Greg Allan is the CEO and Creative Director of Chicago’s Sonixphere (www.sonixphere.com), and a partner in Stir Post Audio (www.stirpost.com). Here, he looks at trends influencing music production.
If 2017 is a continuation of the trends we’ve experienced this past year in music and sonic production (which includes an increase in the :60 spot, irregular time formats popping up more and more, and clients shunning library music for custom tracks when budgets allow), than I predict this coming year will be a robust one that is both creatively- and technicaly-inspiring for Sonixphere!
We are seeing changes in lengths/formats for online commercials and a return to the longer :60 format that once dominated broadcast commercials back in the day before air time became too expensive causing :30s and :15s to proliferate. Now :60s have started coming back because they can live on the Web. They also allow us to stretch out and be more creative. I started seeing an increase in :60s last year and thought, “This is really bizarre?” There’s usually a :30 and a :15 that goes along with it, but I think because of the nature of the Internet, clients want and need more content. It’s really refreshing to be working on :60s because it gives us a chance to score music in a longer form and let it develop. You don’t have to quick cut stuff and can tell the story in a more relaxed way, drawing the viewer in.
I’ve also noticed these crazy, nonconforming formats. I’m getting Internet work that’s :38 or :24 or :52. If it’s going to run straight to the Web and not air on traditional TV, we’re seeing clients take advantage of the freedom the Internet affords by using more non-traditional lengths for commercials. If they need :38 to tell their story, they take it if that length works best for the telling the story and getting the brand’s message out. We love these new formats because we don’t have to be locked into the mentality of “Oh, we have to make it a :30 or :60,” which is kind of refreshing not having to back into the traditional time formats musically. It’s more like working on a film for us and it’s refreshing to try different approaches. People’s minds are more open and it allows us the time and space to try all sorts of things.
Diversification is the business model we built Sonixphere upon when we launched in 2011 and that continues to be key to our expansion. We continually expand into media platforms and markets, and as brick and mortar businesses migrate onto the Web, there will be even more opportunities for us. Last year, for example, we did a huge job for an Asian Web-based educational product for which we wrote seven hours of orchestral music and 160 full-length songs. I predict even more cross-pollination between commercials, Webisodes, trailers, TV and film in 2017 as the lines blur between what is advertising, what is entertainment and what is content. By working in all these areas, our composers are continually inspired to try fresh sonic approaches as they move from working on a commercial to sonic branding to a trailer, sometimes in the same day!
Though we have a robust library ourselves and use it everyday, clients are asking for original music over stock music when their budgets allow. I have seen clients lobby their agencies for the budget to cover custom music when they want something tailored to their film that they can own and represents only their brand. 2017 may see more of a return to original music if the product warrants that kind of unique music branding.
That goes for vocals as well. While there is not the huge demand for jingles with songs, when a client wants to reach the target group in a humanistic way, there’s nothing like a voice. For younger markets and tweens, we get calls for vocals and they usually need to connect with whatever that age range listens to.
We wish all of our colleagues in this crazy business happy holidays and bring on 2017!