Could Drakes’ and the Weeknd AI-generated song win a


Drake continues to make pop news in the entertainment industry. The “Heart on My Sleeve” TikTok hit sparked controversy earlier this year. A content creator, Ghostwriter, used artificial intelligence to create a fictional collaboration between The Weeknd and Drake. 

The viral song Drake was quickly taken down from streaming sites due to legal and ethical concerns. The song has this week raised some interest with what looks like a possible Grammy.

The Grammy boss’ statements

The New York Times reported that the artist is eligible for a Grammy despite the song being an AI mimic of Drake and The Weekend without their consent. The Recording Academy CEO, Harvey Mason,asserted the organization behind the Grammy’s position, that songs created partly by AI, but not entirely, would be eligible for the music industry’s top honour. 

Mason stated that they would not be awarding AI-generated material. However, creative works that AI touched would be entered into the categories. He added that discrediting any material with an AI touch would be unfair.

Mason caused a frenzy when he confirmed to the New York Times that the Tiktok hit would be eligible for a Grammy consideration since the artist wrote the lyrics thus of human origin. However, the CEO took to his Instagram Live last night to clarify the sentiments. He sought to clear the miscommunication. He said the Drake and The Weekend Mimic was not eligible for a Grammy. 

Mason clarified that despite the lyrics being written by a human, the artists’ vocals still needed to be consented to. This raised a legal concern since the respective artists’ record labels had not cleared them for wide distribution. As it stands, the song is not available commercially and thus not eligible for a Grammy award. 

He added that things were moving quickly and likely to continue evolving.” The academy will continue supporting and protecting human artists and creators”.

The Grammy boss also added that not knowing what Artificial Intelligence will mean or do in the future raises some concerns for him. However, he quickly said that AI will most likely become an integral part of the music industry and society.

Fans quickly noted that the reasons were not due to the AI generation but only the legal and commercial unavailability of the song, thus its ineligibility. Earlier this year, the Academy clarified its position on AI, stating that only human artists and creators are eligible for the Grammys’ consideration, nomination or awarding.

More of Ghostwriter 

The Heart on Sleeve hit song was released in April through Social Media, where the Artist appeared on his social media in a white sheet and sunglasses embodying a ghost. The artist also attended a meeting organised by the academy dressed as a ghost using a voice-altering device.

Ghostwriter is at it again with a new AI-generated song, “Whiplash”, another fictional collaboration between 21 Savage and Travis Scott. This time, the artist left the two hip-hop artists whose voices were mimicked a note seeking their consent for the song’s wide circulation in exchange for the generated royalties.

He also wrote in the post that it is clear that people wanted the song, and the future of music was already here. He added that artists now can put their voices to work without lifting a finger. Even after the legal and ethical concerns surrounding his AI-generated music, Ghostwriter’s persistence confirms the idea of some music recording industry leaders that AI is here to stay, and we can only adapt to it; the metaphorical technology toothpaste is already out of the tube.

The Drake AI song attracted discussions around the future of AI in the music industry. The hit’s seeming consideration for a Grammy shows that the industry is acknowledging the potential impact of the technology. This affirms that AI is here to stay, and the best we can do is embrace it to keep abreast with the industry’s developments.

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TikTok Music, The Service That Wants To Dethrone Spotify?


TikTok Music has the essence of the video platform

The first point that draws attention to this platform is its interface, since it is a replica of the short video platform, but with the cover of an album in a central plane and the ability to change songs vertically and not horizontal, as we are usually used to.

The Home interface is based on three For You windows, based on your tastes and artists related to the music you like. The second option is Familiar, inspired by the songs of the artists you have already given a like and finally there is New, in which you can discover a selection of songs.

In all cases, the menu is practically the same. On one side is the characteristic TikTok menu, which has a heart, a comments section and a button to share music, and from the likes you give, an algorithm is created that takes into account the user’s musical tastes. .

This can be good, since the system gets to know the person, but it can also be problematic if you take into account that when it comes to music, something nice is discovering new artists and with these algorithms you usually enter a spiral of content that It pleases you, but it doesn’t give you new things.

Something relevant is that the songs have a section where you can see the lyrics of the songs. This element is important considering reports that this feature could be exclusive to premium Spotify users.

TikTok exploration and recommendations

Its second menu is Explore, in which the user can directly search for the music that interests them and from that information the platform also creates some lists based on the user’s tastes.

For example, it recommends songs based on recent selections, but it also makes artist mixes, which are exclusive to the specific user and usually include about 50 songs.

On the other hand, it recommends lists based on moods, such as Happy Pop, Synthwave or Relax, but it also takes into account the trends of the music industry from TikTok Music Top 50, which includes the most famous songs in the world. video platform, in addition to others inspired by trends, such as TikTok Viral México or Retos TiKTok, among others.

All this commitment to the platform demonstrates the approach that Rob Ruiz, TikTok’s music operations leader, shared with Expansión in September of last year, regarding music being a central component of TikTok content, but also an accompaniment to contribute to the communication of ideas.

Podcasts, the element that makes Spotify different

One of the most important elements of Spotify is its strong commitment to podcasts, which does establish an important difference with TikTok Music, since this type of content has become one of the main ways to diversify the commitment to streaming audio and It makes TikTok Music feel like a newbie service.

However, through TikTok Music you can play, download and share music from the catalog of the three largest labels in the world: Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group and Sony Music.

The catalog is quite extensive even though the platform is in a beta, which means that it has not been completely launched to the public, but rather to a limited group so that they can test it and provide feedback before its official launch. It is only available to a small number of users in Brazil, Indonesia, Australia, Singapore and Mexico.

TikTok Music will have three plans: individual, student and family. In all plans you can have three months free, listen to music without ads, skip songs and unlimited downloads. The cost of the individual will be 115 pesos per month.

The student plan offers the same, but with the difference that only students can access it and the cost will be 59 pesos per month. As for the family plan, in addition to these features, you can include up to six accounts and block explicit content for a cost of 179 pesos per month.

