SOUND AND MUSIC
Job Title: Vice President Of Music
The vice president of music for a studio or production company is charged with supervising music in both the production and postproduction phases, with an emphasis on pre-existing music. Some also hire composers and producers, and oversee the scoring and mixing process.
“Being organized, responding properly, and keeping my word” are skills film/television music executive Celest Ray cites as keys to her success. “Listening carefully and fulfilling the requests that either Mr. [Aaron] Spelling or the producers have is very important.” Knowledge of the music business and a good business sense is important; an understanding of music publishing and how record companies work is essential.
Advice for Someone Seeking This Job
Some vice presidents of music are former music supervisors, and most of them are overworked and understaffed. Find someone who needs help and offer to work for them as an intern or apprentice so that you can learn the business. There is much more to the job than just selecting music; you also must know the legalities of music licensing. Once you have an understanding of music licensing, volunteer to work on student films or low budget projects to gain experience.
What do you like least about your job?
“What I like least are the politics. I don't like it when deals should happen, but they don't because there is a personal interest in conflict. Or, when one executive won't talk to another executive because they don't want to admit that they have to ask a question.”—Celest Ray
What do you love most about your job?
“What I love the most is picking music and seeing that what I've selected tickles the fancy of whoever I'm pitching it to. Then, seeing it on screen—seeing that it really works. That's what I love most about my job.”—Celest Ray
Professional Profile: Celest Ray, Vice President of Music, Aaron Spelling Productions
A job meant to supplement her income while in college changed Celest Ray's career path from nursery school teacher to film and television music executive. “I always loved music and I really liked the mix of the business aspect with the creative aspect.” As a secretary at an independent record label and music publishing company owned by artist Johnny Rivers, Ray gained experience in every conceivable aspect of the business and eventually was promoted to general manager.
After ten years working for Rivers, she was ready for a new challenge. In 1983, Ray accepted an offer from producers Norman Lear and Jerry Perrenchio to be director of music for Embassy Pictures. During her tenure, she supervised such films and sound track albums as This Is Spinal Tap, Stand By Me, and A Chorus Line. When Embassy's theatrical division was sold to Dino De Laurentiis in 1987, Ray stayed on, working on Crimes of the Heart, Backdraft, and Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, among others.
* “Sometimes we put our fears first, but when there is more trust and more belief, then we can all work together. When we put our fears first, we always loose. I hope that I grow old in the business and that I'll grow to drop my fears, believe in myself, and be a guide for truth. Know that you can be who you are and still succeed.”—Celest Ray
* Work hard and look for opportunities to prove yourself. “When I was working in business affairs and I wanted to do a more creative job, I stood up to the plate and asked for the opportunity. Then, I would stay late to do the work, over and above my business affairs work. Instead of being resentful that nobody was letting me try to be a creative person, I took that on in addition to my other work and people came to rely on me more and more for my creative input.”—Celest Ray
Embassy Pictures went bankrupt in 1992, but Ray had been operating her own company, Music in Motion, since 1988. As a contractor, she cleared music rights for Seinfeld, numerous projects with MGM and Universal film studios, and a series of film sound track albums for Big Screen Records. Hired part time by Ken Miller to clear music rights for the first season of Beverly Hills 90210, she was asked to supervise music for Melrose Place the following year.
Ray took a position at Paramount Studios in 1994, but after six months was hired full time by Spelling Entertainment Group as director of music coordination, in addition to supervising music for Melrose Place.
Since being promoted to vice president of music, Ray has been involved in numerous Spelling television productions, including 7th Heaven, Any Day Now, Charmed, Kindred, and Pasadena. She also served as music coordinator on the feature The House of Yes.
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