Hard Work and Heart: Randall Foster


Meeting with Randall on Music Row

Surrounded by stacks of music in a busy Nashville office, Randall Foster is a music industry insider, creative mastermind and community builder.
For Foster, success has come one step at a time, and currently he sits at the top of Creative Licensing at ole, one of the most respected and recognized independent publishers in the world. In addition to his work at ole, Randall keeps up an impressive list of volunteerism through serving on various boards and committees in Nashville (full list here).
I recently had the opportunity to meet with this Lawrence Kansas native, and ask him a few questions about his career and what he sees coming in the music industry.
When did you know that you wanted to work in the music industry? How did that come about?
I was born the son of a third generation Music educator and composer- so it is safe to say that I always knew I'd have a life in music. I grew up playing piano, trumpet, and generally every other wind or percussion instrument I could get my hands on. The plan was always to teach, then in my high school years I became interested in DJing. I built a pretty profitable DJ company towards the end of high school that actually ended up paying my way through undergrad. I was DJing 4-5 nights a week and making great money but knew that what I was doing would eventually become unsustainable. I didn’t want to be 50 years old and working until 4:00 a.m. So I retooled and went to Grad School to learn the business of music.
I studied Music Business and Entertainment Industries at the University of Miami and ended up interning at EMI Latin and taking my first job at MTV Latin America. Shortly after I moved to Nashville to begin what would be a great eight-year tenure at Naxos, the Classical record label and distributor; at the pinnacle of my time there I was running worldwide licensing operations. I found a great opportunity to parlay my skills over to the publishing side of music and joined the team at ole in early May 2014. It's been an exciting six months and I am looking forward to the years ahead.

Now you're at ole working as the Senior Director of Creative Licensing. What does a typical day look like for you?
No two days are ever the same. This is one of the things I love about my job.  I travel a fair amount and split time between NY, Nashville, LA and Toronto primarily. When on the road, I am busy meeting clients, writers and artists, always trying to find exciting new uses for the music in our catalog. When in my office on music row, I spend a good amount of time answering creative briefs and pitching our music for usage in Film, TV, Advertising, Gaming and every other possible opportunity I can find.

What is the best career advice you've ever been given? What are the 'words of wisdom' you live by?
Tenacity. Be tenacious. Don't take no for an answer and always follow your heart. You may not always be better than the competition (in any aspect of life) but if you can outwork them you will have a marked advantage. Secondary to this an old boss of mine used to use the phrase "Work smart, not hard." On the surface these two ideologies may seem to compete but combining them makes you unstoppable.

What predictions do you have for the music industry in the next 5 years? 10 years?
Wow.  No pressure.
In the coming years, the industry will continue to change. CD sales will continue to diminish and they will be relegated to a collector's item (much like Vinyl has become). Streaming and digital monetization will carry the industry. Touring will continue to be at an all-time high and will be the primary source of income for most artists. There will be more music made than ever before and our ability to filter what's good and what's bad will be determined by our trusted sources of music. I feel that music blogs and sites dedicated to genre-specific curation will have an increasingly important place in our overall musical eco-system.
Overall- music will continue to thrive- it's just that the industry surrounding music will have to change dramatically to keep up.
For more information about Randall, including his portfolio of music placements, visit his website.