Popular Song vs. Original Jingle

Sometimes companies will choose an established, well known song as opposed to an original jingle for their advertising campaign. Why? Which is more effective? There are advantages to both, so let’s examine and compare!

With a commercially released song, you have the benefit of instant familiarity. People already know the song, the lyrics and can hum along. With an original jingle, people might have to hear it multiple times before it sticks. If a company has a decent amount of media coverage, eventually, their jingle can attain the same level of familiarity as a commercially released song in the targeted market area.

A preexisting, popular song may have a built in message that works perfectly for an advertiser. A few years ago, we recreated the song, “You’re The One That I Want” from Grease for a large, regional, auto dealership group. The title was a perfect fit and became the company’s tagline! This well-known, established song had a message that translated well to TV, radio and internet. However, while the song may be spot on with it’s messaging, energy and vibe, it doesn’t accomplish one thing that a great original jingle can…and that’s singing the name of the business or product. The reason I didn’t include the company name and referred to it as “a large, regional, auto dealership group,” is because I can’t actually remember the name of the company off the top of my head! At Sound Imagination, we produce many jingles and songs for lots of businesses around the country, and I would actually have to look it up! What can sometimes happen with the use of an already existing song, is that people may remember the commercial, but not necessarily the name of the company it’s associated with.

One advantage to using a preexisting song or piece of music, is that it typically has an established personality or vibe that a company may want to associate with their brand. United Airlines, for example, uses George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody In Blue.” It’s an American music classic that evokes a majestic and warm feeling, which is perfect for the United Airlines brand. While an original score or jingle may be able to evoke these same feelings, it wouldn’t necessarily carry the gravitas of something that’s already embedded in a culture’s collective musical memory, and it’s hard to match Gershwin, quite frankly! That being said, even with an orchestral masterpiece such as “Rhapsody In Blue,” you run the risk of listeners forgetting your brand name and message without direct reference.

A great, original jingle can send the same message as a popular song, with the right energy and personality, as well as the added benefit of brand memorability. In other words, the brand’s  message and name gets baked in to a catchy melody that people will remember for years to come! You can create a hand-tailored message, with a well thought out slogan and supporting lyrics. Since the musical hook will include the slogan and name of the business or product, everyone will remember what brand goes with the tagline and message of the lyrics. You can also capture the exact vibe or personality that you’re looking to convey. All of this is, of course, predicated on having a fantastic production company writing and producing your jingle.

Licensing & Pricing

To use an established song, you have to first acquire a synchronization license from the music publisher for the use of the song in a commercial. This can be very costly, and the more popular the song, the more expensive it is likely to be. We’ve acquired licenses for some of our regional clients, ranging from $20,000 to $90,000 for one year’s use depending on the song. Keep in mind that this only gives you the rights to the music, not the right to use the actual record/recording of the song. Those are separate rights and typically cost just as much as the synch license. To avoid those additional costs, many agencies hire a music production company like Sound Imagination to recreate a new version of the song. This will add a few thousand to your budget, but will cost far less than matching the cost of the synch license. 

Another thing to keep in mind is that the recreated song can’t come too close in sound to the original recording. There is something that people in the industry refer to as the Bette Midler clause. Once upon a time,  an ad agency wanted to recreate one of her hits and asked her to sing on the rerecording of the song. Bette turned their offer down, so they used her background singer who sounds just like her. Once they ran the commercial on the air, many people thought it was Bette Midler singing, so she sued them and won. Moral of the story is that it’s best to use singers who sound different and change the arrangement of the song enough so that it’s obvious that it’s not the original record.

An original jingle can run anywhere from $3,000 to $30,000. There are many jingle production companies who can give you a great jingle for less than 10k that will sound terrific! And the beauty of a jingle is that you own it for life. There is a significant difference in investment between using an established popular song and an original jingle. The question is, which will get you a better ROI, and is it worth it?

So, which of these options is right for you and your brand? If you have more questions or would like more information on jingles, please don’t hesitate to contact us! Stay tuned for our next blog post, where we’ll talk about popular songs with parody lyrics!

Email: info@sound-imagination.com

Phone: 1-800-41 SOUND (417-6863)