Some people watch it for the half-time show, some actually care about the score and others are only interested in the monstrous spread of snacks, but everyone remembers their favorite Super Bowl commercials come Monday. I can already tell the “Debbie Downer” / heartstring-tugging trend of last year has been flipped into a stereotype-defying / “You do you!” positive storyline.

Whether or not you know who played and won the game in 1995, most people can still recall the “Bud-Wei-Ser” frogs’ first croaks. In 2011, hearts were captured and nostalgia was ignited by Volkswagen’s tiny Darth Vader backed by the iconic Star Wars score in “The Force.” Super Bowl 50 promises to continue this tradition of heavy-hitting ads with staying power.

What do previous champion commercials and favorites already leaked in anticipation of this Sunday’s game all have in common? The power of sound amplifies or performs the unexpected with our emotions. Hear for yourself.

MUSIC SUPERVISION

At Man Made Music, we know the right song at the right moment can make an ad you might put on mute into one that makes you lean in for more. Audiences attach their own history to popular songs and it can be fun to play with that attachment in interesting ways. Music Supervision is another form of storytelling and the selections below are elevated by their song choices—and unique uses thereof.

Best Use of Existing Song (no lyrics)

“Diamond Hoo Ha Man” by Supergrass in AXE brand’s “Find Your Magic”


The now-split British rockers provide the thumping soundtrack full of guitar licks, drum beats and bass grooves to amplify the “do your own thing” rallying cry of this anthem. This type of progressive, body-positive message is rarely aimed at men, but with the help of a driving, celebratory track even women can’t help but feel confident to do their own thing too.

Most Unexpected Use of Existing Song

“Runnin’ With the Devil” by Van Halen in 2017 Acura NSX “What He Said”


“Oh!…Yea-Yeah!” Why add copy when the music supervision speaks for itself? This clever spot for the 2017 Acura NSX oozes cool by letting David Lee Roth of Van Halen do all the talking, er… singing… I mean… screeching? As the car drives out of frame, perfectly-placed sound design dials up the car’s revving engine and squealing tires, leaving you begging for more—or at least a ride.

Best Reimagining of an Existing Song

“Kiss From A Rose” by Seal in the NFL’s “Super Bowl Babies Choir”


You may think you’ve heard this song before, but listen closely. The reimagined lyrics are a playful and uplifting ode to intimate celebrations that happen in winning cities around every Super Bowl victory. The surprise cameo by Seal himself adds humor and delight, making this ad the perfect one to share with fellow fans and Super Bowl babies. Missed opportunity? Subtitles so those at home can sing along, too!

SOUND DESIGN

Things aren’t always what they seem. By playing with sound, amplifying what’s there or even what’s not, a visceral and compelling reaction results. Our test for adding sound to any experience is to ask, “If it were removed, would you miss it?” In these key spots the answer is yes!

Best Use of Sound Creating Surprise

Snickers – “Happy Birthday”


You’ve never seen—or heard—Marilyn Monroe like this. The set-up plays on our pop culture understanding of that historical moment, most notably the sexy and soothing way the blonde icon sounds as she gives her best wishes, and then turns it on its head. Remember, “You’re not you when you’re hungry.” Get this girl a candy bar!

Best Use of Sound Creating Atmosphere

Persil ProClean — “The Professional”


The teaser is only ten seconds, but the purposeful use of foley sound design packs a big punch. From footsteps down a concrete hallway to the booming of lights illuminating shelves of product, the viewer is immediately transported underground into the depths of a hidden bunker—right next to “The Professional.”

Whether you are rooting for the Panthers or hoping Peyton Manning and the Broncos get the ‘W’ this year, everyone wins when the commercial breaks keep us guessing with clever, entertaining and exciting content. Now that you’ve heard our favorite contenders for top Super Bowl 50 ads, what are yours?

This article was originally published on brandchannel on February 5, 2016.


Kristen Lueck is Senior Strategist, Culture and Innovation at Man Made Music. Talk to her on Twitter @former_case and let her know which Super Bowl spot had your favorite use of music.

If you had to give up one of your five senses, which would it be and why?

It’s a question many of us have been asked when “breaking the ice” in group situations, but have you ever paused to consider the implications? Given the familiar line-up of sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste, I often choose hearing, not thinking much beyond the fact I’d still get to enjoy stunning photographs, good food, sweet flowers and warm hugs. Yet, no sense is an island and I failed to realize what impact my other senses would face without the ability to hear.

Sound and music are powerful tools that work in tandem with our senses to heighten experiences and trigger memories. While researchers and scientists are still conducting studies to find out the full implications of how senses are wired, I dived into some interesting tidbits that may surprise you – full resources at the bottom of the post for your perusing pleasure.

Sight

Even when sound is irrelevant to the task, it influences the way we see/perform in the world. This can be seen across numerous studies which looked at how hearing can alter visual perception.

