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There Ain’t Nothing Artificial about (The Value Of) Music Intelligence


Jon Vanhala, CEO, Crossfade Partners, believes the power of data and technology-driven insights enables us all to do so much better

There Ain’t Nothing Artificial about (The Value Of) Music Intelligence

Far too often individuals across brands, agencies and music shops find themselves in a meeting where they find out the reason a brand chose a particular song or sound to represent them on TV, social, or another marcom was based on something like this: “The CMO’s daughter’s neighbour’s friend’s cousin loves Artist X, so we need something that sounds just like that.” While it is awesome to see the power of music resonate with brand marketers, I believe the power of data and technology-driven insights enables us all to do so much better!

Not only is casual human bias alone not the best way to support a brand sonic identity, far too often most brands don’t even have a sonic identity. They invest massive budgets and several months of work and committee time on their brand identity, brand book and brand guidelines, but the music side of the brand identity strategy seems to have been left behind or not addressed historically. Now is the time to create a sonic identity (you can’t double down on something you don’t have!) 

Most brands have not executed a sonic identity strategy system. That lack of big picture strategy enables plenty of brand teams and agency creatives to go ad hoc on music choices based on personal bias versus strategic thought. In a world where it is increasingly difficult to cut through the clutter of the exploding attention economy, we are also in a culture where audio is needed more than ever to reach audiences. Music and sonic identity can be one of the fastest ways to create a deep connection and lasting emotional bond with a brand’s desired audiences. 

To pay credit where credit is due, a small percentage of savvy brands have already executed a music or sonic identity strategy. But so many brands, from global CPG to upstart challenger brands, haven’t executed on it or even seriously considered it. 

Brands and agency colleagues have invested major dollars in advanced marketing science solutions and tech stacks that aggregate first-party data, generate insights, influence creative, enable strategies and tactics for higher yield and optimized campaign performance. The term “data-driven” is heard multiple times per day. These firms have invested in brand identity, brand books, and adhere to guidelines. Yet they haven’t applied the same rigor and strategy, power of marketing sciences tech and audience analytics insights to the most powerful communications tool of all: music. 

When the right combination of human intelligence with today’s modern marketing technology tech stack is properly applied to music and sonic strategy, you can uncover better insight, smarter strategy, and more effective tactics. Through this process, utilizing music will equal better campaign performance,  higher ROAS, and even an increase in overall brand valuation. 

To be transparent, I’ve been an advocate for how music advantages brand marketing and communications for years.  I’ve touted this from the artist perspective, from the major record label perspective, from the technology provider perspective and from an agency perspective.  I’m equal parts data nerd and creative nerd.  I fully believe in taking full advantage of all the power of bleeding-edge technology, artificial intelligence, marketing, and data science... but there’s nothing artificial about the bond musical intelligence creates with your desired audience. 

Here’s the real point. We (as an industry) can do this! The tools exist. It’s almost 2022 Let's make true data driven music intelligence a top priority for brands, instead of an afterthought. Let’s go!! 

Jon Vanhala is CEO of Crossfade Partners

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Groove Guild, Wed, 17 Nov 2021 08:19:39 GMT