How did you land on the name?
J: Clear Music means synergy between my creative and Mattijs’ legal experience. You’ll find plenty of people making good music in a studio, but many lack the required knowledge on copyright to know how to serve the international market. The year I sat atop that mountain in India, I experienced some sincere clarity of mind. The sound and message of the work we create for brands, I realised, need to be crystal clear.
M: The name also refers to music clearance. Besides inspired song selection, we ensure all creators and contributors have given permission for usage of their music. We offer the full business and creativity package. We make sure a piece of music really works and resonates with its audience. We provide brands with street credibility by working with artists, instead of utilising some track from a database. Finally, we make sure our client applies their sonic brand strategically and in such a way that it reaches their audience.
Do you work for both national or international clients?
M: We have partners and clients all over the world, not just in the Netherlands. Currently we are working with a game publisher from Poland. Many campaigns we create are geared towards a global audience. Jarl is half Swedish, so we also have some contacts there.
J: Borders fade. It doesn’t really matter to us where clients or creatives are based. When we do remote work with international musicians or producers we sit in with them over Zoom.
You became co-founders during the pandemic. How did that affect securing new clients?
M: During that time, we primarily secured new assignments through our existing network.
J: I know many people from backstage, back in my gigging days. If you’ve known someone for fifteen years, you trust them.
M: It’s nice to meet new people at events now. The randomness of connection-building is back.
J: Our cinema and tv campaign for Amazon Smile just premiered. We got that assignment through our office building neighbours, Blacklist Creative. They are Amazon’s creative agency. During a communal lunch we asked ‘hey, what are you guys up to?’ The rest is history.
Sonic branding means making brands audible. Why is that important?
J: Upcoming generations are far more likely to buy products from brands with a clear audio identity. And people are 96 % more likely to remember a brand if it has been paired with music. That is, if said music suits the logo. It’s our vision to build a brand a universe of sound. To reach and touch people’s hearts through their ears. It’s a misconception to think sonic branding is about nothing more than audio logo’s. The full picture has to make audible sense.
What is an audio logo?
M: It’s the melody you’ll hear play in your head when encountering a brand.
J: Sonic branding is as old as humanity itself. Every country has its national anthem and you recognise a religion by how it sounds. If, as a brand, you have not yet understood the value of a distinctive musical identity, you are lagging behind the Romans. When image and sound collide, magic happens. Try imagining Star Wars without its iconic opening score. It would just be some letters rolling across a screen. Neuroscientific research also shows; we’ll believe it when we’ve heard it. If back in the day we saw a rabbit on the savanna, but we would hear a lion’s roar, we would go by ear and make a run for it. More and more brands are catching on and understand the importance of audio. What tv meant to our parents and meant YouTube to us, is TikTok to the new generation. When such audio-first platforms get the upper hand, how will you uniquely define yourself without a decent audio brand? And how will you make sure people will interact with your audio logo?
“If, as a brand, you have not yet understood the value of a distinctive musical identity, you are lagging behind the Romans.”
What recent Clear Music work exemplifies your vision?
M: Unravel named our campaign for Alzheimer Nederland the Best Christmas Commercial. It also made the top three of the BUMA Music in Motion Awards.
J: In the commercial you hear MEAU do a beautiful cover of Willeke Alberti’s Samen Zijn (‘Being Together’).
M: Thanks to years of experience, we now always make sure to present our client with multiple creative routes, just in case it proves impossible to execute their original plan. Back when we presented MEAU to our client, she had not yet appeared in the Top 40. But we maintain close connections with artist managers and record labels. That is a nice extra for our clients; the fact that we have our feelers out in the field of music. That’s how we knew MEAU was going to make it big.
J: Samen Zijn is a classic and speaks to an older demographic, but by having up-and-coming MEAU cover the song it got a modern update. The original could have never generated such media impact. Research from the neuromarketing agency, Unravel, showed that our commercial made a bigger emotional impression on people than those of supermarkets Jumbo and Albert Heijn. That is how we won the award.
What is your favourite type of work to create?
J: I really enjoy working with brands who have taken a lot of time to figure out who they really are and what they stand for. People do not always know what to expect from a sonic branding project. But once they’ve realised ‘oh, we’ll be translating our brand values, this is going to be fun’, you start seeing that sparkle in their eyes.
M: We deliver creativity that works. We’re in the know and we keep up with things, like; which works will go out of copyright. The Banana Song has been in the public domain for over three years in the States.
J: Exactly. It’s just a matter of time before some banana brand seizes the opportunity. You could build such a great campaign around this. Wonder who’s going to get it?
M: It’s definitely some low-hanging fruit for Chiquita.
For the original version of this interview in Dutch as published in Porsche – Discovered, click here.