- Thursday, Mar. 25, 2010
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Though he can't imagine ever giving up visual storytelling, Todd Porter, a long-time broadcast producer at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, admits to having his hand in music every chance he gets.
"I've been one of those music freaks for quite some time. I was the music director at a college radio station, I was that junior producer kid at Chiat/Day [San Francisco] who always was on top of the latest tunes and found myself being called on for information on bands and other sources of music. And I've been looked to as a music resource here at Goodby as I came up the ranks."
So now Porter has found the best of both worlds--sound and visuals--as he has been named Goodby's music supervisor, a newly created role at the agency, while continuing to serve as a producer on varied jobs for a mix of clients.
In the former capacity, Porter will work closely with other Goodby producers and creatives to ensure that the right music is found for each project. This will entail Porter dovetailing with original commercial music and sound design houses, developing relationships with individual musicians, artists and bands, as well as collaborating with independent music supervisors.
Porter has been doing this on select projects for a number of years but now the time has come to make that role official. SHOOT caught up with Porter, an eight-year Goodby veteran, to get a sense of how he views and defines the responsibilities inherent in his new title while staying on top of those that come with his ongoing role as producer.
SHOOT: While the music supervisor title is new, you've handled many of the responsibilities it encompasses for awhile. How does it feel to now officially have that title?
Porter: I just got back from the South By Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin. This was my third time there. I saw fifty-two bands in three days and I found it was nice to be able to say that I now have this title of music supervisor. I'm not just a producer who sometimes works on music stuff. It helps to now officially be someone who is looking for the right sources of music, the right talent for a campaign and to have the community at large know that.
Still, I have been doing this unofficially for some time. Five years ago at South By Southwest I heard Architecture In Helsinki, a 12-member band from Australia, and loved their work. Their music wound up being the lead track in our pitch video for Sprint and it stuck all the way through to the first spots the agency did for that client.
SHOOT: How do you define your role as music supervisor? Music roles are more prevalent at agencies on the East Coast, which have staff music producers and executive music producers. That's not the case on the West Coast.
Porter: A lot of the reason the agencies on the East Coast have music producers is that they are massive shops and it makes sense to have someone spearheading music and licensing. There is also a tradition there of music producers and departments.
My role here is something that's developing. I will work with bands, independent music supervisors--who are my heroes, by the way--commercial music and sound design houses. For me, it's like a big wonderful crossword puzzle--you need a seven-letter word, except that instead it's a certain kind of music that's upbeat or has a certain other tone or feel and fits with the brand and message. I love being able to solve the puzzle. I love discovering new artists, going outside my comfort level of independent pop and rock. I remember for an HP spot "Maestro," we went classical with Vivaldi's "Four Seasons, Summer." Q Source's Marty Wekser tracked down a performance of that piece that was just right, from this irreverent group in New York called Sejong Soloists. It was so different from other renditions and gave the spot a totally different energy.
SHOOT: You are continuing to serve as an agency producer as well. Will your workload, though, as a producer decrease as you take on more music responsibilities for other producers and creatives?
Porter: I hope not. I'm a film production person. I worked in Los Angeles for five years on music videos and commercials, at places like Propaganda and Satellite. I love making visual stories. I cannot imagine giving up making images. I've worked pretty consistently on the HP stuff the last three or four years, for instance, which includes the Kevin Garnett and Fergie spots.
SHOOT: What have been some of your notable music endeavors at Goodby over the years?
Porter: The currently running Comcast's "Town" where I connected our producer Ashley Sferro with music house Black Iris. The remixing project I did with some fairly well known DJs on the work by the band Electric Six on the "Milkquarious" rock opera [for the California Milk Processor Board].
And I had a creatively satisfying experience supervising music for the Frito-Lay "Made for Each Other" campaign, which was mostly existing music that we uncovered but we also had a singer/songwriter Katie Herzig come in and rework and re-record one of the pieces. For another piece, we tapped into the talent of a band in France called Melodium who we found through a music supervisor at Musync. These were animated spots that were shown on the web and on TV.
SHOOT: Do you see yourself tapping into original commercial music and sound design houses?
Porter: Very definitely. Over the years I've worked extensively with such places as 740 Sound Design. I already mentioned Black Iris and I've worked with Emoto and recently with South, a new shop with some former members of Human.
I've also been able to get original pieces of music from bands like Pas/cal and The New Pornographers. There's a lot of talent to draw from and I love the process of discovering it.