Alex Flores, Senior Vice President of Creative At BMI, Talks About The PRO’s Creative Success And New Developments
Alex Flores, who is based in Los Angeles, is Senior Vice President, Creative at BMI, which is a top performing rights organization (PRO). Flores works closely with BMI’s songwriters & composers in all genres of music, including pop, rock, country, hip-hop, R&B, Latin, classical, film & TV, jazz and musical theatre. She has an extensive background as a creative and marketing executive at music publishing companies, record labels, movie & TV studios and agencies.
Flores oversees the Creative teams in BMI’s offices located in New York, Los Angeles, Nashville, London, Atlanta, Austin and San Juan, helping support the company’s songwriting community and cultivating key industry relationships. She also oversees the continued development and execution of acquisition and retention strategies that are in line with BMI’s overall mission of growing their leading market share across all genres of music.
For the fifth consecutive year, BMI has paid the highest reported public performance revenues and royalty distributions of any music rights organization in the world. Despite the unprecedented impact of the global Covid-19 pandemic, BMI closed its fiscal year (ended June 30) with historic revenue and royalty distributions. The company generated $1.311 billion in revenue, and distributed and administered $1.233 billion to its affiliated songwriters, composers and publishers.
Before joining BMI, Flores worked at BMG, where she was Senior Vice President of Marketing. In her position there, she managed the day-to-day operations of the company’s U.S. Synch Marketing teams while continuing to secure placements for BMG’s repertoire across all media platforms. Flores also worked closely with her international counterparts, songwriters, producers and artists to maximize synch opportunities in the U.S. as well as acquire talent and renew deals. She joined BMG in 2012 as a Director, Marketing, Film & Television where she was responsible for placing music in films, TV shows and soundtracks.
Prior to working at BMG, she also held positions of increasing responsibility at Walt Disney Studios, Universal Pictures and Univision Music Group.
We are pleased to do this new Q&A interview with Alex Flores. She discusses her extensive background in the music and film & TV worlds, and she talks about her current role as Head of BMI’s Creative team.
DK: How did you get started in the music business?
Alex Flores: Growing up in a family where music was such an integral part of our lives, I developed a love for music early on. At a very young age, I was also fascinated by the use of music in films. I saw my first film in a theater in Mexico when I was a kid. I remember standing up more than once in this theater when I heard a musical cue that resonated with me and experiencing going through the motions of the film that I was watching. On our way home, I asked my mom, “How did the music get into this picture?” Like many people around the world, the first movie that I saw was E.T., and who doesn’t have an emotional reaction to the music of (legendary composer) John Williams? The cue that really stuck with me, that many years later when I understood the process a little better, was the beautiful scene where E.T. and Elliot’s character is being chased, and they ride on the bicycle and fly over the moon.
Watching that movie, I got to hear, see and feel the importance of music in the picture and understand the pairing of music and film. When I was an undergrad student in Mexico, I had the opportunity to work on the television side, and I loved it. I loved the pace and being able to work on many different projects at once. Later on, I moved to L.A. to pursue my education with a master’s degree in television and film, and this is where I had the opportunity to work while still putting myself through school. I landed a job at an agency that represented film composers, music supervisors and music editors. This was my introduction into the business and creative side of the music industry, and I absolutely loved it.
DK: Did you grow up in Mexico?
Flores: I grew up in Tijuana, Mexico and I moved to L.A. to pursue a master’s degree and further my education. I had every intention of going back to Mexico when I first moved to L.A., and it wasn’t until I got my first job at this agency in my last year of grad school, that I was given the opportunity to learn about the business and creative side that goes into pairing music up to picture. I learned what a composer and songwriter did, and what a music supervisor and music editor did. I just fell in love with this, so when I graduated, I stayed. Then I got the opportunity to work at Univision Music Group, and it was there that I was immersed in Latin music and all of its subgenres. Univision has several labels under its umbrella.
DK: You also worked at Universal Pictures and Walt Disney Studios. How did you land your jobs with these companies?
Flores: While at Univision Music Group, I was recruited by Universal Pictures. Following my stay at Universal, a colleague recommended me to the head of Film music at the Walt Disney Studios. At these two wonderful companies, I had the opportunity to be in the room with some of the world’s most amazing, respected filmmakers and witness firsthand how they envisioned and execute their film projects.
At Universal and Disney, I was on the supervision side of the studio. We would hire composers, work with our publishers and label partners to find songs for our movies and commission songwriters for original end titles. I also worked with the marketing teams both domestically and internationally making sure musical assets were distributed early on to those who needed them.
