Welcome back to Many Hats. This week our Edinburgh centre manager Alyssa got to sit down and catch up with her old pal Chloe Heatlie, producer at Adelphoi Music, a Music Agency based in Central London. Chloe has a set of impressive music qualifications including a Masters in Musical Theatre at the Royal Academy of Music and since joining Adelphoi, she has worked with a range of high profile clients including Nike, Armani x Hypebeast, Zara, Walkers Max, and Google Cloud.
Their conversation spans all things music production, as Alyssa gets all the details on what Chloe’s fascinating role involves, and her commitment to music beyond her day-job including her lockdown-inspired Podcast ‘A Little More Conversation’. Alyssa and Chloe also chat lockdown tips and the impact of this ‘toxic productivity’ we’re all feeling just a little bit right now. Read on and discover all…
Hi Chloe! Tell me a bit about yourself! What do you do and how did you get where you are today?
I live in London and I work as a producer at a music agency [Adelphoi Music]. Before that, I studied musical theatre in Glasgow at Motherwell College and then moved to London to study at the Royal Academy of Music. After that I worked as a performer before I decided I wanted to work in the music industry. When I decided that, I started to work hard to gain experience, so temped on reception at places like Universal Music, I volunteered for Sofar Sounds, read a ton of books, wrote a music blog and eventually (after a couple of years) I got a job at Adelphoi. And that’s where I am now!
Tell us a bit more about your role at Adelphoi?
I’m a producer – we work with creative agencies, production companies and brands to either find or create music and/or sounds for advertising campaigns. We have a team of composers who work for us but we also work with freelance composers, musicians and artists to create compositions! We work with record labels and publishers to brief out searches if we’re looking for a specific type of track for a project, we’ll work with them to find tracks that are in-line with what we want and are licence-able for the budget we have.
We also do audio branding, so that’s working directly with brands to find a specific sound to represent them. For example we worked with Norwegian Air to create a sonic identity for them and they use it on board all of their planes, we also revived Gillette’s existing audio identity for use globally across their advertising. We also do sound design to picture too.
What’s a typical day in the office for you? – Pre-covid!
A typical day pre-COVID! [laughs] Our office is in Covent Garden, there we have studios and we have a production room where we all sit and work together. We usually have production meetings, so all the producers get together and we talk about projects we have. We also talk about sales a lot, part of our role is new business. So we’re reaching out to producers, creatives and creative directors, to tell them about the company and try to get them to think of us when they next need music on a project. We have sales catch-ups in the morning, then during the day we’ll just be working on whatever projects take priority. A lot of the time our projects are a very quick turn around, 1-2 days to make a composition for an advert, so that’s doing demos, working on them and then delivering, so getting them mixed as well! [We’re] sometimes in-and-out of the office for industry events too.
And how have things changed with COVID this year?
It’s quite different yeah… So all of the ‘nice’ bits of the job – getting to meet people and socialise and attend events and screenings – are all non-existent! [laughs] There are a lot of online events which we are trying to attend more and more. But yeah the sad thing is not being able to meet people and chat face-to-face and do all those things which are the big perks of the job really! But yeah we’ve been working remotely since March, everybody, all our composers and producers.
Has your job been effected by the impact of COVID on the music industry?
We’ve noticed [it] in terms of the types of projects that we’re getting. We’re getting a lot smaller budgets this year, so brands just don’t have as much money, or they’re choosing not to spend as much money on music so we’re getting a lot of back catalog searches and library music searches. Rather than brands spending £50k on a composition job, they’ll spend £10k on a piece of library music that maybe isn’t as special but is cheaper and does the job. So we’ve definitely noticed some budgets being slashed, but there’s definitely still work out there so we’re still working which is nice!
That’s good – it’s a bit doom and gloom and we’re having to adapt! But musicians are used to being versatile?
I think that’s true. Most people I work with have some kind of ‘side hustle’ whether that is DJing or being part of some sort of collaborative group, or volunteering, they do have things they do on the side. Definitely agree.
