Music And Strategy: Inside A Music Service Agency With a 360 Spin on Branding

April 8, 2014 by  

Sometimes strange bedfellows are actually a perfect match.

MAS puts every aspect of music and branding together.

MAS puts together every aspect of music and branding.

For example, a set of words that pair up surprisingly well together are “Music And Strategy“. It’s the plain-spoken name of a highly flexible music service agency, and now that you’ve been introduced – you’ve got a good idea of what they do.

Operating out of Los Angeles and New York City, Music And Strategy (MAS) is all about sound and branding, reinforcing their clients’ message through music by any means necessary. The roots lay in the diverse background of their accomplished founders, whose strengths have been cultivated in music supervision/licensing/branding for advertising, film, TV, and publishing.

It’s a dream team that includes James Alvich (Draft FCB, BBDO), Jim Black (Black Swan, The Wrestler, Kissing Jessica Stein), and Gabe Hilfer (BMG, “Entourage”). With MAS, their portfolio includes Vidal Sassoon, Aerie, Yoplait, Advil, Smirnoff Ice, Aetna and many more. Get it? The A-list brands have caught on.

If you’re wondering how the art of, well, music and strategy goes beyond simply licensing a killer track, you’ve come to the right interview. Below, Alvich and Hilfer explain just how far things have come – and where they’re going next – in the music business’ fastest-moving sector.

What is MAS’ founding philosophy? How does your name “say it all,” and how does your mindset and approach differentiate you from other agencies in their field offering similar services?

We founded MAS three years ago as a full service music company that would provide creative and strategic solutions for brands and agencies who wanted to enhance their messaging through music.

What makes us different are our one-stop-shop capabilities. We can write an original composition for a :30, while simultaneously executing an artist partnership with a brand, while also doing music supervision for the next Super Bowl campaign.

We truly offer full-service capabilities in the music space, but with a much more intimate approach than our competitors, per the clients we’ve worked with.

How is the role of music for brands evolving? Put another way, what is different about the way brands are viewing the use of music in communicating their message, that’s different than one year ago, two years ago, five years ago?

Brands consider music much more a part of their overall identity now. They view artists as brand influencers collaborating with them in ways they never used to before.

Brands now seek out specific artists that they feel best represent them to create various types of campaigns (TV, digital, Social) that leave a longer lasting impression with their consumer. Music evokes emotion and that emotion can result in a stronger connection to a brand.

So how do you expect this dynamic to be different a year from now? Two years from now?

James Alvich is Founding Partner/Executive Producer of MAS.

James Alvich is Founding Partner/Executive Producer of MAS.

 We are probably going to see even further artist integration.

Instead of just using a piece of music on a :30 second TV spot, we are going to see more artist partnerships stretching across multiple platforms – broadcast, digital, and live events. Brands are going to find more ways to connect fans directly with the artists they love.

To play Devil’s advocate, why does the brand or advertising agency need an outside consultant to help them? Shouldn’t they know the sound of their own brand better than anybody else?

The music industry is a constantly evolving world. When a brand or advertising agency approaches, it’s obviously our job to deliver what they want to the very best of our abilities.

The real crux of this issue is how we do this. On the creative side, we live and breathe music 24/7. We usually use ideas generated internally by agencies and brands as a jumping off point to start a conversation – but that works both ways. We learn about great music from our clients all the time, just as, hopefully, they do from us.

When it comes time to handling the logistics of actually procuring the music, our expertise with copyright practices and negotiations with record labels is an invaluable tool, and the relationships we’ve cultivated over the years throughout the music industry at large can be used to the client’s advantage.

MAS has renowned film music supervisors like Gabe Hilfer as part of their founding team. How does his experience in the film world inform his ability to match music with brands? In what way are these formats — film and branding — similar, and in what ways are they very different?

Working on branding is in the same wheelhouse as working creatively on a film. On a film or television show we’re looking to help highlight the mood and tone of a particular scene or moment.

You can easily translate that over to a brand, where concrete ideas/themes are being conveyed to the viewer. Some of the most pronounced differences lie in the more bookish, legalese aspects of the sync world, however at the end of the day we hope to put great music with great visuals.

Would you say it’s all simply about matching the right music to a brand/product and its message, or is the “brand” of the artist or composer themselves also an increasing part of the equation? What do you wish artists and composers understood better about how they brand and market themselves, if their objective is to be involved in more branding campaigns?

That depends on the extent of the partnership. If it is just about finding the right track for a spot, it’s usually less of an issue.

Where it can become more of a problem is when the artist’s face and personality become integral to the campaign. As musicians, our instinct is to protect the authenticity of who these people are as artists, but when representing a brand you have to consider what’s in the best interest of the brand and sometimes artists act out in ways that can hinder a brand partnership deal.

At the end of the day a brand will always be held accountable for who they align themselves with.

Following the recently concluded SXSW conference, many people wondered if the music/brand connection went too far, articulated by articles like David Carr’s in the NY Times: How did you feel about the way music, brands and bands interacted at this year’s SXSW? What should we expect at other music festivals this year?

MAS Founder Gabe Hilfer

MAS Founder Gabe Hilfer

We think that the confluence of brands and music is, like discussed in the NY times article, a byproduct of evaporating CD sales.

