MUSIC+SOUND AWARDS TALK TO...
Music And Strategy, LA
Partner + Executive Producer // Advertising
Gabe McDonough is one of the most experienced music and branding professionals in the world, orchestrating music strategies for brands like Apple, Ford, Samsung, Coke, LG, Coach and many more.
After creating the music departments at Chicago powerhouse agencies Leo Burnett and DDB and a brief stint at Media Arts Lab in Los Angeles, McDonough joined Music And Strategy in 2015.
McDonough has built a reputation for finding and breaking emerging artists through memorable campaigns, including Santigold’s breakthrough “Lights Out” placement in Bud Light Lime commercials, and, more recently, Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song” used in Ford spots. Always looking for non-traditional ways to incorporate music into brand campaigns, McDonough even enlisted Wilco’s Glenn Kotche to “play” faucets for a Delta Faucet commercial.
Named one of Billboard’s “40 Under 40,” McDonough won the 2012 Midem Music Award for best use of a song in a commercial for a Sprint spot featuring a remake of Wilco’s “I’m Always in Love”. Prior to that, AdWeek also recognized one of his spots as one of the “5 Best Ad Songs of All Time.”
Also a musician, McDonough previously served as Governor of the Chicago Chapter of the Recording Academy. He has created and performed music spanning several genres throughout his music career, including electronic/techno (Thick Bricks), blues (Chicago Stone Lightning Band), and indie/experimental (BOAS).
At his current role at Music And Strategy, McDonough oversees the West Coast business in original music composition, music supervision and music strategy.
Gabe, I think it’s safe to say you’re really rather musical! When and how did this start to develop?
I've always found music to be a magical escape from the mundane. Been that way for me since I can remember whether listening or playing.
Can we hear a little about your career path so far… ?
Bellamy's (Kitchener, Ontario Canada) busboy > Camp Wabanaki (Huntsville, Ontario Canada) counsellor > Sprint Canada (Toronto, Ontario Canada) call center > Our Price (London, England) shop person > Rainbo Club (Chicago, Illinois USA) door person/janitor/bartender > Thrill Jockey Records (Chicago, Illinois USA) sales/licensing > Empty Bottle (Chicago, Illinois USA) promotions > DDB (Chicago, Illinois USA) print project manger > music producer > VP producer of music and integration > Leo Burnett (Chicago, Illinois USA) VP Music Director > Media Arts Lab (Los Angeles, California USA) music director > Music and Strategy (Los Angeles, California USA) partner/executive producer.
Keeping it clear, great. So at Music and Strategy what tends to be the rough split of original composition vs placement of existing music for your clients?
We do a lot of both and any and all other things that our clients need to get done or have us dream up for them.
What’s your usual process of finding the right track for a project?
We look in our infinite stacks and talk to all our friends in the biz to make sure no stone goes unturned.
Are there currently any trends for licensing any particular genres of music?
Swaggery, confident things seem to be evergreen...
What has been your favourite project that you’ve worked on recently? And has there been a most challenging?
We had to find both these songs and also blend them together. A needle in a haystack x 3.
Any hints, tips or motivational speeches for readers wanting their music to get noticed by music supervisors?
Make music you're passionate enough to make even if you're not getting paid. That music will find its way to our ears. Also, a lot of my favorite music would be terrible in adverts... so if you're not getting syncs, don't let that slow you down. The world needs more great music.
And lastly, how do you think a competition like The Music+Sound Awards impacts the industry?
It's a nice way to shine a light on all the great work folks are doing around the world. There are so many very talented people in this business who impress and inspire me with their creativity day in and out.
Find out more about Gabe and Music And Strategy on their website, here