Music speaks to everyone, but unlike spoken language it doesn’t need translation, so when we hear music, we often experience an emotional response without even needing to think about it. It just enters our ears and talks directly to our emotions, altering our mood, energy levels, and even our behavior.
Advertisers have known about this for a long time. The craft of the advertiser is all about influencing the thoughts, feelings and ultimately the buying behavior of would-be customers, so it’s no surprise that they would make use of something as influential as music to promote sales.
Use of video has exploded in recent years, and so the need for high quality audio has grown right alongside it. Note that we’re using the word “audio” here because a professional voice over is just as important as the right music. Both can help (or harm) customer perception of the moving image messages that we use for marketing, advertising and branding, so it’s important to give them due consideration in your productions.
Why Music Works
So, we’ve said that music affects emotions, and everybody intuitively “knows” that to be true, but it’s worth mentioning here that research backs this up now. Scientists in Finland did MRI brain scans on subjects while they listened to music. This proved that music doesn’t just affect the parts of the brain responsible for hearing—it actually seems to “light up” lots of different areas of the brain. For instance, listening to a beat affected areas that deal with movement. Rhythm and tonality had an effect on limbic areas—which deal with emotions. Timbre, which you could describe as the color of the sound, activated something called the default mode network, which they think is associated with mind wandering and creativity.
Memory centers are affected by music as well, so it’s easy to understand why hearing a particular song can instantly take us back to a certain time or place in our lives.
Music and Emotions
Audio branding specialist PHMG discovered that 66% of people who responded to a survey believe that music makes marketing more memorable. They also looked at how 1,000 Australian consumers reacted to different audio clips and discovered that music is a catalyst for strong emotions that can affect how they feel about a company.
The study found that:
· 87% of respondents said that short, sharp notes in a major key made them feel happy or excited. But, when the key was shifted from a major to a minor, 83% of people said they felt sad or melancholy.
· 90% of people found the acoustic guitar caring, calm and sophisticated.
· High-intensity drumming was associated with a sense of drive, energy and motivation.
· Percussive elements played ahead of the beat in common (4/4) time created a sense of urgency and intensity, but when played behind the beat, listeners said they felt more languid and relaxed.
· Brass instruments played in open fifths made most participants feel angry, sad or reflective.
These intriguing reactions underline the fact that when you’re creating an ad, you need to be clear about what emotional response you want to encourage in the viewer, and what you want to avoid.
Music and Behavior
We know that music affects emotions now, but how does it affect buying behavior? A piece of research from 1982 compared playing fast music and slow music at a New York City grocery store. The slow music made shoppers linger for longer, which meant they bought more, and in fact, sales were 32% higher than when they played the fast music. People felt relaxed and unhurried, so they hung around and shopped. Also, a 1999 study found that slow music in restaurants meant that patrons spent more time eating and a lot more money on alcohol.
Now, before you go rushing off to snap up all the slow-paced music you can find from a royalty-free music vendor, remember that retail shopping, restaurant dining and video advertising/marketing are completely different customer experiences. We’re not trying to tell you what kind of music to put in your video, we’re just asking you to notice that what you do choose is going to have an impact.
First impressions last (and you don’t have long to make them.)
It doesn’t matter where your video appears online—it could be a marketing presentation on your homepage or a YouTube ad—customers won’t hang around as long to watch it as they used to. They will often skip ads, which is why it’s important to grab their attention right from the start and hold onto it.
To do that, you probably give plenty of thought to the look of a video, and if you’ve ever put one together then you’ll know how important it is to get the planning, writing, casting, filming, and maybe animation right. That can all soak up a lot of time, effort and cash, but it’s time and money well spent if it boosts your sales.
You don’t want to let it fall at the final hurdle, so understand that music is more than just the icing on your marketing cake. Of course, music costs, and we know you don’t have infinitely deep pockets. Microsoft reportedly gave millions to the Rolling Stones in 1995 to use their iconic song “Start Me Up” to promote their new operating system, but most budgets are far more modest. Hiring a composer, while much cheaper, can still be a drain on finances, which is why choosing royalty-free music that ticks some of the boxes which we mentioned above represents a cost-effective way of setting the right mood to go with your message.
Professional voice overs
The human voice has a music of its own, and it’s also one that marketers and advertisers can’t afford to ignore. The dawn of the web has made it relatively simple for anyone to set themselves up as a voice over artist working from home, and while that’s been great for true professionals, it’s also meant that plenty of second-rate performers now have a route to market. We’d recommend that if your video needs a voice over then you should audition artists from a reputable professional service.
Setting the right mood
Music has long been used by physical retail store owners to influence customer behavior. Ambient background music makes the retail space feel more “personal” for shoppers as they browse. It subtly influences the way they feel about the store, and combined with the visual layout, makes them feel more comfortable.
With video, the customer is exposed to brands in a different way, but the audio they hear when this happens still has an impact on them. Some research has suggested that people are 24% more likely to buy a product when they “recall, like and understand” the music that’s associated with it. And people are 96 % more likely to recall a brand whose music fits their identity (compared to no music or music they don’t relate to).
What this says is that classical music probably won’t help you to sell energy drinks to under 24s who like skateboarding!
Finding the right music
By now, you might be feeling quite daunted. The idea of choosing music for your video so that it speaks the language of your target audience and evokes the right emotions probably feels like guesswork. How are you supposed to choose a tune that resonates with their taste, personality, preferences, aspirations, mood, values, while also fitting with your brand?
Well, you’ll be pleased to know that it isn’t an exact science. You are allowed to guess, and if we go back to the research we mentioned at the start, you’ll remember that it only really confirmed what you already know, things like fast music stirs the heart, for example.
The message here is, you’re a consumer too, and you’ve had years of training—listening to the music of TV ads, and music in general, so, trust your own ears! If you hear something that you think would fit with your next video, then use it as reference music. This will give you a starting point that you can hand over to the composer you want to hire or it can help you to narrow down what you’re looking for when you search an online library for royalty-free music.
Some Final Tips
Here are a couple of things to bear in mind when using your chosen music:
Use music to bookend your presentation. Intro and outro music should introduce and close sections if you’re using it for a video campaign. This sets the tone of the ad and gives your audience a sense of completion at the end of the video.
Use silence to make a point. You’ve probably seen noisy ads where this technique is used, and as long as it’s not overdone, a silent moment can really grab the viewer’s attention.
If you’re using a voice over, try to avoid using instruments which clash with its frequencies.
If you can match the music to the visuals, then so much the better. A study by Neurosight, looked at more than 150 TV ads. The ones that people remembered most were the ones where the action was driving the ad, so the lyrics or the tempo matched with what was happening on screen.