When Music Meets Marketing
Jett Black and Sonya Brown conduct a colorful interview with The G-Man and Scott G, two sides of one person. What? Okay, The G-Man records music; Scott G produces commercials that use music. (Sure, he often selects his own music, but he also might use yours.)
Household names that have used Scott G to grab millions of consumers include record companies (he's done work for Madonna, Elton John, and the Traveling Wilburys), healthcare firms (Children's Hospitals), and automotive sales (from Toyota to Mercury to RVs made by Monaco). Meanwhile, The G-Man unleashes his own provocative dance-oriented music with uncanny frequency.
JB + SB: You wear SO many hats. Just WHO is the G-Man?
G-Man: I'm in communications 3 ways: First with G-Man Marketing, where I write advertising, produce radio spots, and compose music for commercials. Second, I'm a recording artist with 5 albums distributed by Delvian Records and available on iTunes and Rhapsody. Third, I write the "Communication Nation" column for AdvertisingIndustryNewswire.com.
JB + SB: Which music would you most like to showcase to our readers at this time?
G-Man: My MOTION POTION album has 8 dance-trance tracks designed for clubs. My SONIC TONIC album is for goth and dance clubs. Six of its 14 tracks are dance-trance.
JB + SB: Describe the niche that SONIC TONIC and MOTION POTION seek to satisfy?
G-Man: SONIC TONIC is for the person who likes electronic music of all types, from Crystal Method to Howard Jones, from Devo to Moby, and from OMD to NIN. MOTION POTION is a straight-ahead trance, rave, and dance-all-night album. Both have dance tracks that use orchestra and choir.
JB + SB: The Breakfast Club: A/V nerd, gym jock, art-fag, band geek, or N.O.T.A?
G-Man: I was on the gymnastics team, played Iago at a Shakespeare festival, made short films, and knew guys who were in major label bands. So, a bit of each, I guess.
JB + SB: Do you work alone? Who else is behind the music of G-Man?
G-Man: Usually, it's just me and the machines. I did collaborate on THE PLATINUM AGE OF THE REMIX. That album has the best of about 60 remixes of my songs from all over the world. A great jazz pianist named William Morosi did three cuts of lounge-chill stuff. DJ Insane did two trance tracks, and one hit the Top 10 in Europe. RD did three, and one went to #1 in Russia. F. Troy from Mortal Loom did two. With those guys, I interacted by phone or FTP sites, but I was over at Matt Forger's studio for his two tracks. Matt was the recording engineer on 7 Michael Jackson albums, so it's an honor to work with him.
JB + SB: What factors do you take into consideration when producing a commercial?
G-Man: You need to know 4 things to create effective advertising: What are you selling? To whom are you selling it? What are their hot buttons (or their perceptions of your product)? And what do you want them to do?
Take that first point. A hospital client will say they're selling healthcare services. They're really selling the possibility of life, the chance to regain vitality, and the opportunity to be free of pain.
Or take the second point. The hospital might say "we're selling services to everyone in the San Fernando Valley." Well, maybe not people without insurance. Maybe not people who want to go to the so-called "hospital of the stars" in Beverly Hills.
Advertising is about reaching people who think one thing but really need something else. Most of the time, you want to create a commercial that makes people react in one of two ways. You either want them to nod in agreement with you because you're speaking their beliefs and answering their needs, or you want them to nod in amazement because they're realizing something new about how your product will answer their needs.
JB + SB: What protocols govern how commercial production may/must proceed?
G-Man: Sometimes I'm just the voiceover guy, and the script isn't going to be changed because it was approved by 3 committees, 4 lawyers and the Board of Directors. Sometimes I only do the music. I had one client hum what he wanted into my phone answering machine, and I composed from that.
JB + SB: What types of formal musical training contribute to your productions?
G-Man: I had guitar pointers from great studio musicians like Carl Verheyen and Michael Campagna, and I took lessons from power-pop rocker Nancy Luca, but mainly my training consisted of countless attempts to make a guitar synth sound like everything I ever heard.
And I mean everything. Classical, rock, jazz, doo-wop, country, swing, and experimental. And combinations, like "Bill Evans Trio With Symphony Orchestra"or the "Indo-Jazz Fusion" albums by the Joe Harriott/John Mayer Double Quintet.
I also love Harry Partch, who made his own instruments, and Arvo Part, a true modern classical genius. And Ken Nordine, who invented word-jazz, and Frank Zappa, who did all of the above with a rock beat. Everything. Spoken word, punk, metal. And soundtracks like Gil Melle's electronic score for "The Andromeda Strain." And Louis and Bebe Barron's score for "Forbidden Planet."
