The partner spotlight is a weekly series where we go behind the scenes with some of the companies that make VendorDB great. Next up is Coupe Studios!
Name: Coupe Studios Music & Sound Design
Location: Boulder, Colorado
Year Founded: 1980
Specialties: Original music and creative sound design
Which work or brand are you best known for?
Music and sound design for advertising is the bulk of our business. On that side, we’re fortunate to have a very wide client base, from big agencies like Ogilvy and CP+B down to smaller shops all over the country. Outside of the ad world, what we’re probably most widely known for is the other side of our business: Film and television. Specifically human-interest documentaries (including Academy Award winner “Saving Face”) and sport/adventure films for guys like Warren Miller Films, Teton Gravity Research, National Geographic, Red Bull Media House, etc.
Most of our work is for clients outside of Colorado. So we could be just about anywhere. Everyone on our staff came here from somewhere else, and we all came to Boulder for the quality of life. 300+ days of sunshine a year, the splendor of the Rocky Mountains…
Little did we imagine when we started this thing 30-some years ago that Boulder would eventually become the hotbed of creative commerce that it is today. Crispin moving to town is what put our little town on the agency map, and since then it’s become an absolute magnet, sucking in talent from all over the place. It’s also great for out of town clients who want to come join us in person – they can toil away in the studios with us all week, and then spend a day or two skiing or just smoking copious amounts of legal weed before heading back to the real world.
How has the business changed since you started?
We’ve seen a trend over just the past few years where fewer and fewer clients want to create a piece of music from scratch. We still have plenty of requests for people wanting to come in and work with a composer face-to-face, but these days we’ll often just get a quick creative brief with a reference track, along with a question: “Do you guys have anything existing that could work like this? Oh, and we need it today.”
As this kind of request came up more and more, we quickly realized that there was a big opportunity here, and a handful of old B-sides and other unused compositions that never made it on air was not going to be nearly good enough.
So, this year we began composing for projects that didn’t yet exist. We focused at first on the most common genre requests: New folk, dubstep, indie anthem, etc. The response from agencies was immediate and absolutely overwhelming. We brought on more composers. We added some of the best and most relevant indie bands. The result was The Coupe Collective. It’s a very carefully curated collection of licensable music that has filled the niche between needledrop library music and original scoring perfectly. It’s more cost-effective than custom music, but it’s all customizable. We have all the master recordings so if the client loves the track but hates the electric guitar part, we can pull that right out. Replace it with an accordion. Get the singer back into the studio and change the lyrics. Make a breakbeat version. Just about anything’s possible with any song in the Collective.
What is your biggest challenge at the moment?
For us, it’s managing growth. Knowing when the right time is to build a sixth studio, or bring in more full time engineers. It’s a great problem to have, obviously, but that doesn’t make the decisions any easier.
What is the best thing about working at Coupe?
Everyone who works here is pretty much here for life. No one bitches about working late, or coming in on the weekend. We’re all acutely aware that we are really, really lucky to get to do something we love for a living. We’re truly a family, and we all share in the business’ profits – from the most junior assistant engineer on up – everybody is a profit participant.
What’s the best bar in Boulder?
It’s debatable. But I’m going with our patio on a Friday afternoon. Next to the creek with million dollar views of the Continental Divide, and an outrageously diverse crowd. We record bands at night, so near the end of day on a Friday we get this great intermingling where agency creatives and film makers are hanging out with rock stars. Making those connections (and often brokering deals between those worlds) is one of our favorite parts about what we do.
The Straight and Narrow – Sound design, Foley and a 5.1 mix for this short thriller.