Inside The Mind of Music Supervisor, Katie Seaton

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Marmoset: What would you say is trending right now in your searches?

Katie Seaton: Female-fronted pop that has both electronic and organic elements, i.e. Sofi Tukker. The Run the Jewels and DJ Shadow collaboration is a highly referenced song, mainly for its guitar and electronic beats.

What do you look for in a song, in general, when pitching and searching?

I look at the wav form first. We need to know what the arc is doing right off the bat, to see when it builds. By that, I can tell if I should be looking at the first 10 seconds or if I should skip to the meat of the song, to get a good grasp of what the song sounds like as a whole in a concise manner. Another thing that stands out is when the instrumental or vocal version of a song isn't mastered — it can be a little weird to send a client nine songs from different artists and have one song in the mix that hasn't been mastered.

What does a successful music + brand campaign collaboration look/sound like?

Ideally, it’s having music play a big role in adding personality to an image. But I’d say often times it shows up as a 40/60 split. Being, 40 percent of the most successful spots are where the creators choose a song that really pops, has a surprise factor for the audience, something you really wouldn’t expect — those make for really fun projects. And the other 60 percent is music that just naturally fits really well. 

Is there something artists can do to make your life easier?

Sending stems whenever possible. Sending them before we ask for them is so helpful — more often than not clients are on a quick timeline and need to make sure the song will fit with the picture. Also, sending new music whenever they have it is also helpful — it can be a bummer to learn that there’s something new out there and to find out we could have used it for an awesome project. And, of course, stop by for a beer any time you’re in Portland!

Can you give us some details of what the day-to-day is for Music Supervisors at Marmoset?

We come into the office and get a grip on what’s going on in our client world. Then we dive right into searches and creative briefs. We have somewhere from 1-10 searches already scheduled for us — Casey, our incredible “Gatekeeper,” delegates and sets our daily schedules as our Music Supervision Coordinator. We come up for food and air and then dive right back in. Frequently we’ll end up having 12-20 searches a day.

What do our clients like best about Marmoset?

We are always looking for the right balance of making sure our artists are getting what they deserve and also working within people’s budgets. We strive to take care of all our creatives — artists and clients alike. The fact that we keep our artists at the forefront of our vision really rubs off, people get really excited about that. In addition, the fact that everything we have is pretty much one stop and pre-approved, allows for a quick turnaround time. I’d say our best assets are our speed, one stop, and a whole lotta heart.

What’s the average time that you’re usually given to complete a search and what’s the worst turnaround time you’ve seen?

We’ve seen it all! Getting everything from “Due: Now” — there’s nothing quicker than now —  to “Due: By Friday” (and it’s Monday — which is a dream situation). Though, we always try to get our clients results within 24 hours. 

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever been asked for?

I was recently asked for songs with animal noises in them. It’s not the most unusual, but definitely a rare request. There’s also a lot of odd combinations — for example, “Please give me something that sounds like Iron Maiden + James Taylor.” Weird combinations of things always make for fun searches.

What’s your background?

I started out interning at a record label and writing for a music blog, where I got a really good grasp of what goes on at a label. Around this time, licensing was just starting to become a bigger thing for under the radar artists, so it was cool timing. I then went to an artists management company who worked with artists like Beastie Boys, Dave Grohl, and John Paul Jones. It was really interesting to see the day-to-day of these people’s managers. The tasks ranged from “Look into my royalties” to “Wake me up in the morning.” It gave me such an interesting perspective into that kind of job and the music industry as a whole. I worked on one specific project that was really cool foresight into being a Music Supervisor, where I made mix CDs of those artists. I chose what I thought was the most licensable and then I had to cold call all these agencies and tell them we represent Beck, Foo fighters, etc. and try and license these big artists songs. That was my intro to licensing!

Can you drop some wisdom for us?

When in doubt, Fleetwood Mac. Or, just cover the Spice Girls.

What are your dance floor favs/guilty pleasures?

Recently, a friend and I paid an unwilling DJ in Mexico to play Third Eye Blind’s “Semi-Charmed Life,” and as soon as the song was over, we realized nobody was left on the dance floor but us. As far as guilty pleasures go, well, I don’t feel guilty at all about this one: “Despacito.”

What do you do to cleanse your palate after a day of work?

I either listen to nothing on my drive home, a podcast, or a song I’ve heard a million times that I don’t have to think about the lyrics (“Despacito”).


One of Katie’s favorite projects of the year: Avocados and Coconuts| Forward Together