Outlook 2015: Pollen Music Group's Dave Lebolt - Music licensing & Web work
Dave Lebolt
Issue: December 1, 2014

Outlook 2015: Pollen Music Group's Dave Lebolt - Music licensing & Web work

Dave Lebolt
Pollen Music Group
San Francisco

Our industry is undergoing an exciting and meaningful evolution. Target market segments are changing, with reapportionment of advertising dollars, more in-house production, and ever-tighter schedules. The roles of music production companies, individual freelancers and music supervisors are more tightly coupled or even blurred; we all wear many hats. 

As you’d expect, more work these days is focused towards Web presentation. Heading into 2015, we see this evolution accelerating and expanding.

Pollen is experiencing new ways to partner with clients, too. Sometimes we’ll work together on the pitch phase, or be brought into the creative process earlier on to help focus direction — things that used to occur far less often or later in the job cycle. This type of approach allows for better results and tighter feedback, which can mean fewer revisions and the ability to more quickly zero-in on what works best.

We’re now more involved in vetting and producing newer, under-the-radar artists and putting together creative packages of these artists for campaigns or co-marketing (e.g., Website linking, YouTube viral activities, etc.). Many great songwriters or bands are new to working to picture, and we can really help in focusing their creative output to be in sync with the client¹s needs. Since we’re producing and working with new songwriters and bands all of the time, there’s a constant flow of exciting, street-connected, fresh talent.

Another major trend we all see is related to music licensing. Overall, library music has greatly increased in quality over time, which keeps the value focus on an even higher quality quotient for custom music or boutique libraries supplied by creative music producers. Some of the major networks/production companies are building their own libraries to bring more of the publishing in-house to drive down costs.

At Pollen, we’ve seen large upticks in our music licensing share, which involves a focus towards supervision and curation — putting together the right music packages so our clients don’t have to. We’ve worked tightly with companies like Adobe on new apps where they were looking for a wide variety of music that was both ‘handmade’ and cutting edge. There’s also an evolution towards more longer-form content for the Web (breaking out of the standard lengths), or premium Web series scoring, which involve themes, trailers, etc.

A few years back, I was heavily involved in the development of Pro Tools, heading strategy and then Digidesign/Avid Audio overall for quite a while. Today, the digital creative tools at our disposal not only continue to drive super tight turnaround times, but also broaden what is creatively possible in wonderful ways. There are so many incredible options for virtual instruments, sound design engines, DSP processing plug-ins and encoding/decoding — it can be hard to keep up! But better to be spoilt for choice. Now we just have to figure out how to let our clients better understand that we still need the time to do it all! It’s an exciting ride, and we’re looking forward to an interesting 2015!