- Interview with Josh Rabinowitz
Josh, can we begin by having you describe for readers what it means to be "Senior Vice President, Director of Music" for Grey Group?
I run a small group of five of us that oversees all the music that comes out of Grey and relates to any of our advertising, whether it is television, radio, web, mobile, or any other form. We manage the process from beginning to end. Often times, we are brought in very early in the process. When people are in the strategic planning stage, the seed of a creative stage, they come to us and say, "We have some ideas. We think music could be very important." Or, "Do you have some musical ideas? Maybe they could help inspire some creative ideas." That's one point of entry, the least utilized.
A second point of entry is when the creative teams and clients are just about to shoot a commercial and they are looking for a piece of music that might inspire them. Maybe there is a song that's driving the commercial, or there are a bunch of ideas or seeds of ideas that they want to experiment with. In this scenario they may want to play the music during the shoot—maybe there is some dancing going on or something rhythmic. Thus there are a variety of different things that could happen at that point of entry.
The most common point of entry is generally after they shoot a commercial, they'll come to my team and say, "We need a piece of music. What do you have? Who should we use to compose it? How much will it cost? How soon can you get it to us?" We try to deal with all those requests and the ways and means of getting music done quickly and efficiently.
Tell us how you came to be doing this work.
There have been three stages in my career, and I've been at this for about fifteen years. The first stage was working as a composer and a producer in music houses. I worked at two different music houses, one called JSM and the other called tomandandy. tomandandy was this very hip, cool, edgy, and quite well known music house based in Soho and Santa Monica. What was great about that particular place was that we dealt not only with the commercial world, but with film and TV as well. We got to work with some very interesting, progressive artists, people from all spectrums of music, and we worked for some great clients. At that point in history, that was the coolest music house, so a lot of people came to us and we got to work on pretty much everything. That was exciting for me. We worked on films, such as two by Mark Pellington called Going All the Way and Arlington Road and another interesting film called Waking the Dead, as well as a bunch of television stuff, which is always interesting for someone working in advertising, because anything longer than 60 seconds seems very long. But if you can get accustomed to music-to-picture in the longer form stuff, it can be very interesting.
In the next phase, I worked as an executive music producer at Young & Rubicam. The reason I left the music house side to go over to the agency side is that I had observed some discrepancies and problems that were consistently happening between the agencies and the music houses. There was a failure to communicate often between the advertising people—whether it was the creative team, the producer, or even sometimes the music people in-house and with the advertising agencies—with the music houses. The result of this miscommunication was that music houses were doing things over and over again. It is certainly a collaborative process, but I was finding it to be excessive amounts of work. It wasn't efficient, and it didn't seem to hit the creative core of what people were looking for. When there was an opening at Young & Rubicam, I thought, hmm, maybe I can...