SWOT: The challenges facing music houses
Chad Cook
Issue: January 1, 2013

SWOT: The challenges facing music houses

STRENGTHS: “Music and sound are still the most powerful tools for emotional branding and memory recall. Whether you use custom music, a library track, or an artist cut, music can make the most impact in delivering and branding your message. One positive in today's content-laden world is that there is more music to choose from than ever before. And that content is becoming more searchable, easier to find, and covers a wide range of budgetary needs.”

WEAKNESSES: “Conversely, one of the biggest weakness is that there is so much content out there that producers spend more and more time searching through all the clutter looking for truly ‘great’ music tracks and vendors. While there is more great music out there from incredible composers and producers, there is an increasing amount of average to below average clutter as well. Affordable home studios have enabled virtually anyone to create and sell music.”

OPPORTUNITIES: “With all that content, the opportunity exists for composers to be as innovative, unique and memorable as you can to cut through all the noise out there. At Stephen Arnold Music, we like to say ‘you can't download a great idea for 99 cents.’

“Producers often want to use indie artist tracks rather than custom music because they feel using an indie artist track is somehow cooler, more offbeat and exciting. While that may work at times, original music, created specifically for a campaign, has the unique ability to really communicate the precise brand and message. That music can be as much a part of a brand identity as the graphic logo or look and feel of the advertising. There are great examples everywhere, such as stalwart sonic branding like McDonald's ‘I'm Lovin' It’ or ‘Free Credit Report Dot Com,’ and television shows like ‘Monday Night Football’ and ‘American Idol.’

“Music companies have an opportunity to become a more valuable resource to their clients. Today, music providers must be capable as a music supervisor, composer, producer, sound designer, editor and even have the knowledge and resources to assist clients with clearing music rights for artist tracks or other pieces of music.”

THREATS: “Ad agency and network producers and creative staffs are facing many challenges today: limited budgets, more responsibilities, and less staff support, to name a few. Their pressures become a music company’s greatest threat. The greatest challenge for music companies is to come up with new creative angles and ideas that ease that pressure. In this world of so much clutter, repetition, and noise, doing that really is job one.”

Chad Cook is a founding member of Stephen Arnold Music. He has left his indelible creative mark on the company’s most prominent projects, including work for The Weather Channel, CNN, ESPN and HBO. His musical vision has resulted in numerous awards, including multiple Emmys, Addys, and Promax/BDA Awards.