When you graduated from RAM, how did your degree help you to get where you are today?
My degrees did help me in terms of the musical knowledge you need to get my job. Everyone that works for the company is a musician or a DJ or is totally involved in music in some way, shape or form. So it’s really important. And also to be able to give feedback to performers, if you don’t understand music you’re not really able to give that feedback. It’s something that adds value to companies like us. You get agencies coming to us and saying things like… ‘I want music that’s happy’. Okay, what kind of music are we talking about here? So it needs to be happy, is that all you can give us? [laughs] So it’s kinda like translating what people want into music – which is essential.
“For my job I have to have an understanding of a range of genres. Our briefs can be anything from opera to 80s disco! It could be anything.”
I also think, with my degree in musical theatre… It wasn’t all about the music, it was more about your confidence and your character. I think it was those things that really helped me in terms of getting up and being able to talk to people or being able to approach somebody you don’t know and say, hey look at what we’re doing over here, do you wanna hear more about it? It’s also those skills that are really valuable!
So from graduating from RAM to where you are today, what experience did you gather along the way?
I had to have passion for music to get my job, you had to have experience in music. You have to have an understanding of a range of genres – our briefs can be anything from opera to 80s disco, you know! It could be anything. So you have to kinda understand a lot of different styles, or at least have an awareness of it.
I was also doing loads of voluntary work at the time too. In those 2 years where I was looking for a job in music, I was applying for jobs like mad! There’s paid internships down in London but they don’t really pay you enough for you to actually do them, unless you’re living with someone and not really paying any rent or student loans or bills. I didn’t do an internship, I just needed to get a job! And I think Adelphoi did take a bit of a risk.
I think it’s important to note I didn’t have experience in the job, I just had passion and I had degrees and I had knowledge. I was teaching myself, I read so many books all about the music industry and I was volunteering at live events, doing all sorts of things from artist liaison to making sure people at the events were safe and comfortable. And I was blogging as well! I was constantly looking online to find artists that weren’t signed and I was blogging about them, just writing ‘check out this song, this is really cool, and she’s from here, and she’s this old, and this is the kind of music she does or he does.’ So yeah, a big part of me getting the job was the company taking a chance, but also proving I was passionate.
What about the best thing about working in music?
The best thing I think is the people. We get to meet so many people, not only is our team so nice, we have a good family feel! But there’s just so many interesting people. As I said before, aside from the day-to-day projects we might be working on, you might not be really passionate about making an advert, or what the advert is about, but a lot of the people have things that they believe in and they’re part of things outside of work they get involved in. That might be charity projects… The other night we went to an online… What do you call it when it’s like naked drawing? [laughs]
Anyway! It was an online naked drawing [life drawing] event for Breast Cancer Awareness and these girls from an agency were like, we’re gonna do an event with naked drawing and you pay £8 for a ticket, all the money goes towards Breast Cancer Awareness and you have a bit of fun! And there’s loads of those sort of initiatives which I really like. So definitely the people.
What’s the most challenging aspect of your job or working in the industry?
One of the challenges actually is getting through all the music! So everyday we each get 10s and 10s of emails from sync companies, publishers, record labels, freelance composers and artists – we just get sent so much music! And we’d love to listen to it, and we do try to go through as much as we can but we can’t sit and listen to music all day, so that’s the sad thing, we get a sent a lot of great stuff that we might miss because we just don’t have the hours in the day. But we do always try to reply, especially if it’s someone new that we haven’t heard from before just to say thanks, I’ll take a look, and we’ll keep you in mind and if something comes up maybe we can work together. But yeah, that’s the day-to-day trouble for sure.
What advice would you give students or graduates who want to get into your line of work?
Yeah, passion! If you’re not, why are you in the music industry really! That’s a given. But for this year obviously it’s really challenging for everyone in terms of working, there’s been a ton of redundancies all over the place especially in the live sector, I think just don’t be too hard on yourself if it doesn’t happen straight away. It took me a few years to get a job in music, and I think just do your research!
