When the DreamWorks TV and Steven Spielberg produced mini-series Into the West aired on TNT the summer of 2005, it marked one of the most significant changes in my career as a composer. The series became the most Emmy-nominated program of its year, and I was honored to receive the Emmy Award for Music Composition for a Miniseries, Movie or Dramatic Special. Since then I have wanted to release an album of that music. And now, eight years later, that album has come to fruition thanks to La-La Land Records and Paramount.
Into the West tells the story of the American settlers’ Western expansion from 1825 to 1890. I began work on the show after a series of "additional music" credits on scores by Hans Zimmer and John Powell. It was my work on a DreamWorks film called Shark Tale that brought me to the attention of DreamWorks TV. Into the West was one of my first solo ventures, an incredibly ambitious series made up of six two-hour episodes for which I wrote and recorded over six hours of orchestral music. Flash forward to 2013. AMC re-aired Into the West, creating a groundswell of renewed interest. This new momentum made now seem like the right time to revisit releasing Into the West.
So why did it take so long?
• When Into the West first aired, the idea of releasing music digitally – which costs less and is more profitable for the label – wasn’t a go-to option. Digital releasing has given composers access to a new way of distributing their music which wasn’t available until recently.
• The property Into the West changed hands. Thankfully, I have a great team which was able to work with the supportive folks at Paramount to secure permission to release the album. But even with everyone in support of the release, the process still took time.
• The album is being released digitally and physically by La-La Land Records and Paramount. But for the album covers, and the liner notes on a physical release, you need art. So we had to do some digging to find the art assets from a promotional campaign that ran eight years ago.
This experience has given me some insight into releasing music. Here is my advice to composers who would like to get their music out there for a soundtrack release:
Be sure to talk about it with production early. Negotiating a soundtrack clause in your contract like I did for Into the West, even if there are no immediate plans for a release, helps expedite the process when the time comes.
Rally your supporters. If it weren’t for all of the kind people who e-mailed, Facebooked and tweeted me about this score, the album wouldn’t have gotten the green light. When you talk about your work on your social media outlets, your supporters can be part of the process.
Bring your teams together: managers, producers, record company and publicists should all be talking to make the process as smooth as possible. Make sure you include your project's producers to get the proper approvals for items like the album art, and releasing rights before getting too deep into the process.
Produce a great sounding master. It's your music! Remember, this might be the very first time someone hears your music, so you've got to put it out there in the best possible light.
I hope you found something of use in the story of my long road to this release. I’m thrilled to have it available today. If you're lucky enough to still have a record store near you, I hope you'll check out the 2-CD set. If you don't, there's always iTunes! And be sure to reach out and write me on Facebook to let me know what you think.
ABOUT GEOFF ZANELLI
Emmy Award-winning composer Geoff Zanelli has become a standout in the film and television scoring industry – garnering accolades and recognition for his work since going solo after numerous collaborations with Academy Award-winning composer Hans Zimmer. Zanelli recently scored Disney’s fantasy drama The Odd Life of Timothy Green. His organic and stirring score for the film was recognized by many in the industry including Variety’s Eye on the Oscars issue. Zanelli’s current projects include the indie film Louder Than Words, Nick Cannon’s comedy School Dance and Love Has Come for You - the bluegrass album from Steve Martin and Edie Brickell for which Geoff wrote all the string arrangements. Other credits include The Pacific, Disturbia, Hitman, Outlander, Gamer and the upcoming The Lone Ranger, for which Zanelli contributed additional music.
The Into the West 2-CD soundtrack was released on June 18th, 2013 through La-La Land Records.
Click here to read ASCAP’s interview with Geoff about his score to The Odd Life of Timothy Green.
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