Women of Ubisoft – Coralie Zaza
When you think of the words “Ubisoft” and “music,” you likely think about Just Dance or Rocksmith, two games in which music is an integral part of the gameplay experience. But imagine The Crew 2 without The Black Keys’ “Howlin’ For You” or Watch Dogs 2 without N.E.R.D.’s “Spaz.” These games, and so many others, rely on licensed music to add color to their worlds, elevate emotions, and entertain players. That’s where people like Coralie Zaza come in. As a music-licensing specialist, Zaza is responsible for securing the rights to include pre-existing music in Ubisoft’s games. Whether the song shows up in-game or in a trailer, her work covers nearly every Ubisoft property.
Tell us a bit about your background.
I always knew I wanted to live in a bigger city and explore all my options. I went to six different universities, I traveled everywhere I could, I studied every topic I could. I couldn’t decide where I wanted to live either. I went to school all around France, but I also lived in Athens, New York, and Miami. My early 20s were spent traveling and living in different places, and I loved it.
How did you get involved in music?
CZ: I always knew I wanted to work in music, even though I wasn’t sure what my options were at first. I knew it was the industry I wanted to be a part of. That’s probably why I had such a meandering path in my education, because there’s no straight path towards getting into music.
After I interned and worked at multiple music venues, booking agencies, and labels, I worked for a music licensing agency in Toronto. Obviously I already had a love for music, but my more logistical brain enjoyed it too. I realized that the music industry is not all Rolling Stones, fireworks, and Coachella.
So how did you come to join Ubisoft?
I needed a change of scenery so I moved to Montreal and worked at a music production studio for a bit and a friend sent me a job posting for Ubisoft. I fit the description and requirements, it was all music licensing, stuff I knew how to do. Videogames?” I was confident in my ability to do the job from a music standpoint, but I was worried that knowing a lot about the technicalities of video game would be needed for the job. All I knew about games was from playing Rayman or Ocarina of Time two decades ago. It was totally fine, I realized once I started the job that most of my team are not gamers either!
You mentioned that you always want to try something new, but music has seemingly been a constant in your life. Why is that?
I always knew I wanted to encourage the industry in some capacity. I wanted to work behind the scenes because I know I’m good with numbers and papers, and I’m very organized. So I want to join what I’m good at with what I’m passionate about. I don’t want for us, the audience, to take art for granted; and I don’t want the artists to think there’s no money or future in trying to live off their art and stop.
What does a music-licensing specialist do?
CZ: I’m one of three music licensing specialist in the music department here at Ubisoft. We’re essentially the business link between the production and marketing teams at Ubisoft and the various music industry actors – the labels, the publishers, sometimes the artists themselves. Production or marketing comes to us with a request for music; either they already know what they want and our job is to find the owner of the song and negotiate the use of it, or they have no idea what they want and ask us for input. Depending on the budget, we then send pitch requests to our partners and find a song, or we put them in touch with our music supervisors, who are the creative leads at Ubisoft Music.
Licensing specialists only deal with licensing external music. It’s a lot of Just Dance and Rocksmith, but really we work across all brands and all studios.
Can you give examples of licensed music in Ubisoft games outside of Just Dance and Rocksmith?
It’s a lot of work, because we have to keep track of all the trailers and all the versions of it. The process depends on the game and the scope of the trailer. Before I was at Ubisoft, my manager, Nikolaos Bardanis, and our music supervisor Bénédicte Ouimet worked on the Assassin’s Creed Origins trailer with a song by Leonard Cohen, and it wasn’t easy. It was shortly after Cohen passed, and his estate took a lot of convincing to let us use the song in our trailer. My manager was invited along with Leonard Cohen’s manager to conferences here in Montreal, and spoke about the inclusion of the song, which was reaching an entirely different audience through the trailer.
May 19, 2020 at 17:25