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Heart On My Sleeve, the song at the centre of the ‘Fake


It’s been revealed that Heart On My Sleeve, the track that sent shockwaves through the music industry earlier this year thanks to its use of AI vocals that closely resembled those of Drake and The Weeknd, has been submitted for two Grammy Awards: Best Rap Song and Song Of The Year.

Speaking earlier this year, Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr confirmed that songs with AI elements could be considered for Grammys providing the music was written and performed “mostly by a human”, and he’s now reiterated that stance to The New York Times.

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Rimas Publishing partners with music metadata firm Muso.AI


Noah Assad’s Rimas Publishing has entered a strategic partnership with music metadata firm Muso.AI. 

Headquartered in Los Angeles and Amsterdam, Muso.AI will leverage this partnership to expand into the Latin music market.

Muso.AI says it has ingested over 1.4 million post-distribution credit modifications from rightsholders, artists and collaborators to date.

The company notes that its verified credits are used by partners like SoundExchange and Napster.

The focus of the collaboration with Rimas Publishing will be around Muso.AI’s 24-hour analytics, which the latter company says departs from the conventional track-and-album approach, and instead centers on companies, catalogs, and individual profiles.

Among Muso.AI’s features is its emphasis on person-centered credits, analytics, and achievements, which Rimas says will allow its own clients to monitor daily activity conveniently.

The Muso.AI platform claims to offers a process for clients to report missing credits and potential derivative works, allowing Rimas Publishing’s workflow to track unclaimed author copyrights.

The deal will also see Muso.AI offering Rimas Publishing “comprehensive roll-up views” across all its platforms, with the application localized and available in Spanish.

“At Rimas Publishing, we are committed to remaining at the forefront of industry technological advancements, continuously seeking to provide our clients with the highest caliber of services. This strategic alliance represents a pivotal step in our growth journey, ensuring our position as one of the leading publishers in the industry,” Emilio Morales, Rimas Publishing’s Managing Director, said.

“The inclusion of Rimas Publishing in the Muso.AI Family exhilarates us, as their engagement and insights will fuel the ongoing enhancement of our business platform to cater to their specific needs.”

Aaron Kaufman, Muso.AI

Aaron Kaufman, Muso.AI’s President & co-founder, added: “Our collaboration is a driving force propelling our entry into the Latin market, seamlessly aligning with our business suite debut and reaffirming the Muso.AI’s value. The inclusion of Rimas Publishing in the Muso.AI Family exhilarates us, as their engagement and insights will fuel the ongoing enhancement of our business platform to cater to their specific needs.”

Rimas Publishing, headquartered in Miami, Florida, and San Juan, Puerto Rico, negotiates its clients’ licensing agreements for various mediums including film, television, and advertisements worldwide.

Its clients include authors and producers such as Bad Bunny, Eladio Carrión, Corina Smith, Mora, Súbelo NEO, Caleb Calloway, YENSANJUAN, Lennex, and Lizzy Parra.

Rimas Publishing has earned multiple industry awards, including back-to-back Latin Billboard Publisher of the Year honors, recognition from Grammyand Latin Grammy awards, and over 40 accolades from ASCAP and BMI, it said.

The company operates through three distinct entities: RSM Publishing LLC (ASCAP), Risamar Publishing LLC (BMI), and Megasongs Publishing LLC (SESAC).

Back in April, Billboard reported that Sony Music Corp. was in advanced discussions to assist in the majority stake buyout of Rimas Publishing affiliate and Bad Bunny’s music label and management company, Rimas Entertainment. Noah Assad, Bad Bunny’s manager and Rimas CEO, was reportedly planning to buy out his partner, Rafael Ricardo Jiménez Dan, a former Venezuelan government official holding a 60% majority stake in the company.

Prior to that, Bad Bunny launched a new sports management agency, called Rimas Sports, in partnership with Assad. The agency launched with a roster consisting of Major League Baseball (MLB) players.

Bad Bunny was the most-streamed artist globally on both Apple Music and Spotify in 2022.

Music Business Worldwide

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Japanese pop agency head quits after admitting late founder


Kitagawa, who died in 2019 aged 87, headed the most powerful talent agency in Japan’s pop music industry and the scandal, which emerged fully earlier this year, has horrified the country.

Julie K. Fujishima, 57, bowed deeply as she faced reporters, and apologised for the abuses, saying she stepped down on Tuesday.

“Our office Johnny & Associates, and myself Julie Keiko Fujishima… recognize that Johnny Kitagawa did sexually abuse (the boys). I apologise to the victims from the bottom of my heart.”

Since the BBC aired a tell-all documentary in March, the national sense of outrage in Japan has borne similarities to the reactions seen in the United States and Britain after the scandals involving Hollywood movie producer Harvey Weinstein, and British TV star Jimmy Savile.

As more Japanese media took up the story, lawmakers voiced outrage, while the United Nations’ human rights experts also criticised the talent agency for its handling of the allegations.

Founded by Kitagawa in 1962, Johnny & Associates has an outsized cultural presence in Japan, producing some of the most popular names in J-pop including SMAP and Arashi, both with massive fan bases across East Asia.

Fujishima named Noriyuki Higashiyama, a former member of the hit 1980s boy-band Shonentai, as the new head of the agency.

Higashiyama, 56, said he had never been a victim of the abuse or witnessed it, but had been aware of the rumours. “I couldn’t, and didn’t, do anything about it,” he said.

“It will take time to win back the lost trust, but I will devote the rest of my life to dealing with this problem.”

Calling the scandal “the most pitiful incident in human history”, Higashiyama said there had been debate, but no conclusion, as to whether the agency should change its name.

Yukihiro Ohshima, a member of the Johnny’s Sexual Assault Victims’ Association, said: “I think she [Fujishima] acknowledged and sincerely apologised for what happened. It’s not like the emotional scars are gone but I think out of 100 points things have gotten a little easier by about 10.”

