„The U.S. army know exactly what they want,” Kristian Nord says. At least commercial-wise: Military men, Nord says, prefer „massive soundtracks, U2-like, combined with scenes out of ‚Black Hawk Down’.” The 38 year old musician from Münster, Germany, and his creative and business partner, Malte Hagemeister, craft that type of score for army recruiting videos. The two men call themselves Nordmeister — a simple conglomerate of their last names, yet that hints, unvoluntarily, perhaps, at their Northern German origins plus the German word for masters of their craft, Meister.
In addition to the U.S. forces, the duo counts car makers, including BMW and Skoda, as well as a coffee making company and a cosmetics company as clients. Composing for corporations, Nord says, is a very peculiar kind of work: „Sometimes, we have to act more like diplomats than musicians.“ Especially when working for large trusts, they say: There are so many people involved (sigh). The sales department has ideas, as do the PR people, and of course marketing companies often have their input, too.
Clients don’t seek mere background noise. Rather, they typically request original songs, ones with authentic melodies and lyrics, hits even, ones that, best case scenario, end up on radio playlists, even top the music charts, and that will be available for sale on iTunes.
And of course, not just anybody should record and perform them: Most clients want superstars. „And when clients realize they are not able to hire those mega stars, then they come to us,” Hagemeister says. He and Nord are no mega stars. However, they have proven they can succeed like them.
For instance, just last December Nordmeister created one of these mega successes: A German supermarket chain had ordered a TV spot for Christmas. The ad agency involved devised a concept of „Kassensymphonie,“ a symphony of check out cashiers. The clip ran like this: In a crowded market — and very much to the delight of shoppers — the beeping of price scanners plays „Jingle Bells”. „The agency,” 41-year old Hagemeister says, „wanted some heavy orchestration, but we argued against it. The melody, and therefore the spot, is most effective when you play it in a really simple way.“