Music in Advertising

Music is a powerful tool, especially when applied to advertising.  Simply put, music touches our souls.  It engages listeners through a variety of sounds that correspond together to form a melody.  Music makes sense. It creates fleeting images in our minds.  The meaning behind the music is commonly an item of interest to listeners.  We seek the answers to the questions that may arise from a song.  Songs remind us of someone, some thing, or some event.  They bring a rush of memories to our mind.  It’s as if the rhythms, notes, lyrics, and sounds presented in a tune trigger either a powerful thought or an emotional experience.

We know what we like when it comes to music and there are many genres to choose from.  We acquire our musical tastes of by picking and choosing between songs and who sing them.  As our discoveries coincide, we make up our minds.  We seem to allow a message into our thoughts if it’s presented by a song or band we’re interested in.  Is it really that simple?  Are our guards suddenly dropped once we realize we enjoy the song ringing lyrics in our ears, feeding us information and ideas?

Music affects us, more so than we think.  It’s meant to be relatable and applicable to our lives.  This is true for advertising as well.  Advertising brings new products and services to our attention, as it persuades us to purchase them by creating happy thoughts and relatable scenarios.  The goal of advertising is to promote the product to a group of people, often known as a target market.  Perhaps, by appealing to the consumer’s music preference, the likability of the product is heightened.  Music is also highly recognizable and memorable.  Most music groups and songs are easily accessible to nearly everyone.  Music just wants to be heard.

Advertisers commonly categorize consumers into certain target markets.  Target markets are groups of people with common interests and characteristics.  Some target markets bring in more business than others.  Having a well defined target market can be very important in generating interest and creating potential customers.  It’s safe to say, the people in a target market may have a similar taste of music.  So, music is another powerful device which may be used to appeal to a specified target market.

Perhaps when a group of individuals with similar music preferences emerge, they form a target market.  They more than likely share common interests, beliefs and characteristics.  Music stereotypes are also formed.  For example, a person who’s interested in heavy metal or rock is normally part of a very different demographic than a person who’s interested in classical, peaceful music.  You can learn many things about a person by listening to the music they’re interested in.  Advertisers like to determine what demographics consumers belong to, as they try to determine how to persuade them.  The more we like the message, the more powerful the persuasion.  Almost instantaneously, musical styles and genres offer opportunities for communicating social messages.  Groups with a preferred style of music share a similar passion. An important part of an advertiser’s job is to determine the client’s message and then get that message across to the consumers.  What better way to do this than by using music as the affiliate for that communication? 

Another aspect of music, which is beneficial for advertising, is how recognizable and memorable it is.  Catchy tunes and lyrics are commonly tied with the products they promote.  For example, Swiffer products use 80’s music in many of their commercials and campaigns.  Songs like “Baby come Back” by the band Player and “Whip it” by the band Devo have been played on commercials for Swiffer products.  These upbeat songs create the allusion that cleaning with this product is fun, quick, and easy.  Many commercials use mainstream music, bands, and artists to add a mood to the scene they’re creating.  Certain areas of the advertisement are even dramatized by the music playing.  A Doublemint gum commercial featured a popular song by Chris Brown.  Chris was filmed singing the song “Forever” with the lyrics tweaked to represent the new advertising jingle for Doublemint gum.

Along with music being recognizable, it is also very easy to access.  Music websites such as Pandora and Spotify offer users the ability to listen to nearly any type of music constantly.  These websites have become so increasingly popular, that they run advertisements on them between songs.  Downloading music online is also incredibly popular.  The downloading tool known as iTunes advertises many mainstream music groups and artists.  Not only does iTunes sell songs, they also sell movies, television shows, and comedic reels. 

However, many music listeners choose to download their songs illegally from websites such as LimeWire and Bittorent.  This has had quite the impact on the music industry, through a loss of profits and jobs.  In fact, it’s also changed how music is delivered to the masses.  Between 2004 and 2009, nearly 30 billion songs were illegally downloaded according to the Recording Industry Association of America.  Record labels are focusing on only a few established artists, since they can’t afford to waste time and money on promoting new music artists. 

Also, this impact has changed how the music industry features artists in order to promote their albums and make a profit.  They develop new tactics like turning popular songs into ringtones and digitally licensing music to sites like YouTube and Pandora.  Social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Pinterest have been used to advertise new music artists and songs.  They ask you to like their Facebook account and follow them on Twitter, where they can advertise their latest songs, albums, concerts, and music festivals.  Like-minded fans interact, share, and participate in the music industry’s methods of digital marketing in order to stay up to date on their favorite music groups and artists.

However, since a decline in CDs sales and radio plays, there is a continuing struggle to gain attention.  Music videos have attempted to grab attention by forming an interesting scenario paired with the song.  Marketing strategies such as product placement appear in the music video.  Song artists and musicians showcase their preference for a particular product.  Would a fan choose to use this product just because their favorite band does?

On the other hand, maybe record companies have made a mistake?  Now it seems like music is marketed with as much enthusiasm as advertising methods used for toothpaste or mayonnaise.  Music is art.  It could take weeks or months even to feel inspired enough to write one song. The great bands from the 60s and 70s like The Who, The Rolling Stone, The Doors, Pink Floyd, and so many others were only focusing on making music, just music.  Many people liked their music, not because it was toothpaste or mayonnaise, or the latest advancement in non-stick frying pans, but because it was true, solid art.

Now, musicians are told what to sell and how to make their music in order to develop consumer interest and promote their bands.  This aspect takes the edge out of music.  It doesn’t feel special or creative anymore.  It feels controlled and commercial. How can a song still portray a rebellious vibe while being constrained by a record label’s standards and rules?  Inspiration, dedication, and soul should be the driving forces behind a musician’s creation and campaign. 

Simply, the best marketing strategy could be to not have one.  Allow the fans and music lovers to promote the albums and songs available.  Word of mouth is a highly effective method at grabbing attention.  Sometimes, listeners even love their favorite bands more if they realize how special and uncommon the music is.  They feel like they have discovered an artist by surfing the web one day and accidentally coming across their next favorite song.  It’s true, music does have ongoing trends which many people follow and keep up with.  However, a spontaneous or innovative sounding group or individual may stir up a lot of public attention by expressing their special music talent.  That unique quality they possess sets them apart from the mainstream.

All in all, music will continue to be created and listeners will continue to listen.  Promotion methods may change, but the art will always be there.  We all have different tastes in music, as we all have different beliefs.  Sometimes these beliefs and the types of music we enjoy coincide.  We then turn into stereotypes for liking certain songs, genres, or bands.  This helps advertisers place us into different target markets as they attempt to appeal to our interests, then persuade us to purchase the product or service they are promoting.  Songs are catchy, memorable and easy to access.  The music industry will continue to discover new methods as they endorse musicians and attempt to profit from them.  But the only point of creating music should be for it to be heard and enjoyed.


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