Michael Szumowski’s title is Music Supervisor. He works at Rumble Studios. Rumble is located over two floors of a renovated warehouse in the inner Sydney suburb of Chippendale. It houses state of the art facilities including – three are designated composing studios and three sound design suites, comfortable client amenities and if you flung a Fender Telecaster from their front door you could quite possibly hit two very fine pubs.
We met with Michael for a few hours mid week to discuss the business of music.
Rumble describes their product as “ full service music and sound design.” I suspect it is actually much more than that. When it comes to music, people are part of the product too.
Organising, negotiating, composing, producing and recording music tracks that will move an audience, enhance a product but take up no more than 30 to 60 seconds of airtime is no easy task.
You should expect a Music Supervisor to have an explicit understanding of music, how it is created, how it is captured and what its commercial worth might be.
Here are Michaels credentials:
He is a platinum selling songwriter/ producer having worked with artists such as Guy Sebastian, Nicole Millar, Josh Pyke and many others. He is an accomplished screen composer with a list of credits to his name including an APRA Screen Music Award Nomination for Best Music For A Children’s Television Series 2016. And he spent the last six years as Head of A&R / Creative at the iconic Australian music company, Alberts, where he discovered, signed and nurtured successful artists including San Cisco, Montaigne, The Delta Riggs and Nicole Millar.
He is quick to point out however it is the complete team that makes things happen.
Owners Tone Aston and Johnny Green are Creative Director/Sound Engineer and Creative Director/Composer respectively. They, along with Michael Gie in the role of Executive Producer, have assembled an incredibly talented group of composers and sound designers at Rumble.
Collectively they have worked for clients as divers as Nike, Visa, AT&T, TEDx, Qantas, Toyota, Aldi, Hyundai, Tourism Tasmania, and Spotify, collaborated with artists including San Cisco, Josh Pyke, Montaigne and The Cat Empire, worked with agencies BMF, Saatchi & Saatchi, DDB, The Special Group, BWM Dentsu, McCann and many more, and inhabited studios around the globe including the iconic birthplace of AC/DC, Alberts.
Check out these videos of Rumble work (click image to view)
Aldi – Mini Roos
With Rumble, it’s the intensity of their listening that leads directly to the quality of the music they make. They believe that for every brief there is a brilliant solution. You just have to be dedicated, talented and knowledgeable enough to find it.
Michael likes to say, “There’s always a conversation to be had.”
“It’s all about having the right contacts, understanding how songwriters think and what they believe in, and appreciating the intricacies of copyright law that enables Rumble to source tracks and compose tunes that in first instance, seemed an impossibility.”
He believes that creative teams should talk to him when a script is in its infancy and not discard any musical idea no matter how far fetched.
Michael describes one of the most satisfying aspects of his job as uncovering new talent. “I first heard Montaigne when she was just 16 and thought – her voice is incredible. At that stage she hadn’t written any songs but over the next few years, with a lot of encouragement and very little pressure she emerged as the talent she is today. It’s all about building relationships so when a script calls for a particular sound, artist or original song, I know how to source it.”
The idiosyncrasies of everything digital has changed the music business forever says Michael. But with change comes opportunity. Many artists are making a comfortable living as independents, recording material in their bedrooms, releasing tunes online, making live performances and banking reasonable incomes doing what they love most.
The benefit for marketers, agencies and production companies is that there is a huge new talent pool of gifted musicians, singer/songwriters and lyricists who can be called upon to come up with something not only magical, but on brief and on time and therefore commercially viable.
Many of the briefs Rumble receives demand musical authenticity. “Having great relationships with artists and managers allows me to access an amazing talent pool that can add real impact to the music. It’s something you just can’t fake,” says Michael. “If the script requires it I can bring in a band or artist to do what they do and deliver an incredible result. Audiences are so discerning now days you have to be able to deliver a track that not only compliments the visuals but exists in its own right.”
“We call it ‘the power of music’,” says Michael. “It not only has to be genius, it has to earn its keep. And that’s what Rumble is all about.”