Deutsch’s Head of Music Straddles the Record and Advertising Industries

Eryk Rich said his studio work prepared him for his ad career

Rich is in charge of all of the behind-the-scenes work that goes into setting the agency’s creative output to just the right soundtrack. Eryk Rich
Headshot of Patrick Kulp

Growing up in Utah, Eryk Rich’s interest in rappers like Eminem and Dr. Dre fueled his determination to study audio engineering and seek a career in the record industry. Little did he know then that he’d end up teaming with Interscope Records, the label those performers helped grow, to discover up-and-coming artists for a Volkswagen Jetta campaign.

As Deutsch’s svp and music director, Rich is in charge of all of the behind-the-scenes work that goes into setting the agency’s creative output to just the right soundtrack—producing audio, signing artists, digging up sometimes-obscure tunes, securing rights and keeping tabs on the latest trends in an ever-changing modern music industry.

“[My team says,] ‘OK, we have this great, creative idea. How do we make it pop? How do we tap into the culture?’” Rich said. “I really enjoy the problem-solving and critical thinking in trying to align the right song to the right piece of film.”

After a stint as an assistant sound engineer at music studios in Los Angeles, Rich got his start in advertising through a monthlong internship at Deutsch. In Deutsch, he found an agency with an uncommon respect for the role music plays in an industry where it tends to take a backseat to visual elements.

“The fact that [Deutsch] is very conscious of music and what it does for their clients, that’s enabled me to work harder and get the good looks and bring crazy ideas [to those clients],” he explained.

That special emphasis on music was on full display in a recent Volkswagen Atlas campaign. Rich oversaw the licensing of two versions of Simon and Garfunkel’s classic “America”—and the production of six covers of the song in different styles meant to track with a family’s cross-country road trip.

More than five years of advertising work hasn’t exhausted Rich’s personal passion for music. He still writes, produces and works with the occasional artist on the side. “I kind of have my ad and work set of ears and my personal set of ears,” he said. “There are days where I have a tough time in advertising, and I go home, throw the headphones on and create a little bit of music.”

Big Mistake

Rich struggled with work-life balance in a fast-paced industry early in his career. He said an older colleague gave him some valuable advice: “Be careful what you give this industry. It’ll take everything.”

Lesson Learned 

That “put it in perspective” for Rich, who now knows “to sometimes take a step back and evaluate the situation and be careful what you give. There’s a way to give 100 percent and not let it beat you up, so to speak.”

How He Got the Gig

Rich was working as an assistant audio engineer in a Los Angeles music studio when he landed a one-month internship at Deutsch’s Los Angeles office. From there, he “just kind of grinded it out, I guess.”

Pro Tip

“You’ve got to go to shows, you’ve got to be out and you’ve got to be rubbing elbows with the industry,” Rich said. “I think it’s just being out in the world and having conversations and putting yourself where you need to be to succeed.”

This story first appeared in the Feb. 25, 2019, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.

@patrickkulp Patrick Kulp is an emerging tech reporter at Adweek.