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The Influencers

"Help! I Hate Briefing Music"

INFLUENCER: A-MNEMONIC Music's Toby Jarvis discusses some helpful tips to formulate the perfect music brief

"Help! I Hate Briefing Music"

A senior creative confided in me the other day - he didn’t like briefing music, didn’t feel he could talk about music and wished he could 'brief music better'.

I was somewhat taken aback. Over the three or four projects we had previously worked on together I had never detected any lack of confidence with music briefing.

He expanded: “Oh I really hate dealing with music. I don’t have the language or the experience or the skills to talk about music. I’m intimidated and at sea with the whole prospect of thinking about music, I don’t have the vocabulary and quite happy to pass it on to someone else to deal with!”

It doesn’t have to be like this - briefing music can be good fun and an exciting part of the process. A little bit of forethought with the music can be a fantastic opportunity to be really creative and brave, creating an amazing piece of music that people will remember and become part of the DNA of your ad/film/TV show/experience.

We often help agencies write music briefs, which can be shared with the team or client for sign off – this process can be a very helpful tool in focusing everybody on the same page at the beginning.

So, if you’re at sea with music and need to think about formulating a music brief, this is for you:

How DO you brief music well and, in doing so get the best from your music company?

If you can get your head around the first two points, the rest will fall into place. Let’s not get bogged down with genre or style yet.


What Makes You Think You Need Music?

Seems an obvious question to kick off. If you already know you need music, your brief is beginning to crystallise.

Does the music need to tell a story? To convey a mood or a feeling? To highlight tension and relief? To make a proposition more sexy and exciting?

Research shows: “Brands with music that fit their brand identity are 96% more likely to be recalled than those with non-fit music, or no music at all. Respondents are 24% more likely to buy a product with music that they recall, like and understand.”

Creative considerations aside, it’s obviously worth getting right.


How Should The Music Make Us Feel?

The primary reason people listen to music is to feel something.

If you can identify first what emotion(s) you want the audience to feel, your music brief will begin to form. Do we want to feel uplifted, surprised, empathetic, cool, sexy, excited? We’re still not going to think about style or genre yet.

I once worked with a director whilst scoring a series about two plastic surgeons in Miami. The director had said he found briefing music difficult. On asking him "how should the music make us feel?" He said simply, “I want to feel nothing but sexual tension!” It was a great brief – an entirely open and free brief, but you knew exactly how he wanted the audience to feel.

Things can get really interesting when you start to mix things up and get to ‘sexy and uplifting - and cool’. That’s where the fun starts.



In ‘Help! I Hate Briefing Music’ (Part Two) Toby will discuss the ‘Method of Delivery’ - ie. how your music could deliver the emotions you've identified; the ‘Open brief’, and how useful music references can be.

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