| | No Comments

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 (

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…


Source link


Politicians Love Their Music. The Musicians Don’t Always


GOP presidential hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy courted trouble with the rapper Eminem when he spit an offbeat rendition of “Lose Yourself” in Iowa last month. Like other outraged musicians, Eminem through his representatives sent the campaign a cease-and-desist letter.

Candidates have a long tradition of playing songs at events in an attempt to look cool or to offer hints about their approach or platform. Artists, however, don’t always want to be pulled into campaigns—especially when their politics don’t align. The result can be embarrassing or even lead to a legal spat.

In a 1984 speech during his re-election campaign, Ronald Reagan name-checked Bruce Springsteen, whose working-class anthems had struck a chord. Reagan said the music offered a hopeful message about the American dream.

Springsteen pushed back against that characterization. One of his most famous songs, “Born in the U.S.A.,” released that year, carries a dour message about suffering Vietnam War veterans that belies its cheerful sound.

Political hopefuls typically get a music license for a catalog of songs they can play at campaign events. Similarly, radio station owners, grocery stores and others pay for blanket licenses to use certain songs. Songwriters and music publishers who own copyrights can remove their tracks from a license agreement. Politicians often, but don’t always, listen to those requests. They can invite lawsuits by continuing to use excluded songs.

“This all gets very complicated,” said Marc D. Ostrow, a senior counsel at Romano Law in New York who focuses on the music industry.

The pop-rock band Orleans has been pulled into campaigns that its founder, John Hall, didn’t care for. He said he found out by watching CNN in 2004 that the Bush campaign selected as an anthem “Still the One,” a song he co-wrote for the band.

“The first thing that crossed my mind is, ‘Why didn’t I know about this?’ ” said Hall, who is also a former Democratic congressman from New York.

Hall said Bush’s team complied with a cease-and-desist letter to stop using the song. Bush’s office didn’t return requests for comment.

Hall said people shouldn’t assume they can just take an artist’s music.

“A number of people could have asked and we might’ve said yes, but President George W. was not at that time one of those people,” Hall said.

This summer’s hit song “Rich Men North of Richmond,” which enthralled many on the right with its lines about selfish politicians and overweight people on welfare, showed up in a question at last month’s Republican presidential debate. Afterward, the musician, Oliver Anthony, posted a video saying his song was being weaponized and that the track was about political figures such as the candidates.

Most of the high-profile music conflicts have involved GOP candidates. In one instance involving a Democrat, Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign agreed to stop playing a song by the R&B duo Sam & Dave at singer Sam Moore’s request. Moore later performed for the Obamas.

Democratic candidates have generally had more support from the music industry. Stevie Wonder, for example, appeared at Obama campaign events. The singer-songwriter Rachel Platten gave her blessing for Hillary Clinton to adopt “Fight Song” as her 2016 anthem.

Platten said, “For a song that I wrote to mean so much to so many men and women of all ages, nationalities and faith is a blessing that is not lost on me.”

Ramaswamy, 38, won’t get another chance on the campaign trail to flex his youthful bona fides with a song by Eminem, born Marshall Mathers, one of the best-known rappers of his generation. Eminem asked Broadcast Music Inc., a performance-rights company representing him, to remove his music from its list of songs approved for Ramaswamy’s campaign. BMI is one of the two main U.S. companies handling music-licensing disputes. The company declined to comment.

“Vivek just got on the stage and cut loose. To the American people’s chagrin, we will have to leave the rapping to the real Slim Shady,” said Tricia McLaughlin, a spokeswoman for Ramaswamy, referring to a nickname for Eminem.

A spokesman for Eminem said, “The letter speaks for itself.”

Former President Donald Trump has received a truckful of similar letters from music stars including Aerosmith and the Rolling Stones. Trump played Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” at rallies even after the British singer publicly objected.

Neil Young, the “Rockin’ in the Free World” singer, sued Trump’s campaign in 2020 for playing his songs at political rallies, years after protesting that Trump used his music without permission. The lawsuit was dismissed later that year.

George W. Bush, John McCain and Mike Huckabee also received cease-and-desist letters during their presidential campaigns.

“You have taken something of mine and used it to promote ideas to which I am opposed,” Tom Scholz of the rock band Boston wrote in a 2008 letter to Huckabee. Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, ended his GOP presidential campaign soon after, resolving the dispute.

If candidates use unlicensed songs at political events, they would be violating copyright law. They may do it anyway.

