Natasha Baldwin – Group President of Imagem – Anna Jaskiewicz – Head of A&R and Sync from Manners MacDade – and Jeremy Holland-Smith – prominent composer for advertising, TV and film spoke at a Noted event about music and advertising.

The Composer

Jeremy described how briefs come in with visuals and a temp score, advising only to listen to the temp score once before you become too influenced by the music. A composer then has to compose 90-, 60-, 30-, 20- and 10-second versions of their own music. ‘The 10-second one is the killer’.

Most importantly, Jeremy warned against becoming too attached to one’s music – ‘you’re on dangerous grounds if you like your music too much’!

The agency

The agencies want a 2-minute soupçon of music. Natasha said the cardinal sin is to put your music to someone else’s visuals; particularly when approaching a big agency and the chances are they have already worked on the ad for months. Sadly the days of approaching an agency with a printed score are long-gone, lamented Jeremy…wetransfer is the new holy grail.

Production library vs. commercial music

Production library music is written specifically for media use. It is pre-cleared and internationally rate-carded and, as such, it is the best-value sync music. Whilst an excellent business model for both the agencies and the client, the composer is losing out. That said, Jeremy spoke of how he uses it as an opportunity to explore with new techniques and has actually had commissions come out of library music.

Commercial music, however, is entirely bespoke and everything is negotiable. With figures for a single sync reaching six-figures, Japan has now become one of the highest-paying countries.

What makes good ad music?

Music that supports the picture…emotion…relevance…catchy-ness…

The big question…

Someone did actually ask, “Jeremy, how much to you make from composing?”. Brushing off the question in a wonderfully typically British way, Jeremy said how you just have to be incredibly adaptable to survive – composing, arranging, orchestrating – and most importantly, you really need to love it.

The official line? The same as a junior solicitor…