We are focusing this month on Music Partner’s CEO & Artistic Director Philippe Falliex. From performer to arranger, composer to publisher, Philippe is the perfect example of a “Jack of all trades.” With Music Partner, Philippe’s vision is to disrupt the music licensing industry by giving open access to professionally produced music.
Music Partner: How did the bug for music bite you and when did you decide to make it your profession?
Philippe Falliex: I was born in a family of music addicts in Lyon, France. My parents founded a cover top 40 band, so my 2 sisters and I could play. I began performing on stage at the age of 12 and had to quickly learn the various aspects of performing live music. Little by little, we were touring all over France. At the age of 15, I began to play with more bands, some of them top professionals. So, there was no precise moment when I decided to try a career in music, it felt so natural, as everything around me was connected to the music industry. When I was 17 years old, I got hired to perform on a musical comedy, so I decided to leave school and dedicate my life to Music. I then moved to Paris at the age of 18 to follow opportunities and started working as a session musician. Simultaneously, the career of my sister, French pop singer Liane Foly took off and I started working with her performing all around the world, composing and arranging some of her songs.
MP: You are a multi-instrumentalist, but drums and percussion are your main instruments. What brought you to playing drums?
PF: When I was a kid, my parents enrolled me in a music school where I began with the accordion. I was not too excited by the instrument and my parents noticed, so they asked me what instrument did I prefer? I told them “the drums” with a large smile, so I continued happily my musical education with the drums. Later with my interest in composing and arranging, I began learning harmony and theory to help me write my musical ideas. I do use the piano to compose, but I am not a “real pianist”.
MP: You have done a lot of studio sessions and touring early on. Can you share some memories that have marked this period of your career?
PF: I have enjoyed all periods of my career, and indeed, working in the studio and on stage has created unforgettable memories. There was a carefree feeling, indulging in the pure pleasure of traveling, performing, meeting so many people from so many different cultures. As you enter the stage and face an audience of thousands of people waiting to share this special moment, there is a surge of adrenaline, and you suddenly experience a magical symbiosis between the audience and the band. I also feel extremely fortunate to have been part of major events such as the 50th anniversary celebration of the liberation of Paris in 1995. An exceptionally large stage was erected Place de la Concorde, my sister Liane and our band were sharing the stage with Michel Legrand’s orchestra, playing alternatively in front of an “ocean” of people stretched out as far as the eye could see and being broadcast live on French TV. Those are unforgettable moments of my career as a performer.
MP: In the early 2000’s, you dedicated most of your time composing for media, notably for French TV networks TF1, France 2 and M6. How did you bridge touring the world with pop artists to working for TV?
PF: It was a progressive transition. As a performer, I had done a lot of live TV broadcast and met TV producers who asked me if I could produce a jingle, then a TV show theme, and so on. I really enjoyed the process of composing and producing music for television and decided to do it full time. It was a path I had not thought about. I created a company (Stereolithe) to manage all aspects of these new activities and contacted a production company which was producing shows for the French TV channel TF1, offering my services not only in providing music but also audio post-production. We developed a partnership and worked for 50 to 70 shows yearly for over 10 years. In parallel, I worked for the radio station RTL in providing music illustrations for some of their radio shows. This is how I started my career of media music producer.
MP: What are the main differences in your approach, composing music for an album and composing a soundtrack?
PF: In a soundtrack, the music is there to follow and enhance the picture. With a soundtrack, the composer is driven by an existing story and his role is to enhance the emotions all along the story. In an album, music and lyrics are at the forefront. There is no story to illustrate, the song is the story by itself, and you have an average of 3 and a half minutes to tell it. For many reasons, I consider composing an album far more challenging than a soundtrack.
MP: When composing a movie soundtrack, what do you want the Director to tell you beyond the usual conversations about the storyline?
PF: The very first thing I need to do is figure out what the Director really wants beyond the briefs. All artists have their own vision, so whatever a Director is telling me means something specific to him/her and I need to make sure we understand each other. I often ask if the Director has some music references that would match the spirit of the project. As an example, a Director tells me: “I need music for this action-packed sequence”. Action music can be truly diverse, so I really need to make sure we are on the same page. Music Partner has an international reach, so working with people from different cultures requires a perfect understanding of the project to provide the right music. Earlier this year, we have been commissioned by KANAL 5 Macedonia to create the theme music for their newscast. The main objective of the CEO was to introduce the newscast broadcast 6 times daily with an intense and dramatic music based on what is done in North America. I asked him to send me some examples of “his” vision of “intense and dramatic” music, so I could understand precisely what he had in mind.
