One of the most important things to do when sourcing music for an ad campaign is to contact publishers and get them involved in the creative process as early as possible. In too many cases, this is left until very late in the day, when there is little time to find the right song and even less budget left to pay for it.
Two examples that highlight the benefits of linking up with publishers early are Johnnie Walker's "tree" ad and the most recent Sony Walkman campaign. Bartle Bogle Hegarty and Fallon, the agencies overseeing the respective campaigns, contacted us at the script/storyboard stage in order to source the right music. We kept in constant contact with the creative teams and, despite challenging briefs, were able to source the Danish band Diefenbach's The Rocket (on the Wall of Sound label) for Johnnie Walker and Uplink by Stratus (on Pussyfoot) for Sony Walkman.
Almost as important as establishing an early relationship is to give us as detailed a brief as possible. Music publishers understand the creative process and are used to responding to obscure and often seemingly ambiguous requests. So give us as much information as possible about the campaign. That should include the setting, the feel, the target demographic and the brand values of the product or service. It is helpful to provide, say, five very direct and descriptive bullet points describing the type of music required - the tempo, the mood and so on. These will be very useful guidelines for a publisher to follow.
Remember, too, that publishers understand the desire of the advertising and marketing industries to identify new and exclusive music and to operate at the cutting edge of emerging talent. We have good relationships with the major, mainstream record labels and also niche labels and underground artists - so we are able to interface with the people and companies that can supply the most contemporary music around.
We also act as a catalyst for some effective cross-promotion between brands and record labels. For instance, when Diet Coke in the US was looking for a brand new track to feature in its latest campaign, BodyRockers' I Like the Way was put forward. The record label built on the ad's impact, designing its promotion for the single around the commercial.
Sure, musical trends change. Three years ago, "uplifting electronica" from the likes of Moby and Royksopp was the "in thing". More recently, vintage Cajun/bluegrass/roots music was in vogue, and now there is a penchant for quirky, "off-centre" sounds. And we understand that advertising briefs can change - sometimes hourly - so we try to be flexible in the knowledge that if we can respond within those time- scales, then agencies will want to come to us. Again, it is all about maintaining relationships.
If there is any artist or band you are interested in seeing perform live, a music publisher can usually arrange it. Sometimes seeing an artist live can spark new ideas. With this in mind, Sony/ATV runs its own music presentations to agencies. Our recent live music events include a gig at TBWA\ Stream featuring KT Tunstall, Diefenbach and Howie B.
If you want to use a classic piece of music, just ask. You'd be surprised.
These days, a lot of artists, even the biggest in the business, are open to their music being used in an advertising context, so do not assume the track you have in mind won't be available or will be too expensive.
After all, it is in the music publisher's interest to exploit its copyrights as widely as possible and most of them will try to obtain the specific piece you request (as long as a fair deal can be agreed, of course). Examples include Bob Dylan (whose music was used for Victoria's Secret), Jimi Hendrix (HSBC, Audi) and The Beatles (Phillips, Nescafe), all legendary artists whose songs are represented by Sony/ATV.
It is also worth noting that most of the main music publishers have offices in all the major territories around the world and can call on vast catalogues of almost every type of music. This means there are real experts in almost every genre of music available at a local level to source whatever music is required. The UK is a great creative hub for the rest of the world and the world's music is usually available to use. For instance, our Australian office recently sourced Shake It by the up-and-coming rock band The Casanovas for an Impulse campaign.
And if record companies or artists are not prepared to clear particular recordings, a music publisher can sometimes arrange a re-record, remix or cover version of a particular track. The Elvis Presley classic Suspicious Minds, for example, was recently re-recorded for an AOL campaign, while the Sister Sledge anthem We are Family was re-recorded - and parodied - by 118 118 to become We are 118.
We also have a wide variety of instrumentals in our roster, which can be very useful for commercials.
Many songwriters are prepared to write to a specific brief. If the sort of track you are thinking of does not exist, ask the music publisher if it represents a songwriter who could write to commission. For example, Howie B has written pieces that were specially commissioned for Land Rover and Lloyds Bank commercials, and Lemon Jelly have composed a piece for WeightWatchers.
Finally, if you want to get hold of a particular track or album, just call. Sync departments are always keen to speak to agencies. (We may even put you on one of our mailing lists to receive free CDs!)
- Rakesh Sanghvi is the managing director of Sony/ATV Music Publishing (UK).