Last week’s star-studded Oscars ceremony was not only a celebration of the past year’s greatest films, but a clear indication of just how important music is to a movie. With Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s much-talked-about performance of ‘Shallow’, and Black Panther’s ground-breaking win of the ‘Best Score’ award, the evening’s events illustrates how music carries an inherent storytelling ability. And just as the right composition packs meaning and emotion into a movie, it does the same for a business.
Since the earliest days of cinema, music and movies have worked hand in hand. Piano accompaniments in the earliest theatres made sure silent cinema wasn’t so silent, and from then on, some of our most celebrated stories have compositions to match. Psycho… Star Wars… Pulp Fiction… Purple Rain and so many more… hundreds of hit films are renowned for their music – whether composed for a score or curated for the soundtrack. And this is well exemplified by this year’s Best Picture nominees. The contenders included the Best Score Winner Black Panther and fellow nominee Blackkklansman; the biopic Bohemian Rhapsody that heralds the music of Queen, and the Best Original Song winner A Star is Born – whose soundtrack also picked up two Grammys. It’s abundantly clear that music is inherent to the celebration of movies, predominantly because it’s such a vital element in telling the story.
This comes from the fact that music is multifunctional in its narrative abilities
. It works to set the scene in terms of time, place, culture or social stance; create plot links and relationships between scenes; manipulate audience perception and so much more. Beneath all these functions, the essential purpose is to make the audience think and feel a certain way, predominantly, a particular emotion. A 60s-inspired soundtrack not only cements a movie in a certain era, but inspires feelings of nostalgia. A motif indicates the arrival of a certain character to make them more familiar, forging a stronger emotional connection. And with the right composition, viewers can be tricked into feelings of empathy for an individual that could turn out to be the villain of the piece. Whether it be the fear-inducing stabbing strings of Psycho or the edge-of-your-seat suspense of Mission Impossible, every genre carries endless examples of how the music has inspired the desired emotion in the audience. We forge lasting connections to fictitious characters in less than two hours because we develop such strong feelings for them – and this is in no small part down to the music that narrates and punctuates their tale.
Yet it’s not just in the world of cinema that the right composition has such a profound role to play. It’s just as essential for a business too, and the one key comparison that can be drawn is in the instilling of emotion – not in the viewer this time, but the consumer. A business can convey its identity – or story – in all manner of different ways: through content, logos, visuals or copy. But none of these pack quite the same emotional or memorable punch as a Brand-Sound-Track™, because each individual part represents a different facet of a brand personality. Altogether, this creates a sense of identity a listener can really feel. And just as a film soundtrack works to forge lasting bonds with the characters, this piece creates a stronger link with the consumer that results in long-term brand loyalty.
Our favourite movies are those we come back to, time and again. When a business uses music in the same way as a film-maker, they too will win the heart of the consumer – for the long term.