  • In one study in particular, researchers were able to find that reaction time increased when a sound was heard. Participants were able to act more quickly in the right way, even if an irrelevant sound was present.
  • Another interesting tidbit has to do with a study where different music volumes were played while people drove a car, only to have their driving interrupted so their reaction time could be measured. All participants responded more quickly when the music played at a level that was comfortable to them than when played higher or lower than that threshold.
  • These types of findings can spill over into the sports world too. One study measured heart rate, affective responses and reaction times of athletes. It found that playing faster music put the athletes in a more aroused state, which could possibly improve performance. Their recommendation was that high-energy music played during a warm-up could bring athletes into a better performance state. Now you know that uptempo music at sporting events isn’t just to get the crowd going wild!

A tangible example of this idea involves the produce aisle “rainstorm” in the local supermarket. Even though the mist is manufactured, you perceive the produce as being more natural and fresh when it’s paired with the crack of thunder.

Touch

Sound can produce feeling sensations even when no touch is present.

An example is hearing the buzz of a mosquito as it flies near – our skin instantly prickles. A phenomena that happens when the frequency of the sound matches the frequency of the vibration on your skin.

Smell

Studies have shown cross-modal correspondence between smell and sound as well as new studies reveal that what you perceive as an odor can be altered by the noise you are hearing at the time. Our Chief Engineer and Guru, Dennis Wall, wrote about his personal experience with the interaction between sound and smell.

An example is seen when participants in a study are asked to match a smell of a wine to its appropriate musical instrument or pitch. There were many consistencies, such as piano being paired with fruity, less complex scents and brass being paired with muskier, unpleasant scents.

    
    

Taste

Sound affects both perception of freshness and palatability. It can also influence perception of crunchiness, strength of sweetness and bitterness, or flavor enjoyment as a whole. Many studies have been done and continue to be done on exploring this forgotten “flavor sense” of sound.

  • House of Wolf, an experimental restaurant in London, collaborated with an artist to create a “sonic cake pop”. After ordering the dish, the patron would be given a chocolate-covered toffee treat and a phone number to dial. On the phone, they were given the option to select “one” for a sweet experience (high-pitch tones) or “two” for a bitter one (low-pitch tones). The restaurant recounts that there was a 5-10% change in taste due to the soundscapes.
  • In a study on beverages, carbonated drinks were given better ratings when the sound of bubbles popping became louder and more frequent.
  • Background music can also play a role in how you experience dining out. What’s the best way to enjoy your food? Anything but no music – that’s when diners rated the experience the worst. With quiet classical music and a dash of background noise that was heard at a comfortable volume, people enjoyed their meals most. Anything outside of that was rated as not good food.
  • Our Founder and Lead Composer, Joel Beckerman, wrote an article about sound’s powerful influence on our perception of food and dining.

An example of how the specific tone and instrumentation of music affects your palette is British Airways and their “Sound Bite” menu offered on select flights. By pairing a curated playlist and specially selected food, flyers could experience how their tastebuds reacted to different flavors by enhancing sweetness for example, while listening to music. You can experience this yourself if you have coffee or chocolate handy! Give a listen to the video below and see what you think (or taste).

As multi-sensory scenarios redefine the norm for what people expect in retail, spaces and more, knowing how the senses interact can heighten user engagement and enhance overall love of the brand or network. Now that you know all the implications of sensory interaction, which sense would you choose to give up? How might you shape your own environment to create ideal sensory experiences?


Kristen Lueck is Strategist, Culture and Innovation at Man Made Music. Talk to her on Twitter @former_case and let her know which sense you would give up.



Additional Resources
Sight
McDonald JJ, Teder-Salejarvi WA, Hillyard SA; Involuntary orienting to sound improves visual perception. Nature. 2000:407:906-908
Shams L, Kim R. Crossmodal influences on visual perception. Physics of Life Reviews (2010), doi:10.1016/j.plrev.2010.04.006
Turner ML, Fernandez JE, Nelson K. The effect of music amplitude on the reaction to unexpected visual events. J Gen Psychol. 1996 Jan;123(1):51-62
Bishop, Daniel T. , and Costas I Karageorghis. Effects of Musically-Induced Emotions on Choice Reaction Time Performance. The Sport Psychologist 23, no. 1 (March 2009): 59-76

Touch
Sound enhances touch perception, Tony Ro et al., Experimental Brain Research Volume 195, Number 1, 135-143, DOI: 10.1007/s00221-009-1759-8
http://www.wired.com/2011/05/hearing-touch-synesthesia/
https://muhc.ca/newsroom/news/see-no-shape-touch-no-shape-hear-shape

Smell
http://www.theguardian.com/science/2012/oct/22/sound-and-smell-create-harmony
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/making-scents-of-sounds-n/