There was a time when an artist had a bad opening week at 20-30k units scanned, and now that would be a great start.  Brands have been the backbone of entertainment for years. Brands like Bell Telephone and Texaco were some of the earliest sponsors of radio shows, and in modern times corporate brands have long sponsored tours, helping underwrite the large costs associated with bringing shows on the road.

While it may seem like a rapid changeover at a festival like SXSW where only 5-6 years ago artists would go to get discovered, it is the new reality.  It’s kind of like a race car driver putting a sponsor’s logo on their car, knowing that they work in a world that requires money in order to achieve their goals.

There seems to be a great deal of M&A activity right now between publishers — catalogs are being snapped up and changing hands at a fast pace. How does this affect MAS’ ability to synch license a track for an ad or other piece of media?

At this point, keeping track of the ownership of copyrights is kind of a fools’ errand – things just move too quickly to keep pace. Media companies have been consolidating for years, and the ripples have hit all facets of the entertainment industry – advertising, film, television, new media – no one is left unaffected.

That said, we strive to maintain strong relationships with enough publishers and labels that we can navigate these choppy waters with a high degree of confidence. It is of the utmost importance to make sure that while we’re dotting our i’s and crossing our t’s – that everyone else is as well.

It’s unfortunate that in this day and age we all have to be on guard about the ownership of intellectual property, and our integrity and thoroughness is something in which we take pride, and which we believe differentiates us from a lot of other people in this world.

Can you outline a typical scenario when you’re approached by a brand to provide them with music. What are the questions you ask the client to hone in on the right tracks or composers? From there, what is the process you then go through internally at MAS to arrive at a solution?

For original composition, tempo is important. We want to get a sense of the personal style of the people whose vision we are trying to get a score, and the people who will be making the decisions. Often they are working with a temp track before coming to us, so will ask them how they arrived at that track.

Music supervision is much more open-ended, there is just so much music to pull from. Genre is probably the first thing we’ll ask about, but really it is budget that is going to open or close a lot of doors.

How do you know when you’re on the right track? Conversely, how do you know when you’re on the wrong track?

It’s hard to say because everything is so subjective. It is usually about figuring out the personal style of the team you’re working with at the agency. There are a lot of opinions involved, so it can require a lot of conversations.

We try to do our best to hone in on that before getting started or before getting too deeply into the writing process. Ideally, we have a good enough sense of what the client is looking for right from that first call.

Our job as producers is to understand what we need to deliver, and guide our composers to that end.

Can you name specific examples from a couple of recent projects where this process played out successfully? Let us know why both you and the client were excited about the results.

We recently had a ton of fun scoring “Making Your Mark”, a documentary by director David Tinsdale about Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris’ road to the Olympics. We shared the director’s affinity for anthemic, synth-based music that really builds with a story, so that was a great start.

But probably more important was that we knew we were really partners in this project and that if something wasn’t working, we would find a way to fix it. Oftentimes in the commercial world, agencies feel like they have so many places to get music from that we are either competing with another house, or they can take the job elsewhere if they don’t like where a track is at. Sometimes they even end up licensing whatever they were using as a temp track.

But knowing that we were in it together with the director really helped the way we approached the job. It is a healthier creative process.

What’s a recent music + branding campaign or two which MAS had nothing to do with, that you admire? Why was it inspirational to you?

Weiden + Kennedy recently used a unique and memorable track on a Heineken spot that really enhanced the creative. Justin Timberlake’s partnership with Mastercard has been executed brilliantly because they not only utilized him for music, but they also leveraged his star power by creating a fully integrated marketing campaign that also drove consumer engagement. Creating that entire experience around Justin reinforced MasterCard’s messaging of “Priceless.”

Some music agencies like MAS rely heavily on metrics once the campaign has run to judge whether or not they were successful with the project, while others leave it all up to intuition. Where would you say MAS falls on that scale?

We run on intuition. What music lends to advertising is feeling, so if we aren’t getting the feelings we need to from a track, it isn’t going to work. That said, there are way too many variables involved to lend success or lack thereof just to the music.

One of the most interesting things about music and branding seems to be how new, previously unthought of convergences between music, brands, platforms, and experiences are being created. If money were no barrier, what would be the ultimate music + branding play you’d like to put together right now?

We’d love to work with J.Crew to Warby Parker. What we would do with them, we’ll leave to the pitching process!

Time to close out — anything else about the concepts of music and strategy that you’d like to add?

As it’s becoming increasingly difficult to break through the clutter of advertisement, music is becoming more of an integral marketing tool. Brands realize that there is a necessity to have a sonic identity, and if they don’t, they should call MAS.

– David Weiss is Co-Founder/Co-Editor of SonicScoop, and co-author of “Music Supervision: Selecting Music for Movies, TV, Games & New Media.”

Event Choice: The Raise – Fundraising tips from Investors & Entrepreneurs, NYC 2/27

February 14, 2014 by  

From apps to audio, sound designers to startups, raising capital is a smart skill to build up. Even if you don’t have The Big Idea at this moment, being prepared to step outside your circle and lead a successful fundraise is, well, priceless.

WIM want to help you raise it right.

WIM want to help you raise it right.

