Licensing for movies and television is one of the few bright spots of today’s music industry. Consequently, the cost of securing a hit song typically is cost-prohibitive to entertainment producers. Enter music libraries, which charge a blanket fee to users who may choose from diverse collections of genres and styles.
In 1997, Extreme Music launched in London with a clear mandate to differentiate itself from other music libraries. From the beginning, the company placed a lot of emphasis on imaginative promotional packages sent to targeted music supervisors at production companies and advertising agencies.
“Packaging is our schtick; it’s a byproduct of what we do,” says Russell Emanuel, co-founder/co-CEO of Extreme Music, which became a worldwide unit of Sony/ATV Music Publishing in 2005.
Music supervisors typically are inundated with CDs hawking music catalogs. Extreme felt the music had a better chance of getting attention—and a listen—packaged as a hubcap (for rapper Snoop Dogg) or a mini replica of an old-fashioned record player (for an easy-listening collection). Another memorable package was a plastic film slate clapboard, a facsimile of the kind used on movie and TV production sets.
Emanuel, who moved to Los Angeles from London in 2008, says he always viewed the cost of these deluxe packages as a necessary marketing expense, a drop in the bucket if it’ll result in a $50,000 sale. The packages themselves are not that costly, Emanuel notes. “It’s more the tooling, development, and prototyping,” he says.
The items are usually produced in volumes up to 5,000 units several times a year and are not available to the public.
U.K.-based packaging vendors include Mark Hipgrave Patterns, responsible for the film slate design, DVD flight cases, and other custom CD cases, and Samurai Productions for Urban Ammo Tins and other custom promos, lunchboxes, and bags.
For Tina Diep, a music supervisor with Los Angeles ad agency 180 LA, the most memorable Extreme package was a lunch pail full of kids’ stuff that she found “real goofy.” Inside was a flash drive containing music. “The packaging helps them stand out,” Diep says.