Posted by: soundlounge | April 28, 2009

Music Moves London Marathon Runners

london_marathon

Last month, the soundlounge blog  investigated the most popular songs that fitness enthusiasts listen to while training. From the Rocky theme tune to We Are The Champions, it seems everyone has a track that helps them to stay motivated. This year’s London Marathon saw 35,000 brave runners take to the streets of the capital, many of them sporting mp3 players to help push through the dreaded ‘wall’. Among the participants were a number of famous faces, some of whom are musicians themselves, including Ronan Keating and Keith Duffy from Boyzone, and pop singer Peter Andre.

With the heroes of the London marathon still recovering from their 26 mile battle, soundlounge ask what songs made them keep on running?

According to EMR

–    77 per cent of those who trained for the London Marathon would have trained to music – the equivalent of 26,950 runners

–    88 per cent of them would have needed music to lift their spirits – the equivalent of 30,800 runners

If you were a runner in this year’s London Marathon why not share what tunes kept you going…

So we were wondering…
1. What songs do you have on your iPod for training?
2. What song do you play over and over when the going gets tough?
3. There were 60 bands on route – which do you remember and where?

Looking forward to hearing your answers…

Top London Marathon 2009 stats …

– This year was the event’s 28th anniversary
– 26 miles and 385 yards is the full length of the route
– 6,000 volunteers helped out on the day
– 6500 marshals kept the crowds and runners safe
– 750,000 bottle of water are drunk by participants
– 82 pubs were located on the marathon route
– 1250 toilets were available on the day
– 60 bands played en route
– 1500 St Johns Ambulance workers were on call
– 2,500 ‘helping hands’ were available
– 35,000 competitors raced
– £46 million is expected to be raised for charity

Posted by: soundlounge | April 14, 2009

Music Copyright In A Digital World

youtube

In September 1998, two young students from Stanford University registered a small, private company in a friend’s garage in California aimed at giving web users across the globe a more informed and wide-ranging choice when it came to searching the internet. Google fast became the perfect platform for businesses, organisations and individuals from all backgrounds and industries to promote, display and advertise their services. The search engine, with its simple interface and user-friendly design gave people, whether technically savvy or not, access to the world wide web – a place that for the last decade had been mainly the preserve of the geeks and hackers. The now multi-billion dollar brand began life giving a voice to the ‘everyman’, encouraging linking and communication, and helping to expose a fat cat culture now so heartily disliked.

So what happened to this refreshing young business whose very existence relied on creating a place of fairness, equality and inclusion? Well, put simply, it started to grow. In 2004, when Google was first floated on the stock market, the search engine was valued at a massive $23 billion. Its stock performance over the following years excelled with shares hitting $700 for the first time in October 2007. Today, Google continues to impress as one of the most powerful brands on the planet. But despite its ‘fun demeanour’ and unofficial company slogan of ‘don’t be evil’ a darker side to this seemingly unstoppable internet force has recently emerged. Over the years, Google has become embroiled in a series of controversies relating to the privacy of personal information, censorship and most significantly copyright.

In October 2006, Google announced that it had acquired video sharing website YouTube for massive $1.65 billion and insisted that the move would “provide innovative and exciting services for our users that will add a new dimension to on-line media entertainment”. Speaking at the time, Eric Schmidt, chief executive officer at the company, said: “We look forward to working with content creators and owners large and small to harness the power of the internet to promote, distribute and monetize their content.”

So, three years on, is Google struggling to uphold this pledge to support these ‘content creators’, which include, of course, professional producers? It would seem so. Earlier this year YouTube, which remains the largest video sharing community on the internet, began to block user access to music videos from the UK. The site’s existing deal with the PRS (Performing Right Society) had come to an end and the pair had failed to reach an agreement on a new one. The decision by Google sent shockwaves though the music industry which accused the company of using bullying tactics to prevent producers – already struggling to find revenue streams to develop young and aspiring musicians – from earning their fair share.

