By Joel Corelitz, founder, Underscore Music
Issue: November 1, 2007


It's no secret that several forces are impacting the world of marketing. Marketing budgets continue to shrink and dollars must work harder and more creatively than ever. This in turn has many marketers charging their agencies with finding more efficient ways to maximize budgets without minimizing the creative product. 

When it comes to executing the idea, these budget pressures are spilling over into production companies. Key elements of production are being cut based on cost. One example is original music. 

Clients want to be assured they are getting value - not only in terms of budget, but also in terms of getting the best work out of the creative process. More people are open to original music but unfortunately attach original music with an older music house model. This has created an opportunity for a new generation of composer to deliver the same breakthrough, cutting-edge creativity more efficiently. Here are a few things to think about as you evaluate original music in the value equation:

Leaner means value, collaborative creative process

Working with a leaner operation creates a unique opportunity to focus more on the ideas. And the process is more collaborative because clients and creative partners can be involved much sooner. Consider an independent: a leaner model means a more efficient approach.

Another benefit of getting out of the traditional studio environment is that it often results in more authentic solutions. A collaborative, adaptive process leads to a more intimate relationship with the client, which most likely, leads to the best idea.

And the most obvious benefit of working with a leaner operation: the old model music house can be expensive because of the amount of overhead and infrastructure needed to run and maintain a studio setup. Technology has drastically changed this model, however investments in technology are still passed along to the client. 

There must be talent behind technology

You've heard the old adage, it's not the wand, it's the magician. It's true here as well. While technology has certain benefits, including mobility and efficiency, music composition is one of those rare businesses where every day one is challenged to come up with an idea, to create something from a concept.

The current trends in technology, in the right hands, can result in a design-oriented piece of original music that blends both music and sound design and better yet, knowledge of motion graphics. This kind of talent tends to work independently and has had a variety of experience in the industry.

One caveat: being on the cutting edge of technology does not translate to being able to execute a great idea. To put it in perspective, think of technology as a means to an end. Technology allows you to deliver a great idea more efficiently. If technology fueled the idea process, it could be dangerous. At the end of the day it's just a tool and ideas that are fueled by tools lack the resonance to make any creative impact.

Choose a composer with brand expertise

The genre or stereotype of creative people as "jingle" writers is long gone. Today's creative talent comes from a broad background of education and experience. But when is comes to music for advertising, the consumer audience is much more sophisticated about music than ever before. Complicating matters is the proliferation of musicians, DJs, and artists (fine arts and graphics) attempting to cross over. 

While the consumer audience is most likely familiar with many of these artists, it's not enough to be a great musician or a great DJ.  Technology has put the means to make music in the hands of more people than ever. The real question is to whom do you trust your brand image? 

What may be of interest is the trend towards composers who are actively involved in music outside of advertising who can utilize those influences and experiences to make an original piece of music fresh and authentic. They understand how to leverage this knowledge to connect your brand with today's consumer audience. This allows them to create an original score that brings the creative concept alive in a way that truly reflects the unique attributes of the brand.

Original music = brand authenticity

Consider the "whole value" equation - true authenticity is achieved only when a piece of communication as a whole can voice something original. In other words, do the elements of a piece of communication work together - the written word, the visuals and the piece of music?  Is the music working in tandem with copy and visuals to reinforce what makes the product or service unique? An original score can bring an idea to life in a way that is forward-thinking, fresh and memorable.  

Question whether being associated with an existing image or a licensed piece of music reinforces the message you want to communicate about your brand. It's possible that using a pre-existing image or piece of music will draw the audience's focus away from your message.  

The bottom line, clients want to be connected to the consumer! 

There's no question today's consumer is more elusive than ever. But, as the trend towards the fusion of music and culture in advertising becomes more prominent in today's society, it has created an opportunity to leverage what's important to today's consumer with what's cutting-edge in music and culture.  

This has produced a new generation of composers who are entrenched in the most recent trends in music and culture. This immersion allows them to create an original piece of music that connects and resonates in a way that is relevant to the consumer.

There is a better way to approach original music and deliver a high level of creativity more efficiently. Just consider a new model and a new generation of composers.