Music for Adverts
It’s hard to pinpoint what makes a piece of music appropriate for advertising, as every television, radio, podcast and social media commercial is completely different from the next, and each has its own intentions.
While a Confused.com ad might aim to make you laugh to ensure you remember their service, a John Lewis ad is aimed at making you cry, thereby encouraging you to establish an emotional connection with their brand.
A Coca-Cola ad may use lust in the hope that it leads to a desire for a cool can of Coke (Zero, usually, these days) whilst a McDonald’s ad may use nostalgia to remind you of good memories spent in their restaurants. There are endless possibilities.
As illustrated above, music for ads is an umbrella term encompassing all different kinds of musical styles, as long as the music is captivating but doesn’t distract from the essential purpose of the commercial.
It’s also best that it’s unlike music used in any other commercial to ensure your ad will stand out from the crowd.
Keep reading to find out where to find such music, why music matters in adverts and a whole lot more. Alternatively, we invite you to work through our list of the best advertisements.
Music For Adverts
- Where to Get Music For Adverts
- Best Advert Music Playlists
- Why Music Matters In Adverts
- How Audio Network’s Music Library Works
- How to License Music For Adverts: Audio Network’s Licensing Model
In advertising’s heyday, each product or brand would have had its own, specially-composed jingle to define and cement it in the consumer’s mind.
Even though they’ve long-since dropped Justin Timberlake singing, ‘I’m Lovin’ It’ at the end of their ads, does anyone hear McDonald’s whistley, five-note hook and not sing that last line to themselves? Originally, ‘I’m Lovin’ It’ was no ordinary jingle – it was also a complete Timberlake song, produced by the Neptunes.
McDonald’s spent a reported $1.37 billion when they debuted the five commercials (translated into eleven different languages) in 2003. The fact they’re still using the same ‘audio logo’ now reflects the fact that music can become as synonymous with a product or a brand as a tagline such as Ronseal’s evergreen ‘Does what it says on the tin’.
However, the best music in advertising isn’t necessarily new. There are pieces of classical music that many people only know through adverts.
The ad, directed by a young Ridley Scott in 1973 was voted the Favourite British Commercial of all time in 2006.
Why Music Matters In Adverts
The first couple of seconds of an advertisement is a make-or-break moment: will the viewer decide to pay attention to the commercial or will they do anything and everything to distract themselves whilst the ad plays out? One of the factors that can influence a viewer’s decision is enchanting music.
Think about it: a song that piques your interest can make you care about an advert, no matter what it’s promoting.
Rebecca Ferguson’s ‘Nothing’s Real But Love’ made a Nescafé Gold ad a hit,‘Eliza Aria’ from the ballet Wild Swans (performed by the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra) reminded the whole nation that Lloyds TSB existed, and Take That’s ‘Shine’ made Morrison’s carrier bags an ubiquitous accessory.
How Does Music Affect Emotion?
Research by audio branding specialist PHMG found that 66% of their survey respondents believe music is more memorable than visuals when used in marketing. And instrumentation, style and the music’s key can all subtly alter the way audiences react:
‘Strings playing short, sharp notes in a major key were found to have a largely positive impact, as 87% of respondents associated them with feelings of happiness and excitement. A shift from major to minor provoked a sense of sadness or melancholy in 83% of respondents.’
Daniel Lafferty, director of music and voice at PHMG, emphasises that, ‘Our hearing is a more powerful emotional sense than our sight, so there is a clear opportunity for businesses to broaden their marketing horizons and gain a competitive edge by making better use of audio.’
Looking at Ridley Scott’s Hovis ad, the nostalgic feel of the music fits perfectly with the old-fashioned boy in his flat cap delivering bread from his bike basket, taking viewers back to a golden age when life was simpler. It also dovetails neatly with the end tagline, ‘As good for you today as it’s always been,’ establishing Hovis as a heritage, trusted brand.
Over the last decade, John Lewis have become absolute masters of fitting retro-sounding music to their heartstring-tugging, story-driven ads.
