HearDis! & ABC_DJ at Sound Stockholm 2018

HearDis! has been invited to talk at SoundStockholm – the conference that this November will tackle the growing audio consumption, particularly how people are influenced by music and how brands can use sound together with new technologies to achieve their marketing goals! In preparation for the event, Resumé – largest Swedish magazine about media and marketing – interviewed HearDis! to get a sneak peek on its audio branding approach and the latest technologies developed through our ABC_DJ project:

Could you give some examples of how factors as brand message, core values, target group and brand architecture affects the music/sound choice?
Any given brand identity can be mapped into a list of 36 semantic terms (e.g., “cool”, “urban”, “happy”, etc.) which our algorithm then uses to predict the musical perception of such terms among 40 different target groups (e.g., track XX is 89% cool, 76% urban 64% happy). Consumers are allocated in 9 Sinus-Meta-Milieus (e.g., “established”, “sensation-oriented”) and 31 demographic groups according to education and age. The above-mentioned list of 36 semantic terms – which we refer to as General Music Branding Inventory (GMBI) – was created empirically in an interdisciplinary workshop with international experts from marketing, audio branding, record labels and music publishers. It was furthermore refined and evaluated in a large-scale survey with international marketing professionals.

Does your mood-filter work similarly to, as an example, Spotify’s mood-based auto-generated playlists?
Today several companies adopt moods filters for music search, discovery, recommendation or to automatically generate playlists. Spotify for instance uses big data to feed its algorithms. Instead, we are the only company on the market to offer an algorithm that interconnects ground truth data from listening experiments directly with consumers (i.e., 10,000+ participants from different countries), associated demographic data, the Sinus Milieus from the social and market research company Integral Marktforschung, and a large amount of audio features. Thus our algorithm is capable of predicting the musical perception of any given song within any given target group solely based on the audio features of the sound recording – an unprecedented and unique approach.
Since there is no data available of evaluation activities from e.g. Spotify or similar companies, it is not possible to get an objective perspective on the power of such algorithms. Our algorithm, in contrast, has been tested on accuracy and predicts the perceived musical meaning with a success rate of 80.1 %.

Has there been any kinds of complications with the algorithms, and how have you fine-tuned the algorithms and the music selection process?
Sure, we experienced many obstacles and complications when developing the algorithm. First, we uncovered a fitting factor model capable of being transferred to the regression model; we defined the audio features extracted from sound recordings that fed the algorithm; we created accurate training samples for music information retrieval and finally match the properties list to real world issues, such as the speed of the algorithm and related accuracy. It was indeed a laborious process with many unforeseen complications yet we are now proud to have reached a prediction accuracy currently set at 80,1%. Additionally, the algorithm is continuously learning over time with the feedback from our music consultants.

Are you the only agency offering this type algorithm-based music branding service?
Indeed we are! We are the first one to have developed an algorithm to specifically support and boost audio branding efforts. This means we are pioneers for having merged know-hows across Music and Marketing (from both a brand and a customer’s perspective), making the resulting information actionable through the latest Technology: our AI incorporates data capable of predicting brand-fit music based on acoustical features of music and socio-cultural context of listeners – which positions HearDis! at the centre of an Audio Branding revolution! Since first raising awareness about our R&D on this front at worldwide industry gatherings and to the public, other agencies have gotten inspired and are attempting to adapt our technology and integrate it into their own services. However, we know that so far those approaches are merely using a fraction of the overall ground truth we base our AI on.

Also, it is important to note that we are alone in serving all touchpoints a brand may be concerned of, be it TV, online or retail. Companies such as Soundtrack Your Brand, for instance, take care of the retail aspect only while other audio branding agencies focus on handling TV and online requests. We rather advocate for a 360 degree approach, which establishes us as the full service agency that our clients depend on for any music- or audio-related matter in their marketing strategy.

HearDis! Website

Is there a growing demand for audio branding services, and do think it will develop and be more and more common in the future?
Definitely. Audio Branding is a growing business segment with huge potential for the future, applicable to an extensive range of settings, from a more traditional fashion showroom pursuing the optimal atmosphere to showcase the latest additions, to a more futuristic electric vehicle needing sophisticated sound design to embody and manifest its brand.

In order to succeed in an ever-increasingly competitive market, brands need to stand out from the pack – for which a strong corporate identity is necessary. Because of its emotional power, Music plays a key role in marketing strategies, in that it can subtly represent brand values and effectively convey these to the respective target audience.

This becomes more and more relevant as we witness the evolution of commerce. An example can be found in the retail industry, which is experiencing a disruptive transformation, where the point of sale (POS) turns into a point of experience (POX): whichever the retail space – pop-up store, showroom, trade fair booth, etc. – music is a valuable asset to complement and enhance the multisensory experience to elicit customer engagement and increment brand perception.

Another example is the automotive industry. As we advance towards a greener future, car manufactures need to come up with alternative ways to personalise their products: until now, the specific engine sound serves as the brand’s signature. Yet what is to replace this when vehicles of tomorrow are electric? How can a car manufacturer make their electric vehicles sound distinct and provide a unique (brand) experience? By developing cutting-edge forms of audio branding, the automotive sector surely offers great opportunities that we are already tackling.





Company Description: HearDis! is a full service agency for corporate sound founded in 2005, with offices in Berlin and Stuttgart, Germany. HearDis! mission is to serve companies with authentic and tailor-made Audio Branding solutions to craft the optimal corporate sound that makes brands audibly distinctive and memorable. Since 2016, HearDis! is part of ABC_DJ, which engineered an algorithm to predict brand-fit music.

At the intersection of Music, Marketing and Artificial Intelligence, HearDis! is today at the forefront of disruptive technologies that revolutionize the realm of Audio Branding as we know it. Clients include renowned companies such as Hugo Boss, Mercedes-Benz, Mercedes-AMG, Vitra, Mykita, Birkenstock, Porsche Design, GANT, KaDeWe Group, Monkey 47, Motel One and many more.