Let me present an amazing interview with Edwin Cox we made a while ago. He is the managing and creative producer of West One Music Group. If you are curious about his job, trends of trailer music industry or stories from West One Music read below and follow him on Twitter!
TMN: How would you describe your job as a managing and creative producer of West One Music Group?
Edwin Cox: I’m both Managing Director and Creative Director of the group. This means that ultimately I’m responsible for the management of our fantastic team of producers, engineers, music consultants, tech people and adminstrators, and I’m also responsible for maintaining the creative excellence of all four of our labels. I also have responsibility for our growing newtork of offices around the world.
Although the buck stops with me, all our labels are empowered to respond instantly to changes and developments in music to ensure that we always give our customers, and the creative community, the music they really want. We allow our passion for all kinds of music to guide us. The company philosphy can best be described as music first – every time. That’s my passion, and I’m fortunate to lead a team of people who think and feel the same.
TMN: In regards to the three albums you recorded at Budapest what was your responsibility?
EC: Based on market trends and information from our people in the US, the entire Fired Earth Music production team worked to establish the direction for the three albums. We then worked closely with the composers to develop the inital cues for approval before proceeding to the recording sessions themselves. We record all over the world, but for these albums, the studios in Budapest were our first choice. The time taken between creation of the original cues and the actual recording session varies enormously from project to project, in some cases it can happen incredibly fast, while in others it can take up to two years!
TMN: In a favour of our younger readers: if someone hopes to be a creative producer of a production music company how could they achieve it?
EC: It isn’t easy starting off in the music industry. It never has been. It’s a very competitive buisness and lots of people want to work in it. The best way to get a foot in the door is firstly to know your stuff. This means having a really deep and wide-ranging knowledge of all kinds of music, although it’s also good to have a few areas that you specialize in. Then you need to speak to as many people as you can, and apply for internships or work experience with both composers and production music companies. When people apply to us, we like a simple letter or email that states their experience, their interests, any relevant qualifications, and a good reason why we should consider them.
People tend to stay in the industry for a long time so work hard at developing good relationships and that will really help. If you’ve got the passion, you’ll make it.
TMN: West One Music Group is a unity of four labels. How are these labels organised? Are there any chances that West One Music will expand with another label?
EC: We’ve grown in the last ten years from having a single label – West One Music – to a total of four. The others are Fired Earth Music, Refuel Music and The Scoring House. We are constantly uploading new releases to our web site.
Our production schedule is pretty hectic, but I’m hugely proud that we’re still delivering excellent quality music that really does set us apart from our competitors. I’m sure I’ll want to add more labels to our cataglogue in the future, and the fact that we’re independent really gives us the flexibility to do this – no one tells us what to do, or puts limits on our creativity. We are definitely not working to a corporate script!
Our catalogue covers all music genres and caters for all types of production needs, such as sports channels, production companies, advertising agencies, news and documentary broadcasters, airlines, film studios, retailers … you name it, we have music for it. I’m sure there is more we can do in the future. Right now, however, I’m focusing my time on maintaining the quality and diversity of our four labels. Here’s a brief run down of what each label offers:
The West One Music label is our most established label. It now has over 250 albums of great music in over a hundred different styles and genres. And it’s growing constantly. Everything is written by top composers and performed by top musicians. Most of the music is produced in our own in-house studios, which means that we can move quickly to capture new genres and new styles. We’ve got everything from soaring rock anthems to tweeny pop; we’ve got cool jazz to dubstep; we’ve got folk to disco. I’d like to think that West One Music is the label that covers all the major musical areas, but with a contemporay mainstream slant.
Fired Earth Music is one of our specialist labels. It was launched in 2009. It is our dedicated trailer music label, and is based in LA and London. It comprises music from carefully selected Hollywood film composers who work with us to deliver albums of 12 cues, based on specific movie genres. Our Fired Earth Music catalogue is hugely popular where grand tension and epic drama needs to be conveyed – The X Factor, or international sports programming, for example.
