“I Need The Fuzziest Song You Have!” Do You Speak Muketing [Music + Marketing]?
By Christopher Rucks | Music Dealers
This sounds ok, but, like….do you have anything more…fuzzy?
What…in the hell….is fuzzy?
There’s a class of uncanny individuals who speak a language where the sound of something “fuzzy” makes sense. For decades, these creative individuals have straddled two very different universes, the advertising world and the music world, and in the process become dual citizens familiar with the incomparable, native musical customs of both.
Among these customs is the ability to speak “muketing.” What the hell is muketing you ask? It’s the language of music, developed and used by producers, brand managers, and executives who do not speak the enigmatic language of music. For most professionals looking to license music, music is described by how it makes you feel, or how it looks, or an experienceit’s the resulting interpretation of the sound.
Thus, to hone in on the proper piece of music to license, the request morphs into “fuzzy,” or “summer-y,” or “orange.”
Discovering the hidden language
I stumbled upon this language like an explorer taking his first steps onto the beach of a new world. Always fascinated by the universe inhabited by Music Dealers’ senior creative, Dan Kuypers, I was asking him about the progress of a creative music licensing opportunity he was working on. Caught at one of his more cantankerous moments, he grumbled back, “It’s alright. They’re looking for something fuzzier.” I was bewildered. I thought to myself, “We’re still talking about music right?” I questioned, “What the hell is fuzzier?”
Dan began to define “fuzzier” in musical terms, terms which I understand being a music producer myself. It was then that I realized that he was some sort of expatriate that had managed to pick up the native tongue of an alien population.
I asked, “Do you know more of these terms? Are there more unusual words that non-musician industry people use to describe what they’re looking for,” to which Dan informed me that there were quite a few terms that he and our other Music Dealers’ creative, Tim Lincoln, had become accustomed to using.
And the “Muketing” dictionary was born. Below I have accumulated the first volume of dictionary terms used by those who, like the general world, speak in feeling, vision, and experience, and hope to convey those thoughts musically. We’ve also arranged examples based upon artists from our own catalog.
So, as a licensor, if you find yourself struggling to convey your musical needs, perhaps something you want to say is within this dictionary. And, as one receiving a brief to create or find music, now you’ll have a weapon to aid you in deciphering apparent musical-emotional jargon into accurate and intelligible musical direction.
Muketing Terms, Vol. 1
Anthemic - “I’m looking for something anthemic, you know what I mean?”
Song: “Top Of The World” by Greek Fire
Anthemic typically refers to something that has power, catchiness, and an overall “fist pumping” quality to it. Here, this translates into group vocals in the intro, a simple, catchy chord progression, the driving beat, and the lyrics… “On top of the world.” It’s an inspirational/motivational stadium-style track that feels like an anthem the listener can get behind.
Blue collar - “I got a truck spot I’m puttin’ together. Whaddya got that’s more blue collar?”
Song: “Cellphone Shake” by Conway Hambone
The term blue collar tends to mean masculine, hard working, gritty, American heartland, and sort of tough. In the case of “Cellphone Shake,” this translates to the gritty guitar line that gives it that American, manly feeling. The drum rhythm gives the song a chugging quality that’s reminiscent of a machine or a train and contributes to the “hard-working” feeling. Also, the overall lo-fi production gives the listener a nostalgic, “salt of the Earth,” feeling. The song feels solid, strong, and not too fancy.
Bubbly - “I need music like yesterday and it’s gotta be bubbly as hell!”
Song: “C’mon Y’All” by Salme Dahlstrom
Bubbly tends to lean a little bit more feminine and/or young with a little pep in its step. It’s always on the fun side as well. In the case of “C’mon Y’all,” the tempo, chords, and vocals all contribute to this feeling. Tempo-wise, it’s a little on the quicker side which gives it some pep. The chord progression is in a major key and therefore happier, so that helps it feel positive and feminine. The vocals are also fun, light, and energetic.
Driving - “That one song was pretty edgy, but you know, I need something a little more driving.”
