Woof

There’s nothing I like more than a good song in an advert. Add a dog to the equation and, in my book, you’re usually onto a winner.

I’m a self-confessed dog-obsessive. The proud owner of 2 Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Monty and Archie, I’m guilty of cooing, baby talking and general anthropomorphism (they’re not dogs, they’re my little men). And so, in the frivolous spirit of Friday, here are my favourite adverts which feature dogs and good music.

1) First up is Thinkbox’s ‘Dog Home’ ad, the brainchild of creatives Mark Slack, Gemma Phillips and Justin Tindall of The Red Brick Road.

Watch Harvey the dog iron, mow the lawn, drive the kids to school, cook dinner, and tuck you in at night, all to the tune of 70’s classic ‘You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet’ by Bachman Turner Overdrive. The ad saw Thinkbox.tv’s traffic increase by over 400%, winning awards from D&AD, British Arrows, APA Collection, Animal Spot Awards, Creative Circle, David Reviews Ads of the Year and the Dogs Trust Canine of the Year.

2) Next up we have Wall’s Sausages ‘Kitchen’ ad from creatives Dan Warner and Andy Vasey of Saatchi & Saatchi, London.

Overjoyed to be served sausages and chips, a bloke slides a ring box over to his missus. She opens to find a tiny, Gulliver’s Travels-esque dog called Alan, who proceeds to rap like Mike Skinner whilst playing his tiny electric keyboard. I don’t know about you, but I’d take a tiny French bulldog serenading me over a ring any day.

3) This controversial Volkswagen ‘Polo Confidence’ ad from DDB London is one of my favourites.

A nervous and sad-looking Jack Russell is transformed upon riding in a Volkswagen Polo, happily belting out Spencer Davis Group’s ‘I’m a Man’. Unfortunately the RSPCA got involved and the light-hearted ad was consequently banned. Volkswagen’s response? “The dogs are highly trained. They can do almost anything. They can shake if they are happy or excited – they were not scared.”

4) Back to Thinkbox and Harvey for their ‘Harvey and Rabbit’ spot.

His owner tries to sneakily throw away his well-worn stuffed rabbit toy, but Harvey has other ideas. To the theme of ‘Friends’ by Adam Buxton, Harvey treats us to a video montage of all the good times he’s had with his best mate Rabbit. And who could say no to that face? Not Hollywood, apparently, as Sykes (his real name) has appeared alongside A-list actors including Charlize Theron, Jude Law and Johnny Depp in movies such as Snow White And The Huntsman, The Other Boleyn Girl and Pirates Of The Caribbean.

Rabbit should be chuffed he still gives him the time of day…

5) Last but not least is the latest Caesar campaign: ‘Love Them Back’ from AMV BBDO.

Creatives Diccon Driver and Alan Wilson “wanted to create a campaign which owners can truly relate to and which really showcased that dogs are much more than pets to people; they’re friends and companions that give unconditional love.”

So they went to Croatia and shot this heartwarming story of an older gent (an 85 years old, slightly deaf, slightly blind man who had never acted before and only spoke Macedonian) and his tender relationship with his dog. Accompanied by the beautiful piano track ‘Walk Through The Village’ by Tom Hodge, it’s a struggle not to get slightly teary-eyed.

I’m now sat here watching Monty and Archie snore away on the floor and wondering why they can’t act, sing, mow the lawn or play the electric keyboard. It’s ok though, because they look like this:

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E x

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Robin Williams: A musical tribute

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“I’m a hip old granny who can hip-hop, be-bop, dance till ya drop, and yo-yo make a wicked cup of cocoa.”

Yep, Mrs. Euphegenia Doubtfire had it all.

From the cake face mask incident to that restaurant scene (and not forgetting the run-by fruiting), Mrs. Doubtfire is one of my favourite films, and most definitely one of Robin Williams’ best.

When I first heard of his tragic passing, my inner-child felt robbed. Aladdin, Jumanji, Mrs. Doubtfire, Hook – these were the films that shaped my childhood. Then my adult-self caught up and remembered Good Will Hunting, One Hour Photo, Nine Months, Good Morning, Vietnam, Dead Poets Society – need I go on?

I also thought about the use of music in his films and discovered that Williams has an impressive 5 Grammys to his name, and has also had 3 charting albums on the Billboard 200.

