Industry creatives name the sounds that helped them survive 2020

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After an unprecedented year of anxiety, turmoil and uncertainty, a group of leading musicians, marketers and creatives have come together to reveal the music and sounds  that shaped their experiences of 2020.

Powered by creative music agency DLMDD, The Year of Sound is a time capsule collection of powerful, intimate stories about how music and sounds have impacted the lives of some of the world’s leading marketers, musicians and artists.

Each story is different but they are all united in the innate human requirement for emotion, connection and inspiration.

Sounds of 2020 

The initiative brings together eye-opening responses from more than 40 world-renowned musicians, marketers, and creatives including:

  • Raja Rajamannar, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Mastercard
  • Nick Park Animator and Director at Aardman Animation, known for Wallace & Gromit and Shaun the Sheep
  • Joyce King Thomas, Creative Consultant who developed “Priceless” for Mastercard
  • Segun Akinola, Composer for film and television, best known for his music in the latest series of Dr Who
  • Sam Walker, Head of Marketing Campaigns at Co-op
  • Ayanna Witter Johnson, MOBO nominated Cellist, Composer and Singer
  • Nick Gill, Creative Director at BBH
  • Beatie Wolfe, Musician who beamed her music into space, named as one of 22 people changing the world by WIRED
Sounds of 2020 - ayanna-witter-johnson
Spiritual sounds: Elite Cellist Witter-Johnson said this year music helped her spiritually and physically.

Erin McCullough, Brand Music Consultant at DLMDD comments: “Events of the last year have led people around the world to reveal tales of sadness, loneliness, loss, unemployment, anger and anxiety.

“But more than ever music has been used, appreciated and needed.

“We launched The Year of Sound to discover how music and sound have impacted our lives in 2020 and are humbled that so many distinguished musicians, creatives and brand leaders have taken part to offer their insight and opinion.

“The initiative has shown that music has the unique power to lift us up when we are low, calm us in moments of panic, bring us to a different world altogether or ground us in the present moment.”

Connection 

Connection through music and sound comes in all shapes and sizes. Something as simple as sharing a song with someone lets them know you’re thinking about them.

Music has also provided a necessary tonic for the work from home / live at work balance a lot of us have struggled with.

The right soundtrack can immediately transform a kitchen clean-up into a raving disco hall.

Sam Walker, Head of Marketing Campaigns at Co-op comments: “We got the kids dancing through lockdown (way too much of the Frozen soundtrack).

“It’s helped calm stressful moments and brought us together.”

Nature 

During lockdown the regular cacophony of city noise across the globe diminished to an eerie hum; leaving us with space to reflect on the importance of the sound of our surroundings, and the awareness to appreciate them, such as the simple power of walking in nature, listening to the birds, the crunch of leaves, waves crashing, rain pouring.

Sounds of 2020 - nick-park
Dawn chorus: Park relished the absence of traffic in the morning.

“In the first lockdown of spring this year I found the absence of road traffic made each morning’s dawn chorus much clearer”, said Nick Park, Animator and Director at Aardman Animation internationally known for his work on Wallace & Gromit and Shaun the Sheep.

Discovery 

There’s something unique about the thrill of finding a new artist or song that you instantly adore.

At the same time, established artists have been afforded the space and time to work on new music at an unprecedented rate, with full length albums emerging from Sam Smith, Ariana Grande, Charli XCX, Miley Cyrus, and Taylor Swift.

Billie Eilish even said she had made the best songs of her career to date this year, which wouldn’t have been possible in ‘normal’ circumstances.

Nick Gill, Creative Director at BBHcommented: “I’m told that people cling onto familiar and reassuring things in times of conflict and change. I’m the opposite.

“My appetite for discovery, whether in music or film, is as voracious as it’s ever been.”  

Reflection 

We have also seen outpourings of love for the memories, emotions and opportunity for reflection that trusted old favourites can have on us.

You never notice your favourite songs slipping out of your playlists, but rediscovering them years down the line is pure magic.

Nostalgia is bittersweet, but special all the same, and music has the innate ability to bring us back to a certain time, person, or place.

And however painful or joyful the rediscovery of old music can feel, it’s mostly been a welcome escape we’ve all needed in 2020.

Joyce King Thomas, Creative Consultant who developed “Priceless” for Mastercard, said: “We found ourselves a bit nostalgic, listening to Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, Dolly Parton, and others we hadn’t played in years.

Sounds of 2020 - joyce-king-thomas
9 to 5: King Thomas got all nostalgic with the sounds of Dolly Parton and Aretha Franklin.

“The sound of Ray Charles singing America was enough to have me weeping.”

Emotion 

“There are times when we want to lean into how we’re feeling, there are times when we want to ignore what’s going on, and there are times when we don’t know how we’re feeling at all. We can use music to help us figure that out”, DLMDD said.

Raja Rajamannar, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Mastercard, said: “During times of high emotion – whether upset, scared, or frustrated – music plays a role in helping us feel and move through these emotions.”

Sounds good

The Year of Sound initiative can be viewed in full online here.

DLMDD’s McCullough added: “With the arts industry slowly crumbling around us, it is reported that a whole generation of artists, composers, musicians and singers are on the brink of giving up.

“It is now more important than ever that we treat art and music not as a commodity, but a powerful tool for the fabric of societies across the world.

“Yes, music played its part in saving 2020, but now we must all play a part in saving it too.”