INFLUENCER: Having taken on the role of MD at BMG PM in the UK, Altitude Custom’s Scott Doran shares the exciting developments and challenges of his new endeavour
Music entrepreneur, Scott Doran, started his career as a singer/songwriter playing in bands before founding Altitude Music in 2010, providing a production music catalogue alongside bespoke compositions for TV and advertising. In 2016, the company was acquired by BMG, leading Scott and business partner, Caspar Kedros, to found Altitude Custom - a service providing commission opportunities to media writers and artists signed to BMG.
This year, Scott joined BMG PM as managing director in the UK, bringing his unique perspective and entrepreneurial spirit to the production music giant. In this interview, Scott divulges his plans for the company under his new leadership and shares his industry insights.
Q>Tell us about your journey into the industry.
I used to be a singer/songwriter before I moved over into media composing and discovered a passion for composing to picture and the power for brands that music can offer. With Altitude Music we were one of the first to offer a production music catalogue alongside a bespoke service to tailor compositions according to a client’s needs.
When Altitude Music was acquired by BMG and effectively rebranded as BMG PM in the UK, my business partner, Caspar, and I moved further into the bespoke side of the business and created Altitude Custom to provide bespoke commission opportunities to BMG talent.
In July last year, I was asked to become MD at BMG PM which includes the running of Altitude Custom. I couldn’t say no as I love the way BMG works as a company; embracing creative thinking and empowering good ideas.
Q>What direction is BMG PM headed under your new leadership?
I’d like to think I instil some of the same ethos that made Altitude successful: keeping music and service high quality and flexible - an easy thing to say and a hard thing to do. I want to use BMG PM’s reach and power to continue its growth whilst thinking a bit like an independent so that we strive to offer a highly tailored service to our clients. We have a seriously strong team here, if we’re driving creativity and having fun in the process then I know we’re going in the right direction.
Q>What have been some of the most exciting developments since you took on the MD role?
We now represent Sounds of Red Bull’s production music catalogue and we are really starting to see the potential of what they can do with it. Having a brand as big as Red Bull see production music differently is a huge deal.
Q>Is there an area in particular that you’re excited to grow in your new role?
One thing that I find interesting is the question: what gives music value? We can tailor music according to what effect a filmmaker wants to create; does it want to make people feel uplifted, curious, tense, frightened? The emotive side to music can still be harnessed to greater potential. BMG PM will prove we’re thinking about this by adding value to our clients’ projects.
I want to grow a better understanding of the capabilities of modern production music. As someone who’s worked across commercial music, bespoke and library, I’m still surprised when I come across people who see production music as a lesser option. That’s out of date thinking. We have world class artists, bands, film and TV media composers making our music. Production music is a licencing model, not a ‘style’ or ‘quality’ of music. Yes, it’s ‘off the shelf’, but isn’t this what’s on Spotify? John Lennon didn’t write ‘Come Together’ for Apple. What I do know, is we’re making some of the best music out there and a filmmaker can try it, bin it, start again, re-edit it, change from dark to light, add and remove anything and finish with something unique and brilliant.
Q>Is this where Altitude Custom meets BMG PM?
Having a roster of artists and composers working on commissioned music either from our in-house recording studio or their own studios means we are quick to blend services between bespoke and production music. It’s not just us, this is where the industry is heading, I obviously like to think we’re at the leading edge.
Q>Where do you think the industry headed?
I think it’s becoming more fragmented. As companies compete on price, they sacrifice quality. To offer too-good-to-be-true music rates you have to do cheap composer deals, and then you’re not getting the top talent, so the music quality is lower. Some companies offer writers such bad deals that the writer cannot even become a PRS member if they want to sign it. If you’re a music company and not striving to make quality authentic music and look after your writers as well as clients, then I can’t see where there’s a genuine love of music in that business. They are out there though.
I think we’ll see more exclusive partnerships between music companies and production companies and agencies. More in-house composers working inside agencies, though I expect that to reverse and it clearly restricts creativity and producers rightly don’t like it!
I think agencies will change their music pitching process. Having lots of composers competing when the fees were much higher made some sense, but with more lower win fees these days, making composers pitch only means you won’t get the top talent. Creatives are seeing that to work with the best and get the best results, a better process is to pick a composer or artist that you believe in and work with them from start to finish, that’s where the most exciting creativity happens.