How music can tap in to your customers' stories

I saw Bananarama perform live during the summer. It was a blazing hot day and they were playing a one day festival in Hyde Park, London. I danced and sang along to all their classic hits including Robert De Niro’s Waiting and Love In The First Degree. While I was having a good time I thought about how my 7-year-old self couldn’t have believed I would be watching a band from Top Of The Pops 30 years later.

The headline act was the Pet Shop Boys, my all time favourite band and the reason I bought tickets. They’ve been part of my life since I was 6 years old and when I hear their songs I’m transported back to times and places when they were the soundtrack. 

They opened with Suburbia, a song I listened to repeatedly on a trip to Italy, when I had just bought the Discography album. Se A Vida E reminded me of the last summer of school. West End Girls was how it all began (although I didn’t discover Neil and Chris until they released Opportunities).

Two of the other big name bands playing that day we’re Status Quo and Westlife and I’m sure their fans sang along while thinking of memories conjured by the music. I just enjoyed jumping around to Rocking All Over The World. Now, whenever I hear that song I will remember dancing like a loon in Hyde Park.

The crowd in front of the stage on a gloriously sunny day at Radio 2 Live in Hyde Park

How music can transport your customer in time and place

Music plays a key part in our stories. It is part of the atmosphere. It can transport us to places when we have only heard the first few bars. It creates associations in our minds. 

Spotify has captured this brilliantly in their latest advertising campaign. It pinpoints the music its target audience was listening to at a particular time in their lives and matches it with what they are doing now.

My particular favourite is:

1983 UB40 Red, Red Wine

2019 You be forty. Red, red wine

I’m not quite 40 (though it is looming large on the horizon) and I am always happy with a glass of red wine. I know these adverts are talking to me. I hear the song in my head, I think about all the times I have danced to it, and I smile in recognition of the person I am now.

This one is also me:

Although, I was never a 24 hour party person. I once curled up and went to sleep in a nightclub. Thinking about it, I’ve probably always been aย  2-4 hour party person, usually hiding in the kitchen.

I adore The Clash! London Calling is currently the CD I have on in the car.

You’re going to hear that wonderful intro every time you make a Skype or Zoom call now. You might also picture Bond villain Gustav Graves’ parachute landing just outside  Buckingham Palace if you’ve watched Die Another Day.

When you’re developing your stories think about whether a music reference could help to place people at the heart of the action and create that emotional connection. If you have a licence for it, you can even put a soundtrack with your video or audio.

Who is your ideal customer?

You will know those songs which get you going. The ones which take you back to a moment in time. Or that always make you want to dance or just close your eyes and smile.

If you play a Pet Shop Boys song, I will love you for it. The opening bars of Born Slippy will take me back to being a teenager. For my husband, hearing The Stone Roses Waterfall puts him in his university Student Union. 

How old is your ideal customer? Is there a track which is always associated to a particular year? When they were 16 or 18 for instance? 

Is there a happy time you would love to remind them of? A track they might have danced to at their wedding? Or that was a party tune when they were in their 20s. How could you make use of that? It could be as simple as referencing it in your marketing material. 

The Pet Shop Boys on stage at Radio 2 in Hyde Park
The Pet Shop Boys

Memories of music last a long time

I listened to Sounds Of The Seventies on Radio 2 at the weekend. I’m not usually in the car when it’s on. Not only did I hear some great tracks but there was also an interview with James Warren about Stackridge, a band which had passed me by but I enjoyed what I heard. 

Lots of people emailed the show to tell their stories about going to Stackridge gigs and listeners asked questions about things they had been curious about for nearly 50 years. One person asked why members of the audience at a gig had been holding dustbin lids. There was, of course, a story behind it, about how the band were trying to come up with a gimmick. That music had played a part in so many people’s lives. 

Your audience will have ‘do you remember…’ musical moments. How could you use music to tap into your customers’ stories? 

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