With Kahn on board, many of the most celebrated new artists of the new millennium – Feist, Chairlift, the Ting Tings, CSS, & Yael Naim, for example – started popping up in Apple ads just before hitting the mainstream. Hailed as the “music psychic,” Kahn decided to start his own company, Good Ear Music Supervision (GEMS), which he founded in 2011. He now uses his uncanny abilities to discover musical gems to pair brands and bands from coast to coast, effectively fostering connections between music and audiences across the country.
Selections from Death and Taxes Magazine interview (w/ some of my favorite quotes and insights):
- Did you have to do much salesmanship with these tracks?
No. The music sold itself. Always. So in a sense they didn’t need to trust me as a salesman—they just needed to trust their own ears. They needed to hear why this song was both unique and had universal appeal, and why it fits in this ad.
- You just mentioned being both “unique and universal.” Are there other specific criteria you have for qualities that make a good pick, regardless of genre?
In short, no. “Unique” and “appealing” are what I think of when I refer to gems, hence the name. They’re such great characteristics for a song to have since they’re fairly rare on their own and one in a million when they come as a combo.
- Do you have like a savings account of great tracks in the bank that you’re waiting to use somewhere, or do you start each job with a totally fresh search?
I’ve always done most of the legwork before getting a brief in or a project in. And that’s just because finding music organically as opposed to finding music specifically for a project with your ears attuned just to that is such a better way to hear music and appreciate it.
- How has it been having your own shop? Is the way you relate to clients different?
Yes, it’s totally different. I don’t have to sit in meetings I don’t need to be in anymore. I’m very isolated. I used to be in-house at an agency so I would deal mostly with the creatives. Now, I talk mostly direct with clients. Every job is a freelance job and I’m having to prove my worth through my taste in music, which is really crazy. To have a job that’s based in something so subjective is always interesting. And now that I’m out on my own everything is always different…
- What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned about art through music supervising?
People don’t love ads, they love the content that’s in them. It could be humor, it could be sentiment, and often times it’s music. So you’ll see people who love the I’m a Mac campaign, or people who love the Kenny Powers K-Swiss ads. And besides that you say, Oh my god I love the song in this Target ad. People get passionate about that. Whether it’s a Mazda ad or a Reebok ad is kind of an afterthought. They don’t really connect with the brand through that—they connect with the content the brand is putting out there.
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The new Apple iPhone 5 is scheduled to be released on Friday, Sept 21, promising an improved audio experience for Apple consumers. Apple’s new EarPods have been specially engineered to focus sound from three mic locations for clearer audio and to reduce background noise with its noise-cancelling technology.
Get ready to listen to your favorite gems with a new and improved sound!