Remember the snowman making an unlikely pilgrimage along motorways to snag a scarf as a romantic gesture for his frozen wife, soundtracked by Gabrielle Aplin’s cover of ‘The Power of Love’ (originally a slightly unlikely Christmas hit for Frankie Goes to Hollywood)? Tom Odell’s rendition of John Lennon’s ‘Real Love’, which features the lyrics, ‘just like little girls and boys/playing with their little toys/seems all we really were doing/was waiting for love,’ is used to bring to life the story of Monty the Penguin who’s desperate to find love.
The ads have become a highly-anticipated fixture of the seasonal calendar, generating millions of views and shares on social media – not to mention miles of editorial coverage, and streams and sales of the featured tracks.
Guinness’s ‘Made of Black’ ad was created as an exclusive release in African countries.
To demonstrate the edge and attitude of ‘Guinness Black’, and to celebrate individuals who aren’t afraid to express themselves, they chose Kanye West’s track ‘Black Skinhead’, which is loaded with swagger, flair and bags of attack.
Where To Get Music For Adverts
Our catalogue of production music tracks contains all of the music for advertising you could possibly dream of.
Each track is of the highest quality and has been produced by world-leading composers and artists, which is why thousands – including some industry giants – already rely on our offerings.
How Audio Network’s Music Library Works
Audio Network is trusted by brands – from Shell to FIFA, Nike to Vodafone – and singular creatives worldwide who work on creative projects such as television and social media commercials.
They work their way through our catalogue, sample our tracks and add them to the ‘My Projects’ feature in their account. Once they’re set on the track, they can purchase the song – along with a licence for use in their project – and proceed to download it to their desktop. It really is that simple.
Time and time again, Audio Network account holders return to continue making the most of our offerings as we’ve got both quantity and quality. And to keep up to date with the latest tracks added to our catalogue, they visit our regularly-updated latest albums page.
How to Licence Music For Adverts: Audio Network’s Licencing Model
The complexities of music licensing can make many content creators anxious, but here at Audio Network we’re doing everything in our power to prove that music licensing can be relatively straightforward.
There are single track licences available for producers, businesses and everyday creatives (you know, your vloggers and podcasters etc…), and the prices start from just £6.99. There is also a range of licensing subscriptions available to our corporate, advertising and TV programming clients, all of which come packaged with account management support and full catalogue access.
Find out more about our music licensing options and contact us for custom pricing.
The Best Advert Music Playlists
From Nike ads to Super Bowl ads, sports ads are everywhere, which makes sense considering that sports play such a huge role in the lives of millions worldwide. No matter whether the ad you're creating is centred around sports trainers, sports fragrances, sports games or sporting events, we’ve got the perfect track for you in our sports anthems playlist.
Recommendation: ‘See Yuh Sweat’ by Marc Jackson Burrows is everything. The ultimate sports track, this hectic, ragga trap song provides the listener with a kick of energy and a dash of competitive spirit.
In the past, corporate ads were the dullest thing on our small screens, but firms are slowly but surely learning that it’s beneficial to make your ad as memorable as possible. One of the best ways to entice audience members in a way that keeps things professional is by using tracks from our corporate playlist.
Recommendation: Although hip hop may not be the genre you typically associate with the corporate world, George Georgia’s ‘Blunted’ makes a case for the use of hip hop music in corporate ads. The hazy, laid-back beat of the song is different enough to inject some life into a corporate ad, yet familiar enough to blend into the background.
Fashion is about individuality and making an impact, meaning that the music that aids the visuals of a fashion commercial has to be remarkable. And like any fashionable catalogue, ours has range – within our fashion playlist, there are chic French beats, catwalk-ready compositions, glamorous grooves and more.
Recommendation: Powell, Trower and Elder’s ‘We Are Beautiful’ is a bouncy pop song led by a raspy female vocalist and tropical bass. It’s music that’s ideal for complementing any summertime fashion ad, regardless of the garments in focus.
