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Music In Advertising

Updated: Jan 23

How Advertisers Use Music to Influence Decisions


We all know the feeling of sitting somewhere, like a car, a train, or a bus, peering out of the window and feeling like we’re living in a music video. Music can make us feel every emotion, heal our sadness and amplify our joys in life. Music’s power is far too strong not to be harnessed by different industries - one field that comes to mind when thinking about the use of music is advertising.

Ads aim to send out a message that sticks in people’s minds and influences their decisions, ultimately enticing them to buy a product or service. They use many techniques to craft the perfect message, the right idea that will weave its way into consumers daily habits and perceptions. Among those techniques, is arguably the most effective one: using music to influence decisions. What makes music so effective in ads? Let’s talk about exactly how advertisers use music to sell products and services.




The Emotional Impact Of Music On Memory


Recent studies have shown that the same parts of the brain that are responsible for memory are what light up when people listen to music. In other words, the same parts of the brain are used when listening to music and when we think of a memory.

Additionally, music triggers and enhances memory. You’ve probably already experienced being brought back to an exact place and time in the past thanks to a few aligned notes in a familiar song. Music goes hand in hand with memories and is a powerful tool to recall moments in our pasts.

Music has a significant impact on our everyday emotional responses. That’s why you’re probably more likely to cry at the ending of a rom-com if there’s soppy music playing when the characters are reunited at last. It’s also why you may feel happier performing mundane, boring tasks when listening to upbeat music. Doing the dishes or sweeping the floors is so much less monotonous if you’re dancing to cheerful tunes.


Advertisers have understood this. Cinematography and the music video industry has taught us that music, when associated with images, can have a strong effect on us. When used in advertisement, music has the power to convey an emotional connection with an audience. People who watch an ad with the right music will start building a relationship, based on an emotional response, with the brand, regardless of what the ad is selling. Perhaps advertisers should consider taking music lessons to enhance their understanding of this connection. Greater Toronto Music School offers the highest quality music lessons in Toronto or online music lessons to students of all ages and skill levels.


Using Music To Tell A Story


If you’ve ever watched a horror movie, you’ll know that whenever the music gets intense, that’s when serious stuff is about to happen. As soon as the suspenseful song starts, you can be pretty sure that the killer will appear, or something bad will occur. Advertisers know that the 21st Century audience is accustomed to music playing an important part in telling a story. Throughout a sequence, music basically offers cues as to which moments are important to the narration, and which are less crucial.

Some ads use subtle ways of telling the story through music, and others pick very obvious methods such as choosing a song whose title fits the storyline exactly. For example, Gatorade released a commercial in 2015 picturing baseball player Derek Jeter making the announcement for his retirement. They chose the song ‘My Way’ by Frank Sinatra as a soundtrack, which is fitting. Everyone knows that song, and everyone knows what it’s about. This is a clue for viewers to feel connected to the ad’s story. They’ll feel a connection to the ad as soon as they watch it. Advertisement messages resonate so much better thanks to music.


Capitalizing On Musicians’ Popularity


So, we’ve talked about how ads can be remembered thanks to the emotions triggered and stories told by the music. However, another important factor helps advertisers influence consumers’ decisions. Using a well-known artists’ song can help make an ad popular by capitalizing on the artists’ influence.

It is said that Microsoft founder Bill Gates reportedly paid $14 million in royalties to the Rolling Stones in order to be allowed to use their song “Start Me Up” in the first-ever Microsoft television ad. Why? Because associating a song so famous to their brand is priceless. In hindsight, we know that the royalties actually cost Microsoft $3 million, and it truly did help make the brand as huge as it is today.

Going even further, some ads even feature the musician, which considerably helps memory acquisition among consumers, as shown by a Neurosight study. The study revealed that viewers would be 13% more captivated by an ad if a celebrity was featured in it.


The Type Of Music Affects Consumers’ Response

A study showed that consumers were more likely to purchase expensive bottles of wine in a shop when listening to classical music instead of mainstream pop hits. Another study showed people in restaurants spent more when listening to classical music too. So, what’s to take away here?


Harmony. That’s what makes music extremely effective in advertising. Music can bring a sense of coherence, tying together all the different elements that make viewers want to purchase the product. This harmony is what is also called ‘musical fit’ in advertising.


Tempo too can affect the efficiency of an ad. Studies show that the music chosen in stores can have a strong effect on the number of sales made. Some other studies explain that slower music in restaurants increases spending.

All in all, music, when used in advertising, ties together an experience for viewers. It makes selling a product immersive and has the power to recall or provoke a particular emotion among consumers, to entice them into creating a relationship with the brand. Ultimately, this leads to consumers buying the product or service. Here at Greater Toronto Music School, we know how powerful music can be. That’s why we’re experts at providing music lessons in Toronto or online music lessons to students of all ages. Get in touch today to start your music lessons!


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