Everybody thinks they're a music expert, and Joey Kantor will be the first to say it. But few have the robust industry knowledge of the Rogue Valley keyboardist, who's also a utility man at the music licensing and composing firm In the Groove.
"The nice thing is that me being part of the music scene here is a definite advantage for my employers," Kantor said over lunch at La Belle Crepe in downtown Minneapolis.
The 27-year-old jack of all trades dons various caps in his constantly evolving role at In the Groove, dabbling in production, branding and marketing. One day he could be holed up in the studio recording a track for LMFAO to sing over in a Budweiser commercial, then hopping a plane to New York to pitch new clients the next. Working at the "juncture of culture and commerce" is what Kantor envisioned for himself after earning a master's degree from King's College London, where he wrote his dissertation on audio branding.
"Music can be used strategically, just like any other advertising component," he said, working on a bowl of pho at a bustling sidewalk table.
Equally versed in advertising and indie-rock, Kantor employs his scene cred at In the Groove, which draws heavily from the deep pool of Twin Cities talent when licensing music for commercials, TV shows, movies and more. The agency's roster includes local bands such as Cloud Cult, Heiruspecs and Vicious Vicious, and Kantor said he enjoys sharing his industry acumen to help his peers navigate the biz to get their work noticed. "Half the battle is understanding how the channels work to get your music on MTV or a commercial for Cadillac," he said.
One of Kantor's more prominent projects was scoring the theme for ESPN2's "SportsNation," which he did in two short days from his home studio back in his freelance days. Kantor started with In the Groove as an intern in 2008 and freelanced on and off for a few years before being offered a full-time gig last year after he finished grad school.
Still, the scruffy musician manages to juggle multiple artistic endeavors when he's off the clock. Aside from his Rogue Valley duties, Kantor is finishing up a solo album, plays in a Tom Petty cover band with members of Halloween, Alaska and recently recorded with local indie-pop band Van Stee.
"At some point you have to be real and recognize there's only 24 hours in a day," Kantor says.
Bouncing between sound checks and branding meetings is all in a day's work for this young professional/indie-rocker.
- Title: Producer/branding/marketing
- Employer: In the Groove
- Hire date: Early 2011
- Education: Bachelor of music, St. Olaf College. Master's degree in cultural and creative industries, King's College London
- Background: Marketing specialist, Ciceron. Assistant producer, Minnesota Public Radio. Freelance brand strategist.