And it seems that it’s not just the UK’s internet users that look set to feel the pinch of Google’s inflexibility. As from last week the search engine no longer allows users with German IP addresses to watch music videos on YouTube, after similar negotiations broke down there. In his recent blog for wired.com, technology journalist Eliot Van Buskirk summed up the situation by stating there was a “huge gulf between what GEMA (Germany’s music royalty organisation) wants, and what Google is willing to pay”. He added: “Google seems to think the music business needs YouTube more than YouTube needs the music business and so it would rather block music videos from Germany than pay GEMA’s proposed rate”.

So could this be possible? Has Google really become so all-powerful that music artists need it more that it needs them? And has the music industry, once the ultimate fat cat, been reduced to the new underdog? The latest figures suggest not. According to the YouTube Report 2009 a massive 61 per cent of internet users, including almost 80 per cent of males under 25, visit the video sharing website purely for ‘entertainment’ purposes. Further, if we look at YouTube’s All Time Most Viewed list music is the clear winner, reflecting 51 per cent of the top 70 most watched videos. Of those asked, 31 per cent of YouTube users visited the site to watch new music videos while 23 per cent wanted to see their favorite band. Another 15 per cent used the site to check whether a favorite band had uploaded videos. Few, including Google, can argue the significance of these figures. Without access to music videos, visitor numbers will start to plummet and without an audience, advertisers will be quick to jump ship.

Figures or no figures, it is difficult to ignore the changes, which Google as a brand has been through as its wealth and power have increased but how bad has it really got? Does its treatment of music artists put it on a par with corporations who pay mean wages to third world countries because they can and because the workforce in that country is reduced to a take it or leave it culture? Unlike most of the real world, the online community is generally one that supports fairness, with the web acting as a forum to rally against the fat cats. This online community in many ways owes its very existence to Google but now the boot seems to be on the other foot.

While we all love a bit of Google-bashing now and again it is perhaps easy to forget that that the company and the web in general has done wonderful things for the music industry. Although some music producers see the internet as a threat, we must remember what the development of modern technology has actually allowed us to do. Growth in audio technology means anyone with a laptop and connection can not only make their own music, but also to distribute across the globe in seconds, a feat that even a few years back would have been deemed impossible. What Google must keep in mind is that its value as a website is in the community it creates and that the loyalty of much of its YouTube audience is down to the talents of musicians.

Google is worth a massive £5.6 billion so to withhold even a small amount from the artists which have helped make the company one of the most successful on earth seems a little unreasonable to say the least. If Google’s own intellectual property rights were infringed upon or threatened in anyway it would take action without question. This is not a complicated area. Everyone is entitled to protect their intellectual property including young musicians and small bands. The web world is already aware of Google’s power as a brand but if it continues to exploit musicians YouTube looks set to quickly lose a large percentage of its audience. Google has the potential to do great things for music but fundamentally it needs to start by giving the artists what they deserve. – soundlounge

Posted by: soundlounge | March 26, 2009

Sprint To A New Sound

amd_jogger_headphones

As the UK gears up for the London marathon, soundlounge investigates what roles music and sound play in helping us achieve our sporting goals and why few joggers would dare leave the house without their trusty mp3 player.

With the epic London marathon just weeks away and the spring sunshine gently teasing us with the odd glorious day, Brits up and down the country are lacing up their running shoes and taking to the streets. Early morning commuters are being confronted by herds of lycra-clad joggers – some perfecting their beach bodies, some preparing for upcoming weddings and others trying to rid themselves of the last remnants of that winter stodge. But while each of them differs in their reasons for keeping fit there is one thing that unites almost all of them. Music. Whether in the gym, the park or the street, these exercise enthusiasts are being motivated by what’s coming through their headphones and for some, it is all that’s keeping them going.

In 2008, research by Dr Costas Karageorghis, a sports psychologist at London’s Brunel University, suggested that listening to music can increase exercise endurance by around 15 per cent. He said that as well as impacting on effort, music can also make the task more pleasurable, with those working out at a very high intensity still feeling more positive when exposed to a certain track. “Music inspires movement,” he said. “Like smell, it can penetrate areas of the brain that language alone doesn’t reach.” Dr Karageorghis added that applying music to exercise “resulted in much higher endurance, while the motivational qualities of the music impacted significantly on the interpretation of fatigue symptoms right up to the point of voluntary exhaustion”.

