A Jingle Maker Shares His Secrets
Over the years we’ve created hundreds of jingles for both branding and call-to-action campaigns across a wide range of musical genres, and along the way we’ve learnt what works well and what doesn’t. (Hint: Don’t try fitting too much information into the lyrics!)
Recently, we sat down with our senior jingle maker and asked him about his career, how he approaches creating a jingle package and what he’s careful to avoid.
When did you you begin your career as a jingle maker?
I started writing jingles in the early 2000’s for Abes Audio. Prior to that I worked in IT support during the day and in my home studio at night - creating music, playing sessions (guitar & vocals) and recording independent artists. I never thought I’d be able to make a career out of being a professional jingle creator! The first few took a long time to write and produce, but over time (and now with a few years of experience under my belt) the process is much faster.
How many have you created?
I’ve lost count, but as an estimate I’d say probably around 400 - and they’re all different! I’m careful to create a unique sound with every production so no two jingles are the same. (It can be a real challenge sometimes.)
Which comes first - lyrics or melody?
Interesting question. They are so closely linked. Advertising jingles generally need to convey a commercial message so the lyrics are very important and often incorporate a client’s name and/or tagline. However, the brief usually has clear direction of the musical style required and often includes reference tracks for a ‘starting point’. Working with the client, I usually start from scratch with their name and slogan (if they have one) and, taking any initial lyrical ideas into account, I’ll start developing the melody. Once I’ve created a ‘scratch track’ - usually with an acoustic guitar, a percussion loop and basic vocals - I find that lyrical ideas start to flow. At this point I begin to develop the rest of the music that (I hope!) will resonate with the target audience.
What’s the biggest secret you wish you’d known when starting your career as a jingle creator?
Probably two things…
1. Less is more!
Sometimes a brief includes multiple paragraphs of lyric ideas and things that must be included - a nightmare for a composer! Less is always more, as it gives the jingle maker time to let the words ‘breathe’ and be heard. Early on in my career I wish I’d pushed back to clients a little more as my jingles would have sounded better.
2. Where’s the hook?
Great jingles need a clear hook - usually at the start and end (commonly known as the ‘top and tail’.) Regardless of musical style, they need to have catchy melody that will help them start and finish strongly. Just like a hit song, it’s important that the jingle is memorable and easily recalled. Jingles that don’t have a strong hook just don’t work as well in this regard - and it took me a few years to learn how to write really catchy hooks.
Does a jingle maker usually play more than one musical instrument?
Often, yes. Many jingle composers / producers are also musicians. For example, to save both production time and costs I play electric, acoustic and bass guitars, mandolin, ukulele and keyboards. I also often record some of the lead or backing vocals. This helps me to be able to capture and develop an idea quickly, and also helps when I’m producing jingles to a tight deadline!
Which projects are you most proud of?
As a jingle maker, every production is almost like another ‘baby’ - so it’s hard to play favourites! I always aim to write a jingle that will stand the test of time for my clients, but I do have a few that I’m especially proud of.
South Bunbury Marketplace. This is a music track with no vocals. I love the organic feel.
Jiffy. Sharp, fun and bright. It just puts a smile on my face!
Andersons Auto City. Punchy, feel-good rock that was fun to record!
Gelare.I created the percussion with my mouth - the only jingle I’ve produced this way!
If you’re considering creating a jingle for your client or business, talk to us today about your options. We’ll help with some initial ideas, discuss your target market and unpack what you’d like your jingle to achieve. You can even speak with our senior jingle maker if you’ve got a complex brief to ensure he understands exactly what you’re looking for.