rodney jerkins*(Via LA Times) – Producer Rodney Jerkins is a heavyweight in the pop music world who’s worked with an array of A-list artists, including Jennifer Lopez, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Mary J. Blige, Brandy and Britney Spears. But now, the urban music hit maker has set his sites on a new kind of star — one who can sing the praises of two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese…. Well, you know the rest.

Jerkins and his Chicago-based company Artists & Brands are mining new musical talent from the rap and R&B world, coaching young artists on the art of a catchy hook, then offering the tunes to companies such as McDonald’s (their main sponsor) for use in their commercials.

The idea is that, at some point, Artists & Brands will strike gold with an artist by breaking the songwriter or vocalist via a burger commercial, then using the recognition from the ad to bolster his or her career beyond the world of catchy jingles. Jerkins and company are currently developing six new acts.

“I think there is so much room for other artists who need that help,” says Jerkins, 34, who launched the company in 2009 with producer-songwriter Ira Antelis and entertainment attorney Daryl Jones. “Take Lady Gaga: She is so massively successful it doesn’t clear up any room for the label to market other artists. Artists are getting dropped every day. We are trying to create a new system where the label doesn’t have to tap into their budgets.”

Antelis believes it’s a win-win situation: Upstarts gain visibility by debuting original tunes — a coffee ad featuring hand dancers and newbie R&B singer Dejion went viral last year — and McDonald’s no longer has to pay the big bucks for superstar talent.

Read/learn MORE at LA Times.com.