Category Archives: Music Creation

Behind the Title: Butter Music and Sound’s Chip Herter

NAME: Chip Herter

COMPANY: NYC’s Butter Music+Sound/Haystack Music

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
Butter creates custom music compositions for advertising/film/TV. Haystack Music is the internal music catalog from Butter, featuring works from our composers, emerging artists and indie labels.

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
Director of Creative Sync Services

WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?
The role was designed to be a catch-all for all things creative music licensing. This includes music supervision (curating music for projects from the music industry at large, by way of record labels and publishers) and creative direction from our own Haystack Music library.

WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
Rights management is an understated aspect of the role. The ability to immediately know who key players are in the ownership of a song, so that we can estimate costs for using a song on behalf of our clients and license a track with ease.

WHAT TOOLS DO YOU USE?
The best tool in my toolbox is the team that supports me every day.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
I have a keen interest in putting the spotlight on new and emerging music. Be it a new piece written by one of our composers or an emerging act that I want to introduce to a larger audience.

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
Losing work to anyone else. It is a natural part of the job, but I can’t help getting personally invested in every project I work on. So the loss feels real, but in turn I always learn something from it.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TIME OF THE DAY?
Morning, for sure. Coffee and music? Yes, please!

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
Most likely working for a PR agency. I love to write, and I am good at it (so I’m told).

HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?
I was a late bloomer. I was 26 when I took my first internship as a music producer at Crispin Porter+Bogusky. From my first day on the job, I knew this was my higher calling. Anyone who geeks-out to the language in a music license like me is destined to do this for a living.

Lexus Innovations

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
We recently worked on a campaign for Lexus with Team One USA called Innovations that was particularly great and the response to the music was very positive. Recently, we also worked on projects for Levi’s, Nescafé, Starbucks and Keurig… coffee likes us, I guess!

WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
I was fortunate to work with Wieden+Kennedy on their Coca-Cola Super Bowl ad in 2015. I placed a song from the band Hundred Waters, who have gone on to do remarkable things since. The spot carried a very positive message about anti-bullying, and it was great to work on something with such social awareness.

NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
WiFi, Bluetooth and Spotify.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
I don’t take for granted that my favorite pastime — going to concerts — is a fringe benefit of the job. When I am not listening to music, I am almost always listening to a podcast or a standup comedian. I also enjoy acting like a child with my two-year-old son as much as I can. I learn a lot from him about not taking myself too seriously.

Raising money and awareness for childhood cancer via doc short

Pablove One Another is a documentary short film produced by Riverstreet and directed by the company’s co-founders Tracy Pion and Michael Blum. The film explores Pablove’s Shutterbug program for children undergoing cancer treatment and its connection to the cancer research work that Pablove funds.

Blum and Pion spoke with us about the project, including the release of its title track “Spark” and the importance of giving back.

How did you become involved in the project?
Pion: We have known Pablove’s founders Jo Ann Thrailkill and Jeff Castelaz, for almost 11 years. Our sons were dear friends and classmates in preschool. When Jeff and Jo Ann lost their son Pablo to cancer eight years ago they set out to start a foundation named Pablove in his honor. We’ve been committed to helping Pablove whenever we can along the way by doing PSAs and other short films and TV spots in order to help raise awareness for the organization’s mission, including the Shutterbugs program and research funding.

Michael Blum, Mady and Tracy Pion.

What was the initial goal of the documentary?
Blum: The goal was always about awareness and fundraising. It first debuted at the annual Pablove Foundation gala fundraiser and helped raise over $500,000 in an hour. It continues to live online and hopefully it inspires people to connect with Pablove and support its amazing programs.

Beyond the amazing cause, why was this project a good fit for Riverstreet?
Pion: At the core of what we do — campaigns, commercials, interstitials, network specials — is emotionally-driven storytelling. We do development, scripting, design, animation, live-action production, editorial and completion for a variety of brands and networks and when possible we try to apply this advertising and production expertise to philanthropic causes. Our collaboration with Pablove came out of a deeply personal connection, but above and beyond that, we think that our industry has an obligation to use our resources to help raise awareness. Why not use our power of persuasion for the betterment of others?