Fujishima, who is the sole owner of the company, said she would stay on as representative director until the work of compensating the victims was complete. The agency had yet to work out how that would work.

The agency’s official confirmation of Kitagawa’s conduct prompted Japan Airlines to announce that it would suspend the use of Johnny & Associates’ talent in its advertisements. Major insurer Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance also said it would consider terminating its contract with the agency.


The first media reports of Kitagawa’s abuses of boys and young men, known as Johnny’s Juniors, were carried by local tabloid Shukan Bunshun in 1999, but the scandal blew wide open this year as more victims came forward after the BBC’s report.

A victims’ group called for revisions to laws to protect children not only from abuse by a parent or guardian but other adults in positions of power. An opposition party put forward a bill, which failed to pass during the last session of parliament.

One former “Junior”, Kauan Okamoto, told a press conference in April that he had been the target of Kitagawa’s advances on as many as 20 occasions since he was 15.

“Juniors” would regularly sleep over at Kitagawa’s apartment in groups, with one or several being targeted by Kitagawa for the night, he said. On one occasion, Okamoto said he had received oral sex from Kitagawa, and cash the following day.

A report published last week by a third-party investigation team led by a former attorney general and commissioned by the agency also described similar testimony from victims.

Despite his status, Kitagawa kept a low profile in public and few photographs of him are available. He never faced criminal charges and continued recruiting teenage boys until his death.

Born in Los Angeles and raised in Japan, Kitagawa was known as Johnny-san by the boys on his agency’s books. He cultivated generations of male idols and all-boy bands, a business model that has been emulated across East Asia.  He holds several Guinness World Records, including for the most #1 singles produced by an individual.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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Updated: 08 Sep 2023, 05:36 AM IST

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Sound studios and music companies across Australia have enjoyed a year to sing home about with most encountering strong creative briefs and the arrival of new talent from all parts of the globe. The emergence of new AI technology is also welcomed, and budgets have remained relatively steady in the face of uncertain economic times. Campaign Brief talks to the industry’s top players for a yearly sound check.


One of the country’s most respected music supervision companies, Music Mill, welcomed more work from New Zealand this year now that travel is permitted. Having been in business for 23 years, Music Mill owners Clare and Bruce Tweedie are also citing work spread evenly across Australia along with the occasional job from Asia.

Providing services for Australia, New Zealand and South Asia, Music Mill specialises in a narrow but critical niche – finding and licensing songs for advertising campaigns.

Says Tweedie: “Over recent years, Clare has invested a lot of time in our workflow management processes, partly to improve our professionalism, but also to keep track of where all the enquiries are coming from. Even with access to that data, it changes all the time.”

He explains the majority of the music supervision company’s work has come from agencies, stating: “Probably because we’ve spent 23 years developing relationships with them all across Australia, New Zealand and Asia, and we really know how they tick.”

Speaking to both advertising and music industry contacts about the current economic conditions, Tweedie adds it seems clear this calendar year has been relatively quiet for most companies: “We’ve been doing okay because we have such a solid base, but it does seem like some advertisers have been tightening their purse strings. On the other hand, we’ve been seeing quite a few green shoots in recent weeks.”

Rumble Studios partner and executive producer Michael Gie agrees the industry didn’t have the strongest first half of the year, no doubt due to financial caution with inflation and talk of a recession. However, over the past couple of months, he says it’s been encouraging to hear everyone working on larger projects with healthier budgets.

Says Gie: “We’ve seen a huge growth in work from Melbourne due to opening our facility there in September last year. Our work has picked up some international awards and it’s been great to see more jobs coming from the US and Europe.”

Bang Bang Studios principal sound designer Sam Hopgood found budgets remaining reasonably stable this year. He says: “We did notice a definite slowdown in production towards the end of the last financial year, which was certainly heightened by rising interest rates. Thankfully, we were able to work on some large-scale projects that filled many of the gaps in studio hours that came with the downturn.”

As the sound house becomes better known for its sonic branding work, MassiveMusic creative director and senior composer Lance Gurisik is starting to see more direct to client projects with brands that don’t typically have a permanent agency.

Gurisik says: “I’m reliably informed that although there is a lot of pressure on local campaign music budgets, we have been fortunate that our sonic branding venture has proved more successful than we could possibly have imagined. Of course, while the budgets are larger in sonic branding, the workload associated is also significantly larger. We may spend over a month doing a deep dive into the brand, including competitor analysis and workshops to define the sound of the brand before we even start writing music!”

Also due to its increase in sonic branding work, Smith & Western Sound composer Nick West has received a spike in international client requests. Working with brands such as French company Bugatti, via collaborators at Interbrand Cologne, suggests that these days the studio’s fans are spread out globally.

According to Smith & Western Sound executive producer Dan Higson, the sound house has enjoyed a record year: “Our findings are that clever clients are more switched on than ever before when it comes to appreciating the value of audio and its power on brand recognition and emotional recall. Stings and jingles have been around for years, but today sonic branding is even more considered and well-crafted with the ability to be embedded across many touchpoints. We’ve worked on jobs needing over 200 assets and it’s no longer just about a logo. Audio is definitely in its renaissance era.”

Also enjoying an uptick of international work, Sonar Music head of sound Timothy Bridge says whilst the majority of the sound house’s advertising work continues to be sourced via local clients, Sonar is across more interstate and international briefs. He says the normalisation of remote working post-pandemic means the barriers of doing business globally have well and truly been removed.

Bridge adds: “In long form, we continue to work across international films and television series and envisage this work to increase, particularly as our industry presents good value opportunities.”

Uncanny Valley’s recent signing of a global deal with Universal Music Publishing has seen a burst of activity from overseas in both television series and TVC projects.

