Black Label Music...Unveiled


Last Updated: May 11, 2015 5:18 pm GMT
(Minneapolis, Minnesota--May 11, 2015) Black Label Music has been unveiled. Launched by the creative partners behind the successful BWN Music (Composer Ken Brahmstedt & Mixer Carl White), Black Label is committed to creating the highest quality, custom music for commercial, branded entertainment, television, and film projects. Black Label also provides Music Supervision and a la carte Audio Branding services. Fueling Black Label, a sister company to BWN, is Composer Joe Wong (based in Los Angeles) and Producer/Director of New Business Development Kari Sharff, who works out of the office in Minneapolis, the city often referred to these days by clients as the “Austin of the North.”

As the Black Label team notes, at a time when music catalogs are ever growing and multiplying, Black Label intends to secede from the business of catalog licensing by volume, and return to the sole service of creating custom compositions. “We believe there is a resurgence of interest in high-end original music, as the catalogs continue to swell to a glut of mediocre offerings,” explains Partner/Composer Ken Brahmstedt. “While there is a place and project for all varieties of tracks and license types, we see these huge catalogs serving as the ‘fast fashion’ of music offerings -- great on-trend pieces at a bargain price; whereas Black Label is positioned to create high-end, ‘couture’ music for a wide variety of projects.”

Black Label abides by a mid-western work ethic of efficiency, dependability, and an affinity for problem solving, not to mention consistently delivering on a deadline. Above all, Black Label strives to create the highest quality custom music for projects that are creative, unique, and let’s not forget: fun! All works crafted for the project uniquely, by gifted musicians and artists within the Black Label family.

With 13 years experience of creating custom music, as well as developing a high-quality and hard-working catalog under the name Brahmstedt White Noise Inc. (aka BWN Music, Black Label and BWN are elevating and separating these two services. As Partner/Mixer of BWN and Partner in the new Black Label Music, Carl White notes, “I have the rare and fortunate opportunity of mixing a large number of high-end, national campaigns each year,” he says. “It gives me a unique perspective to see the trends in terms of music that is being composed and licensed for these projects. To be able to share that with the Black Label team, I believe can only elevate our talents moving forward.”

“When I work with Ken, Carl and the rest of crew; I know I'm getting real music and an opportunity to collaborate with some of the best,” says Anthony DiNicola, Art Director at Fallon. “They've provided me with epic tracks, quirky tunes and everything in between to make the work better than could ever be imagined. I’ve always appreciated how Ken and Carl continue to foster talent, by keeping in-studio staff composers, hiring young emerging artists, in addition to working with their vast network of freelance composers and musicians -- pairing the right talent to each project. I look forward to working with the crew at Black Label, as I have on countless projects, for the best in original music.”

“I’ve had the great pleasure of rocking various projects with Ken and Carl at BWN,” adds Ramon Nunez, VP and Senior Integrated Producer at CP+B. “Every ounce of their being goes into the music and sound design that you are creating together. They really lead you into a branded score versus you, the client, having to lead them. They are amazing collaborators; it’s been a great partnership.”

Right out of the gate, Black Label was called on to work on a multiple-spot campaign for Energy BBDO Chicago and Wrigley’s “5 Gum.” Focused on the tagline of “Life Happens in 5,” the campaign captures the exhilarating moments of teenage-hood, which is reflected in the music created by Black Label.

View spots from the campaign here: "Kiss" , "Skinny Dip"

Composer Joe Wong joined BWN Music in 2014. Shifting his creative forces to Black Label, Joe is based on the west coast at the company’s Hollywood studio. In addition to composing for commercial campaigns, Wong is in the midst of several television and film projects as well. “There are a lot of new music companies in the industry right now,” details Wong. “How we differentiate ourselves at Black Label, is that we are working musicians, many of us multi-instrumentalist who have a passion for listening to, performing, and composing music.”

“Now that we’ve placed our growing library in the skilled hands of the adept staff of BWN Music, we’ve focused our time and energy going after the projects that we find challenging and inspiring,” concludes Kari Sharff, Producer and Director of New Business Development, who is moving over to Black Label from her position as Business Manager for BWN. “We’d like more opportunities to work on the projects that are originated by some of the most creative minds worldwide. We’re ready to go after them with robust focus. ”

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Black Label Bios

Partner/Composer Ken Brahmstedt:
Ken got his start in music when he was 5 when he played his first recital on both trumpet and piano. The son of music professors growing up in Tennessee, he has bounced back and forth between genres, disciplines, and traditions all of his life. He plays several instruments proficiently. He even sings. After going to university in Madison, WI studying both Music and Communication Arts, he relocated to Minneapolis attracted by the strong creative scene there. Playing in bands, helping out on his friends’ films and eventually scoring them, and even writing music for the theater, he thrived in this environment.