Whilst I don’t have the right words to do justice to such an incredible talent, I wanted to present a little musical tribute to this astonishing man. Here’s to you Robin.

E x

Robin William’s 10 Best Music Moments:

1) Batty Rap (Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest, 1992)

2) Friend Like Me (Aladdin, 1992)

3) Dinosaurs (Mrs. Doubtfire, 1993)

4) Prince Ali (Aladdin, 1992)

5) Pudgy & Grunge – Figaro (Mrs. Doubtfire, 1993)

6) My Way (Happy Feet, 2006)

7) Matchmaker (Mrs. Doubtfire, 1993)

8) I Yam What I Yam (Popeye, 1980)

9) Come Together (Beatles cover) – Robin Williams & Bobby McFerrin (from the 1998 album In My Life, compiled and produced by Sir George Martin)

10) Blame Canada – performed at the 2000 Academy Awards (from South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut)

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Breaking the silence

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted, so I felt it apt to break my silence with a post about a new campaign called #UnMuteUK.

The folks at Soho Music Group (who I blogged about in February) have been working with VCCP on consumer watchdog Which?’s new digital campaign, which encourages people to  sign a petition calling on the Government to ensure that when you speak up, staff in public services listen and act on your concerns.

Soho Music introduced Which? to spoken word artist George The Poet and producer and multi-instrumentalist Jakwob, who subsequently wrote a song for the #UnMuteUK campaign entitled ‘It’s Yours.’ You can hear the first 25 seconds of the track on the petition site, but the full exclusive song will only be ‘unmuted’ when the petition reaches 50,000 signatures.

Using music as a means of protest is nothing new. But this 21st century version, featuring London’s favourite spoken word artist George the Poet, and Jakwob, best know for his remixes of Ellie Goulding, Temper Trap and his own niche label Boom Ting, is a refreshing and modern departure from the dreary likes of Live Aid. Over a backdrop of gently stirring acoustic chords, George’s lyrics empower and encourage us, rather than downright depress.

We’ve all been guilty of not complaining, either due to sheer laziness or because we simply don’t think it’ll make a difference. By calling for the UK Government to create a public services ombudsman to deal with unresolved complaints about education, health and social care, Which? is taking a huge leap forward for our benefit.

This campaign isn’t trying to be groundbreaking or clever, the point is simple and the outcome could make a big difference. As Sir John Hegarty recently told Forbes, “Music can transform a message.” This track lets you know that the power is in your hands. “It’s your prerogative” says George.

So go on, sign the petition now: http://www.unmuteuk.com

E x

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Interview with music supervisor Nora Felder (Californication)

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Check out my little chat with music supervisor Nora Felder, president of Picture Music Company. She’s been the music supervisor for Californication for 7 years, and has many other film/TV projects under her belt…

You’ve worked on Californication for 7 years with Tom Kapinos. How much creative input do you have on this particular show?

On Californication I have a lot of creative input. I also have had 7 years of pleasure collaborating with Kapinos who is a music lover in the true sense of the word so it’s great fun bouncing ideas off each other into the wee hours.

You also work / have worked on other TV shows such as Unforgettable and Necessary Roughness. They’re all very different and must therefore have very different music requirements. How do you go about juggling several projects at once?

Although it’s great when you’re able to completely throw yourself into a project, the story and the musical exploration process, the juggling part is always a challenge. Aside from managing the admin aspects of the job, it’s definitely not easy to train your brain to constantly switch gears in terms of keeping your radar open for songs that would/could be appropriate for each individual show all at once.  You just do it though working longer hours, it’s part of the gig. I just keep my head clear and bury myself in my music cave.

You recently described every Californication episode as a mini-movie with up to 12 songs. As well as lots of smaller artists you’ve got some huge names like The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan. Do you have a pretty flexible budget or is it still a struggle?

Our budget has been adequate for the show in that we love using a lot of independent music, and on occasion we are able to use larger artists in some key moments. It’s pretty much exactly what we had in mind to do creatively so although it was a bit of a juggling act to keep our ideas in check with the budget, things worked out pretty well each season and what is meant to be always happens.

There’s a lot of, shall we say, risqué scenes in the series. Do you ever get artists objecting to having their music placed in these scenes?

