Having over nine years of experience in the Entertainment Industry, with a focus in Music and Audio for Video Games, Film, Television, Interactive Media and Commercials, it is fair to say that Stacey is firmly established in this industry! Her credentials range from Music Supervision for Video games including Shaun White and Warhammer, 40,000: Space Marines, to TV series including Queer as Folk and Rookie Blue to movies and documentaries including “The Bang Bang Club” E1 Entertainment, “Textuality” E1 Entertainment, “Cairo Time” Foundry/Samson Films, “Science Of Interrogation” National Geographic, and many more! Not only this but she has been a guest speaker, panelist, and judge at numerous festivals including:
NXNE – Guest Speaker (2011)
Festival Of Games – Moderator (2011)
NARIP – Panelist (2011)
Pop Montreal Music Festival- Moderator (2010)
Juno Music Awards – Judge (2009)
Hockey Night In Canada Anthem Competition – Judge (2008)
The Toronto International Film Festival- Guest Speaker (2007- 2008)
Ontario Media Development Corporation- Panelist (2008)
Interactive Ontario- Panelist (2008)
The Atlantic Film Festival- Panelist (2007)
Canadian Music Week Festival- Panelist (2006)
I first interacted with Stacey when she was working at Vapor music with David Hayman, who’s interview you may remember. Through Stacey I was introduced to Michael Perlmutter whom she has also worked with. Over and over, networking proves to be the most important tool in this industry. I love how Stacey got started in Music Supervision and how it has taken her from Victoria, British Columbia, to The Big Apple, NYC!
Thanks again Stacey!
Interview with Stacey Horricks
How did you get started in the music and entertainment business?
It started back in 2001 when I was juggling college with bartending at Suze, a hip martini lounge in Victoria, B.C. Along with shaking martinis in record time, I was also in charge of the music. So if the CDs skipped or conflicted with the ebb and flow of the night, I had to drop my long list of martinis and save everyone’s ears from the severely liquor damaged CDs. I cursed those dreaded CDs and after a couple of weeks of racing between the bar well and stereo, I decided to tackle the problem straight on. So during my free time, I would buy CDs and recompile them to musically suit the vibe of my shift. And from that point on, a funny thing began to happen… what started as a pure annoyance, quickly turned into a passion and I was addicted to creating the ultimate “mood” music compilation. To top that off, people actually loved what I was playing. So much so, I had around 10 customers per shift asking me what CD I was playing, and when they realized that they couldn’t run into a record store to buy it, a few of them chose their martini drinking days around my schedule.
That’s right, I was a ‘glorified DJ’! And it wasn’t long before my boss got wind of this sudden popularity and offered me a side job to revamp their music library. $30 for each CD I compiled – score! But it didn’t stop there.. turns out that a few of those customers who liked my compilations were business owners and slowly approached me one by one to help with creating libraries for their establishments. So, I went with the flow and started compiling music for other restaurants, clothing stores and even a cruise ship.
Then one night, a couple of music supervisors from Toronto sat down at my bar – and we started chatting about our passion for music and mix-tapes. So when I eventually asked them what a music supervisor did, my jaw nearly dropped. I had no idea that outside of a composer, you could actually make a living out of marrying two of my favorite things, music & film. Weeks later, I couldn’t shake that conversation out of my head. Even when I was in the middle of exams, I was dreaming of music supervising the next Donnie Darko.
So I decided to do something drastic. I would drop everything in Victoria…. college, work and even my boyfriend (eek!) and move to Toronto to woo those music supervisors. I cannot deny my tenacity, but without having an education in music, I wasn’t the strongest candidate for an internship. So I fell back on what I was good at – making specialized compilations, but this time I catered it towards the shows these music supervisors were working on. Ten compilations later, I landed a part-time internship that eventually turned into a full-time music coordinator. And after nine years I’m living in New York and have over 35 music supervision credits in film, tv, gaming and sourced music for some of the world’s top brands in advertising.
Now that you’re a music supervisor, how has that changed the way you listen to music, from the perspective that it’s your job?