How did you decide on the approach and the interweaving of stories?
Blum: The film tells the Pablove story from three experiences: a young girl who is being treated for cancer who is part of Pablove’s Shutterbug photography program; an instructor with Shutterbugs who is a cancer survivor; and a researcher whose innovation is supported in part by Pablove’s grants. We thought it was important to tell the human impact of the work of the Pablove Foundation through different vantage points to reflect the scope of what they do. We worked with a fundraising expert (Benevon) who advised Pablove and Riverstreet on how to design the film from a high-impact standpoint.

What were some unexpected or unique moments in the production of the film?
Pion: Well, for us it was a couple of things. Firstly, the power of the kids’ photos really caught us, especially those by Mady, who we were featuring. When she pulled out her “Light the End of the Tunnel” image we were doubly struck by the simple power of the image and its obvious meaning for her, and, as filmmakers, we knew we had our ending. We were also grateful of how sensitive our crew was with the Mady and Miles. Everyone was working for hardly any money and yet they didn’t want to be anywhere else. It was a moment of gratitude for the amazing crews that we have gathered together over the years.

What were some of the editing challenges to the above?
Pion: We had several hours of footage, and some very emotional interviews with our subjects, so it was a real but familiar challenge: how to pick the most salient footage and how to weave the threads together and how to capture the emotion.

What was the documentary edited on?
Pion: We use Avid Media Composer on an ISIS server.

How did the song come to be?
Blum: While working on the film, we were looking for a music track that would effectively unite these interweaving stories. We heard a girl singing on our daughter’s phone — a classmate — and thought, wouldn’t it be great to have a young teenager’s voice on a spot that is a for and about children. The Bird & The Bee’s “Spark,” paired with the luminous voice of Gracie Abrams, perfectly carries through the message of the Foundation’s impact on the lives of children through creativity and research funding. Written by Inara George and Greg Kurstin, the music production was handled by composer/producer Rob Cairns, who has worked with Riverstreet on numerous projects.

Pion: At the fundraiser, people were buzzing about the song, trying to Shazam it. We loved the song, and thought it was amazing for the film, but this reaction made us stop and consider, “Is there something more we can do with it to help Pablove?” Fortunately, everyone who worked on it felt the same way, and agreed to release the track with proceeds going to Pablove Foundation.

Dell 6.15

Deb Oh joins Nylon Studios from Y&R

Music and sound boutique Nylon Studios, which has offices in NYC and Sydney, has added Deb Oh as senior producer. A classically trained musician, Oh has almost a decade of experience in the commercial music space, working as a music supervisor and producer on both the agency and studio sides.

She comes to Nylon from Y&R, where she spent two years working as a music producer for Dell, Xerox, Special Olympics, Activia and Optum, among others. Outside of the studio, Oh has continued to pursue music, regularly writing and performing with her band Deb Oh & The Cavaliers and serving as music supervisor for the iTunes podcast series, “Limetown.”

A lifelong musician, Oh grew up learning classical piano and singing at a very early age. She began writing and performing her own music in high school and kept up her musical endeavors while studying Political Science at NYU. Following graduation, she made the leap to follow her passion for music full time, landing as a client service coordinator at Headroom. She was then promoted to music supervisor. After five years with the audio shop, she made the leap to the agency side to broaden her skillset and glean perspective into the landscape of vendors, labels and publishers in the commercial music industry.

 


‘Demo Love’ and how to avoid its trap

By Jonathan Hecht

“Demo Love” can be a painful trap to fall into. It can happen to any kind of production, but it can easily be avoided.

What is demo love? Let’s say you’ve made a promotional video, and you put a piece of music on it. You’re refining your rough cut, and you keep using the same track. Repeat exposure to this singular musical option has drilled into your brain the belief that your video can’t exist without this song, but beware! You may feel like you’ve crossed the finish line, but if you move on to the final cut before confirming the song’s availability, you risk compromising the integrity of your creative vision.

Aside from your artistic attachment to the music, maybe you’ve editorially joined your imagery so completely to your “hero” track that if you don’t get it, you’ll need to detach mentally and materially. If you’re paying for freelancers or any hired guns, you stand to add time and money.

