Sitting in her glass-walled, cozy office in a low-slung building in Burbank, Emily Weber is thinking about what audiences across the world will hear at the movie theater, or in their living rooms, six months down the road.
Whether they know it or not, they’ve likely heard one of her projects before. Maybe it was her team’s music that made them want to watch Wonder Woman, or to tune in for an episode of Game of Thrones, or to buy the next installment of Call of Duty.
“People call me the trailer music queen,” Weber ’97—the vice president and head of synch at Position Music, one of dozens of companies in Greater Los Angeles area that create music for Hollywood’s movie trailers—says with a laugh.
Her job is to understand what the ad agencies (or trailer houses) want, to find the right composer, and to steer the process from there. Perhaps more crucially, it’s to find the music her clients don’t yet know they want, to set the sonic trend.
And now, with services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon producing exponentially more content than the traditional studios do, there are more shows and movies than ever that need to be marketed, meaning more business for Position Music. “We are just going up and up,” says Weber.
Her own trajectory started in Lake Tahoe, where she grew up. While in grade school, she used a guitar to transcribe songs for her father, an electric bassist who played in a cover band. At 10, she picked up the clarinet, and by high school she had moved on to tenor saxophone.
Tahoe had one AM radio station, and Weber’s family didn’t subscribe to MTV, so she would ask her cousins in L.A. to record the radio and send her the tapes. “I was just starving for music,” she says.
Right after her senior year, she came across a flyer for Berklee’s summer program in L.A. She worked for weeks to afford the weeklong program, and it paid off: “I was blown away.” She canceled her plans to go to University of the Pacific in the fall, and stayed in Tahoe to save up for Berklee. “I would teach skiing all day and go play jazz at night with a bunch of old men,” she says, laughing at the memory. When not working, she studied with a couple of local musicians who helped her prepare for Berklee.
Weber majored in arranging (now contemporary writing and production) and, after Berklee, headed to L.A. The first few years were rough, she says. She took every gig, in every kind of band. Her luck changed when someone she met at an alumni party told her about a position at Touchstone Pictures for an assistant to the vice president for business and legal affairs. Despite having no experience in the field, Weber clicked with the V.P. and got the job. For four years, she says, “I learned all the legal mumbo-jumbo that goes into negotiating a deal with an artist.”
In 2003, she took this experience to Riptide Music. There, she drew upon her large network of musicians and composers, asking them to write catalog music, and then sending that to people who cut trailers, TV shows, and commercials. Five years later, a headhunter contacted Weber about a job at Immediate Music, which specialized in trailer music. She was there for two years before going to Position Music. Today she’s helping Position diversify its business into music publishing and artist representation.
She’s a long way from Tahoe, receiving cassettes of L.A. music in the mail. Now, she’s helping define the music coming from the city.
Emily Weber can be reached at instagram.com/emmerifficweber.