10 Things You Should Know About Music for Advertising

Written on
Dec 29, 2015 
Sally House  |

Before an audience gets the chance to watch and hear an ad agency’s latest brilliant creation, there must first, of course, be the idea. That idea needs to be clearly conveyed to the music composer and music production company by ad agencies well in advance of production, through a creative brief, a vital and fluid document that outlines each client’s needs for a particular job.

Having provided original music for hundreds of commercials and branded content projects, I would like to suggest 10 things that writers of every good creative brief should be aware of regarding music for advertising:

1) Unity

A great creative brief has consistency and buy-in from all stakeholders. Music composers and producers often have to wrangle a usable idea out from the ashes of a scattered pitch. When you’re all on the same page, all parties are immediately ahead of the game.

2) A Creative Head Start

Producers of commercials and branded content really should get their music provider involved as early in the creative process as possible. Knowing
the full picture, and allowing for more time, can only help get a better result.
The potential for missed opportunities often arises when clients save music for the end of a production cycle. The music should be thought of as being as important a part of telling a story as the visuals – the music should never be left out of the thinking process at the beginning.

3) Assets

Scripts, storyboards, animatics, tests, anything the client has to share, should be shared with the music provider as early in the production process as possible. It’s important for content producers to realize that inspiration is a two-way street. Great ideas might come from musical choices. They can change the way someone thinks of the script or how they might want to actually shoot the piece.

4) Emotional Goals

Content producers need to take time to determine: “How do we want the viewers of our new commercial to feel? What emotional impact do we want our new message to convey?” All of these considerations are vital inclusions within a successful creative brief.

5) Mandatory Inclusions

From logo stings to existing melody and lyrics already tied to the product or service being advertised, the music provider needs to know what features the client absolutely MUST HAVE heard within the final product.

6) No-Go’s

Conversely, are there any “no-gos?” These are lements that absolutely should NOT be included in the final product For example, does the advertiser hate rock music or strings? Are there any genres or instrumentation choices that are immediately off the table before the music provider begins?

7) Narrative Highlights

What are the narrative points where the producers of the commercial need the music to accentuate the story? Where does the music need to stop or disappear? Take a breath, rise up, or turn a corner?

8) Brand Continuity

What continuity do you look for within your brand message that your music providers need to be aware of?

9) Voiceover/ Narrator

Lock down your voice over artist or narrator as soon as possible, for the sake of logistics. The sooner your music provider knows the style, or has a rough read, the sooner they will know how to ensure that their client’s end product will stand out, while not getting swallowed up by “too powerful” music and sound design.

10) Room to Breathe

One of the best things a creative brief can offer a music provider is to leave enough space within the messaging to be creative. Allow room in the brief for inspiration – something that can’t really be quantified. While preparing your next creative brief, be open to new ideas. Hopefully you will be pleasantly surprised by the outcome.


Sally House is the Co-Founder & Executive Producer with The Hit House, a premier, multi-award winning, custom music and sound design company in Los Angeles. Recent work from The Hit House has been used in national and global television campaigns for clients such as Netflix, Google, Playstation, Lexus, Jell-O, Porsche, HBO, Honda, and The Ritz Carlton; in motion picture campaigns for the very recent films “Creed,” and “Pan,” upcoming films “Jungle Book 2016,” “Alive and the Chipmunk Road Chip,” and for the recent films “Minions,” “Spy,” “Ted 2,” “Pixels,” “Ricki and the Flash,” “Godzilla,” “Big Hero 6,” “Book of Life,” “Frozen,” “Thor: The Dark World” and “Iron Man 3,” among others.

Hear more at: www.thehithouse.com

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