To help with that, Women In Music and The 85 Percent are presenting their latest in a series of helpful panels for the music industry. Women and men alike would be well-advised to attend “The Raise: Fundraising tips from Investors & Entrepreneurs.”

Led by a roster of industry heavies, the panel takes places on Thursday, Feb. 27 from 6:30-8:30 PM. The location is BMI, 250 Greenwich Street/7 World Trade Center, 30th Floor. Admission is $15. RSVP here to attend.

SonicScoop will definitely be on hand for this essential event – we’ll see you soon!

Here are the full details, direct from Women In Music:

If you currently own your own business or if you’re thinking about launching a startup, this is the panel for you. Women In Music and The 85-Percent are proud to present an in-depth discussion about navigating the world of investment. Learn directly from our expert panel of investors and successful entrepreneurs about the nuts and bolts of obtaining investment including:

  • Timing your raise
  • Designing an outreach plan to potential investors
  • Qualities investors look for in startups
  • Creating and delivering your pitch
  • Overcoming hurdles when raising capital
  • What happens after the investment


Patrick Sullivan is the former CEO/Founder of RightsFlow, a licensing technology that powers YouTube & Google Play. RightsFlow was founded in 2007 and sold to Google/YouTube in 2011.  He is currently employed at Google and also manages a private investment company, VanHam Ventures.

Brittany Laughlin is is the General Manager at Union Square Ventures (USV portfolio companies include SoundCloud, Turntable, Zynga, etc.).  Prior to USV, Brittany founded Incline, transitioning military veterans into technology jobs, and co-founded gtrot, a venture-backed social travel company that sold to Groupon in 2013.  Previously, she worked at American Express.  Brittany has a Bachelors degree in Marketing and International Business from New York University.

Ilana Grossman heads up all marketing and communication efforts for Gust, the global platform for startup funding and investing.  Over the last 12 months 1800+ startups have been funded through Gust. Prior to joining Gust, Ilana held senior positions at leading digital marketing agencies, most notably Digitas and Organic, where she led the development and implementation of several CRM and digital campaigns for clients such as Bank of America, Sanofi-Aventis, Johnson & Johnson, and Astra Zeneca.


Kelly Hoey is a connection-maker, networking strategist and expert community manager.  She builds valuable professional networks, creates engaged communuties and raises professional online profiles. Kelly is a founder of Women Innovate Mobile, LLC (WIM), the first startup accelerator focused exclusively on fast-tracking the growth of early-stage mobile technology ventures with gender-diverse  founding teams.  Kelly was recently listed in Forbes’ as one of five “Women Changing the World of VC/Entrepreneurs.”

2013 In Review — The Year in Audio

December 31, 2013 by  

2013 was definitely NOT business as usual.

In NYC, LA, Nashville and beyond, it seemed like audio was growing in every direction this year. Whether you’re looking at recording or audio post facilities, music licensing, online startups, and more, the clear theme for 2013 was expansion – not contraction. Some studios closed, but a lot more either opened or invested seriously in reinforced infrastructure.

Meanwhile, the tools we all work with – hardware, plugins, DAWs – continued to be rolled out or updated, unabated. Like the rest of the human race, audio scientists remain fiercely focused on improving.

Outside of the positive vibes were questions and setbacks, of course. The overall financial direction of the music industry – and therefore the audio vertical which fuels it – seemed impossible to discern in light of streaming services. And some true landmark minds were lost, leaving a permanent footprint on our profession.

To see where we’ve been the last 365 days, read on. Then rest up and prep for 2014 – based on the action from this past year, we’re in for quite an adventure.

Empire Building

There was intrigue and innovation everywhere on the business side, as moves large and small added up to constantly reshape the landscape.

Mergers and acquisitions stayed in style. Gibson acquired Cakewalk to put a DAW under its ever-growing auspices. Then Yahama closed out the year by soaking up Line 6.

Avid's Louis Hernandez Jr took over just as the company dealt with fresh challenges.

Avid’s Louis Hernandez Jr took over just as the company dealt with fresh challenges.

The keyest of the industry’s key players, Avid, had its share of ups and downs. Shortly after naming a new CEO in Louis Hernandez, the ubiquitous software/hardware giant announced it was postponing its Q4 and full-year earnings for 2012 due to accounting complexities. Although the company has yet to report subsequent earnings and could potentially be delisted by NASDAQ in 2014, it maintains that its balance sheet is healthy.

Startups continued to pop up and go at it. The dormant online-music-collaboration space suddenly heated up, with setting up shop inside Betaworks. Then Splice soaked up $2.75 million in funding of its own, thanks to the savvy of co-founder Steve Martocci (formerly of GroupMe).

It seemed like coast-to-coast buildup was all the rage, on every level. NYC-based Downtown made its presence felt in LA, as did the international concern Imagem Music. Dallas-based Stephen Arnold Music rolled out an office in Manhattan. Writing/recording room Electracraft brought its creativity-inducing services to Hollywood. And Chicago-based Comma Music spread its wings in both directions.

Entrepreneurs were everywhere, with new business entities always arriving like producer/engineer manager Ollie Hammett’s launch of Spark Management, or indie rockers Andy Chase and Christopher Moll revving up online music licensing concern Unfiltered Tracks.

