Archive for September, 2007

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Paul Battista to Speak at Film Independent’s Filmmaker Forum

September 30, 2007

Paul Battista will speak at Film Independent’s Filmmaker Forum on Saturday, October 20, 2007 at Noon at the Directors Guild of America. Information and registration can be found here:  film-independent-2007.

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Spring Aspers, Sr. VP, Soundtracks and Supervision, Island Def Jam

September 7, 2007

SPRING ASPERS JAMS WITH THE BEST !!!!

Mychal: Hello Spring! Glad to see your career has really grown. Great body of work! So, how are you doing?

Spring: Hello Mychal! I am great. Thank you.

Mychal: So, lets jump right in. What are your job duties as Island Def Jam Senior Vice President of Soundtracks and Supervision.

Spring: Essentially, I am the liaison between the Music Label and Hollywood. I place music artist in both television and film. We have developed a new model and I wear many different hats where I work for the studio as a Music Supervisor and I also serve as the liaison for the label. It’s great for music artists because I know the studio system extremely well.

Mychal: Interesting. Now, do these dual roles ever create any “Conflicts of Interest?”

Spring: No, not at all. Maybe, if I was obligated or pushing certain agenda, but I focus solely on the creative process. In this business, you have to evolve and create new business models or you will be left behind. So, I would say my job duties and experience are definitely an attribute because I know the filmmaking process and system so well.

Mychal: Cool. Great point! Can you please tell us some of the feature films that you were proud to work on?

Spring: Yes! I have worked as a Music Supervisor on “First Sunday,” “This Christmas,” “Lars and the Real Girl,” “License to Wed,” “Dr. Doolittle 2,” “Big Mommas House,” “The Whole Nine Yards” and more.

Mychal: So, how did you break into the business?

Spring: Actually, I kind of fell into this business. It was a random moment of needing a job! (LOL) When I graduated from college, I was interning at a company called Sidewinder Music. I was friends with some artist who got into the management business and at that time I was just trying to pay the bills.

Mychal: (LOL) I hear you! So, how is Island Def Jam affiliated with the Universal Music Group. And, can you please briefly explain about the structure of the Universal Music Group?

Spring: Yes! Island Def Jam is under the umbrella of the Universal Music Group (UMG) which leads the music industry in global sales with an estimated worldwide market share in 2005 of 25.6%. Its global operations encompass the development, marketing, sales and distribution of recorded music through a network of subsidiaries, joint ventures and licensees in 77 countries, representing approximately 98% of the music market. UMG is the #1 company in countries which together represent more than 50% of the global music market sales, including the U.S. and the U.K. UMG’s business also includes music publishing. Universal Music Group International is the division that manages UMG’s businesses in countries outside of North America. For more information, please go to: www.umusic.com

Mychal: Wow! Sounds great. So, what are the key differences between a Music Supervisor, Coordinator and Consultant?

Spring: Well, a Music Supervisor oversees all the music for a film. A great supervisor will really support his/her Director’s vision and make sure that vision meets the audience so all the elements make sense. A Music Coordinator supports the Music Supervisor. And, a Music Consultant is more of a creative role where he/she suggests music ideas but is not responsible for the execution of those ideas.

Mychal: And, as a Music Supervisor, how are you compensated for your work? Is there a specific percentage in the total cost of the budget? Two (2%) percent – Five (5%) percent?

Spring: It really varies on a case by case basis. Generally, music supervisors are paid a flat fee but as you know everything is negotiable. This is Hollywood and there are no rules or standards. That’s the beauty of this business!

Mychal: (LOL) Tell me about it! – OK, what about participation in any advances?

Spring: Not really. I am here to purely help the artists creatively, not make money off the artist. I believe that is the honorable way. My role is to facilitate the creative process not the dough!

Mychal: OK. Sounds good. What about profit participation in record royalties?

Spring: Again, this is a case by case analysis and everything is negotiable!

Mychal: (LOL) OK, as a film producer, how can I get you to consider my project? Are there submission requirements, genres, or budget ranges?

Spring: No. It is more of a creative issue. I have worked on small Indie films that I have fell in love with as well the big budgeted studio films. Really, and for the producer, there has to be that right connection or fit, or else the collaboration goes out the window. And, there are also expectations involved. For example, if a producer comes to me with a project and wants Ten (10) Kanye West songs on a Two Hundred Dollar ($200) budget, then its not going to happen!

Mychal: (LOL) Funny, I have seen several of those projects come across my desk. Its Hollywood! This is a crazy business! OK, so now lets role play: I am a producer looking for some great music to help “Band-Aid” my film’s weaknesses. Generally, does this strategy work?

Spring: Yes, it can definitely help. But, the audience is usually smart enough not to buy it all the time. But, certainly music will elevate a scene.

Mychal: OK. I am a producer who has an Uncle Phil or Uncle Skippy (LOL). He is a middle school music teacher who has written a few songs and to make him happy, I want you to use one of his songs in the film. So, I tell you to plug it in somewhere. “Yay” or “Nay”? And if “Nay” causes a conflict, the how would you recommend other music supervisors to handle this matter?

Spring: (LOL) That’s a pretty hard question! As a Music Supervisor, the creative process depends on your relationship with both the Studio and Director. So, it is not really about a “Yay” or “Nay” answer, but more about problem solving.

Mychal: Great answer. OK…generally speaking, in a motion picture, a producer should secure the Synchronization License, Performance License and the Master Use License. Briefly, and with regards to obstacles, can you explain the differences in using preexisting musical works as opposed to using re-recorded works in a motion picture?

Spring: Again, there really is no one answer. A preexisting work could have Ten (10) samples within the song which may make music licensing extremely difficult. And, a re-recorded song could be a 1960’s hit and the artist(s) own the Master Use License. So, this may be very easy to accomplish. My job is about problem solving and in music there generally are no boundaries.

Mychal: Do you or your company ever become involved in a producer capacity?

Spring: For me, that is not my focus. My focus is managing the two (2) jobs that I have. Certainly, people in my company produce. There are amazing people in my company. Just look at LA Reid. He is one of the greatest!

Mychal: Any advice for our readers who are trying to develop their careers on the music side of filmmaking?

Spring: Yes, I would say study film and how music is used in film. Also, learn the business side of the film industry. The key to success is to connect with the right people and to develop role models or mentors who will actually help you develop your career. The film industry is a difficult business but it’s really about the path you create for yourself.

Mychal: Great! Can you tell us an anonymous production nightmare involving talent, writer, director or producer? (LOL)

Spring: (LOL) Every project has its own character! It’s Hollywood and there are so many different types of people from various walks of life. That’s the fun of it! I tend to expect the craziness. But really, I haven’t had any “Swimming with Sharks” experience.

Mychal: Cool. Regarding digital technology, are there any new business models that Island Def Jam is looking towards in the film business?

Spring: Yes, if it makes sense. We have the talent both on a client and executive level. It’s full throttle if you want to jump into anything. But, we are a music label not a film studio.

Mychal: OK – Last question. What separates Island Def Jam/Universal Music Group from other Labels? Why should a producer hire your services?

Spring: I really believe we are the greatest label! We have the best artists in the world coupled with incredible A & R (Artist and Repertoire). We have artist such as Jay-Z, Jermaine Dupri, Kanye West, Melissa Etheridge, Lucinda Williams, The Killers. And, we are led by people who understand artists. I am here at our label (Island Def Jam) because I want to be. Really…and that’s why we are winning!

The End