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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

Huminal

We’re proud to announce that Clear Music Amsterdam has signed an exclusive publishing deal with Huminal. We’ll be taking good care of his song catalog, pitching and promoting his music for sync and brand partnership opportunities.

Jelle Jansen has created something truly unique through his Huminal sobriquet. With an ability to transform listeners into another world with his aural artwork – mixing organic, analogue sounds and crisp rhythmic forms on a vivid sonic palette – he consistently produces dynamic and inspiring works that have lit up electronic music. His techno, progressive house and electronica heritage is reflected in the distinctive melodies that infuse his work with trademark elegance and air.

Huminal has been making waves in the electronic music scene for a long time. ‘Hold My Hand’, the latest release of his EP Midnight Rally is getting great support from Spotify. The track is featured on the Electronic Rising playlist (with over half a million followers).
Influenced by cinematic film scores entwined with a signature sound design, Huminal takes listeners on a voyage of discovery through rich and vivid soundscapes. A sought-after sound thus finds a rapidly growing portfolio featuring on the catalogues of some of the best modern imprints: from Einmusika and Sudbeat to Ton Töpferei and Traum.

Interested in using  these songs for your next project? Reach out to Jarl Hector at jarl@clearmusic.nl and let’s make it happen!

Best wishes for 2022!

Jarl Hector Clear Music Amsterdam Mattijs van Andel

Clear Music Amsterdam wishes you the best possible 2022! With both feet firmly planted in 2022, the Clear Music team would like to extend our best wishes to all of you for the new year and look forward to another year of exciting opportunities.

Last year has marked the start of our venture as a music company, and we can look back on and be grateful for some great projects and collaborations for our first year of bringing together brands, music and media. We have spent time strengthening relationships with artists, agencies, music professionals, and film production companies so we can take our client’s work beyond the next level and strike a deep chord with their target audience.

Celine Cairo – Found a Light (Live at Concertgebouw Amsterdam)

Get your favourite headphones or turn on your best set of speakers and dive in. And if you are looking for an intimate, heart piercing soundtrack for your next project, act fast because soon she’ll be too big for all of us. Celine Cairo is one of the artists that we fully represent (master and publishing), and we plan on highlighting more of our artist and songwriters roster on a regular basis in the coming year.

Listen to here latest album ‘Overflow’ here: spoti.fi/3uhxAFv

Moonback

Sonic Identity & Audio Logo

Last summer, we partnered up with Moonback to create a Sonic Identity and Audio Logo for their brand. Determined on creating a track that resonated their message and evoke positive and energetic emotion, the song we created for Moonback features elements from various musical genres, different cultures and musical eras. The back-bone of the song is a late 80’s inspired disco-pop beat that is both laid back and driving at the same time.

Moonback’s journey started in 2020 with a LinkedIn post that went viral and was viewed by 2.5 million people. This was shortly followed by a crowdfunding campaign, where 1.524 people collectively invested a whopping 2 million euros – simply because they believed in their mission of providing honest service for easy hotel bookings.

Alzheimer Stichting Nederland

Music Supervision, Licensing and Re-recording

One of our highlights of the past year would be working together with Alzheimer Nederland, a non-profit organization to create and produce music for their Christmas advertising campaign. We chose to rework a classic Dutch song ‘Samen Zijn’ with Meau, who is rapidly taking over the Dutch indie singer-songwriter scene. She went from playing her first show in front of an audience in June of 2021, to headlining a tour of all major Dutch clubs in 2022. The ad was awarded “Best Christmas Campaign of 2021” by neuromarketing research institute; Unravel. Watch their webinar here (in Dutch).

25 Jaar Quote 500

Music Supervision & Audio Post Production

We had a great time working with Quote on the 25-minute documentary celebrating the 25th release of the Quote 500. Together with director Laurens Hulshof, we carefully selected the perfect accompanying pieces to fit the tone of the documentary, and help communicating it’s message. You can watch the full documentary here.

Jarl Hector Clear Music Amsterdam Mattijs van Andel Jarl Hector Clear Music Amsterdam Mattijs van Andel

2022 and beyond

In the new year, we can’t wait to connect with you to elevate your productions and strengthen your messages. So if you have a project where music supervision, a custom track, or sonic branding is needed, or you’re just looking to schedule an introduction, contact us!

Warmest,

Mattijs, Steven & Jarl

Powerful Trailer Music

Using a hit song to promote the release of a video game or feature film works well, often really well.  However, there may be legal, creative or financial obstacles to using an original recording. In this article we go on record about the basic ‘need-to-knows’ of licensing and creating a cover trailer song.

