Searching Beyond the Paid

Friday, May 18, 2012

Why Musicians are Good at PPC

Ready for yet another ranty post?  Too bad!  After the past couple weeks of craziness in the PPC world, I need to cleanse the palate.  Thus, a post about one of the other loves in my life:  music.

Many of you know that I’ve been a musician most of my life.  I sang in church when I was tiny, then moved on to the recorder and a brief and relatively unsuccessful stint at the piano before settling on the clarinet in 6th grade.  I continued with music in college as a proud member of the Spartan Marching Band, playing the alto sax.  I still play in both the MSU Alumni Band and local community bands.  I can’t begin to enumerate the joy and opportunities that music has given me.

As with many of my blog posts, you’re probably wondering what the heck this has to do with PPC.  In my 10 years in the industry, I’ve discovered that many of you are fellow musicians.  Some of you are really darn good at it.  Some of you have even made a living at it for a while.

To me, that’s awesome and fun.  Beyond that, though, I recently read an article that explains why so many of us are into music.  Scientific studies have shown that musicians use both sides of their brains more frequently than average people.

The article states that “Instrumental musicians often integrate different melodic lines with both hands into a single musical piece, and they have to be very good at simultaneously reading the musical symbols, which are like left-hemisphere-based language, and integrating the written music with their own interpretation, which has been linked to the right hemisphere.”

The researchers in the article also found that “the musicians gave more correct responses than non-musicians on the word association test, which the researchers believe may be attributed to enhanced verbal ability among musicians.”

Sound familiar?

Music is basically one big dichotomy.  It’s full of mathematical concepts:  from the time signature to counting rhythms to even the musical scales themselves – all of these have mathematical theory at the core.

But listening to music played mathematically is awful.  Think about a song that’s plunked out on a computerized synthesizer:  the notes all sound the same, and there are no changes to the volume or rhythm.  Booooo-ring, right?

In order for it to be meaningful, music needs feeling.  The interpretation of the tune is what makes it pleasing to hear – whether it’s a classical piece played by an orchestra, or a hard-driving rock and roll song.  If the musicians didn’t play with feeling, nobody would care.  It takes both the left-brained meter and math and the right-brained creativity to make the song appealing and effective.

The same thing goes for PPC.  The reason not everyone succeeds at PPC is often due to the lack of either left-brained or right-brained activity.  I’ve seen people who are great at math and analysis struggle with writing good ad copy.  And I’ve seen super-creative people, many of them artists in their own right, struggle with the data overload that’s native to PPC.

It takes ability in both hard data and creativity to really knock PPC out of the park.  I think this is why so many of us are musicians, too.  We’ve learned to, or have an innate ability to, combine math & statistics with a creative streak and make magic out of it – and that draws us to PPC, where these abilities are strengths.

Of course I know that not every good PPC’er is a musician.  And certainly not every great musician would make a great PPC’er (or would even want to try it!).  Somehow, I can’t picture Eddie Van Halen sitting down at a computer and writing PPC ads.  But I bet Neil Peart would be great at it.

What do you think?  Are you a musician-turned-PPC’er? Or vice versa?  Share your thoughts in the comments!


  • Very interesting post Melissa. Really insightful and original view of PPC.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:07 PM EDT  

  • Really interesting and original view of PPC!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:08 PM EDT  

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