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In Conversation With: Big Sync Music’s Andrew Stafford

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The executive creative director on the trends, changes and impacts within the advertising music industry right now

In Conversation With: Big Sync Music’s Andrew Stafford

Big Sync Music’s executive creative director Andrew Stafford has worked with over 400 brands across six continents, on Cannes Lion award-winning films, monumental Super Bowl spots, and developing sonic logos for some of the world’s biggest brands.

2016 was a year to be proud of for Andrew and the Big Sync team. On top of regularly speaking at industry events and being filmed by WIRED magazine for a special feature on audio branding, Big Sync boasts an ever-growing array of awards, including an International Music & Sound Award for Best Sync for Magnum 'Be True To Your Pleasure', which features Mechanical Bride’s eerie version of ‘Umbrella’.  

We caught up with Andrew to pick his brains about the trends, changes and impacts within the advertising music industry right now.


Q> How do you help agencies and brands think about what music is right for them?

A> If it’s for an ad campaign, the first two metrics I personally want to know are; who is our audience and how do we want them to feel?  Music is totally unique in its ability to palpably massage our emotions but it affects people differently.

To give a simple example, if we want a viewer to experience an air of sentiment or ask them to remember a certain time, we might want to select a song that was popular during their youth. It seems obvious but this means we need to know exactly who they are – because age affects how we interpret music. Through our research we are able to find out a multitude of different traits, orientations and persuasions that will help us find music that will fit that audience no matter where they are in the world. In much the same way that a Google algorithm works, the more we know, the more likely we are to make a connection.


Q> Have you placed anything in the last year that you’re really excited about?

A> Jack White’s ‘High Ball Stepper’ for the global Magnum campaign Release The Beast, which people have likely seen all over the London busses, was a real favourite. Jack has always been on my personal bucket list, so, selfishly speaking, it was also an absolute pleasure to finally work with him.

Thankfully, we were working with a great advertising agency that put together a fantastic execution, with a brand team that understood that music is an investment and not a cost. It was one those perfect projects where everyone – brand, agency, music supervisor and rights holders – were all extremely pleased with the result. Well done all.


Q> What are your plans for 2017?

A> Big Sync have huge ambition, which I think is evident in our rapid expansion. Last year we did some truly great work not only in Europe, but also in our North American and Singapore offices which had a great year too, winning awards across the board.

Obviously we want to build on that excellent work this year but we are also very focused on extending our client base and bringing our expertise to even more brands and agencies.


Q> Have you noticed a shift in trends in terms of what type of music is being licensed?

A> Emotional advertising is still very much the dominant trend and music plays a pivotal part in connecting these stories with audiences. We’re answering more briefs for longer, three-minute films or series of films that tell a bigger story than the traditional 30- or 60-second spots. From a music perspective, this is great because we can be scoring nine minutes worth of music, which really allows the music to breathe and for composers to write fully fleshed out, filmic pieces. 

Music goes through cycles and trends by nature, but the biggest shift I have noticed from an industry perspective is brands taking a much more proactive interest in the benefits that a well thought out music strategy can bring. Brands such as Coca-Cola and John Lewis have been doing this for years but we are now being asked by an ever-increasing client base to help develop fully fledged music strategies. We are now creating more sonic logos, aesthetic guidelines and single releases than ever before, which is not only great for us but for the industry as a whole.


Q> Are you seeing more clients wanting to focus on developing partnerships with bands / composers?

A> Absolutely. But it has to be done well and it isn’t always the right strategic approach for every client. We will spend time working with the brand and creative team to identify the brand’s music personality and then apply this to artists to get the best fit. We use brand and artist empirical data and research to match audience profiles and geographical demand. If a brand is thinking about working with an artist, we will consider what the artist, the brand and its partner agencies, as well as the track, can contribute to a great campaign on- and off-screen, and all contributors need to be really committed to make it work.


Q> What advice would you give composers these days on getting their music placed?

A> I get asked this question a lot and my answer is always the same. Don’t focus on getting your music placed. Focus on being the best writer you can and put the craft first. Great music is naturally magnetic and connects with people.



This was originally published on the Music & Sound Awards website.

The Music+Sound Awards are open for global entries until March 31st.  Any broadcast, viral, ambient, online or radio ad broadcast between April 1st 2016 and March 31st 2017, where the music or sound design plays an intrinsic role, is eligible.  Anyone involved in a project can enter.

There are 35 categories within five main groups: Best Original Composition, Best Sound Design, Best Sync, Best Re-Records + Adaptations and Best Use of Production Music. 

For more details visit

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Genres: Music & Sound Design

Big Sync Music, Tue, 31 Jan 2017 17:43:40 GMT