Practiced in the short form of songwriting and an equally adept arranger, the jingle writer is a hired hand that specializes in composing music for advertisements, such as television and radio commercials. Whether exalting the wonders of toothpaste or an airline, this person has a knack for creating an auditory brand that artfully expresses the qualities of a product or company.
A jingle writer is responsible for composing the musical score and writing the lyrics for short melodies that are placed within commercials to create an instant, memorable awareness around a brand. Think back, and you will find that there are many catchy little tunes that have been permanently embedded in your mind, forever influencing your purchasing habits through association. As part of a larger advertising and marketing campaign, the jingle writer listens to the needs of the client, studies the brand, and goes to work creating a short ditty that encompasses the key qualities of the product or company. He or she will typically evolve the tune through several iterations and present two or more for final approval by the client.
In some cases, the client may arrive with lyrics in hand and request only that the jingle writer compose the music and provide arrangements for later recording. In other instances, the jingle writer will create the song from scratch and contribute to recording the track. He or she must take into consideration the tone and rhythm that matches the message of the branding, as well as the audience the product is targeting. Different musical styles have a greater impact with certain demographics. A rap riff or rock score generally goes over well with the youth audience but may not work well with senior audiences. On every project, the jingle writer will be held to a strict schedule and must be cognizant of deadlines, as time equals money in the ad business.
Skills & Education
A college degree is not a requirement, but education and training in music composition, musicianship, and arranging are necessary. This career demands an individual with considerable musical talent and solid understanding of music theory. Courses in audio engineering are beneficial, and a jingle writer should be proficient in the use of systems like Pro Tools. Study of advertising and marketing is recommended. The person in this position should have excellent communication skills, and be capable of listening to a client to understand complex concepts and then translate that information into a song that accurately captures the brand.
What to Expect
Regular, full-time employment is available with media advertising firms that cater to corporate clients and small businesses and specialize in television, web, and radio commercials. Jingle writers may also find work as freelance contractors, hired by an advertising agency for a specified time and fee. Freelancers may be required to bid on a project, delivering a proposal for time and cost. Work experience as an arranger or advertising music assistant is beneficial to attaining employment as a jingle writer and can lead to work as a music supervisor for advertising companies. Experience as a recording engineer is also useful.
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