My professional journey began with a songwriting habit, a sound designer’s skill set and a composer's dream. What I didn't realize as a young man was that my employers would identify in me –and further develop– an aptitude for project management and a marketer's instinct. Both of these skills would serve me well when what I thought would be a recording studio career unexpectedly spilled over into advertising and media.
I anticipated a job hanging over an engineer’s shoulder. There was much of that, of course. Although I was indeed held responsible for insuring every project achieved a standard of broadcast ready excellence, my job often came closer to being a brand strategist than an engineer or composer.
Brand Strategy is the conceptual ‘Pre’ in the pre-production process. Here are just a few of the skills required for the Commercial Music Producer who is also acting as a brand strategist: When presented with a project–
–Consider the user base/consumer demographic/audience for which the work is intended
–Consider the context and technology the work will be experienced
–Consider brand, marketing and/or entertainment strategy.
–Conceive, pitch and develop a suitable musical or otherwise sonic creative direction
–Estimate cost, bid job, negotiate budget
–Review applicable legal contracts and make or suggest amendments as necessary
Also, specific to a given project:
–Analyze the platform, experience, script or storyboards
–Participate in story or experience analysis
–For venues, devices, games, kiosks and other electronic media, identify what gestures or actions trigger an audible response, and the nature of that response
–For long format video/film or multi-layer web sites, identify how the sound or score evolves (or not) as user/viewer progresses through time or layers
Of course, not every commercial project requires Brand Strategy skills from the music producer –especially since audio is often developed long after the creative direction has been established. But producers may find themselves act as brand strategists when they participate at the very conception of a campaign, or product launch.
Regardless of when one gets involved, one is certainly expected to be capable of acting as a Brand Manager on behalf of one's clients.