Says Uncanny Valley creative producer Ariane Sallis: “It’s been an exciting evolution with more relationships being direct with creatives in the production process. A recent trip collaborating with artists at studios in Europe, such as RAK, Abbey Road, Hummingbird and Miraval, has also opened doors to some seriously exciting opportunities.”

The lion’s share of Final Sound’s work has come via local clients however the studio is still working on overseas based client briefs.

In terms of agency verses direct brand work, Final Sound founder and sound engineer Paul Shanahan says: “It’s a mixed bag, with a skew to agencies. The noticeable shift is the number of smaller agencies popping up and kicking goals. We don’t have a preference as long as the work keeps coming.”

According to Final Sound founder and sound engineer Craig Conway, with financial uncertainty comes a reduction in the available amount of big budget work.

Conway says: “Whilst we’ve not seen a decline in budgets on the larger projects, there has been a decline in the number of larger jobs overall. There are some meaty budgets to be had, but the pool of available big budget work has shrunk.”

Although most of Heckler Sound’s work is local, the past 12 months have seen the sound house working on international briefs from Hungry Man UK, On Running in Switzerland, Iconoclast in Germany, and Untold Studios in the US.

Sharing the music composition and sonic branding work between its studios across Melbourne, Sydney, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York, Squeak E. Clean Studios was also across a variety of global briefs throughout the year.

Commenting on budgets this year, Squeak E. Clean Studios executive creative producer Karla Henwood says: “There is still work out there and still bigger budget jobs being made, but there are definitely some areas where agencies and marketing departments are being fiscally careful.”

This year Mighty Sound’s advertising work landed via a mixture of agencies, production companies and a handful of direct-to-client relationships – most of it local, with some hailing from Asia, the US and the UK. Mighty Sound founder and sound designer Matt Perrott says: “We focus purely on sound design and audio post, so while advertising is a key pillar to our work, we also work across film and television, which pushes our craft skill sets to exciting new areas.”



The Rise of the Machines

Although no substitute for human creativity, the rise in new technology, including Generative AI, is seen by many in the industry as a progressive step forward.

Heckler Sound executive producer Bonnie Law says AI has only impacted her business in positive ways. Says Law: “We have worked on projects where AI has been part of the creative at the ground floor. Howatson + Company’s Maurice Blackburn – Exhibit Ai campaign is a perfect example of utilising AI technologies to develop imagery based on witness accounts of the treatment of refugees in Australia’s detention centres, where no filming or recording equipment is allowed.”

As to the possibility of AI impacting business in a negative way, Law says it’s fair to say this seems like a long way off.  “A recent study at University College London found that participants were able to detect deep fake voices or speech only 73% of the time, which means AI is onto something, but the numbers are still skewed in favour of humans. The subtleties of craft involved in composing original music and sound design at the pace and level at which we do speaks to a complexity that AI has not yet come close to generating.”

Mosaic Music + Sound partner and head of creative Adam Moses believes AI is having a positive impact on music.

Says Moses: “As far as what it can do, we are only at the start of its powerful impact. In terms of mixing and mastering, AI and digital integration has been in place for years and has helped composers and producers get clean, loud, and well-produced tracks. As far as composition is concerned, it does not have the power to read emotion on the screen, or the understanding of structure in storytelling, so I don’t believe we have anything to worry about just yet.”

Where Moses sees it having a positive impact is on workflow, application and design of instrumentation: “Fixing audio, helping to design new instruments through language modelling, and creating new sounds will be where we will be using it more.”

Gurisik at MassiveMusic is excited about the introduction of AI to the industry, believing it to be another powerful tool to enhance the quality of work: “As everyone would know, when it comes to ChatGPT, artificial intelligence can only create a considered response if it is prompted with the right inputs and language. And music creation AI will be no different; in fact it will probably be more challenging because music is so difficult to communicate with words.

“Also, when something goes wrong and there’s no solution — no matter how many revisions to the prompt you make, you’ll need an old-fashioned human composer to realise the idea completely. Once AI can write a piece of music, produce the sounds to appropriate taste, mix it, master it, score to pictures, move music around to constantly edit changes, consider dialogue and sound design, and move me emotionally… then well, my outlook might not be as rosy.”

The rise of new technologies, including AI, has been a positive boost for Uncanny Valley, which has been at the forefront of the conversation for years now with its ‘artist-first’ generative music system MEMU (memu.live).

Sallis explains: “We see AI as a creative tool, not a threat, and prefer the phrase augmented creativity. It helps us streamline processes and explore new possibilities while preserving the human touch of producing music from real experiences and emotions. AI is a band member who helps us to deliver extraordinary music and sound experiences to our audience.”

Final Sound is using AI every day and views it as another tool to assist with ADR, sfx and sound design, dialogue enhancement, noise reduction and restoration, mixing, right through to music composition and scoring.

Says Shanahan: “We’re looking forward to seeing how AI advances and reaping the benefits it offers, though we’re also acutely aware it brings challenges that we need to consider. Ensuring that a balance between automation and the human factor is essential to preserve the creative and artistic aspects of our business. Furthermore, the ethical implications of using AI generated content and potential job displacement in the industry are concerns to consider as we look to its place in our future. We don’t want voice artistry replaced by technology.”

It’s a concern also held by Gie at Rumble Studios: “I think the biggest threat of AI is for voice-overs. Not so much for the more creative scripts that need subtleties of inflection and emotion, but certainly for guides, corporate videos or even retail. AI voices are starting to have an impact.”

Although AI hasn’t really begun to affect Bang Bang Studio’s work, the team is beginning to see an improvement in the technology surrounding computer generated voices. Hopgood says: “We have done a couple of projects recently where we recorded hundreds of random phrases with varying levels of emotion and expression that were then used to create an automated voice generator, like you would have with Siri or Alexa. So, I can see some of that potentially being used in the future. Voice actors could sample their voice and charge a fee to use their voice for a particular product in perpetuity.”