No. I guess we were lucky as we never had that problem. Some artists even approached us to have their music used in these scenes if you can believe that (laughs). Most of the music used behind sexually charged scenes tended to include indie artists that had an interesting music element that would essentially underscore the scene.  There are certain classic older artists that wanted to make sure there was no frisky-ness going on in the scene in which their music was to be used.

You travelled and worked throughout Europe and Asia for 5 years – how did this shape and influence your understanding and knowledge of music? 

Being able to intimately experience different cultures definitely enhances one’s outlook on life as a whole, which includes music and arts. Experiencing music in the actual environment it was created leaves an imprint on your brain and in your ears. That was / is invaluable on so many levels. Even going to live shows all over the world and watching the locals taking in the music of their culture and reacting to it both visually and with dance is a wonderful thing to watch.

What’s your own personal favourite use of music?

That answer changes on a daily basis (laughs). There are situations where it feels like the song was almost written for the scene (both musically and lyrically), and when you’re able to make that connection with the song and the scene it’s a glorious thing. There are so many I’m proud of! So I’d like to say that in general I strive for each placement to be meaningful whenever possible.

What song has been the most challenging to license for a TV show / film in your experience?

Dazed and Confused (Led Zeppelin) was a bit tricky because Robert Plant and Jimmy Page are very careful in what they will allow their songs to be used for, as they should be. The process in clearing that particular use definitely caused some sweat as it basically cleared in the final hour. Of course we were ecstatic. As much as we tried, it was really hard to imagine another song in the scene, so I’m so glad it worked out.

What project do you wished you’d music supervised / what would be your dream?

Shows / projects like Breaking Bad or The Life of Walter Mitty are always intriguing to me in that it’s NOT looking for the obvious piece to fill the musical puzzle. On the other hand “classic” music driven films like High Fidelity and Almost Famous were always classic favourites of mine that I imagined would have been great fun to work on as the stories in themselves are like love letters to music.

What do you think is in store for the future of sync / music supervision? 

Music and songs will always be important aspects of the story for any moving picture. The hope is that the music industry will thrive again and budgets can increase, providing more resources in order to paint a better picture of each individual story.

What upcoming projects are you excited about?

I’m just starting Unforgettable Season 3 and the scripts are phenomenal so I’m excited about that. Also I’m in Paris right now for the Sync Summit Conference and it’s fun seeing all the press on the show over here. They love it! The Night Shift will start airing soon on NBC so looking forward to positive reviews for its premiere season. I also have a movie announcement to make very soon that is a very compelling project so stay tuned on that.

Thanks to the lovely Nora Felder for a great interview.

E x

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Interview with Music Supervisor Brian McNelis

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At the sync summit last month I was lucky enough to have a chat with Brian McNelis, the Senior Vice President of Music and Soundtracks at Lakeshore Entertainment. He’s music supervised and produced soundtracks for films including Drive, Underworld, and The Lincoln Lawyer.

Can you tell me a bit about how you got into music supervision and how you got involved with Lakeshore Entertainment?

I originally got into music supervision producing a music documentary film. I actually worked with three music supervisors, and I didn’t really think I was doing music supervision myself but as the producer of a documentary you are kind of doing a little bit of everything. Sometime after that I was hired at Lakeshore to run the day-to-day of the record label and they invited me to work on the films. The first film I have a music supervision credit on is The Last Kiss. Working at Lakeshore has been the best experience of my life, second only to meeting my wife.

It’s a great soundtrack

Thank you. Truth be told Zach Braff had a large influence on the music in the film. It was his first film after Garden State and it was really great working with him. He didn’t direct Last Kiss, he was an actor, but obviously knowing what a huge music fan he is, it was really a great experience.  So that was the first official music supervision job I did. I’ve done most of Lakeshore’s films since then with Eric Craig my music supervising partner at Lakeshore Records.

I wanted to talk to you about Drive because I love the soundtrack. Was it you that found Cliff Martinez?

There are lot of great and wonderful composers that had been considered for Drive. Cliff and I had just finished working on The Lincoln Lawyer where we worked pretty closely. Cliff has a one-of-a-kind instrument called the Cristal Baschet. It is made by French instrument makers and artists Benard and Francois Baschet. The Drive temp score had a lot ambient processed loops and pads. If you hear the Cristal Baschet being played it’s an even more pure expression of that kind of sound because it’s not processed in any way – it’s just the crystals vibrating.

