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Issue: December 1, 2012

SWOT: Copilot's Jason Menkes reflects on the Music Business

By: Jason Menkes
STRENGTHS: “Creativity has always been the strength of the industry. The talent of composers, producers, singers and musicians working on advertising and marketing campaigns has never been better. The democratization of recording technology offers near-limitless creative exploration and, more importantly, allows new talents to contribute without the expensive recording studios that were once a barrier to entry.”

WEAKNESSES: “When the whole world is a source for music, it's more important than ever to have a strategic approach to your creative choices. It's easy to get lost in the myriad of options, and decisions are often made that aren't in the best interest of the client's brand. A big weakness continues to be the scattershot approach some clients take towards music. There are amazing examples of great music licenses and incredible original scores, but they each serve a very different purpose. Too often agencies seem to pursue hit singles, indie bands, stock music, and commissioned compositions at the same time.”


Photo credit: Bill Lane

OPPORTUNITIES: “Fortunately, there have been incredible efforts to increase awareness of strategic music solutions throughout the industry. The Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP) and the Association of Music Producers (AMP) have sponsored best-practices panels on music production and copyright clearances. The number of music producers at advertising agencies has increased in recent years, so that clients can avoid these pitfalls even at the inception of the project. I've been lucky to speak to advertising, marketing, and music business students throughout the country about these issues and I'm confident that the next generation of ECDs and CMOs will have a much better grasp of the benefits of a strong music strategy.”

THREATS: “The biggest threat to growth is the myopia of clients that lead them to restart the music process from scratch with every :30 commercial. The strongest brands reinforces their logos, mascots, slogans, and celebrity endorsements through repeated use. Too often, I have seen a brilliant creative strategy executed with the perfect song or score, only to abandon the work in the next iteration of the campaign. Reinvention is one of the engines that drives our industry, but not when it's detrimental to a long-term sonic identity.”

OUTLOOK FOR 2013: “The outlook for the coming year is brighter than it has been for some time. Forward-thinking CMOs have realized the benefits of implementing a strong music strategy across multiple platforms. I continue to see smart, creative musical works produced for traditional advertising campaigns. But I am most optimistic about the digital agencies and public relation firms who in the past felt limited to low-budget stock music licenses, but are investing in better music production for their campaigns.” 

Jason Menkes is a partner at Copilot Strategic Music + Sound (www.copilotmusic.com) in New York City.