Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Music Design for Life

Lord Beaumont’s recent proposed Bill to the House of Lords (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/5086054.stm) suggesting that piped music should be banned in hospitals and public transport raises serious questions about the amount of sound, music and noise we are subjected to on a daily basis. Our world is saturated with music, and Beaumont thinks that the solution to this would be to simply ban it from these public places.

We live in a visual culture, but studies show our aural stimulation is equally important, effecting both our mood and behaviour. We are subjected to music at least 25% of our wakeful lives - in our homes, cars, workplaces and shops. Businesses use music without knowing how to harness it’s unique potential for creating a stimulating and positive environment. This constant misuse of music is a significant factor for Lord Beaumont’s criticisms and concerns contained in the bill and to ban music would be the ultimate consequence of this misuse. However, it is important to realise that if music playlists were designed in a noise conscious manner, and designed specifically for their target audience the perceived levels of noise pollution would dramatically decrease and this problem can be avoided.

Open Ear™ is an exciting new company set up to help offer innovative solutions to businesses using music, offering them enhanced customer experience, improved staff motivation, and better brand differentiation. Open Ear introduces the practice of ‘Music Design’ to the marketplace, utilising the disciplines of psychology, architecture, music and marketing. We know that companies use music, we know that all brands can have a ‘musical identity’, however, such is the powerful and subjective nature of music, many brands use music wrongly and this contributes to the perceived levels of noise pollution in our environment.

Open Ear suggests that greater emphasis on the design of the musical environment is crucial in today’s experience based economy. We offer a holistic service that helps provide music that fits perfectly with its context. It appeals to the customer, makes staff feel more comfortable and give s the brand a unique soundtrack that moves it ahead of it’s competitors.

Think of all the negative connotations that background music or ‘muzak’ conjure in most peoples minds. Then think of the positive effect that hearing your favourite piece or music can have on your mood. It is this subjectivity that makes Open Ear’s expert ‘music design’ service such a necessity for our built environment.
Public music has this bad reputation because it is unregulated, generic and uninspired. Every place sounds the same, but of course every place is most definitely not the same – they have different, customers with different tastes, styles and opinions.

The increasing popularity of digital music has helped diversify individuals musical taste by offering increasing amounts of choice. An example of the effect of this is the demise of Top of the Pops on BBC1. Once it was the only way people could have access to new music, now everyone has a myspace or a favourite internet download site, where they have access to millions of new releases. Public or piped music has an opportunity to embrace the digital age and reflect the new diversity in musical choice at the benefit of all parties involved.

Our overwhelmingly visual culture is reflected in the popularity of interior design in such places. The lighting, décor and layout are all immaculately designed to appeal to a particular client base. Why then, is the ‘music design’ so poor?

Open Ear is all about the right music, for the right place, at the right time. Twenty years ago, we would not expect interior designers to design everything we see but now this practice is commonplace. In the 21st century, we need Open Ear’s expert ‘music design’ team to help design music for the lives of everyone who experiences it.


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