I had shown a video of an interview we did with Cliff to the film’s producers and they saw him playing the Cristal Baschet and that got everyone really excited. In film music circles Cliff’s score for Solaris is considered by many to be one of the high watermarks for ambient film scores.

How did you go about finding those artists/songs such as Kavinsky’s ‘Nightcall’?

The goal on every film is to preserve the intention of the director. It’s always a team effort. When you’re supervising a film you’re not necessarily the one who is bringing in and discovering all the music. The Chromatics, College and Desire were temped in by the director who had a prior relationship with Johnny Jewel. We were already familiar with Kavinsky as we had already licensed ‘Nightcall’ for The Lincoln Lawyer, but it’s a different part of the song than the part that’s used during the title sequence of Drive.

In the canal scene we were asked to try more options. Filmmakers always want to explore options to see if we can make the scene better. We put in about 70 songs including songs by LCD Soundsystem, Alt-Ctrl-Sleep, and an M83 track. It was one of those scenes where lots of songs worked really well, but at the end of the day ‘A Real Hero’ was hard to beat, especially with the lyrics.

I guess that’s an example of when a budget limitation was beneficial creatively?

I know that there were some very big artists was temped into at least one scene, and some of these artists rarely clear stuff for movies and when they do it’s extremely expensive. I think that Drive is an example of how creative limitations can be very positive. But at the same time music can make one film into a completely different film, so it’s always a balance. In the end I think everyone was very happy with the outcome.

You’ve spoken quite passionately before about artist’s rights and what musicians can do to help themselves. What advice can you give?

I think that artists have been slow to engage in public conversation about the value of their work, and the things that are devaluing that work such as ad-funded piracy. All these pirate sites are funded by advertising – it’s not kids in bedrooms sharing, it’s corporations in boardrooms profiting. Ad-funded piracy is creating all the downward pressure; it reduces record sales, which then pushes people into getting more aggressive about sync licensing fees. Then, the more people that get into sync, the more the prices are depressed.

Prior to rampant online piracy a lot of artists, especially larger artists, just wouldn’t do syncs. They didn’t want the money. However, as many saw their revenue streams dissipating they started looking for other places to make up for that lost income. Because these artists have the command in the marketplace they’re the first ones to get a shot at the premium sync placements. So it’s made it difficult for smaller artists to get those placements and fees.

What are your sources and methods for music discovery?

A large part of it is what I seek out personally for my own enjoyment. Sometimes that music that ends up in our films, but a lot of times it does not. One of the great things about the job is that a lot of it is research based as every director and every project has its own needs. It’s like when I was working in a record store, you didn’t need to know everything because your customers would educate you. Films are really the same way. An exciting part of the job for me is that we get to research and we get to learn.

There was a film I was working on recently and a producer mentioned an artist named Wayne Cochran who I hadn’t heard of. He was a guy with a pompadour hairdo and a 12-piece rhythm and blues band, it was the 70’s (I think) and he was inspired by James Brown. It’s the craziest thing I’d ever seen in my life! So it was great to learn about that and it to my knowledge base and repertoire.

Are there any artists you’re particularly excited about at the moment?

The stuff I’m personally most excited about is ambient instrumental guitar music. I’m really into This Will Destroy You, Explosions In The Sky, Lanterna, Startle The Heavens. The more ambient, experimental processed guitar kind of stuff. I like hearing music that has its own intention and maybe not the obvious one. I’m loving Squrl at the moment.

What project do you wish you’d worked on as a music supervisor?

Sometimes I watch films from the 80′s and early 90′s on TV and I just go “wow, that would have been amazing”. I think that if I had my choice it would have been working with Tangerine Dream on films like Risky Business or Thief or Sorcerer.

I would have loved to have been a PA on Purple Rain, just to have been there. Valley Girl – I would have loved to have been the supervisor for Valley Girl. For me it was a very seminal soundtrack growing up in the 80′s. It wasn’t just the soundtrack to Valley Girl it was the soundtrack to suburban life; there was Punk Rock and then there was New Wave.

It must be hard for you to switch off when you watch a film!

