Slay Spotlight: Ryan Gaines - Slay Sonics

Slay Spotlight: Ryan Gaines

Ryan Gaines has worked in the entertainment industry since 2001 in the fields of film development and production as well as music supervision and licensing. His supervision work started with Spring Aspers at Island Def Jam and grew into an in-house position at Walt Disney Studios (Disney, Touchstone, Miramax) spanning a variety of genres and formats from major motion picture releases to independent art-house films and documentaries. Independent since 2012, Ryan owns Mutiny Recordings, a licensing and supervision company focusing on contemporary artists of all genres and an extensive vintage catalog. He gained notoriety in his previous licensing company, Platform Music Group, after countless high-profile placements in global and national marketing campaigns, acclaimed TV shows, feature films, and more. With Mutiny Recordings, Ryan renews his focus on undiscovered gems of yesteryear and shining a spotlight on influential artists of today.

We got a chance to sit down with Ryan Gaines to chat about his career, licensing, and tips for song-writers and producers!

What’s your favorite part of the licensing process?

The excitement of my artists when their music is heard by the world to help tell a story…it’s quite rewarding.

How many artists do you work with?

Around 40-50 contemporary artists. I have a massive vintage roster as well that is essential for storytelling.

What’s a defining moment in your career thus far?

When I left the studio system as a buyer (formerly a music supervisor at Disney) to go into licensing (sales), I didn’t know what my future would look like. Turns out I’m pretty damn good at what I do and have the licensing credits to prove it. On the music supervision end while at Disney, I got to work with Sir Paul McCartney on an original end title for the film Everybody’s Fine. And since leaving and supervising independently, I was praised in Variety for my supervision work on the film Mom and Dad starring Nicolas Cage. Recalling those moments keep me going when I’m feeling out of sorts.

(recent sync for Google)

What are the most important things you look at when signing a new artist/catalog?

1. Do I personally like the act? 2. Do they add value to my catalog? 3. Do I truly believe I can perform for the artist?

Do you find that streams and numbers of followers are a big part of signing new artists or does it still come down to just the music for you?

They both work together. If I come across an artist that blows my hair back and they don’t have the ideal social media numbers, I’ll still sign them. I’ve helped bands get a following in the past, and I’m not afraid to work hard to carve out a market for them.

Do you have any networking tips for upcoming producers and song-writers?

Know your audience! Do research if you are targeting music supervisors or productions. Don’t send music that doesn’t work… I know that seems obvious, but artists are constantly making that mistake.

Where do you find your artists? And how does an artist get your attention?

A few different ways… They either submit through my website, are referred to me by another artist, or are referred by a manager.

How do you choose who to pitch songs to?

Like I said above, you have to know your audience and stay on point! If supervisor X loves hip hop and works on those types of shows, I won’t be sending them rock. It’s knowing the supervisor’s taste, the show they are working on, or the general vibe of a brand.

How do you stay focused and productive?

I set objectives, agendas, and never sit still. If I find myself twiddling thumbs, then I’m not doing my job to reach out and spark interest in my catalog. Though I deal with art, this is a business and needs to be treated as such.

Where do you get inspiration?

I’m a fan of cinema. I went to film school and I am amazed by the process of production. When I’m binging on Netflix or another platform, I’m always paying attention to the use of music and how it emphasizes the tone of the scene. It keeps me constantly motivated.

Who are some of your biggest influences and why?

Business wise, my father is my greatest influence. He’s been a serial entrepreneur his whole life and I’ve witnessed the embodiment of tenacity. Music wise, I listen to The Beatles every week…They reset my musical palette and remind me of the closest thing to song writing and production perfection.

What are you listening to right now?

In order to be successful at what I do, I MUST obsess over my artists. I only sign what I like, then it’s my duty to know their music in and out. So I listen to my artists mainly. Then I peruse the charts to look for the new “Uptown Funk” or “Feel It Still”…the song everyone is going to want to replace for months to come.

How do you feel about the current state of music?

Honestly, it depresses me from time to time. While there are very talented people out there, this “Snap Chat Generation” (as I’ve nicknamed it) doesn’t have an attention span. So everything is very temporary and there isn’t a focus on great ALBUMS any longer. It’s all about the single. I miss the common thread of a full album that only comes about from time to time these days.

What do you do for fun when you aren’t working on music?

Mountain bike, golf, and play with my baby boy.

What’s a crazy experience you’ve had in the industry?

Basically how I started. It was all a whirlwind and led me to where I am…quickly! I left the film production industry (decided I wasn’t a fan of reading screenplays) and temped at Fox Music. I befriended Robert Kraft, the then President of film music, and he and Danielle Diego (the current President of film music) found me a job working for Spring Aspers at Island Def Jam (Spring is now head of film music at Sony Pictures). Spring basically hired me at the insistence of Robert and Danielle, and Spring basically got me my next job at Walt Disney Studios. I spent 5 years there before starting my own business. It was quick, it felt almost easy, and I made amazing friends (and contacts) along the way.

Is there any artist you want to work with that you haven’t had an opportunity to yet?

Oh I’m sure there are…but I haven’t met them yet. I’m looking for new talent constantly and I want to find my Charlie Parker (Whiplash reference).


Brands: Toyota, Volkswagen, Coors Lite, GAP, Captain Morgan, Google, Microsoft, Intel, and more

Film & TV: Sony, Disney, Netflix, Amazon, ABC, CBS, NBC, FX, CMT, Facebook, Snapchat, Marvel, and more