Head of soundtracks
Karyn Rachtman’s film credits include “Reality Bites,” “Pulp Fiction,” “Boogie Nights” and “Get Shorty.” But her business isn’t movies, it’s music Rachtman’s job is putting together the soundtracks.
Interscope Records doesn’t have titles for employees, but if they did the 34-year-old Rachtman might be “head of soundtracks.” Her job includes getting clearances for songs to appear on the movie soundtrack albums released by Interscope and in some cases helping select the songs on the album.
Film and record companies collaborate in producing soundtrack albums, so her typical day includes meetings with directors, artists and other film executives on various projects.
Rachtman learned the ropes while working as an assistant to Paula Erickson, director of music for Cannon Films, where she got clearances to use certain songs in films. After a subsequent position at Island Records, she struck out on her own as a freelance consultant.
Rachtman’s first big break came in 1992, when a friend introduced her to Quentin Tarantino. The now-famous director was trying to get permission to use the upbeat pop song “Stuck in the Middle With You” during a brutal scene in his movie “Reservoir Dogs,” in which a man’s ear is sliced off.
Rachtman said she finally convinced the record company to give the clearance by arguing that the movie would be a hit, and use of the song would boost soundtrack sales and royalties.
The project set up Rachtman to do other soundtracks. “The beauty of soundtracks is that the music doesn’t have to belong to any genre,” said Rachtman. “They appeal to a wide audience.”
In 1995, Rachtman went to work for Capitol Records, where she worked on “Trainspotting,” “Clueless,” “Stealing Beauty,” “Boogie Nights” and “Romeo & Juliet.”
At Interscope Records, she produced the soundtrack for the Warren Beatty movie “Bulworth.” She also launched her own record label under Interscope called Gazillion Records. The first project is a record with children’s songs by Sid and Marty Krofft of “H.R. Pufnstuf” fame.