Demo love often originates innocently when a director scripts a song into the treatment or plays it on set. Or when an editor, working unsupervised, edits footage based on the direction they’ve received and uses a famous song (without thinking about what it would cost) in an effort to make a big or favorable impression.

What can you do to avoid the trap?
Start thinking about music as early as when you’re concepting. The musical inspiration doesn’t need to be perfect; it can be temp, but you want to have a blueprint for the music direction. Pro-tip: prepare a shortlist of options.

Bring a music supervisor in before the rough cut, and let him/her start putting vetted options on the table for you and your editor. Then together you can dial into the directions that cast the right tone for the work, and then mine those directions for the songs that connect the best with the characters and story. You can set yourself up for musical success through this discovery process.

Offer the music supervisor as much information as possible. They’ll need the budget, and it’s a good idea to give them treatments, visual/musical references and input from any and all sides, so they can be well informed about the parameters of the project.

Right now I’m working with a client who wants an iconic song for a branded film and smartly called me before they went to shoot. They said: “We want this specific song. It’s important to the concept. How much will the rights cost?” Because they did that, we were able to navigate toward their desired outcome together from day one. It was as simple as calling me and asking the question.

So, build music supervision into your process and your budget. Don’t risk getting creatively or literally stuck on any track you don’t know you can license. Have an idea of what you want, and seek help from someone who knows the ins and outs. Then you can refine your vision for the music together and unleash an expert on navigating the clearance process.

Jonathan Hecht is the founder of Venn Arts, a music supervision company. His experience comes from both the music and marketing industries with a portfolio that includes work for integrated broadcast/digital campaigns, branded content, VR/AR, feature-length and narrative films and more.


Nylon Studios ups composer Zac Colwell to CD

Music and sound boutique Nylon Studios has promoted composer Zac Colwell to creative director of music at their NYC studio. Colwell joined Nylon in 2015 and will become the studio’s first creative director to meet the increased scope of creative projects out of the music and sound shop in the US market.

Colwell is a multi-instrumentalist who has toured the world with numerous groups, including Big Data, Sondre Lerche, Kishi Bashi and others. He has composed original tracks for such top brands as Aetna, M.A.C, Zac Posen, Honey Nut Cheerios and Unicef. As creative director, Colwell will oversee all creative output from the NYC studio, encompassing original compositions, sound design, spatial audio, mix and music licensing. Nylon also has a studio in Sydney.

“Not only is [Zac] an incredibly talented musician, but he also has a deep understanding of how music can enhance pictures to communicate to their most effective and engaging degree,” notes global executive producer Hamish Macdonald.

Colwell, an Austin native, grew up in a musical family, playing drums, piano, guitar, saxophone and flute. A classically-trained jazz composer, he continues to perform and compose outside of Nylon. In addition to his commercial compositions, he is the drummer and producer of Chappo, sings his own songs with Fancy Colors, produces artists of all different genres, and most recently toured with Bleachers.


Killer Tracks launches production music label for promos, trailers and more

Killer Tracks, an online resource offering pre-cleared music, has started a new label, called Icon, featuring music for movie trailers, television promos, advertising, sports, games and other media.

Frederik Wiedmann

The initial release includes 16 albums created and produced by award-winning composers Frederik Wiedmann and Joel Goodman, the founders of independent music producer Icon Trailer Music. The collection runs the gamut from orchestral scores to electronica.

After initially focusing on orchestral trailer music, Wiedmann and Goodman have recently been expanding beyond that niche, creatively and conceptually. “We spend a lot of time researching trends and market demands,” says Wiedmann. “We anticipate where the market is headed and are working with edgier and more contemporary styles.”

Joel Goodman

Whenever possible, Icon records with live orchestras, choirs and musicians. It also produces music with editorial in mind, creating tracks with numerous edit points, creating alternate mixes, and providing stems and musical toolkits. “We deliver lots of components that are useful to picture editors,” Goodman notes.

