It's a new year — a good time to look back and think about what made 2015 different from the year before. As a composer, it's easy and expected to talk about what kinds of music people are asking for these days. But that’s not very interesting to me, and I imagine not particularly interesting to anybody else. What I do think is interesting, though, is that it seems agencies are ignoring trends more than ever. Sure you see recurring themes, shared inspiration and similarities that could be chalked up to a collective unconscious. But I see more willingness to experiment than ever before. With online coming further into its own as a medium, an ad can do things not possible with the traditional broadcast format.
Time to Engage
For one thing, we are no longer time constrained to multiples of :15 online. Not only can the format go longer if it helps to develop the story, but you can also go shorter if it helps to tighten things up. I've even seen the length of the cut adapted to accommodate the music. One of the best things a composer can hear from a client is “feel free to go a little over if you need to.” It’s also a different kind of “selling,” because online you can better target an audience and don’t have to cast the widest net to catch the attention of the few. People at agencies are much more aware of this now. The creatives who are commissioning music from Pull are not only open to taking more chances, but they’re eager to take those chances. I see many of the old “formulas” thrown out the window - this makes for many more opportunities to creatively stretch the medium in terms of storytelling, visual aesthetic and music. That helps to engage audiences better, because brands understand their audience better.
As a result, Pull doesn’t have to campaign as much for edgier sounds or, alternatively, for music that can sit behind the story and not try so hard to get your attention, as if it were a trader on the floor of the NYSE jumping around yelling with its hand up in the air, who are coincidentally also becoming a thing of the past thanks to being online. True, it’s not news that people are crafting spots for the Internet, and that it’s been happening for a while. But I feel like the stuff I’ve seen landing on my console in the past 12 months have really jumped up a level (both in quality and in quantity). What once was seen as an aside is now really becoming an area of focus. That said, I always welcome the chance to get extra creative and make some crazy music - but that’s not always the best thing. Sometimes conservative sounds are what’s best for the commercials. If they’re all crazy, then none of them are crazy.
Mitch Davis is a Composer/Co-Founder with Pull in New York City (www.pullpullpull.com). Davis and Scott Brittingham co-founded the full service music company, which contributes to all media.