Taste
A.T. Woods, E. Poliakoff, D.M. Lloyd, J. Kuenzel, R. Hodson, H. Gonda, J. Batchelor, G.B. Dijksterhuis, A. Thomas. Effect of background noise on food perceptionFood Quality and Preference, Volume 22, Issue 1, January 2011, Pages 42-47
Crisinel AS, Spence C. As bitter as a trombone: synesthetic correspondences in nonsynesthetes between tastes/flavors and musical notes. Atten Percept Psychophys. 2010 Oct;72(7):1994-2002. doi: 10.3758/APP.72.7.1994. PubMed PMID: 20952795
http://cal.spoonuniversity.com/live/sound-affects-food-taste/
http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/food-matters/the-sound-and-taste-of-music/
http://time.com/3759953/sound-flavor-taste/
Novak, C., La Lopa, J., & Novak, R. (2010). Effects of Sound Pressure Levels and Sensitivity to Noise on Mood and Behavioral Intent in a Controlled Fine Dining Restaurant Environment Journal of Culinary Science & Technology, 8(4), 191-218 DOI: 10.1080/15428052.2010.535756

 

This June in Los Angeles, PromaxBDA will once again present “The Conference” – a unique gathering of industry professionals to discuss innovative insights and ideas for excelling in the entertainment field. Man Made Music has been in attendance for many years (nominated again this year for “FX Has The Movies 2014”) – and below we wanted to share some panel highlights we look forward to.

…And don’t miss our very own Joel Beckerman, discussing the Inescapable Influence of Sound on June 11! During the interactive discussion, he’ll give a peek into 7 Principles of Sound Design – and how our visceral reaction to sound and music can be used to transform our businesses and ourselves.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

11:45am
Hot Topics Roulette: Your Q’s, Our A’s
From “native advertising” and “snackable content” to “big data” and “programmatic,” there’s a slew of newly coined terms being thrown around in meetings, industry blogs and boardrooms. With the spin of a virtual wheel, we’ll choose topics at random and our panel of six industry leaders will have five minutes to hash it out. Join us for a fast-paced, fun and informative session that will arm you with an arsenal of new terminology to add to your lexicon.

Moderator:
Frank Radice, Expert in Residence, Definition 6

Speakers:
Linda Ong, CEO, TruthCo.
Alan Cohen, Co-Founder, Giant Spoon
Jim O’Donnell, VP, West Coast Advertising Sales & Ad Sales Operations, Hulu
Jesse Redniss, Co-Founder, BRaVe Ventures

12:45pm
Freaky Friday: Pitch Therapy

Speakers:
Danixa Diaz, Executive Producer, Oishii Creative
Niels Schuurmans, EVP, Viacom Velocity Creative Content Solutions
Scott Edwards, SVP, On-Air Promotions and Operations, Fox Broadcasting Company
Brian Patacca, Founder, Life & Career Coach, Actor Salon
Brett Richards, Creative Director, Brokendoll

4:45pm
Episodic and More: Tools for Transforming Weak Assets into Strong Spots
We’ve all been there: Trying to build great creative for multiple audiences from limited, poor assets-or no material at all! From voice-over and graphics to sound design and music to the cut itself, learn to use storytelling tools to turn even the most restricted resources into great promos. Innovate your episodic every time!

Speakers:
Jonathan Davis, VP, Brand Creative, A&E Network
Melissa L. King, Executive Creative Director, Drama, Movies & Specials, ABC Entertainment Marketing

4:45pm
Shark Week: Creating a Pop Phenomenon

Moderator:
Lara Richardson, SVP Marketing, Discovery Channel

Speakers:
Conal Byrne, SVP, Digital Media – TV Networks, Discovery Communications
Josh Kovolenko, VP, Marketing Strategy, Discovery Communications
Jennifer Pennybacker, VP, Branded Entertainment, Discovery Communications
Peter McKeon, Creative Director, AV Squad


Thursday, June 11, 2015

9:00am
The Inescapable Influence of Sound
Whether you realize it or not, every single moment of your life is scored by sound. It’s constantly there guiding your choices, changing your mood in an instant, and making and breaking emotional connections. From sizzling fajitas to Kim K’s vocal inflection- from the sound of products and movies you love, to national anthems and forging movements- sound can and has literally changed the world.

Speaker:
Joel Beckerman, Founder/Lead Composer, Man Made Music

12:15pm
Transforming Brands Into Meaningful Human Experiences
There are no real boundaries between digital marketing, design, content, advertising, retail design and other disciplines. The distinctions are artificial. For the consumer, almost every moment in their day-to-day life involves an interaction with a brand, and all are equally important. Every touch point must be carefully created to provide a rich, consistent and integrated experience in order to transform a brand into a growth driver. In this session, speaker Will Travis explores this philosophy and explains how to cultivate radical collaboration by continually tearing down the barriers that creep up between disciplines.