Beauty is a big moneymaker, and it’s a sector that’s set to continue expanding. Naturally, the demand means that it’s hard to switch on the television – or make it through a YouTube video – without being told about the latest beauty products available. The best of the bunch employ songs that sound like those in our beauty playlist.
Recommendation: Beauty is about experimentation, empowerment and fun, and so is ‘Meu Menino’ by Rodrigues Junior, Lopes Rodrigues, Love and Browning. The Brazilian drum‘n’bass love song is a festival of colour and Latin inspirations, making it ideal for beauty brands looking to pop.
Travel ads tend to be effective as we’re all constantly thinking about our next trip away. And sometimes, seeing that exotic beach or enchanting city on our screens is just the thing we needed to see to push us to book our next trip. Usually, it helps if there’s an enticing travel-inspired track thrown into the mix (something like the ones you can discover in our travel playlist).
The Best Music From TV Commercials
If you’re looking for more inspiration, then we have picked some of our favourite ads which use music particularly effectively.
NIKE - Nothing Beats A Londoner
NIKE’s ‘Nothing Beats a Londoner’, shot in Dalston, Peckham and Brixton, featured 258 Londoners, including cameos from some of the capital’s best-known faces. England striker Harry Kane joined sprinter Dina Asher-Smith, grime star Skepta (nipping about on a Boris bike), Jorja Smith and Olympic hero Mo Farah, whilst England manager Gareth Southgate plays God.
Created by agency Wieden+Kennedy, Steve Vranakis, D&AD president, hailed it as, ‘a piece of work that genuinely captures and celebrates young people’s view of living, training and pursuing their passion in this most multicultural of cities.’ Combining humour, empathy, grittiness, surreality and self-deprecation, the featured talent had credibility with the target audience, with fame that’s based on their skills and abilities – underscoring the ad’s inspirational theme. Londoners loved it – it made them proud of, and genuinely excited to live in their city, and it instantly went viral.
The ad features the instrumental background to Skepta’s ‘Shutdown’, Dizzee Rascal, Giggs’ ‘Yes Yes Yes’ and even a quick blast of Verdi’s ‘Dies Irae’.
If you’re looking for urban or hip hop music, check out our Beats Series.
BMW – Plug Into Something Bold
The BMW i3 is 100% electric, maximising efficiency, dynamics and range and features 85% recyclable materials.
The music is a jazz-funk piece from 1973, based on Strauss’s ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra’, by Brazilian musician Eumir Deodato.
Film fans will recognise the original music from the opening sequence of Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’. Is the ad’s gradual ‘sunrise’ effect over the car’s curves a nod to Kubrick’s iconic opener?
Natwest – We Are What We Do
The trials and tribulations of house-buying are presented by NatWest as part of their ‘We Are What We Do’ campaign.
They can’t make these aspects any easier or better, they confess, but at least the application process for your longed-for mortgage is now more straightforward.
The prospective home owners’ travails are scored by Bach’s jaunty prelude and Fugue No. 1 in C Major.
Check out our dedicated playlist for lifestyle background music.
Theme park Alton Towers have adopted Grieg’s ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’ from Peer Gynt as their theme tune and have used it in a variety of ways in their ads; it’s also used around the park itself.
The piece starts off relatively slow and low, with a sinister edge, mirroring the feel of a rollercoaster’s upward trajectory.
The building speed, with its hectic pizzicato, bringing parts of the orchestra with it like a tornado, is particularly suited to rollercoasters’ highs, lows and loops. Plus, it ends with a satisfying bang which is great for punctuating an ad.
Alton Towers’ ‘Smiler’, showcasing the world’s first 14-loop rollercoaster, uses the track at the forefront; their most recent ‘WickerMan’ ad has it as a much more subtle, and brooding backdrop.
If you’re looking for classical music for commercials, then check out our Classical Collection. It’s arranged, recorded and mixed specifically for media use, making it ideal to tell your stories.
This was originally published 25/06/2015 and updated on 11/12/2019 and 05/04/2022