So what is it about certain music that helps us feel positive, motivated and willing to push ourselves harder? Perhaps the best place to start is analysing tempo. One would tend to assume that a song with more beats per minute (bpm) would be better suited for a sprint, while a slower track more appropriate for a light jog or walk. In many cases this theory is sound. Popular workout songs such as Glen Frey’s The Heat is On has 150 bpm – which seems about right for faster exercise. Indeed, Ethiopian Olympic runner Haile Gebrselassie famously requested that the 90s techno song Scatman – which has 135 bpm – be played over the sound system when he ran. But can bpm really be the whole story? Perhaps not. Take Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl. This has 152 bpm but is hardly a song you would pick to sprint to. Similarly, the Rocky theme Gonna Fly Now – which is widely regarded as the ultimate workout track – has just 96 bpm.

So if it’s not all about the tempo then what makes different songs suit particular forms of exercise? One theory is the impact on the emotions which certain music is likely to trigger. Similarly to music in advertising, sound can serve as a way of connecting to people on an emotional level and be used to motivate us into action. The Rocky theme is one track which, as Dr Karageorghis states, “evokes a state of optimism and excitement in the listener”. This goes beyond matching the rhythm of the music with the thud of our trainers. The song actually touches us on an emotional level causing us to feel more positive about our task and thus more willing to complete it. Indeed, Gonna Fly Now has even been used in commercials for UK directory enquiries service 118 118 featuring people of all ages joining in a race.

Lyrics within a track are also likely play a major part in influencing our efforts with encouraging, optimistic words helping to push people further than would otherwise be possible. A recent poll of 3,000 British marathon runners by health website realbuzz.com in many ways gives weight to this. The group voted, Eye of the Tiger into the number one spot followed by Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now and Spencer Davis Group’s Keep on Running. Each and every one of these feature lyrics which from day one of the music production process were designed to inspire and motivate.

Contact music agency soundlounge for advice on finding the right sound for you brand.

Posted by: soundlounge | March 23, 2009

The Death of The Jingle?

You often hear the lament of Advertising Jingle. The halcyon days of advertising, when tunes for brands such as: Shake and Vac, Smash and Mars stuck in your head for days at a time – but have the jingles really gone away? Perhaps the consumer has become too sophisticated for those cheesy, (but admittedly catchy tunes) and they now demand a more subtle, but no less consistent brand sound? Pieces of music like ‘Lakme’ for British Airways can have the same, if not more impact, than those old jingles, by re-enforcing a brand’s image and creating a sonic identity. read more.

advertising-jingles2

Posted by: soundlounge | March 5, 2009

The U2 Sound: Can Brands Learn From Bands?

u2ipod


The fear of musical stagnation can be a creative band’s greatest fear. In striving to grow musically, creatively and commercially, musicians may feel they need to change their sound and or style of making music. However by doing this, a band may often cast-aside the musical elements that captivated their fans in the first place. So how can a band hold on to their musical equity and at the same time continue to evolve?

Whatever you may think about U2, they have constantly striven to adapt and develop their sound over the years, yet when we hear a U2 track we can instantly recognise their sound. Listen to this U2 mix over a 30-year period and you will see how the basic musical elements have changed very little over the years. From The Edge’s heavily-effected plucked guitar sound; Adam Clayton’s ‘one-note’ pounding bass style; Larry Mullen’s militaristic drumming and all topped-off by Bono’s passionate yelps, their sound has become so recognizable it is ripe for parody. So while this Irish quartet has sought to re-invent themselves a number of times over the years, they have always been aware of the value of holding on to the core elements that make-up their sound.