It’s actually changed quite a bit. Sometimes I get anxious when I listen to music because I instantly relate it to work. If I hear a particular song, riff or lyrics that would have worked great on a project, my mind starts spinning…“Ah, I could have included in my last advertising pitch.” And it doesn’t help that I live in Brooklyn, where so many restaurants, bars, coffee shops and clothing stores are playing something that perks my ears and has me pulling out my “shazam” app. And if I think the song would be great for an upcoming project or client, I download the song off of iTunes or Amazon and file it away.
I’ve noticed you’ve music supervised for a number of different mediums. A lot of people I’ve spoken to specifically deal with reality TV, or movies, or television, or video games. Now that you’re dealing with TV commercials, what would be the biggest difference btw TV commercials, TV shows, movies, video games, etc.?
If I were to break it down, there are different styles that really appeal to different mediums. Ads usually require a definite hook, something to grab attention sonically in addition to the visuals. And with 30 seconds to do so, everything needs to happen fast.
With film and TV, you have much more freedom. Placements are longer, often mixed differently and isn’t really genre specific. I remember back in 2009 we had a month straight of death metal requests and it wasn’t just for one TV show.
With games, I’ve noticed that pace is really important – there needs to be a momentum when it comes to music in games. Games, as visually stunning as they are, face the big problem that they can’t use live actors in their projects, so the music has to be a little bit more dramatic to compensate for the lack of emotion they’re unable to bring to their animated characters. Energy is so important to game developers. A driving rock song – yes. A meandering singer-songwriter ballad – not so much. The exciting news is that things are drastically changing in the video game world, and it won’t be too long before games will require the same music you see in film. In fact, you’re already seeing this with Red Dead Redemption, Braid and LA Noir.
Which mediums gain the most exposure for bands?
That’s a tough question. I would probably side with ads and promotional trailers, just because of the circulation. You see the spot and hear the song maybe 5 times a week. A film you might only see it once, same goes with a television episode (unless it’s the show’s theme song).
How do you give economic value to songs that are being placed in these different mediums?
Songs in ads should always be paid the highest. You’re selling a brand, not someone’s personal story or expression. As for Video Games, I view them as art and believe they should be on the same scale system as film and tv. Large budget games should pay more than the indie games.
How do you find new music?
70% of the time it’s from the labels, publishers and music licensors who send their latest releases via email. I also go out a lot in New York, so live music shows, cafes, bars, lounges and restaurants are also prime resources. When it comes to online, I don’t visit blogs as much as I use to but I do check out the music my friends are posting on their facebook and twitter feeds.
Do you need to have relationships with publishers, labels and libraries, or are the chances of an artist contacting you directly just as good as going through a library or publisher?
The chances aren’t quite as good and it heavily relies in the presentation. We get so many emails from music labels, publishers, licensors and artists in one day we’re not able to hear everything. So if you want to get noticed, know how to market your song in an email. Visually it needs to catch my eye, whether it’s with a smart subject line, promo shot or an intro that draws me in. For instance, the artist might know what projects I am working on and has hand selected a few songs they think will work. Letting me know this within the first 5 – 8 seconds of reading will hold my attention longer than “Hey, I just wrote a couple of songs, are you looking for anything?”
Does it make a difference what it says in the subject line of an email?
I usually try to open up all my emails, but a great subject line goes a long way.
On the subject of emails, how much follow up is too much?
A weekly basis is too much. Check in every two to three weeks, and try to do so with a relaxed tone. From time to time, I get a few anxious emails from artists asking if I have any placements for them. I love their enthusiasm and tenacity but you have to draw the line on when it’s overkill. If the music supervisor is organized and has filed the music for consideration, it still might not get placed for a year, regardless of the song. Even if WE think it’s screams “music placement worthy!”, we might not be able to place it due to what style of music is needed for our projects.
What would be a normal timeline from a submission onwards to when a song is actually placed in the project?
I’d check back in a week and a half to two weeks. Different music supervisors work in different ways. Sometimes they need 2 days to sort through the submissions before they present them to their clients/producers. And if you don’t hear back from them after 3 weeks, chances are your music didn’t get placed.
To contact Stacey and learn more about Massive Music here is all the info you need:
MassiveMusic | Stacey Horricks
New York – Los Angeles – Amsterdam – Shanghai
20 Union Square East, New York, NY 10003 USA
T: +1 646 495 4955
F: +1 646 495 4905