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Campaign Brief (AUS/NZ) Online.
Campaign Brief Magazine : July August 2007
S OUND +MU SI C very good market and I think things are going well here,” says May. The mon ey does app ear t o be gradually flowing b ack int o TV C music production, a trend lead by a buoyant a dvertising marke t, s ays Charlton Hill, producer at the Potts Point-based Supersonic, which pro- vides m usi cal sol utions across advertising, film, TV and the music indus try. About 30% of Su per- sonic’s bus iness is from overseas: “Tal ent is something that eith er turns up unexpectedly or you h ave to sea rch f or it . Either way it requ ire s n urturi ng,” sa ys Hi ll. Likewise, sometimes budgets are in line with the practical and crea tive requ irements of the pr oject although often the re is a lack of investment in sound, which is about 50% of the experience. “Given t hat music budgets h ave not really increased that much over the last f ive to six years, musi c for advert isi ng i s unl ike mo st ot her industries that are tied to the cost of living. Luckily, composers are used to a li fe o f pover ty fr om an ea rly age.” Meanwhile, Hill is hoping the use of th e toy p iano in n ear ep idemic proportions on s oundtracks finally gets laid to rest with a bullet to the head. “I also think 80’s music may be on the way back,” he says. Asked about whiz-bang toys, Hill jokes: “There ar e these i ncredible new devic es called musici ans find - ing th ei r way into sou ndt racks . They are in fact priceless.” Barry Stewart, mana ging dire c- tor/sound engineer/sound de signer at Sound Res ervoir, an audi o post production company that uses com- mercially s uccessfully m usic ians and so und designers at it s Wh arf Studios facility at Pyrmont, says the start of th e 2006-07 finan cial ye ar saw a n u pturn in t he Syd ney TVC/ onli ne and viral ind ustry : “The market seems to hav e settled after de regulation, we have seen a major increase in production and a gen eral r eturn to more b uoyant times. Specifically, there has been a large in crease in sound de sign fo r web s ites and the budge ts for that work, both loc ally and internation- ally. This work h as increase d our off-shore bu siness to around 30 % of ann ual turnover,” says S tewart. He observes that the market has reached a susta inabl e l evel , wi th fewer company failures in th e pa st six months than in recent times. “We are s til l usi ng o ver seas recruitment as a method of inj ect- ing new ideas and methods into our compa ny. Fresh ap proaches and ideas keep us all on our toes ,” says Stewart. He sees budgets heading i n two directions: the larger budgets seem to b e fol lowing C PI u p, bu t the smaller ones are at best staying put. However, St ewart expects the r oll- out o f digital TV to force bu dgets upwards in general, as, li ke i t not, the broadcast requirements, as laid out by th e F ederal Government , deman d 5.1 s urround so und in Dolby E format. “To compete with the blockbuster 60 CAM PA I GN B RIE F films and match the audio levels of them, those who have not moved to Dolby E, will have to in t he v ery near future,” Stewart says. Soun d R es er voir c ontinue s t o invest about 20% of its gross turnover in new technology, which is enough to give it all the right toys and therefore attract th e peop le it want s and continue to pu sh the qual ity of its products b oth c re- atively and technically. Stewa rt s ays the industry ha s turned another very exciting corner in the last two years. “Those of us in the f ilm and TV area have another whole medium to enjoy. The internet provi des bot h challenges and opportunities and it is becoming an integral part of our business at many levels. Our three- month plan is to become fully HD compliant, and in that way we will always start with the highest quality product for any media.” Beamo Music’s creative dir ector Peter Miller agrees tha t change is afoot, saying that equipment is not the major expense that it once was wi th techno log y g etting ch eaper and b etter: “Personally we don’t think TV advert ising, as we kn ow it, is going to be around that much longer. Already we’re seeing media fragmentation splitting budgets into smaller pieces and we e xpect th is will continue. The exciting thing is there are many new op portunities ari sing and, more and m ore, the ideas that work don’t rely on media spend, they rely solely on the quali- ty of the creative content. This is a really good thing and we a re posi- tioning our company to make th e most of these new opportunities.” That said, he thinks the current health of the sound post industry is pretty poor with sound and music appearing to be an af terthought in the production process. “The ability for directors to have a serious involvement in sound seems to have be en e roded t o a poin t where, in some cases, the director is expressly excluded from music and sound post,” says Miller. “Deregulation