Ads of the world interview with Nylon Studios
Is the use of music and sound in online marketing becoming more important to advertisers? From slick interactive websites to mobile phone applications, advertising music may be finding a critical new capacity as advertising moves across platforms. Some of the most significant activity in this area is taking place in New York City, where a collective of instrument-wielding composers and producers from music house Nylon Studios recently settled to introduce North America’s advertising community to its innovative brand of music-making and sound design.
Ivan Raszl talks to Nylon executive producer Mark Beckhaus about the music studio’s recent move to New York and their growing expertise in interactive ad tune creation.
Q: How’s the move to New York City going? Is it different here than working in Australia?
It’s been great. In Australia we’ve been the dominant player in our field for many years, so it’s been exciting to come into the US and to feel like the underdog. But big in Australia is not big here – in the US we are considered small and boutique. Making the move to this new market has definitely pushed us professionally and creatively. Fortunately we’ve always done well in international competition, so there was recognition of our brand here from day one.
Q: Studies show brands continuing to pour more of their budget into multiplatform advertising campaigns. How has this affected Nylon’s business?
It’s critical for music companies to offer clients a breadth of capabilities – particularly in the areas of branded content and interactive advertising. In that area we’ve gone as far as helping big brands actually conceptualize and create bands whose music puts a halo around the brand. To do this we rely on our previous experience in record production, artist marketing and music publishing. So, we’re not only the production company but we also fill the role of label.
On the multiplatform advertising end of things, we are beginning to see high-end music production values applied to Internet-specific ad campaigns. Music for the web used to be an afterthought…whereas now the ad biz is planning for and creating music and sound design across platforms as the campaign is in the pre-production stage.
Q: What are the specific challenges related to creating music and sound design for alternative platforms like mobile and websites?
The main challenges come from durations and budgets. Thankfully, advances in Flash and bandwidth have allowed us to move beyond the :30 loop previously synonymous with music on websites. Now we can work to durations at any length required. This is great creatively and clients have come to expect it. Of course this means a lot more for our composers creating these longer tracks, something that is rarely reflected in the budgets. Hopefully, as appreciation for online content increases, the financials will improve. Also on a positive note, the aesthetics for an online marketing effort are different: we see clients open to a contemporary, more boundary-pushing style. While TV commercials are usually geared to appeal to a broader / mass audience and thus a more conservative approach is taken, with interactive music and sound design opportunities, it is understood that you are targeting a specific / niche audience. In this case we are permitted a lot of creative freedom to push the boundaries of the selected musical styles.
Q: Recently Nylon completed its latest interactive ad campaign where music and sound design played an important role. Can you describe what you did?
Our most recent interactive project found us working alongside production company B-Reel to help develop the sounds for a sultry Perrier website featuring burlesque model and actress Dita Von Teese. Our NY team composed three original song length tracks for the website plus all of the sound design and mixed the project. The concept for the Perrier campaign is essentially taking an interactive journey through the Perrier Mansion with Dita Von Teese, and you get to play games with her and she reacts in certain ways – there’s lots of water being poured over exposed skin. It’s very interactive and it’s a lot of fun.
Here’s a funny story: we didn’t have the sound of Dita pouring Perrier over herself, so we had to recreate the sound. We asked a studio assistant Dimitri to go into the sound booth. We put down a mat and made him stand over a large bin. Then we had him pour Perrier over his upper arms to recreate the sound of Perrier, Perrier in particular, hitting skin! All in a day’s work.
Q: Your studio also created music and sound design for a couple other interactive campaigns; one for Tooheys Beer, which won an award at Cannes, and another project for the Puma Index via Droga5. The Puma Index in particular looks like an interesting project. What makes that project unique?
The Puma Index is a global stock ticker with a twist - measuring the rising and falling market conditions by the amount of exposed flesh on some hot models. When the market goes down, their Puma Bodywear come off. The theory is if you lose your shirt, at least they do too. We developed 10 unique :60 music tracks that relate to each of the different states of market change and the different dressing / undressing sequences.
Q: What are you doing in the area of branded content?
We believe we are situated at the vanguard of branded music content. One project, for Famous Footwear, found us creating an artist called Valentyne Krush to do the music. Valentyne Krush created a song called “Hold Tight,” which is now available on iTunes and may be heard on MySpace.
For Famous Footwear we operated in a manner similar to a record label, and Valentyne Krush is part of our “Bands and Brands” strategy, where we are responsible for creating, launching, merchandising, marketing and selling the band’s music, while simultaneously representing a client’s brand strategy. We think the time has come for reverse engineering in music. We recognize the power of closely integrating artists with brand marketing initiatives. Our feeling is that consumers enjoy this. If they like the music, people don’t care from where it comes, as long as it is available for purchase.
Q: Where will Nylon Studios be in five years?
Barring winning the lotto and buying an island, we plan on continuing to do what we love to do, making music to entertain and delight.