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Jae Goodman, Josh Rabinowitz On How Successful Brands Use Music [INTERVIEW]

2In this interview Jae Goodman and Josh Rabinowitz, jury leaders for this year’s Cannes Lions event, Lions Entertainment, discuss their thoughts on how successful campaigns utilize music on various platforms, and share a little of what they’re currently listening to.



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This year, Spotify is proud to sponsor the first-ever Entertainment Lions for Music award as part of Lions Entertainment, a new event at Cannes Lions where brands, agencies and entertainment companies can focus on producing outstanding creative work together. This year’s festival is almost upon us, and we’re bringing you along for the ride. 


There’s more than ever to celebrate this year at Cannes Lions, including the debut of a new category: the Entertainment Lions, established to recognize creative collaborations.  Jae Goodman will lead the jury for Entertainment Lions and Josh Rabinowitz for Music Lions, a category within the new Entertainment festival, and they know creative collaborations.

Goodman is chief creative officer and co-head of CAA Marketing, a division of CAA, which spearheaded the partnership between Coca-Cola and American Idol, and Hasbro’s Transformers movie franchise. Under his leadership, CAA Marketing has won four Cannes Grand Prix, and 20 Cannes Lions overall, and has garnered eight Emmy nominations and four wins for three brand clients. Goodman has also written music videos for artists including Miley Cyrus, Mariah Carey, Fatboy Slim and Linkin Park.

Rabinowitz is executive vice president, director of music, at Grey. He has written and produced more than 8,500 tracks for brands, films, record labels and television, and his branded work has included collaborations with Rihanna, Black Eyed Peas and Run-DMC in their last known recording together. Rabinowitz also created the Grey Cannes Lions Music Seminar in 2007, which has since presented artists such as Marilyn Manson, Lou Reed, Yoko Ono, Patti Smith, Tony Bennett, Courtney Love and Debbie Harry.

Goodman (JG) and Rabinowitz (JR) shared with Spotify for Brands (SFB) their thoughts on the ways that successful campaigns make use of music across a variety of platforms, and gave us a peek into what they’re listening to now.



SFB: Jae, given your varied background in TV, film, music and marketing, what in your experience makes for the most effective ways they can intersect? 
JG: Great question! For starters, the word “intersect” is good, as opposed to the over-used marketing term “integrate.” As brands create a broader range of content, everything must still be driven by one core idea, but that idea has to be re-imagined – not just re-formatted – for each media type. Each element – TV show, film, song, concert, festival, app, game – has to stand on its own and be great, while supporting the overall brand idea and of course driving the desired business result.  

SFB: Josh, as someone who has produced so many tracks for different platforms, what’s your take?
JR: The most effective way, in my view, is when a track becomes relevant in culture outside the realm of the branded content/entertainment. There are few things better than when a brand is identified as a curator or tastemaker. A few excellent examples of this are the quirky GEICO Caveman track called  “Remind Me” by Röyksopp, “Da Da Da” by Trio used in a VW spot, “Pink Moon” by Nick Drake also in a VW spot, and the Coke “Hilltop” spot, when it first appeared in the 1970s and then reappeared on the finale of Mad Men a year ago.

SFB: How would you say those intersections between brands and entertainment have changed over the past 5 years? 10 years?
JG: Very recently the conversation has become much more collaborative than transactional. For the longest time it was a series of gives and gets, a negotiation about the price-per-thousand viewers. The distributor (TV network, radio station, magazine, digital platform) had taken a financial risk on creating and distributing content that would draw an audience, and advertisers would pay handsomely to interrupt that audience with a commercial message. Today, we occasionally find ourselves with the advertisers, the content creators, and the distributors all at the table at the beginning of the process for a conversation about shared goals and a collaborative process through which to achieve them.  Our job is to make these conversations more frequent than “occasional.”
JR: Brands were mostly responders (and oftentimes late responders) to what was relevant or en vogue in culture, and now brands are attempting to dictate culture.

SFB:  What’s your first step when starting work on a new campaign?
JG: To have an idea.
JR: How should the campaign sound?   

SFB: What does it mean to you to have Cannes Lions recognize entertainment achievements this year? 
JR: It means a great deal to me. I’ve been involved with Cannes for several years and have felt as if I was an ambassador of music to the Cannes conversation in some ways.  
JG: Entertainment Lions is a huge validation of what we and our brand clients at CAA Marketing have been doing for the last decade! Our work for our clients aside, it’s a sign that interruptive advertising is fading, and the era of brands drawing an audience and driving business results at the same time is upon us.

SFB: What campaigns do you think might have won an Entertainment or Music Lions if the category had existed before now?
JG: Elements of that amazing Halo work that Scott Duchon and Geoff Edwards did years ago could have done something in Entertainment Lions. They made a fake documentary with old warriors recounting the great battle for humanity that plays out in the Halo game. Silver Lion, for sure. Transformers probably could have short-listed. The Coca-Cola “Hilltop” spot might have done something in music. And Crocker Bank’s “Wedding” for which Hal Riney himself commissioned the Carpenters song “We’ve Only Just Begun” may have taken home a Lion or two. 

SFB: What are you listening to on Spotify right now? 
JG: Wait, let me make sure my 14-year-old daughter has her own handle because if she is using mine then I am all about Charlie Puth and Jack Garratt! While I spend hours a day with Spotify, I am not particularly social about it. Lots of jazz. Chet Baker at the top of the list, Miles, Monk, Art Pepper. A lot of the Cure, too, because I adapt their songs for the ukulele. 
JR: I found a version of my favorite tune, “I Want You Back” by the Jackson 5, recorded live. The perfect pop tune done live, it’s gold!  

Pictured above Jae Goodman (L) and Josh Rabinowitz (R) 
This interview has been edited for length and content

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