People were always making moves, as well, such as Mastering Engineer Joe LaPorta going to Sterling Sound, audio post mixer Dan Flosdorf heading to Heard City, and music supervisor Ryan Fitch jumping ship from Saatchi & Saatchi to BMG Chrysalis. The Production Music Association’s search for a new head ended successfully with the appointment of seasoned SESAC pro Hunter Williams as its Executive Director.

Stakes proved high in the educational realm, as well. SAE NY moved out of its hectic Herald Square digs and into the calming environs of Chelsea in style. In Nashville, the revered Blackbird Studio became the home of its own formidable school, The Blackbird Academy. The DJ school specialists Dubspot are building on their NYC success, with an LA campus in the offing for 2014.

Retail wasn’t sitting still either. Vintage King built up in Music City with its new Carl Tatz-designed Nashville store.

Meanwhile, the studio business itself saw no shortage of action, especially on the West Coast. The legendary Bill Putnam-designed Ocean Way Recording was acquired by Hudson Pacific Properties, Inc. from Allen Sides. Super mixer Tony Maserati and Echo Park rehearsal + recording facility Bedrock.LA teamed to start up a 30,000 sq. ft. “modern day Brill Building” in LA’s K-Town. Still in LA, Infrasonic Sound Recording, owned by Pete Lyman and Jeff Ehrenberg, sold their recording facility to Studio Manager Eric Palmquist.

Back East, audioEngine founder Bob Giammarco acquired full ownership of the audio post company’s NYC and Phoenix facilities. And in an interesting twist, Albany’s John Storyk-designed Cotton Hill Studios was acquired by an advertising agency, Fingerpaint.

 Studio Evolution

Speaking of studios, whether it was facilities opening up, expanding, or evolving, it seemed like there was nonstop action in this essential sector.

Harbor Sound tipped the audio post scales in TriBeCa.

Harbor Sound tipped the audio post scales in TriBeCa.

Harbor Sound lit a spark in NYC audio post with a new 10,000 sq. ft. Dolby-certified facility. In Brooklyn, the new Dungeon Beach was its own epicenter for audio post. The ambitious new 4K theater in Manhattan’s Digital Arts opened ears and eyes.

Marc Alan Goodman’s well-documented Strange Weather Brooklyn opened to applause in Williamsburg, The Garden came online, offering up an open-minded environment for mixing and tracking in Brooklyn’s Clinton Hill neighborhood. And we thought YouTooCanWoo was emblematic of the next wave, helmed as it is by founders of indie rockers French Horn Rebellion and Savoir Adore. On the mastering side, Greenpoint’s Timeless Mastering kicked it up when Heba Kadry launched her practice there.

Over LA-way, The Fortress – located in the former Bomb Shelter owned by STP’s Eric Kretz – was a recent arrival that got attention, thanks to its spirited owners and SSL 4048+ console. Capitol Studios brought two new Neve Genesys production rooms online, and introduced the more affordable Beacon Mastering. Ocean Way’s new Studio C production room was immediately occupied by composer/arranger/conductor Chris Walden.

Studios moved into other studios as well, as reorganizing from Hurricane Sandy remained necessary for facilities like The Pigeon Club, which set up shop within Kaleidoscope Sound.

Rock star studios remained fashionable as always. Our visit to Vince Clarke’s synthesizer playground in Brooklyn was one of our most-read articles this year. And there’s always more in the pipeline, like super producer Paul Epworth’s upcoming restoration of The Church Studio, formerly owned by Eurythmic Dave Stewart.

When new rooms weren’t opening up, existing studios were advancing at a fast pace. Downtown Music Studios unveiled a unique future-retro pairing with its custom iPad-controlled API. The Bunker ramped up their Studio A with an SSL 4000 E, and Quad Lakeside bolstered their sonics with a classic Trident 80c console and Studer sidecar. A new API 1608 lit it up in Kemado Records’ Greenpoint facility.

Manhattan Center Studios made a big statement with their earth-shaking monitor makeover. Up a tad in Midtown, Premier Studios stepped it up with a rebuilt 1968 Steinway B. We saw how deep audio networking could go at Videohelper, and back in Brooklyn Fall On Your Sword unveiled their new Dolby-tuned mix room, complete with a 7.1 Surround System from JBL.

World-class studio closings did not feel as rampant as in years passed. Notable exits included Saint Claire Recording Company in Lexington, KY, and Hal Winer’s highly respected BiCoastal Music in Ossining, NY. Rick Slater put his own spin on these down developments in a widely circulated op-ed piece.

 Hardware, Software, Everywhere

For elite studios to laptop jockeys, new hardware and software are still the spice of life. From analog realm to the digital, there was plenty of new stuff to make sound with in 2013.

Platinum producer/engineer/mixer Jay Baumgardner takes the RAVEN MTX for a spin.

Platinum producer/engineer/mixer Jay Baumgardner takes the RAVEN MTX for a spin.

The biggest waves were made by Slate, whose multitouch control surface, the RAVEN MTX, finally went from trade show fantasy to fully available. Its smaller brother the RAVEN MTi also came on the scene for pre-order.

