Name: Chris Austria (aka SFO)
Hometown: San Francisco
Speciality/Style: Urban, HipHop, Rock
Tools of Choice: Pro Tools, Logic Pro, Propellerhead Reason, Spectrasonics, Arturia, NI, Akai MPC 2500, Yamaha Motif XS, Fantom X-8
Years Producing Music & Audio pre-Pyramind:15
What sorts of projects are you working on today?
As Director of Music Licensing for Independent Distribution Collective, I’ve been working with music supervisors in TV and film. We have a very diverse music catalogue and much of my time is spent finding music for specific requests.
I recently had a great opportunity to work with one of the music supervisors from Universal Studios when we placed hip hop tracks in the movie, “Bring It On: A Fight To The Finish.” He is continually looking for original music for movies so I am constantly working on finding compatible songs along with producing marketable music.
I also produce tracks for our catalogue and am now working with John Honoré from Master Fade Productions. John is a very talented producer and is also a Pyramind alum.
How do you feel that Pyramind best prepared you for your career in the music & sound industry?
My production skills with Pro Tools and Logic increased significantly along with my understanding of digital audio theory. The instructors at Pyramind have such a depth of knowledge combined with cutting edge, real world experience. They’ve also motivated me to keep up my education on the latest tools and techniques, which is critical for maintaining a career in the industry.
Describe the music you produce with John from Master Fade.
We work in licensing, so we follow the requests of what music supervisors are looking for. John is great at composing in many different styles, which I love doing.
So you may hear a cracking hip hop track from us one day, then a jazz or hard rock track the next. John also composes amazing orchestral music. I was raised with classical so you’ll also hear those influences in our compositions.
Lately I’ve been laying down a lot of hard-edged guitar on our tracks too, because that seems to be the trend in licensing. I’ve been focusing on urban for quite some time, but now I’m going back to my roots in rock and combining these different styles.
Prior to coming to Pyramind, you worked with tigers and other big cats. Did working with wild animals help you prepare for a career in the music industry?
Tigers and lions have been my greatest teachers. When you work with wild animals, you have to be very disciplined and focused because they can kill you. They are never tame. You can’t make excuses with them. It is hard work!
Just like in the music industry, you have to possess a calm and natural confidence. In working with tigers, you will get hurt. You will get bitten. You will get scratched, but you must cultivate the courage to overcome adversity and to not ever give up. I learned to really believe in myself in life and death situations with predators. There were times I was injured, knocked down, dragged and held under water, but I continued to stand up and go at it again. The same qualities it took me to survive this career are the same qualities I need to be successful in the music industry.
Last but not least, working with the tigers prepared me for Matt Donner’s Kung Fu Mixing & Mastering class.
Is there a unique story you’d like to share about your time at Pyramind?
During the “Entrepreneurship In Music Business” class taught by Steffen Franz, one of our assignments was to write a business plan based on our career goals. I was working for the music publisher Janet Fisher at the time, and I knew I wanted to continue in the field of publishing and licensing. I wrote a detailed outline of the business model I had always envisioned. Steffen reviewed the assignment and asked me if I would like to start a licensing wing of IDC!
With our combined vision and passion, we launched IDCLicensing a few months later.
Any advice you’d like to share with future students?
The education here at Pyramind is extremely valuable. Don’t take it for granted.
While you are studying here, it is important to apply yourself 100% so you are taking full advantage of what you are learning. The basic tenets of being responsible, dedicated, reliable and hard working all apply. Students need to go above and beyond. This career is one of the most competitive and difficult industries out there. It takes a tremendous amount of tenacity and one just has to keep going.
It’s also important to take the time to meet people in the business because forging those relationships will contribute to your success. Without connecting to other industry people it will be near impossible for you to progress in this business. Presenting yourself professionally is of ultimate importance. Master the science of human relationships along with the rest of your studies.
What do you mean by “the science of human relationships”?
There is a true Zen element to human interaction. I use this applied science whether I am meeting a new industry person or talking on the phone with a music supervisor. It’s important to learn how to cultivate relationships. Some of these skills are as simple as showing up, following up, being confident, and having the ability to articulate your vision.
I am very fortunate to work with amazing artists like Matt Fink from Prince and the Revolution and Eric Daniels, musical director for Mariah Carey. I met both of these guys completely outside of the music business and it occurred simply by being social, outgoing and friendly.
What are your future plans?
My long-term future plans are to produce wildlife documentaries; licensing and composing the music for shows featuring the big cats. I have worked with Discovery Channel and National Geographic in my tiger work and found the experience very rewarding. I would like to approach it from a different paradigm now that I have received this invaluable training at Pyramind.
I want to continue the growth of the IDCLicensing catalogue and place more music in TV, film, and new media. I’m also creating more alliances with other licensing companies so we can work together on placements. IDCLicensing serves as a great link between content providers and end users, and my vision is to promote Bay Area music for TV and film.