Watt White is a music composer and vocalist who has toured with Megadeth and scored OxiClean ads. His original music has been streamed/viewed over 100 million times despite the fact that he is a regular Dad. He has run at least one mile every day since 2/21/94.
How did you get into the industry?
After years in bands I took the advice of my now wife and submitted a home made music demo blindly to commercial music houses I had randomly googled. It was a CD of parody commercials. I got 2 responses, and one led me to a manager of singers. I started bouncing around to the studios, doing sessions and meeting people. I started booking jobs and was able to quit my day job. Eventually I figured I could try my hand at ProTools and started producing my own tracks. 17 years later I’m still at it.
What does your current job entail?
Making music for advertising, licensing, TV. Original music production, session vocals and VO.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Ad projects come in unpredictability, so those get addressed as they arise. Any lag time goes toward original music production. Of course at the moment, time is definitely crunched. Night work is a must lately.
What do you think are the most interesting developments in your area of the industry?
We are used to working remotely and alone, so aspects of this time are pretty familiar. Creatively, the tools are ultra powerful. But it still comes down to creative sensibility and computer management. Two things that don’t necessarily overlap.
What’s been the most unexpected thing about the job?
I guess with experience in the ad music game, I have come to expect the unexpected. You develop a thick skin pretty quick if you are cut out to last. You start out with expectations of things like recurring work, getting rewarded accordingly for effort put in on any particular job… You realize it’s the overall total net takeaway that makes up your career. There’s the job you slaved over for weeks that went away at the last second, then there’s the thing that popped up in 48 hours that wound up being a big success/payday. Add those two together and divide and somehow you come out with something that almost resembles actual adult work.
There’s the job you slaved over for weeks that went away at the last second, then there’s the thing that popped up in 48 hours that wound up being a big success/payday.
What’s the coolest project you’ve ever done?
Creatively many of the coolest projects were pitches that went nowhere – moments when people were trying to show off and let you run wild. To me the coolest aspect is shifting gears creatively job after job. This week I did cutting edge female vocal trap with full lyrics, a 50s doo-wop genre comedy, a sparse Italian-flavored sensitive/cinematic piano piece, and a full bodied macho TV sports project with horns, strings, nu metal guitars and the works. So many totally different hats I get to wear.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?
I got exactly 2 pieces of honest, unsolicited advice when I was younger and in my rock band days. It’s amazing how rarely people give you honest advice in music. One guy tried his best to suggest that I “didn’t have to hire my friends” to play on my recordings – they were pretty amateur and I didn’t know it. And an A&R guy suggested I might benefit from voice lessons, and he was right. A few years later I was a whole new singer. In my ad music world, a higher-up person walked in on us talking about the fine details of a piece of music and he reminded us we were trying to “sell music, not make music“ or something like that. Basically – don’t forget the point of all this. That can be helpful if you are getting too precious with details and losing sight of the overall goal.
What’s on your playlist at the moment?
I keep a grab bag Spotify playlist going, usually for a few months at a time. I throw everything I can in there and do my best to listen. Mostly new stuff, some familiar things. Definitely cross genres. I try not to listen to any music I already know.
The fact that I have managed to stay busy through quarantine so far has been encouraging. I returned to being freelance right as everything shut down and for a moment I was worried.
What’s getting you through lockdown?
Heineken and the Internet. And truthfully the fact that I have managed to stay busy through quarantine so far has been encouraging. I returned to being freelance right as everything shut down and for a moment I was worried – for now at least it seems like the ad music world is more or less chugging along.
Do you have any predictions or hopes for the future of the industry?
The industry as a whole I think will always be set up to be profitable – they are always finding ways to exploit us and reap the majority of the benefits. That’s OK, we the music makers still experience it in the purest and most ecstatic way. The new generation of music makers only know this landscape, and they are inspired and have the capabilities to create and release music constantly. Most importantly, let’s just evolve and stay inspired.
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