Music marketing: How music plays a vital role for advertisers

Soundlounge Team
May 21, 2020

Now is no time to fade into the background

“In these unprecedented times, we need each other more than ever.” Sound familiar? Amidst the COVID-19 panic, brands are keen to assure their customers that they’re still there for them. The only trouble is, they’re all taking a somewhat similar approach.

Take this wonderful example from the team at Microsoft Sam.

Of course, all the brand messages sound the same. But it goes beyond the copy – we’re also hearing that familiar, subdued piano that builds to a climax to convey a sense of hope. There’s a time and a place for stock music, but if it doesn’t fit your brand, your customers will notice.

Why a generic approach will strike no chords

A recent Twitter marketing survey suggested that 68% of consumers want brands to carry on advertising as usual. Indeed, 96% of you want brands to “change their tone of voice” – in particular, to move away from negativity.

Customers don’t want to be reminded that times are hard. We know there are job losses, and there’s genuine danger out there. What we want is a positive message that still adheres to your brand values. Consider:

  • Authenticity – does it really sound sincere and genuine to your values?
  • Brand fit – a sombre soundtrack has no place on an energy drink advert, for example.
  • Long-term effects – people need to know there is light at the end of the tunnel. How will your brand stay memorable beyond COVID-19?

How music marketing puts you in touch with your audience

To relate with our target market, we need to understand their wants, needs and pain points. Advertising works best when it connects these to our emotions. In brain scans, we see areas like the amygdala and hippocampus (colloquially known as ‘pleasure centres’) light up in response to certain kinds of music.

Some of these are dopamine releases, others are anticipation of what’s to come, and some simply evoke memories. Think of the buzz you get when you hear that iconic holidays are coming. When branding is as strong as this, we call it “sonic identity”.

As marketers, we need to ask ourselves two questions about our audience:

Who are they?

Young, old, B2B, B2C? A creative lyrical spin on a pop hit will resonate with younger people who engage with this type of music – take this production for Smyths, for example.

If they’re older, they might appreciate the nostalgic route. Top marks to Spotify for taking us down Memory Lane with their Listen Like You Used To campaign.

How do they want to feel?

Inspired? Energised? Relaxed? This is crucial during times of crisis – people are becoming more creative, and they’re injecting humour into everything they do. So, give them what they want. Pick a genre that accompanies the storytelling. Crisis or not, your brand needs to stay consistent.

This humorous piece for Snickers centres around rap music, and one very unwelcome Elton John – it appeals to our sense of humour, while it maintains brand consistency with the “you’re not you when you’re hungry” slogan.

Once you’ve nailed these, you need to consider how your music marketing can spur action.

Converting your audience from listeners to customers

Again, psychology takes the lead here. For example, one study revealed that French wine outsold German wine when French music was played in a supermarket.

Match your music marketing with your CTAs. Take this climactic final chord from Passenger, inviting BA customers to “start their own California adventure”. (The band name is an added bonus.)

Tell stories. Invite the listener to come along. With a well-positioned soundtrack, they’ll stay with you from beginning to end.

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