Yeah, you definitely always have one ear out. Sometimes I look at scenes and think, “that’s amazing, I wonder what the story is behind that”.

Can you tell me about any upcoming projects?

We just wrapped Song One, the new Anne Hathaway film, and it’ll be coming out soon. It’s a love letter to the Williamsburg, Brooklyn music scene and the culture there. I think it’s really going to speak to this generation about their references in the way that Garden State and Lost in Translation did a decade ago. So that’s really exciting.

Walk of Shame is coming up – it’s a great fun comedy! I’m currently working on The Vatican Tapes which is a satanic possession horror movie. Those are fun, especially when a composer really nails a spot and you can see the audience jump. Joe Bishara really did an amazing job.

What is your favourite film soundtrack?

I would say Sling Blade is way up there. I’m a huge fan of Daniel Lanois. I love his guitar sound and his first solo album ‘Acadie’, it unscrewed my head and changed my consciousness around music. The Birdy soundtrack is another one of my favourites which features Peter Gabriel tracks that were reinterpreted by Daniel Lanois. So I would say Birdy and Sling Blade are two of my absolute favourite film soundtracks.

Huge thanks to Brian for such a fantastic and insightful interview.

E x

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Music Supervision: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Last month I found myself in Paris, sitting inside what I can only describe as a giant colander in the French Communist Party headquarters. This was, rather bizarrely, the venue of the Paris Sync Summit 2014. An aspiring music supervisor, I wanted to find out if music supervision is as cool a job as it sounds, what’s really involved, and whether or not it is indeed the job for me.

Up first was keynote speaker Mary Ramos, Quentin Taranto’s music supervisor. Anyone who’s seen his films (pictured) will be well aware of the masterful and unique way he uses music. “Quentin is the genius behind everything”, Ramos explains modestly, describing her role as “just” to support him in telling the story.

Each project begins in Tarantino’s music room, she tells us, conjuring images in my mind of an Aladdin’s cave of records. They’ll go over the story and he’ll play her the kind of music he wants to use. “My job with him is to make sure that he can get everything he wants and, if there are holes as there generally are, I’ll be able to help him fill them in”, she continues.

Every film and every director is different, I learn, but typically the music supervision process will begin in pre-production where briefs are sent out, songs are temped in, and decisions on score composers are made. I start to understand that music supervision is an art in itself.

Nora Felder (music supervisor, Californication) explains later that day, “in most cases you’re just trying to underscore and enhance the scene; it’s a fine balance.” The acting might be so powerful that they’ll simply recommend silence.

So what are the down sides? In a nutshell: budgets, timing and rights clearance. “Budgets are not what they should be” says Ramos, but insists there are “creative ways to work them out.” Directors, I discover, can be surprisingly clueless about costs.

Music supervisor Brian McNelis explains that when working on Drive, director Nicolas Winding Refn wanted about $3 million worth of 80’s hits such as Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’. Stuck with a measly budget of $100,000, they were forced to re-think the whole soundtrack.

Budgets are even more of a challenge with TV, as is timing. “With TV it’s bada bing bada boom”, says Nora; “you choose songs, you license, you mix in a week’s time.”

But it seems the biggest headache is rights clearance. “We can’t spend a long time tracking down publishers”, explains Ramos, who urges rights owners to make clearance a one-stop-shop. Us Europeans seem to be the most useless at this, as McNelis knows too well.

He recounts hilarious stories of tracking down musicians named Marcello in Italy, who were last seen 18 months ago on a boat somewhere and unfortunately have a 10% writers claim on a track he’s trying to clear. I had no idea that music supervision could be reminiscent of an episode of Poirot.

What amazes and encourages me, however, is these supervisors’ attitude to the job. When I interview Ramos later that day and ask her about the best and worst parts of her job she says, absolutely beaming, “everything about it is the best part – it’s a really fantastic job to have, I’m in heaven!”

The bad, she says is not necessarily bad, it just “requires creative budgeting and thought and passion.”

Yes they’re all overworked and sleep deprived, but there’s one major thing they have in common: their extraordinary passion for music and the job.

As McNelis tells me, “You start to learn that music can make one film into a completely different film”.