continues t o b e a crippling factor simply be cause the industry has never rebounded from the initial hit . Up to 5 0% o f our business in now coming from over- seas.” Agencies ar e also s tarting to ta ke the sound post in-house. “In music, the com petition is always tough. But for the volume of work on offer, there a re pr obably too many companies in the market, and consequently, a lot of them are struggli ng. Mus ic and sound p ost budgets have fallen sign ificantly in real terms in th e la st ten years, to the detriment of the creative work. Everyone knows the import ance of sound to the overall creative execu- tion y et time and ti me again the amoun t of thoug ht, t ime and mone y t hat i s all oca ted to the sound post process i s a f raction of what it needs.” One problem that he thinks is easy to fix is to think about sound earlier in t he pr ocess - jammin g t he music/sound session in to the la st The current buzz word in advertising is branded content. In February, the UK’s Leap Music launched a dedicated branded content consultancy to help brands and agencies source music for emerging platforms such as podcasts, vodcasts, mobile gaming, viral marketing and virtual worlds. “Within three to five years, TV spot advertising won’t exist in the way in does today and those companies that successfully embrace the new space will adapt their deal structures accordingly,” said Leap Music managing director Richard Kirstein. “Branded content is becoming so much more than just advertiser-funded programming. Before long, the boundary between advertising and editorial will be almost indistinguishable and music is likely to play a central part in brands’ multi-platform marketing activity. This will enable flexible rights owners to create a host of new opportunities for emerging music talent.” Stewart says the industry has turned another very exciting corner in the last two years. “Those of us in the film and TV area have another whole medium to enjoy. The internet provides both challenges and opportunities and it is becoming an integral part of our business at many levels.” few days of the process is a massive missed opportunity. And whi le sound is full of new whiz bang toys that Beamo Music can’t stop buying, Miller warns that all the whiz bang toys in the uni- verse don’t wo rk without talented people playing with them. Higson agrees that it comes down to the q uality of talent, but says while there are plenty of good com- posers around, finding good com- posers who can work in this indus- try is much harder. “From an insider’s point of view it’s very hard to find those who can respo nd effect ively to changi ng edits, changing briefs, no budget, ‘silly’ musical requests - like ‘take all the cymb als o ut’ - as well as embracing the tools of the day and respecting the sometimes complex relationships between agency and clients,” Higson s ays. “Writing a great tune is probably only half the job, the rest takes years to learn and master. We’re keen to nurture and train composers new to our field and are always on the lookout for keen young composers.” Higson says some agencies under- stand t hat mu si c i s i ncred ibl y important and their music budgets reflect this, but others still treat the music/audio side as the poor cousin of the pictures – more of an after thought - and often end up leaving no money, or time, in the budget for a music track. “My advice to compos ers is to find clients who have a passion for music, who real ise its importance and look after them. Nurture the re lat ions hip and they will keep coming back for more. I say this not just because they have healthy bud- gets, whi ch is n ice, but because they will turn out to be the ones you will want to work with and the exper ience wi ll be frui tful and enjoyable for both parties. If I feel a client has no interest in music, leav- ing n o t ime i n t he s ched ule or money in t he budget they’re not going to be fun to work with and the enti re experience wil l lea ve everyone undernourished.” On an end note, Higson encour- ages a gencies to get clients more involved in the process. “Music is an incredibly personal and subjective thing. So where appropriate, allowing clients to be part of the process can really help. We’ve all spent too many hours try- ing to talk a client into liking a track at the last minute simply because they feel it’s been forced on them,” he says. “By that time it’s too la te to ta ke them through the entire process of why we ended up going in a partic- ular direction or choosing a certain genre of music so they feel backed in a c orner. Keeping them in the loop with the music can often work for you; they go on the journey with you and arrive at the same destina- tion at the same time. Of course havi ng said that in many ca ses you’d be nuts to involve them – talk about taking a great track and slow- ly smothering the living dayl ights out of it!” JU L Y /AU GUST 2007
September October 2007
May June 2007