Soundtracks evolving with biz


The climate of the record industry is changing the nature of the soundtrack business, a panel of music supervisors agreed Wednesday during a discussion at The Hollywood Reporter/Billboard Film & TV Music Conference at the Beverly Hilton.

Robert Kraft, president of Fox Music Inc., said record labels nowadays aren't as willing to offer up cash to help finance soundtracks.

"Now labels are not interested in financing an album for the simple reason that unless it's on Disney Channel, soundtracks don't sell," he said.

As a result, the studios don't rely solely on music from the record companies anymore, said Randy Spendlove, head of music at Paramount Pictures.

"We often create our own music or reach out to musicians ourselves, which we didn't do before," he said during the discussion, which was moderated by Paula Parisi, The Reporter's editorial director, features.

Doug Frank, president of music operations at Warner Bros., pointed out that sometimes it's more beneficial to a label to have an artist's music featured in the marketing campaign for a film rather than the movie itself.

"Maybe the best get is being part of a $30 million or $40 million advertising campaign (because) some films don't do that well at the boxoffice," he said. "(The audience) is more likely to hear it (in an ad) on TV than to see the film itself."

He added that Warners has cut down on the number of soundtracks it releases in favor of more single tie-ins. "We live in a one-song-at-a-time kind of world right now," he said. "You used to hope the record would drive the boxoffice, and it feels more like films are driving (sales of) records these days."

The panel also noted that soundtracks to movie musicals sell better than nonmusical films' albums because "the movie and music are so closely connected," as Spendlove put it.

Earlier in the day, filmmaker Tom Tykwer revealed that the score for his upcoming film "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer" was recorded before the script was finished.

"We had no money; we paid for it ourselves," Tykwer said. "The producer was asking, 'What are you doing recording the music?' We didn't even have a script, the film wasn't financed, we didn't even have the main actor — which was an important issue for this film. But we had the music, so we felt good, like there might be a movie behind this music."

Tykwer, director/co-screenwriter/composer of "Perfume" — a German boxoffice hit based on the novel by Patrick Suskind that DreamWorks is releasing next month in the U.S. — and the film's other composers, Reinhold Heil and Johnny Klimek, said they began working on the score more than two years ago, before the film had been greenlighted.

The trio, who first worked together on the 1997 film "Winter Sleepers," noted that they were trying to tell the film's story — which centers on a man whose heightened sense of smell leads him down a dark path — with music that would reflect the scents he was smelling.

"The reason we did start so early was to try to find a way to get the scents with music," Klimek said. "We told the musicians, 'We want that instrument to "smell"; can you make that sound for us?' "

Heil added during the discussion, moderated by Kevin Cassidy, The Reporter's senior features editor, international, that the trio worked with a "little nucleus" of notes around which they based the entire score, which was rerecorded twice, most recently with the Berlin Philharmonic.

"That's the reason why it's such a cohesive piece of work," he said.