Music for Voiceover—A Different Animal Altogether

GuitarHandsRecently, we were given a piece of advertising music composed and mixed for a client by a local musician in their town. He writes pretty good music…edgy, fresh, listenable—apparently he packs the bars. But there’s a problem. Not being a media professional, he doesn’t understand a thing about the intricacies of creating music for advertising—which is a very different animal.

Breaking Down the Pitfalls

The piece of music he did was all guitar, keyboards & honked-up filtered drums. The voicing of every instrument was in the midrange—the same frequency range that the human voice occupies. Which is terrific if you’re just listening to the music. But it’s perfectly horrible if you’re trying to mix it with voice. And this music will always be mixed with voice.

As you might imagine, mixing it was a nightmare We ended up having to carve a sizable EQ hole in the jangly midrange, widen the stereo to create a space for the voice, and bring up the low and high frequencies so that when mixed, the music would still be present enough to hear without blocking the message. Oh…and it was 34 seconds long. Nice.

This is happening a lot in these budget-conscious DIY days. Local musicians are being called on to create music for advertising. They’ll typically do it for cheap, and after all, everyone has some kind of software on their computer that can mix multiple tracks of music. From Garage Band to hacked copies of ProTools, people have copped the attitude that software makes production easy. But easy and professional have never been good roommates.

Pointers

  • When arranging the music, leave frequency space for the human voice.
  • Depending on your time signature, only a few tempos will land you in the proper time. Learn them.
  • Never use trumpets or saxophones in the space where the voice goes.
  • When doing the final mix, lay in a voice track to make sure the mix works with voice. Mix, remove voice track, and master.
  • Reverb should end at :29.5 or :59.5.

Quality matters. Knowledge of our industry matters. Budget the few extra bucks it takes to get real media professionals to compose your brand music, then call Soundscapes. You’ll get far more than you expected, because we know that solid brand music for your client is very different than 34-second rock tune.

 

Change Your Client’s Logo With Every New Ad!

Doesn’t make much sense, does it?

A logo is a visually recognizable emblem of your brand. You put your client’s logo in every print ad so that if people merely glance at the ad rather than drilling down through the body copy, they at least have an impression of the brand. Most (if not all) advertising and marketing people would strongly recommend against changing your logo every few weeks.

And yet…

And yet advertisers change the music behind their Radio or TV spots almost constantly. And the voices. And the structure of the spot. And the overarching idea.

So if a logo is the visually recognizable emblem of your brand, what about your audio? Do you need something that’s aurally recognizable? Do you need a Brand Sound? An Audio Logo? Quick answer: Yes.

A Brand Sound is aimed at the person who has the radio on in the background, or leaves the room to grab a snack while your spot is playing on TV. If you have a consistent Brand Sound (for example, the accent of the Geico Gecko) then you leave an impression on the passive listener/viewer (and they’re all passive.)

As for Audio Logos, when those five notes play, you know it’s Intel. When you hear the gong, you know it’s Taco Bell. You can instantly hum the five notes that come before the words “I’m Lovin’ It.” A consistent Audio Logo is an incredibly effective device. And it shouldn’t be limited to major international brands.

A custom-composed Audio Logo for local exposure costs far less than you might expect. A consistent Brand Sound costs nothing but planning and imagination. But in terms of being instantly recognizable to a listener (or viewer,) there’s no stronger tool than a non-verbal, aural identifier.

And that’s the key…the secret to effective audio. Always attach a non-verbal identifier to a brand, because when people “tune out” it’s the words they’re tuning away from.

So if you find yourself saying “…let’s find a different piece of music than last time”  or
“…didn’t we use that voice in the last spot? Let’s cast someone new…” think about whether you’re creating a Brand Sound or just another one-off. If someone just aurally “glances” at your spot, do they get a brand impression?

When it comes to creating a recognizable sound for your client, call us. We’re happy to collaborate with you in the creation of whatever you need to aurally set your brand apart.

—Brent Walker

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FREE Jingles to Please the Toughest Client

Words matter. Some words matter more than others. And there are some words that really, really matter when it comes to making clients happy!

This is why we’re offering you this set of client-pleasing words, sung to a catchy tune, absolutely free. Download and use to your heart’s content.

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Dealing with retail clients? Selection is the key. But don’t leave out Service! Here’s the ticket:

That’s great, but that 9pm phone call from the worried client reminds you that you left out Value. These days, that’s what REALLY drives consumers in your target demographic to literally break down the door:

But you have a special-needs client. One who believes Quality is everything. That’s why we offer you this extra-quality jingle:

At Soundscapes, we care about our clients so much that we spent literally minutes in the studio producing these jingles. Use them Royalty-Free with our compliments. And have a great April.

 

(ps…you really want these? Call your Soundscapes Production Coordinator…she’ll send them right away!)

Music is Just Music…Right?

Recently, we were sent a piece of ad music composed and mixed for a client by a rock musician in their town. He writes pretty good music…edgy, hip, listenable. But there’s a problem. Not being a media professional, he didn’t understand the intricacies of creating music for advertising.

The piece of music he wrote was all guitar, keyboards & hip, honked-up filtered drums. The voicing of every instrument was in the midrange (the same midrange that the human voice occupies.) Terrific if you’re just listening to the music. Perfectly horrible if you’re trying to mix it with voice. And this music will always be mixed with voice.

Mixing it was a nightmare…we ended up having to carve a huge EQ hole in the jangly midrange, widen the stereo to create a space for the voice, and bring up the low and high frequencies so that when mixed, the music would still be present enough to hear without blocking the message. Oh…and it was 34 seconds long. Nice.

This is happening a lot in these budget-conscious days. Because of cutbacks, local club players are being called on to create music for advertising. They’ll typically do it for cheap, and after all, everyone has some kind of software on their computer that can mix multiple tracks of music. From Garage Band to purloined copies of ProTools, people have copped the attitude that software makes production easy. But easy and professional have never been good roommates.

Quality matters. Knowledge of our industry matters. When hiring people to create music for your client, budget the few extra bucks it takes to get real media professionals to compose your brand music. You’ll get far more than you bargained for, because we know that solid brand music for your client isn’t the same as a 34-second rock tune. No matter how hip or edgy it is.