Not to be outdone, Avid debuted its own big gun with the S6 control surface, designed to provide immersive Pro Tools control for editing, mixing, plugin manipulation, and surround panning, starring a tilting 12.1 inch multipoint touchscreen.

The consoles didn’t stop there. SSL announced the Matrix2 at AES 2013, featuring an improved patching system and “Fader Linking” among other improvements. Their striking first-ever live sound console, “Live”, also debuted, with the Tempest processing platform at its core and a gig on Peter Gabriel’s European tour straight out of the box.

The analog appeal came on strong with Rupert Neve Designs’ tantalizing new 5060 Centerpiece 24×2 desktop mixer, plus niceties like the Shelford Series of high-voltage modules and 5052 Mic Pre/Inductor EQ.

In other highlights, API launched its compact console The Box. Purple Audio debuted its intriguing MFtwenty5 rack mount discrete summing mixer, Lavry Engineering announced its Quintessence Gold Series digital-to-analog converter, JBL made its innovative M2 Master Reference Monitor available. AEA brought out its N22 phantom powered ribbon microphone, Telefunken shrunk things down with its “Shorty” dynamic mics, while Grado Labs tipped the creative scales with its limited edition Bushmills x Grado Labs headphones designed by Elijah Wood and Zach Cowie. SonicScoop caught the Dangerous Source in action courtesy of Alan Evans of Soulive. And speaking of creativity, Dave Smith Instruments released what the venerable inventor called his “best synth yet”, the Prophet 12 synth module.

In the DAW world, of course nothing trumped the arrival of Pro Tools 11, an occurrence that promised yet more workflow enhancements, even as it sent the plugin developers scrambling to update their code yet again.

Not that the other leading DAWs were sitting on their hands, either. Apple launched Logic Pro X, MOTU came out with Digital Performer 8, and Steinberg released Nuendo 6. Meanwhile, synth heads everywhere rejoiced as Reason 7 premiered.

For getting inside the box, Universal Audio unveiled the Apollo 16 interface, a flagship version featuring 24-bit/192 kHz, FireWire/Thunderbolt-readiness and 16×16 analog I/O. UA also released a flurry of high-level emulations throughout the year, giving producers of every stripe access to their own API Vision channel strip, a trio of LA-2A’s, Maag EQ4, new and improved Fairchild models, and an acoustic space emulation of Ocean Way Studios.

Pro Tools 11 was a sonic bombshell.

Pro Tools 11 was a sonic bombshell.

Notable plugin arrivals came from all corners. iZotope continued to stake its claim in audio restoration with its RX 3 and RX 3 Advanced audio restoration suites. Waves kept getting attention with releases like the RS56 Universal Tone Control AKA Abbey Road’s Passive EQ “Curve Bender”. Heavyocity gifted composers with their latest virtual instrument, the Aeon Collection. And Zynaptiq emerged as a consistent innovator, putting out plugins like its Pitchmap 1.5, a pitch shifting tool with some extreme capabilities. As always, SonicScoop endeavored to inform its readers of the best freeware available with Free Fridays!

Finally, the portability and power of the iPad continued to tantalize. Focusrite’s iTrack Studio was among the many offerings that looked to make the most of Apple’s iOS tablet.

Dearly Departed

As we must reflect on every year, friends and mentors left us in 2013.

Phil Ramone’s passing in March was surprising to so many of us, but a gala tribute honoring the legendary producer and his incredible body of work helped to ease the pain.

Another giant of audio was lost when Ray Dolby – a man whose name has literally become synonymous with sound – left us in September.

Mike Shipley, the GRAMMY-winning mixer who worked with everyone from The Sex Pistols to the Cars to Yes, Shania Twain to Allison Krauss & Union Station, also passed away.

The talented engineer and owner of The Fort Brooklyn, Jim Bentley, left us much too soon.

Irreplaceable: Phil Ramone

Irreplaceable: Phil Ramone

Lou Reed’s passing in October was a gentle reminder that even rock geniuses are mortal.

Getting Together

Contrived as they are, trade shows are still a quality barometer of an industry’s overall health.

NAMM kicked off the year in positive fashion, pointing the way to exciting new gear and a sense of optimism from music creators and technical types alike in Anaheim.

In late October, the most productive AES in years sent us bounding towards 2014 on a high note. From nonstop cross-borough parties like the Sound Toys/SonicScoop Just Managing Recording Lounge, to the show itself and all the great gear to unwrap afterward (read about it here or listen in on the Input/Output podcast), it was an expo to remember.

How will 2014 compete? We just can’t WAIT to find out – and we won’t be waiting long…

David Weiss

NYC Event Choice: “Keys to Building a Successful Library” – Wed. Oct. 9th

October 4, 2013 by  

On a July night in Los Angeles, heads were swimming at a packed seminar put on by the Production Music Association: “Keys to Building a Successful Library.”

It's NYC's turn: The PMA is going to lay on the library knowledge on Wednesday, October 9th in Manhattan.

It’s NYC’s turn: The PMA is going to lay on the library knowledge on Wednesday, October 9th in Manhattan.

Now New York City-based composers, producers, and all associated music professionals get their chance to absorb up-to-the-minute information on this crucial topic.

