Glasgow has a global reputation as a cool city producing some of the greatest modern bands and musicians – from Simple Minds, Deacon Blue, Del Amitri, Paolo Nutini, through to James MacMillan, Nicola Benedetti. Great music scores are the backdrop for films, television, advertising – and computer games - and this means work for hundreds across the creative industry. One Glasgow-based, Bafta-award winning business, Rage Music, has hit a rich seam and is now opening a recording studio for its work in Santa Monica, Los Angeles. Its head of music, Caroline Gorman, who was in Berlin recording one of Germany’s finest orchestras, took time out to explain.
“The creative industries of music, television and film are normally perceived as being glamorous by those who do not work within it! Especially the “Music Business”, which is a big grey area to most people, or it is associated with television talent competitions such as the X Factor. But, essentially, it is the same as any other business, it is exactly that - a business! “
She admits there are some amazing ‘pinch yourself’ moments: when you sit back and see your hard work in the cinema, or being broadcast across the world on television or, as she is during this interview, taking a break in front of a 90-piece orchestra in Berlin recording the score for the latest Fox feature film. Rage Music is a team of composers and producers, coordinated by a dynamic office-based duo. The team works across studios in Glasgow, London and Los Angeles. The composers are all multi instrumentalists with their own specialisms and different genres and areas of interest. Most of the composers and producers come from a musician background such as session players or professional bands.
What has been the advantage of setting up in California?
“Setting up a studio in LA has given us the opportunity to increase our feature film work and expand into a new market – videogames. We had done a lot of advertising work in the US market, but having a base there has helped us to increase these projects.
“Rage Music has moved into overseas markets with the support of SDI.
“The US is the natural home of the three main sectors that Rage Music’s international trade lies in; large scale advertising campaigns, soundtracks for feature films and soundtracks for video games.
“Taking our business international, with the opening of our studio in LA, initially grew from the film and advertising work we were doing. After scoring TV advertising campaigns for a number of high-profile clients, such as Chase Manhattan Bank and Absolut vodka, Rage went on to work on a number of major projects, including a multi-million dollar advertising campaign for oil giant Chevron which consisted of a short film being shown during the US Superbowl, one of the highest profile sporting events in the world.
“Due to the nature of our business, a lot of new customers contacted us after seeing or hearing about our work, so we saw a natural increase in the number of US-based clients. Since our initial projects, we’ve had the opportunity to work on many more advertising campaigns, while our film work has moved from the British/indie market to feature films.”
Rage has worked on titles such as Limitless, Dredd, The Numbers Station, Legendary and Walking with Dinosaurs, its current project.
“The international exposure has also given us the opportunity to branch out into other areas - namely the video game market and we have just begun work on a new project with EA Games,” she explains.
How easy is it for a company to set up abroad?
“Working in the US has its challenges, such as long forms to be completed in triplicate (covering banking, finance, visas, tax) and all sorts of exciting paperwork! Also, getting to understand the workings and structure of a new market is initially difficult - we are still very much learning but getting advice and ‘real world’ experience from people in the marketplace is always helpful.”
She says her business has received a great deal of advice and support from SDI. “This has been invaluable to us: from financial support, to more importantly, advice and guidance on a number of our different projects and plans.”
SDI appoints an account manager who understands the business and the challenges and offers guidance. Networking is a key element and the account manager is able to put companies in contact with other companies or individuals that can help.
So would she encourage other creative industry businesses to take similar steps?
“The leap into expanding to an international location is, understandably, a scary one; the expense, the unknown, the risk. But with a bit of luck and as much planning as possible, it can be very successful.”
“Our activity in the US marketplace has brought real growth to our business over the last five years. We’ve grown our client list and our own team, and this has enabled us to shape the company in order to deliver the range of music services that we now specialise in,” she says.
“Our plan for the future is to focus on our three main sectors and continue to push towards a better level of recognition within these areas, hopefully bringing even more fantastic projects our way!”
How well is Glasgow perceived when you go abroad?
“We are incredibly proud of our Scottish roots, and have always championed the talent we have here. Glasgow and Scotland seem to be well regarded by the international companies that we work with. It certainly has never been an obstacle to us trading. If anything, it seems that Scotland punches above its weight when it comes to the creative industries – we may be small, but we are mighty!”
We are still increasing our exports - but this needs to continue
The export picture looks good. Scottish exports grew by 7% in 2011 and are now worth almost £24billion, according to Global Connections Survey 2013. This survey highlighted that our exports to the European Union rose by 14.7% and those to Asia grew by 8.7%. But this is a result of hard work, commitment and using an established network of international and expertise support. Scotland’s top five export destinations are:
• United States of America: This continues to be the top international export destination which accounts for an estimated £3.5bn of exports (14.7% of total exports).
• Netherlands: £2.7bn.
• France: £1.9bn.
• Germany: £1.4bn.
• Belgium: £980m.
Of course, this does not factor in the English market for Scottish-made goods, which is our largest overall, and is often seen as an invisible relationship, while Ireland, Wales and Northern Ireland are also significant starting points for Scottish firms looking to raise their exporting profile. Scottish Development International, the exporting wing of Scottish Enterprise, has been working with more than 2,000 companies to develop their international business in 2012/13. This includes working with 229 companies on high value international projects that are expected to lead to an increase in export sales of £818m over the next three years. Demand for SDI support to target markets in Asia is up 60 percent. Over 2,200 companies and individuals have benefited from our Smart Exporter programme since its launch in 2010.