May 25, 2010

The Importance of Music Selection

So it appears music has come out from just lining the shells of corporate jingles to being the driver of commercial recognition and why shouldn’t it be? In Uptempo Music & Audio Post (our recording studio in Miami) , we have recently seen a trend in commercial production where song selection is becoming the instrumental elements of great brand commercials. One, reason for this shift in the industry could be attributed to Apple’s initial iPod campaign-simple in graphics but bold in music. It was their calling card, and as Apple’s success grew, so did other national advertisers attention to how it was creating its messages.

To date, Apple continues to travel down the same creative lines that thrust its brand back into national prominence-simple graphics driven by catchy melodies. Often times kick starting the career of the musical artists chosen by Apple, as iTunes sales go through the stratosphere when a new campaign is released. Now just because we’re music people it doesn’t mean we don’t love great special effects, humor and big visual productions in commercials as the next person. But you can’t deny the use and importance of song creation and selection in commercials these days. Often times, artists are sough out and held exclusively as their sound becomes synonymous with the brand. It’s the battle of brands finding the next big musical star before anyone else can. It even means scavenging artists who’s sound align themselves with your brand and making them a hit along with your brand, and not as much as, choosing songs from highly over-priced rights held by the top Billboard artists. So, to recap: big brands find unknown artists, little money is spent to obtain rights, music becomes definition of brand=huge success.

In fact, the formula has been so successful, international brands are seeking to such musical connections made for exclusively for them. Take a look at the new Gatorade Commercial in which, you think you are listening to a retro track that you’re grandpappy once listened to, transformed for and refurbished for a new commercial. Well actually, it was made just months ago as Gatorade sought out a company to produce the song from scratch for them. And it goes both ways, AT&T sought out Gene Wilder’s, “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in it’s newest Imagination campaign . Now, while both commercials dazzle with a carousel of visual images and effects it is the songs that resonate with consumers and really separate the commercials from the daily noise. What’s great is that all genres are using music as the universal connection to audiences. Even the hack em’ and shoot em’ Xbox title, Gears of War has built it’s brand on commercials that feature riveting and emotionally binding music titles. The first game trailer featured the song, “Mad World.” The newest trailer, “Ashes to Ashes” for Gears of War 3, features the weary and worn sound of "Heron Blue" by folk group Sun Kil Moon led by Mark Kozelek.

So, what does this mean for brands? It means that music selection is as important as ever. It means more time developing a sincere sound for your campaigns that evolve beyond the top 100. It means searching the internet for that next big star waiting to be discovered but currently under the radar. Or it means hiring a production company to start fresh. Give them the parameters of the campaign and allowing them to build an emotional musical connection for your audiences. It means building an integrated approach to your campaigns by releasing commercials then giving consumers the tools to access the details, find the song and even buy it. You can take it a step further; make it your on-hold or elevator music. Make it part of your culture and in return, it will turn audiences into advocates as they resonate at a deeper level with your brand then just being targeted with a message. Because music is one medium we can all relate to and escape with and we will. We will take it and run so fast you’ll never get it back. We’ll share it with friends and family, we’ll even make it our ringtone for strangers to hear. So, when that opportunity presents itself, make sure it is something we would willingly escape with.

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