I’m often amazed at how much resource production companies and brands will put into the making of TVC campaign without giving any thought to the music. Often I will be shown some beautifully crafted pictures and asked if we can find something “cheap or better still, free”. Usually because they haven’t budgeted for music. Sometimes because they clearly don’t value its importance and impact.
Sure you can get cheap music - but is it any good?
A ‘cheap’ piece of music may adequately fill the background, but will never elevate a enhance to production like a great piece of music can. It can play with emotions and provoke feelings more than any of the other senses. Licensing music is much the same as any other value transaction. You tend to get what you pay for. Cheap music is cheap for a reason.
"By spending a little more and really caring about the music choice, you will enhance the production values, the impact of your pictures and the quality of your brand image."
When you look for a coat, you want it to fit properly, keep you warm, look good and last. If you buy the coat from a $2 shop, odds are it won’t live up to expectations, and will look like a $2 coat. You may end up replacing it with a better coat in a few weeks. You may wish you had paid extra for something you really wanted. When your brand is premium quality, and you associate it with cheap or free music, you’re sending it out in a $2 coat. You will always be disappointed with the result. You will be doubly disappointed when you hear the same music being used by another brand and there is nothing you can do about it.
By spending a little more and really caring about the music choice, you will enhance the production values, the impact of your pictures and the quality of your brand image. There will always be pressures on production budgets and many elements to consider, but going for the budget option on music will usually drag everything else down.
Five things to think about when licensing music
1. Put aside a music budget before you start shooting. Somewhere between 3-10% is a good guide - however if you want a big song which is very well known think more along the lines of 20-40%.
2. Music is very subjective and everyone has personal tastes. It’s important to step aside and consider what’s best for the production.
"Music stirs powerful emotions and often will impact much more than spoken words can."
3. Decide whether you will need something composed or would prefer a track that has already been released. There are thousands of well made, expertly crafted songs that are available if you know where to look. There are also many songs that aren’t worldwide hits but will get a massive push if you use them on your campaign. Your brand may launch that song to market - which means it will have a powerful and positive association with that song for a long time. This about what you want the music to say about your brand. Music stirs powerful emotions and often will impact much more than spoken words can. With many campaigns, the music will be remembered for a lot longer than other elements.
"Sure you can get cheap music - but is it any good?."
4. If you are going to invest in a major song, remember you are investing in an audience connection as well as an experience. If you invest a considerable sum, your expectation should be that it’s known by many and it has an immediate response. It’s important not to fall in love with a song and over-invest. Once I licensed a track that was incredibly out of line with the value of the song and the budget however the client was so determined to license this track they paid far too much for it. The campaign was a flop and musically a wash out and even though it was a famous singer - no one connected with it at all. A few months later the client went to another agency and soon after we found a perfect song for them at a fraction of the price. It is still being licensed today and has a tremendous brand association that everyone is proud of. You can pay too little for a piece of music but you can also pay too much.
"You can pay too little for a piece of music but you can also pay too much."
5. Choosing the right music needn’t be difficult, however it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons as you would with any other business decision.You need to ask - am I making the right investment here? Will I be cheapening my brand by associating it with low-cost or free production music? What amount should I spend to ensure a good return on the investment? And who should I be spending it with?
As with anything you invest in - make sure the return you are getting matches what you are prepared to pay for it.
Author: Jan Hellriegel
Call Aeroplane Music Services + 64 9 846 8892 - we can help you navigate your way to a good song.