You know when a movie has a lot of music in it when they can release an album’s worth as a soundtrack. Well, the movie “Sing” may take the cake on sheer volume. Billboard interviewed President Mike Knobloch from Universal Film Music.
Billboard: Sing has more than 60 licensed songs. Is this the most money you’ve spent to license music for a movie?
Mike Knobloch: For licensed music, probably. There’s everything in there from Frank Sinatra to Kanye West.
Billboard: Can you say how much?
Mike Knobloch: (Laughs) I would say it’s a lot! But I think [with Sing] we are definitely at the absolute ceiling of the number of licenses, the types of licenses, and the heavily-featured uses of licensed songs as performances performed by actors.
And on the complexities of the process:
What’s the most complicated aspect to licensing so many songs?
When you create music from scratch and you own and control the intellectual property that you’re creating, you have a certain amount of ownership and flexibility. When you license a song into a movie and then have another template for using songs in marketing campaigns, it’s hard to know from the outset all the ways in which you’re potentially going to want to use a song, so sometimes we have to circle back and make some adjustments on the business side, both with the film and the [marketing] campaign.
How do you know when you’ve got it right?
You want to have that proof of concept to know that something’s going to really [work]. Just because you love a song or you can hear in your head the potential doesn’t mean that in practice it delivers to as broad of an audience as possible. Case in point is we have what is this very special, evolving rendition in Sing, performed by Jennifer Hudson, of the Beatles’ “Golden Slumbers” and “Carry That Weight,” which you learn from making the deal is two songs. We knew that we wanted to find a song that comes in at the very top of the film in an exhilarating, uplifting, familiar way that gives you goosebumps and tingles. We auditioned dozens of songs. This was one of the toughest ones to get right.
Given the number of songs will there be a double soundtrack for Sing?
We’re doing a standard soundtrack and a deluxe album and a Target exclusive deluxe album. We’re also going to do a karaoke album, which is a first for us, because it makes so much sense for this movie that we would give people an album that they can sing along to.
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