Nick Keenan is the music lead for VML’s North America offices, responsible for overseeing creative music execution, music supervision, music production and deal negotiation across the agency network and client roster including New Balance, INTEL, Wendy’s, Tennessee Department of Tourism and many more. Career achievements include uniting brands and artists such as Samsung & Sylvan Esso, Tennessee Department of Tourism and Dolly Parton, McDonald’s & SOPHIE, Nintendo and Louis The Child, many pieces of which have been recognized by top-tier publications such as AdAge, Adweek, Ads of The World, SPIN, Billboard, Pitchfork, Fast Company, The Guardian, Pigeons and Planes, and many others. His work has previously received awards and shortlists across major industry shows including Cannes, the AAA, One Show, AICP, and AMP awards. Before joining VML North America, Nick was Music Producer for Leo Burnett, where duties included music supervision and music production across global clients Samsung, Marlboro, P&G, McDonald’s, and others. Prior to finding himself at the intersection of advertising and music, Nick was an independent artist with original releases and remixes via Columbia Records and French electronic music label, Kitsuné (Bloc Party, Phoenix, Boys Noize, La Roux). In addition to Nick’s work in the advertising and music community, his free time is spent working with emerging artists to help springboard their careers through production/composition, music business workshops and mentorship.
7 Tips For Sync
(c) 2020 by Nick Keenan for NARIP
Nick Keenan is Head of Music at VMLY&R, a global ad agency, and here are a few of his tips.
- Create GREAT music.
Have you ever heard a truly “bad” song in an Apple commercial or HBO series? Always be learning and honing your craft.
- Metadata is key.
This includes artist name, song title, writers, contact info (email and phone) and what percent is represented by whom (is it one-stop or does the supervisor / department have to reach out to Kobalt, Warner, etc.?).
- Do Your Research.
Your chances of landing a sync are far greater when you research what shows / brands / films / games a supervisor has worked on and more importantly, is actively working on. Do your research and have self-awareness of which lane best fits your music. Maybe it’s film/tv more than ads. Maybe it’s video games.
- Make music that is true to yourself.
People can smell it a mile away if you’re writing a song about togetherness that doesn’t mean anything to you. While lyrics tend to teeter the line of overly general or too specific, try to find a way to write music that is true to you and your mission, then see where it fits best, not the other way around.
- Collaborate and Co-write.
Looking at the recorded music industry, it typically takes 6-7 people to write a hit song, let alone the countless others who contributed from a production, mix and master perspective. Same goes for sync; very few pieces of music in sync are written, produced, engineered, mixed and mastered solely by one person. Collaborate with other like-minded people and you’ll be amazed at the results.
- Forever a Student.
I’ve been working in music for sync for nearly 10 years and I’m still learning new things every day. Same as any creative discipline, it’s always a work in progress. Trends change like the seasons but a willingness to learn and adapt will keep you on pace or even ahead of the curve.
- Be Patient and Kind.
Learn the art of the polite but persistent follow-up. Don’t harass people. Are you playing the long game or short game in a relationship-based industry? Don’t expect a sync to happen right away. It could take weeks or months. Set realistic expectations for what you want to accomplish in sync, then work backwards from there and be patient; these things take time. Often times, it’s a game of “HURRY UP….now wait!”
ABOUT NICK KEENAN, HEAD of MUSIC at VMLY&R