Brendon Mulvihill is the Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for proTunes, one of the largest music and licensing platforms in the world. Brendon’s experience in business development and strategy across a variety of media, content, and technology applications is extensive. Focusing on revenue-generation and direct sales, he has pioneered business-to-business e-commerce for global enterprise sales teams. While he has excelled in a myriad of business enterprises, his passion is for start-ups. He enjoys the process of building new companies and relationships, and he was kind enough to sit down with Level 77 to discuss the music industry, advertising, and the importance of developing fresh and unique content.

For the readers who don’t know you, can you tell us a little bit about your background and your position at proTunes?

 For the past 12 years, I have been in the business of managing, monetizing, and protecting media intellectual property, particularly when it is used as a raw material in creative work on TV, in film, and in advertising. That’s mostly a fancy way of saying I’ve licensed images, video, and music to television shows, movies, brands, advertising agencies, news programs, etc. The vast majority of that time has been licensing video on behalf of the likes of Sony Pictures, MGM, Paramount, NCAA, US Soccer, Big Ten, GoPro, and everyday people with great videos on their cell phones. proTunes is my first time in the music business, and I currently oversee sales and marketing for the company. Many of the ad agency and brand clients that I have worked with in the past are also customers of proTunes or potential customers of proTunes.

Music has a huge influence in the advertising world, can you tell us some trends you are seeing this year with the songs getting placed? 

We are coming out of, and in many ways are still in, a very interesting time in America. Creatively, it feels like ad agencies are getting back to feelgood and happy themes while still being conscious of the overall environment of any given moment. Matching that feeling in the scripts and tone of the creative with upbeat, fun, and inspiring music seems to be driving a lot of the placements that we are seeing. Additionally, sounds that are trending on social media, particularly TikTok, are guiding a lot of the digital-first creative, which has become the vast majority of work being done.

How does proTunes stay at the forefront of advertising music?

We really look to create conversation between our ad agency clients and our library partners. We rely heavily on the discussion between those two parties to drive the frontend of creative development. We see ourselves as connectors in that environment and really learn from both sides. As we create more conversation and drive more learning, I think proTunes can become more instrumental in displaying what type of music is culturally relevant at any given time.

From your point of view, how does music most affect the audiences in advertisements?

 Music can play several different roles in advertisements depending on the creative needs and the distribution outlet. 80% of the time music is an important background character. Particularly on social media where sound off is a very real consideration for building creative assets. 20% of the time, music is taking center stage as the main character in the creative. And it’s that 20% that brings out all the feelings. It connects you with memories from your youth, family moments that you’ll never forget, and major life accomplishments that change who you are. We all have that soundtrack to our lives. When it’s time for music to stand front and center in the creative, it can be the most powerful part of the entire project.

How does your team at proTunes handle the demand for content and constantly keep things fresh for its clients?

 It’s all about the people who work at proTunes. When I joined proTunes I did two things – I hired absolute experts in licensing, customer service, and account management, and organized our team so roles and responsibilities were clearly defined. If I can be so bold, there isn’t a team in the world that has more knowledge of creative licensing and rights management than we do. And that ranges from name, image, likeness all the way through music royalties. There isn’t a scenario we haven’t seen. So with that expertise comes the ability to manage any situation very efficiently. If you need a certain type of music, we have 150 partners to direct you to. If you need help with creating custom music, we work with hundreds of providers. If you need a major label track cleared, we know who to call. If you run into a problem, creatively, legally, or process-wise, we’ve seen it and we know how to manage it. At the end of the day, you can count on us and I think that’s all that anyone wants when you are doing business.

How does ProTunes help boutique catalogues like Level 77 Music?

 Our mantra is “rising tide lifts all ships.” By creating a platform that makes the process of music licensing easier for everyone, we can introduce the world to more music more efficiently. Many of our partners are 3-5-person businesses. Investing in sales and marketing for those businesses is a tough decision. We can be a supportive sales and marketing backbone to those businesses in the world of music. Our team spends hours and hours reaching out to existing and new ad agency and brand clients. Our core competency from a personnel standpoint is getting in front of brands and agencies. And we take our responsibility to introduce boutique music to those clients very seriously. As we continue to build, I’m very confident we can all grow together.

What do you currently have going on at ProTunes that you’re really excited about?

The pipeline for tech development is always most exciting to me. That means pushing our similarity search to the next level, introducing AI into our music search and discovery, and enhancing and refining our segmentation search. It’s a lot of behind the scenes, under the hood type work that takes time but could be game changing.

Is there anything else you’d like to add that we didn’t mention?

We are so appreciative of partners like Level 77 Music that work hand-in-hand with us and see the vision. It’s a process, but your support means everything to us and we will pay it back in spades in the future. So thank you!

A huge thank you to Brendon from us on the Level 77 team! His energy and enthusiasm is infectious, and his insight into the complicated dynamics of music, advertising, and technology should be at the forefront of any creator’s thinking.