This month West One Music Group is celebrating its 20th anniversary. The production music company has been proudly independent since 2002 and focused on bringing media to life with its diverse music catalogue created by a global community of artists and composers.
Founded in the heart of London’s Soho by Edwin Cox, Tony Prior and renowned film and TV composer Richard Harvey, West One Music’s independence has permitted it to develop and expand at a rapid pace. The company has opened offices and production studios in 15 countries and more recently, a custom music division led by the Los Angeles office. West One Music takes pride in how its creative teams work with local composers and artists to ensure that its catalogue of over 80,000 tracks is truly authentic.
LBB’s Alex Reeves spoke to Cristina Bellido, global head of sales, to reflect on what the company’s achieved in two tumultuous decades and where the winds of music will take them in the next 20 years.
LBB> As West One Music celebrates 20 years of independence, what are your main reflections of what's changed in that time?
Cristina> I would say our evolution as a production music company since we started in London’s Soho in 2002, has been huge! We’ve grown from being a UK-centric company relying on an international sub-publishing network to a fully-fledged, global independent music company with our own teams and offices across five different continents and direct society memberships.
I remember walking into a bar in Brooklyn a few years ago and hearing the entirety of one of our early albums (courtesy of the barman’s Spotify playlist) and that’s when I realised how far-reaching our music had become since the early days of us creating music mostly for UK broadcast.
Globalisation and the explosion of different types of digital content and platforms in the last decade have not only had an impact on the diversity and volume of our production music labels, but also on the types of services we provide for our clients, which now include custom music and sonic branding.
LBB> Over those years, what musical talent has helped to define what you offer as a company?
Cristina> The combination of established composers such as Richard Harvey (The Little Prince, The Da Vinci Code), Jesper Kyd (Assassin’s Creed), Harry Gregson-Williams (Mulan, Team America), and Dave Buckley (The Good Wife, Jason Bourne), alongside emerging artists and composers from diverse backgrounds across multiple genres – this is what defines us in terms of the variety, quality, and authenticity of our music offering.
Some examples of the exciting emerging talent we’ve recently been working with are Atlanta-based hip-hop artist AdELA who co-wrote and performed on Meek Mill’s RIAA Certified Gold track ‘Made It From Nothing’, LA-based pop songwriter Moa Munoz (who also plays bass with Olivia Rodrigo) whose West One Music track ‘Good Vibes’ has been synched in the latest worldwide Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 advertising campaign, and Argentinian-born composer and guitarist Jacinta Clusellas who’s just released the beautiful folk-pop acoustic album ‘Hasta Donde llega el Silencio’ on our artist-focussed Latin American label Somos Más.
LBB> What challenges do you continue to face being independent and how have you overcome those?
Cristina> Not being part of or affiliated with a major has meant we’ve had to work hard on increasing our brand visibility and presence through digital and social marketing, events, and PR. However, it’s also enabled us to be more proactive, dynamic, and less complacent in terms of client service and the quality of our music. This in turn, has allowed us to get much closer to our clients and develop solid partnerships.
Having a clearly defined company vision and strategy both in the short and long-term remains key to our ongoing successful expansion and evolution.
LBB> Technologically, what's been most important to providing the best service you can?
Cristina> It’s vital that we stay up to date with fast-moving tech developments with the goal of better supporting our clients and writer community, particularly when it comes to making sure they have access to the right music as and when they need it, and in the correct format.
However, the placement of music in advertising, for example, is a truly creative process in which emotions and human collaboration are crucial, and whilst tech can certainly be helpful, the craft required goes beyond algorithms.
LBB> This summer you signed a partnership with AI company Musiio. What's most exciting about that?
Cristina> We are currently using Musiio’s AI technology to tag metadata accurately and consistently and categorise our 80,000+ track catalogue. This allows us to focus more on creating music, and ensures the catalogue is easy to access by all our clients and global partners such as Netflix, Paramount, Warner Media, and Telefonica amongst others.
LBB> Speaking more generally, what direction would you most like to see music in advertising heading?
Cristina> I’m particularly excited about how powerful a well-crafted sonic identity can be in bolstering a brand’s personality. I’d love to see more brands embracing the creative possibilities of sonic branding across all media, beyond the use of a sonic logo for mnemonic purposes.
I’d also like to see more diverse music talent from different cultures and backgrounds being featured in adverts, bringing authenticity to the story being told, whilst always aligning with the brand’s values.
LBB> What are you most excited about in the next 20 years of WOMG?
Cristina> It’s quite difficult to predict the next 20 years as I think exponential change lies ahead of us. However, I’m looking forward to seeing how our company and offerings adapt to the rapidly changing media landscape whilst continuing to deliver on our mission of excellence in music and client service!