Are You Performing in (Music) Bed?

 In Blog
“Try watching The Exorcist with the sound muted. It’s not nearly as scary.”

– Bob Lawrence, VP Programming Saga Communications.

We love music beds when they are used intentionally. However, generic music beds that don’t relate to the conversation topic are distracting and get in the way of communicating with the audience. (See Jeff McHugh’s article last week.)

The perils of music beds:

  •  Beds can take away from a conversation’s impact by obscuring raw emotion — pauses, non-verbal sounds like sighs or even a crack in one’s voice. Pauses and silence make people lean in toward their radio.
  •  Air talents sound more intimate and one-to-one without music beds. Listeners don’t notice the beds are gone, yet they’ll make comments like, “You sound closer — more like you’re talking with me over coffee.”
  • Never use a music bed with vocals. It sounds like two people talking at the same time. You will compete with the lyrics for the listener’s attention.
  •  Avoid beds under callers (outside of contests). It’s already challenging enough to hear a caller due to poor cell phone quality and background noise.
  •  Beds of popular current/recurrent songs will frustrate listeners because they would rather be listening to the song.

Yes, PPM meters can drop out without a music bed running under all conversations. We like Rock 100.5 Bailey and Southside’s strategy of running music beds under all content segments to hold the meters. The show only uses beds to theme content.  They focus on creating sticky content, character development, and flawless execution. Their show is consistently top three adults in Atlanta with a deficient signal.

Use music beds intentionally like TV shows and movies:

Film and television spend mega dollars and a ton of time selecting music that helps tell a story in every scene. Curb Your Enthusiasm editor, Steve Rasch says of the show’s theme music (Frolic by Luciano Michelini), “It’s this enjoyable circus track that has good energy and counter-balances the sour humor in the show. Music is our tool to bring the mood back up and cue the audience to laugh.”

  • Signature music stagers are triggers that a popular benchmark is beginning. Establish the bed, then gradually fade it out.
  • Familiar mood songs like Mission: ImpossibleLet’s Get It On or the Law and Order theme, cue a specific emotion (suspense, romance, fun, etc.). Beds during contests add drama and tension. Listen to how Dave Luczak at WKLH Milwaukee uses the Dragnet theme in the Dairyland Dumbass feature.
  • Use a music bed to switch subjects during a content segment the way many podcasts do. Just let it establish for a few seconds and gradually fade it after you begin the new topic. Pay attention to how TV shows and movies use music to enhance a scene AND we can see the action. On radio and audio podcasts, relevant music creates pictures and helps you make an emotional connection with listeners.

Photo Credit:

Leave a Comment

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.