Trends in Trailer Music

Over the past ten years, it has become common for film- and video game trailers to be accompanied by a dramatic (or trailerized) version of a popular song. Remember the trailer for ‘The Social Network’ in 2010? That unsettling version of Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ by a Belgian girls choir was the big one that kicked it all off. Since then, the business of trailerizing songs for entertainment marketing has taken off. The past ten years has seen some great adaptations like Cat Stevens’ ‘Wild World’ for Mad Max: Fury Road and Pink Floyd’s ‘Eclipse’ in last year’s trailer for Dune. And in the past three months alone we have seen versions of ‘Heart of Glass’ (House of Gucci), ‘Starman’ (Lightyear), ‘Kickstart My Heart’ (Battlefield 2042), ‘God Only Knows’ (Lamb) and ‘Perfect Day’ (Spencer), just to name a few.

For trailer companies and music supervisors, licensing a cover version of a popular track can seem like a complicated and expensive process. While it may indeed become costly depending on the song choice, it doesn’t necessarily have to be all that complicated if you know what intellectual property rights you’re dealing with. So let’s break it down;

Master vs. Publishing

There are two main rights that you have to take into consideration when licensing (a version of) a popular track for a trailer or commercial; the master recording rights and the composition/publishing rights. In most cases these are controlled by different parties. The master recording refers to the actual recorded version of a song and is often owned by the record label of the performing artist. The copyright of the composition belongs to the songwriters and their publishers and refers to what makes the song unique, like melody, harmony, structure and lyrics.

Not All Songs Are Created Equal

When dealing with these two sides of sync licensing and the rates involved in both, a term you may have heard about is Most Favored Nations. MFN is an agreement that ensures parity/equal pay between the publishing and recording parties when negotiating a sync license. Equal fees for master and publishing rights are pretty common, but there are exceptions. There are circumstances when it isn’t really logical to handle the same rates for  publishing and masters. Think about it, if my band covers a Beatles-tune, the license for the composition by the Beatles will be much higher than my master recording. But if Paul and Ringo decide to cover one of my band’s tunes, their recording will be worth much more than my original composition. In most cases though, when it comes to licensing a cover version of a song, the master recording is easier to clear than the publishing rights.

I Will Survive, and how to get the best sync license terms

Let’s illustrate this with an example; say you’re working on a trailer for a fighting game and you want to use ‘I Will Survive’ by Gloria Gaynor as the soundtrack, but there is no budget to license the original version by the artist. While browsing the internet, you may stumble upon a cover version that you really like that will also fit the tone of the piece you’re cutting.

To get a fair deal and optimal terms, it is helpful to have a party on board that knows the ins-and-outs of the sync market and music licensing (like Clear Music). We have existing and long-standing relationships with publishers and record labels and are able to negotiate a fair price for the sync and master use license. The final license fee will depend on a number of things, like the duration of the trailer and how many seconds of the music cue is used, the content of the trailer (synopsis), the prominence of the cue, and of course the popularity/familiarity of the song.

As part of the partnerships we have with multiple labels, artists and publishers, we represent a wide variety of cover songs, including epic and dramatic versions of Gangsta’s Paradise (Coolio), Paint it Black (Rolling Stones), Insomnia (Faithless), Come As You Are (Nirvana), Blue Monday (New Order) and many more. Interested in using any of these songs for you next trailer project? Reach out to Jarl Hector at jarl@clearmusic.nl and let’s make it happen!

MEAU – ‘Samen Zijn’

Clear Music brengt MEAU en Alzheimer Nederland samen voor akoestische cover ‘Samen Zijn’ in kerstcampagne.

De kerstcampagne van Alzheimer Nederland wordt gekenmerkt door de klassieker ‘Samen Zijn’ van Willeke Alberti, in een subtiele, akoestische uitvoering van singer-songwriter MEAU. In samenwerking met creative agency ICP en Alzheimer Nederland heeft muziek agency Clear Music MEAU benaderd om het origineel uit 1987 te vertolken in haar onmiskenbaar eigen stijl.

MEAU is in sneltreinvaart op weg naar de top van de Nederlandse indie singer-songwriter scene. De reeds uitverkochte clubtour in 2022 (langs o.a. Paradiso en TivoliVredenburg) is des te meer indrukwekkend als je bedenkt dat ze in juni 2021 pas voor het eerst voor publiek optrad. Ook verovert ze de hitlijsten met de onlangs uitgebrachte, zeer persoonlijke single ‘Dat Heb Jij Gedaan’, die momenteel op de playlist van 3FM, 100%NL, Radio 2, Q-music en Radio 538. staat. En als klap op de vuurpijl verzorgt ze volgend jaar het voorprogramma van Suzan en Freek bij de shows in de Ziggo Dome.