Sonar Music has found plenty of clients asking the team to integrate AI into projects or asking how they can utilise AI to streamline projects. Says Bridge: “We envisage this request becoming more frequent as AI technology rapidly innovates and develops further, and we discover how it can seamlessly integrate into our processes.”

On the music supervision side, Tweedie at Music Mill explains it hasn’t made the slightest difference. He says: “I don’t want to be over-confident, but the work we do is so complex that I think it will be a while yet before AI makes any inroads. Every song requirement is different, and personal relationships with suppliers and clients play a significant role – music supervision is still very much a human endeavour.”



New Year, New Faces

Continuously growing its global network of freelance composers and sound designers, Smith & Western Sound appointed Abby Dorrian as head of new business to focus on extending its network. Says West: “Abby has her finger on the pulse when it comes to hunting out the best creative talent and briefs on the market. We’ve really enjoyed working with our existing and new collaborators.”

Bang Bang Studios added a new engineer to the team at the end of last year, welcoming Justin Bodanac. Says Hopwood: “Justin worked with Phil Kenihan at Front of House for many years and is a great addition to the crew. He’s an outstanding technician, is great with clients and has embraced the Bang Bang energy like a duck to water!”

Over at Rumble Studios, the Melbourne team grew to include up-and-coming sound designer Sean Wilkinson along with composer Pere Corrigan. Says Gie: “Good talent is always hard to find but we make a point of searching to connect with talent all year round, regardless of if we have an opening at the time.”

Over the past 18 months, Sonar Music has bolstered the team across all areas of the business welcoming new production folk, sound designers, engineers as well as composers. Says Bridge: “With such a fast-moving industry that requires creatives to respond to briefs which may radically change in direction mid-project, hiring creatives who have a versatility and diversity of skills has been key to delivering work that remains original and authentic.”

Working hard to develop and nurture its relationship with talent, Heckler Sound’s most recent additions hail from Mauritius, Berlin and San Francisco, and the studio is always looking to build out its local and international roster.

The Squeak E. Clean Studios Melbourne team has grown, introducing Laura Hesse as senior producer, Richie Buxton as music producer and bringing composer Lydia Davies back on deck after maternity leave. Says Henwood: “We have additionally brought on neuroscientist Dr. Bradley Vines to head up our sonic branding team as this has been a growth area for us over the past couple of years.”

It was also Squeak E. Clean Studios’ first year operating its full experiential division, launched in December 2022 with Tom Webster at the helm. “Tom heads the division leveraging his work alongside artists, choreographers, and award-winning directors, by collaborating with brand teams to develop engaging activations that build narratives around cultural moments.”

When SongZu became Massive-Music last year, they inherited 100 incredibly talented new team members around the world, including composers, producers, sonic branding strategists and researchers. Says Gurisik: “It’s been a great experience joining this group and has greatly increased our firepower. Sonic branding continues to grow with an increased focus on research to validate and measure the impact of distinct brand assets. So, our sonic strategists are busy helping brands to apply these sonic brand assets beyond advertising to audio touchpoints throughout the customer journey such as app sounds, events, in-flight and in-store experiences.”

Over at Uncanny Valley, Sallis came on board this year as new creative producer and is chuffed to be a part of the team. “The energy and drive at Uncanny is contagious, and I feel right at home already.”

In terms of securing talent, she says the industry is always buzzing, and that the studio is working with new composers. “We definitely see an increasing need for musicians who have a deep knowledge of emerging technology, technologists that have the ability to translate their, often very different, skills to our musical objectives. It really is quite a niche – we’re lucky to have scouted some excellent talent.”

Now in its third year, Annandale based Mighty Sound took on an additional fulltime sound designer and a new senior post producer. Says Perrott: “Paul Reeves brings some serious skills in modular sound design and manipulation, whilst Meg Drummond is highly experienced in production across the advertising landscape. Given the specialist nature of sound design, especially for advertising work, finding the right talent any year can be tricky, so we are very happy to have such a strong, experienced team.”

On the music licensing front, Music Mill’s Tweedie would like to emphasis how delighted he is with his wonderful existing team of licensing people. “Cassie Cannon and McKenzie Roberts have really hit their straps in the last year or two, which makes our lives a lot easier, and more fun.”



The Work, The Work, The Work

The year’s top projects for Music Mill included sourcing a gem of a song for the Supercars Champion-ship for creative agency Wildcard in Melbourne, allowing the music supervision company to demonstrate its expertise in finding great tracks to fit a brief and budget. Further highlights included negotiating the rights to use ‘As The Days Go By’ for BCM in Brisbane and client Blue Care, along with licensing an iconic Australian song for the Optus Cyber Security response campaign for Special Group in Auckland.

For Rumble Studios, working on the Carlton ‘Drylandia’ spot with Clemenger BBDO and Revolver was a standout. The campaign saw the studio create the theme music and soundscape for a fictitious land with an elongated rocket powered horse. NRMA ‘Duel’ with Bear Meets Eagle On Fire and Revolver was another of the studio’s most creative pieces of work, conceptualising the interplay between fire and water to a predominantly woodwind score.

Rumble Studios was also fortunate to work with James Dive at Scoundrel on his ‘Losting’ Vivid installation. The work reflected the art of getting lost in nature and saw composer Jeremy Richmond created an immersive soundscape that aligned with Dive’s jungle prism.

Epic projects for Uncanny Valley included The Summit series for Endemol Shine, The Voice promo for Seven Network (via creative director Graham Donald), Standard Chartered’s LFC ‘Play On’ campaign with creative agency ElectricLime (directed by Armand De Saint Salvy), the Sydney Opera House 50th Anniversary installation, and series Ultimate Escape with Helium Pictures.
Uncanny Valley also co-hosted networking event Creative Circle with CB and Limehouse, celebrating creativity and connecting industry professionals, and ventured into a new exclusive worldwide partnership with Universal Music Publishing. Says Sallis: “This affiliation is already building our presence by enhancing existing alliances and driving new opportunities across audio-visual platforms with UMP’s global networks.”

