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 News Music Industry 06/11/2018

Music For Every Mood: How The Entertainment Industry Hits The Right Notes

Music For Every Mood: How The Entertainment Industry Hits The Right Notes

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New York, NY (Top40 Charts)

The entertainment industry's global grip on mainstream culture shows no signs of slowing down. From box-office blockbusters to platinum-selling superstars, the world's most successful artists influence every aspect of our lives in order to draw from our wallets. But as traditional TV and radio make way for online streaming and social media, it gets more difficult for content creators to make their mark on vastly diversifying audiences.

The music industry has seen a seismic shift in its business model thanks to the advent of online streaming services like Spotify and iTunes - and a steep decline in sales. The advent of Napster - and all streaming trend that followed - saw total revenue from U.S. music sales and licensing drop from $15 billion in 1998 to $6.3 billion in 2009.

Today's biggest musical acts have refocused on touring as the main way to keep the coffers full - Ed Sheeran's £4 royalty cheque from Spotify notwithstanding - so where does that leave his label bosses?

Through making canny licensing deals and having a hand in the creative output, record labels can rely on their sister companies in film, TV and even video games to influence the zeitgeist. This influence in turn is felt everywhere from nightclubs to TV adverts.

By using hit songs from world-famous artists they can make viewers' or listeners' experience better than ever before, by pairing it with memorable moments outside of music's natural sphere.

Music in sport

So much of sport's world-beating appeal is linked to making emotional connections with fans. It's hardly surprising, then, that broadcasters and event organisers use music to heighten the experience.

The BBC made an unusual choice of 'Nessun Dorma', from Puccini's Turandot, to accompany its 1990 World Cup coverage. But the striking contrast of sporting triumph and tragedy backed by Pavarotti's stirring performance made it a hit. No doubt helped along the way by the patriotic pride viewers felt as England made it to the semi-final, 'Nessun Dorma' reached Number 2 in the UK charts, and both football and opera made a cultural comeback during a dark time for the former.

When Merseybeat musicians Gerry and the Pacemakers scored a hit with a song from Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel, the city of Liverpool - and Liverpool FC fans in particular - related to the song's message of strength in unity. And so when You'll Never Walk Alone first played from Anfield's tannoy system in 1963, fans sang loud and proud - and the song has stuck with them ever since.

Other teams to adopt their own theme tunes include the legendary Harlem Globetrotters with Sweet Georgia Brown, and the Seattle Seahawks NFL team. The Seahawks made the slightly left-field choice of The Verve's Bittersweet Symphony as the music played at various moments during home games - possibly in tribute to the people-bumping antics employed by both the team's defensive line and Verve vocalist Richard Ashcroft.

Music in video games

Away from the pitch and into the living room, video games have increasingly used the work of famous artists as integral parts of the plot and gameplay. In search of a suitably cinematic soundtrack to match their movie-like story, Rockstar Games approached Edgar Froese, founder of the legendary progressive rock band Tangerine Dream, to score Grand Theft Auto V. Froese had previously overseen movie soundtracks including Risky Business and William Friedkin's Sorceror, so his talent was a natural fit for the retro stylings of the next entry in the GTA juggernaut.

Not to mention the games which have music as a central focus. The Guitar Hero series, in which the living room becomes centre stage for players to live out their rock god fantasies, was a huge success for publishers Activision.

  • Total sales of Guitar Hero games? $1 billion in North America in 26 months

  • In units and dollars, Guitar Hero III was the number one title in 2007

  • Since 2005, the series has sold 14 million units

  • In 10 weeks, gamers have downloaded five million songs for Guitar Hero 3

(Data from, January 2008)

Another area in which music is used to great effect is in the world of online slots. With their popularity spanning generations and different tastes, one thing that everyone shares is a desire to play the sort of games that appeal to their interests. For music fans this can mean searching out games which can reward successful play with a snatch of the music that they enjoy the most. Wink Slots feature games based on everyone from Michael Jackson to Elvis, making their slots a huge hit with music fans.

This works well for both sides - slots players get to hear the sounds they enjoy the most, and record companies and publishing houses enjoy a good source of revenue in terms of music royalties.

The soundtrack of success

But no examination of how the worlds of entertainment and music come together would be complete without discussing the close links between the movie business and the songs that can play such an important part in a film's success. On the most obvious level there are movies like Mamma Mia which use some of the world's best-loved songs as an integral part of the plot. But there are those like The Bodyguard that become known, above even the film itself, for its use or debut of one particular song.

Another, more surprising, area of the film industry that relies heavily on music to boost its profits is the world of the movie trailer. These snappy previews of coming attractions are becoming art forms in themselves, with a distinct look and feel that captures the viewer and secures their seat at a future screening. Trailers use music that's often composed specifically for the trailer, or else used as a shorthand for the general vibe of the film. Because of the nature of the trailer - a advertisement to try to encourage people to see the film generally using footage that has already been shot for the movie itself - there is a reluctance to pay big money for the music. But there are a number of composers out there who are happy to write to order in a particular style or genre - and even companies who exist for the sole purpose of soundtracking trailers.

So there's no doubt that the links between music and entertainment are strong, and getting stronger, and this is being further reinforced by the creation of multimedia companies like Sony Entertainment with divisions covering everything we've discussed here. And, with the increasing globalisation of the modern world, it's a trend that we can only expect to increase.

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