MEAU:

“Ik hoop dat iedereen ondanks de maatregelen tijdens de feestdagen ‘samen’ kan zijn. Laten we elkaar wat extra liefde geven!”

Sonic branding agency Clear Music Amsterdam, dit jaar opgericht, helpt merken en reclamemakers bij alles dat komt kijken rondom het vinden, creëren en licenseren van muziek dit impact maakt. Jarl Hector van Clear Music was als music supervisor eerder verantwoordelijk voor de uitvoering van ‘Zing, Vecht, Huil, Bid, Lach, Werk, en Bewonder’ door Maaike Ouboter, in de campagne voor Our Planet door Netflix (winnaar van de Buma Award Beste Sync in 2019)

Jarl Hector:

“Het zit in het DNA van Clear Music samen te werken met artiesten, labels en publishers om de boodschap van merken en filmmakers te laten resoneren. Het is geweldig dat we een muzikale bijdrage hebben kunnen leveren aan het verhaal dat Alzheimer Nederland wil vertellen deze kerstdagen.”

Meau Hewitt - Clear Music Amsterdam - Alzheimer

picture: Jantina Talsma

Clear Music on Sonic Branding

In short, a Sonic Brand is the entire spectrum of sounds that is connected to a brand, product or service. In most modern cases, this connection has been intentionally developed to help an audience associate those specific sounds and musical elements with said brand.

All of this with the goal of connecting companies and consumers on a deeper, emotional level. Sonic branding is an important layer of a modern brand’s experience that draws in potential customers and helps make a brand memorable.

A study conducted by Leicester University professors Adrien North and David Hargreaves showed that 96% of consumers are more likely to remember a brand if it is paired with music that fits the brand identity. And 24% are more inclined to purchase items linked with music they remember and enjoy. It is for that reason that brands choose to spend more time crafting their sonic identity in order to create a better connection with their target audience and get the most out of their marketing budget.

 

Loving it?

But let’s take it to the modern day. In this era of digital transformation, brands and agencies are capitalizing on the effect of audio for marketing purposes. Some of the most recognizable instances of sonic branding of the past 50 years include the ringtone on the Apple Iphone and the classic 5-note McDonald’s ‘I’m Lovin’ It’ melody. It’s the Microsoft Windows startup sound and Netflix’ ‘TUDUM’. These examples are commonly known as sonic logos. They are often at the centre of a sonic branding campaign and consist of a short, memorable hook that is meant to represent a brand’s identity and message. However, sonic branding is still at its best when it reaches across multiple brand touchpoints.

Understanding Music & Brand Values?

Music has a very specific power to trigger emotional responses in people. Therefore it is a good idea to be familiar with the various effects that come with different instruments and their timbres. Strings can evoke feelings of nostalgia, the trumpet can make people feel courageous, the rhythm of drums can bring forth something more primal, and a human voice can make us feel comforted. Different melodies, keys, tonalities and chord progressions also influence the way music makes us feel. A thorough understanding of these different aspects and musical qualities is the reason that sonic branding agencies exist. To help brands translate their message and vision into a targeted, integrated approach.

Are you looking to enhance your brand with a sonic identity? Click on ‘Learn More’ to learn about our REDI-Model™ for Sonic Branding.

About Clear Music Amsterdam

We are your professional partner in Audio Branding, Advertising Music, Sync Licensing that pop song that popped into your head and creating bespoke soundtracks for film, campaigns, TV and streaming series. We license and promote artists, we create audio identities for brands, film and podcasts and we assist in dealmaking and the legal aspects of music and media from A to Z.

Introducing: Abramo Abramo

Abramo Abramo Bram Kniest Clear Music Amsterdam

INTRODUCING⁠⁠ ABRAMO ABRAMO

We are thrilled to introduce to you ABRAMO ABRAMO (@abramo_abramo_music), the new music alias from multi instrumentalist and all-round Amsterdam based producer Bram Jacques Kniest.

⁠⁠
With his absolute killer of a debut single “A dream of a night in Mexico” Abramo Abramo has created the perfect soundtrack for you modern day spaghetti western or simply a epic night out with your friends, preferably in Mexico City. ⁠⁠
⁠⁠
Here at the Clear Music Amsterdam HQ we absolutely love the Ennio Morricone meets Joy Division vibes that Abramo Abramo powerfully puts forward.

Abramo Abramo Bram Kniest Clear Music Amsterdam
Abramo Abramo Bram Kniest Clear Music Amsterdam
Abramo Abramo Bram Kniest Clear Music Amsterdam