Music Curation: Decoding the Brand

All major brands carefully craft their image; they spend millions of dollars on the interior design of their stores, merchandising, advertising, digital properties—anything and everything to shape the way shoppers experience and feel. Music is a powerful tool that evokes emotions and influences perception in both physical and digital spaces.

Successful companies realize how important it is to have a well-defined brand sound that reflects the characteristics and values of their business. The role of a music supervisor is to capture a brand’s essence in a playlist. This goes well beyond listening, researching, and experiencing as much new music as possible. The difference between a music supervisor and a music fan is the depth and breadth of music knowledge across all genres, marketing savvy, and a clear understanding of the customer. The most successful branded music programs are created by those who understand a client’s marketing strategy and the type of music most likely to attract the targeted demographics.

How do we get to know a brand and their target customers? Here are a few ways:

  • Reviewing the brand assets. Our first glimpse into a brand lies in the documentation about their architecture and audience: business goals, brand guidelines, buyer personas, look books, message maps, campaign calendars, and more. This info gives us a sense of their feel and voice, their audience, and what they’re trying to communicate.
  • Listening on social media. Social media is a great place to find a brand’s current customers, and review what this audience is saying, define their interests, and understand their demographics.
  • Visiting corporate offices. Typically, at the corporate offices, we’re able to get a deep dive into the company culture and values, as well as gain insight into some of the new projects they’re working on that may impact the music strategy.
  • Visiting physical locations. It’s important for us to understand the store layout, merchandising, décor, and the feel of the retail space so we can anticipate how the music will pair with the physical space.
  • Talking with employees. The employees of a company have amazing insights into their customers. Whether they work in a corporate office or are on a sales floor, we spend much of our time communicating with various members of the team.

And Then Comes Data

What else goes into aligning a music strategy with a brand? A mountain of data.

Every song that we program for a brand has been thoroughly reviewed by a member of our team, has been assessed for the sound and lyrical content, and meta-tagged with more than 170 attributes—a proprietary process we call Distinctive Featuring. When we curate playlists, we use this data to find the best tracks for the people we’re trying to touch. For example, this information can help us track down alternative songs for an audience that favors an edgy sound, or a bright, accessible sound for a shopper that leans more mainstream. Likewise, we use this info to avoid anything that a shopper might find offensive, or doesn’t fit with brand or campaign themes based on lyrical content.

Crafting the perfect brand sound isn’t just about making great playlists. It’s the combination of knowing the customer and then combining music expertise, programming skills and analysis, marketing knowledge, and instinct to truly enhance the brand experience.

About PlayNetwork

PlayNetwork is the leading global provider of music and entertainment media experiences for brands worldwide. We partner with over 400 brands spanning 110,000 customer locations in more than 110 countries, our work reaching 100 million people every day. This post is a part of our series: Crafting a Branded Sound: How Music is Chosen for the World's Favorite Brands. To learn more about PlayNetwork, visit