If you’re passionate about something, just learn. Watch YouTube videos, read books, email people, add them on LinkedIn, just say hey, I’m really interested in your career, would you be up for having a coffee or a zoom and just chatting. Maybe find a mentor as well, somebody that’s willing to give you advice or check over your CV. But I think passion will definitely help you on the way!
And what’s the most valuable piece of advice you’ve received?
I think for me I’ve always been quite driven to the point where I just want to get things done and get to the finish line. It can be a really good thing, but it’s important to take your time sometimes and enjoy the moments… And not always be pushing for the next thing. Just taking it a bit slower sometimes would probably be the best advice I’ve had. Not that I always listen to it! [laughs]
Especially during the pandemic…
There was that saying which was like, if you’ve got out of bed in the morning and made your bed, then you’ve done something, you’ve achieved something.
That’s a good way to look at it. There’s so much pressure on achieving stuff during this time – I’m not in the mood to do anything creative, just trying to get through it.
I think it’s totally common. Obviously everybody is different and everybody is dealing with it differently and has different situations, but I don’t think it’s a time to be putting pressure on yourself and stressing out about it. You know, do what you can do. If you can make 10 albums this year then go for it – it doesn’t really matter, but just make sure when you come out of it you’re in a good place.
That takes me to my next question… You’re working on a podcast that covers mental health in the industry, is that right?
Yeah sure, so the podcast is called ‘A Little More Conversation‘ and it basically came up during coronavirus. Me and a colleague Lacyn were thinking how hard all this was, and we bet there’s other people out there who are really struggling, but there’s actually nothing for people – in advertising especially – to turn to. There’s a charity that provides counselling but that’s all really. So we decided to start a podcast that talks about mental health in the advertising industry. It’s been really popular so far. We’re going to talk about things like the pressures of sales, the pressures of creativity, job sharing, working from home, returning to work after paternity or maternity leave, things like that. Anything that might be presenting challenges for people in the industry and openly talking about it. It will hopefully give people in the industry somewhere to go and listen to other people’s problems, which they can probably relate to!
It’s good to feel you’re not alone in the way you’re feeling. A lot of what we’re seeing is the highlights of people’s lives on social media.
Yeah it’s true – it’s not real what you see on social media – but it’s the same in the industry, you might have a company saying ‘we’re really busy, we have so many projects on..’ but they don’t! They’re just saying it because they want people to think that they’re busy, which is their prerogative really. But actually I think this year especially it’s fine to say, we’ve had a hard year, you’ve probably too, is there anything we can do to help each other out?
How would a budding artist go about approaching you to get their tracks featured in one of your projects?
So there’s a couple of ways. If you have a publisher, the publisher should be pushing out your music to people like us, not just for advertising but for film and TV as well. But not everybody has a publisher, so if you’re doing it yourself, just research companies – companies like us, music production companies. You’ll also find on LinkedIn lots of freelance music supervisors. They want to be sent music, you know, we want to be sent stuff, we need to know what’s current, what’s cool. And also if you’re an artist, there’s some really interesting reasons for a company to work with you, one it’s supporting up-and-coming talent, which is huge, hugely important. And 2, it’ll give you good money for you to go and make more music!
Also it often works well for lower budget projects, or projects that are maybe more creative. So I think there’s definitely good opportunities. Our emails are on the website, just go around, do some research, send some emails. Make sure that when you present your music you do it in a good way. So don’t send too much, maybe send a couple of tracks and just explain who you are and what kind of music you’re making – and that’s it!
And one last question – what’s the most exciting project you’ve been involved in at work?
Oooo… I’m actually working on one at the minute, I actually can’t tell you what who brand is, it’s a luxury fashion brand, but we’re basically mixing an old out-of-copyright classical piece of music with very modern, ugly sounds, an so it’s going to be a total mash up of beautiful classical music and really ugly, industrial sounds! And the film is really cool, it’s got loads of dancers in it and the people are beautiful and hopefully it’s going to come together in the end!
Yeah it’s bold definitely! I’ll send it ya!