Berlin-based musicologist Andreas Schoenrock is an expert for audio branding. With the help of an AI algorithm, he enables companies to leverage music as part of a holistic brand experience.
by: Torge Schwandt
featured: Andreas Schoenrock
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How did you become an expert for music and audio branding?
I got into creating and working with music early on. When I was younger I actually was a DJ, playing mainly HipHop music.
I studied several subjects that all were related to understanding and working with music from an academic point of view. I wrote my PhD thesis on the influence of brands on popular music culture.
Can you explain your work as a musicologist a bit?
I have my own production studio, called Studio Schoenrock. With the studio, I offer premium audio mastering services for all established output formats. and music production for artists, advertising or movies.
In addition, I work for HearDis! in Berlin, which is a full-service agency for corporate sound and instore music.
With our team of experts at HearDis!, we offer strategic music management which includes voice and music production, amongst others. To put this in one sentence: We craft corporate sound that makes brands audibly distinctive and memorable.
Overall, it is about creating the sound that fits a brand’s identity. I bring in the academic part, drawing from my experience of analyzing theoretical and practical problems of audio engineering as well as cultural issues concerning musical perception.
“Music is an individual language, not a universal one.”
You presented a new AI development by HearDis! at the Sonic Visions Festival. Can you explain the usage of AI with regard to audio branding?
Music is an individual language, not a universal one. And, it is a very emotional topic. Your personal understanding of music is influenced by factors like the culture you grew up in. Accordingly, it is not an easy task to design a unique sound for a brand that works for a specific target group – that is made up of many individuals after all.
In order to choose or create music or a sound that fits 100% to a brand, we developed an AI algorithm that can predict the musical meaning (e.g. “happy” or “modern”) of any given sound recording in a chosen target group and if that particular audience will like it. Like this, we help to reduce human bias in the whole audio branding process. For example, executives on the client side often wanted to have the final word on the selection of a certain song for an ad in the past. This was usually just based on their gut feeling or personal preferences, and not really backed up by facts.
We built our AI tool based on research we did regarding how people emotionally react to music. With the tool, you have a reliable source that gives you actual arguments to consciously choose a certain sound design or pick a specific song for a brand‘s target group. You can construct and predict musical meaning for your customers with our help now.
“We help to reduce human bias in the whole audio branding process.”
Who are your clients?
Our clients are mainly larger companies and corporations. For example, we work with car manufacturers, adding the audio part to their overall brand experience.
Is audio branding something also startups should consider?
Startups should consider this definitely. It depends on their focus and products and how much they want to invest in it though. The more you want to leverage audio branding, the more resources need to be allocated to it. But in general, companies of any size should consider music and audio as part of their overall branding strategy at some point. Brands and music depend on each other in today’s world.
How was the Sonic Visions for you in hindsight?
Joining this year’s Sonic Visions Music Conference & Showcase Festival in Luxembourg was quite an interesting experience. I presented the work we do at HearDis! in a keynote and explained the scientific background of how we developed the AI algorithm in more detail. I also was part of a panel, discussing how technology and creativity influence each other nowadays.
It was exciting to meet and connect with many interesting people throughout the event, like Tessa Rose Jackson who presented her latest album ORBIT. Great artist, and a really cool project of enhancing her music with Augmented Reality (see our article “Someone: using AR to experience music in a new way“).