Speaker:
Will Travis, CEO & Global Senior Partner, Sid Lee USA

2:30pm
Simpsons FXX
Every. Episode. Ever. A new channel that’s barely out of the gate. An application that doesn’t exist yet. And every episode ever created from one of the most ubiquitous entertainment brands on the planet. Take a look behind the yellow curtain at how the strategic and creative efforts aligned for the record-breaking entertainment event that became the launch of Simpsons World on FXX and FXNow.

Speakers:
Ethan Adelman, VP, On-Air Promotions at FXX, FX Networks
Sally Daws, SVP, FX Marketing & Digital Media Marketing
Stephanie Gibbons, President, Marketing, Digital Media Marketing & On-Air Promotions, FX Networks
John Varvi, SVP, On-AIr Promotions, FX Networks
Jason Phipps, VP, Digital Media Marketing, FX Networks
Steve Viola, SVP, Broadcast Design, FX Networks
Brett Ashy, President, The Ashy Agency

2:30pm
Charting Your Career: Building a Portfolio of Transferable Skills
From high performing to high potential, linear to non-linear, network to digital to consumer branding … the range of career opportunity is expanding-as long as you stay current and keep your eye on the future. The most successful professionals see beyond the bend before many even realize there is a curve in the road. In this session, learn how to develop a growing set of skills that you can transfer to another sector or industry. Don’t wait until you need a job to prepare for your next career move.

Speaker:
Tina Potter, Head of Marketing and Communications, NBCU Digital/Radius
Kathy Dailey, Strategic Consultant & Executive Coach, Dailey & Company
Jennie Morris, EVP, Acquisitions, Research and Network Operation, Pivot

3:30pm
Fixing the Planet: Designing & Marketing the 2015 UN Sustainable Development Goals
If your job as a creative is to bring an experience to as many people in your target audience as possible, and you do this by studying and understanding their habits, how do you go about telling everybody that they now should change all those habits? The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals is working to end poverty, hunger and discrimination, improve health and education, making cities more sustainable, combating climate change and protecting oceans and forests. The stakes are high and the marketing will to a large degree determine the destiny of the goals. So what is the Nielsen rating for 7 billion people?

Speaker:
Jakob Trollbäck, Founder & CCO, Trollbäck + Company


Kristen Lueck is Strategist, Culture and Innovation at Man Made Music. Talk to her on Twitter @former_case.

The way sound affects us is largely unconscious. That’s the way we’re built. But this often means we skirt over its importance, and take it for granted. Perhaps nowhere is this more critical than in the health sector, where every new biomedical device proudly sounds an alarm with the slightest deviation from a norm. On its own this can alert medical staff to respond and potentially save a life. But what happens when a Ventilator, a Cardiac Monitor, IV Alarm, Bed Exit Alarm, all sound at the same time from feasibly 40 patients across an average ER or General Ward? What if these sounds change from one manufacturer’s device to another, from one hospital to another, and fail to interact in any useful way to bring attention to the problem with the highest priority?

How can this or any experience of sound, well, sound better? It’s an ongoing question and a foundational pillar of thought at Man Made Music. We want to transform life experiences. When considering where the careful curation of sonic could make the biggest impact, hospitals – and the healthcare space in general – is high on our list. This past April, while invited to participate in an MIT Health Hackathon event in New York, my colleagues and I were able to bring a discussion of hospital “alarm fatigue” to the forefront – an issue caused by severe “sonic trash”.

Hack Overview

The MIT Hack Health weekend event was a collaboration between Cornell University and MIT. Students from those universities (and others including Harvard) broke into teams to tackle a problem they saw in the current healthcare system. Many were prompted to action by an array of engaging speakers throughout the schedule (including Pfizer, Flatiron Health, Accenture and more). Students were encouraged to combine forces – between their skills as engineers, programmers, physicians and biomedical engineering students – to design ways of “hacking” the system to make it better, safer and more intuitive for everyone. The end goal was to form a short pitch for a product or idea that could disrupt the current model. Winners were chosen from across the 16+ entrants by industry judges, with top prizes going to those who had executable ideas that could one day be accomplished.

mit_3

Sounding Off On Healthcare

As an invited keynote speaker, our Founder and Lead Composer Joel Beckerman brought to light critical problems in healthcare that related to sound and music, as well as possible ways to alleviate them. Topics included alarm fatigue, sonification of data, sonic in mobile healthcare and sonic curation for patients. Most important from the talk was the foundation set around Sonic Design Truths. We wanted to instill the audience with key tools and understanding as they began to develop innovative solutions.

5 Sonic Design Truths

  1. You hear sound before any other sense registers.
  2. You can only register the meaning and intent of a limited number of sounds at one time.
  3. Sonic provides emotional context for every communication.
  4. Sound opportunities exist both inside and outside the human vocal range.
  5. Silence is sonic design white space.