Like Young, artists on occasion sue politicians for using their music. Singer-songwriter Jackson Browne won a settlement in 2009 from McCain. Charlie Crist settled with David Byrne of the Talking Heads and posted a video in 2011 apologizing to him for using his song without permission during his Senate campaign.

Representatives for the artists and politicians in this article either declined to comment or didn’t return requests for comment.

Hall, of the group Orleans, said he learned four years after the Bush episode that the McCain campaign also used his song at an event. At Hall’s request, the Republican didn’t use the song again.

“Some people go, ‘Cool, you’re getting more publicity,’ ” Hall said. “They don’t understand how hard you worked on the song, how hard you worked on the record and how precious it is to an artist.”

Write to Alyssa Lukpat at

Politicians Love Their Music. The Musicians Don’t Always Love Them Back.

View Full Image

Politicians Love Their Music. The Musicians Don’t Always Love Them Back.

Source link


Are Gangs Laundering Money On Digital Services? – Billboard


In 2022, George White spoke about streaming fraud during a panel at the annual Music Biz conference in Nashville. Few music industry executives were willing to discuss the problem publicly at the time. This made several comments from White — who serves as vp of music licensing/head of publishing for SiriusXM and Pandora — all the more head-turning: This type of fraud, which usually involves the use of bots or stolen accounts to generate fake plays for audio, often resembled “a criminal enterprise,” White said. 

“Aggressive foreign nationals may well be responsible for generating royalties and funding” through streaming fraud, White added later. “Is it funding drug operations? Is it funding terrorism abroad? Who knows?”

At the conference, White’s “aggressive foreign nationals” line drew laughs from the crowd. But it appears less funny now: Svenska Dagbladet published an article this week indicating that Swedish law enforcement believes that gangs use streaming platforms to launder money related to their criminal activities. 

“Spotify has become an ATM for them,” an anonymous officer told the paper. “There is a direct connection to the gangs and therefore also to the deadly violence.” (“We have no evidence that money laundering occurred via Spotify,” a spokesperson for the streamer told Svenska Dagbladet.)

The paper also spoke with criminals who detailed the alleged money laundering scheme. Those sources said the gangs take money earned via illicit means and convert it into Bitcoin. They then use that currency to buy fake streams for artists they’re connected to. The royalties they subsequently collect from streaming services — while the article focuses on Spotify, this sort of fraud is an industry-wide issue that impacts all the streaming platforms — come out clean. 

The links between streaming fraud and “criminal enterprise” have been brought up outside of industry panels at SXSW and Music Biz. John Phelan, director of the International Confederation of Music Publishers, declared bluntly in 2020 that “there is a black market for pay-for-play.” 

In 2022, Brazilian authorities launched a sweeping operation to shut down sites that sold bot-generated streams. Although those sites were based in Brazil, the stream-juicing took place in Russia and Russian hackers helped with the efforts, according to Paulo Rosa, president of Pro-Música, Brazil’s trade organization for record labels and an IFPI affiliate.

“Digital music today is a fairly soft target for sophisticated and even relatively unsophisticated bad actors,” Morgan Hayduk, founder/co-CEO of Beatdapp, explained earlier this year. (Beatdapp, based in Vancouver, builds fraud detection software for labels, distributors and streaming services all over the world.) “They leverage the same tools used for other types of online fraud, like stolen account credentials and bots, to extract revenues from a large and growing online industry.” Beatdapp estimates that up to 10% of all streams may be fraudulent. 

This year, the U.S. music industry started to publicly call for better fraud mitigation efforts, name-checking the problem on earnings calls with financial analysts. On Wednesday, when Deezer announced plans to roll out a new streaming model in partnership with Universal Music Group, “tackling fraud” was one of four key pillars. Deezer promised “continuing to drive an updated, and stricter, proprietary fraud detection system, removing incentives for bad actors, and protecting streaming royalties for artists.”

“All the major DSPs are pretty active and pretty open to listening and engaging on the topic,” a senior executive told Billboard earlier this year. “Having strong technology controls, rules, and policies in place, and adding consequences when you violate those, are incredibly important components.” 

Svenska Dagbladet‘s report will presumably add a new layer of urgency for those hoping to minimize streaming fraud. But it can be hard to tell what, if any, progress is being made. The biggest streaming services share little to no information about the level of fraudulent activities on their platforms. 

