Specialist In: soul, funk, disco, jazz & world
Leo has been working with brands and music for over 10 years alongside music supervision and licensing for TV and film and stints with record labels and music streaming services. He has a deep knowledge of music across all genres and has created music strategies for leading international retail and hospitality brands including Mulberry, Four Seasons, Dunhill, Hyatt, Harrods, Dishoom, YO! Sushi amongst others.
"Every client and project is different, but generally speaking, when curating playlists for brands and businesses, I try to answer three questions; does it fit the brand's personality? Is it going to sound good in the space? Is it going to resonate with the target audience? If the answer is yes to these three questions, you are onto a winner."
An interview with Leo
Let’s start from the beginning - please introduce yourself and give us a background to your life in music...
I'm Leo and I do music curation, account management and business development at Open Ear. I have spent my life either listening to, playing or curating music in some form. The last 10 years have been largely dedicated to helping brands define their sound and use music more effectively with a focus on retail, hospitality and the luxury sector.
Do you remember what music inspired you at an early age? And perhaps a few tracks that inspired you to start a career in music?
I grew up in a music industry family and had a daily stream of new release and catalogue promo CDs coming through the post, which exposed me to a massive amount of music from an early age. I would spend days sifting through piles of music and in particular, remember discovering a Motown compilation aged around six. I think hearing these tracks for the first time had a massive impact and set me on a path toward a career in music.
Is there one area of music you specialise in i.e. genre or scene that you are particularly close to?
I listen to everything and enjoy good music from all genres but tend to gravitate toward jazz, soul, disco and interesting electronic music.
What are your favourite places, sources, sites, radio shows or people to discover new music?
Listening to radio stations like NTS, Worldwide FM and specialist BBC shows. Record stores like Cosmos, Sounds of the Universe and Phonica. Following record stores' social channels can also be a good source of discovery and being sent new music obviously helps too!
Talk to us about your approach to music playlist curation for brands, do you have some key do’s and don’ts?
Every client and project is different, but generally speaking, when curating playlists for brands and businesses, I try to answer three questions; does it fit the brand's personality? Is it going to sound good in the space? Is it going to resonate with the target audience? If the answer is yes to these three questions, you are onto a winner.
What are your thoughts on computer algorithms shaping the future of music curation?
Artificial intelligence (AI) will continue to shape every facet of our lives and music curation is no exception. The big question is whether AI can be taught to interpret and curate art in a way that elicits an emotional response from listeners as effectively as humans can. Even if this is possible eventually, it is certainly a long way off. In the meantime, algorithms can continue to help with categorising and recommending music and leave the curation to the experts.
Tell us more about the client(s) you’ve worked with using the Open Ear platform. How did you meet the client’s expectations?
One of my favourite projects with Open Ear has been working with The Zetter Group on their Zetter Townhouse brands. The client tasked us with creating a sound that matches the quirky retro character of the spaces, helps tell their well-defined and imaginative brand story and can work for laid-back afternoons and busy evenings in the bars. We created a concept that centred around vintage jazz and fun world music alongside playful and slightly kitsch 'exotica' and lounge music from the fifties with playlists timetabled throughout the day in line with trading patterns. The result is a fun and immersive sound that helps tell the brand story and enhance the interior design and atmosphere in the spaces whatever time it might be.