If ever there was a moment to cue up Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb,” now is the time.
Her siren song of peak-scaling syncs up perfectly with 2nd Mountain Music, a new initiative designed to deliver fresh opportunity to women composers. An all-female music-for-media library, 2nd Mountain is entering the film and TV space with the express intention of reshaping the status quo.
Set to debut in September, 2nd Mountain was borne from a brainstorming power lunch between Cassie Lord, President of the highly respected music licensing/publishing one-stop SyncStories, and music licensing and clearance expert Karen Falzone of Mostly Music. Joined by SyncStories CEO Eric Vazquez, the creation of 2nd Mountain is a true group effort.
According to research cited by Lord, just 6% of TV music composers are women. With her deep resume covering three decades, Lord’s accomplishments include spearheading the formation of the Film & Television Music Divisions for APM Music, Zomba’s FirstCom, and 5 Alarm Music. In the course of direction production, operations and accumulation of over 80 music libraries, she has steered countless tracks to elite films and TV shows including Game Of Thrones, Stranger Things, Breaking Bad, House Of Cards, The Walking Dead, X-Men, Batman vs Superman, plus advertisement campaigns for Dodge, Old Navy, and Pepsi. She also stands as a board member of the Production Music Association.
Now Lord, along with her compatriots, is poised to make another kind of impact. Will this latest library ramp the composer gender ratio right up to where it should be — an even 50/50? Synchblog spoke with Lord, Falzone and Vazquez to discern 2nd Mountain’s signal path to success.
We were really interested to see that SyncStories is launching an all-female music library. How did that come together?
Cassie Lord: The reason for 2nd Mountain Music is because in life your “first mountain” is where you make your job, you get your family, you get your career going. But your “second mountain” in life is to help other people up the mountain.
“In life your “first mountain” is where you make your job, you get your family, you get your career going. But your “second mountain” in life is to help other people up the mountain.”
– Cassie Lord, President of SyncStories
That’s why we came up with 2nd Mountain Music, to begin to create more opportunities for women in the industry. We figure having a female composer library will lead to more opportunities and placements so that they can get those bigger deals, because only 6% of the females are getting selected right now for all the film and TV music composing and production that’s being done out there.
That’s how we started this whole venture. It all came together very organically, and I’m feeling really grateful and excited about it. It feels exactly like what we should be doing right now.
That sounds like quite an a-ha moment! Tell us more about your motivations for launching an all-female library. What made it clear that this was important to do now?
CL: Well, I’ve been in this business of producing libraries for close to 30 years, and I’ve seen there are very few female composers because they don’t get mentored like the guys do. The guys all help each other out, they teach them all the technology. The females don’t tend to have that kind of support, so the motivation was, “Let’s help the females to try to create more of a society where they can grow, mentor and be mentored.”
Karen Falzone: It’s sort of like there is a boys’ club in this world of musical composition, and I don’t really know if it’s really just in film and TV. I really felt like in my (own personal) second mountain that I wanted to be part of the solution to this.
“It’s sort of like there is a boys’ club in this world of musical composition, and I don’t really know if it’s really just in film and TV. I really felt like in my (own personal) second mountain that I wanted to be part of the solution to this.”
– Karen Falzone, Mostly Music
For me, being part of the solution is to get the male producers and composers that we all love and adore to bring in some females and help them. Let them learn the formula for making trailer music, for instance, or help them along so they can understand the game and help other women.
It’s starting the process of inclusion, even if that means we start out with records that are made by females but are produced by men, so that at least we’re moving towards the solution and start to employ female composers. Doing that can only be good artistically.
How are you reaching out and recruiting composers for the library? Besides being female, what criteria are you applying for those who get in?
CL: They have to be good composers! I’m hitting up all my female composers that I know and have worked with. Eric and other people — male composers that have been doing this for a while — they know their female composers. We’re just trying to have them help us.
