I once worked at a radio station which had a production department dedicated to writing music for advertising. It was an amazing experience. Jon Craig was the man putting together amazing Music Identities, along with a string of talented musicians. These days it’s easier for people to make music with the technology available… but it’s not always good music for advertising. I often get asked to write copy around cheesy, badly produced “jingles”. One section of the industry seems to have pretty much stalled in the last 40 years with some notable exceptions. This article from Soundscapes makes useful reading for anyone considering having music composed for their advertsing…
At the weekend I was riding my motorcycle around Nairobi and found myself whistling the theme tune to “Last of the Summer Wine”. I have no idea what triggered it. But it must have been something deep in my memory.
I once read an article by an owner of an Advertising Agency in London that said that “jingles” in radio commercials were on their way out. That’s like saying that tyres on cars are on their way out. Certainly the badly sung bedroom produced cockney sing along cheesy Chaz and Dave double glazing jingle should be banned and the producers executed in front of a firing squad…. but music and memory are so closely linked it would be foolish to abandon music in ads. What needs to be rediscovered is the high production value music branding.
Music is extremely powerful for use in Radio Advertising, but you have to be very careful. As with Celebrity Voices, there is the danger that people remember the song and don’t remember the product. If you’re going to use a famous song, then like Levi Jeans, you have to have deep pockets (see what I did there?).
Why use music?
Music has the power to stimulate the emotions. Just try watching a movie with the sound off and see what a difference it makes.
Good Radio Sation producers have a full music library , with music in all styles from classical to jazz, rock to dance. There are news style themes, nursery rhymes, dramatic, ethnic and comedy tracks. In fact, music to suit all moods and to create all atmospheres. This is music that can be bought for use on Radio Commercials.
What music can’t I use?
Music is in copyright until 70 years after the composer’s death. So just about every piece of chart music will be in copyright, and could cost a large sum of money to licence for radio use. The same goes for theme tunes from radio, TV, or films. Sometimes you can be surprised and you can licence a famous piece for a lot less than you though. Some well known works may also still be in copyright, for instance “Happy Birthday” was a copyright piece of music until very recently, or works by more modern composers such as Elgar may still be in copyright. However there are some well known tracks that are in the public domain. The danger with these is that so many have used them over the years, they have become cliched and won’t help your commercial stand out.
Jingles & Music Idents
A jingle is a unique piece of music, usually with vocals, commissioned for your company in the style you specify. Music Ident are usually of a much higher quality and will have fully sung versions and possibly different stayles in the same package. Jingles are usually licenced to you for two years, and remain the property of the composer. You will pay more for licencing it on additional stations or to play in your shop or on your website.
How much you pay also depends on the complexity of the jingle, and the number of cuts or different versions. It’s an investment and so you should be prepared to pay a reasonable amount for a quality product. Some companies can create a “soundalike” of a copyright tune for you, but legally you could be on thin ice, especially if it is too similar. It is better to be original.OR buy the rights for the original (Levi… remember?)
Sonic Brand Triggers:
A SBT can be music or sound effects, or even a voice . They can range from a sung phone number to the stompng of a boot in an Army Recruitment Ad, to just a few notes like the Direct Line Insurance fanfare. They are mostly used by National Advertisers, but there is nothing to stop regional and local advcertisers using this powerful tool. The sound triggers the recognition of the brand with the listener. The most well known example is the Intel Pentium SBT that is used whenever Pentium processors are advertised by Intel, or mentioned in any advertising by computer stores. For more information on SBT’s visit the RAB Website http://www.rab.com.
Music in whatever form gives your company a unique sound and brings a cohesion to all your commercials. Music is also very memorable, so a strong jingle or SBT that people hear often and end up singing along to, obviously helps in making your advertising and therefore your company memorable. Your writer should be able to help you with music production and give you some indication of costs. They may have specialists working for the station who would be happy to talk to you and take a brief for the music.
My best piece of advice… Invest properly and get something done well. The thing about cheese is that it smalls badly after a fairly short time.