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Music and advertising go together like bread and butter. The power of music is undeniable. It has the ability to make us feel any number of emotions, and that’s why the use of music in advertising is so prevalent. 

It’s far from an exact science, but it doesn’t mean that researchers haven’t tried to uncover the impact of different notes and styles on our brains. Let’s take a look at music advertising and why it’s such an effective way of enchanting an audience.

Why is Music So Important in Advertising?

So why do advertisers use music in commercials?

Scientists have shown that to process music in our minds, we use the same parts of our brain as we use for memory and emotion. That’s why simply hearing a specific song or note can make you feel a certain way.

It’s natural for the human brain to associate specific types of music with an object, a place, or a person.

Advertisers use music in commercials to create an association between a piece of music that captures the viewer to make them associate those sounds with their brand.

Another study shows that music in advertising is associated with long-term memory encoding. In other words, how music is used in advertising can enhance the viewer’s memory when it drives the action in the ad.

This is why brands often choose tracks with lyrics or a tempo that matches what’s going on on the screen.

Watch in this Save The Music advertisement created in partnership with LG Phones how the tempo of the music helps drive the action.

There is no “average” when it comes to a music advertisement. Marketers have experimented plenty with different tracks over the years. Some have been more effective than others.

How Can You Use Music in Advertising?

Music and advertising go together, but it’s not enough to choose any song and hope it sticks. Few advertising campaigns reach the status of “memorable.” The vast majority of music advertising is forgotten as soon as the viewer sees it.

To create a musically commercial brand, it’s about experimentation and hitting all the right notes.

Here are some of the ways music advertisement can be utilized, as well as some music in advertising examples to illustrate how it works in practice.

Evoke Emotion

One study showed that a shift from major to minor keys creates a sense of sadness and melancholy. Nowhere was this demonstrated more powerfully than in the ASPCA advert to stop animal cruelty.

This campaign utilized Sarah McLachlan’s “In the Arms of Emotion” to send a strong and powerful message back in the late 2000s.

Animal shelters and other animal rights groups often use slow, melancholic songs in a similar vein to create that specific emotion.

On a side note, it was such a powerful music advertisement that it generated more than $30 million for the ASPCA.

Watch this Save The Music campaign created with Tylenol and The New York Times about music in schools.

Define Your Brand

Chevrolet wanted to define its brand as tough and rugged. The goal of its marketing campaigns was to create a view that not only are their trucks tough and rugged, but so are the people who drive them.

The organization brought in Bob Seger to appear in their commercials. The campaign was so successful that Bob Seger’s “Like a Rock” has become associated with the brand years later.

It’s yet another example of how music and advertising can not only become a vehicle for a brand but can alter the perceptions of that brand as a whole.

Watch how Save The Music partnered with Toyota and The Voice to link music, education and the new Camry.

Improve a Storyline 

Storylines are a significant part of any memorable music advertisement. They encourage people to watch and, occasionally, get people excited to see the follow-up. With only 30 seconds to tell a story, it’s a challenge for brands to do this effectively.

Extra Gum executed this perfectly with Haley Reinhart’s cover of “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”

This 2015 ad follows a high school couple’s senior year in just a few seconds, with the sweet, minty taste of youthful innocence being placed front and center.

Watch this Save The Music PSA from 2017.

Target an Audience

Sometimes a brand wants to laser target a specific audience. Apple’s advertisement for their new iPod used “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” by Jet.

It soon became a hit song, and the shadow grooving in the commercial became synonymous with Apple. It led to the iPod selling massively among young people, which is a testament to Apple’s ability to hit its target market.

Watch this video of three New York City buskers being surprised with a year of free airfares courtesy of STM partner, JetBlue.

Careers in Music and Advertising

Save The Music recognizes that lLearning about music is key to making it work for any brand. It’s part science and part intuition. This is a lifelong learning process, and there’s no single formula for attaining success with music in advertising.

As part of our J Dilla Music Tech Grant, Save The Music focuses on delivering the future of music learning through innovative tech tools and curriculum. A reflection of how music is being made today, 21st century training techniques are integrated to teach students the fundamentals of electronic music creation, recording, and production. Our goal is to bring out students’ inner creativity, talent and confidence.

A large component of this is showing students the different career pathways they can take including one in music and advertising. Through our monthly Music Industry Masterclasses, our J Dilla Music Tech Grant recipients are introduced to speakers who work in publishing, songwriting, events, streaming services, record companies, licensing and more. For example, Music Industry Advisory Board Member and Vice President, Global Head of Entertainment Relations for Gibson, Elizabeth Heidt talked about the emerging opportunities to score and sync in our more digitally connected world.


Music is all around us. It’s one of the single most powerful ways to communicate around the world. Advertisers have used it to great effect over the years, and there’s no doubt that it will continue to play a massive role in the commercials of tomorrow.

Contact us to learn more about our mission to save the music through music philanthropy.