The Centre National de la Musique (CNM), an organization that operates under France’s Ministry of Culture, published a report in January investigating the amount of streaming fraud in the French music industry. But Apple Music, YouTube and Amazon did not share data about fraud on their platforms. Deezer has been unusually transparent about its efforts to fight fraud relative to its peers; its executives have said that 7% of daily streams are identified as fake. 

A Spotify spokesperson told Svenska Dagbladet that “less than one percent of all streams on Spotify have been determined to be tampered with,” but added, “In order not to make it easier for someone trying to manipulate the system, we do not share details about specific methods.”

Source link


Sony and Universal-owned production music firm APM Music


APM Music, which provides production music and soundtracks used in various media projects, has teamed up with music technology startup Incantio to enhance the music discovery process.

Co-founded by CEO Danny Newcomb, Incantio describes itself as a “direct-to-consumer music platform that seeks to make the music and sync licensing business available to every musician and creator.”

The Seattle-based music technology startup provides recommendation tools aimed at improving music discovery.

“Employing AI technology to curate and recommend music, Incantio has a new path of discovery for both commercial creatives and user generated content makers,” the startup said.

Commenting on the partnership with APM, Newcomb said: “APM has a great catalog of music, and we are excited to work with them both for their long experience in working with content creators as well as building a successful production music business.”

“We at Incantio are excited to announce this partnership so we can continue to further expand our presence in the music industry.”

“As musicians ourselves, we are working to reinvent the licensing business for music by creating a marketplace that fosters direct connections between artists and content creators.”

Danny Newcomb, Incantio

“As musicians ourselves, we are working to reinvent the licensing business for music by creating a marketplace that fosters direct connections between artists and content creators. Our mission is to create a new way for independent artists and creators to do business and through technology we aim to make the most artist-friendly music licensing platform in the world,” Newcomb said.

For APM, the alliance is part of its strategy of “partnering with technology startups who align with our goals of illuminating artist’s work and helping our clients find the right song for their project more quickly,” said APM Music CEO Adam Taylor.

Jointly owned by Sony Music Publishing and Universal Music Publishing Group, APM holds a catalog of 1.3 million tracks sourced from 120 libraries, and says its music is used in a wide range of media, from indie films to blockbuster studio releases, TV shows, commercials, video games, and online content.

Through the partnership with Incantio, APM said it seeks to augment and refine its search capabilities to make it easier for users to explore “hidden gems” within its catalog.

“I am pleased to announce a new partnership with Seattle-based Incantio, an AI company whose founder is coming into the tech space after a long career in the music industry. By enhancing human abilities for music searching and editing through new technology, we can better serve our libraries, composers, and clients,” Taylor said.

“By enhancing human abilities for music searching and editing through new technology, we can better serve our libraries, composers, and clients.”

Adam Taylor, APM Music

Back in July, APM Music partnered with Sweden-headquartered Reactional Music Group, which provides music for gaming. In 2021, Reactional launched a patented technology called Reactional Music Engine, which allows gamers to personalize in-game music.

Music Business Worldwide

Source link


Music, Memory, an Old Flame, and Alzheimer’s – “A Good


Music, Memory, an Old Flame, and Alzheimer’s – “A Good Day”, a New Musical to be Presented by Shawnee Playhouse – Music Industry Today – EIN Presswire

Trusted News Since 1995

A service for music industry professionals
Saturday, September 2, 2023


3+ Million Readers

News Monitoring and Press Release Distribution Tools

Press Releases

Events & Conferences

Source link


Eminem wants Ramaswamy to stop using his music on the


Rapper Eminem asked Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy to stop using his music on the campaign trail, according to the rapper’s music licenser.

In an Aug. 23 letter obtained by the Daily Mail, music licenser Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) told Ramaswamy’s campaign lawyer it was contacted by Eminem “objecting to the Vivek Ramaswamy’s campaign use of Eminem’s musical compositions (the ‘Eminem Works’) and requesting that BMI remove all Eminem Works from the Agreement.” 

BMI confirmed to The Hill a letter was sent to Ramaswmay’s campaign, and it has since removed all of Eminem’s musical works from the Vivek 2024 campaign license.

Vivek’s campaign and BMI had entered into a music licensing agreement for Eminem’s music on May 24, according to the letter. A representative for BMI said the letter “serves as notice that the Eminem Works are excluded from the Agreement effective immediately,” and any performance of Eminem’s works by Vivek’s campaign will be considered a “material breach of the agreement.”

