"RubberBand represents the flexibility of artists in alternate media," says Nicole Dionne, proprietor and creative director of newly launched RubberBand Music, formed with Immortal Records founder Happy Walters, KCRW host Greg Daponte and Comedy Central's "Music Geek" Andy Zax. L.A.-based RubberBand is an umbrella company with dedicated divisions offering original music composition, supervision, research and licensing for advertising, film, television and trailers. Primal Scream Music, the music company Dionne built her name on, now operates as part of RubberBand. "We're not beholden to a roster," she says. "Instead of finding projects for artists, we find artists for our projects and our clients. The music world is our oyster and our clients benefit from our connections, with access to talent that would not normally be available through a traditional commercials or film music house."
This original offer enabled her to pull off projects ranging from finding and producing composers for the music in four of the original BMW Films' "The Hire" series, to licensing the Knack's "My Sharona" for Full Throttle: Charlie's Angels 2. Primal Scream just completed a three-spot campaign for SBC Yahoo broadband service, directed by Robert Altman, bringing in recording artist Peter Himmelman. It's an approach that demands progressive-minded clients prepared to make a big leap of faith, which throws a lot of responsibility on Dionne's shoulders. But she's used to it.
After spells in the movie business, and then briefly at Machine Head, Dionne, a trained singer and musician, realized she'd rather produce music than movies. In 1995, at the age of 25, she set up Primal Scream in her apartment in West Hollywood with then business partner, sound designer Reinhard Denke. She got great trade press coverage, and Primal Scream soon began a regular relationship with Team One on Lexus. A year later the company had grossed over $1million and moved to Santa Monica. Primal Scream grew with almost uninterrupted success. Other notable spots include Nike's "Tornado/Pitch," Airwalk " and "Aliens" and Guinness' "Senses." "I never saw any restrictions on the possibilities of music in advertising, maybe because I had no previous experience," Dionne recalls.
In 1999, before the music industry embraced Madison Avenue, she approached Stavros Merjos, the founder of HSI, lured by his music video credentials, and suggested a radical idea for the time: a company representing musical artists for commercials. She has had a lot of success persuading once reluctant bands such as Remy Zero and Godhead to make the transition to commercials composing for projects like BMW Films' "The Hire" series, and trailers for Charlie's Angels, The Hulk and The League for Extraordinary Gentlemen. She has worked with movie composers like Ramin Djawadi, Michael Wandmacher and Klaus Bedelt, music producers and composers like Billy West and Christopher Garcia and experts in television scores like Doug de Forest. However, she did all this after the short-lived HSI venture, Professional Artists, folded amicably.
Not so her split with Denke, whom she bought out in February 2000, before he left, taking Primal Scream artists including Jason Johnson, to launch Stimmung. Johnson and Primal Scream had been in a protracted legal dispute, which ended this spring after Dionne won on all five counts after representing herself in a 14-day trial. "To me, it's not about taking on the burden of doing another commercial just to pay the mortgage," she says. "Certain artists are feeling the pressure of having to make money for their labels, so they will agree to do ads. I love working with artists who see ads or trailers as an opportunity; another outlet of musical expression. I like being original. If you stand in the middle of the road, you're going to get hit."