Broadcast Music

Written by Michael Federico
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Broadcast music has evolved as more news and entertainment outlets have developed. The dawn of cable news has brought around-the-clock coverage of the day's events, as well as personality-based programs to the American public. Cable networks have used broadcast music to help define their channel's style and to create audio links to their various hosts.

There was a time when network news did not have to do much to draw an audience. Viewers connected with an anchor that they liked, and generally tuned in on a regular basis. However, with the variety of news options available to TV watchers today, programmers have found that they have to treat each news show as a product that needs to be marketed just like any other. Broadcast music has played a large part in this new approach. It helps create an entire package that viewers can identify with. More and more often today, people are not watching specific news programs for the content, they are watching for the overall appeal of the telecast.

Broadcast Music for Promos and Commercials

National and local news shows are not the sole beneficiaries of broadcast music. Networks have begun to use the form heavily in promo spots. They will develop a specific tune to indicate that something important is coming on the screen. This will, more often than not, lead to scenes from an upcoming sitcom premiere or clips from a "very special" episode of whatever drama is popular at the time. The broadcast music used in these promotions serves several purposes. It grabs the viewer's attention and it also creates an aural link to the show and to the promotion, itself. The next time the broadcast music plays, the observer is more likely to focus on the screen to see if one of his favorite shows is being advertised.

Perhaps the most enduring form of broadcast music is the commercial jingle. These songs, with lyrics or without, can instantly trigger product recognition in the minds of those who hear them. It is this principle that has led networks to adopt the jingle format and apply it to other aspects of the television medium.


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