The power of music in business promotion

Hi all,
Hope this finds you well.

As soon as I read it, I wanted to copy this article by Margot in a blog by one of our most prolific voiceover/TV radio audio production companies (Abe is someone we have known for a while and has an amazing business structure with an amazing work ethic, professionals and use of technology for flow and delivery).

Mainly provided as a reference/link for those planning to work with us in the Sync Stable area  – whether songwriters/composers with produced relevant pieces or, clients wanting us to work with them on music  – – — I also thought it would also be of interest for those wanting to promote their music into these areas directly  – or just to be reinforced about the power music has – its worth the read.

I hope you enjoy and do not hesitate to contact us if we can be of assistance for your business or you wish us to consider taking your music into the Sync Stable.

Music is powerful. We recognise it quickly and make fast associations. Need convincing?  Jaws! Imperial March! James Bond! Bohemian Rhapsody!

Academic researchers have spent decades studying the benefits of music on emotion, memory, and mood. Marketing research in turn has looked at how music can help get the attention of bombarded viewers as well as engage them enough to keep watching and, hopefully, remember the subject and persuade them to buy your squeegee, visit the theme park, pay for the luxury cruise with super.

A 2015 study by Nielsen showed that of the 600 commercials examined, those with music performed better across four metrics—creativity, empathy, emotive power and information power—than those without music.

So here’s a couple of studies that suggest how to better engage through music.

  1. Emotional Engagement

An examination of Billboard magazine’s “Hot 100” song list by the North Carolina State University found that the number 1 hit songs from January 1960 to December 2009 were dominated by 12 key themes:

  • Loss
  • Desire
  • Aspiration
  • Breakup
  • Pain
  • Inspiration
  • Nostalgia
  • Rebellion
  • Jaded
  • Desperation
  • Escapism
  • Confusion

In other words, it was observed that the songs that resonated the most with listeners were those with lyrics centred around emotion.  When using music to increase engagement with a brand, then, think about the impact an emotionally driven song or bed can have versus an informative or rationally driven one.

To experience such an emotional journey watch Nolan’s Seriously Strong cheddar commercial that captures you with music (and a mouse), not dialogue:  (PS happy ending so watch till the end)

  1. What Emotion Do you Seek?

A study published in the African Journal of Business Management showed how different music styles created different perceptions of the same product.

They played four audiences a version of a radio commercial for an invented brand of water. Three versions had background music and one version did not.

As previous research leads us to expect, those who heard a version with music had the strongest emotional involvement, and the audience who heard the version with music that was familiar (What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong) scored the highest of all.

Even more interestingly, the study found that the type of music influenced the characteristics associated with the product, and those of the voice over announcer.

Version 1 = unfamiliar music with a fast beat and varied tones
Audience perception of announcer = happy, enthusiastic, impatient, excitable
Audience perception of brand = exciting, fun, energetic

Version 2 = unfamiliar music with a slower tempo and minimal tone variance
Audience perception of announcer = calm, understanding, trustworthy
Audience perception of brand = healthy, natural, relaxing.

Same script, different music, so different brand perception. So use music to emotionally engage with your audience, but be sure you choose the music that inspires the emotion you actually want!

You usually want to make sure the associations you trigger with music align with the values of your brand as well. Maybe avoid Marilyn Manson if your focus is kindness to animals, for example.

Musically Mutually Beneficial

Music can improve engagement on its own – we like it! – but familiar music, like shown with Louis above, can be even more effective.

Marketers can use those immediate and strong associations and emotions triggered by a known song or piece of music by linking them to their brand when it plays that music in its commercials. The emotions and associations the viewer felt from the song (invigorated, joyful, poignant, family, holidays, childhood) become tied to their feelings for the brand. Engagement is higher, and so, ideally, are recall and sales of that brand.

While using a popular song or music can come with a hefty price tag, the results can evidently be worthwhile. This includes for the artist too! For example, in a TV commercial for Germany Vodafone used the song “We Are the People” from then little known Australian band Empire of the Sun. Soon after the commercial’s release the song was topping the charts in Germany.

When the practice of using known music in advertising first started, a band or singer who licensed the rights to a song were likely to be marked with a stigma for selling out (Rolling Stones anyone?). Now it can make them!

To Music or Not to Music

We know a music bed in a commercial can be beneficial. Is it always?

If your commercial is centred around one or more people in their natural environment, for example staff chatting at the hairdressers, people in an office, joggers, a car driver, then background music is likely to sound unnatural, discordant, inappropriate. This is one example of when music for music’s sake doesn’t work. Sometimes sound effects (or a silent background) will have greater impact.

Think about context!


I’m sure most of us have walked out of a store because the music was terrible. Capture your audience with music and the strong emotional associations it can create for you.

Hear the difference a music bed can make with the following example we made. The first version doesn’t have a music bed, the second version is the exact same read but with music bed added. Which do you prefer?




Ian’s notes
The different 12 emotions is worth noting – – – but also the whole message about being in context is relevant for so many situations — whether advertising, or for example film.
For example (and for your enjoyment )- these youtube comparison has been used often in lectures about music in film etc  (using Pirates of the Caribbean scenes)  (using Lord of the Rings scenes)

Finally  as mentioned – music has power, can add power, can make a scene or not. Sometimes the absence of music is appropriate – but sometimes it is just plain ridiculous!
As an example – Here is the last scene in Star Wars without music-

and here it is with Williams’ score intact

Again I hope you enjoy, learnt something – — –and please do not hesitate to contact us if we can be of assistance for your business or you wish us to consider taking your music into the Sync Stable (more on that on our website under publishing services).

Cheers till next time.



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