This article is featured in Music Week online at the following link: http://www.musicweek.com/news/read/sync-summit-budgets-are-not-what-they-should-be/058397

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My interview with Mary Ramos in Music Week

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I’m delighted to announce that my interview with legendary music supervisor Mary Ramos from the Sync Summit last month has made it into this week’s Music Week magazine!

Update: Here are the scans from the magazine (sorry they’re a bit wonky!) Enjoy:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

I’d like to say a HUGE thank you to Mary, and to celebrate this occasion I’ve created a Tarantino-tastic Mary Ramos Spotify playlist. Check it out here.

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An artist’s guide to getting synced

All the gear but no idea?

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Find out how to get your music synced with the following advice I picked up at the 2014 Paris Sync Summit:

  • Keep your website information current and contact methods clear. If you’re handing out CDs make sure your details are on those too. Robert Kraft (Kraftbox) says it’s “astonishing” how many people don’t do this. He produced The Little Mermaid soundtrack, you should listen to him.
  • Send music supervisors stream links using sites like SoundCloud as well as download links.
  • Mary Ramos (Quentin Tarantino’s music supervisor) suggests sending an edited section of a song that you think might fit in a particular scene (especially if pitching for commercials or short durations in film/TV).
  • Mary also advises including a cover in your submission. “Supervisors are always looking for fresh takes on old songs”, she says. Just don’t be stupid and cover Led Zeppelin.
  • Peter Bradbury (Head of Music, Sky) suggests that artists should spend time editing and mastering instrumentals. Don’t just view them as the track with vocals removed.
  • Network and be personable and unique in your approach, both online and in person.
  • Make use of metadata! As Dave Philpot (Head of Sync, Believe Digital) puts it, “if it’s called ‘track one’ by ‘unknown artist’ you’re stuffed, and you’re an idiot.” Include song title, artist name, and contact details.
  • Research what movies / TV shows are in production / post-production on IMDb.
  • As Marcy Bulkeley (Music Director, Wild Card AV) says, “get specific with your pitches.” Tell us exactly what you think your music would be good for – e.g. X-Men, not just “action films” or “romantic comedies.”
  • Focus on quality not quantity – send SMALL amounts of great, dynamic music.
  • Last but not least, make sure your music is clearable before sending it. Otherwise what’s the point?

That’s it for now! More cool stuff from the Sync Summit coming soon…

E x

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How to survive Monday

We all have it. That song we listen to when we’re walking down the street that makes us feel cool. I mean really, really cool. So cool that we sort of pretend we’re in the music video, mouthing or singing along to the bemusement of others. We almost definitely don’t look cool, but god do we feel it.

Now I know you’re probably thinking what does this have to do with sync music? Well it’s Sunday afternoon which for most means the dread of the Monday commute has begun to set in. This is exactly the time when you need the songs that make you feel great. The ones that make it slightly less painful to to be squashed into someone’s armpit on the tube. So I’m treating your life as a TV show and I’ve decided to music supervise your journey to work (you’re welcome).

The average commute for us Londoners is 56 minutes, so I’ve compiled a list of precisely that length. Here are the songs that work for me, and might work for you too:

  1. Alt-J – Fitzpleasure
  2. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Gold Lion
  3. Ray Charles – Hit The Road Jack
  4. Modest Mouse – We’ve Got Everything
  5. Marvin Gaye – Sunny
  6. If You Want Blood – AC/DC
  7. One Direction – What Makes You Beautiful (ok, this is embarrassing)
  8. Neil Young With Crazy Horse – Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
  9. Busta Rhymes – Break Ya Neck
  10. Fleetwood Mac – Go Your Own Way
  11. Jay-Z – 99 Problems
  12. The Beach Boys – I Get Around
  13. Black Sabbath – Paranoid
  14. The Cure – Just Like Heaven
  15. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Give It Away
  16. The Mars Volta- Inertiatic Esp (just to check you’re still awake)

If none of these float your boat, check out a selection of songs chosen by some of my lovely followers:

  1. William Onyeabor – Fantastic Man
  2. Muse – Uprising
  3. Paolo Nutini – Pencil Full Of Lead
  4. Marc Teichert – Time
  5. Foals – My Number
  6. Bryan Adams – Run To You
  7. The Monkees – I’m A Believer
  8. Lady Gaga – Venus
  9. Bee Gees – Staying Alive
  10. Donna Summer – Hot Stuff

I’m now going to leave you with 5 pieces of wisdom to help you survive your commute. Click on the gallery below:

Good luck.

