BY EMMA HALL
Portland-based music agency Marmoset recently released a website that caters directly to filmmakers and other motion picture and advertising creatives.
FILLING THE GAP. Finding music for a film, commercial or movie is often the last step in a creative process that frequently runs behind deadline. Relying on stock music- licensing websites can be frustrating as too many options aren’t specific to film. A business that does specialize in music for TV or film tends to be an agency that compels filmmakers to negotiate prices with a person rather than access an instant click-licensing platform. Enter Portland-based Marmoset. The nearly 3-year-old boutique music agency recently released a website that hopes to fill the void by catering directly to filmmakers and other motion picture and advertising creatives.
RAPID GROWTH. Native Oregonians and co-founders Ryan Wines and Brian Hall barely knew one another when they each put $200 into a shared account in 2010. Hall had a home recording studio and, in only two years, had found quick success doing commercial work such as the Levi’s Go Forth campaign. Wines’ background included experience at a Portland advertising agency and as label manager for the Dandy Warhols. Fast forward three years and the business has moved into a 6,500-square-foot studio space with 16 employees and a team of interns. The company scores original music, negotiates music clearances for well-known songs and represents their own roster of about 350 artists, a majority of whom are based in the Pacific Northwest.
GET SPECIALIZED. Earlier this year, Marmoset merged with a much smaller music company, With Etiquette. “They only had about 30 artists on their small web platform, but had done it very well and developed a rather engaged, loyal audience,” Wines says. “What was most important about our merger with With Etiquette is that they weren’t music people — they were filmmakers and photographers,” Wines says. “They are strategic thinkers who help us with how to approach music and how it relates to pictures, which is a magical experience when it works just right.” This strategic thinking led to Marmoset’s new website that filters available music through the lens of filmmakers’ specific needs and acts as an easy-to-use catalog.
TRANSLATION. Wines calls Marmoset’s clients “film geeks” and “music nerds.” “They each have their own dialect and litany of terms the other side doesn’t understand,” he says. “We’re essentially trying to bridge that gap.” Instead of arranging music on the site in terms of beats per minute or by genre, Marmoset’s new site acts as a Rosetta Stone to translate the music world into something appealing for filmmakers. One of the most effective tools is the arc function, allowing clients to choose music that perfectly fits the narrative arc of their piece, scene or spot: ascending, descending, with multiple peaks or steady and flat. The response has been overwhelming, says Wines, citing gross revenues in excess of $2 million for the year so far. “Filmmakers [are] saying, ‘This is the greatest thing ever!’”