MUSIC+SOUND AWARDS TALK TO...
2018 Jury Member +
Senior Music Producer at Leo Burnett, Chicago
Jocelyn Brown is a music supervisor, producer, DJ, musician, writer and conduit.
A native of Pensacola, Florida, she has championed music professionally since 1998, starting as a college radio disc jockey at Florida State University. She has worked for independent record labels, music production houses and advertising agencies, playing records as DJ Clerical Error in her free time. She has recently contributed written and compiled works for Impose and Rookie, and serves as a licensing consultant for International Anthem Recording Company. Outside of agency life, she is also working as one of two music supervisors on the unscripted series America to Me, helmed by acclaimed director Steve James. She currently works as the Senior Music Producer for Leo Burnett USA and lives in Chicago.
At what point did you decide that you wanted to work in music and advertising and what has your career path been to date?
I’ve known that I’ve wanted to do the job of a music supervisor since I was eleven years old – I knew that there had to be someone responsible for selecting the music that I heard in television shows, films and TV commercials, but I didn’t know that there was an actual title for said work until I was a young adult. I’ve worked with music in some capacity since 1998, starting with college radio and freelance music journalism, which led to work at independent record labels and ten years as a freelance disc jockey. Working in these areas, albeit a circuitous path, led to my current work as a music producer/supervisor – and I still dabble in many of them in some capacity outside of agency work hours.
What are the main considerations for the team when deciding on music for an ad?
For our team, it’s largely been a case of asking whether the music we’ve sourced actually answers the ask that the creatives have presented to us, whether it dynamically meets the needs of the action that will be happening within the spot itself, and whether it can work for the budget that our producer has available. We try to open the pool up to license from artists and original music companies wherever we can, and that’s something that we’ll continue to do.
Have you noticed a change in terms of what type of music is being licensed / commissioned?
The best way to explain the changes I’m seeing is to note that they tend to follow Top 40 radio trends roughly a year behind schedule. We’re challenged with elevating the work, and we do our best – but we’re certainly at the whims of what people in general are used to hearing.
Can you give us a rough idea of the ratio of original compositions vs. existing music that you use?
Original compositions haven’t been as well-served within this space lately as licensing existing music from original music companies has been. That’s been our primary way of working with original music companies over the past year or so, and it’s a trend that has picked up, given creative demands, time constraints and budgetary needs.
What has been your favourite project that you’ve worked on recently?
The Leo Burnett Music Department is also part of an experiential division within the agency, HKX (Humankind Experiential); through this channel, we’ve been able to work on some experiential projects for the Pantene Gold Series hair care line through our client, Procter & Gamble. This particular product line is meant to serve the needs of African-American women and to address our specific hair concerns. As a member of that demographic, and someone who’s long been brand loyal, it meant a lot to me to do some work for our client relative to this particular brand. I felt strongly about working in this space largely because I understand how much it means to consumers to see and hear brands considering the use of music from a cultural perspective in a meaningful way. It’s a huge responsibility to carry within such a personal and culturally sensitive space, and it’s a challenge I have been honored to meet.
How do you go about sourcing composers and bands?
We rarely see the opportunity to commission new works from musicians or composers, but our ability to source composers or bands generally depends upon the ask presented to our team within the creative brief itself. If we’re in a position to approach a band, more likely than not we’re licensing existing material that has already been released by them and going directly to their label and publisher(s), but if we have a specific artist or band in mind, it’s more likely that we’ll reach out to their management and present the opportunity. With regard to collaborating with composers, many of them work with specific original music houses directly, so we’re pretty clear on how best to reach out to them for new work.
How do you think a competition like The Music+Sound Awards impacts the industry?
Competitions like the Music+Sound Awards are beneficial in that music producers and creatives working within the industry get a fresh understanding of the types of briefs and projects their peers are actively working on – both within and outside of traditional agency spaces. It’s nice to see how our peers approach different types of work, and viewing new projects also presents us with an opportunity to look at our own processes objectively. It shines a light on areas where we can move forward and elevate our own standard of approaching the work that we do throughout the coming year.