E x

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Interview with Experience Music Group

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The powers of the internet recently led me to discover Experience Music Group, a boutique music licensing, audio branding and artist management agency based in Beverly Hills, California. They’ve placed music in ads for the likes of Coca Cola and Sony, and in films and TV shows such as I Love You, Man, The Osbournes, Shameless (US), Homefront, The Big C, and Damages. 

I particularly like the fact that they work with indie artists, so I decided to have a little chat with co-founder Evan Stein…

Emma: What made you want to start Experience Music Group?

Evan: Martin and I had started a record label in 2003 and quickly realized that the business model was evolving.  We had some relationships with music supervisors and were intrigued by the power of sync licensing and what it can do for an artist’s career. After researching the marketplace we noticed that there were only a handful of companies pitching indie artists for film, television and advertising syncs.  We saw an opportunity to help indie artists gain exposure and make a business out of it at the same time.

Emma: How involved do you guys get in the creative process?

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Martin Weiner

Evan

Evan Stein

Evan: We mostly leave the creative process up to the artists.  We really only get involved if we commission an artist to write a song for a specific spot.  We have collaborated with artists on theme songs for television shows, jingles for advertisements and songs for movies.

Emma: How does the sync licensing process differ with each medium? (TV shows, movies, ads, etc.)

Evan: The process for each medium is very similar: the Music Supervisor contacts us with their music needs before their project enters the production phase. We submit music that we feel best fits their search criteria.

The main difference between the mediums is the timeframe.  The process for a TV show is the quickest due to the episode turn times. A music supervisor will generally reach out to us a few weeks before an episode airs to clear a track we submitted.  The cool thing is that we know immediately if the track ends up being used.  Film and Advertising on the other hand is a much longer process. There are more parties involved (the producers, directors, music supervisors, film studios, creative directors, ad agencies and brands) and they all have an opinion.  The process can take up to a year or longer and allows much more time for opinions to change about the music.

Emma: Coolest part of your job?

Evan: The coolest part of our job is watching our artists grow and gain new fans through our syncs.  We were the first company to land a sync for Imagine Dragons and it’s truly amazing to see how big they are now.

Emma: Worst part of your job?

Evan: The worst part of our job is working with an artist on a specific spot for over a year and then having to tell them that their song was runner up.

Emma: Sync you’re most proud of and why?

Evan: In 2008 we synced “Good Times” by Latch Key Kid in Coca-Cola’s Super Bowl commercial “Jinx.”  This sync holds a special place in our heart because it ultimately put Experience Music Group on the map.  A few months after the spot first aired the director of the DreamWorks movie “I Love You, Man” John Hamburg licensed “Good Times” for the opening credit sequence and soundtrack of the movie after discovering it in the Super Bowl spot.

Emma: What would be your dream job as music supervisors?

Evan: Our dream job would have been to work with John Hughes on any one of his films. His soundtracks defined a generation for teens during the 1980s.  He had a special talent in using music to capture a range of teenage emotions.  Spandau Ballet’s “True” personified high school heartache, Simple Minds “Don’t You Forget About Me” encapsulated the romance and OMD’s “If You Leave” redefined prom.

Emma: Are you guys open to receiving music from musicians?  If so how should they get in touch?

Evan: Yes we are definitely open to receiving music from artists and the best way to get in touch with us is through the submissions page on our website

Emma: Any artists you’d like to recommend?

Evan: We represent so many talented independent artists on our roster and would love to recommend them all.  A few artists that we are really excited about are Terraplane Sun (60s sunshine pop meets down & dirty blues-infused rock), VEVA (sexy electro pop), Mikey Wax and Dan Godlin (melodic rock and pop singer/songwriters).

Emma: Can you tell us about any exciting upcoming projects?

Evan: We music supervised this hilarious teen film called “G.B.F” which is opening in London this Friday, March 21st.  We also executive produced the motion picture soundtrack for “G.B.F” which was recently released by Lakeshore Records.

G.B.F._Official_Film_Poster G.B.F_(Original_Motion_Picture_Soundtrack)

Huge thanks to Evan from Experience Music Group. For more details on what they do check out www.experiencerecords.com.

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