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How to choose the right music for your advert

How to choose the right music for your advert

By Dominic Caisley, Director of Music for Stream\

Music has the ability to transcend age, sex and social barriers. It can make you happy, it can make you cry, it can make you think back to your first kiss, your last holiday or an unpaid gas bill. The point is, music is subjective. What I love, you hate, what makes you smile, makes me cringe etc. So how do you choose the right music for your ad?

The answer is, nobody can answer that. One thing I have learned from the music industry is that there are no guarantees.

What I can tell you is ‘How To Make The Music You Choose For Your Advert Work’. Here are some pointers to make music work for you:

1. Choice

There are millions of available tracks to choose from so don’t limit yourself to the handful of CDs on your window sill, your iPod or a quick email around the office. All of the major record labels and publishers and several independents have a synchronisation team. Find out who they are, form a relationship, they know their catalogue and will hand pick tracks to fit your brief and budget.

2. Help

Hire a music company to help you navigate and negotiate around the music industry. They will help you write a brief, contact the labels and publishers, collect and filter the responses, negotiate usage fees and secure the license.

3. Budget

Traditionally music budget constraints meant you either paid a fortune for a contemporary track or not much for a library track.

However there are many different options available to you.

1. Library music is much better than it used to be with many a famous band or artist making library music on the side under a pseudonym.

There are some good library music companies out there offering great tracks and great service at low cost. Get to know them.

2. Many an out of work or unsigned artist would jump at the chance to create a bespoke track.

If you can source a band or artist that’s willing to have a go at writing a track to brief or picture, you can often get fantastic results. I tend to find these guys think about a ‘song’ rather than a ‘jingle’ and that gives you more scope to exploit the track outside of the ad (see Exploitation).

Finally, Record Companies and Publishers are your friend (and they also need the money right now). Sure big tracks can cost a lot but similarly there are many artists looking for a launch pad for their latest single or even looking to push back-catalogue in order to restart their career.

Don’t assume that because the music budget isn’t huge you won’t be able to secure a well known track or artist. Artist circumstances change all the time so it’s always worth asking the question.

4. Usage

New technology and innovations mean that there are many new platforms on which to show the ad. Agency and client websites are a must but consider TV on demand, Simulcast TV, 3rd party music sites, in-store/arena screens, virals and mobile mms.

Make sure that you include any possible media in your original license as retrospective licensing can be expensive.

5. Exploitation

Give the music a life outside the ad through single and album releases, radio play, digital downloads etc. Work with the rights owner (record label) to establish a marketing plot, release schedule, marketing and promotional plan.

In most cases, labels are happy to work with brands to make the most of the promotional value the ad offers their artist.

6. Sonic Trigger

The more the ad is seen and more the music is heard within that ad, the better the chance of establishing a ‘Sonic Trigger’. If you can establish a sonic trigger, whenever or wherever that track is played the listener will immediately think of your ad. So high rotation, minimal narrative and high in the sound mix will help make the ad memorable.

In summary, brands need to think about making the most of an association between brand and band, give life to the music outside of the ad and work with record labels and publishers to create a mutually beneficial partnership.

Rather than fighting over rights ownership and synchronisation fees, brands can benefit from the additional marketing platforms just as artists can benefit from the brand’s media spend. Embrace the music industry, hug an artist - its not all sex, drugs and rock n’ roll.”

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