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Steven Verrips

Sonic Branding on TikTok

Why you should use TikTok for Sonic Branding and Audio Advertising

To many working in the creative industry, TikTok might seem like the new platform that you are fully aware of, but aren’t actively using. And for those of you that are more familiar with what TikTok is, you probably know that it is referred to as a ‘sound-on’ platform. What that means is that the only way to consume content on the platform is with sound. Music and sound are very much at the forefront of the TikTok experience, which makes it a very interesting area for musicians, and even more for brands and advertisers. The prominence of audio content makes TikTok a platform that requires the users’ full attention, unlike other platforms that can easily be used more as a background activity while the user is doing something else.

And since sonic branding is becoming an increasingly important tool for brands to communicate their identity and message, now is a good time to make a move towards advertising on TikTok and start using its potential towards brand awareness.

How to use Sonic Branding on Tik Tok: User-generated sonic branding

When discussing sonic branding on TikTok, it’s good to know that while consumer attention is uniquely focused, it’s also short. The fact is that most users will only look at most videos for a number of seconds, unless the content is engaging and unique. It’s an important thing to keep in mind when running ads on TikTok with a sonic logo. A way to deal with this is to incorporate the sonic logo directly from the start, or to at least introduce it early on. A sonic logo played at the end of an ad (as is tradition in ‘older’ media) will almost certainly be unheard. And since the platform is so competitive for the user’s attention, your logo has to stand out in some way. On their own website, TikTok shares that trends are mostly based around songs or audio snippets, rather than broad-scale sound design. For brands, it means that they should aim to create something distinctive, something they can own, so they can stay in people’s minds and stand out from their competitors. If the brand’s sound is ‘average’, it will disappear in the TikTok void.

And on the topic of sonic logos; an article published in Forbes warns brands and advertisers of constantly ‘hitting’ their audience with the same audio logo for years. This tactic may have run its course in terms of effectiveness. There is a real appetite within consumers to interact with the brands they love on a deeper level. And while we still believe that there is an importance to sonic logos when it comes to brand recognition and consumer recall, now is the time to look at a more interactive approach to the brand-consumer relationship. By allowing the usage and modifying of your sonic brand, it enables your audience to engage in a whole new way. It’s a positive way for the audience to participate in audio branding, which is a great method to raise brand awareness and perception. When you invite your core consumer to take the audio aspects and be creative with it, it builds a more dedicated audience, or even fanbase. Much in the same way they would interact with their favorite artists. This is one of the best ways to establish a long-term relationship with your audience. Right now, TikTok is the ideal platform to start exploring the way you can establish a deeper connection with your target audience. At this point, the platform still consists of solely user-generated content.

The Future: Where Does Audio Branding Go From Here?

To create an audio identity in today’s world means that you really need to think about where users are experiencing audio, and that is changing constantly. Right now, it makes sense for brands to build advertising with audio as a primary creative driver, especially when it comes to platforms like TikTok. But then again, social media platforms are always in a race for popularity, and it often happens that a new idea can conquer the whole market. The best aspects of a new platform are always taken over by other (competing) platforms. Look at how ‘stories’ began on Snapchat, and were then implemented on Facebook and Instagram, and are now the content of choice on TikTok. In a similar manner, the prominence of audio on TikTok could be the basis of an entirely new platform that is audio-only. For brands and advertisers that want to stay in touch with this changing landscape of advertising, it is important to stay on top of the latest trends and course correct when needed. But an increasingly vital role for audio seems to be the common denominator between these new developments.

We love helping brands discover new creative forms to interact with audiences. If you want to make the most out of your sonic branding and other audio advertising on TikTok, drop us a line and we’ll be happy to help out!

Music Brief Essentials

Clear Music Amsterdam Briefing Songs for Film Music Soundtrack score

How to write the perfect music brief?

Writing a good music brief can be difficult. You may have the perfect idea for your project’s music in your head, but to communicate your vision to a music supervisor isn’t as easy as it sounds. Each project is unique and has its own set of qualities and restrictions that decide what type of music is the best fit. Some of the most obvious ones being narrative, target audience and your music budget.

To make the process of music briefing as smooth as possible, it is important to start thinking about music early on. And when the time comes to send out a brief to a music provider or music supervisor, make sure to include all relevant information that they would need to give you the best collection of tracks for the project.

In this 5-point guide, we outline the essential elements that (we believe) make up the perfect music brief. Let’s dive in!

1. Creative Leads The Way

The ideal starting point of a good brief is usually some description of the content of the visual. This can range from a finished product to a rough edit, storyboard, or even just a concept in the brain of the director. As music is meant to amplify an advertisement’s message and generate positive audience engagement and awareness, it is essential that the music perfectly complements the mood, narrative and flow of the video. Whether you want to license an existing track, or a bespoke production.

