Often in conversation I’m asked, “What exactly is a Music Designer?” A simplified response is that I create custom playlists for client brands across the United States. The usual reply back is, “So you get to listen to music all day and make playlists?” Yes and no. We do, in fact, listen to an insane amount of music (much like an A&R Rep at a major label does) and, yes, we create playlists for a variety of clients, but the role of a Music Designer goes much deeper. In this blog, I thought I would take a closer look at the role and what it actually entails.
As Music Designers, we are responsible for the creation and ongoing delivery of a catalog of music programs (many of which are on DirectTV & DISH) as well as custom programming for not only national but international client brands. On top of this, we are expected to keep up with music trends, and to work directly with licensing, publishers, and both indie and major labels, to develop client and music industry relationships. A typical week often involves meeting with marketing managers, creative teams and sales managers, to deliver a product (in our case, a music program) unique to the brand. Here in the office, we call it Audio Identity. Another way to look at it is understanding a company’s marketing and branding strategies. An important piece of the puzzle is to look closely at the environment as if it were under a microscope. Music Designers will go so far as to look at lighting, layout, color schemes, websites, and social media sites. We also study the demographics, hours of operation, lifestyle aspects (of the target audience), and dwell times in the establishment. Why do we do this, you may ask? It helps us to gain better insight into the in-store experience and overall general ambiance. If, for example, the average dwell time is 7 minutes, than the client may want their overhead music to have high energy and faster tempos. Once we have gained enough understanding of the client’s vision, our creativity comes to life by capturing a unique sound specific to the client brand.
On the technical side, we work in multiple music programs and work closely with our Audio Production team to deliver the best quality of sound. Building a program or “custom playlist” is not the same as if you were building one in the comfort of your own home. For us creating a program involves creating dayparts, playlclocks, rules, schedules, calendars, fade-ins/fade-outs, artist separation, assembling holiday music and navigating the requirements of special promotions. All of this is accomplished with precision and attention to detail.
Having a passion for music is definitely a requirement for this job, but most, if not all, of us have previous music industry experience and have worked in marketing, advertising, branding and radio at some point in our careers. Coming from the record label side and having 15+ years’ experience managing major brands and artists has helped me better grasp the competitive landscape of this industry and to truly deliver a product that is by design. When you tie together all of the knowledge that our creative team has, along with the passion and creativity, you can see why we are clearly leaders in this industry and I’m proud to be a part of it.
– Submitted by Erick Bohorquez, Music Design