Tuesday, October 25, 2016
  • Thursday, Mar. 10, 2016
Justin Bieber's "What Do You Mean?" video.
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4…3…2…1…Skip ad.  Click.  Gone!

I have questions.  Normally, I have answers—I’m your "Earwitness," for pop’s sake!  But I have questions.

Why would you NOT “Skip ad”?  You wanted to hear/watch Charlie Puth’s sweet little pop video for “One Call Away”...but suddenly you have to watch an ad first, that you may or may not be able to “skip.” 

And if you can’t skip the ad, are you happy with the advertiser that made you watch it?  Or are you pissed that you had to sit through it…even if only for 5 seconds?  These are some of my questions.

According to Statista, total television advertising revenues in the US were just over 70 billion US dollars in 2015.  And in that same period, advertising revenues at Google alone were nearly $70 billion!  (I confess that my online sources for advertising revenue info haven’t been in full agreement, for which I apologize.  But the numbers are big.  Huge even…sorry.)

Google gets a somewhat lower advertising rate for YouTube ads because of that “skippable” function—but I want to assure you, it’s still a big number.  Advertisers pay based upon the number of people who actually watch the whole ad.  But what if they’re mad whilst watching the ad, because they forgot to press ‘Skip ad’? 

Like, you want to watch Justin Bieber’s “What Do You Mean?” video. But now you’re watching an ad for Tide, or one for Toyota.  What does that mean?  Will you press pause and write a Post-It…"remember to buy Tide" …or "memo to self: get a Toyota"? 

Hey, I love advertising.  I love music (more).  These are just questions.

Maybe the analytics people have the answers.  But if I were advising advertisers with regard to their digital messaging in the realm of entertainment-interruptus (YouTube videos, news websites, social media pages…) I’d say your message better be really entertaining, engaging and relevant.  Otherwise, you risk the very opposite of the intended effect—consumer loathing, god help you!

Now here’s something else to put in your mental digestive tract—better yet, in your inner ear:  According to a remarkable recent piece in The New York Times, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have discovered conclusive evidence that music—any kind of music—enters the brain through entirely different circuits, or neural pathways, than any other sound.  Any other sound: including, speech, wind, traffic, thunder, gunfire, barking…music is on its very own line to the brain, undeterred by the “noise” around it.

In the professional universe I inhabit, this revelation is jaw-dropping.  It says, in effect, that we are all at very least bilingual, music being the “other” language.  That would suggest, to me, that how we communicate with music (in a spot, for example) is at least as important as what we say in that spot, or how that spot is visualized.  Therefore I would say, to every brand strategist, to every creative person, think about that musical component of your message.  Because if it’s not right, you’ll be sending the wrong message to our brains.  In other words, don’t just slap a track against that picture—make it magical.  Make it “speak” the right things, in the right tone.  Make it make us want you!

Last year I wrote a trivial (all right, amazing) piece about “earworms,” those indelible musical phrases and songs that simply won’t leave your head. Well it turns out there’s more than one reason they stick (other than that they’re “sticky”)—they have an all-access pass to the brain.  And now, you may Skip this column.  But first…

I don’t know why you say goodbye I say hello.  And yet Goodbye we must say to Sir George Martin, the legendary producer who helped create the indelible, revolutionary sound of The Beatles.  Sir George passed away at the age of 90 at his home on Tuesday evening. 

As @MarkRonson tweeted, "Thank you Sir George Martin: the greatest British record producer of all time. We will never stop living in the world you helped create."  To which I would simply delete the modifier ‘British’.  And add my thanks for teaching me how to listen.

Now…you may Skip this column.  Click. 

About the author

Lyle Greenfield is the founder of BANG Music and past president of the Association of Music Producers (AMP).  Greenfield has been a driving force behind the AMP Awards for Music and Sound, which debuted in New York City in 2013.

Contact Lyle via email