Besides the commercial implications of U2 as a brand, what can other brands learn from U2? To begin with, a brand needs to identify it’s own unique ‘Sound DNA’. The brand equivalent of U2’s effected plucked guitar sound, or pounding bass style. Every forward-thinking brand knows its: core values, customer base, logo, graphics etc. However, ask any brand guardian what style of music best represents their brand and you will probably get a blank look. Discovering the ‘Sound Of The Brand’ is the first step in creating a clear and consistent message through the use of music. Once a brand knows which musical elements best exemplify its values and ethos, like U2, it can change and adapt over years and territories without the risk of losing its equity. – Brian Kelly, Creative Director, soundlounge.

For more on ‘The Sound Of The Brand’, see our related articles or visit our official website – www.soundlounge.co.uk

Posted by: soundlounge | February 16, 2009

What is sonic branding?

audio_image_495x200

The ‘sound of the brand’ is more than the melody within eight octaves. It is not just about genre or lyrics. Nor does it necessarily relate to the choice of artist or a musical ident. The sound of the brand is about values, behaviour and how this is communicated. It is about reaching and engaging with the emotional touch points of the listener – a process that requires a deeper understanding than embracing their contextual touch points.

Posted by: soundlounge | February 11, 2009

Music Production in a Changing World

pie

Music production is evolving. Upcoming artists are turning from record companies to the Internet for financial support from investors. But what does this mean for music licensing and music copyright? The soundlounge explores the changing world of making music.

It’s a lifestyle that millions aspire to. Private jets, five-star hotels, adoring fans and a top music production team. But it seems that for an increasing number of upcoming artists the reality of forging a career in the industry is far from the glamorous existence of times past. Like many other sectors, the music production industry is being forced to adapt to a changing economic and social climate. Gone are the days when a talent for singing or instrumental skills was enough to get a band noticed let alone to the top. Now artists are increasingly adopting a head for business and taking an entrepreneurial attitude towards their profession.

sab-logo3A recent article in The Times newspaper explores the impact of this growing structure within the music market citing the emergence of websites such as sellaband.com and slicethepie.com. Unveiled in 2006, sellaband.com supports upcoming bands by encouraging them to sell ‘shares’ in their group to investors. Bands which successfully sell 5,000 parts are then rewarded with their own producer, studio time and support from industry experts to help them record an album.Similarly slicethepie.com allows bands to raise money directly from music fans and gives them the chance to be involved in the music production process. Fans who invest in their band or artist can earn money reviewing tracks as well as enjoy perks such free album copies, their name on album sleeves and a share in the financial returns from record sales. Slicethepie.com has also essentially created a stock exchange of its own, allowing investors to trade shares of their music between other holders within the market domain.

slicethepie-logo

Although slightly different in their processes, both websites hark the dawn of a new ‘free-market’ approach to music where fans have a different kind of control over the success of their favorite artists. Speaking to The Times, Martyn Shone, guitarist for UK band Honey Ryder revealed he and the band’s singer Lindsay O’Mahony had been selling shares for £3,500 each. “Shareholders receive a dividend on future profits on CDs, downloads and licensing deals,” he told the newspaper.
So what does the introduction of these new approaches mean for UK music as a whole? It may be wrong to claim they represent the development of a new platform within the music industry. Rather, they are almost like an online casino where venture capitalists can gamble over the possible success or failure of a particular band. Despite this, it would be a mistake to ignore the impact that this kind of music production will have in the future. Honey Ryder told The Times that much of their group’s revenue will come from songs being played on television and film soundtracks. But could selling off music rights on a shares basis complicate the business of music licensing and music copyright clearance?

Currently, the principle contractual rights owners of a song are the publishing companies who own the intellectual property rooted in the musical composition and whoever owns the master sound recordings – be it the record company, studio or musicians themselves. These new business models raise interesting questions regarding who would hold sway if a large number of people each owned a ‘slice’ of a song. Could a situation arise whereby 100 stakeholders needed to be consulted on the terms of a deal or licensing agreement? And on whose shoulders should the final decision-making rest? Have we solved the problem of music investment only to be faced with another – namely one of who has ultimate control over a piece of music?

