Spot Talk: When the music tells a story in commercials


By Yuliia Mishyna, photos by Kankanit Wiriyasajja

Cameras, light, the A-level stars and the dozens of people rushing all over the shooting location. When it comes to the production — from the brief of the initial idea and to the moment when a director says the final “cut!”, the modern commercial is difficult to distinguish from the professional film now. And like any serious movie, a good ad needs the fitting musical accompaniment.

But what makes a good soundtrack? And what kind of work should be done before the song appears in the commercial? These and many other questions were answered during SPOT Plus, on May the 4th, when two music supervisors experienced in advertising met together to present their insight into the world of commercials.

During the panel discussion at the SPOT Festival 2019, Karl Richter, the founder of an Australian music supervision company, and Copenhagen-based music stylist and supervisor Jesper Gadeberg showed their works and shared the experience of dealing with clients and musicians while looking for the music material and making the best out of the ads.

Here is a selection of the main idea debated during the talk, and illustrated with the commercials shown at the event.

  • Key point 1: In order to pick up the good soundtrack, you have to be moved by the music piece and feel it.
  • Key point 2: Don’t be afraid to experiment. You could work on the revised song from the 70-s or the obscure, unusual story. Be ready to defend and explain your choice to the client.

Example: ALDI commercial (Music production supervised by Karl Richter)

  • Key point 3: Find that unique tone and lyrics that support the melody and fit the plot. Together they will make the story look complete.

Example: Jack&Jones commercial (Music production supervised by Jesper Gadeberg)

  • Key point 4: Use coincidences. Keep an eye on the song that has a potential or which you simply come across. Probably, you will use it later.
  • Key point 5: Feel free to edit the song as it is usually difficult to use the music material for commercial without changes. You can also ask an artist to make the acoustic version or change the tonality or style of the song.

Example: Movistar commercial (Music production supervised by Jesper Gadeberg)

As the discussion comes to its end, both panelists and the audience seem to be satisfied and emotional. After all, no one can stay untouched by the moving stories.

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