Is there a recipe of proven methods that can be applied when composing for advertisements? Well, I would say yes.
Of course, all projects require an unrelenting work ethic, dedication, talent and collaboration. But lets set those aside for now, and look at at some proven tips I’ve found useful when writing for adverts.
Know your product
Firstly, you have to truly know what you’re writing for, who the audience is, and their tone of voice.
Most companies will be able to provide their market research, which provides valuable insights into their marketplace. But, it’s also important to do your own research and get to know the audience from a musical perspective. Ultimately the music has to resonate with the audience and complement the tone of voice for the advert.
Know your audience
Of course, location, products, services and the setting of the advert can limit ways that music can be written. But, it’s important that music resonates with a wide audience because the advert is created with the purpose of reaching an audience en mass.
You have to remember that people have had different life experiences and have varying tastes in music, and people process things from different prospectives.
Most people are programmed cognitively to connect with music in adverts that have recognisable instruments, sounds and phrases. With this in mind, writing music for the extremes of genres would (generally) not be ideal for an advert.
Let’s say, for example, that you were composing music for a travel company advertising holidays in Brazil. Of course, a large epic orchestration wouldn’t be ideal. But composing in genres like the samba that’s synonymous with Brazillian culture would have a better impact.
Lyrical elements can have a big impact, and when used correctly can have a subliminal effect on the audience.
Let’s look at an example. Imagine you’re composing music for a car dealership. Including phrases that relate to movement like “coming home” and “places to go” would be very effective.
We only have to think about the McDonalds slogan to realise that we’ve been programmed to think that we love McDonald’s.
Select the right theme
Advertising exists because companies want to sell you something, and in general, happy positive music sells.
So, when composing music for advertising think happy, energetic, and hopeful thoughts.
Think about the title of the track
Create simple titles that make sense to the people looking for your music. This is particularly important for library music. Make sure that you title your tracks appropriately and think about the emotional content.
People looking for music will search on keywords like an emotional violin and Christmas theme. so title it with those terms.
Emotion and narrative
Writing music for advertisements is very similar to that of scoring a TV drama or film. The music for adverts is less about a verse-chorus-bridge structure, and more about a build and resolve.
Compose tracks that are more about telling a story and forget the conventional structure.
Invest in the quality
Buyers almost always want and need quality productions. It doesn’t matter how amazing the song is, it’s about how they can use it.
If you need to collaborate with others to have tracks mastered, mixed, or performed then do that. Trying to save money and working alone isn’t the best thought process, and you’ll learn from others.