Interview: Ami Kozak, Commercial Composer Producer, Singer/Songwriter, and Voiceover Artist
Ami Kozak is a Los Angeles based Commercial Composer Producer, Singer/Songwriter, and Voiceover Artist. His work includes commercials for HGTV and Hallmark, among others. See his portfolio here.
As a talented musician, you could’ve taken your artistic prowess in any number of directions. What inspired you to become a commercial composer producer?
When I decided that music was going to be my career, I needed to figure out how I could strike the proper balance between my professional life and personal life—a commitment to family, community, and Orthodox Jewish values. My initial passion for music came from performing live, but I knew early on that trying to make it as a touring musician simply was not compatible with a religious, family centered lifestyle. I made the choice to combine passion with practicality, which led me to songwriting.
As a composer, producer and singer/songwriter, I am able to be creative and do what I love while controlling my own schedule. With innovations in technology and the general rise of digital communication, it has also become increasingly easier to work from anywhere in the world. As a composer, I get to run my own studio and send all of my music to clients online. I’ve even worked for certain clients for years and never met them in person.
In today’s music industry, commercials, film, and television have become a growing platform for artists and composers to expose their music. That’s what led me in to this field. Also, in composing for film and TV, I am able to produce music in a broad range of styles, which has helped me to become more versatile. Overall, I still perform and will never stop, but not having to rely solely on performing to make a living is a relief. Expanding my skillset as a composer, producer and singer/songwriter has made me valuable in the industry and has led me to more creative opportunities than I would have had as a strictly performing musician.
Do you work for a company or are you freelance? How do you get clients?
I freelance for multiple companies across the United States and Europe. When I first graduated from college, I started assisting at a NYC/LA based music house called Mophonics Music and Sound, which specialized in composing original music for commercials. I learned a great deal there about the industry and was able to build up my technical skills as a composer and producer—it was kind of like grad school for me, but with a real world curriculum. I started working on my first commercials while at the company and eventually became a regular freelance writer for them. After building up my portfolio, I was able to expand my network to other houses and agencies and since moving to LA, I’ve been able to work not only with agencies but other independent artists as well, co–writing and collaborating on various projects. Getting clients is a constant effort, but it gets easier with the more work you do and the more you actively put yourself out there and make connections.
Check out Ami’s Hallmark commercial!
What makes a successful jingle?
The term “jingle” is slightly dated these days simply because we associate the term with the sound of a fun, light tune from the 80’s or 90’s that describes a product directly and explicitly. For a while now, companies have been distancing themselves from that approach and are usually thinking more broadly about the “brand” rather than the specific product. In other words, they want a piece of music that highlights, or identifies with their brand, and that could be an original composition or a song from an artist.
With declining record sales, bands and labels have started to become increasingly more open to licensing their music for commercials. Therefore, more and more clients and agencies want music for their campaigns that sounds current and reflect whatever’s topping the charts. The composition has to meet the high production quality standards that clients have come to expect and most importantly has to complement the brand. I would say that these days, it’s a less explicit approach than in the heyday of jingles. I will add, however, that I have noticed a slight return to some of the traditional jingle approaches, with the “Free Credit Report” band as well as others. Basically, you want to write good, original music that works!
Check out Ami’s HGTV commercial!
[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/45153357 w=500&h=283]