background and experiences of the talent involved in creating the music.
This enables us to showcase and celebrate the hugely varied talent from all over the world that we have the pleasure to work with every day. This is the wonderful thing about production music; there are really no limits on the opportunities we can bring underrepresented or emerging talent. We can share their music with our clients all around the world who help to bring their music to an entirely new audience.
We have a video series called “Get Authentic” where we celebrate and showcase the craft and musicianship of unique instruments or genres of music like the Cuban Tres or the Taiko Drums or our upcoming Indian Ragas production, to name a few.
Despite the obvious benefits of AI search and other tools for music discovery, at the end of the day, we are a people business, and our goal is to understand our client’s needs and support them through their creative process. Each member of the team is part of that experience, and we put a huge focus on our availability to support our clients every day.
ARE YOU CURRENTLY LOOKING FOR NEW COMPOSERS AND ARTISTS AND WHY WOULD THEY WANT TO WORK WITH YOU?
We’re always on the lookout for exciting new music from upcoming or established artists and composers from around the world, and there’s no limit to where this might be found. Our A&R and production team is constantly discovering amazing talent for us to partner with.
We hope that artists and composers want to work with us because we respect and celebrate the unique creativity they bring to our catalogue and because we provide an amazing platform for their music to be heard around the world.
The production team are very hands-on with the creative process, providing orchestras, musicians, arrangers, engineers and more. We are more than happy to provide anything the artists and composers might need to create the best music.
ANY ADVICE FOR UP-AND-COMING SOUND DESIGNERS, COMPOSERS, OR RECORDISTS STRIVING TO CREATE PROFESSIONAL, INDUSTRY-QULIATY TRACKS?
Listen carefully to the work of artists you admire in the same field to better understand what it is about their work that makes them stand out. What chords do they use? What instruments do they use? How is it recorded and mixed (lots of reverb, raw/dry, etc)?
There are so many resources and tools available, from online tutorials to interviews with well-known artists and producers–read, watch and listen, and bring back this knowledge into your work. I would also say to stay true to yourself. It’s been said many times, but being focused on what you do best is critical.
ANY ALL TIME FAVOURITE PLACEMENTS AND SUCCESS STORIES?
We recently had an album nominated for a Latin Grammy, created by an amazing Colombian artist, Diano Burco. We’ve been producing music across Central and South America for about 10 years now, so this was a huge milestone for us and goes to show the continued growth of production music.
Some of our recent and exciting placements include launch campaigns with Samsung Galaxy featuring a song called ‘Good Vibes‘ by an amazing LA-based duo Moa Munoz & Ryan Short; House of the Dragon used a cue called ‘Premonition‘ from a UK-based composer Wayne Roberts; and The Last of Us promos featured a thriller track called ‘Awaiting Darkness’ by UK producer-composer Black Hydra. Lots to be proud of and to celebrate with the amazing talent behind the music!
DOES WEST ONE MUSIC HAVE A COMPANY MISSION THAT GUIDES BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT OR CLIENT EXPERIENCE? ANY EXCITING UPCOMING GROWTH PLANS YOU CAN SHARE?
The independent mindset of West One Music is vital to us. It keeps us energised and motivated to always do better and provide an amazing experience for our composers, artists and clients. It means that we retain our creative freedom across the catalogues and that we can always remain true to our ethos and goals.
It also enables us to be in touch with our community and take much bigger risks creatively. This helps us to evolve the business and always explore new creative ideas and ways of working to keep us moving forward. Our independent spirit is what drove us to open that first office outside of the UK in Germany!
As for growth, with offices all around the world and handling all the administration internally through our own network, we’re now at the point where we can focus on expanding within the existing footprint we have.
This next phase is about continually improving the experience for our clients at every touch point, be it on our website, music discovery or custom music. However, the overarching emphasis remains on delivering a personal, supportive service for our clients.