audiomachine is a boutique, motion picture advertising music production collective, specializing in original epic music and bone crunching sound design for theatrical trailers, television commercials and video game advertising campaigns. Since their official launch in August of 2005, they have had their music placed in countless feature film trailers and ...
There is nothing mechanical about audiomachine. Orchestras and choruses of musicians numbering in the hundreds, the organic grandeur of instruments and performances that burst with life, join to serve one goal: deepening the emotional impact of moving images. And this impact has led to a creative business model that points to the upsides of the new music economy.
What began as a collaboration between two songwriters—one who perfected the craft of the trailer track, one who went to law school and learned the business side of things—has become one of the most distinctive sounding, sought-after libraries of advertising music. audiomachine’s work has literally been featured everywhere. Hundreds of blockbuster movie trailers, including Avatar, The Fighter, and The Hobbit, have used audiomachine music to entice audiences to see their film. Countless successful video game campaigns including Assassin’s Creed, World of Warcraft and Titanfall, have used audiomachine tracks to set the Internet chat rooms ablaze teasing the most anticipated new games of the year.
Various high profile product placements including brand heavyweights Coca Cola, Mercedes Benz, and Nike have trusted audiomachine music to serve as the backdrop of their advertising efforts. Finally, the triumphant and inspirational opening sequences to the last three Olympic games have been fueled by music from the Machine—and in thousands of amateur videos made by their ardent fans, fondly nicknamed “Machine Heads.”
Their latest work includes the music for the highly anticipated Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (hwww.callofduty.com/advancedwarfare; out November 4, 2014) and an album, REMIXED, including contributions from RAC, White Sea (Morgan Kibby from M83), Cole Plante and Photek (release: November 11, 2014).
Beyond their quiet but significant impact on the industry, the audiomachine team has crossed over into commercial music realms. In the new dynamics of the music market in the digital age, where music is discovered via videos and other visual media, trailer and video game music has won over an ever-growing fanbase. audiomachine’s vast and emotionally stirring sound—and its impeccable audiophile-quality recordings—have done remarkably well among the music buying public.
audiomachine’s fans have dubbed the sound epic, and one listen confirms the description. It’s music for vast and mysterious landscapes, for the trigger points of sprawling tales, for the eerie reaches of the soul. Pounding with percussive power, exploiting the full dynamics of huge orchestras with Orff-like glee, audiomachine’s tracks conjure entire dramatic worlds.
Yet like many of the grandest things, audiomachine’s golden tracks have humble beginnings. Founding partner Paul Dinletir started studying classical pieces for the piano at the age of five. With the help of his fellow musician father, he dove headfirst into the music that would inspire him lifelong: the works of Mozart, Beethoven, Debussy. Paul grew to love classical music and eventually committed to pursuing his musical passion, writing songs, playing session gigs, and, like almost everyone else in LA, waiting tables.
A stint composing music for a highly successful cartoon and several hit reality TV shows introduced him to score composition. He eventually got deeper into the world of writing to picture and became a master writer of trailer music, a separate but related stream of short but hard-hitting pieces that have to entice and move the listener in a matter of seconds.
It is a peculiarly demanding field of work: The music must serve the image, while finding original, compelling ways to get at the heart. Within its structures, however, there is great room for expression. “It was liberating,” Dinletir recalls, “to write a freeform piece of music that had a beginning, a breakdown and a big ending, in the style I wanted to write in. I started enjoying that process and decided to commit more time to it. After writing within the parameters set for me by the network, producer, director, and so on, on all of the TV stuff—I felt complete creative freedom in doing what I wanted to do.”
Dinletir turns to a variety of instruments, including Japanese taiko drums and water harps (a sonic component in Dinletir’s music for Call of Duty Advanced Warfare), as he works. Then after painstaking arrangement and scoring for orchestra, the tracks are performed by an orchestra and chorus that Wagner or Mahler would have approved of. At a soundstage in London, audiomachine works with a nearly one hundred piece orchestra, and a chorus of eighty singers, to create the full, organic, chilling sound of their tracks.
