“Jobs” Movie Execs Think Different with Nimbit
September 3, 2013
Jobs, the new film based upon the life of Steve Jobs, has been one the year’s most hotly anticipated debuts. Director Joshua Michael Stern’s portrayal of the life and times of the late Apple cofounder is at once both human and heroic, and Ashton Kutcher’s commanding performance has won high praise for its authenticity.
Aside from the excitement surrounding the film, the movie’s soundtrack has been generating quite a buzz of its own. With a masterful, moving score created by esteemed composer John Debney, and a selection of powerful music that flawlessly evokes the essence of the era, the Jobs soundtrack — available via the Nimbit® store, as well as other online sources — has been one of the top online downloads for weeks.
The film covers a time span in Steve Jobs’ life from the early 1970s through the introduction of the iPod in 2001. As Five Star Feature Films Music Executive Mason Cooper explains, the vision for the movie’s soundtrack was not only to be true to the period but to become a part the film. “You can make musical choices, and the audience will accept that, but you have to be careful to make it fit the story that you are telling. My mantra is, ‘I don’t want music to pull me out of the film.’ The music has to be about the film, not stand out by itself while you are watching the film.”
Indeed, cuts from artists like Cat Stevens, Bob Dylan, REO Speedwagon, and Toad the Wet Sprocket do more than merely conjure up the era — they summon the essence of what inspired the man behind the Mac. “These were Steve’s muses,” says Cooper. “He loved Cat Stevens, he loved Dylan, he loved Bach. We tried to do the research to really stay true to what would have been the music in his life. We tried to choose songs that really filled the spirit of what Steve Jobs would have been going through at those times. That was very important to us.”
Cooper adds, “At the film’s Los Angeles premiere, Kevin Cronin thanked us for the way his music (REO Speedwagon’s “Roll with the Changes”) was used in the film. He said it wasn’t just a song stuck in there to evoke an era but that it really embedded itself as a transitional moment in the movie. That meant a lot to me as a film-music professional.”
On working with composer John Debney, Cooper offers, “John Debney is an amazingly intuitive composer, and working with him was an incredible experience. When we first sat together to view some footage, John said, ‘I don’t have to score what’s on the screen, I have to score the heart and soul of Steve Jobs at various points in his life.’ He used instrumentation, themes, rhythms that really bring you through the story. He did not go overboard in any area. It was magical working with John.”
The Jobs soundtrack is unique in another aspect as well, explains Cooper. “The artists recorded new, authentic versions of their original songs. And that is the focus of the soundtrack — that every song on the soundtrack album is not readily available elsewhere.”
As Cooper points out, the migration to online content has dramatically changed the DNA of movie soundtracks. “In today’s digital world, people are no longer interested in purchasing a compilation of songs they already have or that are otherwise already available,” he observes. “If it already exists online, then you’re not adding any value to their purchase. We wanted to make sure that when someone buys the soundtrack, they’re getting the full experience of music they cannot get anywhere else. Why should we be charging them for music that they can find elsewhere? That was something we wanted to do for the fans of the music and of the film.”
Think Different with Nimbit
The fan experience was also a factor in creating an online venue for bringing the Jobs soundtrack to market. Cooper explains the decision to offer the album via the Nimbit store. “What I liked about Nimbit from the outset was that it allowed us to have more control as artists and as business people in how we put our work out and how we market it to people. Nimbit is focused on the direct fan experience. That is something that I especially wanted to tap into with the Steve Jobs film.”
“One of Steve’s mottos was ‘Think Different,’” Cooper continues. “And that Think Different mentality translates to how we can create a better experience for the fans, and reach a wider audience.”
Of course, the soundtrack is available online via iTunes, Amazon, and other channels, as well. “You have to be available in that world, and those stores offer a comfort factor for people,” says Cooper. “But working via Nimbit has opened a whole new world of networking and promotion we’d have never had access to via traditional channels. It’s like getting an entire targeted social network.”
Cooper has worked with Open Road, the film’s distributor, utilizing Nimbit to create an array of promotional opportunities to connect with fans. “We’ve got our own Web site, garageingenuity.com, and we’re tied in with www.jobsthefilm.com and the movie’s Facebook page, of course,” says Cooper. “But we’re also working with the artists like REO Speedwagon, Dylan MacDonald, and Toad the Wet Sprocket, via their Web sites, Twitter, and Facebook pages. We’re even looking into tying into some of the movie theater chains and DVD distributors, where we can offer a discount on the soundtrack to people who have seen the film.”
Cooper explains how Nimbit makes it easy to for artists to create and grow a fan base. “People interested in the film can opt in to receive special offers and bonus content. That enables us to create follow-up promotions later on, to offer those purchasers additional items, like a discount when the DVD is released, or an exclusive remix track to download. It helps us keep in touch with our real fans, keep the fan experience alive, and keep them connected with the complete film and music experience of the project.”
For the company, it’s also an opportunity to keep more of their income, which they share with artists and songwriters via royalties. “Commission fees with Nimbit are vastly lower that what they are with the iTunes store, which allows us to do things like give special offers to the recording artists’ fans,” says Cooper.
Knowledge is power, and Nimbit creates an avenue of powerful information, says Cooper.
“Because we utilize Nimbit tools like individual coding for each promotion, we can use that data to track which promotions worked better or more effectively and which areas need work. We can track by geography, for example, to see where we should apply our resources. It’s incredibly useful.”