Wiedmann won an Emmy Award for the animated series All Hail King Julien. His credits also include the series Miles from Tomorrowland (Disney) and Green Lantern: The Animated Series (Cartoon Network), as well as the films Justice League: Flashpoint Paradox, Hostel: Part III, Mirrors II and Hellraiser: Revelations.

Goodman has more than 140 film and television credits, including the acclaimed PBS documentary series American Experience, for which he wrote the main theme. He has also scored more than 30 films for HBO, including Saving Pelican #895, for which he won an Emmy Award.


Warner/Chappell intros Color TV, Elbroar music catalogs from Germany

For those of you working in film and television with a need for production music, Warner/Chappell Production Music has added to its offerings with the Color TV and Elbroar catalogs. Color TV is German composer Curt Cress’ nearly 14,000-track collection from Curt Cress Publishing and its sister company F.A.M.E. Recordings Publishing. Color TV and the Elbroar catalog, which is also from Germany, are available for licensing now.

Color TV brings to life a wide range of TV production styles with an initial release that includes nine albums: Panoramic Landscapes; Simply Happy, Quirky & Eccentric; Piano Moods; Chase & Surveillance; Secret Service; Actionism; Drama Cuts; and Crime Scene.

Following the initial release, Warner/Chappell Production Music plans to offer two new compilations from the catalog every two weeks. Color TV is available for licensing worldwide, excluding Italy and France.

“Composers have that unique talent and ability to translate what they’re feeling,” explains Warner/Chappell Production Music president Randy Wachtler. “You can hear emotion in different compositions, and it’s always interesting to hear how creators from countries around the world capture it.  Adding to our mix only adds more perspective and more choice for our clients.”

Cress began his musical career in the 1960s, performing in acts such as Klaus Doldinger’s Passport and his own band Snowball, as well as in Falco and Udo Lindenberg’s band. His solo projects involved work with local and international artists including Freddie Mercury, Tina Turner, Rick Springfield, SAGA, Meat Loaf and Scorpions, as well as releasing his own solo material. He made a name for himself as a composer for popular German films and TV series such as SK Kölsch, HeliCops and The Red Mile.

Elbroar, out of Hamburg, Germany, is a collection ranging from epic to minimal, jazz to techno and drama to fun. The catalog serves creatives in the fields of television, film and advertising, with a strong focus on trailers and daytime TV.

The catalog’s first release, “Epic Fairy Tales,” is an album of orchestral arrangements that set the scene for fantastic stories and epic emotions. Elbroar is available for licensing immediately, worldwide.


Quick Chat: Andy Donahue from Killer Tracks

Many of you are already familiar with 27-year-old Killer Tracks. This online resource offers pre-cleared music for film, television, advertising and interactive media. Their catalog spans many genres and features original works from award-winning composers, artists and producers. Their premium catalog is continuously updated with exclusive recordings and new music updates. They also have a dedicated team of music search specialists and licensing experts to help users find what they need.

We reached out to this industry mainstay’s Andrew Donahue to find out more about their offerings, but also learn about trends going on in this part of the business.

Can you talk about how you’ve seen your segment of the industry change over the years?
Over the past five years, the production music industry has changed tremendously. It’s a much more competitive marketplace. We need to continue to innovate with music and technology, making it easier for our clients to find the perfect track for their projects. One way Killer Tracks is doing this is through our new track customization tool, Score Addiction. It allows you to edit tracks, change track tempo and sync video with the track.

What is it that clients need or are requesting currently?
Clients increasingly want to have options for stems, shorter edits and stings — 30, 15, 8 seconds, or even less. Social media is making shorter edits the norm. Clients are also becoming more reliant on metadata. It’s crucial for data to be immediately accessible and accurate.

How do you decide what type of music to compose/record next? Do you poll your users? Do research?
Killer Tracks has a production team that understands the needs of our clients. We determine what genres to produce based on download, licensing and search reporting data. We are constantly receiving feedback from clients, our music search specialists and our licensing team, and always maintain awareness for what is happening in pop culture and trends in music, advertising, TV and film.

We try to spot trends before they’re big. We have been willing to stick our necks out to produce something that seems crazy only to have it become a top download — months later it’s suddenly the sound everyone wants. Our aim is to have music ready when a style becomes popular.