The Problem With Alarm Fatigue

When you hear a car alarm, do you immediately call the police? Probably not. The urgent story that sound is telling is for the most part widely ignored. We have grown so accustomed to associating that sound with a non-emergency situation that we no longer react the way we were meant to. A modern day “Boy Who Cried Wolf”. There’s a similar problem happening in hospitals – with all the beeps, bells and buzzes nurses and doctors filter through every day in the ICU – many of which are not as life-threatening as they lead you to believe when caused accidentally over and over again.

mit_2

One group of students from the MIT hack felt strongly about this issue and decided to tackle it over the 48 hours. With the help of my Man Made co-mentor Joel Douek, we provided counsel and mentorship to help elevate the team’s individual areas of expertise. The team, which consisted of Andrew Ottaway (Anesthetist, Masters of Public Health, Harvard), Kimmi Schonhorst (Biomedical Engineering Student, Cornell University), and Alice Grace Wong (Biomedical Engineering Student, Cornell Student) outlined current statistics and an interesting solution.

A Possible Solution

If medical devices were “smart”, perhaps that’s one way of addressing the issue. Modules could be placed on existing devices to allow them to all talk with one another, relaying important real-time information on the patient and with the help of an algorithm, deciding whether an alarm is really urgent after all. Key mentors from Accenture also helped the team outline how a tech center (called a PBX) would be vital to allowing this algorithm to function – and connect with other devices, such as a mobile phone, computer or nurse hub, to release a visual or audio output.

Now that a device could register whether or not an alarm was non-urgent or urgent, the sonic cues used could be consolidated and remain meaningful. For example, there could be a hierarchy of criticality. The lowest tier would be non-critical and no sonic cue would be an output – instead it would be a visual cue. The middle tier would be of variable criticality and an audible output would be sent to the corresponding care provider devices. The highest tier would be for maximum urgency and an audible output would also be sent, but created in such a way that you would intuitively know it is urgent and respond accordingly. Improved quality of care, improved efficiency, cost savings and a bank of data analytics would only be some of the benefits of turning devices “smart” and consolidating their alarm systems through a PBX.

The Future

We hope to continue the conversation this Health Hackathon has started. By working with hospitals, healthcare technology foundations and manufacturers – we believe alarm fatigue is a problem that can be eradicated in our lifetime.

Additional Resources
“How Sound Could Fix the Most Alarming Problem with Health Care” by Joel Beckerman
Slideshare from MIT Hack Health Event by Joel Beckerman
Official Website for MIT Health Hackathon Event


Kristen Lueck is Strategist, Culture and Innovation at Man Made Music. Talk to her on Twitter @former_case.

Image courtesy of @wenyuzou

You’re in the business of creating digital experiences and you want people to fall in love with them.

Earlier this week during SXSW Interactive 2015, the industry’s top thought leaders gathered to discover great insights that you should be aware of – so you can create engagement that moves audiences.

Speaking of moving audiences, the panel was interactive, allowing attendees to vote on the brands they “love”, “like” and “leave” by raising colored notecards at the appropriate times. From Uber to Instagram, there was a lively discussion on what digital experiences struck a chord.

We Are Already Digital Humans

Just think of all the tech you can’t live without – that fosters human connection and brings a digital edge to the physical world.

Founder and Lead Composer of Man Made Music, Joel Beckerman, moderated an engaging panel discussion with Google’s Head of Strategic Planning, Abigail Posner, Experience Innovation Director of Lippincott, Randall Stone, and YouTube star / We The Kings bassist Charles Trippy. The discussion heavily focused on “Like It”, “Love It” or “Leave It” human / digital interactions – with some surprising results! There is one thing they agreed on – that the most amazing digital experiences –

  • Give superpowers
  • Unleash deep emotions
  • Extend the rush
  • Inspire more creativity
  • Are a force for change
  • Make you more you
  • Are invisible

IMG_0542

Collaboration Is Key

Charles Trippy is the embodiment of the Humanizing Digital concept. By opening the door to his daily life through digital platforms, he has amassed a rapidly growing community of fans who share and take part in his daily life. This was most evident when Charles underwent two brain surgeries, the second of which he was able to record and post for his fans to discuss and share. The vulnerability and authenticity with his fans, allows for a community that can relate to one another, mobilize quickly and collaborate to interact.

The collaboration concept was a thread throughout the discussion. One of Abigail Posner’s favorite and most seamless digital experiences is Google Docs. She notes that technology that has lasted, and not just the latest product to launch, is key to figuring out how to make something people will love. “The ones who get it right stand the test of time and allow us to express and amplify our true selves.” Randall Stone agrees and adds, “crowdsourcing will solve problems in the future.”

