In a sense, we are all Music Designers for our own lives as we choose what to listen to while commuting, working out, or relaxing. We curate our own playlists, get recommendations from friends, browse online radio, or look to music professionals – but even when selecting a pre-curated station or playlist, we are still choosing. We are choosing music for ourselves, of course, so our own taste guides us, not the needs of a brand. Still, we tailor our selections to suit the activity at hand, how we want to feel during the activity, and (especially if the music will be heard by others) what we want the music to say about us.

This is why “Getting to Know You” questions sometimes include “who is your favorite band or artist?” Whether accurate or not, we have an image of someone who picks Carrie Underwood, or Muse, or Yo-Yo Ma. In other words, the music we choose is communicating something about our identity. The same can be said of a brand. How do Music Designers, as the facilitators of that communication, create a custom sound that represents a brand’s identity or product?

Music Design is not about identifying a suitable genre and filling a playlist with songs from the relevant chart. It requires both careful listening to the music and careful listening to the client. If a brand sells soft leather bags and wants that reflected in their custom sound, the Music Designer must figure out what the product “sounds” like. If a brand is targeting a 30-year-old suburban mom with two kids, the Music Designer must figure out what appeals to that mom. Many elements are considered including tempo, mood, lyrics, artists, and instrumentation. Put another way, how does the song make you feel, why does it make you feel that way, and how does this particular combination of songs work together to create something special?

– Submitted by Erin Yousef, Music Design