JB + SB: What more does G-Man music plan to unleash?
G-Man: My next album, CRAZED + DAZED, will also have dance-oriented, tripped-out tracks. Each song begins with the hardklub beats of Holland's DJ Insane, then I add distortion, extra harmonics (including subliminal tones), and my orchestra and choir. I also just remixed a song that was in "The Silence of the Lambs." It's "Goodbye Horses" from the next Mortal Loom album.
JB + SB: Your website is full of really funny stuff; do you write your own jokes or do you have a crack staff of joke writers lurking in the wings?
G-Man: It would be great to have writers! I do most of my own material, but it sometimes gets tweaked by Phil Hatten of Phil Hatten Design, the rock photographer SNOOK (they do my album covers and graphics) and my business partner, Brian Forest.
JB + SB: Some reviewers describe your music as "Bowie meets Moby" or "Talking Heads & Gary Numan." Besides the people you already mentioned, how would you describe any musical inspirations?
G-Man: I want every melody to be as catchy as those written by Martin Fry of the band ABC. I want everything to have the punch of jazz drummers like Art Blakey and Elvin Jones. Mainly, what I want is sound-inside-sound. I want you to be able to hear the harmonics hiding inside each note of every chord. I keep trying to make music that is free-flowing on the outside but so layered that you can hear a completely different album the next time you play it, depending on your mood.
JB + SB: How would a prospective client go about getting a radio spot?
G-Man: That's easy. My studio phone number (818-223-8486) and e-mail contact are on every page of my Web site G-Man Marketing. I'm very easy to find. I usually work within people's budgets, but I ask for half up front.
JB + SB: You have won many awards. Which award carries the most significance for you personally, and why?
G-Man: Awards are mainly good because of the publicity you can create for yourself after winning. I think the only music award that has a lasting influence is the Grammy. Full disclosure: I'm a voting member in the Grammys, so I'm a bit biased.
JB + SB: Iíve seen your name listed on various music industry commentaries posted up at the NocturnalMovements.net music message boards. What sorts of experiences contribute to your music biz insights?
G-Man: Getting information from people like Carmen Rizzo and Maureen Droney at the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) has been very humbling and helpful. I'm a creative director for the National Association of Record Industry Professionals (NARIP) and have received a lot of insight from people like Clay Pasternack, who is the guru of indie record distribution, Scott Meldrum of Hype Council, who is a master of online marketing, and Michael Levine, of Levine Communications Office.
Articles I've written about each of these people are on lots of Web sites, including Nocturnal Movements. Go to NARIP, Music Dish, Music Biz Academy, Electro-Music, Bitchin' Entertainment. Just Google: "G-Man Music articles."
I've also written about the work of Derek Sivers, the head of CD Baby, Michael C. Ross, producer of Christina Aguilera and Counting Crows, and Art Sayecki as well as many other great mastering engineers.
I share tracks with music schools and musicians. I send tracks to almost anyone who wants to do a remix. Plus, I'll link up with any musicians on MySpace.
JB + SB: What is the best advice you can give for other indie musicians trying to earn a buck?
G-Man: Only a few people get to make a living totally from their art. Usually, a lot of compromises are involved. Practicing your craft in the light of public opinion, for example. Interacting with people who have some control over your distribution. Not taking your art so far beyond the comprehension of crowds that no one will show up or look or listen.
What happens is that you enter the world of commerce where the rules of the marketplace apply. You have to sell your work or find partners who do the selling. I always tell people that I don't really make a living from my music; I make a living from music, marketing, advertising, licensing, producing, and voiceovers.
Your work is art when you're creating it in the studio, but when you slap a ticket price on it or a bar code on the back of it or a digital watermark inside of it, then it becomes business. Get a business person, preferably an entertainment attorney, to be on your side and have them watch what you sign.
JB + SB: Lay it on us, G-Man! What more would you like to say to our readers?
G-Man: You have power in so many areas of your life. We all complain about the areas where we're not in control: work, landlords, playing loud music in the middle of the night, and so on. But think of all the situations where you control your part of the world. Your reactions to the good people in your life. Your interaction with a girlfriend or boyfriend. The amount of creativity you put into what you say, do, sing, paint, or write.
Imagine if we all did just one percent better at it. The change in the world would be felt everywhere. I want to make shimmering electric creations that skate through the airwaves and touch people in the head, hips, and heart. And only by working at doing everything better will I have a chance to accomplish that. That's power. And I hope we all use it every day.