Refuel Music is our home of ’kitch, retro and vintage styles.’ What makes this label special is that it is all genuine mood-music recorded live in the studio during the 60s and 70s. It’s guaranteed to make you smile, and most of the music comes under the heading – ’playful, sexy and finger-clicking cool.’
The Scoring House was born last year and has quickly become a powerful new presence on the independent production music scene. The label is run by a team of industry luminaries (including Peter Cox, historically of KPM) who work closely with the label’s star writers to create inspired and radically creative works, bursting with emotion, craft, virtuoso performances and creative spirit.
TMN: Can you tell me more about the history of West One Music Group? What is its greatest achievment so far?
EC: The company was formed in 2002 and since then we’ve grown from a small team and facility in the grittiest part of London’s Soho, to a group of over 30 people spread across the world. Greatest achievement so far? Well, for me, it has to be a combination of both the music and our team, many of whom have been here from early on. We’ve achieved great commercial success in the last decade, and also become known around the world for excellent music. I’m still thrilled when I hear a piece of our music – a piece that we might have really sweated over to make perfect – being used in a great film trailer or TV spot. That makes me very happy. But the fact that we are all passionate about what we do, and love coming to work everyday, is for me, the greatest achievement. I receive so many compliments from clients about how much they enjoy working with us, and our approach to doing business. We all believe in what we do and take great pride in our craft. That makes me really proud.
TMN: West One Music Group advertises itself as an indie. What kind of of advantage do you have as an independent?
EC: Because we don’t have shareholders who we have to answer to, or ask permission for every move we make, we are able to move quickly in whatever creative direction we wish to. We can start new projects, new labels, and implement new ideas freely. In a creative industry I feel this is really important. I wouldn’t say we’re mavericks, but we’re pretty close to the bone sometimes.
TMN: What is West One Music’s vision as a company?
EC: To be the best production music company in the world.
TMN: How do you find and choose the hundreds of artists you represent in your diverse catalog?
EC: We’re now at the stage where we’re being approached by many of the writers we want to work with, which is fantastic. We also ensure that we research carefully and plan anything new that we decide to do. For example, we planned Fired Earth Music, from the ground up, ensuring that the people we work with really are best in their craft.
Everyone who works for the West One Music Group has some involvement in music on some level, and we welcome new suggestions of fresh talent from anyone who works here. It’s constantly evolving. It’s exciting for me personally, but more importantly, it’s exciting for our clients who are using our music: they can always bank on something new, fresh and innovative from us.
TMN: In the last few years how has the trend of music usage for motion picture advertising changed?
EC: Recently, we’re seeing a lot of sound design being used in trailers. It’s more sparse and creates drama really effectively. We have just released the first volume in the series ’Soundesign’, which is a sci-fi, thriller, horror collection. We will be adding to this series in the future.
TMN: How has the economic recession affected the production music industry?
EC: The recession has actually been a good thing for us. Many of our competitors are ruled by their shareholders and that means cost, not content, comes first. For a creative business, this is not a good formula. Our competitors have decided to dramatically scale back their costs by shedding workforce and decreasing their output. Being independent, we’ve seen a growth opportunity and we’ve done the exact opposite. Despite the downturn, we’ve invested heavily in the development of great content and excellent people.
I believe that this industry is about people and the quality of the music. We’ve been acquiring some excellent talent from the fallout of the economic situation. This led us to launch successful new labels, develop international offices and focus on developing great client relationships. We have music consultants on the phone or on iChat ready to help our clients, while other labels are offering more web-based services to cut costs – some are even charging for these services. As a result of bucking the trend and not following the herd, we have actually grown our market share.
TMN: What are your plans for the future? What is the next big challenge ahead for West One Music Group?
EC: Now we have our four labels up and running we have a very solid base to work from. We’re spending time on the development of our international markets which is great fun. I can promise everyone that there will always be innovation coming from West One Music Group.
TMN: If you would have the power to change anything in the music industry what would it be?
EC: More long lunches. They are getting harder and harder to fit into the diary! But seriously, it’s a shame the music industry is more about online distribution platforms than simply about great music.
TMN: Thank you.