HOW IT STARTED BACK THEN
Before the Velvet Revolution, Zdeněk Nedved had already collaborated as an author and manager with several bands, including Jazz Q, Beatings and Petr Novák's George & Beathovens.
But he decided to put his passion for music into practice in a different way. He set up his recording studio and put together a studio group of musicians, which he named Fontána. So if you're wondering where the name of the family business came from, here's your answer. With the group Fontána, Zdenek created music for Krátký film and the important advertising agency Merkur, and that's how he was first introduced to the term production music.
The revolution in 1989 opened up completely new possibilities and interest in this music soared. In 1992 Zdenek founded the music publishing house Studio Fontána, which was the first ever to bring the work of quality music libraries from Western Europe to Czechoslovakia.
FIRST FOREIGN PARTNERSHIP
A great help in this respect was the meeting with the Narholz couple, owners of the German Sonoton, which was already one of the most important players in the industry at that time and this year marks 57 years since its foundation. Rotheide and Gerhard Narholz invited Zdeněk to Germany in the early 1990s and gave him much helpful information from their experience. It didn't take long before Studio Fontana began to exclusively represent their company in the Czech Republic and Slovakia and still does today.
FAMILY AS A TEAM
Who doesn't know the legendary Transformers or Ninja Turtles! But few people know where the popular characters learned Czech. It was in the recording studios run by Ivana Nedvedova, where, among other things, films, TV series and commercials were dubbed into Czech for newly emerging private TV and advertising agencies. The studios were crucial for the future of Studio Fontana. Thanks to them, the family business prospered and Zdenek could afford to continue conquering the waters of production music, which were still almost unexplored in our latitudes.
Studio Fontana was able to establish cooperation with other advertising agencies and television creators. The Nedveds recall with a smile how difficult it was then, compared to today, to get the music to clients at all.
Both sons were involved in distribution as children. They assembled CDs, and the elder Jan and his father drove a car full of CDs to Czech and Slovak clients, who chose music for television broadcasts from printed catalogues. Jan still takes care of some of these clients today.
In addition to offering the music of its international partners, Studio Fontana also publishes its own works through its 17 catalogues. The very oldest, the Fontana Music Library, was even the first library in the former Eastern Bloc.
The Nedveds have travelled the world for authentic music. The library's repertoire includes ethnic recordings from various countries, including Singapore, Japan, New Zealand, Bulgaria and Egypt. Also worth mentioning are classical compositions, some of which Zdeněk recorded with the Prague Rudolfinum Symphony Orchestra.
Leading Czech and Slovak artists, such as Luboš Andršt, Radim Linhart, Martin Němec, Josef Krček, Bobo Kantor, Pavel Marcel, Martin Laul, Petr Wajsar, Laco Déczi, Tomáš Živor, Jan Hála, Petr Pokovba, Zdeněk Merta, David Freedom and Milan Svoboda, among others, have contributed to the work.
The original work is now represented in more than 40 countries and has appeared in a plethora of films, series and commercials around the world. For example, Milan Svoboda's swing song, Coffee Meditation, made it into the film The Enigma Code and made Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley dance, thanks a partnership with Warner Chappell Production Music.
Proof that Studio Fontana's work ranks among the very best is the prestigious Mark Award, given by the American Library Production Association to the Sprint Edge catalogue for Best Pop-Rock Track in 2018.
Other successful original libraries include Sprint and TV Club.
TRANSFORMATION INTO A TECHNOLOGY COMPANY
With the new millennium and new technologies, it was clear that delivering music to clients on CD would soon not be enough. So the Nedveds invested in developing an electronic platform where clients could conveniently search for songs. "Music Search", however, only offered their own work from the catalogues of the Fontana Music Library, not from partners in other countries.
It's hard to imagine today, but twenty years ago it was quite common for music libraries to have only their own music available on their websites. So clients always had to log on to the website of the selected company and download the requested tracks from each one separately.
When Jan and Martin became fully involved in the family business in 2007, they decided to take a risk and make it as easy as possible for users to find music by developing a completely new platform. Thus began the emergence of the predecessor of today's Music Bank. The first result came after more than a year of work. However, it did not meet the high goals that the siblings set for Nedvěd, so there was no choice but to start again. In 2011 it worked! The first clients started using Hudební banka, a search engine that was one of the first in the world to offer not only music from own production, but also the work of all foreign partners.
The music bank started with 15 catalogues and tens of thousands of recordings. Today, it already offers 2.5 million songs from hundreds of creators from all over the world. Initially, it offered the Studio Fontána application only to clients in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, a few years ago it also spread to Hungary, then to Croatia, Slovenia, Germany and in 2022 also to Scandinavia. The developers of the Music Bank are constantly working to make the application as easy as possible for audiovisual professionals and to improve it. In 2022, its fourth version was published.
KEY TO SUCCESS
It was natural for both sons to continue in the family business, although their parents never took it for granted.
Martin himself decided to leave the legal profession, became CEO of Studio Fontana and is using his knowledge of copyright and technology to benefit the industry as a whole. Among other things, he became chairman of the European music production association IPMG and founded the technology company AIMS API. Its unique technology, which searches music based on similarity, is used by top production music companies such as BMG PM, Sony Extreme, Warner Chappell PM and Universal PM.
Jan has built a team of sales managers for Studio Fontana and is responsible for opening new markets and nurturing major clients. At the same time, he continues his music career as a performer and author.
Zdenek Nedved continues to produce and release music for Fontana Music Library. Ivana takes care of the company's finances and also manages the recording studios, where series, films and commercials are still dubbed.
Today, thanks to the cooperation with professionals from all kinds of industries, Fontana Studio can compete with the most important companies in the industry from all over the world. The Nedveds consider the friendly and transparent company culture they have managed to build over thirty years to be the key to their success.