Whether it’s a series theme or Mexican banda for a needle drop, when clients want something exclusive they come to APM Custom Music. Launched in 2012, APM Custom operates out of the recording studio formerly known as Lion Share. “We want to be a one-stop shop for clients,” says director of custom music development Connie Red. “APM has a library that’s very extensive, but sometimes they’re looking for an original piece. We do it all.”
Recent projects range from remixing the “Overwatch League” e-sports music for game giant Blizzard, which wanted a hipped-up version of their lush orchestral scores that could be used in promotional efforts, to creating a Chechnian folk tune for HBO’s Bill Hader hitman drama series “Barry.” “We had to find not only someone who could write but also someone who could sing in Chechnian. It was crazy,” Red says, laughing. “We’ve never done the same job twice, because clients will come to us and ask for a song sung in Mandarin by a female pop artist, and we make that happen. We have an amazing group of composers who can write in any genre.”
For ESPN, APM Custom re-recorded the “Monday Night Football” theme, “Heavy Action” – a meaningful assignment as the late APM composer Johnny Pearson originated the tune in 1970. “‘Heavy Action’ is part of the KPM Library, but we were asked to re-record it in a Hollywood grand premiere red carpet vibe,” Red explains.
While electric guitar, bass and drums were added “to give it that extra edge,” the tune was re-created with an 87-piece orchestra recorded at Abbey Road in London.
It was one of the rare times Red has ventured outside her historic home site, created in 1981 by singer Kenny Rogers, who refurbished an old ABC studio as a recording hub. “It’s a gorgeous room, large enough for us to record a full choir, to have brass sessions,” he says. “Everyone from Cat Stevens to the Ramones to Barbra Streisand has recorded here.” Perhaps most famously: Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson wrote and recorded “We Are the World” at Lion Share, and Jackson liked the place so much he ended up buying it.
In addition to the live room, “we can compose in the box because we have great samples,” Red explains. If clients like an APM library track but want a few adjustments, APM Custom accommodates that too. “We’ll tweak until it’s perfect.”
What sometimes happens is someone will love a library tune, but once they’re in the final cut “maybe the library track doesn’t hit the emotional notes it needs to hit at the right time. So we’ll come in and supply a string swell or something, add instrumentation, and layer it up, to give it the build.”
A recent project for the advertising agency McCann lifted the end notes to a an otherwise suitable library track. “We were able to provide that upbeat ending they were looking for,” Red says, noting a similar forecast for APM Custom. “We continue to grow. Last year was our best year ever.”