Whatever the future holds for the industry, it is important that artists continue to look carefully at their contracts to ensure they retain the moral right and absolute consent for any secondary clearance of rights, such as synchronisation for advertising or film. Without this, companies such as soundlounge, which facilitates and places music in advertising, may find it harder to reach a deal for a desired song – and bands could miss out on additional revenues streams and new platforms to make themselves heard to a wider audience.

Find out more about synchronisation music licensing and music copyright by visiting the soundlounge website – soundlounge.co.uk

Posted by: soundlounge | February 9, 2009

Investing In The Sound Of The Brand

armadabacardi

In the summer of 2007, dance duo Groove Armada sent shockwaves through the music production industry by opting out of a deal with a traditional record label. In April 2008, the duo, who have become a household name thanks in part to the use of their music in commercials, instead signed-up with Bacardi making them the first mainstream group to turn to a major brand for investment. Considering the majority of digital music is downloaded for free, through the expansive networks of user to user file shares – it is not difficult to imagine that as record companies’ profits suffer amid the current economic squeeze, the emerging trend of band-brand partnerships will continue to develop.

The one-year deal has sparked a mixed reaction from fans. Although the majority are in support of the partnership and feel the pair is a good brand fit, some have expressed surprise that the group would choose to associate so freely with such a major commercial corporation. But speaking to the BBC, the band’s Andy Cato defended the move. “You’ve always needed big business to get your music out there,” he explained. “That help used to be major record labels, now it’s all kinds of different things. If you say one corporate pound is any more or less corporate than another, then you’re wrong,” he added. “What is a record label if it’s not a commercial brand?” So how long will it take for other global brands to become the major investing foundation of the music industry? In some ways the ball has already started rolling.

In 2005, Toyota launched its own hip-hop record label Scion, while two years later coffee giant Starbucks unveiled the Hear Music label that produced the debut album of all-female group Antigone Rising. But while these are still relatively small endeavours in terms of music production there is clearly further scope for brands to seize the opportunities to work with the industry. These possibilities hail an exciting time for music production. The sound of the brand is becoming an increasingly important part of its promotion, a fact demonstrated by the success of the strategic use of music in commercials such as M&S and Sky HD But if brands want to make a success of their partnership with an artist or band they must have a good understanding of what their music represents and how their talent developed.

Throwing money at a project is far from enough, with brands instead needing to spend time working hard with those who have managed to get the best out of the musicians in the past. Brands must ensure they are seen by fans as a facilitators, helping groups and singers achieve things which are just not possible with a traditional record label. By working hard at aligning themselves with an artist, a brand can help ensure that the confidence of both the fan base and consumers of their products is in no way compromised. To form an alliance of this sort and find a “brand fit” between a sound and a product is no random act. It is a careful balance between the rigours of science and the art of creativity which can be used to make certain that music and brand complement each other and thus trigger success for both parties.

To start to unravel any of these complicated issues we only need return to the original reason why anyone would choose a brand rather than a record label to promote them. Fans are no longer listening to a good piece of music and heading out to the shops to buy it – they are instead logging onto the internet and downloading it for free. If fans are not prepared to pay, then, just like any other business, music production will become harder to maintain and artists will be forced to look elsewhere for support and sponsorship.

However the future of the music industry evolves, it certainly looks to be an exciting one –meanwhile, it’s important to recognise that the sound of the brand is seldom about sponsoring a pop star or rock group or even an promotional event. Corporations are turning to support from “sound of the brand” consultants, like soundlounge, to provide them with a complete and integrated understanding into how their musical investments can be maximised by resonating honestly with the fan and the consumer

Find out more about music in commercials and discover the sound of the brand at soundlounge.co.uk

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Posted by: soundlounge | January 21, 2009

Don't Leave Me Hanging On The Telephone

toledo_hanging_phone

It’s a fact of life that businesses often receive more telephone calls than they can handle at the same time. But being put on hold remains a frustrating experience, writes Ruth Simmons, MD of music branding consultancy soundlounge.