Mighty Sound was lucky to work with great brands, agencies and production companies throughout the year, such as Google, Musashi, McDonalds, Binge, eBay, Jetstar and Afterpay with the likes of The Hallway, Joy, Streammotion, AW and Jack Nimble.

The studio encountered some interesting projects including an immersive installation piece for the Australian Museum, a couple of feature films, as well as its continued support of the Australian Screen Sound Guild, helping connect other engineers and designers with their peers across the country.

For Bang Bang Studios, exciting projects included a campaign for M&C Saatchi and the agency’s client Minderoo. The creative focussed on the concept of a plastic rain forecast, taking into account how a large amount of microplastics end up in the atmosphere then fall from the sky in rainfall. M&C Saatchi created ‘The Plastic Forecast’ that combined research on atmospheric plastic with daily weather forecasts to estimate the daily ‘plastic fall’.

Bang Bang Studios was given the challenge to create sound beds for the various forecasts and the amount of plastic rain that would fall on any given day. The team combined extensive foley recordings of plastic bags, beads and other items with natural sounds of wind, rain and thunder to complete the task.

Another great project was Suncorp’s ‘Team Girls’ campaign via Leo Burnett. The campaign focussed on the positive outcomes that girls achieve through sport. Sticking with sport, the studio also worked with Gemba for Toyota and its 20th year of partnership with the AFL. Titled ‘Feeling It’, the campaign zeros in on the emotions of being a footy player and fan. Bang Bang Studio’s Tristan Dewey composed the music and created the sound design.

Standouts for MassiveMusic included Samsung’s ‘Galaxy Buds’ campaign. Gurisik says: “We loved working on this global campaign with the We Are Social crew and director Ethan McLean. Just the nature of the spot allowed us to lean into the music and write something provocative and dynamic. I think we ended up with something quite unique that captured the sentiment of the campaign.”

Other great work included Destination NSW – Regional ‘The Murray’ spot and Hershey’s Chocolate World theme park ride. “Our team was fortunate enough to create the music and sound design for a theme park ride at Hershey’s Chocolate World in the US. Adrian Sergovich, Kat Acquilia and Simon Kane did the heavy lifting on this one, but it was a monster job and required a big team effort to pull it off. Experiential music and sound jobs are really fun to work on as they usually end up being highly creative jobs. The team also recorded a 65-piece orchestra for this project!”

This year the new Foxtel brand campaign was one of Smith & Western Sound’s standout projects. The studio created a beautiful piece of music to match a fantastical world. Says Higson: “It received a huge amount of airtime and is definitely one of our proudest moments this year.” The studio is also pleased with Coopers ‘Roll On’ via Taboo & Hooves, which won a Silver in the music category at AdFest. “It was a massive compliment the client had our original brand track pressed on to a vinyl and released on Spotify.”

Smith & Western Sound also produced some bold sonic logos for brands Binge via Thinkerbell and Bugatti via Interbrand, Germany. One final piece of work was via agency Howatson + Company for Belong. “We created the most unusual piece of music ever – Tibetan throat singing! We composed an iconic track to accompany a thumb as he scrolls his way up Mount Everest. I can’t tell you how many comments we’ve had from creatives around the world on this weird and wonderful composition.”

Sonar Music had the opportunity to work on some fantastic campaigns this year – a few standouts included Toohey’s ‘How Do You Feel?’, Budget Direct ‘Blown Away’ and Telstra ‘Turn Off Your Phone’.

Working recently with Collider on its epic global Nike ‘Here We Go’ TV campaign was a fantastic experience, utilising the Matildas’ famous team chant within the studio’s composition. Sonar also worked on the hugely successful Samsung ‘Flipvertising’ campaign, which picked up numerous awards including a Grand Prix at Cannes.

Says Bridge: “We were thrilled to work with Clemenger BBDO on arranging and recording a choir for our composition on Carlton Draught’s brilliant ‘Long Live The Keg’ campaign, and Telstra’s exciting ‘Turn Off Your Phone’ cinema-only campaign with the brilliant team at The Monkeys.”

In long form, Sonar Music had the opportunity to compose the score for Netflix’s hit television series Wellmania starring Celeste Barber, Disney +’s upcoming series The Artful Dodger, as well as scoring Russell Crowe’s feature film Poker Face and Lee Tamahori’s highly anticipated feature film The Convert.

This year Final Sound worked on Catch ‘Because’ via Sunday Gravy and Revolver, delivering a strong campaign with beautifully shot executions. Says Conway: “All three spots were rippers but our favourite was ‘Crocs’. Strong visuals follow the featured talent playing the ‘Warmer, Colder’ game, accompanied by a group of croc wearing chorists! We like the way the MADC judges put it: ‘A brilliant idea driven by sound – the audio is the idea’.”

The studio’s other favourite work was for client Sportsbet: “Not campaign specific but it’s always fun to work on their projects. Sportsbet executions deliver in cinematic style and the team is a delight to work with – strong creative, good peeps!”



For Mosaic Music + Sound, highlights included Modibodi ‘I’m Dying Inside’ for Howatson + Company and FINCH. Moses says: “We crafted all original music and sound design for this five part two-minute comedy series made exclusively for Tik-Tok and targeted directly at Gen-Z. We also wrote a different title track for each episode and even though each title sequence was only five seconds long, our philosophy was to write over-length lyric driven tracks in step with a Gen-Z audience. With a longer track, there is an authentic and legitimate feel to the songs written and we provided our client with a premium track to use.”

Klarna ‘Search and Compare’ was another highlight. “We crafted all original music and sound design for the launch campaign of the new feature on the Klarna app. Klarna has a unique brand sound and we had to make sure we were in lockstep with this. We came up with an interesting, quirky and Scandinavian style composition with unique instrumentation and composition, and our approach to sound design was to make it fresh, modern and bubbly. The client was so happy with our work, they thought it was too good to live online only and decided to run the commercial on television in Europe.”

