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Using AI tagging to ensure brands can capitalise on the explicit reactions to music

As the music testing and selection sector is developing so fast, we thought it would be good to get the views of Markus Schwarzer, CEO of Cyanite. Cyanite provides an artificial intelligence (AI) powered music search and tagging engine.


Recent posts in our expert series have looked closely at the psychology of sound and music and its application for brands. This post discusses how AI is enabling organisations to unlock the value of their music catalogues.


What made you get into music tagging?

“It’s a long story but it started with a love of music. I had some issues as a child and these all went away when I started to play the electric guitar. This made me recognise the power of music to create a specific mood and for music moments connected with that mood to be engraved on your brain. I played in a band and although it was clear that we’d never make it, I knew I wanted to be part of the music industry.


“So, I started Cyanite as a social media company to enable consumers to capture their magical music moments and mood, and then share them with their friends. This led to us asking how we could create these special moments by connecting music to specific moods in the way TV and films have done successfully for years.


“And that led us to AI. So, today we have the most accurate tagging algorithms in the market. With our technology we can take any sort of input – an expression, video, words etc and translate that into a mood and the music that best supports it so that we maximise the emotional impact and ensure people have the best experience. That’s our goal – to connect people to the right music at the right time to maximise the intensity of their emotional experience.


Why do you think you have become the world leader in AI music tagging?

When building Cyanite, we always had both ears open to the market, their pains, needs, and demands. So, we've inherently built this tech for and around the industry. Coming from the industry ourselves, we wanted to build something which genuinely makes our customers lives better. That's only possible through robust technology, no marketing BS. We would rather have fewer features that add genuine value than a lot of low value bells and whistles. We encourage every customer of ours to test our tagging against what else is out there – we want to help them achieve long term success rather than marginal improvement. Our customers repay that trust with 100% customer retention.


How can AI tagging transform the return on investment in music for brands?

“There are many ways our AI tagging helps to improve the ROI from an investment in music.

1. It enables brands to make the right music decision faster

2. It enables the decision to be more objective, rather than be swayed by subjective taste

3. It delivers:

a. Predictability - i.e., it guarantees that the intended effect will be delivered

b. Accountability i.e., it’s clear which role music is playing and the true impact of the choice, like paying for an expensive licence or selecting a different track that delivers the same effect at less cost

c. Clarity – i.e., choosing music may involve many people (client, agency, publisher) and tagging helps make the process of finding the right music clearer, so that a decision can be made quickly, and all parties understand why.


We use tagging to ensure brands can capitalise on the explicit reactions to music

“Our AI tagging enables brands to very quickly identify music which has certain explicit qualities, like uplifting or energetic. And our tags enable brands to match music to the mood they want to connect with. Sometimes it’s easy to do that. Take Pharrell Williams’ Happy. It makes people feel happy, which may be why there have been over 1.1 billion views of the official video! But there are plenty of other songs that create the same reaction and that’s where our tagging comes in. The good thing about working with SoundOut is that they add the ability to select music based on its match to the entire brand personality.


Why did you partner with SoundOut?

“There is an obvious connection in that we have both invested in AI to deliver disruptive solutions in our own sectors. It’s also true that we are both masters in our own field and have brought those unique skills to the partnership. We approach the same problem – how to help brands unleash the power of music – from different angles. And I think the combination is really powerful, as can be seen from SoundOut’s latest innovation, OnBrand. This is not just a new product but a new category in the search and selection of music for marketing and advertising campaigns.


“The other reason the partnership works is that they are great people who are always keen to explore possibilities and then add the rigour of in-depth research to ensure the development pays off.


What advantages do you think OnBrand will deliver to music publishers and brands?

A study conducted by professors Dr. Adrian North and Dr. David Hargreaves of Leicester University reports that brands with music that fits their brand identity are 96 percent more

likely to be recalled than those with non-fitting music or no music at all. In other words, why brands shy away from a conceptual music strategy is that there is a high chance of doing it wrong. OnBrand delivers fast and reliable music results that are guaranteed to be on-brand. This lowers the risk for brands and creates more opportunities for publishers and songwriters.


What advice would you give to a brand that is thinking of using music for the first time?

The short answer is do it – but do it right.


“By that I mean, be certain the music you choose will work for your brand. Make sure your first choice is a rational, brand-led choice rather than a subjective choice that may not deliver the return on investment you expect.


Which is your favourite music track and why?

"In the early days of Cyanite, my co-founder Jakob and I listened a lot to Bicep's "Glue". Whenever I hear that song now, it immediately takes me back to that time. Another one would probably be Neil Young's Cortez The Killer, a song which I could listen to on repeat for the rest of my life. Same as any other Neil Young song.


But now I have a daughter, I’m re-discovering 70’s disco classics like Abba’s Dancing Queen. She is hearing them for the first time and absolutely loves them. It makes me realise that amazingly crafted music can be timeless and trigger the same mood response from different generations. So, I’d love to be her and experience great music for the first time.”


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