IMG_0541

The Ones Who Got It Right

Some of the most loved human/digital experiences are the ones that allow us to simply have more time with real humans. Uber is a more “loved” than “liked” experience that is beneficial for both the passenger and the driver. By taking the transactional element out of the equation (in the sense that it happens before you get in the car) – it allows for more real interaction. The time once used to find your wallet and make a business transaction is now filled with conversation and a thank you as you exit.

The experience also can “surprise and delight” as Randall puts it, such as the Resy app, which secures hard to come by dinner reservations when you pay a premium. Instead of ending the experience there, the tech goes further – supplying ideas for off-the-menu items and not to miss food as your reservation time gets closer, so you can extend the rush – impressing your friends and gaining the social currency of knowing exclusive information, so that your time together is better.

Netflix was another loved brand experience that changed the way people felt about consuming TV and movies. It humanized the experience, removing barriers to availability of content and allowing audiences to watch what they wanted when they wanted it. The seamless integration and aggregation was a force of change in the category – and that was another key for what made an experience stand out.

Social media channels, such as Instagram and Snapchat had an interesting generational split. While almost everyone “loved” Instagram – which Abigail credited as being due to everyone being a “visual poet” nowadays, there was barely any love in the room for Snapchat. This could be because teens are using Snapchat not as a means of expressing permanent feelings, but instead a testing ground for what works and doesn’t as they determine how to define themselves to their peers.

IMG_0540

The Ones Who Fell Out Of “Love”

Surprisingly, some experiences were the opposite of those listed above. While Spotify is great for the general public to consume music and discover new artists, it’s problematic for the musicians, in terms have how they get compensated. Even die hard fans of the music platform are beginning to be turned off by the ads. The experience is beginning to feel inauthentic and create barriers between fan and performer. Unless it keeps up with what the audience desires, it may soon make people “leave it”.

What about wearable tech, one of the most obvious ways that the physical human world intertwines with digital applications? While certain applications for wearable tech, such as the Apple Watch were loved (Dark Sky precipitation forecaster, for example) the device itself was a “leave it”. Abigail proposed that consumers have not yet been convinced wearable tech is as necessary or vital as the commercials would have you believe, especially for the price point.

While many seem to have gotten it right, there was one area that everyone agreed could use improvement. The panelists acknowledged that the healthcare sector has the largest opportunity for a digitized human experience, most notably the enrolling process. If empathy, mixed with a little intuitive design, could be implemented, it could facilitate healthier people. Some programs are already doing this – rewarding people for the changes they make in their life, which accelerates a healthy change.

The Future of Humanizing Digital

What does the future hold? If you want your digital experience to be relevant in five to ten years, you need to create long, meaningful relationships between the audience and the experience. Don’t forget the humans in the digital equation – using the technology to unleash human needs and desires that were there all along. Remember that digital experiences, like humans, are constantly moving forward – continuing to evolve and create better iterations, not stopping to slow down or move backward. Abigail Posner sums it up well, “The digital experiences that get it right are those that allow us to be real humans.”


Kristen Lueck is Strategist, Culture and Innovation at Man Made Music. Talk to her on Twitter @former_case.

Headed to Texas for cinematic masterpieces and to surround yourself with the best of the entertainment biz? Here are a few more events we feel are worth your time.

By the way, while you’re there, don’t miss hearing our founder Joel partner with Google, Lippincott and Charles Trippy to move forward the discussion on “Humanizing Digital” on Monday, March 16 as part of SXSW Interactive!

Saturday, March 14 – 5:00pm CT
A Conversation with Jimmy Kimmel
Jimmy Kimmel discusses his roles as host and executive producer of the popular late-night chat show Jimmy Kimmel Live in a rare, behind-the-scenes look at how he makes it in the “funny” business.
Hosted by Kevin Ryder (Kevin and Bean) and featuring Jimmy Kimmel (Jimmy Kimmel Live)

Sunday, March 15 – 4:10pm CT
Pixar’s LAVA: Telling a Story Through Song
How powerful is music when it comes to storytelling? What can be learned from the musical craft that can later be utilized in animation to create an impactful and emotional moment? All this and more will be explored in a short 10-minute presentation on the power of song in storytelling.
Featuring James Murphy (Pixar / LAVA)

Tuesday, March 17 – 11:00am CT
Data and Spoon Benders: Hacked Music and Design
This highly anticipated discussion will center on the next generation of rule breakers and artists who continue to redefine where design and music software overlap – whether that’s creating new music genres, developing new toys or creating art.
Featuring Michael Hendrix (IDEO)

Tuesday, March 17 – 3:30pm CT
Music as Personalized Medicine: Experiment at SXSW
What if sound and music had the power to reduce stress, lower blood pressure and cure depression? Science is saying that might not be too far a stretch! Join this live presentation that pilots a new technology and measures the impacts of music listening to your health.
Featuring Alexis Kopikis (The Sync Project), Jessica Grahn (Western University), Tristan Jehan (Spotify USA)

Thursday, March 19 – 2:00pm CT
The (Real) Market Value of a Music Placement
Using case studies, this insightful panel of successful music supervisors will discuss what makes a music supervision moment really “hit” – and how to determine the worth of a music use for film, TV and video games in the ever changing entertainment environment.
Featuring Antony Bland (CandyShop Management), Lysandra Woods (Third Side Music), Rebecca Rienks (E! Entertainment/NBCUniversal), Rochelle Holguin (Viacom/MTV Networks)

What do you think of the list? Looking for a conference buddy? Follow me at @former_case to get a peek of the action or to meet-up with some of the MMM team!


