CAMPAIGN SCREEN: Music and Sound Design - Production. Introduction

This production report takes a look at the role of music in advertising. We profile the top ten composers in the business, alongside the industry's emerging artists. Making the perfect match between tune and brand is a real skill which is demonstrated in our pick of the best examples.

And we discover how the epic ad for BT broadband got its equally impressive soundtrack before any footage had even been shot.

How many times have you gone to a gig and thought "I wish I could sing" or "I wish I could play the guitar". Music-making is one of the most admired, respected and envied professions. One would expect to add the word rewarded to the list but, unless you are Robbie Williams, the story for many musicians, including those working within the advertising industry, is that financial rewards are seriously lacking.

With ever-decreasing budgets, agencies are increasingly arguing that licence fees for music should be discounted and, in some cases, dropped. After all, the publicity generated for a track and the potential to break a new band can be massive.

Not surprisingly, the industry is alarmed by such threats, particularly when it has other things to worry about, such as the public's greater access to "free" music via the internet.

The question is one of principle. Music companies provide a service. Many offer reams of material, some going back to the 1880s. Their catalogue is their lifeblood and its value is selling it to clients.

They are also asked to find a track and jump through hoops to get legal clearance, often in a matter of hours. Despite claims that music can really make or break a commercial, it is often the last thing to be considered in the production.

In addition, the music outfits may have invested huge amounts in promoting and developing their talent. Musicians are an artistic resource in the same way as the other creative people involved in an ad. It is intellectual property and, as such, it deserves to be paid for.

And the argument that advertising can launch a career is also flawed. There is no guarantee that an ad will get noticed, let alone that the audience will be able to identify the track or the artist.

For an association to work, it requires a major PR effort to promote the band to drive sales. However, with advertising creatives striving for originality, underground bands from a smaller label are often used. For these labels it can be a frustrating experience. They welcome the tie-up but can rarely capitalise on it, lacking the vast sums required for concerted PR activity.

The UK is seen to be at the cutting edge when it comes to music, yet the stories from the smaller, more creative labels do not bode well. While a few people make disgusting amounts of money, many are facing a real battle for survival. Licence fees should not be perceived as a rip-off but a way of acknowledging the vital role music plays in commercials and its ability to move audiences like nothing else.

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