Song: “Lying Around” by Cassette Kids
The term “driving” typically means that the song needs to provide some consistent rhythmic elements that “drive” the song’s energy forward. “Lying Around” achieves this in a few ways: the drums have a consistent quarter note rhythm on the bass drum, which gives it a nice and consistent push, and the repetitive synth fills in the gaps.
Fuzzy - “Hmmm. This sounds ok, but, like….do you have anything more…like, fuzzy?”
Song: “Sunshine Avenue” by Moth & The Flame
Fuzzy implies comfort and positivity. Musically, that typically translates to a major key, simple chord changes, and lighter instrumentation. Here we have a song that encompasses all three of those things. The ukulele, a light carefree instrument, inherently promotes a feeling of happiness. The song is in a major key and has a simple and relatable chord progression.
Muscular - “The other song was a little wimpy, what do you have that’s more muscular?”
Song: “High and Humble” by The Steepwater Band
Muscular implies masculinity and toughness. “High and Humble” musically achieves this quality by strongly shooting out of the gate with a distorted bluesy guitar riff, followed by the in-your-face drums. And while the drum pattern is simple, it’s played in a very confident and aggressive manner. This, combined with the throaty, scratchy male vocals, provide the toughness that embodies the term “muscular.”
Summer-y - “I’m working on a spot to feature on the west coast, I need music with a summer-y vibe.”
Song: “Hey Suzie” by Seasalt Biscuits
The term “summer-y” can mean many things as summer means different things to many different people. Typically, it represents an overall feeling of fun, happiness, and sometimes, activity. In this case, “Hey Suzie” encompasses these elements with a nice throwback surf guitar riff which sets the summer tone. The tempo also has a lot to do with it; it’s quick without being too aggressive and heavy-handed. It’s also in a major key, which helps out with the happiness factor. The background guitar has a ska feeling, which invokes a beach vibe and automatically implies Summer.
Swirly - “My deadline is in 35 minutes, send me the swirliest song you have!”
Song: “Right As Rain” by Quebec Antique
“Swirly” is definitely an odd one, but the typical meaning is something that has a dreamy quality and feels like things are swirling in the song. This song is a good example of that as the harp is reversed and put forward. This gives it a very hypnotic quality and adds to the overall “swirliness” of the track.
Yellow - “Whaddya mean what do I mean by yellow?”
Song: “Bonita You Are” by Shayna Zaid & The Catch
Yellow tends to imply sunny, bright, and happy. This song just screams yellow through the bouncey “chug-a-long” rhythm underneath the vocals, the simple and playful chord progression, and the joyful vocal. The playful violin counter-melodies also add to the overall whimsical feeling of the song.
And there you have volume 1 of our muketing dictionary. As a producer or supervisor, you may have uttered some of these terms while voicing your musical needs for a visual project.
Interpreting music and translating the intention of that music as it syncs to picture can become a “fuzzy” process. The muketing language barrier and/or the difficulty in verbalizing what one has in mind can result in mediocre musical placements. A fuzzy request can be translated improperly and yield imprecise musical options. One of the most important pieces of the puzzle involves dealing with a musical creative who, through years of dealing with visual creatives, has learned to break down the language to ensure that what you’re hoping to receive is actually what you get.
Also, for a good creative, speaking muketing transcends to another level where creatives can, like Charlie Brown interprets adults (wah wa wah wah), understand completely incoherent descriptions and return precisely, not only what you had in mind, but great options you didn’t even consider. Yes, a talented muketing-speaking creative not only speaks your language but is good enough and brave enough to take you in sonic directions you may not have even described. You wanted summer-y, but he surprised you with a bit of “swirly” and a pinch of “yellow” and lo and behold, they’re perfect.
Both creatives on the picture end and the sound end should be speaking the same language so that the resulting musical sync turns out perfectly.
What’s the craziest muketing term that you’ve used while acquiring music? Have you used a term that’s made a creative or musician stare at you blankly like a confused puppy? We’d love to hear what it is and consider it as we build volume 2 of the muketing dictionary.
Dan Kuypers, Sr. Creative Director / Music Supervisor, Music Dealers
Tim Lincoln, Sr. Creative Director / Music Supervisor, Music Dealers