Sunday, April 12, 2015

Let's Get Classical

Having the right music makes a huge difference to the success of a TV ad. Trouble is, it can come at a huge cost.

I reckon we're ignoring an infinite supply of amazing yet affordable music - classical.

Hit songs of the last 50 years certainly bring a lot to the party. First off, they're often great pieces of music - that's why they became hits.

And secondly, because people know what a well-known song is 'about', it can amplify the meaning of an ad. Examples: John Lewis 'Always A Woman', Chrysler 'Made In Detroit' (feat. Eminem).

Then there's the sheer fame factor too - recognition and memorability are important (and heavily tracked) aspects of an ad's success.

But these pluses come at a cost. Have you noticed how the price of concert tickets has shot through the roof? That's because artists aren't making what they used to from record sales. And I reckon the cost of music for ads has been another casualty.

A big track by a big artist can cost anywhere from $200,000 to $500,000. It's not uncommon to be quoted six figures for some obscure 60's soul track nowadays. 

But there is an alternative.

I've just made a TV ad using classical music as the soundtrack, and it's made me realise what a relatively untapped resource we have here.

Classical music is a hell of a lot cheaper - it's out of copyright, so there's no cost for the publishing rights, also the recordings themselves are extremely cheap to acquire.

And because you have hundreds of years' worth of music to draw from, there will always be a piece - probably a famous piece - that will reflect the mood you want for your ad.

But won't it make my ad seem old-fashioned? I hear you ask. Well, that depends. Some classical music does seem very twee to our ears now. But some sounds more modern than most of today's pop music.

If somehow those arguments have failed to convince you of the merits of classical music, here's the clincher: Jonathan Glazer loves it.


Anonymous said...

Hi Simon

While I do agree with you on every point, I was actually looking at Jonathan Glazer's reel on friday, and his cut runs without a music track.

Anonymous said...

Glazer also loves completely new and original experimental music...

Show me a single agency that can be arsed to commission that, except to palm it off to the big few studios so they can pay some kid to do it virtually for free.

Scamp said...

Which cut do you mean, 11.37? Maybe it wasn't clear, but i've linked to four different Glazer ads there. Each of which ran with a classical music soundtrack..

Anonymous said...

Really ... bad move to use Jonathan Glazer as an example as he is a MASSIVE fan of NEW and EXPERIMENTAL music composition. Kubrick would have been a better choice!

Sorry Scamp but your logic is so deeply flawed and is part of the problematic attitude that is endemic in Australian media .... EVERYBODY WANTS FREE MUSIC!

'Creative' vampires that feed of the creative kudos of existing music tracks. Living out their fantasy of 'cool' ... It's stale and reeks of lazy and unimaginative creative. Like 'Anonymous' says ... let's see any Australian agency that would be prepared to commission a music track of this nature ... with the definite exception of sending the job to one of the bigger studios so that they can get some kid to do it on spec.

This is the current attitude to original music in Australian advertising. It's a joke. Remember ... Hitchcock said that sound is 51% of the picture.

Scamp said...

Is Jonathan Glazer really such a bad example of the effectiveness of using classical music in commercials? At the foot of my post i've linked to four of his ads - all great ads - that did just that?

As for creative vampirism, well, that's a whole 'nother conversation...

Anonymous said...

Happiness is Bach's Air on a G String.