OK... Maybe my headline is a tad dramatic for a blog about theme songs and my journey as one of the industry's most sought after composers in the field of TV music.
I'm Jared Gutstadt, a composer for television and film. Through Jingle Punks, the music licensing and production company I co-founded in 2008, I've written and performed music for literally hundreds of television shows. You may know me from my theme song for Pawn Stars which was the most played piece of music on cable TV in 2011. You may have also heard my work on countless pop culture gems like Real Housewives of Atlanta, The Kardashians and The Voice. Needless to say I make a lot of music. OK... with all the braggadocio out of the way I'll just jump into why I'm filling this space. This is my Jerry Maguire moment and my 2012 mission statement to bring back catchy theme songs that we can sing.
You remember theme songs, right? Back before shows jumped right into things, barely pausing for a credit or two, the theme song was king. Remember the great theme songs of the '60s, '70s, '80s and '90s? "Show Me That Smile Again," "Where Everybody Knows Your Name," "No One Told Me Life Was Gonna Be This Way"? Of course you do -- they're burned in your brain, for better or worse... forever and ever. OK, now quick -- hum the theme song to your favorite unscripted series about a family with 25 kids... Oh wait. You can't, can you?
From a marketing standpoint, a good theme song is a home run. Branding wrapped in a memorable, stick-in-your-head melody? That's a priceless commodity in a TV landscape littered with noise and copycat ideas. How many shows with the word "pawn" or "picking" in it have you seen as you scroll the channel guide? My guess is that in a world with 20 shows about cupcake challenges, the best branding will win.
Another advantage of the theme song? Cross-platform branding. A memorable theme can be a recognizable beacon as users sift through the iPad co-viewing experiences, international reformatting, apps, and sibling properties that many of today's shows employ. A strong musical hook can tie it all together.
Theme songs make financial sense. Songs with lyrics generate better royalties not only for the composer but for the networks who commission these ideas. In a landscape where all creatives fight price deterioration, this is a simple fix that also re-elevates our profession back to the level of art. Is that a stretch to say? Maybe, but either way, we'd have a catchier tune to hum.
OK... so the above may be my call to arms for networks, show creatives and composers to all rip up the script and try something new, or perhaps something borrowed.
The Jingle Punks Hipster Orchestra (by the way, did I mention the company side-project, the Hipster Orchestra?) did the below musical stunt to accompany this piece. Kind of a "sonic look back" to get ideas firing. It's a short musical journey through some of the most beloved themes in TV history. Does it trigger a memory or two? Of course it does -- because the best theme songs are unforgettable. Bring back the theme song and show me that smile again...