• My basket
  • Your Shopping Basket is empty.

Total — £ (ex. VAT)

“AI will raise questions about copyright” — D&AD’s Sound Design & Use of Music Jury President

Satelite Audio’s Roberto Coelho on how AI will affect the sound design industry

Image of Google Design - Design & Material Explorations by Zelig Sound for Google

Roberto Coelho is a Brazilian music and sound producer based in São Paulo. He was a musician from a young age, before realising that his true passion lay in music production and sound design. He started creating tracks for small companies in Brazil at the age of 17, and later co-founded Satelite Audio with his business partner Kito Siqueira in 2005. Together they now run one of the most awarded music and sound companies in Brazil, working with clients like Nike, Google, Meta, Netflix, and Mondelez amongst others. Here, D&AD’s Sound Design and Use of Music Jury President for 2024 explains how to gain trust in a competitive industry and tells us what creative excellence looks like in music and sound design.

What is happening in the industry right now that is exciting you?

I'm not using it yet, but I’ve been researching and studying the use of AI in music and sound design, which is exciting me right now. It’s a tricky thing in terms of ownership and ethics, but we will soon all be using tools that can give us input on lyrics and even in the creation of songs in terms of chord progression or melodies. Right now, I think the cultural aspect of music still remains in human hands and AI tools are currently just being used to cut time. The final word on the creative product still remains with a human, but in the future who knows? Right now, the main opportunity I see is that AI can help us in our processes and gain us time, so we can focus more on the creative process.

What are you hoping to see in D&AD Award-winning work?

I want to see films where the music has made such an impact, that you would feel a completely different way if that music hadn’t been there. I like to see when the music and sound design has added magic to a project, and you can easily spot when it has. There are so many projects, done by Nike for example, that do exactly this with music. It has to be done with the intention to bring in more feeling and push the narrative of the project.

Image from Kathmandu - 'Summer Never Sleeps' by Special for Kathmandu

What is a challenge the music and sound design industry currently faces?

I see a threat coming in terms of the ethics of copyright and ownership. It’s looking murky with AI, and it's something that we will have to discuss as artists, producers, agencies, lawyers, clients and even the government, because if you have something that was created in an AI system, who owns that copyright or product? The person who created the AI system, or the person that used the AI system to create the music, or the AI system itself perhaps? And was the AI-generated song made using something that already exists? A few days ago, I saw a clip where I listened to Freddie Mercury's voice singing the Frozen theme. How can you do that? Where is the limit? If you have Freddie Mercury’s voice to begin with and then change it a bit, by diminishing the drive or maybe making it an octave higher, is it still Freddie Mercury? I think as an industry we’ll have to discuss the ethics of copyright and ownership a lot in the coming years.

Image from the Graphite Pencil-winning iPhone: Action Mode by Apple

Is there something you’ve learned in your career that you’d like to share with others?

Working in the advertising industry where lots of people work on one thing together, I think collaborating well is the most important and beautiful thing. When a group of people work together to achieve a common goal and do it well, the outcome is amazing. In 2015, we worked on a project called Leica 100, a film celebrating the centenary of the first Leica camera by taking viewers on a journey through some of the most powerful pictures from the past 100 years, and when the idea came, it was beautiful. The script was wonderful. And the directors Jones+Tino were just amazing. The agency trusted them, and they trusted us as a music and sound design company. When we worked on that, it was like driving down an avenue with only green lights. It just flowed, and no one had an ego, and the outcome was wonderful. We won so many awards, and it was all through good collaboration.

Do you have any advice for someone trying to break into the industry?

I would tell that person to be aware about the importance of craft in this industry. There's a lot of demand from all sides, but sometimes not enough attention is paid to craft. I said that trust and collaboration is important, but you gain trust by paying attention to your craft. That’s how to make others trust you. 

D&AD Awards 2024 is now open for entries. The Sound Design & Use of Music category celebrates the application of sound and the composition of music for commercial design, gaming and advertising projects. Learn more about and enter the Sound Design & Use of Music category here.