An elite panel of music supervisors, production music heads, and legal eagles will lead the discussion on Wednesday, October 9, 6-8 PM, at Alison Eighteen Restaurant on 15 West 18th Street.

The cost to attend is $10 for PMA members, $15 for non-members and guests. RSVP to

SonicScoop’s past experience of PMA events has been that they are lively, in-depth And extremely informative – in other words this upcoming get-together is highly recommended for anyone looking to improve their odds of success in the competitive music library space.

Here are more details on the night, followed by panelist bios, as provided by the PMA:

Our panel of experts will cover the different facets of what owners need to know to build a catalogue/library the right way in order to maintain value.  Want to become (or stay) a long-term viable business?  At this event you are guaranteed to learn something new, no matter how experienced you might be.


Doug Bernheim – Music Supervisor, Sound Pictures
Steve Corn – CEO & Co-Founder, BFM Digital
Yoav Goren – President & Co-Founder, Immediate Music
Jeff Greenberg – Partner, Meister Seelig & Fein, LLP
Ron Mendelsohn – President & Founder, Megatrax
Steve Pecile – President & Founder, SoundMiner

Gary Gross – Worldwide President, Universal Publishing Production Music

Doug Bernheim
Music Supervisor, SoundPictures
Doug Bernheim is an independent music supervisor and licensing/business affairs consultant.
He has worked on over 50 feature films, including Oscar-nominees Transamerica and Half Nelson, as well as television projects for AMC TV and WWE.  Doug has also music supervised numerous promo spots for leading brands such as L’Oreal, Nautica, Estee Lauder, Kohl’s, Citibank, Rodale Publishing, and Physique 57.   In addition to creative music supervision, Doug’s specialties include administering music assets, rights research, clearances, licensing, cue sheets, composer agreements and soundtrack albums.

Steven Corn
CEO and Co-Founder, BFM Digital
Steven Corn, CEO & Co-Founder, brings over 25 years of strategic media and music licensing experience to BFM Digital, a digital distribution company specializing in representing independent artists, labels, publishers and other content creators.  Corn is jointly responsible for the over-all vision of the company and signing BFM Digital’s current network of hundreds of digital services worldwide.

In addition, Steven Corn is Co-Founder of BFM Jazz.  The artists of BFM JAZZ are well-established, masters of their craft including Steve Gadd, Tierney Sutton, Steve Smith, Eddie Gomez, Lenny White and many others.

Prior to forming BFM, he created Corn Music Services, Inc., a company that was one of the first to license master recordings, sound effects and images to cellular providers around the world for use as ringtones, wallpaper and ringbacks.  More recently, Corn Music Services has provided consulting services for such high profile online companies and licensors such as Myspace, Fox Interactive, Universal Studios, Oddcast and

Yoav Goren
President & Co-Founder, Immediate Music
Yoav Goren graduated with a BA in Film and Television Production at NYU.  After touring with several bands as keyboard player, Goren settled in Los Angeles where he worked with the legendary Leonard Cohen on the acclaimed CD The Future (1992) as arranger and co-producer.  Also in 1992, Goren teamed up with composer Jeffrey Fayman and founded Immediate Music, which has become one of the preeminent suppliers of original music for motion picture advertising.

In 2007 Goren was awarded an Emmy Award for “Outstanding Music Composition in a Sports Program” for the “20th Torino Winter Olympic Games” and in 2008 Goren was the recipient of a composing award from BMI.  In 2009, Goren became the first person to ever perform a live concert of trailer music compositions as part of his “Trailer Music Live” performance series.

As President of Immediate Music, Goren works daily at the company’s studio facilities in Santa Monica, with regular forays to concert halls and studios worldwide to produce Immediate Music’s trademark orchestral recording projects.

Jeffrey A. Greenberg
Partner, Meister Seelig & Fein, LLP
Jeffrey A. Greenberg is a partner in the firm’s Intellectual Property Group. His primary areas of practice are entertainment, intellectual property and corporate law. He represents a diverse group of high-profile clients in the fields of film and television production; music production and publishing; print publishing and distribution; festival and live event production and management; sponsorships, endorsements and branding; copyright and trademark licensing and enforcement, administration, sales and acquisitions of media properties and intellectual property assets.

In addition to his entertainment-related legal work, Mr. Greenberg is also an active producer on recording, reissue and compilation album projects. He won a Grammy Award as producer for “Best Historical Album” for the box set “Jelly Roll Morton: The Complete Library Of Congress Recordings”, and received a 2010 Grammy nomination as producer in the category “Best Historical Album” for the box set “Alan Lomax In Haiti: Recordings for The Library Of Congress, 1936-37″.

He is a voting member of the National Academy Of Recording Arts and Sciences, and The Songwriters Hall Of Fame. He also sits on the Board Of Directors of The Association For Cultural Equity, an organization dedicated to the preservation and dissemination of ethnographic and anthropologic collections and research data.

Gary Gross  
Worldwide President, Universal Publishing Production Music
At the helm of Universal Publishing Production Music Gary Gross oversees all aspects of the Company’s production music entities, managing more than 32 offices in cities across the world.  UPPM is the preeminent supplier of high level production music and serves the burgeoning business that creates, produces, and licenses music for use in film/TV, advertising, broadcast and corporate clients.

