How To... Snatch an Audience’s Attention With Music
BRUTAL MURDER AND SEX SCANDAL! There, attention grabbed, right? But how do you attract (and keep) peoples' attention with music? James Bargent, producer at MassiveMusic London, reveals all.
Asking how sound can elevate an advert is a bit like asking how food can satiate hunger. But food experts are sure to argue that there’s more to nutrition than spit-roasting roadkill and sinking its chewable entrails. So, gather round, and let’s take a more delicate, deliberate approach to music and explore this not-so-simple question.
Above: MassiveMusic producer, James Bargent.
The key principle of an advert is to arouse an audience. It’s the precursor to buying more shit. And the best way to arouse an audience is to touch them where they’re soft (steady now).
Music is the Ann Summers to three vital tools of arousal: story, emotion, and identity. Luckily for us, these three concepts rear their collective head in the very fabric of what makes a piece of marketing resonate with an audience. Whether visual, experiential or transcendental, a collaboration must exist between sight and sound that creates one unified voice.
Below I will present some examples of how different approaches to music can target these pressure points. Handle with care and, if unsure, consult your music professional.
"Your music taste says more about you than your mouth does, so if a brand cares about how they are perceived (and by who), they must align."
Do you hear that? Neither do I, because these are words, not sounds. It can be that little bit harder to make someone jump with joy or sob with sympathy with words alone (this article being the exception, naturally). So, with sound at your disposal, why not take advantage of the fact that music can be a part of your storytelling?
Bespoke composition is boundless in its application if the imagination is set right - like the most malleable putty you’ve ever stuck your fingers in. Specific to storytelling, it can take on a cinematic quality that makes a spot look fit for the big screen.
Take for example, Scotch & Soda’s From Amsterdam, From Everywhere [below]. The soundtrack accompanies a spoken word artist, whose poetic narrative rises and falls in a cadence that befits the emotive journey of the score, the brand’s message and the acerbic aesthetic of the film. An achievement best made possible through a bespoke approach to storytelling and a bespoke approach to music. It is ownable, exclusive and original.
Above: Scotch & Soda’s From Amsterdam, From Everywhere
"A re-record of a famous song has the mighty weight of familiarity and the curious appeal of something new. It is a power-house of emotion that siphons fuel from the audience’s well-stocked tank of memories and pumps it straight into a new motor."
Fickle, emotionally sensitive and prone to mob mentality - but enough about my old Grindr profile. That’s a joke by the way. If only I had some quirky string and horn section to make that more obvious. Explaining a joke is time consuming and when you have a thirty second spot to get your message across, time is crucial. Audiences are an emotional, sensitive and mob prone breed; pluck up the courage, play on their heart strings, and that audience will be yours.
Above: Acciona’s trailer for Business As Unusual, uses a cinematic sounding Mad World.
"The strength in this positioning leads to immense brand loyalty and puts brands like Nike in a powerful position to not just reflect their audience but guide them."
A re-record of a famous song has the mighty weight of familiarity and the curious appeal of something new. It is a power-house of emotion that siphons fuel from the audience’s well-stocked tank of memories and pumps it straight into a new motor. Acciona’s film Business As Unusual uses the well-known classic Mad World, re-interpreted in two radically different styles. The teaser - a cinematic cover - [above] has a distinctly uplifting effect, giving size to the issue of climate change. An antithetical gear shift occurs in the main film, whereby a blues-rock instrumental version of the Tears for Fears anthem translates into an energy that carries excitement and humour. One song; two very different emotions.
Above: The full film for Acciona’s Business As Unusual, uses a different interpreatation of Mad World.
The obsession of a generation; identity is something people care about - a lot. Your music taste says more about you than your mouth does, so if a brand cares about how they are perceived (and by who), they must align.
"The key principle of an advert is to arouse an audience. It’s the precursor to buying more shit. And the best way to arouse an audience is to touch them where they’re soft."
Licensing commercial music has obvious value. You’re not just paying for a song, you’re buying an audience and artist association. A famous song packs nostalgia and a large reach. An upcoming, lesser known track comes with taste-making credit and targeted marketing. Nowness’ film, Nike Women x Pedro Lourenço [below], featuring As If by Canadian artist Jessy Lanza, is the latter. A brand sure knows their audience when they hire FKA Twigs as creative director, and licence Jessy Lanza. The strength in this positioning leads to immense brand loyalty and puts brands like Nike in a powerful position to not just reflect their audience but guide them. Evidence that music can be the proof in effective marketing.
Above: Nowness’ film, Nike Women x Pedro Lourenço, featuring As If by Canadian artist Jessy Lanza.
You’ve now reached the end of my ramblings, congratulations. If my words have held your attention - even without music - then I’m chuffed. As Hans Christian Andersen said, “Where words fail, music speaks.” So, remember, films are filmmakers’ children so let’s not leave brother music out in the rain.
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