The white-hot business of reality TV has created a musical opportunity that units of Sony/ATV and composer Hans Zimmer’s company have quietly begun to take advantage of during the last 12 months. Now they plan to take the business by storm.
Sony/ATV’s production music arm Extreme Music and Zimmer’s Remote Control have created joint venture Bleeding Fingers to provide custom scoring services using composers already involved with Remote Control and its studios in Santa Monica, Calif.
“The thrust of what we’re doing is we’re creating a bespoke music library,” says Extreme Music’s Russell Emanuel, who’s taking on the role of Bleeding Fingers’ CEO. “We’re not scoring to picture, but we’re creating tones for the characters and cues for different areas — heartbreak, disappfor ointment. We create a number of tracks specifically for that show and hand over a package of stems and drones, giving the music editor a tool box to self-score the show. Then they are creatively invested.”
Emanuel predicts the creation of Bleeding Fingers will double Extreme’s revenue within a few years of it becoming a mature operation. “A lot of [the money] is not in the creation fees,” he says. “The big win is in the broadcast. Many of these shows are syndicated worldwide, the music is looped and, when you have something like ‘Duck Dynasty,’ it’s a phenomenon.
“We’re starting to see a new business in actually selling to the public,” he adds. “It’s important for us to get our music on compilations. We did a soundtrack for ‘WW II in HD’ in conjunction with the History Channel and now every time they show it, we see sales.”
Emanuel and Remote Control co-owner Steve Kofsky, who will be Bleeding Fingers’ chairman, are beginning to staff the operation by hiring a creative manager and an assistant with an eye to add two more. Jacob Shea, who has been in the Remote Control camp for almost six years, has been hired as lead composer.
The Bleeding Fingers studio is under construction next door to Remote Control and Extreme, and once it’s up to speed, Emanuel and Kofsky figure it will have 16 composers working there. That figure owes to the building’s configuration of 14 writing rooms and two recording studios.
“Bleeding Fingers will have its own composers that come to us in different [ways],” Kofsky says. “[Certain composers] will work on [Bleeding Fingers] projects and [Remote Control] projects and get trained in our process to understand the workflow. Some will be retained on a full-time basis. If, stylistically or for songs, we need to go outside, we will.”
To a healthy degree, Bleeding Fingers is throwing down a gauntlet and saying that production music libraries are lacking. Extreme was formed more than 10 years ago with the intention of bringing work from better-equipped studios and more seasoned composers into the library mix, a point that Emanuel, Zimmer and Sony/ATV chairman/CEO Martin Bandier make no bones about touting.
Bleeding Fingers, which has worked on 30 shows in the last year during its proof-of-concept phase, was created after Extreme kicked the tires on a few production houses that offered scoring services. The impetus was requests from TV production companies requesting custom tones and cues.
“When we were looking at those companies, it wasn’t about music — it was about, ‘How do we make money?'” Emanuel says, noting they might still make an acquisition. “I saw a company that would proudly say, ‘We can do a cue in 20 minutes.’ I don’t see how that is a positive message. I’m not saying it’s not possible, but that’s highly unlikely.”