Music is the Foundation: Philippe Aubert-Messier, Bopper

Music connects with people at a deep, subconscious level – and in an advertising context, it sets the emotional tone for how the rest of a spot is perceived.


Please provide us with some background on Bopper Music – what you do?

Bopper is a new alternative to stock music for ad agencies. Our platform is full of real music by indie artists and bands, all curated by our experienced team of music supervisors & pre-cleared to license for advertising. Each song is priced individually, based on the campaign terms and the artist’s reputation. This model allows us to make fair, sustainable deals between artists and brands. Our team also provides white-glove rights clearance and music search services, at no up-front charge.

Creatives use Bopper to find unique, trending music for their campaigns. Producers appreciate the streamlined nature of our platform – no more haggling over prices, or waiting for rights to clear. And on our end, we love to connect artists with advertisers in a way that’s truly good for both industries.

You rebranded from Apollo Music Store to Bopper earlier this year. What is story behind the rebrand? How have you evolved over the last 15 years?

As a cofounder of Apollo Studios, I spent over a decade producing custom music for ads. When ad music budgets began to shift away from custom compositions and toward stock music, I started Apollo Music Store to provide a third option for brands and agencies who needed the convenience of stock music, but wanted the quality of custom compositions.

Our rebrand to Bopper reflects the maturation of our company, particularly as we’ve gained focus on our mission to create win-win scenarios for artists, agencies, and citizen brands. We’re connected to our past by our mission to bring great music into the world – and we’re doing everything we can to create a future where the new music scene thrives and flourishes.

What has been the effect of the pandemic on your business?

Fortunately, business is booming on our end. We’ve seen a big shift in demand from custom music to off-the-shelf options – traffic to our site is up significantly, and our monthly revenues have spiked 300% since March. Music studios are closed, which explains part of the situation, but we also believe that ad agencies and the brands they represent are motivated to help musicians get through difficult times. With almost all live shows being cancelled, artists have to find new ways to earn their living. Just one sync placement can make a real difference for a working artist – agencies know this, and are turning to Bopper instead of the big stock libraries as a way to find great tracks for their ads while also supporting artists.

How are you navigating through it? Do you feel that the music industry has resilience at times of economic distress?

We’re primarily based in Montreal, but many of our team members are globally based – we have folks in Australia, the USA, plus other cities elsewhere in Canada, so it hasn’t been too much of an adjustment from a workflow perspective. Video calls and the reality of working remotely are nothing new over here!

Since March, we’ve helped numerous ad agencies navigate the challenges this pandemic has brought to the ad music scene. Many of them lost some key resources who used to conduct their searches or clear rights. Music searches and rights clearance are things we do on a daily basis to bring new artists onto our platform, so we were able to quickly provide some help on these fronts for our agency partners – and we’ve actually decided to add music searches & rights clearance to our official roster of services.

The resilience of the music industry is a bit of a touchy subject. People love to tell musicians things like “you folks are resilient, you always find a way” – but the reality is that there is no clear substitute in sight for live entertainment, which provides the lionshare of revenue for most artists. The future is very uncertain for many musicians currently on the scene.

Many brands do understand how difficult things are for musicians, and want to do their part by buying music from artists. We obviously see this in a good light, and are happy to do our part to keep the music industry as strong as it can be in difficult times like these.

We’d love to hear about some of your clients and the campaigns they have run – can you provide examples please?

We landed our first placement with Apple recently, but unfortunately in our line of work, clients often don’t share their final spots with us. It’s different from the studio days where we could flash our great new spots on our blog and Facebook feeds!

Some other big names we’ve worked with recently include Google, Nissan, Sony, Nike, Footlocker, the UN, and Macy’s. We’re also a vendor with all of the major groups (Omnicom, IPG, Publicis, WPP, Dentsu).

Please share with us how vital the right music choice is to content and advertising? How does it help to reinforce the brand message and make content memorable?

At some level, every ad is designed to trigger an emotional response from a viewer. Music connects with people at a deep, subconscious level – and in an advertising context, it sets the emotional tone for how the rest of a spot is perceived.

When a song puts the viewer in a positive mood, it increases the chance that the viewer will notice, understand, and remember the ad. Choosing a song that’s emotionally aligned with the key message of an ad will enhance the impact of that ad, but it does so in a disarming, non-salesy way. Since music speaks so effectively to the human subconscious, advertisers can use it to build trust and drive action with great effect.

Music isn’t just another tool in an advertiser’s toolkit – it is literally foundational to building an emotional connection with an audience. Without building that emotional connection, a brand can never hope to win the war for attention against its competitors.

To close out, what one thing that has come about as a result of the pandemic, do you hope will stay?

A few things come immediately to mind:

Artists have, by necessity, found very creative ways to get their music out into the world during this pandemic. This means finding new ways to perform, like we’ve seen to some extent, but also cracking the code to profitable brand partnerships. Right now, diversifying revenue is a matter of life or death to careers in the music industry – and while it is scary, I believe the new partnerships and relationships forged during this season will continue to pay massive dividends once this is all said and done. We’re expecting to see a lot of innovation on this front, and we’re excited to see the unique creative collaborations between artists and brands that come from these hard times.

For brand content producers, if it wasn’t clear already, it’s clear now that e-commerce is a vital part of every business. That includes the music business, which in many ways has been stuck in the past, particularly in the sync licensing space. We’ve been pushing our corner of the industry toward e-commerce for years, and now we certainly feel that our approach is vindicated now (albeit not for the reasons we expected).

Most importantly, as our friend Zak Mroueh (CEO and founder of Zulu Alpha Kilo) pointed out the other day, I’m encouraged by the speed and agility that the music and advertising industries each showed in response to all the radical changes we’ve seen. If we can find new ways to work efficiently right now, why not always? Helping agencies to license music more quickly will be our humble contribution in this area, and we’re excited to see how all the other new ways of doing business in times of hardship will result in a better life for everyone on the other side.