And, lastly, Milkrun/Woolies Metro60 campaign ‘We’re Back Baby’. Mosaic Music + Sound was asked to sound design an 8-Bit inspired launch campaign to announce the second-coming of the Milkrun brand and its merger with Woolies Metro60. “The launch campaign was based around an 80’s arcade game, and we delved deep into the authentic and legit sounds of 8-Bit gaming to truly make this campaign come alive.”

For Squeak E. Clean Studios, Toyota GR ‘Metamorphosis’ was a collision of sound and music from the Sydney and Melbourne team. The studio needed to keep things both very real-sounding while also hyperbolizing the power and personality of the race-bred car. The studio broke barriers with the AUS Navy ad ‘Audio Ad You Can See’, which required the team to find a way to do something that had never been done in a commercial environment before. Encoding pictures into a soundtrack with no apparent distortion, and with the clarity to read a website and logo, it took hours of research, development and trial and error.

Squeak E. Clean Studios also created a unique and powerful vocal chant for FIFA WWC in a spot called ‘Unity Beat’. Says Henwood: “We utilised our all-female team of in-house composers and producers from our Sydney, Chicago, Melbourne and New York studios to compose and produce the Unity Beat. To hear it sung so passionately live in the stadiums at every game was really awesome to experience.” Lastly, the studio’s Macpac ‘Precarious’ ad stood out for the amount of time spent crafting a sound that listeners didn’t overtly notice, but that emphasised the laconic humour and empty space the commercials were set in.

For Heckler Sound, The Right To Race was definitely a highlight. The 30-minute film documents the story of Dominic Lobalu, a South Sudanese refugee and elite long-distance runner. The director Richard Bullock worked tirelessly to capture the exciting – and at times heart-wrenching – journey Lobalu made since leaving South Sudan as a child right up until present day, as he begins to capture the world’s attention in the lead-up to the next Olympics. Sponsored by On Running and launched at Cannes Lions 2023 on World Refugee Day, the documentary is the latest in a series of films Heckler Sound has collaborated on with director Richard Bullock – all of which cast their lens on South Sudanese and Kenyan members of the Olympic refugee team, and their incredible stories from a war-ravaged childhood to their current dreams of chasing Olympic glory.

Another standout was Maurice Blackburn – Exhibit Ai, a Cannes Bronze winning campaign. Utilising Ai to create strong imagery of actual accounts that couldn’t be provided as a result of media exclusion from Australian detention centres, the work helped bring awareness to this subject, which was important for all involved at Heckler Sound. Law says: “Initially, we composed something quite emotive and dark. We refined the creative down to a paired-back and emotionally suspended score, using a single instrument for the final part of the score in the manifesto. The instrument was futuristic in sound, juxtaposed with emotional chordal modulation to compliment the intensity of the AI imagery while not hand holding what the viewer/ listener should feel. All the voices were cast and recorded and were read from hundreds of actual transcripts of witness accounts from detainees.”

Allianz Swim was an opportunity for Heckler Sound to work on a brand campaign with Scoundrel director Grant Sputore, via Howatson + Company. Three hero 30-second films, beautifully shot, worked as part of a campaign to bring awareness to the fact that one in four Australian adults don’t know how to swim, showcasing those who are taking action later in life, via Allianz Swim Club. Each film initially had individual pieces of music referencing some heavyweights like David Bowie, ELO and Queen. The studio pulled together a series of original composed pieces that pay homage to that era while retaining individual authenticity. These were written and composed to sound like a released track and then cut to picture much like a licensed piece of music, paying attention to sync whilst still sounding like a published track. Putting forward original compositions at this level made this campaign exciting from a craft perspective.

Another big project for Heckler Sound was Black Wing, a collaboration with Revolver director Tim Main. A Screen NSW funded short film made entirely in Unreal Engine, it tells the story of a cormorant flying through a desolate hellscape, and in its struggle, a depiction of the global environmental crisis the planet is facing. Black Wing showcases Heckler Sound’s interweaving craft, whereby composition and sound design can play to their strengths, finding harmonious synchronicity in their approach to the soundscape and score.

Read the full article and more in the latest print edition of Campaign Brief, out this week…


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WMG CEO Says Boosting Streaming ARPU is ‘Very Important’


Warner Music Group CEO participated in Goldman Sachs’ Communacopia + Technology Conference in San Francisco this week and shared thoughts on an artist-centric payment model.

At Goldman Sachs’ Communacopia + Technology Conference in San Francisco on Wednesday (September 6), Warner Music Group CEO Robert Kyncl participated in a Q&A session where he touched on WMG’s international expansion strategy, his prior experience at Netflix and YouTube and his thoughts on what a shift to an “artist-centric payment model” would realistically look like.

Kyncl made clear his stance that creating a functional alternative to the currently pro-rata payment system will require greater cooperation between music companies and streaming services.

“If you’re on the DSP side, obviously you don’t want one partner with this, another partner with that. So you want some kind of a scalable model that can function,” said Kyncl. “So I think it’s amazing that there is a push, especially amongst the major music companies, to change both revenue per user as well as the pie distribution.”

Revenue per user at the DSP level and the distribution of the money allocated to royalties are the two primary factors in determining a new payment model, says Kyncl. He notes that revenue per user among streaming services is “lagging inflation today” and that if Spotify’s monthly premium subscription fee had maintained alongside inflation since the service’s US launch in 2011, it would cost $13.25 today as opposed to the $10.99 it now charges — up from $9.99 a few months ago.

In Kyncl’s estimation, Spotify’s average monthly revenue per user is currently around $7.50, and there is a “tremendous opportunity” to raise that number. Spotify reported an ARPU of around $4.58 per user in Q2 2023 — but that number includes ad-supported users.