Plus, we went to the (performing rights) societies. I’ve met with ASCAP and BMI and I’ve said, “Send your female composers to us, we went to work with them.” I’m kind of throwing my wide net out there so that people know there is another venue that is very open. And this is going to be worldwide—we’re looking for female composers around the world, not just in the United States.
What feedback have you gotten so far from the composers that you’ve spoken to about joining 2nd Mountain Music?
CL: They’re very excited. When Eric and I were meeting in April with our sub publishers around the world, and we started to talk about this new vision that SyncStories is representing, they were so excited as well. They said, “You send it just as soon as you get it!” That was encouraging.
Across all industries, there are always some women who don’t want to be seen as a woman “fill-in-the-blank”: blockchain engineer, computer programmer, race car driver, etc…. Are you encountering a pushback from female composers on that front? What is your response to them, or what would it be?
KF: I haven’t, but (if I did) my response might be that I’m not as interested in (promoting them as female composers as) creating awareness of them as an artist. Obviously. If they prefer to be genderless in their output, I’m fine with that, because for me, the end result is the same: I’ve employed a female to make something that’s now going to be out in the world, hopefully get licensed and placed in different productions. Our goal is to do that.
How can people get in touch if they want to be considered for inclusion?
CL: They contact Karen or myself at firstname.lastname@example.org or karen@2ndmountainmusic. I would like to just like to add that with SyncStories, we do represent a lot of indie artists and that is another thing that we take a lot of pride in. If there are indie artists out there that are looking for representation, we’re always open.
From the business standpoint, what are your expectations for this library in terms of revenue?
CL: I think it’s going to be on par with any other library that we represent. I don’t want to put a dollar figure against that, but it will be distributed to all the networks and ad agencies and trailer houses according to the type of material we have. It’s going to be just as good as any other library — it’s just going to have a little bow on it because it’s special.
What impact do you hope this development, the launch of 2nd Mountain Music, has on music for media as a whole? Is there some larger change that you see it could potentially spark?
CL: Yes, I just hope that others do start their own female composer libraries as well, so there’s a lot more opportunity for females to have writing opportunities out there. Writing for libraries is such a great breeding ground for them to make that next step, to getting that feature film or TV series once they know that they can produce and write the quality of music that will be licensed in these TV shows and films. We’re hoping to bring that for them.
“I just hope that others do start their own female composer libraries as well, so there’s a lot more opportunity for females to have writing opportunities out there.”
– Cassie Lord, President of SyncStories
While I have all three of you available, I wanted to ask: Beyond this particular initiative, what trends are you seeing right now in sync licensing and music supervision. What’s popping out at you?
CL: Well, trailer music is always useful. In fact, SyncStories just signed Dig It Music and Epicus, which are great trailer libraries. Eric, do you want to comment on what other kinds of styles do you think that are popping up?
Eric Vasquez: All genres in the Top 40 category are always needed since it drives the pulse of current trends and music culture. TV and Film creatives are always going to need Top 40 Pop, Rock, Indie, Urban and Electronic Dance Music. We’ve also seen many usages in sound design, especially with promo departments at TV networks and trailer house companies — Our most recent sound design placements can be heard on trailers for The Avengers: End Game.
We also see a lot of activity with classic punk rock music, which is really great because my career start was in old school punk rock. There are a lot of ’80s TV shows out there nowadays, and we’ve seen a surge in licensing activity with creatives using early ’80s punk rock music. Most of the punk rock bands we represent never thought their music would be commercially viable one day. So it is a true honor to give back to this community after their many years of hard work and inspiration.
“I believe this vision will help create a community and collective where female composers can network and share their music experience and skill set.”
Eric Vazquez, CEO of SyncStories
Circling back to 2nd Mountain, I believe this vision will help create a community and collective where female composers can network and share their music experience and skill set. I think if we can create this community, especially within 2nd Mountain, it’ll give female composers, producers, and writers all a chance to share their creative ideas and music production techniques. It will be a really great resource that will give female composers, songwriters and producers a platform to share and grow together.