If you’re looking for a trendsetter in the world of music for advertising, you’ll be hard pressed to find someone more accomplished than Jesper Gadeberg. Based in Copenhagen, Gadeberg has established himself as a must-hire music supervisor for large-scale ad campaigns all around the world, using an attuned ear and refined taste to deeply connect with audiences through music.
His long list of high-end clients includes BMW, Heineken, McDonalds, Nikon, Mercedes and Levi’s just to name a few. Gadeberg’s efforts haven’t gone without critical praise, as the projects he’s worked on have received countless awards and nominations. Recently working on Movistar’s “Love Story,” the ad won bronze for best music supervision in the long form category at Ciclope 2017, and bronze in Best Use of Music at FIAP. SynchAudio was lucky enough to catch up with Gadeberg to discuss his approach to styling music for ads and how advertising impacts the music industry.
SynchAudio: How would you describe the role of a music stylist in advertising? Why do you prefer the term music stylist to music supervisor?
Jesper Gadeberg: I have always been fascinated by a music style foremost. By a sound. A tonality. These parametres define how we are going to feel when we watch a commercial more than words can say. When I started my career, music supervision in advertising seemed to be mostly about finding a song with lyrics supporting the storyline. Caring for the tonality in the given track was often a second priority. To me, being a music stylist in advertising is an artform. To help setting an interesting tone are often what satisfies me the most. I am keen for the music that I recommend to be in a symbiosis with the pictures just like a dolphin jumping in and out of the water. Or to find the unexpected as I did when I placed the world whilstling champion in a global Mini commercial when everyone expected an electronic piece. I always try to be original, yet always true to the storyline or film edit that I am being presented to.
> What do you find appealing about working primarily in music for advertising opposed to feature films or television?
I prefer the work flow in advertising. In films, it’s like small little babies you carry around for months before you see your hard work up there on the screen. The level within the world of advertising where I am at and the ideas that I am being presented to allows me to work at a higher level than most music supervisors. That is a satisfying place for me to be. It allows me my creative freedom which I cherish not underlying to much politics as most creative and directors I work for wants me to surprise them. Therefore I never take a music brief unless a client insists.
> Why did you decide to work independent of a label or publisher? What are some of the challenges that this presents?
Independence means that I am free to choose. If I would represent a publisher or certain labels, that would limit my creative freedom. I have often been asked to represent certain catalogues but I have always turned these offers down. I will always preserve my creative freedom. I know by doing that that I will be one step ahead music creatively compared to many of my colleagues. One good colleague of mine once compared my service in advertising as the guy working up the alley – down the basement in that small niche record shop.
> There’s a really interesting dynamic in some of the ads you’ve worked on, where an artist that’s more underground becomes the voice for a very commercial campaign. For example, setting a large brand’s commercial to someone less conventional like Daniel Johnston or Nick Cave. Do you think music that’s less mainstream resonates with more people within the context of an ad?
The world of advertising is just like society as a whole: dominated by mainstream and super safe choices in general. I try not to ‘commercialise’ the commercials I work on. Every time that people really talk about a given song choice, that is when the creative persuades the client to follow us in the direction of choosing a unique track. Something less ordinary. This is how I want to be seen. Playing it safe never changed anything in life. Again, I see music supervision in advertising as an artform. In a world where to many brands in my opinion are after a big and known copyright, it’s more important than ever to stand up for the unique ideas. Too many brands are trying to copy track choices that have already been used many times before in the past. When you dare to go out as a brand to accept to use Nick Cave for a mainstream clothing brand like Jack & Jones, it showed to pay off. People talked about this campaign as well it was one of the three most-awarded commercial campaigns in the year of 2013/2014.
> You’ve worked with so many brands on large-scale global campaigns, as well as on smaller, more specialised projects. What’s the difference between working on global campaigns and ones that are a bit more niche?
There is really no difference. I approach each job the same. I ask myself what can I offer music creatively and what do I get out of reading the given treatment or seeing the film edit that I am being presented to. I mostly work with good music budget’s but seldom big budgets that allows me to use a big artist in a commercial sense. But this is fine as I have little interest in the big commercial tracks.
> Where do independent artists fit in music for advertising?
When the budgets are not that high and sometimes when the creative intentions are there.
> What do you think will be the biggest sync trend of 2018?
A majority of clients will probably still be wanting the big commercial songs. But there will always be a need for certain creative’s and clients wanting the more unique song choice because they know by optimising a given song choice can make them and the campaign look good and help dragging attention the brands way. This is where I come in.