DK: How did you decide to work at BMG, and become Senior Vice President of Marketing?
Flores: After spending several years at the Walt Disney Studios, I got recruited for a position at BMG. I started at BMG as a Director of Film & TV. My job was to pitch BMG’s repertoire and catalog, creating new opportunities for original songs for films. I enjoyed pitching to the people that were in some cases, my former bosses or my colleagues at studios around L.A.
I was at BMG for about six years. I went from being a Director to a Vice President, and then eventually I was promoted to SVP of Marketing. In that role, I got to oversee the day-to-day operations of the U.S. synch marketing team. Of course, I was also responsible for making sure that we were procuring placements for our repertoire across all media, including television, commercials, trailers, films, promos and sports. I also made sure my team engaged with our international offices in London, Berlin, Australia and other cities. Representing songwriters and artists from around the world, we wanted to ensure they had an opportunity to have placements in the U.S. In addition, my role allowed me to have a say and a stake in talent and catalogue acquisition and retention.
DK: After having a successful run at BMG, how did you decide to join BMI?
Flores: One of my good friends, the head of music at a major network referred me to BMI’s recruiter. I received a call from the recruiter and we began a dialogue. With my background in music publishing, labels and film music, and having worked at two major studios, I felt that my expertise in this area would allow me to make a transition to the world of performance rights. And this was at a time when digital platforms, streaming and social media were transforming the world of performances and activity. So, I was excited to join BMI—it seemed like the logical next step in my career.
DK: What are your main duties at BMI?
Flores: I oversee the Creative teams and their day-to-day operations in our offices in New York, L.A., Nashville, Atlanta, Austin, London and Puerto Rico. Acquisition, retention, artist development and working with up-and-coming songwriters and composers are among the most important aspects of my Senior leadership role. We grow market share across all platforms and genres of music. In addition to working with our wonderful music creators, one of the things that I most enjoy about my role is the collaboration with my colleagues in Licensing, Corporate Communications, International, Legal and Distribution. There is a synergy amongst our BMI teams that facilitates the implementation and execution of our creative and business initiatives that position us as the number one PRO in the world.
On the creative side, we develop, foster and nurture emerging songwriters, producers and composers providing platforms to expand their footprints in the music world. What’s especially exciting is that each genre is unique unto itself.
DK: What’s a typical day like for you at BMI? Obviously with Covid this past year, people have been working remotely.
Flores: I really don’t think there’s a typical day (laughs), which makes my job even more exciting because every day is a new experience. Of course, prior to Covid, working in the office provided a different tempo from working remotely. Prior to the pandemic, we were engaged in meetings and festivals, traveling…you name it.
Now with the pandemic, I cannot say that the workload has diminished. If anything, it has increased. More than ever, there’s been a need to stay connected with our creative community as well as provide our affiliates with ways to engage in new markets and promote their works. During Covid, many of our creative initiatives transitioned from live to virtual platforms. We also introduced new initiatives that focused solely on promoting and enhancing visibility for our creators.
DK: It’s been a tough and challenging year for everybody. How has Covid affected the ways that songwriters and publishers can make money?
Flores: BMI is always working in the best interest of our songwriters, composers and music publishers. That is especially the case, given that it’s been a very difficult year. We saw a decline in general licensing with so many bars, restaurants, hotels and music venues shutting down due to the pandemic. However, the tremendous growth in digital streaming, including music and audiovisual platforms, along with our Radio Music Licensing Committee (RMLC) settlement in 2020, helped offset the downturn and positioned BMI to hit record-breaking revenue and distribution numbers. We were able to get distributions out early last year to help alleviate some of the stress caused by the pandemic and also announced a transition to a new distribution schedule for 2022, resulting in an additional (5th) distribution to our affiliates this year.
DK: At BMI, you work with talented music execs who are part of your Creative team. Can you talk about some of the members of your Creative team?
Flores: I’m very lucky to work with this Creative team. These executives are truly experts in their fields and they have passion, drive and are among the most respected professionals in the industry. Today, the merger in music across all genres and platforms necessitate our sharing of signings, music, trends, initiatives and the exchange of ideas that positively impact our creative and business communities. Cross collaboration between territories and genres is paramount to the success the Creative team and BMI enjoys. Together, they work to ensure growth of market share, artist development and in keeping with BMI’s pursuit to educate creators, the team also engages with different schools, universities and music association groups. I value each and every one for their dedication and commitment. They are truly the best in the business.