2. Don’t Hold Back On Music Criteria

Maybe you and the production team (including director, brand and marketing managers, editors) already have specific wishes for the music. Maybe you’re even coming to a music agency with a specific song that you’d like to use, or a specific bespoke music piece that you’d like to create. But it is more common to bring a set of wishes to the table for genre, mood, tempo, vocals, lyrics, famous/unknown, and era of release. Including instructions for each of these factors increases the chance that the music agency comes back to you with well matching options.

3. From Brand Values To Sonic Values

This is a given, but make sure to include relevant information about the brand, and the overall campaign that the advertisement is part of. A well developed brand has its own recognizable identity. So it’s useful for a music agency to have a proper background of the brand values and its short and long term marketing goals. Even more so when the project is in the realm of sonic branding. Like when creating a sound logo or an entire sonic identity for a brand to be implemented across all brand touchpoints.

Sometimes there are certain musical conventions for entire product groups that stretch beyond individual brands. It’s the job of the music agency to be hyper-aware of these conventions and to make a decision to either stick to the conventions, or break free from them. But in a perfect world, a customer should be able to tell whether they are watching an ad for a car, webshop or travel agency, just by hearing the music.

4. Get Your Terms Straight

A factor that has a surprisingly large influence on the choice of music (and price of clearance) is the set of usage terms. Examples are:

✓ Period
(When is the campaign running and for how long?)

✓ Territory
(Is the campaign worldwide? Or restricted to certain continents, countries or regions?)

✓ Types of media
(Will this campaign be online only? Or will it be shown on tv, in cinemas, or at B2B events?)

✓ Pushed promotion
(Is the campaign going to be backed by sponsored posts on social media and in (YouTube) pre rolls?)

Make sure to include as much of these terms as possible. The more information the music supervisor has, the better their strategic approach can be when clearing or creating music.

5. Effectively Applying The Budget

This leads us into the most dreaded but perhaps most deciding factor; budget. All of the terms listed above influence the price to license a song for an ad. Going from an obscure song by a local band to a song by the Beatles or Beyonce is obviously going to increase the price point dramatically. But so will going from a nationwide online campaign to a worldwide theatrical (cinema) campaign. As it is such an important factor, make sure to (roughly) indicate the budget that is available for the music from the start. This doesn’t have to be an exact number, a rough estimate or budget range will do fine for the beginning fase. You could always say: ‘Let’s try to stay below (X amount) with a preliminary search, but if need be, there is room to stretch to (Y amount)’.

Old VS New Songs

Is old music ‘killing’ new music..? And if so, what does that mean for music in media and advertising?

Last month, author Ted Gioia wrote a blog post titled ‘Is Old Music Killing New Music?’ in which he states that old songs now represent 70% of the (US) music market. The main point of his argument was that this is really bad news for the development of new music and new artists. He argues that “never before in history have new songs attained hit status while generating so little cultural impact.” and that  “success was always short-lived in the music business, but now it hardly makes a ripple on the attention spans of the mass market.” The reason for this is claimed to be a lack of nurturing of new artists by record labels and publishers, due to the favoring of massive investments that are being made in music rights of established artists and composers.

Gioia’s article directly relates to an interesting development in the music industry that has become a steady headline-generator in the past years. It’s all about the selling of entire music catalogs by major artists. Every week, there are new reports of artists who made their way to fame a long time ago and are now choosing to sell the rights to their catalog to major publishers like Sony, Warner Chappell, Universal, and new players like Hipgnosis. This week it was Neil Diamond who chose to sell the publishing and master rights, but many have gone before him; artists like Sting, Bob Dylan, Shakira, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Nicks, all decided to sell the rights to their music in recent years.

Quoted in this response article, music strategist Dan Fowler further elaborates: “Proactively investing in new talent may make less and less sense from a pure short-medium term business perspective, but this will also have a chilling effect on the overall development of our industry. Unfortunately it is somewhat of a free-rider market failure in that new talent is of course essential for the development of the industry but investment in emerging artists at an individual level is likely seeing decreasing returns within the streaming paradigm.”

Basically, in today’s music streaming ecosystem, investing in new artists doesn’t make much financial sense anymore.

So What Does This Mean For Music in Sync?


For music companies that operate in sync, there are different reasons for choosing an old or a new song. When it comes to their effectiveness and impact in media, both have their own strengths and weaknesses. One of the key functions of music in media is to trigger a certain emotion, which is often established by recognition. Because of the factor of audience-familiarity, older, famous songs are popular with advertisers, brands, film companies and trailer makers. A positive emotion being linked to a product through a song that their customer base already knows and loves, is a very valuable factor for an advertiser. Who doesn’t remember this commercial for Bavaria, for example.

