Are you a musically-inclined person who is also able to write creative and catchy tag lines? If you’re able to compose music and words to create a tune that can get everyone’s attention, I’ll show you how you can get a job writing jingles.
Where Have All The Good Jingles Gone?
Pre-1980s was a great era for the jingle. Their popularity held our attention in the advertising world in both television and radio. Some of the most memorable jingles did their job well. They would make us believe that processed meat had a first name or that the whole world would be in love with us if only we were an Oscar Meyer wiener.
And, one particular jingle was very nearly a song in and of itself as it gathered young adults from all over the world on a hilltop in the Meditteranean and inspired us with its powerful message of peace, love, and harmony. The 1971 feel-good Coke commercial struck a common chord with many people.
Sadly, jingles are actually on the decline today. Pop songs playing in the background of some popular commercials have replaced some of the classic jingles. Lady Gaga’s “Applause” is featured in a Kia commercial while Kanye West’s song plays in the background of a Bud Light commercial.
The fact that many nationally televised commercials today are only 15 seconds long is probably one reason jingles have been on the decline. That’s a small window of time to effectively communicate brand identity through images, while highlighting a logo, having a tagline, all the while playing a jingle.
But, it can be done. Red Robin’s commercial conveys its message with its popular three-line jingle: Red Robin – Yummm.” And, we’re all familiar with Mazda’s famous commercial that has viewers hooked with two identical words – “zoom, zoom.”
It should be noted also that not all jingles are sung by humans or use our language. It seems that sometimes all it takes to have a popular jingle is a great one-word repetition that effectively communicates the message of the product.
So, while jingles are on the decline, there is still money to be made on them, especially at the local level of advertising, near where you live.
From Jingles to Singles
Of course, for most of us who write jingles, we dream that we’ll take our talents to the next level and our jingle will become the jingle of the decade. Or, maybe our composition or songwriting talents will be noticed and we'll become the next big pop star.
Before the mid-1970s when he got his first big break, Barry Manilow pioneered many of the commercial jingles of that time, including the “Like a Good Neighbor” State Farm commercial and the “Stuck on Band Aids” commercial.
It wasn’t long after, Manilow became one of the most successful pop singers and released huge hits such as “Mandy” and “I write the songs.”
Fast forward to the early 2000’s and Justin Timberlake performed the “I’m Lovin’ It” jingle for a McDonald’s commercial, then released it into a successful pop single.
While most jingle writers never have the level of success that Manilow and Timberlake enjoyed, writing jingles can still be a fun and profitable venture for many.
So, What’s In a Jingle?
Basically, a jingle is the ear-popping tune you hear in a commercial, often accompanied with a memorable tagline that becomes the hook. Often, the hook become the slogan of the company who’s doing the advertising.
When you write a jingle, you want it to make an impression on people. You want people to hear it and go “Ahh” and associate it with that brand or product.
It needs to be memorable and musically cool. As I stated before, you don’t have as long to do that as jingle writers once did. So, you have to be able to write something short and sweet that will resonate.
Usually, advertising agencies and their clients issue a short statement about what the jingle should consist of or what it needs to convey to the audience. Many jingles are meant to impact some part of people’s emotional status.
How many of us have laughed, cried, or danced to a jingle from a commercial and then felt silly? When that happens, the jingle writer has been successful at setting out with what they were instructed to do.
How Can I Become A Jingle Writer?
It goes without saying, you have to know music well. You must have composing skills as well as a have a nack for writing and coming up with clever words and phrasing. You need to be able to write music and jingles in the style that is required.
Knowing a bit about recording helps too and you also have to have the mindset of an entrepreneur to promote yourself.
With that in mind, it could be helpful to take courses to get the technical skills you need to be able to mix your own tracks. It’s also helpful to take courses or classes in marketing. You’ll also want to read and learn everything you can about breaking into the business.
Most jingle writers are freelancers, meaning you’ll have to promote yourself to advertising agencies or with online websites, such as Freelancer.com to get the jobs you want. You need to be able to build rapports with ad agencies and clients so they remember you.
You can also have your own company and work as a jingle writer. You’d have to have your own studio and production equipment and instruments, but it’s one alternative. This is one way to promote yourself on the local level, writing jingles for local television commercials.
It might be helpful to compose and record some samplings of your jingles to showcase your talent. Compose a few jingles in various styles of music to appeal to a wide variety of clients.
Present your work to local small businesses, public relations firms, political campaigns, local advertising firms, and other organizations that advertise both at the radio and television level. The idea is to get out there and market yourself as a jingle writer.
You have a pretty good shot of landing gigs, if do everything right and have the talent to boot. I mean, think about it. How many jingle writers do you think are out there?
The more skills and assets you have, the more likely a client is to hire you.
Gig Salad is an online platform that can help you get the word out and find jobs as a jingle writer.
In the end, you need patience and persistence to become a successful jingle writer.
What Can I Earn As a Jingle Writer?
The Bureau of Labor doesn’t list jingle writing per se. After a quick search, it seems jingle writers can charge a fee per jingle, which can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars, depending on your experience and the quality of the jingle, as well as factoring in the type of clientele.
The average jingle writer that is serious about their business seems to earn around $48,000 a year or $25 an hour.
You’ll also want to consider that outright giving up your rights to your work should earn you a higher wage as you would also give up royalty rights. You never know when your tune or jingle could be the next huge crowd-pleaser.
You could also settle for a more modest fee, but insist on retaining publishing rights, while earning royalties on your jingle, which would put money in your pocket each time your jingle is played.
Local gigs will pay less than national ones, but it all is important to build you up as a jingle writer and helps in getting you out there.
You may not ever make it as big as Justin Timberlake, but you can be the next best thing and get paid to write jingles. If you love to write music and lyrics, in the end, what’s important is doing something you enjoy doing.
Can I Market Myself On My Own Website?
You certainly could! An online presence can do a lot to help you further along in your goals as a jingle writer. Think about it. You can put demo videos of jingles you’ve created as part of your portfolio, you can blog about jingles, and perhaps even start a Twitter following where you share and talk about all the great jingles, while promoting your own.
The point is, while jingles aren’t as common as they once were, there’s still a market out there for jingle writers. It just takes one memorable jingle to establish you in the music and commercial world.
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