The cease-and-desist letter comes after Ramaswamy went viral at the Iowa State Fair earlier this month for singing along to Eminem’s “Lose Yourself,” which he told Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) was his favorite walkout song. 

In a statement shared with The Hill, Ramaswamy’s campaign said “Vivek just got on the stage and cut loose.”

“To the American people’s chagrin, we will have to leave the rapping to the real slim shady,” the campaign statement said.

In an interview with The New York Times earlier this month, Ramaswamy addressed his love for Eminem and said he used to perform under the stage name “Da Vek the Rapper” while an undergrad at Harvard University.  

“I did not grow up in the circumstances he did, but the idea of being an underdog, people having low expectations of you, that part speaks to me,” Ramaswamy, whose parents emigrated from India, told The New York Times. 

Source link


Eminem has beef with GOP presidential contender Vivek


Slim Shady is throwing some shade at Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy.

Eminem, the rapper sometimes known as Slim Shady, is protesting the fact that hip hop-loving Ramaswamy has performed his work in public. Most recently, Ramaswamy rapped “Lose Yourself,” a song that won Eminem both Oscar and Grammy awards, at an appearance at the Iowa State Fair.

BMI, the music-licensing company, sent Ramaswamy’s team a letter on Eminem’s behalf saying the artist is “objecting” to the use of his works in this context. In addition, the letter states that Eminem, whose real name is Marshall B. Mathers III, has requested that BMI remove all his works from the agreement with “political entities or organizations” that allows for such usage.

“BMI will consider any performance of the Eminem Works by the Vivek 2024 campaign from this date forward to be a material breach of the Agreement,” says the letter. (MarketWatch was able to obtain a copy of the communication.)

Officials with BMI confirmed the details in the letter, but had no additional comment.

A spokesperson for Ramaswamy’s campaign made light of the situation, saying in a statement: “Vivek just got on the stage and cut loose. To the American people’s chagrin, we will have to leave the rapping to the real Slim Shady.”

See also: John Fogerty joins the likes of Tom Petty, Rihanna and Prince’s estate in telling Trump’s campaign to stop playing his songs

Ramaswamy also joked about the BMI letter, tweeting lyrics to Eminem’s hit single “The Real Slim Shady” saying, “He didn’t just say what I think he did, did he?”

This is hardly the first time a politician — or even a presidential candidate — has run afoul with a musical act. During President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign in 2020, groups and artists ranging from the Rolling Stones to John Fogerty registered complaints about the top Republican’s use of their songs.

In particular, Fogerty objected to Trump’s use of “Fortunate Son,” an anti-war anthem Fogerty wrote for Creedence Clearwater Revival.

“I wrote this song because, as a veteran, I was disgusted that some people were allowed to be excluded from serving our country because they had access to political and financial privilege. I also wrote about wealthy people not paying their fair share of taxes,” Fogerty wrote on the Twitter (now X) social-media platform. “Mr. Trump is a prime example of both of these issues.”

The issue goes beyond Republican politicians, however. For example, R&B tenor Sam Moore, of the duo Sam and Dave, asked Barack Obama to stop playing “Hold On, I’m Coming’” during his 2008 presidential campaign. (Audience members were changing the lyrics to, “Hold on, Obama’s comin’.”)

At the time, Moore wrote, “I have not agreed to endorse you for the highest office in our land…My vote is a very private matter between myself and the ballot box.”

But many times, artists have little recourse in stopping politicians from using their music. That’s because most artists give rights to perform their music to performance rights organizations (PROs), such as BMI, from which venues and events can then license the songs — and that means the artists don’t need to be consulted about the playing of their music at events. So political campaigns can pay for the rights and use these songs, even if the artist objects.

Source link


Vivek Drops Eminem Lyric in Response to Cease and Desist


Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy dropped an Eminem lyric on the rapper in response to a legal move to prevent him from using the rapper’s music on the campaign trail.

Ramaswamy has made karaoke-style performances of Eminem raps, as he did when he broke into a live rendition of the hit “Lose Yourself” at the Iowa State Fair, a well-known part of his campaign persona.

But Eminem licensor BMI let Ramaswamy know they don’t “Stan” his performances by sending a cease and desist letter Monday that warned they would “consider any performance of the Eminem Works by the Vivek 2024 campaign from this date forward to be a material breach of the Agreement for which BMI reserves all rights and remedies with respect thereto.”

