By Andrew Berthoff

I have worked in marketing and communications for 25 years. And if there is one constant with all the changes, like the rise of the Internet, social media and smartphones, it is the powerful punch that music brings to brands.

Whether music is used in a traditional TV or radio commercial or a music video, at an event or rally, during a sponsor intro in a podcast, an Instagram story ad or a YouTube pre-roll spot, its ability to grab and hold attention is singular.

In fact, research shows that using music in consumer-facing advertisements builds strong emotional connection to brands. Smart brands use music to set the stage for relaunches, to underscore their positions or to simply generate recall in their target audiences. According to recent research by Léger for SOCAN, 74% of Canadians say a catchy song directly impacts their ability to remember a commercial and the brand it was advertising. Given the number of messages consumers are bombarded with daily, rising above is essential, and music used well can propel a brand to the top of the charts.

Think of previous commercial uses of music to illustrate this truth. Feist’s 1234 is a great song on its own, but it’s likely to make you think of Apple. Tom Cochrane’s Life is a Highway help catapult Hyundai to prominence in 1995. Stephan Moccio’s themes are synonymous with Canadian sports. Our music creators have been providing their work to marketers for decades, and all have benefitted significantly as a result of their willingness to work together.

Respecting the creators
Maybe more than any other art form, music adds value for marketers. But, when we use a creator’s original music, it’s important to remember that there are rules.

The Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN), the company I work for, tracks how and where music is used to ensure that those who own the music are compensated for its use. After all, music is a product, like any other product. So, shouldn’t those who make it receive a fair return on their investment? A return that will help to create more products?

In my marketing role I occupy a unique position: I understand the point of view of the music creator as well as the wishes of the marketer. I understand why it’s beneficial to use a popular song to market a brand, but I also understand that to do so legally and ethically protocols have been put in place.

If you have your ear on a certain piece of music, you first need to find out if the rights-holder is willing to let you use the piece for that specific purpose. If they are, the next questions are how and for how long. Through negotiations you determine if and how the music can be used. If all parties agree, a legal licence is created so that the holder of the rights to the work is compensated for their contribution to your marketing campaign.

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. Let’s imagine for a moment that the song you have in mind for your marketing campaign doesn’t yet exist. Solution: you can create it. While there is no reason why you cannot use your own song in your campaign, like any creator you deserve to be paid for what you have contributed.

SOCAN’s role
This is where SOCAN plays a role too. Part of our mandate is to track and collect royalties so that any time one of our nearly 160,000 songwriter, composer or music publisher member and client work is used—in a commercial, during a television programme, or as background music at an event—that use is tracked.

Members are then paid by the person or company that used it, and, as a result, added value to their business. Collecting royalties for the songs used in commercials can be tricky, but SOCAN is committed to finding new ways to track music every day. Technological advances in tracking happen regularly, which is great news for our stakeholders.

But until you become someone who’s both developing music campaigns and writing the music for them, make sure that you’re using other people’s music ethically and legally by licensing it properly.

Music might well be the greatest tool that a marketer can use to gain major results through its intangibly positive power. The gifted artists who made the music deserve to share in your results, so that, along with you, they can continue to make more.

Andrew Berthoff, APR, is chief communications and marketing officer, SOCAN (www.socan.com).

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