2 Minutes With … Rab Bradlea, East Coast Music Supervisor for ALIBI Music

On the uphill battle labor organizers face

Rab is the East Coast supervisor for ALIBI, a provider of music and sound effects for advertising, film, television, games and other content. Earlier, he spent a decade in video production for short films, trailers, TV promos, sales reels and web content, for which he often also provided music supervision. Bradlea held previous posts at Vibe Creative and Open Road Entertainment.

We spent two minutes with Rab to learn more about his background, his creative inspirations and recent work he's admired.

Rab, tell us …

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I was raised in a suburb of Boston—but I'd say I grew up when I started working overnights at a Walgreens in Los Angeles after college. I currently live outside of NYC.

Your earliest musical memory.

The most vivid was hearing Modest Mussorgsky's "Night on Bald Mountain" at the end of Fantasia. It scared the hell out of me, but I also remember wanting to keep listening.

Your favorite bands/musicians today.

Zeal & ArdorNova TwinsJohnny Stranger and Bent Knee.

One of your favorite projects you've ever worked on.

One of my favorite projects is currently unfinished and may never be completed. I followed Ben Levin Group on one of their first tours to shoot a documentary. I was in college at the time and had no idea what I was doing as a filmmaker or an editor. This was over 10 years ago, and members of the band have gone on to do cool work in other groups. I'd love to revisit the footage in light of everything that's happened since, as well as how I've grown as a creative, to see if there's a story to be told.

A recent project you're proud of.

ALIBI is about to release an album called Sorrowful Indie that I produced. All credit goes to Josh Friedman, Carey Clayton and Yawny Blew for their work. It's a legitimately sad album. Very weird to be excited by how well it was coming along based on how badly I felt during each round of notes.

One thing about how the music world is evolving that you're excited about.

I love how accessible music has become, especially for younger people. It's also allowed me to continue discovering new music I never would have stumbled across in a pre-digital age. This is partially why it's so hard to categorize new music these days—people aren't as limited to specific genres or styles anymore, and are drawing from a much wider range of influences. And even the "weird" stuff is able to find an audience online, allowing those musicians to share their art. There are obviously pros and cons to how the music world has changed, but those are some positive aspects.

Someone else's work, in music or beyond, that you admired lately.

I admire the work being done by labor organizers around the country, in every industry imaginable. It's an uphill battle every step of the way, but those efforts historically are why we often take a 5-day work week, sick days and the outlawing of child labor for granted. If you're not paying attention to the labor movement in America, go look into it. That spirit of collective action is taking hold in the music industry as well: Music supervisors just voted to join IATSE, and the United Musicians and Allied Workers (UMAW) helped create the Living Wage for Musicians Act that will hopefully make streaming more profitable for artists.

A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.

American Fiction was, in my opinion, the best movie of last year and it hasn't gotten nearly enough credit. Movies are inspiring in general, because it's a small miracle any of them get made. It's a staggering amount of work. But to have a film be as good as American Fiction in every conceivable way ... that's something truly special.

An artist you admire outside the world of music.

Jonathan Demme

Your favorite fictional character.

I don't have a single favorite. The first characters that came to mind were MacGyver and the nun Vanessa Redgrave plays in The DevilsMake of that what you will.

How musicians should approach working with brands.

Cautiously. Before you do any work, clearly define how much you'll be paid and the parameters. If you leave those things to chance, the brand will likely take as much of your time as it can and pay you as little as possible. If you're composing for a brand, make sure you have a firm answer on a) when your track is due, b) your fee, and c) the number of revisions you're willing to make as part of the fee. It also doesn't hurt to do a little research on the brand you're working with, to make sure you feel comfortable having your work associated with them.

How brands should approach working with musicians.

Pay them. Not in experience, not in visibility, not in merch. Pay them. The work of musicians is chronically undervalued, and music itself is often treated as an afterthought. It's laughable to hear sizable companies plead poverty when the time comes to pay creatives. It's not that they can't. They simply choose not to.

A mentor who helped you navigate the industry.

I owe a debt of gratitude to fellow music supervisor JT Trainor. I had tangential experience with the music world through other work in entertainment, but my abilities as a music supervisor are largely due to JT's mentorship.

2 Minutes With is our regular interview series where we chat with creatives about their backgrounds, creative inspirations, work they admire and more. For more about 2 Minutes With, or to be considered for the series, please get in touch.

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