The Final Word

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Bill Meadows, Music Producer, CPB/Miami

The nature of the business is such that we need quick execution from vendors on many projects, so (time and convenience) are definitely important in choosing a vendor. As with any business and artistic relationship, personality is unquestionably a factor. It would be a clich‚ to say that we like people that are "easy to work with." Our agency has a passion for what we do and we seek vendors that share the same values and are eager to work with us until a spot is the absolute best it can be.

Nick Felder, Freelance Producer

If I had to sum it up in two sentences, it would be these: Music is an open call, and Try everything. That's it. Sometimes the creatives have suggestions, sometimes it's the UPS guy. Honestly, it's the one area of advertising that I've seen some of the best ideas come from the most inappropriate places. Which, strangely enough, is why good music houses will always be in demand.

Bruce Andreini. Sr. Producer, Deutsch/N.y.

Aside from their reel, a company has to have smart, talented, creative people. And I look to establish the right chemistry between the agency and the music company. The process has to work for everybody. If it's painful, it shows in the work and nobody ends up happy.

Jarrett Mason, Music Producer, Publicis/n.Y.

Pushing aside all the bells and whistles many music companies use to get agencies' attention these days, creative ability and musical relevance stand out most in terms of what I look for in a music vendor. There are hundreds of music companies out there (they call me everyday, all day long) and the competition is fierce, so what makes some companies stand out from the others for me boils down to, as many rappers would say, 'skillz'. For all the lay people, I mean talent - persons with an undeniably unique craft and impeccable personal taste for that craft, because there are plenty of people out there that can do middle-of-the-road music, and let me assure you my creative directors aren't interested in making anything middle-of-the-road. Creative ability and musical relevance are almost one in the same for me because while there are plenty of talented music creators in our business, if the ability to adapt and incorporate one's talent with what is relevant in music right now isn't there the equation is incomplete. This doesn't mean being the hippest, coolest kid on the block; it means having (with passion) a working vocabulary of the super-vast world of modern music. I'm often surprised how many 'music people' don't really listen to new music anymore. At the same time, simply because a company exists doesn't mean they should work on our TV commercials - a company can't just be good, they have to be great.

Rob Kaplan, Freelance Music Producer

Music rarely has verisimilitude to the sounds we hear everyday. Unlike a photographer who's work can either represent faithfully or completely distort imagery we are familiar with and therefore have a frame of reference from which to base a comparison, a piece of music consists only of abstract tones and therefore exists purely in a subjective space. Dvorak's "New World Symphony" sounds nothing like the street sounds of America. For that matter, Ozzy Osbourne's "Bark at the Moon" sounds nothing like a wild animal howling at midnight. Both merely express the emotional state conjured up by the composer's representation of an experience. As a result, there is no one standard of good and bad. Appreciation is in the ear of the listener. The same can be said of the music production process. Since everyone has different tastes and is in search of different results, everyone does things differently. Like music itself, there is no one standard bearer of good music that is universally revered and respected. And, there is nothing wrong with that. There are a lot of schlocky music companies, cheesy artists and all-around hacks out there who make tons of money because they find their equivocal talent level on the other sides of the business. At the same time, there are a ton of great musicians, labels, music houses, etc. that do innovative work with talented creatives and producers. Who's who? I have no idea. I only try to work with people I like and respect on both the music and agency sides. I do, however believe in one tenet regarding music production and licensing that I feel could translate toanyone. On the creative end, I like what Iggy Pop once said (I'm butchering his quote) but when asked how as someone who's lived a countercultural lifestyle, he can sell songs about drugs and alienation to cruise lines and beer companies, he commented that no use of his music could diminish the inherent value of his songs because they were not commercially created. "Lust for Life" is about the exhilaration of shedding your inhibitions. Whether you're hearing it for the first time in CBGB's in 1978 or in between an NBA Finals game accompanied by footage of people jet skiing, the song's meaning stays intact. The same principal can be held to any music featured in an ad regardless of the track's origin. If the music comes from a pure creative space and enhances the spot's concept, it's good. If the track merely serves as a placeholder, Mick Jagger could have provided your music and it would still be dreck.

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