In 1997, Gary followed his passion for music and joined Killer Tracks, at the time a small “production music” company recently acquired by Bertelsmann Music Group, where he was quickly promoted through the roles of VP Marketing, VP/GM, SVP/GM to President of BMG Production Music in 2002.

Under Gary’s leadership, the business grew from a small operation to become one of the most healthy and vibrant segments of the entire music business.  When Universal Music Publishing Group acquired BMG Music Publishing in May 2007, Gary joined the UMPG team as Worldwide President of Universal Publishing Production Music (UPPM) where he continues to exponentially grow this sector of the music business.  Gary has also served as a board member on the PMA (Production Music Association) for the last 8 years.

Ron Mendelsohn
CEO & Co-Founder, Megatrax
Ron Mendelsohn is co-founder and CEO of Megatrax, a leading independent production music library and custom music house based in Los Angeles. Established in 1990, Megatrax has earned a reputation worldwide for high quality music coupled with unparalleled service and innovation. In addition to managing business operations at Megatrax, Ron is also an accomplished pianist and composer who has composed hundreds of cues for the Megatrax library and scored numerous film/TV projects ranging from promos to feature films. A graduate of Wesleyan University (CT), Ron attended film scoring programs at USC and UCLA and studied at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Liege (Belgium) on a grant from the Rotary Foundation. Ron is a founding member of the Production Music Association and has served on the PMA board since its inception. Ron is also a member of numerous other professional organizations including the SCL, Vistage and ASCAP.

Steve Pecile
President & Founder, SoundMiner
Steve is the President of Soundminer Inc., the maker of leading audio asset management software. Soundminer is used extensively in post and broadcast facilities, as well as by most major music catalogues. It provides tools for advanced searching, databasing, and metadata tagging for all major file formats and continually improves these tools to meet the requirements of all content creators. Steve began as a composer and has numerous television credits and previously owned a production facility in Canada.

Sound Business: Artist Booking and PR Join Forces at The Press House

September 23, 2013 by  

For music fans, the most exciting convergences are from genres coming together – separate sounds joining to create something even more satisfying.

Tommy Merrill is President of Artist Development & Booking at The Press House.

Tommy Merrill is President of Artist Development & Booking at The Press House.

To those who work to back up artists behind the scenes, the prospect of combining different business channels can feel equally enthralling. That’s what’s happened at The Press House, a successful New York City entertainment PR firm that now houses a fast-growing booking agency division.

One of the key components of the partnership is Tommy Merrill, who heads up booking and artist development at The Press House. Merrill’s residency there came after he had been the talent buyer at the popular NYC live venue Rockwood Music Hall for 7 1/2 years. Then, in April 2012 he joined forces with Dawn Kamerling, who has overseen The Press House’s steady expansion from a music-based boutique PR firm to a full-service company offering a lifestyle division, film and restaurant publicity, licensing, interactive marketing, event planning — and now has artist booking under its roof.

On the PR side, the Press House client list includes known names like The Cutting Room, ECR Music Group, Imagem Music, Julian Lennon, James McCartney, Pledge Music, and Spin. Meanwhile, a number of music PR clients are also booked by Merrill, including McCartney, The Breedings, Robert Fortune, and Rachel Ann Weiss.

While artist publicity and booking aren’t exactly strange bedfellows, it’s not often they you’ll see these two verticals entwined so harmoniously in a boutique – forming a fashionable service offering that savvy independent artists naturally gravitate to.

Tommy Merrill explains where the inspiration for his partnership with The Press House came from. Along the way, get valuable guidance about how a successful live strategy — or a fresh new business venture – comes to life.

Why was being a talent buyer a good introduction to the touring business?

Working as a talent buyer was a phenomenal introduction to the touring business, especially in terms of our model at The Press House.  Developing an artist’s live show is the most important aspect of their career.

Not only did it give me access to thousands of artists, managers, labels, agents, venue information across the country etc…, I was completely immersed in the development process of a wide array of artists over the years at Rockwood.  I was exposed to numerous successful plans that the artists and their teams put into place, based primarily on the live show.

I was also aware of many strategies that were not so successful.  Seeing as many shows and development campaigns as I did allowed me to formulate what my own course of action would be.

What did you learn about how a tour works, by being a talent buyer for a busy NYC live venue?  What are the different moving parts needed to book a successful gig?

I really learned the importance of connecting with other venues and other artists in multiple markets.  I found the cross-promotional opportunities with other artists very rewarding and refreshing — artists helping artists.  And I witnessed it work time and again over the years.

To be able to tap into the right scene in the right venue in varying markets is so important for touring artists, and can make all the difference in the world in terms of finding the best audience for your music and hopefully being invited back.

This is also where I experienced the importance of a “strong team.”  It was always great to see that an artist could do it all themselves in a professional manner, but when the team was firing on all cylinders, it made all the difference in the world.

Dawn Kamerling, founder of The Press House, was on the same page as Merrill about coordinated support for artists.

Dawn Kamerling, founder of The Press House, was on the same page as Merrill about coordinated support for artists.

