1 month ago
Based on criteria focused on client dedication, innovation, business growth, longevity, online reputation, customer feedback and business performance, SMA Talent have been named Best International Film and TV Composer Management Agency in the UK at the Corporate Vision Magazine Media Innovator Awards 2020.
On the selection process, Corporate Vision Magazine says: "We are honoured to be able to shine the spotlight on those who create unique experiences, products and projects keep ahead of the constant shifts within the industry and them and give our readers a glimpse into the hard work that goes on behind the scenes."
In the wake of the award, SMA Talent’s principal composer agent, Carolynne Wyper, talks about how she likes to work, what she looks for in a client, and the lessons she’s learned that have enabled her to forge a successful career in a thriving agency.
Q > First things first, can you tell us about how you got your start in the industry?
Carolynne Wyper > Honestly? Not very exciting. I answered an ad in the Times or Telegraph from a record label who was looking for a secretary to the label boss. I got the job and learned from the best. Back in the day, most girls got an into work through being a shorthand typist so that’s what I did. Thank goodness times have changed since then!
Q > What does a day in the working life of Carolynne Wyper look like?
CW > It’s a bit random. Depending on what I have to do and the mood I’m in, I’ll start checking emails and messages virtually from the moment I wake up. My lovely husband and partner in crime often brings me a nice cup of tea to get the brain going. I’ll discuss plans for the day with our two dogs, Charlie and Teddy, sometimes email and call from my boudoir (a pleasure before we got so used to Zoom, FaceTime etc). Once I get into the office, which is an outbuilding in our garden, I’ll hit the emails again, make calls, pick up from where I left off the day before, follow up on meetings and calls from the night before with US colleagues and production companies.
Q > How has the industry changed over the course of your time as an agent?
CW > That’s a huge question. Remember, I’m an agent for composers and it’s a different sector to, say talent agents, who represent actors. Certainly in the US, talent agents virtually control the industry. When my company, SMA Talent, started, we were more or less the only game in town as far as composers were concerned. They either represented themselves (and generally just said “yes” to a job offer) or they were represented by an actor’s agent who – and I’m generalising here – didn’t tend to understand the nuances of the music world and the contracts.
I tend to be a bit of a maverick, or I was when I started as an agent, and once I’d learned the nuts and bolts of how it’s done, just used my experience and gut feelings about things. My background is heavily weighted on the marketing and PR side of things so I’m used to flying by the seat of my pants a lot of the time. My thinking is that if a producer wants to hire one of my clients, and my client wants to do the job, then it’s my task to make a deal work and for the music process to be enjoyable so that they come back to us again.
Q > Based on your experience, what are the vital qualities that every composer needs to have in order to succeed?
CW > To succeed they need to be a cut above everyone else. They also need to be absolutely resolute and determined, have a strong worth ethic, be an ace networker (not always easy for composers because of the nature of the job—they usually work in isolation, which is a very handy tool for lockdown!). They need to be quick, amiable and be the good cop. Part of my job is to be the bad cop if required. Having said all of that, though, Lady Luck needs to be a good friend.
Q > What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced over your career, and how did you overcome them?
CW > That’s a tough one. There are probably too many, none of which I can really talk about. In the days when I was in PR part of my job was to keep our clients’ names OUT of the press, so I had to rescue clients from a lot of typical rock and roll situations. Sorry, I can’t name names.
Q > We’re sure you’ve had many proud moments as a composer agent. Can you tell us about some of the moments that make it all feel worthwhile?
CW > Undoubtedly my proudest moments come when a client lands a big job after we’ve been pitching and sometimes jumping through hoops to do what’s necessary, and then the score turns out to be even more amazing than we thought possible.
It’s also a great feeling if I 'discover' a young composer and develop them and they then land a brilliant film or TV series. Then I have to watch my back that another agent doesn’t try to steal them! It happens.
Q > What do you know now that you wish you’d known at the very beginning of your career?
CW > I’m going to be a bit cynical here. I wish I knew then that you can’t believe you’ve got a job until the signature’s on the contract and money’s in the bank. Talk is cheap. I’ve spent many a sleepless night hoping and praying that the job I’ve been chasing and for which our composer has been shortlisted comes off. Coming second isn’t any compensation.
Q > What kind of shape do you see the industry being in at the end of this period of upheaval? How do you think we can get back on track, or else forge a new, even better track?
CW > I have absolutely no idea. It’s obviously very tough at the moment and even though companies might go under, there will always be someone new trying to live the dream and who knows, they might make it happen. I hope so. It’s a great business to be in, especially when it works!
Over lockdown, Carolynne's been busy compiling a mini-series of handy hints for film and TV composers. You can find them all here.
SMA Talent, 1 month ago