Advertising Music Director

  • Advertising Music Director

From simple jingles to fully orchestrated original compositions, visual advertising is far more impactful when accompanied by a soundtrack. Advertising media companies are hired by clients to contribute original songs to promotional materials and rely on the expertise of music directors to guide production of soundtracks that seamlessly support commercial advertisements and engage audiences.


The advertising music director coordinates with composers, recording engineers, and producers to supervise the creation of original tunes to accompany visual media, such as television commercials or promotional videos on product websites and YouTube, as well as radio commercials. He or she works closely with the client to determine the specific needs and style for the campaign, then communicates that information to the creative staff, guiding the composing process and ensuring timely delivery of assets. During pre-production meetings, the music director introduces the artists to the client’s brand and helps to steer the project toward the appropriate theme for the promotion. The music director delegates projects to in-house staff and freelance contractors, establishing the production schedule and setting milestones throughout the process to track the stages of production. A dedicated customer service representative or account manager generally acts a liaison between the client and creative department but consults with the music director and client to establish a budget for the project. The producer is usually responsible for hiring additional studio musicians as necessary and drawing up contracts for the use of studio space and additional equipment, with the approval of the music director.

Skills & Education

An advertising music director must be knowledgeable about music composition and the recording process, as well as familiar with multiple musical genres. He or she should understand how audio elements enhance and support the visual medium and be able to exploit that knowledge to meet client expectations in producing exciting and engaging promotional material. A college degree in recording arts, music composition, or music business is recommended and should be supported by courses in marketing, advertising, and merchandising. Proficiency with audio and video editing software such as Pro Tools, Final Cut Pro, and Avid is encouraged. As a manager, the music director should display excellent organizational skills, multi-tasking, and time management.

What to Expect

Performing creative development on behalf of a commercial client is notoriously difficult in that it often results in miscommunication and misunderstandings around abstract ideas. The advertising music director has the difficult task of interpreting and then translating the client’s needs into terms that the composer and producer can understand. When a client orders a song that expresses the feeling of driving a luxury sedan, using buzzwords like “posh” and “refined,” the music director must venture to understand the client’s emotional response to those terms and then draw from the composer a song that accurately represents the product, the visual material of the commercial, and the client’s expectations. This is no easy task, but results come from experience. The music director must have an extensive background in music composition and/or the recording industry while also being able to listen keenly and communicate effectively. A successful advertising music director is one who takes the time to understand the client’s business and product and truly endeavors to understand the target audience of the promotion, in order to better relate the music to the market.


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