Isabel Pappani: Undercover Tracks

Taking It To The States Side Masses: Undercover Tracks.

Based in Los Angeles, Isabel Pappani is the lady behind Undercover Tracks, a music licensing and synching company with an emphasis on placing Australian music into United States produced television shows and films.

It was when Isabel worked out of LA as the Vice President of Creative for Festival Mushroom Records for several years, she become familiar with the musical talent coming out of WA.

“They needed a synch person in Los Angeles to pitch their music and I was hired. I worked with bands from all over the country, including some from WA [such as] Gyroscope and Eskimo Joe.”

She continues: “When I went independent, I found WA to be a great hotbed of new and good music.

Past and present WA clients include College Fall, Red Jezebel, The Woodeneleves, 6000 Red, Xave Brown and Eskimo Joe.

Getting a song placed on a TV show or film can be a lengthy and drawn out experience. For example, it took some time for Eskimo Joe to get on of their songs placed. ‘How Does It Feel’ was placed on the show ‘Gossip Girl’, airing on US TV, last September.

“[It] did great things for them… It took nine months of solid pitching before Eskimo Joe found a synch. Other times it just takes a few calls.”

While it can take some time to find a placement for a song, Isabel says doing so can be incredibly beneficial in raising a band’s profile.

“Also if you happen to have global digital distribution [it can help even more]. More and more TV shows are listing episode playlists with direct links to an artist’s iTunes pages. I’ve seen unknown bands’ sales raise 300% in the week following a feature in a popular TV show”

For the last two years, Isabel has visited Perth to as part of the annual WAMi Music Conference held during the annual WAMi Festival.

“I always have a great time at the WAMi Festival and music conference! This year I got to moderate the synch panel which was a lot of fun, since I had the chance to interview my peers on their thoughts and comments about licensing. The WAMi folks are great people.”

And through attending the conference, she has she discovered both 6000 Red and Xave Brown. Both times it was through being on the panel for the Live Music Pitch. The Pitch lets bands play their songs to a panel of music licensers and receive feedback. And sometimes, doing so can lead to a great outcome. Take 6000 Red and their track ‘I Wanna Be Like You’. It was placed on the show ‘Lipstick Jungle’

“I liked it enough to reach out to them to become a client. I sent the track over to the NBC network who loved it, but didn’t have a place to use it for.

She continues: “I literally got the call from my colleague who does promos four hours before it was going to air for my approval. It was a testament to my solid working relationship with both my NBC colleague and the band for trusting me that I approved it and it started airing that same night. I believe it also aired in movie theatres as well.”

Isabel discovered Xave Brown and his track ‘Call of the Wild’ through the pitch this year and says she is very excited to be working with him as well as Red Jezebel who she had her eyes on for quite some time.

With an ever expanding list of clients and impressive background in the industry, Isabel offers the following advice for musicians seeking to get their music placed in US TV and film

“The competition out here is ferocious at the moment. Ten years ago, music supervisors were dealing with a handful of labels and independent placement agents like myself. Nowadays some music supervisors are receiving upwards of 400 packages a week to be considered for their production, and they can’t keep up. It helps to build relationships with people and have a consistent communication with them, or have an agent who can do that for you.”

She continues: “Unfortunately, fees for uses have also come down considerably due to supply and demand, but there are still opportunities out there for nice placements and especially royalties. Knowing who owns the rights to everything you do is also necessary. Try not to get discouraged, either! I recently placed a band that I had pitched two years ago into a major motion picture, and hadn’t even remembered that I had sent it to the supervisor. But they liked it and kept it until the right slot came along.”


Copyright (C) 2008 Christina Ballico.

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