An Interview With… John Meredith of Arms Production Music

by Deborah Smith
An Interview With... John Meredith of Arms Production Music

Anara Publishing has partnered with production music library Arms Production Music to license and administrate their catalogue. In this first edition of ‘An Interview With…’ the library’s founder John Meredith talks to us about how Arms Production Music started and shares some advice for those looking to get in to the world of music publishing.

1. Tell us about how you started your library.

I’ve had experience of writing for libraries over the years and it felt like I was developing the skills needed to curate my own. The existing libraries out there seemed to focus on the more commercial ‘shiny’ end of music, and my own instincts usually fall to the more left-field, so I saw a gap in the market and started Arms Production Music.

2. How important do you think publishing is in today’s music industry climate?

If you want to make money, you need to write material: you need to assign your compositions to publishers who understand you and can get your work used. There is no use in your work being sat on a hard drive somewhere- it needs to be earning for you. In that respect, publishing is vital.

3. How do you source new writers for your roster?

Initially, it was through me approaching friends who I have known along the years, but now it has developed into word of mouth, too. I get emails every week with links to portfolios from new and established writers (but the better ones do their research first and personalize the email and know the sort of material that might appeal). Plus, I sometimes advertise for new writers in various industry publications.

4. Describe a pivotal music moment for you in your favourite film, television show, brand partnership etc. Has this influenced the sound of your label?

For me, as a child of the 1980s, this was the decade that most influenced me. I remember seeing Pretty In Pink on VHS in the late 80s and loving it. The soundtrack is pretty much my DNA.

There’s a scene where Duckie, the lovelorn hero is in his room being all lamenting, and ‘Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want’ by the Smiths comes on: that was powerful for me, and summed up my teenage years! And, even though the soundtrack is a series of songs rather than score, the melancholia is definitely a prominent feature in most of the material I release.

5. Do you have any advice for young label or music library startups?

It’s really important that you have a strong vision. It’s vital, too that you look at what infrastructure you need to become a publisher or a label and identify what you’re good at and what you need help with. In my instance, I come from a production background, so I knew I was good at the mixing, mastering and production side, and I’m super organized which you need to be when running any project. I’m great with the overall aesthetic of the brand and music curation for our albums, but I’m less good with the networking side, it is a full time job in itself. With Arms Production Music, that is where Anara Publishing steps in: doing the networking legwork I don’t have the time or the skills to do. So, finding people to work with who complement what you do is the key: it’s unusual to be a one-man army. Don’t get disheartened if you aren’t good at everything you need to be from the get-go.

Finally, keep going! Being involved in music when you want to make money is hard. Look at the long game, it takes one break to unlock all the doors that were shut before.

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