Kristen Lueck is Strategist, Culture and Innovation at Man Made Music. Talk to her on Twitter @former_case.

We hear you – there’s a lot to see and do at the much talked about yearly tech conference in Austin, Texas. If you only have five days, how do you know what’s a must or a bust? To help cut through the clutter, we highlighted the five best SXSW Interactive 2015 panels we feel are in line with our vision – of powerful, emotional, visceral storytelling and communication. Many of these speakers represent great partners we’ve worked with in the past – and of course, don’t miss hearing our founder Joel partner with Google, Lippincott and Charles Trippy to move forward the discussion on “Humanizing Digital” on Monday, March 16.

If you’re in town for a long weekend and only have an hour a day to spare, here are the top panels that we think will pique your interest!

Friday, March 13 – 5:00pm CT
Brands: Connective Tissue Between People and Tech
This dual discussion will explore what connects real people to the latest, amazing new technologies, with an emphasis on the marketers who help bring those innovations to the masses.
Featuring Nick Parish (Contagious) and James Kirkham (Leo Burnett)

Saturday, March 14 – 11:00am CT
Wearables and the Happiness Quotient
Everyone is striving for happiness, but how do wearables fit into the conversation? Learn how incredibly personal data can be used to help commute the “happiness algorithm” and what that means to outputting your best self. This event will fill up fast and requires advance RSVP.
Featuring Forest Young (Interbrand) and Gareth Price (Ready Set Rocket)

Sunday, March 15 – 11:00am CT
The Future of Storytelling: The Event
Explore the powerful relationship between narrator and audience. This panel will discuss how to increase audience engagement and ownership, using the latest social tools and technologies to create emotional connections through storytelling.
Featuring Aaron Koblin (Google), Ari Kuschnir (m ss ng p eces), Charles Melcher (Melcher Media, Future of Storytelling) and Yoni Bloch (Interlude)

Monday, March 16 – 12:30pm CT
Humanizing Digital: Finding Love in a World of Likes
Join us for a discussion rooted in love: How digital experiences can show empathy, how they anticipate human needs and what actually makes them human. Be inspired to create experiences people love and can’t live without.
Featuring Joel Beckerman (Man Made Music), Abigail Posner (Google), Charles Trippy (Internet Killed Television), Randall Stone (Lippincott)

Tuesday, March 17 – 12:30pm CT
Music Makes Movies with Randall Poster
Music Supervisors unite! This featured session will focus on the power of music in cinema – and how one of the most esteemed music supervisors of this generation uses his choice of soundtrack to change a movie scene from good to great.
Featuring Randall Poster (Search Party Music)

What do you think of the list? Looking for a conference buddy? Follow me at @former_case to get a peek of the action or to meet-up with some of the MMM team!


Kristen Lueck is Strategist, Culture and Innovation at Man Made Music. Talk to her on Twitter @former_case.

I don’t need to be a mind-reader to know that many of the resolutions put forth to better ourselves this year involve waistlines or wallets. If you think about it, most of the senses are accounted for – eating healthier (taste), exercising more (touch), traveling (sight), and slowing down to (smell) the roses. However, what about our sense of hearing?

Here are 5 resolutions to sonically curate 2015 and improve your life with the power of sound.

1. Reflect what works (and what doesn’t)
Take a day to reflect on what actually is getting passed through your ears. Consider a 24-hour audio journal to record and think on the sounds you hear in a day. From morning commute to evening chirps outside as you drift to sleep, take note of what was good, what was bad and how you can prolong or avoid those things in the future.

2. Throw out the sonic trash
Did you know sound can cause fatigue – and for those who live and work in urban settings that comes as no surprise. Recently, the Metropolitan Transit Authority finalized the process of removing alarms from all of the subway station emergency exits since they no longer served their purpose. The constant shrill cry of the alarm was an everyday occurrence, not a notification that needed attention as hundreds tried to find a faster way to exit and there was little enforcement to make them stop. In the same way, consider what is causing burnout in your own life (perhaps after consulting your audio journal) and see if there’s a way to correct it. It could be as easy as changing the tune on your alarm clock!

