The Soundtrack Wizard
A former rocker is creating TV's hippest playlist—and minting new pop stars.

Manish Raval remembers the moment he realized the power he wielded as a music supervisor. "We'd put the Icona Pop song 'I Love It' into the third episode of the second season of Girls," Raval says, "and at 9:30 p.m., my e-mail box was on fire—'What was that song?!' We'd never gotten a response like that from any project, film or TV." Raval's company, Aperture Music (co-owned by fellow musician Tom Wolfe), was already working on Community and New Girl, not to mention a laundry list of films, but the combination of Raval, producer Judd Apatow, creator Lena Dunham, and pay cable created a sort of harmonic convergence. "Because it's HBO," Raval says, "we're not inhibited in any way, so we throw the rule book out." Like not including a title song: "Repeating a jingle every week would have just killed the story." Aperture's staff of four works in tandem on every project. "I've never been a singer-songwriter guy," he says. "I love bands—the Clash, Pearl Jam—so that's how we operate." And occasionally they operate like a law firm, working pro bono. "We saw Fruitvale Station, and Ryan Coogler's vision was unbelievable," Raval says. "They had no money, so we literally said, 'Don't worry about it.' Some of our least-paying jobs have paid off the most."

Manish Raval, 39
Credit Check: Donnie Darko, The Big Lebowski, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Girls, Fruitvale Station
Beware the Band-Aid: "A lot of people use music when they're insecure about their content. I don't need music to tell me 'This is zany! This is sad!' It does music a disservice, and it hurts our job, because then we're being used to fix stuff that's not our problem."

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The 2013 Hollywood Mavericks

The Transformer

The New Kings of Doc

The Antiestablishment Exec

The Dynamic Duos

The Soundtrack Wizard

The Netflix Natives

The Cutting-Edge Comedians

The Character Actresses

The Crowdsourcer

The Creative Capitalists

The Prestige Producer

The Rookie Filmmakers

The Indie Auteur