Don’t do commercial music. Instead, produce ‘Mini Records’

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Most “commercial” music sucks. There is a much better approach.

What is a mini disc?

A “mini record” is an original track written for a commercial, produced and recorded with the same rigorous techniques and the same attention to detail as records produced for major artists. A successful mini-recording can make legions search for the ad online with queries such as “song ???” and “Where can I find the complete track?” – convinced that the brand has licensed a fabulous existing record.

Some agencies and brands have been able to anticipate this small phenomenon when designing a campaign focused on original music. They’ll decide early in the process to have their music company of choice ultimately create a full-length version for release (often for download and / or on Spotify, Apple Music, etc.) along with the advertisement. Other times, this decision is made after the spot has been released, in reaction to a slew of positive comments on YouTube and public awareness of the brand.

What is “commercial” music and why do most of them suck?

At the start of my musical career, I had a studio opposite a “commercial” composer. I didn’t know anything about music for commercials at the time. I had only worked on records at that time, mostly for great artists. Over time, I got to know this composer from across the room and got a good idea of ​​how he worked. He was completely unhappy. He mostly produced soulless, stereotypical “music” that didn’t sound much like anything that felt real or had a heart or point of view. That is, in a nutshell, how I would define “commercial” music.

But let’s be realistic here. There are loads of announcements that don’t call for an innovative, forward-thinking original piece of music that will generate its own fan base online. This would actually seem quite inappropriate for many advertising projects. I am a fanatic, however, that no matter how mundane a musical brief is, the “mini record” approach still holds sway. In fact, for those of us who have developed our production skills in venues with great artists and sound engineers, there is no choice in the matter – that’s just how we have been. wired. We’re still making a record for a major record company or writing a line for a great feature, even though we’re working on a 15 second spot for the layers. True story.

How can agencies and brands avoid “commercial” music?

If you’re an agency or brand commissioning original music, learn to hear the difference between original music that was made with real craft and a healthy dose of healthy obsession, and that stuff that was produced. I guarantee that a large part of your audience can perceive the difference and will judge you for it one way or another. This is especially true in this day and age when more and more commercials are using a fabulous existing record, leading viewer ears to expect music that is rich and sonically real.

So be bold with your original musical notes. Empower the music company to really dig in and try out some genuinely creative options. Call them if they play too carefully or don’t put enough love into the details: the groove of the drums, the authenticity and feel of the instrumentation, the mix, etc. If you have a hard time hearing that nuance in the music, shoot in a cohort that has golden ears to help.

Any “mini disc” tips for music makers?

If you are a songwriter or artist creating custom music for publicity, continue to put heart into whatever you write, no matter how tough and competitive it is. I know you only have two or three days to write an ad, compared to the weeks or months you spend on your artist projects, but dig hard and learn how to make your ad work in an amazing way anyway. . No dilution, and no shortcuts on production value. If you are NOT keen on playing the song for your friends (those with fussy ears), you have probably created “commercial” music.

The ability to write big chord changes and catchy melodies is a great gift. But those things fall flat without the special attention to production details that make your track sound like a “mini disc”. Every sound and every part you reach has to be sonically special. Save a photo of your favorite artist to your computer screen as you compose. Do whatever it takes not to drift into “bad library music” territory. It is a soul-hungry wasteland, which is reason enough to strive only to create “mini discs”.


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