AMP Hosts Feisty Composer Roundtable
March 18, 2015

The Association of Music Producers (AMP) may have gotten more than it bargained for when they held their first composer roundtable on Wednesday, March 4th at Color NYC.

AMP hosted the panel to help generate internal discussion amongst professional composers, and potentially start an education initiative for clients, composers and the music industry.

Hosted by Jeff Rosner, the dynamic discussion centered around several key talking points, including what it’s like to be a composer in today’s advertising industry.

In selecting a wide range of panelists with a variety of styles, experience and techniques, AMP’s panel also uncovered both shared and opposing viewpoints throughout the event.

The panel consisted of ad music veteran Steve Karmen, Robert Miller (RMI Music), Kari Steinert (Big Foote Music + Sound), Mike Dragovic (Yessian), and George Bissen (Metatechnik).

Steve opened with a passionate speech about how essential it is to advocate for yourself and your art, even if as a composer, you are hesitant to stand up against the one hiring you.

This was a source of conflict between Steve and Jeff, who implied that Steve was behind the times: why bite the hand that feeds you when there are so many composers now flooding the ad music market?

Steve countered by encouraging composers that even though it may seem like you’re expendable, know how important you are.

“Don’t be afraid,” Steve urged. “What you have is invaluable.”

Steve promoted the value in allies—stumping for yourself is one thing, but there is strength in numbers. He also advocated seeing fellow composers as colleagues, rather than competitors, in part because the ability to say “no” to an advertiser if they attempt to take advantage has far more integrity when people ally together.

Further conversations danced around the importance of advocacy, originality, communication and technique, coupled with the challenges of navigating these topics in the ever-evolving environment of the music industry.

At the heart of it, the conversation centered around the composers’ fundamental love of their craft, and honoring it.

When asked of preferred methodology and creativity, there were as many answers as people speaking, but everyone agreed that communication is key.

Mike took a unique stance on this topic:

“Advertising is a business of chasing and exploiting trends,” he said. “I don’t think that there’s a whole lot of invention necessarily in advertising; we’re put in this box and we have to create inside of that.

“That can be limiting in some ways, but it can also be pretty liberating to set up boundaries for yourself and be like, ‘Okay, I can only play this game within these walls, so let me see how creative I can be.'”

Mike added, “The more boundaries you put up, the more creative you can be.”

Throughout the evening, all referenced what Kari labeled as the “Love Factor”, and the importance of just doing it: creativity, enthusiasm, passion, love.

The AMP panel’s consensus: when it all boils down, being a musician means following your dream.

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