Watch a TV show nowadays and the music has become as important to the story as the actors themselves.
At least that's the case for Alexandra Patsavas, the CEO of Chop Shop Music Supervision in Pasadena, Calif. She and her company have quickly become the go-to place for TV producers looking to use music to help tell their stories. And in the process, Chop Shop is discovering some of the biggest bands around.
Chop Shop was responsible for most of the music in hit shows like Fox's "The OC," and ABC's "Grey's Anatomy." Patsavas is widely credited with turning indie bands like The Fray, Death Cab for Cutie, Snow Patrol and so many others, into mega stars selling millions of albums, thanks to a combination of the television shows in which their music appeared, and the follow-on buzz they enjoyed on the internet.
"If music is used as score, if you hear it, if you hear maybe the same bands, more than once on a show, it really becomes part of the fabric of the show," says Patsavas, 39, from her offices in Pasadena.
She and her staff of four receive hundreds of demos every week from aspiring bands trying to make it big; ironic since it wasn't so long ago that bands looked at television as a kind of "sell-out" to commercialism. Today, getting a song into a hit show could become the ultimate distribution method to get the material in front of millions of fans.
Patsavas has always had a love of music, and began producing bands and shows while she was in college in Champaign, Illinois.
"I was the kind of kid who had a great vinyl collection, I had a crazy haircut, I snuck out to a lot of shows. No, not really," she laughs.
After moving to LA in 1990 and working with B-movie legend Roger Corman, she started Chop Shop and quickly parlayed that experience into something extraordinary by Hollywood standards. She's done the music for Private Practice, Gossip Girl, Without a Trace, and Numb3rs, among many others.
She has a knack for finding bands that haven't quite crept into the consciousness of fans, but are about to.
I talked with Joe King, whose band The Fray, has seen huge success since partnering with Chop Shop. "It's like she's created a platform for new artists to be discovered by the public," he tells me. "When I saw actually what was happening with our song (after it was on TV), it shocked me."
The company's own web site is actually an account on myspace.com, which follows Patsavas' strategy of getting its name and music out to where fans are most likely to look for it.
And now, Chop Shop is embarking on a new adventure, signing the bands who do the music on these television shows, beginning with the Kansas City based Republic Tigers. And she's making millions: Four "OC" soundtracks have sold more than 2 million copies globally over the past few years. And her "Grey's Anatomy" soundtrack just got a Grammy nomination.
Chop Shop is proving that sometimes it pays to actually think "inside the box," as long as that box is a television.
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