Twist, pop, Ahhhhhhhh.
When craving a sweet and refreshing Snapple, all that stands in your way is a simple twist of the top and a most satisfying pop. While most bottles are encumbered by plastic around their lids, Snapple has done away with the pesky packaging their competitors find necessary. Why can they do this? It’s because their iconic pop instantly communicates freshness, inciting a Pavlovian response of satisfaction over the imminent hydration.
Sound plays a powerful and pervasive role in our interpretation of freshness, temperature and taste. All of which factor into the individual choices we make about our food and drink. To explore the role of sound in our lives and its potential role in supporting a culture of health, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation participated in a Man Made Music HIVE Session™ — a three hour think tank for creative ideation sharing and sonic exploration. Throughout our wide-ranging discussion that examined areas such as sleep, mental wellness, childhood fitness, and alarm fatigue – one area of intrigue was the role of sound in the choices we make around food.
Founder of Man Made Music, Joel Beckerman, explored this concept in his book The Sonic Boom: How Sound Transforms the Way We Think, Feel, and Buy, which begins with a classic example of the role of sound and how we perceive taste. The Chili’s restaurant franchise is famous for their fajitas, and rightfully so. But did you know that at any given moment, Chili’s is cooking up far more fajitas orders in the kitchen than required? That’s because each time the kitchen door swings open and the sound of sizzling meat escapes into the restaurant floor, patrons take notice — and orders for the spicy dish soar. Beckerman also touches on the implications of sound in how a food product is packaged. In 2010, Frito-Lay debuted a 100% biodegradable bag for SunChips, which ended up being an epic flop. The material of the bag caused it to be so loud it was featured on CBS cutting through the shrieks of trains on a New York City subway platform. A Facebook group called “Sorry But I Can’t Hear You Over This SunChips Bag” sprang up with over forty-four thousand followers. SunChips sales dropped every month until Frito-Lay scrapped the design. The sound alone had driven customers away from a once beloved product.
How could we use our knowledge about the influence of sound on perception to help make the healthy choice the easy choice for young children? How could we use sound to alter perception of taste or of an experience to facilitate healthy eating habits? After brainstorming, four key areas of opportunity rose to the forefront:
1. Sonify the Everyday to Bring Delight
If sound can act as a positive reinforcement tool for children, use it to create moments of delight in everyday interactions. Vending machines could be altered to give encouraging sonic cues when children made healthier selections. Musical water fountains could encourage and remind students to drink water, gamifying what might otherwise be a forgetful part of the day.
2. Sound Affects Gaze
A study that aired recently on NPR discussed the involvement of sound in directing focus and attention. While it is often shown that people will fill their plates with the first thing they see, it is sound that directs even those cursory glances. Imagine if a school cafeteria leveraged this tool to highlight different dishes for students. By strategically considering not only where food items are placed, but highlighting the healthiest options with interesting and engaging sound, kids could be compelled to fill their plates up with nutritious veggies first, before moving onto less desirable options.
3. Consider the Restaurant Model
Restaurants play close attention to the music they play in their establishments, understanding the strong connection that forms between music and any dining experience. Playing music that is complementary to the restaurant environment has been proven to increase linger time and subsequently purchases. However, schools and public spaces don’t consider music in the same way. What is we applied this same logic to a cafeteria? Or to a classroom during snack time? Parents could also implement this at home, crafting strong positive bonds between music and mealtimes that could have lasting implications for a child’s eating habits.
4. Start a Packaging Revolution
More often than not, the unhealthiest options have the flashiest packaging. How can we start a packaging revolution using sound that would make healthier choices more appealing to eat and drink? Can healthier brands leverage preexisting positive associations between sound and freshness, such as the crunch of an apple, to preemptively engage children before the child has even taken a sip or a bite.
Sound and music are powerful stimulus that connect with the brain instantaneously. Sonic cues have great potential to create lasting associations and positive connections. What are your ideas for how the power of sound could help make the healthy choice the easy choice? Feel free to share your thoughts below.
A million congratulations to Joel Beckerman for being elected as a new writer member to ASCAP’s Board of Directors.
“ASCAP is the only member-run US performing rights organization, with a Board made up solely of writers and publishers,” said ASCAP President and Chairman of the Board Paul Williams. “In tackling the challenges of today’s music creators, the ASCAP Board of Directors takes its responsibility very seriously. We welcome Joel Beckerman and Rudy Pérez to the Board and know that we can rely on their individual knowledge and experiences as we work together to build a stronger, more secure future for ASCAP members.”
Beckerman said, “It’s an honor to be named by my colleagues to the ASCAP Board. I’m excited to join the team to help accelerate the important work that is being done to build an even brighter future for music creators, publishers and our audiences.”
Check out Kristina Monllos’ feature on Joel Beckerman for Adweek. Here’s an excerpt:
Take the indoor theme park experiences that Beckerman scored for Cartoon Network or the sonic brand identity and “soundtrack of ‘safety’” he developed for a global car manufacturer’s new electric vehicle. “The connected world of consumer products we live in … has pushed us into so many exciting new territories,” Beckerman explained. “And sound is the red thread that ties all these experiences together.”