One of the deciding factors in launching this new division came from my experience in moving forward after a show was initially confirmed.  I would lock a show in with an artist, manager, agent, label, whoever it might have been, and then the follow-up email would have ten new people copied on it, ALL of which were from a different company.   What I would witness happen many times were details getting lost in translation because of the lack of being in the same room directly next to each other.  And in the end the show would suffer in some way.

Dawn and I thought having the agent and publicist under the same roof would be a wonderful way to start to alleviate some of that confusion and ultimately make the show better for the artist.

How do those dynamics change when you’re talking about booking a local artist that’s looking to play for just one night, as opposed to a stop in NYC as part of a 20-date tour?

I’m not sure those dynamics do change when it’s a one-off.  I think when the show is a one-off hit, there is a different reason for the show perhaps and different methods of promoting it to your fans, but all of the pieces still need to be there.

That team strength needs to be focused differently, but focused nonetheless on presenting the best live show/event possible.

How did you start to get interested in “switching sides” and becoming a booking agent?

Over the years, the multitude of artists that I had the immense pleasure of meeting and becoming close with started to really sink in.  That personal relationship really started to become interesting to me.

The last couple of years at the club, I had numerous artists come to me seeking help in various ways and asking for advice on a number of issues associated with this crazy business of music.  And the reality of it is when one is a buyer at a venue there is absolutely no time for anything else.  I was completely buried in booking 400+ shows a month, thus having no time to devote in assisting artists I believed in.

That’s when I started to think about removing myself from the venue life and focusing on the more personal side of the artist.  And I’ve found this change to be incredibly rewarding!

What was the opportunity you and Dawn saw for a new approach to booking artists?

When speaking with Dawn initially and really brainstorming how we could work together, there were two issues that we both thought needed to be addressed.

First, we saw a huge gap between developing artists wanting to get on the road and those artists being courted by the larger agencies.  These developing artists are the ones who I’ve spent years caring about, so it only seemed natural that these artists would be the ones who we would reach out to and help move forward in their careers.

We created a model that allows them to do this.  Getting developing artists on the road to start to build that foundation in markets outside of their home was something we thought was very important.  The live show will always be something that is at the forefront of this industry, and we felt the more artists on the road, the better.

Second is what I mentioned earlier about needing as many services under one roof as possible.  In our opinion, this eliminates the chance of important parts of the team not being on the same page throughout an entire campaign.   We feel that booking and tour promotion are two aspects that should go hand in hand.

James McCartney is benefiting directly from The Press House approach.

James McCartney is benefiting directly from The Press House approach.

Why was The Press House the ideal place for you to launch this business, instead of another partner?

The Press House seemed ideal because of Dawn Kamerling and the business she had been running for 12 years.  When I initially began thinking about changing jobs, Dawn was the first one to assist me in fully flushing out the idea for me to start my own company.   In the midst of those talks it evolved into starting this with Dawn’s company as a partnership and new division.

The Press House is a wonderful PR company with a stellar reputation running for the last 12 years.  The infrastructure and relationships the company has built over those 12 years has helped me immensely to hit the ground running upon leaving Rockwood.

Dawn and I also worked together on multiple events during my time at Rockwood.  It seemed like the perfect fit and it certainly has been for the first year.  We couldn’t be happier with the direction the company is going.

What are the different ways a band gets onboard with you and booking aspect of The Press House’s offerings?

I look for a few things when taking on new artists.  First and foremost there certainly needs to be a raw talent that really moves me as a music fan, but I also think a very strong work ethic is needed to be successful or to even begin laying the foundation for success.

It’s a pleasure when artists bring more than their talent to the table.  I’ve always thought that knowing the ins and outs of one’s industry — no matter which aspect you primarily focus on — makes that person infinitely better at what they do.  Thirdly, I look for artists that are realistic about their goals.  I like to agree on short and long-term goals and then attack them in the proper order to succeed.

Is there a recent example of the benefits of having everything under one roof for a Press House artist?

I think the best example of this would be working together on the James McCartney tour.  Earlier this year, James did a 47-date US tour that started in early April and lasted through mid-June.

As you can imagine, someone like James has many media opportunities coming his way in the midst of this run.  It is incredibly difficult to manage these dates alone in terms of all the details relating to playing the shows and traveling to and from each market.   A great deal of these media opportunities arise last minute, and having the publicist in the same office really expedites everything to get locked in and confirmed as quickly as possible.

I can’t tell you how many times in the last year, both media outlets and talent buyers alike have thanked us for our speedy responses in regards to everything.  We take great pride in our communication with everyone when working a campaign together. Dawn, myself, as well as the rest of our staff are quite dangerous when brainstorming in a room together.

You have an interesting definition of “success” for your artists.  Can you explain that?  What are the different positive outcomes you’re working towards?

I’m glad you asked this question. Our definition of success is when our artists meets the goals we, as a team, put into place.  Whether that is a few spot dates in the region to get a developing artist’s name out there a bit more, or a financially successful 40+ date tour.

And here is another example of what success is for us.  When we can lock into a one-year campaign to grow an artist properly by gaining the attention that artist deserves with touring and PR, everyone wins.  If that attention means that one of the larger agencies starts to show interest in taking them further in their live careers, great!  We are thrilled that we could assist in taking that next step in their journey.

David Weiss

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