“Focusing on the revenue per user is a very, very important part of what the industry needs to do,” said Kyncl, who also confirmed the recent news of a joint venture between WMG and Eliot Grainge’s 10K Projects, in which WMG will take a 51% stake in the LA-based label.

“We’re bringing incredible talent both on the artist side as well as on the executive side into our pool,” said Kyncl. “Obviously, we continue to recruit and invest (in) technology talent as well as to set up the company.”

Kyncl’s call for recurring price hikes recommends the industry take a page out of Netflix’s playbook, whereby the company has systematically raised prices, especially in the US market, since 2013.

Since the streaming company rolled out its first streaming-only plan that excluded its mail-order movie service in 2011, it has incrementally increased its rates through seven different price hikes — from $7.99 to $15.49, or nearly 94% in slightly over a decade.

“The amount of work and innovation that happens around price optimization (at) Netflix is incredible,” said Kyncl. “I think we all have a lot to learn from that, and we should adopt it.”

Kyncl also touched on the issue of generative AI in the music industry — such as the fake Drake and Weeknd collaboration that went viral earlier this year.

“I think the primary responsibility sits with the consumption platforms — especially the open consumption platforms where the content will end up,” says Kyncl, referring to platforms where any user can upload content, namely YouTube and TikTok.

Kyncl compares the AI-generated content issues today to the user-generated content that grew 15-20 years ago when YouTube started gaining significant footing in the culture.

“We built a very large multiple end dollar business for our partners from fan-uploaded content of their copyrights, that was using their copyrights,” Kyncl says. “It required technology, and deal-making, and partnership and all of that, and we applied all and built it.”

Interestingly, Kyncl’s view on the development of AI violating copyright is at odds with many other rights holders, who see the developers of AI technology as carrying the brunt of the responsibility not to infringe copyright.

Several authors have launched lawsuits against OpenAI on the grounds that the company behind the cultural phenomenon ChatGPT infringed on their copyright when they used copyrighted works as part of their AI-training process.

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Multi-Platinum, Award-Winning Songwriter Adds a Powerful YA


Not My Fault by S.B. Frasca

As a multi-platinum, award-winning songwriter, the most rewarding part of S.B. Frasca’s career has been commiserating with young hearts to shape raw, relatable emotions into words that can be sung at the top of your lungs. So is it any wonder that her debut novel, Not My Fault (BookBaby), evokes those very same feelings?

This coming-of-age YA novel tells the story of Hy, a victim of bullying who turns to street art as a way to cope with his everyday struggles. With its searingly honest portrayal of bullying and other teen issues, Not My Fault is a cathartic read that will make readers of every age feel seen.

We got a chance to talk to Frasca about the importance of a creative outlet and how she hopes to inspire others with her work.

Q: While you’re more than familiar with writing music, this is your first novel. What compelled you to write Not My Fault?

A: I love that creativity can bleed and lead in different directions. Words and emotional expression are obviously threads, but I keep myself entertained by finding new platforms. I’ve also really been informed by visual art, the impetus for the storyline. This novel dared me to tug on heartstrings without the surge of a melody. It challenged me to hold both my own interest and the interest of others longer than three and a half minutes. Here’s hoping I succeeded.

Q: How would you describe your protagonist, Hy?

A: I trust readers will find Hy to be somewhat enigmatic yet personally relatable. I was honored this shy, talented teenager allowed me to tell such a vulnerable story, and I promised both of us I’d do my best to maintain a modicum of privacy. So to find an authentic voice, I discovered that sometimes true dimension can come from circumvention, with the results feeling more original. Note: dimension and circumvention aren’t words I would ever rhyme in a song, but I’m definitely not afraid of quirky, unconventional grammar.

Q: You have an illustrious background of songwriting with some incredible credits and collaborators. Did your work on children’s music for Disney and other projects influence how you see the social dynamics of Hy and his peers in Not My Fault?

A: No, I’m just really immature. Kidding, not kidding. For better or worse, the young heart is such a rich playground. I strive to express raw, amplified feelings in an honest, direct and hopefully fresh way. But even though my writing was connecting with teens way before I was raising two of them, it may not be a coincidence that this novel happened at this point in my life. I’ve got a front row seat at the moment.

Q: Was there a particular scene that you found particularly challenging or rewarding to write?

A: The bullying was difficult to stomach, especially in the cafeteria. I had a visceral reaction to channeling some long-buried first and second-hand school experiences for these scenes, but probably a good thing for authenticity. And all was right in the world when Hy was able to turn the cafeteria back into a safe space. So, yeah, there’s the rewarding part.

Q: What do you hope readers take away from Not My Fault?

A: To be insecure is to be human. But if there is a creative focus, a way to distract and redirect frustration into something beautiful or meaningful, it’s a gift. Both empowering and healing, it can even open the doors of empathy for the people projecting their insecurities on others. Art in its many expressions can truly change, even save lives.

Q: What’s next on your list, if you can tell us about it?

A: Yes, very exciting. A rising Pop star with all the trimmings. Obviously right in my wheelhouse. Stay tuned.

As a multi-platinum, award-winning songwriter, the most rewarding part of S.B. Frasca’s career has been commiserating with young hearts to shape raw, relatable emotions into words that can be sung at the top of your lungs. Sabelle’s songs appear on a multitude of albums, compilations, and Film & TV soundtracks; and she’s won ASCAP/BMI, Dove, Songwriter Hall of Fame and Parents’ Choice awards. Raised by visual artists, it was understood that art in any form makes life worth living. Her first novel, Not My Fault, is a Hy-five to that! Sabelle now lives in her own head alongside her husband, two tolerant teenagers and two really needy Labradors. She doesn’t want any part of the ‘mom jeans’ thing.

Not My Fault by S.B. Frasca

Publish Date: June 6, 2023

Genre: Fiction, Young Adult

Author: S.B. Frasca

Page Count: 272 pages

Publisher: BookBaby

ISBN: 9781667896779

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