3. Explore a new path
Maybe there’s a sweet melody out there you don’t even know exists yet. Try taking a new route to work in the morning – you’ll immediately be extra aware of your surroundings as you acclimate to the new environment. Or maybe it’s as simple as turning a different corner on an afternoon walk. You can also take new digital paths – try a new streaming radio station where you can discover new music or online generators that showcase bands of the day – then actually give them a listen! Check out out some ways you can change your mood.

4. Immerse yourself in a live experience
Whether it’s a punk band in a tiny dive bar or a fancy evening out to a night at the opera, getting outside and into a venue can lead to a strong, visceral experience. The acoustics of the building, the amount of people inside and the speaker system being used will all influence how you experience the space. Take note and rock out. These experiences can raise our serotonin levels.

5. Create white space
Like graphic design, sound design can have white space too – that minimalistic area that brings a sense of calm and harmony in its emptiness or quiet. Don’t forget to allow room from time to time to allow for that balance.

Happy New Year!

Movies are captivating – a powerful tool that can transport you to any time, in any location, in any world. One way of achieving this completely immersive experience is the use of sound and music.

There is an interactive experience at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, NY that perfectly reflects this sentiment. Located within their “Behind the Screen” exhibition, guests can use utilize computer-based programs to learn how music selections behind famous scenes affect mood and tone. By selecting a snippet of a scene, for example the incoming alien invasion from the film “Independence Day”, you can choose from a curated list of music to score that moment with. While the original score was menacing, frightening and dialed-up anxiety and anticipation – a choice of lighter fare, such as “Yakety Sax” (The Benny Hill Show theme) will cause the scene to seem the opposite of serious and quite jovial – perhaps these invading species aren’t so bad after all.

Of course audience responses are designed to be most extreme for horror and thriller genres. In fact, the University of California did a study in 2010 to measure if composers were intentionally causing a panic by mimicking sounds made by creatures in distress and found that in fact yes, purposeful choices were being made to mimic sounds that would alarm us. Instinctually, within the most primitive parts of our brain, we are wired to have a fear response to these sounds. You can’t help but be afraid, even when you know it’s a movie and the biggest factor in this fear response is sound.

Amplifying the “sound” aspect of a soundtrack is also memorable to fans. In the infamous ten-minute chase scene in the 1968 film “Bullitt”, composer Lalo Schifrin reportedly refused to score it and instead insisted that the roaring engine and squealing tires were enough to highlight the drama as Steve McQueen raced through the streets – and he has been applauded for that different approach to composing by fans and critics alike.

What instance of using sound and music in movies has been most memorable for you?

“It’s raining, it’s pouring, the old man is…” listening to Elliott Smith?  What is it about rainy days that evoke sudden urges to be under an umbrella of melancholy sounds or within earshot of soft, longing vocals? An overcast sky can’t help but set the mood for an introspective look at my own life.

I think it’s something we all can’t help but experience, whether we realize it or not. For some, the idea of seasonal playlists preloaded on their iPods are a given – ready at the drop of a hat for the bright sunshine of “Summer Favorites” (upbeat, bright tunes to mimic the assumed brightness and energy of a summer sun) or the quiet nature of “Winter Blues” (minimalistic, drowsy tracks that drift as delicately as the snow). It’s a purposeful positioning; similar to the wine pairing you have at a fancy restaurant. One time I made the mistake of trying the wine that was presented with someone else’s meal – not good with what I was experiencing on my plate at all. In a similar way, Sigur Rós just does not feel as good in the middle of a Fourth of July parade – nor would Pitbull bring you the meaning of life during a dark thunderstorm (though, who am I to judge?)

This past Fall, Man Made Music worked on The Weather Channel’s Local on the 8s programming, which is a regionally specific weather report that airs every 10 minutes. As one of its most popular franchises, it was a unique opportunity to subtly weave a deeper emotional connection between viewers and the news they were viewing by selecting the right popular music track to play in the background. “Weather is personal as you plan your day,” said Joel Beckerman, our company’s founder and lead composer. “We wanted tracks that evoked the feel of weather you would experience that day. If you listen carefully the lyrics offer a wink to the information you are getting.”

Split among multiple categories of both weather-state and time-of-day, the music supervision strategy our team worked on allowed for popular music tracks to be filtered through a unique lens – that strategy would allow for the track selections to be continually refreshed, but at the same time be a complimentary soundtrack to the viewers weather experience throughout the day. For example, the type of energy a track exhibited during a thunderstorm in the evening would be noticeably different than that of a rain shower in the morning.

Nowadays, streaming music players allow us to take that same concept on the go. The music curating service Songza recently announced a partnership with The Weather Company, parent to The Weather Channel. By using real-time weather data, users will be presented with even more fine tuned options that fit their expected mood and anticipated activity – rain or shine.

As technology advances and becomes even more intertwined in our decision making, it won’t be long before the only degrees we use to measure the weather will be degrees of rhythm and melody.