Josh Rabinowitz_Executive Music Producer,Young & rubicam/N.Y. _Dr Pepper "Be You" Campaign
Soon after the birth of his daughter two years ago, Y&R/N.Y. executive music producer Josh Rabinowitz was off and running. Frazzled and still wearing his hospital ID bracelet, he sped off to New York's Sony Studios at 1:00 am to catch up with LL Cool J to record a rap track for the Dr Pepper "Be You" campaign. Such a scenario has been all too common in Rabinowitz's three years overseeing the music production on the series, which has showcased recording artists performing the campaign's "Taste of Individuality" theme as it morphs into hip hop, salsa, '50s pop and country music variations. Unlike other sodapop pop fests, this one hinges on all-star salutes in which current artists give props to musical pioneers. That means Rabinowitz has had to maneuver his way around not one, but two sets of busy schedules. LL Cool J performed his spots duet with rap forefathers Run-DMC, with whom the producer also clocked memorable studio time (Dr Pepper was Jam Master J's final recording before his death). Other pairings include Cyndi Lauper and Anastacia and most recently, country crooners LeAnn Rimes and Reba McIntyre. Although the job jets him cross-country to L.A., Miami and Nashville, travel is hardly the problem for N.Y. native Rabinowitz, who actually spent a lot of time on the road with his own band The Second Step after graduating in poli sci and music from Tufts and The New England Conservatory. The real trouble kicks in with the tunes. After pow-wowing with the creative director (in the last three years, Howard Kaplan) on the musicality of lyrics, Rabinowitz checks in with the composers at Crushing, who sculpt the song into the appropriate genre. Once the demos pass the labyrinthine agency/client approval process, Rabinowitz presents them to the artist, often only to have them knocked down. This happened on the campaign's launch with the Black Eyed Peas and then the next year with LL Cool J. "He said, 'I'm not gonna do this,'" Rabinowitz recalls. "'No offense to anyone, but I want to do it my way. I want the cool shit that's happening now.'" So the producer 180'd into the studio, this time with LL Cool J's famed programmers The Dream Team. Rabinowitz has also collaborated with hitmaking producers like Dan Duffy, for Rimes and McIntyre, and Corey Rooney for Thalia. "Corey Rooney's a big time record producer who probably gets hundreds of thousands per song," he notes. "But he had a different style from what I'm used to. He took two days to do something that might normally take a few hours with advertising music companies. Not to say I could do what he does, but it was an eye opener, and it came out great." Overall, "my biggest concern is making sure the artist and the client are both happy," Rabinowitz says. Not an enviable task, considering the bloated egos he must bump into. "Advertising in general is dealing with egos," he explains. "Creative people, clients. Recording artists certainly can be egotistical, but in general, they understand they're doing a Dr Pepper ad that will air on the Golden Globes or the football playoffs. It's huge. They want to make sure this thing works and it's good. And I think people realize that that's my interest as well."