The Billboard and Hollywood Reporter Film & TV Music Conference wrapped on Thursday with a conversation featuring composer Steven Price, the phenom responsible for scoring Gravity and this year’s Fury. Price spoke to ASCAP’s director of film and TV music, Jeff Jernigan, to dissect his recent work.
“It was trying to capture this sense of exhaustion,” Price said of Fury, directed by David Ayer and starring Brad Pitt. “The score kind of has a trudge to it, this natural sort of weight to it. And around that you have these characters within the machines — a lot of my work was trying to find this way of giving a sense of the machinery but the human being within it.”
On the conference’s second day, Price’s session was the standalone composer feature. Whereas day one included the likes of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, Mark Mothersbaugh, Howard Shore and Gregg Alexander, Thursday’s panels were mostly focused on digging into the many business aspects around the intersection of film and television within the music industry. A broad spectrum of subjects was featured, ranging from relatively low-budget music licensing for documentaries to often high-budget car commercials, the importance of cover songs, and tips to break through with music licensing. The keynote roundtable included some of the biggest studio executives in the city.
“I get we need a ‘Let it Go,’ and I’m like, ‘right away!'” joked Danielle Diego, executive VP of Fox Music. “People don’t realize how incredible it is, how they strike lightning, ‘We need another ‘Happy’…”
Annie director Will Gluck announced he was “scared” going into his remake of the beloved stage musical and film classic, for which he employed superstar writer and singer Sia and producer Greg Kurstin. He said, “I was going to ruin a lot of kids’ childhoods. … A lot of people who love Annie were Annie, their sisters were Annie, their moms were Annie, they have this memory of being Annie when they put it on stage in middle school. So we didn’t want to touch that memory, we wanted to create our own. And I hope we did it.”
The past year has been an undeniably strong one for soundtracks — between Frozen, Guardians of the Galaxy, Annie and The Hunger Games, soundtracks haven’t seen such success since 1978. The year has also proven massive for covers and car commercials. Two key examples were on display Thursday: Us the Duo‘s career was built on six-second Vine video covers that have lead to a massive social media following and a major label record deal. Maroon 5, meanwhile, have achieved total dominance over automobile ads — Honda, Kia, and Nissan in the past 18 months — which has propelled the band’s success on radio and commercially.
In a panel on the importance of covers, Us the Duo declared they’ve been quietly capitalizing off Taylor Swift‘s break up with Spotify. The ground recorded its own version of Taylor’s smash hit “Shake It Off,” posting it to the streaming service and seeing more than 1 million plays and a boost of at least 500,000 to its own material. Kudos were given for spotting an opportunity and running with it.
Meanwhile, Maroon 5’s manager, Jordan Feldstein, revealed that “Sugar” will be the band’s next single and is set to be featured in a new Nissan campaign starting Nov. 18. Following the band’s deals with Honda and Kia, this is a unique benefit allowed by Levine’s role on The Voice, avoiding issues of exclusivity to any company.
“We just want to see Maroon in every car commercial,” joked Feldstein, when asked whether fans would see Maroon 5 dancing like the computer-generated hamsters do in recent Kia commercials. “As long as that happens, we’ll dance any way they want.”