Sound Ideas: An album sings a thousand words

An album sings a thousand words

Aug 01, 2019
Every song tells its own story – but when multiple songs unite under the same narrative, the results are all the more powerful. As a whole body of work, an album is able to explore characters, themes and ideas in the same way as a novel. And just like artists use these extended musical masterpieces to express their unique voice and personality, so can a business. 

In today’s musical landscape, it’s never been easier to stream single songs and hand-pick playlists that fuse genres, style and sounds. But despite this, real value still lies in consuming and appreciating a body of work from one single artist. As an album-focused medium, the resurgence of vinyl has undoubtedly contributed to this – and the awards in this field still carry the most prestige among audiences and artists. The Brits and the Grammys both reserve their album prize until the end of the night, and just last week, the contenders for the UK’s Mercury Prize nominees were announced to huge fanfare. Little Simz’ ‘Grey’, Dave’s ‘Psychodrama’ and The 1975’s ‘A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships’ were among the 12 masterpieces nominated this year, recognised for the way they explore themes like vulnerability, racial identity and love that’s shaped by social media – making them more than a series of catchy tunes, but a sharp commentary on the world we live in. 

Beyoncé - Lemonade

When considering exactly how an album tells a story, there are several key themes that become apparent. As this work comes from such a personal place, it’s no surprise that many are immensely autobiographical – laying the thoughts, feelings and journeys of their creators out for all to hear. Adele’s '21' and Amy Winehouse’s 'Back to Black' are both hugely successful examples of this, the latter in particular exemplifying how music can effectively convey the tales that can be hardest to tell. As our Head of A&R Lucy Drennan points out:

An album sings a thousand words

While it may be most obvious – and common – for artists to create songs about their own experiences, there are instances where they take the opportunity to tell their musical story from the mouth a fabricated character. Examples of this include David Bowie’s 'Ziggy Stardust' and 'The Spiders from Mars' (the journey of an androgynous rock star who acts as a messenger for extra-terrestrial beings), and more recently, Plan B’s 'The Defamation of Strickland Banks' (charting the rise and fall of a soul singer jailed for a crime he didn’t commit) – as these extended narratives play out across multiple songs. This idea is taken one step further in the form of a concept album – a record in which the tracks hold a greater purpose collectively than individually – with The Who’s 'Tommy', Green Day’s 'American Idiot' and Pink Floyd’s 'The Wall' all embodying this. While this has most commonly been associated with the rock genre, Beyoncé broke new ground in this region with 'Lemonade' – her concept being a ‘visual album’ accompanied by a 65 minute film depicting the tracks’ themes of love and infidelity. 

An album sings a thousand words

All the examples we’ve considered illustrate how an album can convey real personality, feeling and identity – whether of the artist themselves or a conceptual character. And in much the same way, exclusive composition can capture company identity to tell the story of the business. While the themes may not be as extreme as heartbreak, crime, or spiders from Mars, the right melody, backing and instrumental choices can tell consumers that you’re innovative, down-to-earth or heritage-focused – in as memorable or emotive a way as our most treasured musical collectives. Track listings become individual messages in an all-encompassing script – covering varying aspects of the business such as history, products or promotions. And just like an artist evolves from debut to greatest hits, a Brand-Sound-Track™ can adapt as a business does to always reflect an ever-changing identity. 

Not every artist can achieve a platinum selling album – but every business can benefit from a Brand-Sound-Track™ that tells the story of their business.