How do you find composers/talent?
Our production team has a pool of composers who produce music from every genre. Most new composers come to us through referrals from composers and musicians they currently work with.

What are some questions a client should ask or consider when they are looking for music for their project in order to help the process go smoothly?
When you are conducting a music search, be as specific as possible. If you have a song in mind, that’s great, but descriptive terms (tags) can be even more useful, e.g. “uplifting,” “motivational,” “medium tempo,” “building,” “violin but no guitar,” etc. Clients can also take advantage of our music search team and let them suggest tracks based on a description, reference track or link to a scene.

Any misconceptions about these types of libraries?
Many people think that all libraries sound the same, and that library music isn’t very good, unless it’s custom. Nothing could be further from the truth! We work with artists and composers who create outstanding, original work. We have everything from classic English punk from The Mutants to jazz- and classically-influenced orchestral work from cinematic legend Ennio Morricone. You hear our work everywhere without even realizing it. For example, we provided the theme song for Curb Your Enthusiasm and the soundtrack for Lexus’ “December to Remember” campaign.

You recently introduced Legacy, which was recorded by an 81-piece orchestra. Is something of this scope typical for Killer Tracks?
Legacy is a follow-up to a prior release called Shock and Awe. Currently, there is a lot of demand in the trailer world for tracks with vocals over live orchestra. Legacy is our response. It was recorded live with a full orchestra.


Qwire’s tool for managing scoring, music licensing upped to v.2.0

Qwire, a maker of cloud-based tools for managing scoring and licensing music to picture, has launched QwireMusic 2.0, which expands the collaboration, licensing and cue sheet capabilities of QwireMusic. The tool also features a new and intuitive user interface as well as support for the Windows OS. User feedback played a role in many of the new updates, including marker import of scenes from Avid for post, Excel export functions for all forms and reports and expanded file sharing options.

QwireMusic is a suite of integrated modules that consolidates and streamlines a wide range of tasks and interactions for pros involved with music and picture across all stages of post, as well as music clearance and administration. QwireMusic was created to help facilitate collaboration among picture editors and post producers, music supervisors and clearance, composers, music editors and production studios.

Here are some highlights of the new version:
Presentations — Presentations allow music cues and songs to be shared between music providers (supervisors and composers) and their clients (picture editors, studio music departments, directors and producers. With Presentations, selected music is synced to video, where viewers can independently adjust the balance between music and dialogue, adding comments on each track. The time-saving efficiency of this tool centralizes the music sharing and review process, eliminating the need for the confusing array of QuickTimes, Web links, emails and unsecured FTP sites that sometimes accompany post production.

Real-time licensing status — QwireMusic 2.0 allows music supervisors to easily audition music, generate request letters, and share potential songs with anyone who needs to review them. When the music supervisor receives a quote approval, the picture editor and music editor are notified, and the studio music budget is updated instantly and seamlessly. In addition, problem songs can be instantly flagged. As with the original version of QwireMusic, request letters can be generated and emailed in one step with project-specific letterhead and signatures.

Electronic Cue Sheets — QwireMusic’s “visual cue sheet,” allows users to review all of the information in a cue sheet displayed alongside the final picture lock.  The cue sheet is automatically populated from data already entered in qwireMusic by the composer, music supervisor and music editor. Any errors or missing information are flagged. When the review is complete, a single button submits the cue sheet electronically to ASCAP and BMI.

QwireMusic has been used by music supervisors, composers, picture editors and music editors on over 40 productions in 2016, including Animals (HBO); Casual (Hulu); Fargo (FX); Guilt (Freeform); Harley and the Davidsons (Discovery); How to Get Away With Murder (ABC); Pitch (Fox); Shameless (Showtime); Teen Wolf (MTV); This Is Us (NBC); and Z: The Beginning of Everything (Amazon).

“Having everyone in the know on every cue ever put in a show saves a huge amount of time,” says Patrick Ward, a post producer for the shows Parenthood, The West Wing and Pure Genius. “With QwireMusic I spend about a tenth of the time that I used to disseminating cue information to different places and entities.”