ARC Music regularly provides music for Hollywood blockbusters from their rural home in the English countryside
ARC Music is a small company in the countryside in England that is becoming increasingly more popular with large filmmakers as a supplier of music for major films. With only eleven employees, ARC, which started as a record label for ethnic music in 1976, has become a respected player in the music for film placement business. In the last few years, they have placed music for NBC, The National Geographic Channel, Walt Disney and MTV. Some of the larger films of the last few years have music placed by ARC, including Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, The Prince of Persia, Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, James Bond “Casino Royale,” Burn After Reading, the Forty Year Old Virgin and many others. We spoke with Public Relations Director Chris Tomsett and here’s what he had to say about the company’s success:
AMFM: Tell me a little about ARC
CHRIS: We were established in 1976, and we are the oldest and longest running of all the world music labels. That means we were the first record label in the world to specialise in traditional ethnic music from all over the world. We have been going for 36 years now. We have amassed a massive catalog of traditional world music which we’re now starting to get as much of that music as possible into film and TV.
AMFM: Originally you were just a record company, is that correct?
CHRIS:Absolutely… the founder of the company, Horst Tubbesing, started in Germany 1976, and originally it was a way of promoting his artists. He was a concert promoter and he would have all these talented folk musicians come over to Hamburg, Germany to perform in his club. But he was finding that even though these musicians were incredibly talented they had trouble getting recording contracts. So he took them into the studio and recorded them and then he started marketing their music.
This was in the very early days when world music wasn’t really a big thing. He was really a pioneer in that respect. He took these musicians into the studios, produced their recordings, and marketed them to the record stores in Germany. Over the course of the next 10 years or so it expanded over into the U.K. and became an international company.
AMFM: How many artists do you currently have?
CHRIS: That’s a very good question… it’s been 36 years now, and in that time we have represented over 500 artists, but the active roster of artists is very difficult to say. We have over 700 albums… so that’s probably to say a few hundred artists.
AMFM: Tell me about the process… how did it develop from a record company into film licensing for music company
CHRIS: Well we own or control the publishing and licensing rights for most of our recordings. I think that during the mid 90s we started to get enquiries from production companies and film studios. I think that “To Walk With Lions”, with Richard Harris, is probably the earliest one that I know of. From there we realised the potential of how we could raise the profile of our artists by having their music incorporated into films and TV, and eventually into games.
AMFM: Whose brainchild was that?
CHRIS: That was probably the collaborative brainchild of Horst Tubbesing, the founder of the company, and Jon Entwistle, who was in charge of the licensing, among other things. John is no longer with the company… we’ve now got two dedicated staff members in that particular part of the company, Caren and Amelia, who you have been in contact with.
AMFM: Caren’s last name is Entwistle, so is she related to Jon?
CHRIS: She is actually, funnily enough. We started out as a very small company, and John established the licensing part of the company, and he was with the company from a very early time. Caren is his step daughter. So she came into the company by apprenticing at a young age, and she is now heading up the area.
AMFM: So when did you start out with these guys?
CHRIS: In ‘99 so that’s 13 years ago now. We’re in quite a small town and I have been very interested in the music industry all my life. When I came to leave school at the age of 16 in 1999 I just happened to be going through the Yellow Pages looking for record companies and I found a local company I didn’t know existed, with world music not really being on my radar at that age.
AMFM: Are you the one that’s marketing them and publicizing the company?
CHRIS: Well there are several of us involved in the marketing of the company and its products, so it’s very much a team effort. We have a really good team here. There are 11 members of staff.
AMFM: Congratulations you guys are on your way up from what it looks like. Are you open to receiving music from other world music artists?
CHRIS: We are always looking for new artists. The majority of our business tends to be traditional ethnic music from various parts of the world, but we are also open to artists that use tradition as a template to make their own original recordings. We are absolutely always open to hearing new music.
AMFM: The last catalog that I got from ARC was two years ago, has the catalog changed?
CHRIS: We are adding titles and artists all the time. We are probably one of the most proactive labels that I know of, especially in world music. We release about 60 titles a year. We have a very dedicated team, our Art Department, who are responsible for the production of the new music… we do approximately 60 titles a year, so that’s a lot of work.
Probably our biggest strength as a company is simply the depth and the quality of the music that we have. I don’t think you will find another music company that has the direct rights to so much traditional music. So if you need traditional music from this part of the world or that part of the world, or you need this kind of genre of ethnic music, that’s what we do – that is what we specialise in.
AMFM: So you cataloged it according to ethnicity. Really everyone is ethnic once you catalog it down to world music. Everyone is a particular sound from every part of the world. That’s pretty exciting – that actually means that it is huge.
CHRIS: Absolutely. Like I said we have a massive catalog that we have amassed over 35 years. It’s well over 7,000 tracks covering music from the whole world.
AMFM: How can filmmakers sift through your music with such a large collection and sort out what they like?
CHRIS: The best thing that they could do is go to our website (www.arcmusic.co.uk) and use the search function. If you’re looking for music from Morocco, for example, just search for it and you can listen to samples. Otherwise, they can email Caren (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Amelia (email@example.com), they are both there to specifically handle any direct requests and they know the catalog in and out. So if they get a request for a particular type of music, or a particular mood or setting, they know exactly what tracks to submit for consideration. They are there full time to handle those kinds of requests.