NoiseTrade One-on-One

NoiseTrade One-on-One: Interview with Katie Jelen (Secret Road)

Have you ever been moved by the use of a certain song during a television show, movie, or commercial and wondered how it got there? In our newest NoiseTrade One-on-One, we’re looking to shine a little light on that process by talking with Katie Jelen of Secret Road Music Services. In our chat, Jelen explains what a company like Secret Road does for artists, how music placement actually works, and what some of her favorite placements have been over the last few years.

NoiseTrade: What exactly does Secret Road do for artists?

Katie Jelen: Secret Road is a boutique music licensing, publishing and management company. We represent an amazing roster of artists and have the privilege of pitching their music for opportunities ranging from film, television and advertising placements to pop and country cuts.

NT: How does television and film placement work? Meaning, are artists commissioned or do the songs get placed after they are already written?

Jelen: We create opportunities in all sorts of ways. Most commonly, we pitch existing original music delivered to us by the artists that we represent. We also have a number of writers, artists and producers who write music to briefs for more custom needs ranging from major motion picture end titles to international advertising campaigns. It really comes down to helping the music supervisors and ad agencies find the perfect song to bring to life whatever story they are telling.

NT: What’s been some of the most exciting placements for Secret Road?

Jelen: Oh gosh, we’ve been very lucky to have been a part of some great moments over the years. The use of Ingrid Michaelson’s song “Keep Breathing” in Grey’s Anatomy is probably one of the most beloved by fans and is still talked about even 8 years later. The show Nashville has been very supportive of our artists and has featured a number of songs over the past couple of years. Same for Pretty Little Liars. Most recently we landed a Distant Cousins song in the movie This Is Where I Leave You. They’re a newer band, so it was incredibly rewarding for us to make something like that happen for them.

NT: How often do you find yourself watching a television show and thinking “I wouldn’t have used that song there.”?

Jelen: We love all of the music supervisors and think that they are perfect and can do no wrong! *wink*

NT: How about the flipside… Have you ever found yourself saying “Wow! Absolutely perfect choice!”?

Jelen: People don’t realize that there’s a lot more to music supervision and music licensing than just finding the perfect song. There are budgets and opinions and deadlines and plenty of non-sexy things that impact the songs that make their way onto the screen and out of the speakers. For that reason it’s incredible to me that supervisors can navigate it all and still find that magically perfect song. So, yes, that happens pretty frequently and especially when one of our songs is being used.