On Tuesday’s edition of MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports, host Andrea Mitchell asked about the beef, and Ramaswamy said he would abide by the rapper’s wishes.

But Ramaswamy used an Eminem lyric to suggest the rapper was not being true to himself by opposing this use of his music — and posing himself as an early-Eminem-style renegade whom Shady may someday come to agree with:

ANDREA MITCHELL: Let me ask you finally about Eminem. They’ve sent you a cease and desist through the music licensing company to stop using Lose Yourself on the trail. Have you agreed to move on?

VIVEK RAMASWAMY: Yeah. Look, I think that I’ll respect his wishes, but I would just say: Will the real Slim Shady please stand up?

Eminem, in his rise, used to be a guy who actually stood up to the establishment and said the things that the establishment didn’t want him to say. I think the fact that my political viewpoints may differ from his, I think people change over the course of their lives.

But I have hope for him that he will one day rediscover the renegade that made him great. And I’m rooting for that success in his life.

ANDREA MITCHELL: Well, Ramaswamy, thank you for your time today. To be continued, let’s have more opportunity to talk. And good luck out there on the campaign trail.

Watch above via MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports.

Have a tip we should know?

Source link


YR Media Launches Music Licensing Initiative to Benefit


YR Media Launches Music Licensing Initiative to Benefit Underrepresented Creators – Music Industry Today – EIN Presswire

Trusted News Since 1995

A service for music industry professionals
Friday, September 1, 2023


3+ Million Readers

News Monitoring and Press Release Distribution Tools

Press Releases

Events & Conferences

Source link


Rapper Eminem slammed after demanding Vivek Ramaswamy stop


Rapper Eminem personally demanded that Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy stop using his music at campaign events.

Ramaswamy made headlines earlier this month when he rapped one of Eminem’s legendary hit songs, “Lose Yourself,” during an impromptu performance at the Iowa State Fair.

Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images

That was the first — and now last — time that Ramaswamy could legally perform Eminem’s songs on the campaign trail.

Last week, music licensing firm Broadcast Music Inc. informed Ramaswamy’s campaign that Eminem, whose real name is Marshall Mathers, requested his music be removed from the library to which Ramaswamy’s campaign had purchased rights.

“This letter serves as notice to you … that BMI has received a communication from Marshall B. Mathers, III, professionally known as Eminem, objecting to the Vivek Ramaswamy campaign’s use of Eminem’s musical compositions,” the letter states. “BMI will consider any performance of the Eminem Works by the Vivek 2024 campaign from this date forward to be a material breach of the Agreement for which BMI reserves all rights and remedies with respect thereto.”

Eminem’s decision is not unusual. More than two dozen artists, for example, demanded Donald Trump stop playing their music at his campaign events and political rallies.

But Eminem’s decision drew criticism because, in the eyes of critics, his demand contradicts the attitude that his early work, like “Lose Yourself,” promotes.

  • “[C]razy how Eminem wrote Mosh and is now tripping out that the anti-war guy is singing his song. Politics is a weird thing,” one person said.
  • “[S]ince when did eminem become the karen he use to rap about,” one person criticized.
  • “You have to understand how hilarious it is watching Eminem turn into a middle aged Wokescold when you are old enough to remember the early days when your parents were losing their minds about his music lol,” one person reacted.
  • “Eminem has gone from rapping about murdering his wife, to crying about a republican rapping his song on the campaign trail.

    The real slim shady stood up and sold out,” another person criticized.

  • “Eminem has turned into such a dork that he makes Vivek look cool,” one person said.
  • “Eminem, for whatever reason, went from being an edgy, anti-establishment lefty to a safe, trendy one. He is acting in a spiteful, passive-aggressive fashion — using lawyers to vocalize a political disagreement — much as other trendy lefties do,” another person criticized.
  • “There are thousands of covers of Eminem’s ‘Lose Yourself’ on YouTube.

    Many have tens of millions of views.

    Yet Eminem hasn’t hit any of these folks with copyright strikes.

    Why is he targeting a dorky Republican presidential candidate? What is it about Vivek that’s *so* offensive?” one person noted.

Ramaswamy’s campaign responded to the letter by citing Eminem lyrics.

“Vivek just got on the stage and cut loose,” said campaign spokeswoman Tricia McLaughlin. “To the American people’s chagrin, we will have to leave the rapping to the real Slim Shady.”

Like Blaze News? Bypass the censors, sign up for our newsletters, and get stories like this direct to your inbox. Sign up here!

Source link