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John Fulford’s New Label Brings the Sounds of the World to APM Music

John Fulford
John Fulford

John Fulford, who’s written music for television shows and films, is bringing his extensive knowledge of sync music and production to APM with the launch of World Pop. The international catalog which currently ranges from K-pop to South African dance music, elevates the diverse range of producers, instrumentalists, and vocalists it features by making their art accessible in the licensing industry. 


“I got inspired to create World Pop because I wanted to do something that was both exciting and well-needed throughout the TV and film music industry. I didn’t want to keep doing the same albums over and over,” John said in a recent interview with APM. As a musician and music industry aficionado who has always been drawn to world music and even planned to move overseas before the COVID-19 pandemic, the creation of the World Pop catalog feels like a logical and innovative next step. For years now, John has used his YouTube channel, where he’s been posting videos discussing the music sync licensing industry since 2013, to connect with artists all around the world, some of whom are featured on World Pop albums. 


Watch our exclusive interview with John Fulford


Currently, World Pop’s catalog includes Mozambique Afro Pop, Mandarin Pop, KPOP, Kwaito, and Italian Pop. By launching this label, Fulford is using his access to the music industry to platform artists from around the world, putting the artists' and producers' experiences and influences first. This mentality is exemplified by his hands-off approach to music production with the albums World Pop releases. “Generally speaking, I let the producers do their thing,” John said. “What type of notes could I give on a Mozambique pop album? Or on a Swahili album?” 


John’s process with one of his favorite songs from Mozambique Afro Pop, “Faco Tudo,” is the perfect example of a track that John did not need or want to alter in any way. “I knew it when I first heard it,” John said. “I said, ‘No notes, send it like it is. Don’t do anything to it, don’t add anything to it, it’s great.”  


Meanwhile, “City Lights,” another favorite and the second track on Mandarin Pop, was born from a specific vision John had about recreating a sound you could hear in a luxurious mall in Asia. Like the rest of the tracks on Mandarin Pop, “City Lights” is elevated and beat-driven, and, for John, achieved the exact sonic vision he had in mind 


Mozambique Afro Pop and Mandarin Pop are two of the more recent World Pop releases, and the differences between them represent two growing segments of the label’s catalog: Asian albums and African albums. “It’s a good dichotomy of audio,” John said of the production and composition variations extant between albums like Mandarin Pop and KPOP and albums like Mozambique Afro Pop and Kwaito, not to mention the releases to come. The World Pop albums focused on Asia, John said, use a lot of futuristic sounds and vocal manipulation, while tracks on the Mozambique album and upcoming Swahili album lend themselves to a more organic listening experience. John noted that those songs “make it sound like you’re in the room with the performers, as opposed to a studio with a computer manipulating the sound.” 


John’s attitude toward elevating music and his connections with the international music community played a key role in developing and recording the Mozambique Afro Pop and Mandarin Pop albums. For Mandarin Pop, a combination of knowing Mandarin-speaking folks in Asia who wanted exposure to U.S. music licensing and Mandarin-speaking musicians in Los Angeles who wanted to break into recording led to the addition to the World Pop catalog. Knowing that music sung in Mandarin would be marketable in the sync industry, John pulled on these artists to record and produce the tracks on Mandarin Pop. With Mozambique Afro Pop, John’s passion for learning about world music led to him asking for some inspiration from the people he works with in Africa. After listening to music from Mozambique, he fell in love. “Music from Mozambique has its style, its flavor, but also, it can fit in a variety of different scenes, not necessarily just foreign scenes,” he said. 


With these two album releases, John sees the intersection between a love for world music and the marketability of international sounds. “There’s been a growing need for Asian and African music in projects all around the world,” John said. The offerings of World Pop are especially unique at a time when the threat of AI oversaturating sync catalogs with repetitive and identical sounds looms. “For the World Pop catalog, A.I. works to my advantage,” John said, noting that these “A.I. songs,” whether made by a robot or just sound like, make the music from World Pop stand out even more than they already do. “When someone is looking to fill airtime on a TV show, a film… they’re listening to all these songs, trying to fill some airtime, and they hear nine in a row that already sound like A.I.,” he added. “Then that tenth song they listen to, it has an authentic African vocal from a singer who lives in the back of a church and records his vocal on an iPad, and he’s talented and good.”  


World Pop is bringing raw and international pop music to the sync industry, and with upcoming releases and plans to continue to put the producers and artists first, the future looks as bright for the label as its dance tracks sound.  


And, having moved to Florida before the pandemic and getting to focus more on himself away from the distractions of Hollywood, John got a similarly bright and straightforward message: “I’ve just been living life, building my catalog, and I can’t wait for you to hear it.”  


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