Life at Kobalt: Talking with Jeannette Perez about the Lookup Factor
Being a creator in today’s musical landscape means having access to different platforms for exposure, publicity and potential income streams. One of the ways an artist can kickstart and enhance their career is through synch—the pairing of songs to visuals. Whether those visuals be commercial, film, television or a number of other media areas, a well-paired song to visual has the power to impact a viewer in a way that surpasses words. It’s especially challenging to capture and maintain a viewer’s attention in today’s media landscape, given the amount of distractions that can occur at any given moment. We decided to talk to our own Jeannette Perez, President, Global Synch and Brand Partnerships, about the importance of synch, and how Kobalt’s synch team is able to give visual media “the lookup factor.”
The Kobalt synch team functions in a similar way to how music supervisors work for films, commercials, and TV, except for the fact that Kobalt’s team exclusively represents a catalog of music creators and clients. Some of the team’s responsibilities include: creatively pitching music by Kobalt (and AWAL) artists for commercial, film, and television spots, providing music supervisors who approach Kobalt with curated, knowledgeable options to choose from (from Kobalt’s full catalog), facilitating deals where artists can create original songs for different media, and brand partnerships. One of the most recent projects Kobalt’s synch team worked on was for the Ghost in the Shell soundtrack that was inspired by the film, which the team facilitated and creatively oversaw. “[For us] a soundtrack album starts by having a very close relationship with the film studio, knowing what films they have coming out, and having constant dialogue about artists and songwriters we’re mutually excited about,” says Jeannette. “Wanting to have a mutually beneficial outcome out of what this project is going to be which is really, in this case, inspired by soundtrack, but what's the sonic brand of this film going to be to the world?” The final decision on the structure of the album in this instance, ultimately came down to the film studio and director who chose the final tracklisting amongst the creative options that were presented.
Something that the synch team keeps in mind with every project they pursue is what Jeannette calls, “the lookup factor.” She says, “If you’re a 25 year old adult, and you have your phone in front of you, your iPad, your computer, all while watching TV, when a commercial comes on you’re probably not paying attention to it unless you hear the song… if the song catches you, you look up. We need music to always be the lookup factor, and for people to understand that without a great song, the likelihood is that the commercial is going to gloss over you.” The lookup factor only adds to the quality of a good film, trailer, or TV episode, and this value is one that motivates Jeannette and her team to constantly strive for the perfect marriage of music to visual media. Working with a catalog that runs a spectrum of current pop hits, recognizable gems and new/developing artists, is part of what makes Jeannette’s team successful in providing music supervisors with songs that creatively fit their needs.
The opportunities for synch placements are ever-changing, which means that any given project can be turned over to someone else outside of Kobalt, in a moment’s time. For that reason, Kobalt’s synch team adheres to a 24-hour response time rule, ensuring that emails and calls will be responded to immediately. The sense of urgency is felt by every member of the team during every project. “For me, and for this department, it’s important for us to close as much as possible and the only way for you to close is to keep communication open between you and your music supervisors, advertising agencies, film and TV studios, video game companies—really with all of the players that can potentially bring opportunities to our Kobalt clients.” Another factor that plays into the team’s sense of urgency, comes from working for a company that encourages not only its artists, but its own employees, to work their hardest and strive for the best. “The synch team is out all the time, they listen to everything that comes through, and really care about the artists and spend time with them in and out of the office. The Kobalt mantra is that we care about our clients, we want them to feel that they’re getting the best service in the industry. That has extended and trickled into this department,” says Jeannette. That means picking up the phone and having a conversation, no matter if it’s good or bad. The purpose is to be transparent, a value that comes directly from Kobalt, to have honest conversations with people. For Jeannette, the difference between working at Kobalt and anywhere else, is the team, the roster, and the ethos of what this company has been built on, all due to Willard Ahdritz (CEO, founder) and Sas Metcalfe (chief creative officer).
Ultimately, Jeannette aims to continue growing the department, encouraging honesty and transparency, and for everybody to want her job. “Not everybody’s going to want my job, but that’s what I want. I want everybody to want to strive for greatness. If I pitch for sports, I’m going to be the best at pitching for sports, and I want the team to be passionate about the role they play within the department, for Kobalt and our clients...” says Jeannette. “I wouldn’t be where I am without this global team, and I really value every single one of them, and every single one of them knows it. For me, it’s pushing them to achieve their own personal greatness, whatever that looks like.”