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Soundtracking The Sopranos and Sharing Good Music with Andrew Kahn



The founder and music supervisor at Good Ear Music Supervision on the career-making mixtape that got him on HBO’s iconic show and wanting to "live and love forever," writes LBB’s Ben Conway

Soundtracking The Sopranos and Sharing Good Music with Andrew Kahn

Good Ear Music Supervision is a team of music curators dedicated to shining light on the best songs the world has to offer. Since its start in 2011, GEMS has provided music supervision to hundreds of ad campaigns, crafting the perfect matches for many of the world’s most beloved brands; Apple, Nike, Google, Target, Southern Comfort, Spotify, Sonos, adidas, Cosmopolitan Hotel, Honda, Samsung and ESPN, to name a few.

Its founder - and still a music supervisor himself - Andrew Kahn, grew up with the memorable jingles, albums and film soundtracks that the ‘80s and ‘90s had to offer, which put him on a path to make a career out of his passion for finding, cataloguing and sharing his favourite tracks. 

Speaking to LBB’s Ben Conway, he discusses how his first big break came when a mixtape brought him to the ‘Bada Bing!’ for The Sopranos, how GEMS came to be, and some of his favourite projects from throughout his career.


LBB> Was music always a passion for you? When did it first become a career option?


Andrew> Growing up as an only child, music, film and TV were my besties. ‘Pump Up The Volume’ was like my bible, along with all the great soundtracks from my ‘80s-’90s childhood. I found out music supervision was an actual career after watching ‘Bottle Rocket’ in college, and it’s been my dream job ever since. 



LBB> How was your journey into this industry? What did you study at college and when did the possibility of working in the advertising world appear to you? 


Andrew> There wasn’t a traditional path to music supervision when I was in school, so I followed my backup passion and got a degree in cognitive neuroscience… But I kept my eye on the prize and hosted college radio shows, made student films, and started collecting and obsessively cataloguing MP3s. Napster, I still love you. 

Fast-forward to 2006, I had a couple of internships but couldn’t find a paying gig in the field. A mixtape I made around that time fell into the right hands, and it landed me a gig on ‘The Sopranos’. My first big placement was in the ‘Bada Bing!’, and I’ve been hurtling down this crazy career path ever since. I still cherish the mixtape that changed my life! After the show ended, I found out Apple’s ad agency (Media Arts Lab) was hiring, and it’s been pretty much all ads since then. 



LBB> When did you start GEMS? What goals did you set when you joined and have some of these been achieved? 


Andrew> After working at MAL for four years, I left one of the smartest, greatest, most successful companies in history, and the best job I could ever dream up… in order to wander off into the world of freelance music supervision. I was 29 at the time, and my only goal was to share more good music with the world. It’s been nearly 12 years and not a lot has changed. And I have no regrets. 



LBB> What are your favourite artist partnerships, covers or remixes that you’ve helped to facilitate? How do you match a brand to the perfect artist and vice versa?


Andrew> At GEMS, we focus on traditional syncs, but a couple of times a year, the right project comes around that calls for an original composition or cover. Early in his career, Moses Sumney was known for looping sounds, snippets, effects, and vocals in his live performances. After we introduced him to the folks at RPA, they featured him playing live in a 360° music video to showcase the Honda Civic. At the time, that felt like a bold choice to take a chance on a then-unknown artist, and a big creative win. 

I’ll also always have a soft spot for this absurd Future x Cher x Sly and the Family Stone collaboration for GAP. 

LBB> What was your first professional project and what are your memories of that? And what was the project or piece of work that you felt really changed your career?


Andrew> During my stint at ‘The Sopranos’, we needed to find a song to play in the background as AJ gets brutally dumped by his girlfriend. I sourced a cover of ‘Livin’ La Vida Loca’ by The Ophir Prison Marching Kazoo Band… perhaps my proudest accomplishment! And about a year after starting GEMS, we synced Odetta’s ‘Hit or Miss’ in Wieden & Kennedy NY’s first work for Southern Comfort. Awards were won, tributes were written, culture was moved, and her daughter was thrilled. That one will always be tough to beat.

LBB> What is a piece of work that made you want to get into the industry? And what is a creative work (ad/film/book etc.) that you keep revisiting?


Andrew> I used to sing the Frosted Flake jingle pretty much every day of my childhood. I credit/blame that ditty for the trajectory of my career. The book I’ve re-read most is Tom Robbin’s ‘Jitterbug Perfume’. Probably because I want to live and love forever. 



LBB> What’s a recent project that excited you the most or posed an interesting creative challenge?


Andrew> I love when we’re tasked with the challenge (or opportunity) to find a song that works alongside some hefty voiceover. Pulling it off requires just the right vibe and lyrics to smoothly and subtly slide in place. The Delta project we did earlier this year was a nice example of that. 

LBB> What do you think it is that drives and motivates you in work and in your life?


Andrew> Work-wise, everything stems from the desire to find and share good music. Whether it’s a mixtape or a DJ set or a music supervision project, I get a big kick out of giving a little love to an under-appreciated song. 



LBB> What do you do to decompress or stay fresh? What are some of your hobbies, special interests and habits?


Andrew> Burgers, bourbon, and backgammon. Preferably all at once. 

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Good Ear Music Supervision, Wed, 14 Dec 2022 14:39:00 GMT