Dean Carlson, Music Supervisor, PlayNetwork

People at Play :: Dean Carlson, Music Supervisor

Our series, People at Play, highlights the creative minds who fuel PlayNetwork –
a little bit of wisdom & insight, a little bit of rock & roll, straight from our teams.

Who :: Dean Sven Carlson

What :: Music Supervisor/Procurement – I direct and collaborate with a variety of clients; curating their monthly playlists and helping them communicate their brand through the language of music. I also serve as air traffic controller for new submissions to our massive music library, working closely with labels, promoters, managers and artists.

How :: I had a wild and wonderful career in commercial broadcast radio; playing the hits, winning awards, achieving high ratings, and breaking many new artists. I made the jump to web radio, during its infancy, and launched my own modern global radio show, which was syndicated world-wide to over 25 countries. In addition to media, I’ve worked in event management, design and promotion for a variety of organizations, including: Bumbershoot, SIFF, WOMAD, The Recording Academy, and the Decibel Festival.

)    What is the most important thing for you understand before you begin the music curation process for a brand? How do you instill trust that you can convey the message & vibe that brand aspires to?
I go into “sponge mode” when I acquire a new client, absorbing everything I can about the brand’s personality, pouring over marketing materials, social media content and mingling with customers on site. I think that trust is earned that moment when a client feels they are being heard, understood, and in some cases, challenged, based on my observations and suggestions. The most important thing for me to understand, before I start reviewing music for a new client, is who their customer is and what kind of experience they are having at that place of business; the client’s customer is my target.

♫ )    How do you define the relationship between music and the consumer experience?  What do you think when you hear the term “background music”? How has the term evolved?
I believe there is a balance between the emotional response of hearing a great song you know and love and the excitement that happens when you hear something brand new, for the first time, that makes you smile, think or bob your head. To me, background music is still a “warm medium”, a collection of songs you hear while doing something else, like picking out a new outfit for an important event or maybe chatting with a friend at a café, and the two co-exist symbiotically. I’m not sure if the term itself has evolved, or rather, the experience has much more awareness and brands can now boast that they have a “sound” and music is part of the vibe.

♪ )    In-store music is an opportunity for music discovery for customers and staff alike, but what about music rediscovery? How do you leverage opportunities to channel the past, using the power of memory and the emotions a song can bring to surface?
I am a big believer in hits but, not unlike your favorite pair of jeans, you have a take care of them, don’t wear them out, and they don’t always go with everything. I aim to find classic songs, and albums that age well, that also appeal to people regardless of age, which is really quite difficult. My goal is to bring back memories, triggered by a song, of a time when life was adventurous, meaningful and full of new experiences for the listener. I like to use these classics strategically, sandwiching them between more emotionally neutral songs, being aware of context and frequency. In a perfect world, the songs all tell a story, and the playlist has a life of its own.

Dean also curates a daily newsletter for the music team dubbed “New & Noteworthy” – he dishes on his latest picks:

MUSIC :: My favorite albums of Spring 2014 are: ‘Atlas’ by the New Jersey band, Real Estate, ‘Lost In A Dream’, the killer new album by The War On Drugs, and I am enamored by Guy Garvey’s vocals, lead singer of the English group, Elbow, and their new album, ‘The Take Off And Landing Of Everything’. My new discovery this month comes from the Swedish label, Nomethod, who specialize in breezy, sun-kissed, Scandinavian indie pop, starting with the bands Simian Ghost and the Colleagues. Check out this lovely slice of Swedish pop, from the Colleagues, a perfect soundtrack to jump on a skateboard and make some waves.

FILM :: I’m a sucker for a good disaster movie, so of course I have to go see the new ‘Godzilla’ movie this month, which looks fantastic! May also brings the Seattle International Film Festival, celebrating its 40th anniversary, and I can easily spend half my pay check on film passes and absorb as much as I can during its 3 weeks. Speaking of Sweden, there is a quirky film titled, ‘The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared’, about a man who escapes from his nursing home on his 100th birthday. I love movies like this.

What’s the soundtrack to your brand sound like? Discover how our music team can bring your brand’s story to life.