Light of the Stereo

Light of the Stereo

Friday, November 22, 2013

10 Questions: Brandon Day of Marmoset Music

A boutique music agency based out of Portland, Oregon Marmoset Music has been providing music for creative mediums of all shape and size since 2010. Mainly working within the public eye including films and broadcast television commercials Marmoset is known for crafting original music and maintaining a hand picked roster of independent artists for licensing opportunities.  On an ironic, it's a small world note, the first seeds of inspiration for what would become Marmoset Music and my own interested in music journalism were both planted from experiences working as DJs at Radio KSOC at Southern Oregon University.

Earlier this fall I had the opportunity to meet Brandon Day who's Marmoset's head of artist relations and also scouts new artist/band to add to their licensing roster. He was kind enough to answer some questions about Marmoset Music and the work that he dose there.
BLS: To start us off, why don’t you tell us a little about Marmoset Music; what exactly does the company do and what’s your job there?

BD: Marmoset is a boutique music licensing house based here in sunny Portland, Oregon. We started off as an effort to help solve what we though was a problem in the music industry: creating revenue for independent artists. With independent record labels struggling to stay afloat, we've grown to utilize the untapped potential in music licensing. What was once thought of as "selling out" is now a widely accepted form of income for artists.
We started with local artists here in Portland and have since grown to include artists from around the globe that have a similar mindset as we do. We're proud to help pair music made with heart with projects that compliment their aesthetic and creation. It's been really rewarding to see artists such as The Dimes, Derby, NTNT and Kye Kye get substantial enough income to help push their projects to the next level.
My job at Marmoset is to scout and sign artists that we believe have a good chance at meshing well with our audience. We have filmmakers and ad agencies around the world with unique projects who have identified with the music we represent. I get the fun (and rewarding) position of helping pair these two worlds.

BLS: Could you describe the different levels of licensing that Marmoset works with?

BD: There are two ways we license music: though our website ( and through working hand in hand with our music supervision team. For independent filmmaking projects, we've found that finding the perfect song on our site, and licensing it on the spot, is an efficient and valuable tool for making projects come to life. When we're approached by a larger creator, such as some of the largest ad agencies in the states, we custom pick songs from our roster that we feel will compliment their spot. If the vignette needs a bit more customization, we also have a talented Original Music team that digs deep and creates wonderful songs.

BLS: What exactly does a new music scout and the head of artist relations do?

BD: I get a chance to listen to a huge amount of independent musicians and determine which ones I believe we can help support. There is no genre or type of music off the table, and I always welcome artists to submit their work for us to listen to. If we feel the music is a good fit, I'll have our AR team sign the artists and help get them up and running on our website and roster. From there, we have a weekly meeting in which all new music is shared with the team. This makes our process work smoothly and allows new artists to have top-of-mind when it comes to pitching their songs.

BLS: With numerous licensing houses in the industry as well as a few within Portland itself, what advantages do you bring to the table in regards to your clients and the artists/bands your represent?

BD: We take pride in having personal relationships whenever possible, whether it be between the artists we represent or the clients we work with. Oftentimes, I meet with our artists over coffee (or whiskey) and learn a bit about their lives and their creative endeavors. We also make it a priority to travel to the cities were our clients live and set aside time to shake hands and get to know the people we place music with. When projects are largely pieced together through digital means, there can be a loss in personal contact with the people you're interacting with. By helping bridge that connectivity, we aim to make our relationships more meaningful and ultimately make licensing better.

BLS: Do you find that when scouting for a piece of music to use for a project it’s more productive to look for a the song itself or a band or artist that creates music with the same emotional presence that your looking for?

BD: This largely depends on the type of project we're working on. For instance, if the project is going custom, we'll utilize an artist or composer that we feel will help capture the emotions in the direction we're going for. For most projects, we're looking for the perfect song that will take a video production to the next level. Oftentimes, we're searching for that song that just nails it. It can really be an "aha!" moment.

BLS: What specifically are you looking for when you pursue a relationship with a band?

BD: I take everything into account, because I believe it all matters. It's important to take time to get to know the artist a bit (through past interviews, reading through bios, etc) as well as listening to the music. At the end of the day, I look for music that we can help support through licensing. It's always a leap of faith (so to speak) as to what we believe will license, seeing that our clients ultimately make the decision of what they will use. For every artist on our roster, we feel there is an opportunity to create income for them to help support their work and I'm conscious that I'm only signing artists that I feel we can help.

BLS: Are there things that a band can do to be more attractive to licensing outfits like Marmoset?

BD: The best thing a band can do is create music they believe in. Music that follows a story works really well for us, as it often times contains a cinematic element to it. If an artists finds expression through electro or folk or whatever they're into, being true to themselves really shows.
Also, due to voice overs, having instrumentals available is crucial.

BLS: Say that someone is interested in the music industry specifically in the area of working with licensing music. What avenues would you suggest to break into the industry?

BD: Taking the time to know the music landscape and their local music scene is a key factor. I believe it really takes immersing yourself in music culture to get a good sense at it. Many different types of backgrounds can come into music licensing. At Marmoset we have people that have traveled the world in touring bands (such as Fruit Bats and The Shins), people that are growing their local bands (such as Norman and Alameda), business students, and filmmakers. There is no specific background that makes someone fit perfectly into this world. Having a good ear and the drive to create will win over.

BLS: Marmoset is very active in supporting the local music scene here in Portland ; from MusicfestNW events to fundraisers for the Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls. Why does Marmoset Music take such an interest in Portland’s music scene?

BD: We've grown from the music scene that we've started in. A majority of the people at Marmoset have been raised in the Pacific Northwest or have spend considerable time growing from the music scene. We are proud of the people who create music here and hope to give back whenever possible. Above all else, there is just a lot of great music here.

BLS: I’ve read that you’re an avid music aficionado. So what’s the name 5 bands you love but who few people have heard of?

BD: Oh wow! Let's see. Some of my favorite bands at the moment are:
Angel Olsen,
Outrageous Cherry
Sonny and the Sunsets