Leading sonic-branding expert Joel Beckerman has scored more than 50 television programs and received, multiple times, ASCAP’s “Most Performed Compositions on Television” award. But perhaps his most innovative project is Man Made Music, a studio specializing in sonic branding that has helped define episodes and programs on HBO, Disney, Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations and ESPN’s 30 for 30, among others. So what exactly is sonic branding?
“Think about automobiles. The Mustang is a car that’s as famous for its sound as much as anything else. It’s different from a pickup or a Lamborghini. Their sounds are very much part of the experience and in a lot of ways becomes the personality of the vehicle,” Beckerman says. “If you look at our senses, we respond quicker to sound than any other, including touch.”
This fact was fodder for the book he authored in 2014, The Sonic Boom: How Sound Transforms the Way We Think, Feel and Buy. In writing it, Beckerman sought to explore how people respond to and rely on sound, how it influences their thoughts and actions, and the concept of sonic identity––ideas that are at the crux of his work at Man Made. Beckerman wanted to find ways to trigger the recognition of a sound while still creating sounds that are unique. Fast Company, a leading business media brand, named Man Made one of its “Most Innovative Companies” in music.
As a Society of Composers and Lyricists board member and head of its New York steering committee, Beckerman also contributes to a mentorship program for industry newcomers to help them start their careers and have long ones.
“I hear sometimes people complaining that things are not what they used to be. Some people convince themselves there’s not as much work, or work that doesn’t pay, and I guess I just don’t believe any of that,” he says. “I think that what we all have to do as creative people in a business world is make sure we’re really embracing what we love and are most passionate about––and just be super curious about who needs that.”