A Cup of Coffee with Taylor Thomas
by Ilaria Mangiardi
A lifelong music fanatic with experience in both the advertising and entertainment industries, Taylor Thomas, now works as a Business Development Manager for MassiveMusic New York. Taylor enjoys working alongside musicians to combine her love of music and passion for brands professionally. Let’s find out how she answered our million dollar questions. But first, coffee.
This series is called ‘A Cup of Coffee with’ which sounds like rituals and deep conversations. What’s a good habit you formed and one that you’d like to get rid of?
While I am not necessarily a morning person, one thing that I have forced myself to adopt the past few years is walking for an hour or so every morning before work. It helps that I am a coffee addict, so the allure of a fresh cup helps me get out of bed earlier. Every morning, I walk around my neighbourhood with coffee while I listen to The Daily podcast followed by a few songs to put me in a good headspace for the day.
In terms of a habit I’d like to get rid of, like so many of us, it’s getting off my phone during my freetime. The ability to forever scroll is alluring, and I hate thinking about the time I have wasted doing it! Arianna Huffington recommends that we “put our phone to bed” in a different room before we go to sleep. Unfortunately, I live in a one room studio… However, I have started to make a point to leave my phone charging across the room.
Any anecdote about your beginnings at Massive?
Starting a new job during a pandemic has its own set of challenges! Because of that, I was somewhat anxious before starting. However, that couldn’t have been further from the truth here. I instantly felt the warmth and fun of Massive. I really love the daily company-wide meetings we have just to check in with each other. I’ve never been at a company of this size that somehow still makes you feel like you’re part of the gang from day one.
What do you like the most about your current role?
I would say it’s learning from and enabling creative people. While I myself was never musically gifted, I have spent my career trying to enable creative people around me. Doing this through finding exciting clients that our insanely creative strategists and composers can work with is something I look forward to facilitating. Learning from the extremely knowledgeable and creative people in my sales department has also been inspiring. Everyone’s love for music and excitement in helping brands reach their full potential through sound really makes me excited to be part of this team.
What’s the current state of sonic branding in the US?
I’d say it’s on the cusp of exploding! The audio revolution that is happening right now, and of course the pandemic in general, is really changing how consumers interact with their environment. So, brands are seeing that they need to change how they interact with consumers and are increasingly having to think about sound as a tool to get the most out of every interaction. However, as the market changes with new AI, platforms and services developing everyday, there is such a nuance to how to get this done effectively, flexibly and with lasting power. It’s an exciting time for us to help CMOs and Brand Managers to become more strategic and effective through the emotional power of music and sound.
Where do you see it going?
In addition to the growth of audio-centric platforms, there has been a real growth in consumers looking for brands that are authentic and that they can connect with. With this in mind, an emotional connection and understanding of a brand’s personality is vital. Sound tailored to a brand’s identity is of course a great tool to enhance an emotional connection with consumers across all interactions.
Beyond that, given how our interactions have changed with brands, there is a real value to functional sound across websites, apps, physical products. It’s been exciting to see brands start to understand that even these functional moments can serve as an opportunity to enforce the brand through tailored and strategic sound. I’m enjoying seeing a growth in clients’ understanding and even asking for these functional moments to also serve the brand identity and emotional connection with consumers. Overall, I really see sound growing to become a core asset which designers and brands think about when defining and assessing their brand identity rather than an afterthought.
Why do brands need to include music in their strategy nowadays? And why, in your opinion, are some of them still reluctant?
Music in general has the power to alter our moods, make us emotional, help us focus and importantly gets stuck in our head among other things. There are certain sounds I hear that instantly remind me of a place or thing, and some songs that I simply can’t forget even if I wanted to. Harnessing this natural power of sound to work for your brand strategy seems like a no brainer. When done the right way, it allows a brand to connect with their audience instantly, while increasing recall, differentiation and enforcing the overall brand value.
Two reasons I think brands may still be reluctant is the lack of awareness in general and the lack of understanding the correct way to utilize the power of audio. This is why I love Massive’s approach. We don’t simply drop in with a jingle and leave. We truly partner with the brand, agency and stakeholders to educate them on the asset of sound, but also partner to create a suite of assets and ensure everyone on the team knows how to best implement. The partner approach is so valuable because it ensures long-term value and understanding.
What’s your favourite MassiveMusic project or campaign so far?
So many! The first case study I saw was The Sound of Philips. I totally geeked out on the concept of using the physical lightbulb and human body sounds to create the sonic DNA. It’s still so fun to show on pitches because so many people have the same reaction.
How would you define your relationship with music?
Obsessive! Spotify premium is the best $10 a month I spend. While no one in my family played music growing up, it was always around my house. We had a jukebox in our kitchen which always seemed to be playing. I grew up on everything from Frank Sinatra to the Temptations to Jim Croce to Elvis (who I used to perform as for my school). That experience definitely shaped my taste and I now treat Spotify like my jukebox. I am always looking for new artists and never leave my apartment without a set of headphones on me.
Does music affect your other senses?
It definitely affects my mood and memory. Music is an extremely emotive and nostalgic force in my life. I also like to have it on while working to help me focus. I guess that’s why I feel comfortable singing sonic branding’s praises. My lived experience with sound so clearly reflects why we want brands to utilize it.
What was the last album you listened to and why did you choose to listen to it?
The last album I listened to was ‘Trinity Lane’ by Lilly Hiatt. It’s an album I seem to keep coming back to over these past few years. I just love everything about it. It’s moody and loud and just so fun to sing to. I chose to listen to it recently because I had a long solo drive to my parents house and wanted something to sing to. I’m just glad no one could hear me!
Women in the music industry remain massively underrepresented. What’s your advice?
The music and entertainment industry is very much a business of who you know. For a long time, the industry has been run by males, and a lot of males know and hang out with other males. So when a coveted job does come up, it’s natural for people to recommend people they know in the industry. I think there needs to be a real concerted effort for people to look beyond the people in their circle when new opportunities arise – this in both race and gender. Another problem is representation, so as women in the industry there is such an opportunity for us to vocalize the fact that women can and should be leaders in the industry! The more people see and hear it, the more they believe it. We all need to advocate for change.
What does the sonic identity of Taylor Thomas sound like?
My aspirational sonic identity is joyful, optimistic and a little quirky. I’m always trying to bring a positive energy and looking forward to the opportunities ahead of me. Best paired with a sunny day on the beach.