2 Minutes With ... Sydney Ferleger, President & EP of The Music Playground
Sydney Ferleger is a strong stakeholder in music, advertising, branded content and entertainment. She is a president and executive producer running three successful companies: The Music Playground, The Diner and The Station.
At Playground and Diner, she manages original music creation, band and artist licensing and other services across advertising, television and film. (She even had the pleasure of singing on a McDonald's commercial.) At The Station, she produces full-service projects, from creative ideation through finishing.
Sydney is an active member of the Rolling Stone Culture Council, a guest lecturer at the Roc Nation School of Music, Sports, and Entertainment and has been on the Telly Awards judging council for the past two years. When she's not working you can find her hitting the slopes on her snowboard or rocking out on vocals with some local musicians.
We spent two minutes with Sydney to learn more about her background, creative inspirations and some recent work she's admired.
Sydney, tell us...
Where you grew up, and where you live now.
I grew up in Glenview, Ill., a suburb just north of Chicago. Now proudly living in New York City.
Your earliest musical memory.
When I was a baby, my sisters used to sing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" to me and I would bawl every time. Music moved me from a young age.
Hope you got a good giggle from that answer. Truly though, my earliest real memory (the above is true, I just don't remember it) is from kindergarten. I performed in many musicals while growing up (and a few as an adult) and I remember singing and dancing on stage as early as the age of 5. I've always loved performing.
Your favorite bands/musicians today.
Tame Impala, Neil Frances, and Tom Misch, to name a few. Recently we have been collaborating with William Ryan Key and I dig his new project, Jedha. I've been listening to Jessie Reid in the morning, great morning music to ease you into your day. Jessie Reid is a new artist we're working with at The Music Playground through our representation of the AntiFragile Music catalog.
A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.
Okay, so, I am a content junkie (as I'm sure many of us in this line of work are). I watch everything: the great, the good, the bad and the ugly. I consider it research. I really had to think about this question as the choice word "inspiring" stuck out to me. I could recommend a million shows or movies for different reasons, but do they really inspire me? One show I've recently been watching that I can confidently say inspires me is Abbott Elementary. The goofy character personalities of the school staff mixed with the true compassion the teachers have for their students succeeds despite the school being under-resourced. It's heart-warming and encouraging. It makes me reflect. What have I done for my community lately? How can we create better circumstances for kids these days?
A recent project you're proud of.
The feature film I worked on last year, He Went That Way, will be having its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival this month. I am so proud to have been a part of the post production for this film. We have tracks both from The Music Playground and The Diner in the film score and I was a part of the audio-post production team of the film. My first red carpet!
One thing about how the music world is evolving that you're excited about.
Global Collaboration. This is not a new concept, of course, but it continues to evolve. Social media and the advent of TikTok allows artists to not only discover each other, but interact with each other. Zoom has become a significantly more prevalent platform and allows for further connectivity. Programs like Sessionwire allow creative/professional studio collaborations. All of this coupled with companies such as The Music Playground who are further connecting the dots for artist collaboration and licensing opportunities. You can co-write, produce, mix, etc., with someone in another state or country so smoothly these days and the technology and resources available are only getting better. As well, we are in an era of incredible genre-bending musicality and global collaboration only enhances that. Really cool to hear new sounds coming out of unexpected artist inspirations and partnerships.
Someone else's work, in music or beyond, that you admired lately.
There's a recent Don Julio spot for their Discover Rosado campaign and it's the perfect disco daydream. I love everything disco! Not only is the production value of this piece incredible down to every detail you see in the picture, including the disco nails of the lead actor, but I have been following artist Connor Price for a while now and I was so excited to see that he worked on the remix. Beautiful work and big ups to this whole team.
An artist you admire outside the world of music
Huge fan of Rudy Willingham. He also does music, but what he creates beyond his music is really special. From combining slow motion paint clouds with stills for the promo of the movie Paint to creating a custom zoetrope slipmat that animates when it spins for the 25th anniversary and reissue of the Pearl Jam album Yield to creating a tic tac toe board on his wife's pregnant belly and playing tic tac toe with the kicks of his unborn child, there is never a dull moment with his creativity. Truly unique, hilarious, and inspiring. Check him out!
Your favorite fictional character.
Someone worth following on social media.
Rudy Willingham: ... am I allowed to have the same answer for two questions?
Ian Grody: Incredible and innovative chief creative officer at Giant Spoon.
Ryan Reynolds: For his business acumen, not his acting career (although who doesn't love a good Ryan Reynolds movie?).
Your main strength as a marketer/creative.
My passion. I carry passion with me through every project, from start to finish. I pay attention to every detail and do my best to ensure creative needs are met across the board. It's a delicate balance between protecting artistic integrity and managing the budget, schedule, etc. but I do it with genuine excitement and affection for the craft. Passion is my driving force.
Your biggest weakness.
Perfectionist to a fault.
Something people would find surprising about you.
In the winter of 2019 (before the world ended), I performed at an event and was followed (outshined, really) by the great Gloria Gaynor..
One thing that always makes you happy.
Singing. It feeds my soul.
One thing that always makes you sad.
When the season of the TV show series I am watching ends and I have to wait for the next season. Or worse when it's the series finale!
What you'd be doing if you weren't in the music business.