A recent poll by The Consumer Association suggested that 48 per cent of the UK population object to hold music. People may have accepted call holding as a fact of life, but it seems that impersonal or inappropriate music can actually worsen their frustration.

Hold music tends to be sourced in one of five ways:

  • Well-known tracks that have proven their popularity in the charts
  • Library music written for general commercial use
  • Music that is especially commissioned
  • Music that is now out of copyright and in the public domain
  • Music from radio stations

But with these options come problems. The music industry doesn’t make it easy, with five possible clearances required depending on the music source. Instead, many companies are opting for a one-stop company to handle all of the issues. This involves a blanket licence and an annual fee, which in itself will be the cheapest way to purchase the service. What it can’t do, however, is allow the business a real choice of bespoke music.

Other companies are simply plugging into the radio. While it has the advantage of being the simplest form of licensing, there are obvious downsides. The music is random, and DJs’ time checks will remind callers how long they have been waiting.

If we were to reframe the whole concept of call holding, not as a way to keep the caller at bay, but as a real customer touch-point, then we could start to look at how we might use it as an opportunity to build a relationship and engage with that person on an individual basis.

To do this, you’ll need to identify clearly why your customers are calling you. Someone who is calling to complain will not want hear an uplifting anthem; but on the other hand, New Age music may not have the pacifying effect that you intend. Customers are a savvy bunch and know enough about music to realise when they are being manipulated.

Secondly, the ability of music to connect at a profound emotional level should be considered, and exploited. Using a jingle that just passes the time is as wasteful as buying outdoor advertising and leaving the site blank.

When brands choose music that matches the customer’s profile and likely mood, they may take a step towards soothing the frustration normally associated with being put on hold. But when they choose music that reflects and reinforces all the perceptions the brand has worked hard to achieve, they may just find that they will connect at a whole different level and be forgiven for that one short period of holding.

Original text from growthbusiness.co.uk

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Posted by: soundlounge | January 21, 2009

Don’t Leave Me Hanging On The Telephone

toledo_hanging_phone

It’s a fact of life that businesses often receive more telephone calls than they can handle at the same time. But being put on hold remains a frustrating experience, writes Ruth Simmons, MD of music branding consultancy soundlounge.

A recent poll by The Consumer Association suggested that 48 per cent of the UK population object to hold music. People may have accepted call holding as a fact of life, but it seems that impersonal or inappropriate music can actually worsen their frustration.

Hold music tends to be sourced in one of five ways:

  • Well-known tracks that have proven their popularity in the charts
  • Library music written for general commercial use
  • Music that is especially commissioned
  • Music that is now out of copyright and in the public domain
  • Music from radio stations

But with these options come problems. The music industry doesn’t make it easy, with five possible clearances required depending on the music source. Instead, many companies are opting for a one-stop company to handle all of the issues. This involves a blanket licence and an annual fee, which in itself will be the cheapest way to purchase the service. What it can’t do, however, is allow the business a real choice of bespoke music.

Other companies are simply plugging into the radio. While it has the advantage of being the simplest form of licensing, there are obvious downsides. The music is random, and DJs’ time checks will remind callers how long they have been waiting.

If we were to reframe the whole concept of call holding, not as a way to keep the caller at bay, but as a real customer touch-point, then we could start to look at how we might use it as an opportunity to build a relationship and engage with that person on an individual basis.

To do this, you’ll need to identify clearly why your customers are calling you. Someone who is calling to complain will not want hear an uplifting anthem; but on the other hand, New Age music may not have the pacifying effect that you intend. Customers are a savvy bunch and know enough about music to realise when they are being manipulated.

Secondly, the ability of music to connect at a profound emotional level should be considered, and exploited. Using a jingle that just passes the time is as wasteful as buying outdoor advertising and leaving the site blank.

When brands choose music that matches the customer’s profile and likely mood, they may take a step towards soothing the frustration normally associated with being put on hold. But when they choose music that reflects and reinforces all the perceptions the brand has worked hard to achieve, they may just find that they will connect at a whole different level and be forgiven for that one short period of holding.

Original text from growthbusiness.co.uk

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