David Taylor has done a few things worthy of envy. First, he played College Baseball at USC. Then, having become bored with the diamond, he moved to University of Arizona and on a whim joined the Wildcat football team. No small achievement, on either end, but perhaps not the everyone’s dream.
More universal, then, might be David’s current job. He spends his days listening to new music and thinking about how it might translate to commercial use. In short, he’s responsible for that moment where music clicks with moving image and finds the right balance and tone to articulate a products feeling. Or, more basically, that moment where the consumer goes “I remember that song from that commercial.”
I spoke with David to learn a little more about his background and the process behind a job that quite frankly sounds amazing.
Read the full interview after the click…
SL: What’s your background in music and what brought you to selecting music for advertisements?
David: I originally started out writing music videos and collaborating with a number of directors on music videos, right out of college. My father, actually, was a music video director, so I’ve always had a fondness for music and media. When I got out of college, I had this desire, I thought it was interesting. I sought it out and got a job working for a company called Palomar Pictures. I worked with a bunch of a directors on things like Moby videos. Some Britney Spears, Weezer, a bunch of rock stuff. Then the whole thing went under, and one of the directors I got along well with got a deal to do some movies with Miramax films. He brought me on board and we did a movie. I’d helped him on soundtracks before, unofficially picked a bunch of music, and then worked with him for four years. Randomly I ran into a mutual friend that works at an advertising company and we got to talking, and he eventually hired me as a creative consultant… or my official title was content creative… and that consists of helping with alternative advertising. Something outside the traditional of TV commercials. It was a new way of thinking, and I’ve started to make a career of it. Older advertising firms have a very old school mentality where everything has to be separate. Creatives don’t really don’t talk to the media people and vice versa. So, the way traditional advertising works is – you do your piece, and then hand it to someone else who does their piece. There is kind of a disconnect. It doesn’t always always click. I like to work in such a way where everything is collaborative.
I started to think about ads in a non-traditional way, and found some success in picking music and have slowly transitioned to only doing that. I’ve now been doing it for five years. A lot of music I pick before the advertisement is created, so its built around the ad.
SL: What’s the process for finding the correct music for an ad, but since you seem to do that in reverse, how then do you work with the other side of the project to sell them, in a sense, the music you’ve picked?
David: Say we have an ad coming up, we get briefed on the positioning, what the product is and what positioning we’d like to take on it. I kind of look at it from a musical point as what’s the voice or tone it should take. I start pulling music music based on the brief and play it for creatives and the president of our company. A lot of times a piece of music that I pull has a specific tone or meaning that will inform the ad and the creative. It will shape the ad in a very specific way. Or, I’ll keep on pulling music and it won’t work. The first piece might not work and I’ll refine it until something works. This is the more typical method of working. Traditionally music is a post production process, with us its more of a “at the same time” or “before,” not necessarily a post thing. With TV and movies its like “ok, we shoot it,” then we give it to an editor and put music on it. With us its more collaborative.
SL: How do you find new music or discover new bands? I assume you are in New York for CMJ.
David: I do it a number of different ways. The majority of my time, a read blogs a lot. Its a good way to find little niche spots of music. Things that buzzing or breaking around the internet. I go to a lot of blogs. I have a lot of positive relationships with labels and A&R and management, people that send me music and know what I like. They send me early stuff, sometimes people their looking to sign or bands they like but can’t sign. I read a lot of European magazines, as their a little more daring and accepting of new sounds. I speak to some people in London frequently.
A big part of good music is if the band can play live, so I try and get out and see a lot of music. Go to CMJ, South by Southwest, and stuff. Often its just luck. What bands are buzzing now, what are people reacting to, what are people wanting to see? Where is music going? Trying to be ahead in that. People in NY or LA are very forthright. They are a little more adventurous.
SL: Is it important to use sounds that are undiscovered or under the radar?
David: It is important in the sense, I just like to find new, innovative, cool music. It’s definitely important, but we’ve had success with music that isn’t new, but might be overlooked. A lot of bands, like I wouldn’t be scared to use a band that has been out for a year or two but has been kind of swept under the rug. Perhaps the public wasn’t ready or wasn’t into it at that point. A rediscovery of a sound. It’s not super important, but it is easier. There is always new stuff, and it is harder to look for stuff that has been over-looked than it is to find new stuff. I have a fun time breaking new bands. Everyone in music likes to be the person to say “I found that,” or “I helped them break.” It’s fun to do and you can kind of be the person that says “That’s the band that was on that ad,” and that’s how you know it.
SL: Any bands you think our readers should know about?
David: I’ve been seeing a lot of the XX. They’re a cool band. From the outsiders perspective they are a bit hard, kind of dark and moody. Their lead singers voice is really interesting, with traces of Tricky, very brooding.
I was impressed with this band called Golden Filters that played the other night. It’s kind of a poppy record, but translated a little more fun live than I would have thought. I wanted to see DeLorean last night, they are a fun Spanish band. Almost electro. It was packed, I couldn’t get in.
SL: And, to finish, what are your favorite Aether products?
I live in LA, so it’s not as cold. I always use the Space Hoodie. It’s like silk, when you wear it you don’t even feel like your wearing something. It’s definitely warm. For that type of jacket its my favorite. I ride a lot to work, its easy to use during commuting. I surf a lot as well, so its something I use on after I get out of the water to warm up quick.