“Inspiration comes from the picture,” explains Dinletir. “I always put on video that inspires me. The images take me to places that I haven’t thought of before. The idea is to always try to get the music to make the image move me.”
audiomachine: An Epic Business Model
Dinletir’s efforts are matched by the business acumen of songwriter-turned-lawyer Carol Sovinski, who has helped audiomachine develop from a library for supervisors to a multi-faceted music business. A graduate of Berklee College of Music in Boston, Sovinski headed to LA as part of a band and wound up, after six months, being the only member who stayed on.
She had made a pledge to her parents before moving to the West Coast: She would write a Top 10 hit in ten years, or she would quit the songwriting game and go to law school. Sovinski came close, but never cracked the Top 10 in the allotted time. She kept her word to her parents and went to law school. “I felt like I owed them that. They were always so good about supporting me in whatever I did and they thought I had so much potential, because, they’re my parents and they kind of have to think that. So, after ten years of writing songs, playing in bands and waiting on tables (Paul and I still talk about those days) I decided to get serious about learning the business side of music. I think I made the right choice.”
Sovinski and Dinletir met during their days of writing songs and “doing demos”. “LA seems so big when you first get here. Neither Paul nor I grew up in California, so, we were kind of on the same path in terms of trying to just get into the music business. You know – you go to clubs to hear bands, you go to sessions, you take classes, you constantly meet people trying to do the same thing as you. When I met Paul, I was incredibly impressed with his production skills. He had this little studio set up in the condo he and his wife Jill were living in on Riverside Drive, and he was already getting these amazing sounds out of that studio. I just knew he was ridiculously talented, and he appreciated my talents. Plus, we got along really well from day one. We’ve been in each others lives since Riverside Drive.”
The two stayed in touch during Sovinski’s stint in law school and beyond. It was in reviewing Dinletir’s composer agreements that she learned about the world of trailer music. Sovinski offers, “Up until then, I thought most trailers were scored to picture, much like films”.
Time passed and the two friends eventually faced a similar fork in the road: what to do next. Sovinski was growing wary of practicing music law for any extended period of time: “It was the advent of the 99 cents download and everything in the music industry was in flux.” Dinletir was growing tired of assignment writing for television and wanted to concentrate exclusively on writing music for trailers. In the fall of 2005, the friends, now business partners, launched audiomachine.
Dinletir oversaw the production of audiomachine music and Sovinski handled all the day-to-day business activities running the company. The combination worked. In the highly competitive world of music licensing, audiomachine is that rare company that found success early and maintained their reputation as an independent, go-to library of premium orchestral music.
Then, everything changed.
As a response to a growing fanbase hungry for the epic music they loved in favorite trailers, audiomachine made the decision to make their music available to the public in 2012. They printed a 1000-CD run of their first release, Chronicles, an anthology of fan-favorite “trailer tracks.” “We expected to be handing them out like drink coasters for the next several years,” remembers Dinletir. Soon, they were sold out.
“I never understood the value of Facebook or Twitter. I thought they were nice and fun, but that was about it,” recalls Sovinski, “until fans started asking for our music on social media. Facebook is not where music supervisors go to find you. That’s where fans go. Social media drives that train, and that’s where listeners, especially younger ones, find out about us.”
The uptick in interest in physical product is part of a larger trend, the development and burgeoning of a scene that enthusiastically follows (and purchases) trailer music. CD Baby, audiomachine’s distributor, reports that physical sales for trailer music collectives like audiomachine have risen markedly in the last two years, against a background of physical sales declines for the industry overall. Gamers or film buffs hear a track, watch a trailer or play a game, and want to have their own access to that music.
To expand audiomachine’s listener base further, the collective has invited 15 electronic artists from a range of scenes to remix their favorite track, providing them with lush starting material. It’s one more way this team is straddling the once hard and fast line between industry-facing and consumer-facing music production, one that is paying off in the new digital music age.