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Meet Phil Danter: The Ad executive who became a music star

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Tiring of your glittering career as an advertising executive? All those expense account lunches leaving you unfulfilled? Maybe you should become a music star. It can certainly be done, as one high-flyer has proved by making that exact career move. His name is Phil Danter and he's swapped ads for riffs and multiple awards.

In the last month Phil has received awards in both the Indie International and Hollywood songwriting contests, winning the jazz/blues category in the former and two categories in the latter.

These awards have followed his band Straight On Red’s second and most recent release, ‘Round 2’. Across their two albums, thirteen of Phil’s songs have now amassed twenty-two placements across five songwriting competitions in the U.S. and the UK.

"After a 16 year run as a London advertising executive, he quit to pursue his dream."

This is no overnight success, however. After a 16 year run as a London advertising executive, he quit to pursue his dream to embark upon a songwriting career. In September 2001 he enrolled at Boston’s renowned Berklee School of Music to study his lifelong passion for music.

After a year there, he returned to the UK, passed an audition for Trinity College of Music and attended part-time for four years, juggling his music studies and consultancy work in the ad industry. A year later, Phil won his first award, courtesy of the UK Songwriting Contest for Nietzsche Tonight, this was only the start…

'Round 2' looks set to win the band an abundance of new fans and accolades. The album typifies their 8-piece power-house sound, mixing deliciously funky grooves with blasts of pure danceable pop and jazzy overtones. Think Steely Dan, Stevie Wonder, Led Zeppelin and the Brand New Heavies all in the same band. Lyrically, Phil’s songs cast a sharp and sardonic eye on the plight, romantic and otherwise, of 21st century man, observing the humorous side of heartbreak, humiliation and misanthropy.

"The band and I are all very excited at the critical recognition we’ve gained."

All of the songs on Round 2 are original with the exception of two covers: 'Time Is Running Out' by Muse and the Aerosmith classic, 'Dream On', both given a funky makeover. Speaking about his recent successes, Phil Danter said:

“The band and I are all very excited at the critical recognition we’ve gained recently. We’re really hopeful our exposure on The Jazz Network Worldwide, coupled with our competition successes will create a ripple effect amongst journalists, media outlets, bloggers and music industry influencers which will ultimately bring us many new fans.

"We have a third album in the pipeline and believe our crossover-style live act will appeal to a wide range of fans. Being hard to classify in terms of genre is actually a bonus - it means we can legitimately play a whole range of music festivals or venues, and secure airplay on both specialized jazz/smooth jazz radio stations and those playing broader adult contemporary material."

So, if you're at a bit of a career crisis, and finding the whole ad game a bit of a bind, perhaps it's time to spread your wings. Clearly, it's never too late for advertising executives to become pop stars.

Magnus Shaw is a blogger and copywriter

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