Favorite Client Reactions - Kiss Mint TV Ad (Indonesia)
Updated: Jul 5, 2019
As a composer for media, I get hired to write and produce music for projects like commercials for TV, web and movies. The one thing in common in all of these projects is, ultimately, your music gets evaluated and judged by your client. And since these are people that pay good money for you to come up with music for their projects, they aren't going to judge your music like your Mom would. They wouldn't for a minute, hold back on the harshest of criticisms if your work doesn't work with their project, and compliments would be few and far between, if any at all. Are clients just a bunch of mean miscreants whose sole purpose in life is to trash your music and quash your dream of being a successful composer?
Although it may seem like it, your clients aren't any of those things at all. You just have to see things from their perspective. They have deadlines, and they have production budgets to keep to. They simply do not have the time to be "kind" when evaluating your music. They are just looking for mainly one thing and that is, "Is the music appropriate for the ad". Sure, there may be the odd specific idiotic comment, but they largely are just concerned with how the music will enhance their commercial. So if they think your music doesn't work with the commercial, they will tell you explicitly, no holds-barred. It is your responsibility as the composer, to understand what it is they want, and be willing to make changes, even if the client brief changes through no fault of your own. Another thing you have to contend with as a composer is music tastes are very subjective, and when your clients are a group of ad agency creative-types, there will almost always be differing opinions on your music anyway. With that in mind, you just have to make sure that your music is technically as well produced as possible, and roll with the criticisms of your clients, and make adjustments to the music till they are happy. Unfortunately for you, the customer is "always right", even if you don't agree with them.
Wow, that was pretty long-winded! Anyway, in my life as a professional composer, I have had many different client reactions to my music, some were great, some were not so great, some were disheartening, and some were downright unexpected. This one is about one of the best reactions I have ever gotten on music for a commercial.
It was for a TV commercial for Kiss Mint, a candy brand in Indonesia. They had actually obtained the performing rights to the song, "Kiss Me" by Sixpence None The Richer. A "performing right" basically means that the licensee pays for the right to cover the song, meaning:
(The licensee can use the tune and lyrics of the copyrighted song, and musically rearrange it by getting another producer to arrange a version of it, but the licensee can not use the actual recording of the song itself)
The license to use the actual recording of a copyrighted popular song in a commercial is called a mechanical license or mechanical rights. This is almost always much more expensive than just a performing right.
Now back to the story. The clients asked me to do a hip-hop version of the song. This got me wondering, sure I could have used sounds and and beats that would make the song sound like a hop-hop track, but I wanted to do something that pushed it over the edge, as it were. So in one of the rare moments of sticking my creative neck out, I actually wrote a rap to the song! Imagine me, a Chinese Malaysian dude writing rap with the plan of rapping it into the recording himself! Surely this must be the recipe for disaster!
Here is the original song:
Since the commercial was only 30 seconds long, I thought I would be able to cobble up some rhymes that would kind of work within that short time without falling apart. So I redid the song with the hip-hop elements and went in to the vocal booth and attempted to channel my inner African American rapper into the microphone. I didn't want to sound like a "Gangsta" rapper. I just needed to sound cool, so I put on the lowest voice I could muster and did it. In fact, my assistants and I had so much fun doing this, that we actually made a little idiotic music video of ourselves "performing" the song with me rapping. One day I may get the nerve to show that video.
So fast forward to the actual presentation of the music to the clients. The presentation took place in Jakarta, Indonesia and I wasn't able to go because I must have had other commercial music to produce in Kuala Lumpur, but one of our studio managers went to Jakarta to present the music and according to him, once the music was done, the clients actually got up and applauded! I thought my colleague was totally BS-ing me about this, but he swears this actually happened.
I can only guess a couple of reasons why they approved so wholeheartedly. Maybe they appreciated the surprise rapping when they were just expecting something sounding just musical to give the hip-hop impression. The rapping may have accentuated the hip-hop feel that they were looking for. Or they may have thought it sounded like a nice cover of the song in its own right. Or, maybe they thought we were able to get an actual legit rapper to go on the recording (wishful thinking on my part haha). Whatever the reason, I have to say this was one of the most unexpected and awesome reactions I have ever received from clients. Pity I wasn't there in person to blush uncontrollably and sheepishly say, "All in a day's work!"
Here is the finished commercial:
This still goes down as one of the nicest reactions I have ever gotten for music that I'd done for a commercial. There are other nice reactions, other not so nice ones, and everything in between, which I hope I will be able to blog about in the time to come.