Man Made Music and EccoVR are looking for a highly motivated Audio Programmer to join our freelance VR / AR audio team. You must be self-driven and able to champion audio-related features from conceptualization to completion.
• Work alongside EccoVR sound designers & client game programmers to integrate sound & music into upcoming VR & AR projects
• Advise on out how to use existing technology to achieve new and unique audio features for spatial sound
• A strong interest in audio processing and creating awesome VR experiences with best-in-class audio implementation
• At least 2 years of professional programming experience
• Ability to work independently and efficiently under deadlines
• Proficiency in C/C++ and Microsoft Visual Studio
• Strong communication and teamwork skills
• Experience with Wwise Middleware
• Experience working with Unreal Engine 4 & Unity
• Experience with 3D audio SDK’s such as FB360 (.TBE), Steam VR (Phonon), Oculus Audio
• Familiarity with mixing, sample rates, data compression filters, reverbs, etc.
• Experience implementing and mixing for 3D spatialized audio and interactive environments, including ambisonic audio tracks
• Experience/interest in making custom abstract behavior and/or interactive music systems
Let us know! Interested parties, please send resumes to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our studio is seeking freelance strategists!
We’re looking for people to inspire and push client thinking around branding, culture and trends in innovative and impactful ways.
– Excited to stretch your thinking and understand what makes audiences tick?
– Have at least 2 years of strategy experience?
– Want the flexibility of working on a project-to-project basis?
Man Made Music unlocks the power of sound for entertainment, brands and people, but it all starts with a strategic eye on culture, technology, and audiences. These learnings influence how we position our clients to show up in the world, providing a framework that will support translating existing brand strategy into an actionable and one-of-a-kind music and sound identity. From theme parks to television themes, automobiles to streaming platforms — each challenge is dynamic and different.
Let us know! Send resumes and notes to: email@example.com with “Look Here!” as the subject.
Will Burns interviewed Joel Beckerman for Forbes about sonic branding. Check out an excerpt below:
The musical truth is that we must create identities as emotional stories, but also modular constructions. It’s somewhat similar to film scores where a tiny phrase or iconic sound can act as a memory trigger which is also an emotional trigger that can exist in a tiny time frame—sometimes as small as two seconds. And we are constantly reinventing our process of getting there for every different project. It’s challenging but very satisfying when we get it right!
This week, Man Made Music is making an appearance at C2 Montréal — and in true MMM fashion, we went all in for this experience.
Founder Joel Beckerman will be giving a fireside chat — an experiential, sound-driven exploration of space, death, stillness and memory in the big top on the first day of the conference. Joel will explore these personal stories by combining performance and presentation, illustrating how sound scores every moment of our lives. This was of course a big team effort — notably, the work of MMM sound designer, editor, and composer Alex Siesse, whose original sound and music brings every moment of the performance to life.
We don’t stop there! Man Made Music will also be leading a masterclass, The Surprising Way to Rev Your Brand’s Emotional Engine, on driving creativity and business impact through the strategic use of sound. Participants in the masterclass will unlock a brand’s potential through the MMM process of building an emotional brief, learning to create a common sensory language, and how to bring emotion to the forefront of every project.
MMM’s own work will also be audible throughout the conference. To further enhance the theme of Ecosystems for C2 Montréal, we developed five cinematic soundscapes to play between sessions in the big top throughout the conference. These immersive takeover moments interpret the theme of Ecosystems in a surprising and powerful way. Exploring Marketing, Entertainment, Talent, Cities and Moonshots through the power of sound and tapping into the collective subconscious of what these systems sound like beneath the surface. There are gentle and fluid visuals to highlight the soundscapes, generated from the frequencies of the pieces composed by Man Made Music’s Creative Director, VR and Technology, Joel Douek.
See Dr. Manny Alvarez’s interview with Joel Beckerman on Fox Extra below.
Check out the comprehensive biography of our studio, MIX Magazine’s cover feature this month.
Though Beckerman had already been growing Man Made for more than 10 years at that point, he changed direction, taking his cue from an inspiring project. “I had worked on Anthony Bourdain’s [Travel Channel program] No Reservations. For that, there was time and budget to bring in artists like the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, and we produced them to create the show theme, while we created episodic themes and underscores for each episode. Each episode for that show was like a little movie, and we used music and sound to make it feel like a movie score. They also needed indigenous music from different countries around the world, and we didn’t want to fake that…
Man Made Music partnered with ustwo to brainstorm what electric vehicles of the future might sound like. Thanks to Wired for the feature!
The trick, says Man Made founder Joel Beckerman, lies in creating a sound distinctive for people to recognize but not ignore. (This is the problem with car alarms—no one even pays attention to them.) The sound can’t be too melodic, either, because that does not convey urgency. “We want a sound that elicits the quickest reaction time,” Beckman says.