MP: What excites you in the process of composing for media?
PF: The “before and after”. When you receive a sequence with the picture and dialogue, you compose the music to support the images while being true to the Director’s vision, so the final output can substantially improve the viewer's experience. There is no better satisfaction than measuring the added value your music brought.
Before that, the feeling of anticipation grows based on my conversations with the Director and the whole process excites me.
MP: 9 years ago, you moved from Paris to Los Angeles. What motivated your decision?
PF: As a kid, I remember being fascinated by the United States and I knew I would come to live here at some point. I first attended the “Musician’s Institute” of Los Angeles in the early 1990’s, then the “Drummers Collective” in New York. I fell in love with Los Angeles. I stayed there 6 months in 1997 to compose and record an album for my sister and came back every year, but I was busy in France working for TV and Radio until I finally decided to move to L.A for good in 2012. I feel at home in L.A and it is also a hub for film and TV productions and lots of people I want to work with live here.
MP: Strong from your experience working for French TV networks, you launched Music Partner 2 years ago with some serious twists in the way music is licensed to the entertainment industry. The traditional licensing models are supposedly working, so why attempting to change them?
PF: The main idea behind our model is coming from my relationship with video editors and film producers in France. We are in the same boat, and we need each other. They need music and we need our music to be broadcast, so I consider them as partners more than clients. It is why our first model is just to let film producers use our music for free, whenever it’s for TV shows, documentaries or movies. We compensate the lack of fee-based licenses by the music publishing royalties generated by the broadcast of shows carrying our music. These royalties are paid by the P.R.Os (Performance Rights Organizations) such as Ascap, BMI, Sesac, Sacem, etc... Our second model goes beyond this, as it brings a real partnership with film productions. When we are hired to score or build a soundtrack with music from our library (we call this service “Music Design”), Music Partner shares the music publishing royalties with the productions. It is as if they were co-publisher of the music. I realized that not many film producers know that the music embedded in their films generates music publishing royalties and they are very surprised when we propose them to have a new income stream with music!
I first implemented this model back in France with TF1 and it worked very well, so we decided to apply it to any TV/film production worldwide.
MP: The name “Music Partner” has a specific meaning to you, can you explain?
PF: The word “Partner” is important because we are really invested in the success of the projects, we provide music for. Our goal is not only to provide great services but also to create a close collaboration as the one you have in a real partnership, hence the name. Even with projects produced on the other side of the world, we are in constant communication with our partners.
MP: Music Partner is a lot more than a library of high-quality tracks, it is also a community of professional composers for media, working on original soundtracks and music editing to satisfy the most demanding Directors. There is a community aspect to your operations, how do you manage to keep that spirit?
PF: Being a composer myself, I am a member of the team. It is always more productive to maintain open and transparent relations with your colleagues. I know that our team of composers can be very reactive when we get a project with limited amount of time to produce the music. From an operational point of view, the company is managed with the help of my partners, Michel Barreau in Los Angeles handling library, composers, and business operations, as well as Martial Petit in New York, handling our business development and partners' relation. I am so grateful to have them by my side. Our composers are based all over the world.
MP: The company is based in Los Angeles with an outlet in New York, yet your partners are located all over the world. What is your working process when commissioned for an original soundtrack or music design (editing) when the partner is located in another country?
PF: Music Partner has worked with international filmmakers from the very beginning. Technology today allows us to bridge distances. In North America, because of the pandemic, we have been working with lots of video call sessions. When working on original scoring or music design, projects are transferred securely via our file sharing application. The music is produced, edited, synchronized, and the project is sent back to the Director via the file sharing system for review. In case of free music download, our library is referenced to quickly provide the type of tracks you are looking for. We even offer custom playlists to save time for our partners.
MP: In 1984, Madonna famously said she wanted “To Rule the World.” The following decade had proven that she did rule the charts. What do you see the next decade be for Music Partner?
PF: We are a young company, and we are constantly growing. We are adding new tracks to our library, composers join the roster, and our portfolio of production partners is growing. I feel encouraged by the numerous requests for music, from the scoring of original soundtracks for features to music design for documentaries or theme music creation for TV shows. Of course, professionals still have free access to our library. In 10 years, we hope to continue working with a wide variety of projects and be recognized for the quality of our services. Relationship is paramount, our production partners are not only looking for great services, but they also want a great experience working with their music provider. This is Music Partner’s ultimate goal.
To listen to samples of Philippe's music, click on the following link: