Music in advertising has come a long way from cheesy jingles, naff pastiches and background music used as sonic wallpaper. We live in a time of sensory marketing - no longer can we hope to resonate with an audience with slick, engaging visuals, yet with generic, forgettable soundtracks.
Much like colour, music can convey subconscious meaning without the need for it to be explicitly stated. You don’t need any qualification or expertise to understand it - you feel it viscerally, and it can connect an audience to the story in a fundamental way, more so than even language or copy.
Music for advertising is a unique crossroads of art, storytelling and of course, commerce. And it requires an experienced approach to dial in the right blend of each of these to exceed the specific needs of the client, agency, director and project.
OUR APPROACH TO MUSIC FOR COMMERCIALS
You might expect as a music and sound production company, that our approach would be to try and make the audio always front, left and centre of everything we work on.
But it isn’t.
Instead, we advocate how sound and music as individual ingredients in a commercial can be used to enhance and pull in the same (or intentionally opposite) direction with the other elements in the wider production: script, VO, lighting, grade, cinematography, edit etc. When to lean more heavily on the audio, and when it needs to play a more supportive role.
Thinking ‘globally’ about what music and the audio post production needs to bring to a spot - especially for tv ads and online content, allows the work we do to truly add value for our clients in a highly bespoke way - tailoring every detail to the specific nuanced needs of each and every project we work on. There or thereabouts is nowhere near.
Our attention to detail and anti-obvious approach create truly unique ‘ownable’ results, the product of coming at the brief from an unorthodox angle, without ever losing sight of nailing the central vibe and tone. So not just on brief - beyond brief.
Whilst it can be tempting to plump for the tried and tested, we know that genuine connection is rarely the result of tired cliche or recycled tropes that at best, only deliver on a superficial level, the kind astute modern audiences quickly see through. As with most creative endeavours, there’s the easy way and a more original, memorable way that creates impact.
And yet impact doesn't have to be achieved through volume, bombast or the ubiquitous crescendo as many default to - moreover we advocate it being earned emotionally, through empathy and resonance with people on a real, human level.
OUR PROCESS FOR MUSIC FOR ADVERTISING
We’re equally happy getting involved in a project at a very early pre-treatment stage or right at the end of the process once the offline edit has been signed off by client - or anywhere in between. Starting work at different stages each have their advantages and as a company with over 15 years experience working to super-tight deadlines, we’re flexible enough to fit in with whatever schedule best suits the larger production schedule.
Where possible, we usually like to start with an initial chat, either by phone, in person or by email as to what the main skeleton of the project might look like. Opening conversations about what the deliverables are, the basic timeline, any thoughts the team has on what sort of style they’re thinking of, potential scope of licensing (usages) and if the client has any budget in mind, all help frame the job at this early stage.
Following this, we’ve found it to be highly constructive to spend a little added time drilling down on the detail of the creative brief. If there's an edit or storyboards, these can help at this point, particularly with regard to the shape and timings of the audio across the spot, but aren’t absolutely necessary by any means.
The craft of creating an authentic, specific emotional outcome with integrity and vibe requires a deep understanding not only of the techniques and tools to express these emotions, but moreover a solid grasp on decoding exactly what the client is looking for.
Whilst many companies simply pay lip-service to this part of the project, we work exceptionally hard and without any judgement to identify what it is the team are after - not just the technical and aesthetic requirements from the music or sound production, but moreover what emotional colour or vibe it is that needs adding.
As with any collaboration, the better we can understand the needs of the client or project, the better - and quicker, we can create them. That’s why this often-hurried first step is so important.
We understand that music and sound design are complex and difficult to articulate parts of the production process, let alone highly subjective too. Spending just a few extra minutes at this stage in our experience, almost always avoids unnecessary rounds of amends in the back end with a deadline looming.
REMOVING THE LANGUAGE BARRIER
We hear repeatedly from our clients that many simply don’t feel confident in having the right vocabulary to describe or subsequently feedback effectively to progress a piece, and this often leads them to resort to a licensed sync or library music route from the getgo. Which usually in turn ends up compromising the level of dynamic contour or sync the music or sound design need to provide.
So we really like to get under the skin of the creative with the team - by listening and asking the right questions borne out of our on-the-job experience. This keeps the project moving along swiftly and helps collate and align the team’s wider thoughts, giving confidence all round that the direction we’re moving in together is the best one for the project. It’s at this stage too, we can also highlight any potential snags from a technical point of view that might arise further down the road, so these can be avoided. Win-win.
And whilst there are many types of music and the stylistic choice might seem all important, actually most emotions can be communicated effectively in many different genres. Frustration, for example, could be delivered equally effectively via a black metal riff, a Shostakovich-ian classical music symphony or a raging German techno track with wonderfully unexpected results. What’s important is understanding who your audience is and what feeling you’re trying to express or convey to them. Are they a particular socio-cultural demographic - perhaps a younger audience? Or maybe we’re looking to create something that has a more universal appeal across generations and backgrounds. Ultimately, what commonality and empathy are we looking to engender?
COLLABORATION IN MUSIC FOR ADS
Once we’ve worked up our audio, we always love to have our clients over to our comfortable, state of the art Central London recording studios to present it back. But of course where time is tight, or it’s preferable we’ll simply send it back to you via email to a secure download link. All of our work is clearly labelled, fully mixed and mastered and delivered as audio (WAV / AIFF) files and also additionally laid back to any picture where needed.
We’re always more than happy to discuss tweaks and builds with the team, as we collaborate closely moving towards sign off, and we take being on-hand and available to discuss and action these refinements as passionately as we do creating the sounds in the first place. We’re here to facilitate as well as offer expertise.
A FULL SERVICE STUDIO FOR MUSIC FOR ADVERTISING & COMMERCIALS
On many projects, we handle both original music composition as well as audio post production (voice over recording, Foley, ADR, sound design etc) with our full service packages offering both cost, time and most importantly creative benefits.
Working regularly with all the audio elements in a mix - music, sound effects and dialogue / VO - makes us uniquely placed to craft and blend each one to best compliment the wider sonic picture and create truly dynamic, engaging mixes perfectly suited to the end delivery spec (broadcast, online, radio, GUI etc).
Of course, if you have arrangements elsewhere, we are happy to provide mixes, stems or instrumentals in your preferred format and sample rate, in plenty of time before the session.
We know people work with people and ideas, not companies with indiscriminate products or services.
It’s our aim to make the whole process enjoyable, exciting and obviously as headache-free as possible, simply by being can-do, reliable and leaving ego at the door.
Understand your audience. Understand the project’s needs. Then make it memorable. Leave nothing untried.
Because doing something differently always takes you somewhere new…