Friday, April 20, 2018
  • Thursday, Sep. 21, 2017
Sounding Off: Composer, Sound Designer, Mixer and Ad Agency Music Producer Perspectives
Josh Rabinowitz, EVP/director of music at Townhouse/WPP
Survey yields insights into notable work, how roles have evolved, AR, VR, immersive experiences

Looking to increase the decibel level but not the noise, SHOOT sought out music and sound industry professionals to gain insights into the creative challenges they face, the recent work that they are most proud of, significant trends and developments, how their roles have evolved, and the audio prospects for VR and AR on both the creative and business fronts.

In our survey of a cross-section of the industry, we found a sense of music and sound becoming more valued in some circles. For example, Chris Clark, Leo Burnett Group’s director of music, observed, “I’m extremely fortunate to be working at the intersection of the advertising and music industries in this era marked by the increasing popularity and creative business need for agencies to staff music supervision and production experts. It’s refreshing to see major corporations and communications companies embracing the human element of quality taste and production ability as a method to keep up with the different cultures and media technologies continuously changing our individual and collective lives!”

Josh Rabinowitz, EVP/director of music at Townhouse/WPP, noted, “I would say the most significant trend is that CMOs and strategic planning folks are now utilizing music strategies on a more regular basis. Music is now at the table during the ideation process as opposed to an afterthought. The substantial power and might of music in the creative process is in full effect.”

On the flip side, though, there are indications that music isn’t as valued as it should be. Michelle Curran, founder/creative director of Amber Music, related, “I think the scariest of all trends is the use of cheap stock music. It’s not that it just affects the financial aspect of our business but it shows a lack of respect to our craft. It takes talent to score music well for a commercial and this talent should not be thrown aside for what sounds like c--p because it was cheap. Maybe that’s part of the reason why the general public are not reacting to spots in the same way as they used to, be it online or on the networks.”

As for how the marketplace is changing, Rachel Rauch, music producer at Publicis New York, shared, “My role has evolved personally, as my career has grown. Taking on new jobs, working with new people and clients--all of it comes with growing responsibilities compounded with an industry that is ever changing.  A big and not so fun shift is budget; doing more with less and finding the right partners to take that on as well. Though with changes come more opportunities, such as VR/AR, partnerships, pop up shops, etc. There are a multitude of expanding opportunities for music and sound to take on a larger and more visceral role for the consumer, which makes it less about marketing/advertising and more about memorable experiences.”

Mixer Steve Rosen, co-founder of Sonic Union, picked up on the “visceral role” cited by Rauch for music and sound, noting, “We’re really excited about immersive audio. We’ve done quite a few VR projects, and are presently gearing up to do a lot more in that arena. It’s been a bit of a steep learning curve, but luckily we’ve got some very talented people at Sonic Union who’ve shown great interest in exploring this world and who’ve worked on VR jobs for Vanity Fair and the Wall Street Journal most recently.”

Brian Yessian, partner/chief creative officer of Yessian Music, added, “Our teams at Yessian Music are fully immersed in the VR/AR world now. We have been researching, experimenting, developing and implementing for nearly two years in the spatial audio frontier led by Jeff Dittenber and Scott Gatteño. With the work we have been doing in experiential and themed entertainment the last 10 years, we have developed a skill set in creating audio for environments with multiple audio channel formats from large spaces to interactive moving rides. We’ve been able to take this knowledge and apply it to the VR/AR world in headphones. The learning curves take some getting used to. It’s like the Wild West out there. The various platforms are not really in sync with each other at all, so creating an ambisonic mix for the Samsung Gear is completely different from the HTC Vive. We’ve had the opportunity to work on some pretty ground breaking VR projects for the likes of Cisco, Ford and Volvo most recently that gave us the chance to really push the boundaries with spatial audio and hone our skills even more. With each new project we work on, we are presented with new challenges and take away new found knowledge. That’s the beauty of working on this platform, we are always learning.”

For this Music & Sound Survey, SHOOT touched based with industry pros to gain their observations and assessments of the music and sound landscape. We posed the following questions:

1) What was the biggest creative challenge posed to you by a recent project? Tell us about the project, why the challenge was particularly noteworthy or gratifying to overcome, or what valuable lesson you learned from it. *

2) What work in 2017 are you most proud of and why? Or what work (advertising or entertainment)--your own or others--has struck a responsive chord with you this year and why? *

3) How has your role--or that of your business or company--evolved over the years? What do you like most about that evolution? What do you like least? *

4) What trends, developments or issues would you point to thus far in 2017 as being most significant, perhaps carrying implications for the rest of the year and beyond?

5) What’s your take on the potential of VR/AR in terms of business and creative opportunities? What have you done in the emerging fields of VR and/or AR? What’s been the biggest learning curve (nuances of spatial sound, etc.) in this arena?


Click here for a slideshow of survey responses, or click on the headshots below.

Name Title Company
Kelly Bayett Creative Director/Partner Barking Owl
Chris Clark Director of Music Leo Burnett Group
Michelle Curran Founder/Creative Director Amber Music
Stephen Dewey Founder/Sound Designer Machine Head
Andrew Feltenstein Partner Beacon Street Studios
Ron Goldberg VP Manhattan Production Music
Paul Greco Director of Music & Radio J. Walter Thompson NY
Wendell Hanes Owner, Creative Director VOLITION
Eric David Johnson aka DJ Bunny Ears SVP, Executive Integrated Music Producer McCann
Brian Jones President | Composer | Music Supervisor BANG Music + Audio Post | New York + Prague
Mike Ladman Music Supervisor Droga5
Dan Pritikin Creative Director / Partner SOUTH Music & Sound Design
Josh Rabinowitz EVP/Director of Music Townhouse/WPP
Rachel Rauch Music Producer Publicis New York
Eryk Rich Music Supervisor Deutsch
Steve Rosen Mixer/Co-Founder Sonic Union
David Wittman Partner/Creative Director New Math Music
Brian Yessian Partner/CCO Yessian Music