Music has a huge impact on driving a brand’s public perception. Applied well, it is a powerful tool for evoking positive emotions amongst the desired consumer groups. Here is a glimpse into how I dig through the proverbial record crates to help adidas find great music, hopefully it’s helpful for you too.
To give you some background, the core of my role is constantly finding new music to place in branded environments, like for example adidas’ international store network and the steadily flowing output of category and brand content.
The volume of music used in adidas branded environments is stunning; however, what’s more impressive is that all the music in every consumer touch point is carefully vetted to ensure its suitability as a medium for expressing adidas’ tone of voice. So the brand as a whole, as well as individual categories, has a carefully considered audio direction designed to appeal to its consumers, for example music in Originals campaigns varies significantly from the music used in Outdoor campaigns, where Originals needs to be on the bleeding edge of new music and how it interacts with fashion and image, Outdoor is more in line with energy, passion, motion and freedom.
Constantly finding and curating new music that suits the brand and sub-categories DNA is where things really get interesting, fortunately for me there’s a steady flow of high-quality new music being released via myriad platforms and media outlets.
Living local, connecting global
So how do I access the global music network and navigate the relentless flow of new tracks, or, as a music fan, how do I cut through all the noise and find new music I will like?
Well, here are some tips that will help you to discover tracks without having to dedicate every waking minute to scouring the thousands of songs which are released on a weekly basis.
By the way, here is a completely random selection of tracks I made into a playlist the theme of which is based on nothing more than personal taste, a mixture of genres, some tracks recent some from a little while ago, hope you like it!
Digital and physical editorial (magazines, blogs)
Magazines (on- and off-line)
I am a big fan of the likes of Clash Magazine, Crack, i-D, Fact and Dazed, all of whom have excellent music sections. In Spain (where I live), Mondosonoro has really diverse coverage of new multi-genre releases. All of these publications have a ‘ones to watch’ section.
Spotify is my platform of choice and where I follow a bunch of labels so I’m up to date with their new releases, also labels like UK electronic stalwart Ninja Tune have a staff picks section which also highlights new releases from artists outside of their roster.
“If you have the time, check out the ‘related artists’ section beside the artist you are listening to, I sometimes come across some gems there too.”
The viral chart section of Spotify is really interesting, not just because it segments new hype releases territorially but also because it indicates what’s really buzzing in new music.
I love BBC 6 Music. It never fails to highlight early on artists pushing the boundaries of their genres and pioneering new sounds, plus it loves the independent music industry! Also, Apple Beats 1 is very dynamic and not averse to taking a risk on playing new and often unconventional music. Oh, and Rinse.FM, the London-based online radio station, is unparalleled in its curation of future music.
Killer apps for the new music generation, I’d be lost without these…
Where to find the freshest, most hyped releases (hence its name), remixes, edits and bootlegs, this for me is my go to for discovering new talent before it goes mainstream, and hearing the newest releases before they chart (or often, before they are even released).
When new releases promoted in the clubs start being ’shazamed’ radio takes notice and, if shazam counts look strong, the track may well get a radio broadcast, so this is a solid way for gauging the public’s excitement around a new release, important when thinking about suitability of a track to a commercial.
I follow a number of websites, labels and producers who I know focus on new and future releases, this keeps me fully in the loop of track premieres and what’s coming next. It’s hard to know how long this platform will be around, though, especially as it’s falling between the gaps of music licensing from the majors, but for now it’s an absolutely excellent place to discover new music tailored to your tastes.
So, to wrap up, it’s important to note that the right song to me may not always be the right song, music selection goes beyond personal taste, and there is of course a long list of criteria that need to be considered when presenting music options for commercial use.
For adidas we really need to ensure that the artist, and not just the track, is relevant to our consumer. Does the song drive an emotion, on the larger commercials will it be memorable and, on hearing it, will the listener connect it with the brand? Above all, does it reinforce the brand’s musical heritage and connection to new music, consistently supporting and presenting tomorrow’s household names?
As global brands become more music savvy and artists’ attitudes to their music being used in commercial settings change, there has never been such scope for aligning the two parties in original, meaningful and impactful ways.