Professionally, Ken got his start with music for advertising as a freelance composer and then joined as a staff composer for Wow and Flutter where he worked in their Minneapolis and L.A. studios. In 2002, Ken and Carl White opened Minneapolis music and sound company BWN. As it grew, the company built a small but hard working music catalog. In 2015, they made the decision to spin off BWN Music as a music catalog company and created Black Label Music as they returned to their roots in original music and music supervision.

Ken’s music has been on hundreds of television commercials, television shows and promos. Clients include Target, Best Buy, Kmart, Macy’s, Disney, ABC, General Mills, Payless, United Airlines, Turbotax, and many more.

Personally, Ken has also made a return to writing music and performing for the simple reason of loving it. After many years in a studio, he is very happy playing out in the world again.

Partner/Mixer Carl White:
Carl was introduced to the cello at age eight with a classical music focus, eventually leading to Youth Orchestra experience in Minneapolis. In seventh grade, guitar was offered as a music class and in that class he learned about folk music and had some limited exposure to rock. He and his brother were given little am radios one year as gifts and a new world of music was discovered with those.

Guitar led to more guitars as a teenager, buying his first electric guitar in 1979. In the early ‘80s while playing in New Wave bands, a small home studio emerged with band mate Brett Edgar. Carl took to the studio with ease, being a natural for it. At some point, playing music became less of a focus and recording it became more than just a hobby.

In the mid ‘80s, due to the home studio, Carl and his partner Brett Edgar found themselves producing hip hop songs for local rap crew IRM Crew. This led to a commercial studio venture where the pair produced tracks for many other rap crews and as well electronic tracks for local labels. At this studio, Carl met Bob Millea who was a drummer for a commercial music house. Thru Bob, Carl was introduced to the local ad business music houses, and eventually Carl worked with post house Crash & Sues as a mixer and sound designer.

Courted by Minneapolis post house Hi-Wire in late 2001, Carl and Ken formed BWN together within Hi-Wire, with a focus on music composition and production and also offering sound design and mix services. Eventually emerging as a fully independent Music & Sound company, Carl and Ken continue to expand the business, now featuring a rapidly growing music catalog and a sister company Black Label to head up the original music efforts.

Composer Joe Wong:
Joe Wong is a composer and multi-instrumentalist based in Los Angeles. Joe began performing in clubs at age 14 and eventually was awarded a scholarship to study Jazz Performance and Music Production at Berklee College of Music. After college, Joe studied and performed with elder jazz luminaries in NY, and subsequently toured and recorded with of the most exciting names in rock music, including: Parts & Labor, Marnie Stern, Brazzaville, Mary Timony and Aa.

In 2003 Joe, along with his partner Didier Leplae, scored their first film, "The Yes Men" (UA/MGM). The pair has since scored over a dozen films, including the Emmy-nominated "Six Days to Air" and the winner of a Sundance Jury Prize, "The Pool.” In addition, they've composed dozens of episodes of television, including Adult Swim's frenetic "Superjail!”

In 2004, Joe co-founded Noisola, a boutique commercial music house that created music for top brands such as: Nike, AT&T, Verizon, Geico, T-Mobile, Diet Coke, Sony Playstation, EA Sports, and Wendy's.

Joe joined forces with Black Label in 2015. In addition to composing and performing, Wong produces and hosts “The Trap Set,” a weekly podcast that examines the lives of drummers.

Producer/Director of New Business Development Kari Sharff:
Kari Sharff comes on board with Black Label as Producer/Director of New Business Development after working as the Business Manager for BWN Music Inc. for the last two years. She now develops and maintains new business relationships for both companies, and will produce music jobs for Black Label.

Previous to returning to Minneapolis, with her young family in 2013, Kari spent nearly a decade in New York City working in arts administration, holding a position at the School of the International Center of Photography. Her background in business and administration, and her long-standing relationships with musicians, individuals in the music industry, and advertising professionals and creatives, has made her transition easy from the art world to the world of advertising and production music.

As a passion project, and an aside to working with advertising, Kari has placed music by Black Label composers on several creative projects, like podcasts for WNYC (“Death Sex & Money,” “New Tech City,” and “The Sporkful”) and also for the public radio programs “WireTap” and “This American Life.” We hear she just wants to hang out with Ira Glass.


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