And the same goes for a film producer using a well known song in an important scene of a film. It triggers recognition and nostalgia, while also giving an opportunity to match lyrics to the narrative on screen. Because of this effect, it’s become an unwritten rule that film scenes about flying a helicopter in the Vietnam War must always be accompanied by ‘Fortunate Son’ by Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Where these two categories collide is in film marketing. Well known songs have become a staple in trailers and teasers for feature films to persuade global audiences into going to the movie theater. Like when Jefferson Airplane’s ‘White Rabbit’ was used in the theatrical marketing for The Matrix Resurrections last year.

At the same time, there is tremendous value for new music in film and advertising. For an advertiser, working with an artist on brand new music ensures that there will forever exist a unique connection between the piece of music and the product or brand. Something that is more difficult to accomplish with older music. When a piece of music is irreversibly linked to a product, that product will be in people’s thoughts any time they hear that piece of music, as a new song can be customized to fit the exact parameters and personality of that brand.

And at the same time, working with a ‘relatively’ unknown artist can be a way for a production company to reduce costs, because licensing a well known hit song can be relatively costly. Plus, it is often a really great opportunity for an artist to expose a bigger audience to their art when their music is played in an ad, feature film or VOD series. Many new artists have a sync placement to thank for a gigantic career boost. Back in 2003, this Apple Ipod add ensured that everyone around the world had ‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl’ by Jet imprinted in their minds for a long time.

The Role of Music Supervisors


Everyone who is active in the music industry benefits from a rich, dynamic, and sustainable music ecosystem. If the development of new artists and music isn’t properly supported, we’ll still be listening to the same songs fifty years from now.

The role that music supervisors play in this game is to find and recognize songs that are relevant for a specific audience and match them to the moving image. Mostly that means selecting music that is meaningful to that audience. For example, playing the right music at the right time can be used to send a powerful message or to make a statement. And with the right timing, new music also has a great chance of becoming impactful through their use in visual media.

At Clear Music, we’re always on top of new artists and developments in music, and we also know our way around back catalogs and classic hit repertoire. In the end it’s all a matter of finding the perfect fit for a project.

So if you are in need of the perfect song for an ad campaign, film trailer, or documentary, reach out and we’ll make it happen!

International Women’s Day 2022

Happy International Women’s Day 2022 From Clear Music!

We’re proud to represent great music by many amazing women and we want to celebrate today by highlighting those women and their art. Artists include Celine Cairo, Janne Schra, Kelsey Coockson, Lady Bri, Jesca Hoop, The Marías, Rosie Tucker, KOYOTIE, Laney Jones, Chelsea Rose, Laura BCR, Eefje De Visser, Emy Perez, Jantine, and Ruby Friedman.

Check out the playlist below for a glimpse of all the female-fronted greatness from our catalogue!

Something Happening Somewhere

Clear Music Amsterdam partners up with Something Happening Somewhere for Exclusive Sync Representation

Electronic music is essential to modern Dutch music culture, and has always been at the very heart of us at Clear Music. Founders Jarl en Mattijs, both DJ & producers, have been in love with the Dutch electronic music scene since their younger years. With Dutch roots, they have enjoyed staying close to the culture and have always been fascinated with the effect it can have when matched with visuals.

All the more reason that we’re thrilled to announce that we’re teaming up with Something Happening Somewhere as their exclusive sync representative. Ever since founding SoHaSo in 2013, Nuno Dos Santos has built a reputation of releasing high-end electronic music for the dancefloor and beyond. SoHaSo has all but conquered the Dutch electronic scene with over 40 releases from artists like Eefje de Visser, Dwaalgast, Bas Dobbelaer, Laura BCR, Love Over Entropy, Dixon and Null Wave , and a huge roster of producers, new talent and Nuno himself under various aliases. Aside from releasing records and label-merchandise, Something Happening Somewhere regularly organizes label events (at local Dutch stages and Amsterdam Dance Event) and stage-hostings on festivals. 2022 is shaping up to be an excellent year for SoHaSo with lots of exciting releases on the horizon and we couldn’t be more excited to partner up!

We’re excited to work with Clear Music and match our music to new vibes and contexts. I would love to see our stuff in a nature documentary, some David Lynch-type movie, or some futuristic science fiction game. Besides the existing catalog, our roster of talented artists is ready and able to produce anything in the electronic music spectrum on demand. The mission is to put our music out into the world for people to enjoy, and to support the artists involved. This new collaboration helps to do exactly that.

Nuno Dos SantosSomething Happening Somewhere - Label Owner

It will be an absolute honour to represent the music released by SoHaSo for sync purposes. The songs tell us a variety of stories. While many tracks in the catalogue are almost impossible not to dance to, the music suits many alternative occasions and artforms.

Jarl HectorClear Music Amsterdam - ECD / Co-Founder