Able to pull together super session teams—Pharrell Williams and Johnny Marr, Sia and Greg Kurstin—for her soundtracks
Heading the music department at the last studio with a pipeline to a major label and music publisher is proving beneficial for Lia Vollack. Following Adele’s Academy Award-winning turn with “Skyfall,” she connected Britney Spears with Dr. Luke and “The Smurfs,” coordinated the music for One Direction’s concert film and partnered Sia with Greg Kurstin for the forthcoming “Annie.”
“People deride synergy all the time, but I have had it work over and over again and by choice,” she says, referring to partners at Sony/ATV, RCA and Columbia Records. “The reason anyone lasts as an executive is you try to find all the places where [all parties’] interests are common. It’s the artist, the publisher, their label. When you can fulfill all of their needs, that’s the deal you want to make.”
Sony had a 10% market share in 2013, raking in $1.1 billion at the box office, according to Box Office Mojo. The company released 17 films in 2013, and it’s looking to do close to 20 again this year, but two are expected to have far greater musical components than anything on last year’s schedule: “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” and “Annie.” Music for both of those films were significant projects for Vollack in 2013.
Sia and Kurstin wrote and produced new songs performed on-camera for “Annie” and are working on additional material for the film. The team of Hans Zimmer, Johnny Marr and Pharrell Williams is creating music for “Spider-Man 2” that may ultimately yield songs in addition to a score.
Beyond One Direction, whose “This Is Us” film grossed $68.5 million worldwide (according to Box Office Mojo), Vollack’s major project of 2013 involved Spears, Dr. Luke and “The Smurfs 2.” The single “Ooh La La” struggled to find an audience—the film grossed $349.5 million worldwide—but it represented the sort of work that goes into finding the right singer and song for a film these days.
“You have to come up with ideas that do a lot of things,” Vollack says. “You want to find a song that, when you put it up against a picture and in TV ads, resonates with people. When you’re looking to find the artist for the single they need to have the right profile for the movie, be relevant on a worldwide basis, have a big Twitter following and be active with their social media.”