The Switch From Mute To Max v1 2

The Switch from Mute to Max

Sounds have exploded from an internet culture side-dish to a main course. Creative and Sr. Creative Strategists Spencer Kupish and Devin Feldman break down the rise of audio-first content and its not-so-shocking ties to TikTok. Tune in for more on “sonic memes” and to learn what beans, a Ratatouille musical and Rick Astley have in common.

Transcript:

(Spencer)

Good afternoon, everybody. I'm Spencer Kupish, Creative at day one agency and your host as we dive into The Switch From Mute to Max

(Devin)

What's up? I'm Devin, I'm a Creative Strategist, also at Day One, I make a lot of TikToks. I spend too much time on the app. So I have a lot of opinions about this.

(Spencer)

Okay, so to kick us off, we've got some fun games for you. We're going to test your audio knowledge. Devin and I are each gonna play two iconic sounds to us, and hopefully to you going to pause for a second and let you guess and then we're going to reveal where it came from and a little bit of thoughts behind it. So, do you think you can go four-for-four? We will see. Here we go.

(Spencer)

*Lucasfilm Sound plays*

So, if you've ever been to a movie or movie theater, before 2010 or you know you'll know this iconic and often way too loud noise. It's the Lucasfilm THX intro that comes right before the movie. It's blasting and if you listen to it with headphones on, you know, it's probably going to be a bit annoying. Devin, what do you have for us?

(Devin)

Let's play it. Okay. I feel like yeah, if you're between the age of like, 18 and like 34 you probably know that one. Unless you were a Mac kid. I was a PC kid until I went to college. I think like many, many people, that was the Windows XP error sound often heard while trying to play Lego Land or maxing out on Solitaire.

(Spencer)

Perhaps I was indeed a Mac kid. So I cannot relate to that painful time in life. But I am familiar with some other slow loading noises from the Mac. Okay, the next sound *beans sound plays.* Honestly, this is one of my favorite sounds. It came from TikTok creator and since February 23 of 2021 has 25,000 videos using that sound. It's beautiful. It's stupid. And I think it just lets us appreciate the start of beans that you know when it hasn't had before.

(Devin)

Yeah, I think Beans, beans are already mean. And now they're like, particularly mean they like they went from like beans to like things. You know, it's just another whole nother dimension of being dumb. Okay, let's, let's get to the fourth one.

*Rick Rolled*

All right. I assume everyone has been recalled before. If you haven't. Now you have your welcome. Iconic audio meme, arguably one of the first, I would say Rick Astley coming in hot with some very nice vocals to interrupt your internet browsing experience. Honestly, the sound that will seemingly never go away.

(Spencer)

Well, anyway, how many did you get? Hopefully you got enough to feel good about yourself for today, tomorrow, maybe next week. But with the games squared away, let's discuss the real reason you tuned in the importance of audio. Over the last year, Devin and I have noticed the rise of viral sounds. And through conversations we boiled down our thinking into one thought: working from home has caused our phones from being on mute to being on max. You know, we don't need to be on mute anymore. We can have the volume cranked all the way up. And we can be nice and loud because we are in our own space. And this has ultimately led to the age where audio is getting its bag. It's getting its attention.

(Devin)

Yeah, conversely I think also, like we are often on mute. So we can have audio on max, say on a video call. For example, in 2019 you whipped out your phone and you started playing TikTok in the middle of a meeting people would notice. But now who's there really? Well I think also, audio is nothing new like we've even had like audio means before, I think the biggest part is that just like they're their own pieces of content now. It's content led by audio instead of usually the other way around where it's like I'm thinking of like audio led content in the past was like music videos. I think you have some, you know, weird YouTube things. There's like that kind of YouTube Haiku was the era of like really short YouTube videos that were like kind of during and pre Vine. A lot of that would get kind of like remixed. But it really wasn't the same. It was on a much smaller scale. And so like now you can like literally pin the sound to any piece of content you want on an app. You can just grab it and you can make something against the audio. That's something we've never seen. And it's really interesting. We've already seen this upward trend, I would say because Tick Tock When did it start building like 2019, early 2019, probably, and pandemic just exacerbated that. I mean, like Spencer was saying, like, I'm sitting in my bedroom. It's just four walls in me. I can play this TikTok, as loud as I want. I can scroll Twitter with the audio on and not be bugged when the tweet autoplays like, that's fine.

(Spencer)

Yeah, and you know, you can really have it as loud as you want. Because you know, your neighbors aren't gonna probably hear your phone. Hopefully your walls are thick enough. But

(Devin)

And Air Pods I think that's a huge part. Air pods are actually a huge part of this. Because even like, I'm still fairly curious with my phone volume, even though I don't care that much, like as much as I used to. But I still, you know, you can just have one in and like, it's like nothing is even there and use all the time.

(Spencer)

Yeah, tick tock is a beast. I feel like it's the wild west of social media, really emphasis there on the wild. Every day, there's a new trend, you know, there's a new effect that's popping up.,And there's these new sounds, some of them funny, some of them songs, some of them cringy, I guess you could say. And some of the examples of these trends that have, you know, really relied on audio so much include the album cover challenge challenge, where users would play a video of themselves doing whatever or just a video of life around them and then pause and it would turn into a square. And that would add the Parental Advisory little stamp and one of the corners and it would be an album cover. And it was just trying to show, I think originally started with trying to show “Hey, anything can be an album cover” your ham sandwich, a photo of the chair, a selfie of you falling down the stairs, because you know, they all have their own emotion tied into them.

Next trend was the oh now trend.trend where users were going to where they would expose their failures or moments that they knew they messed up as soon as the song drops and says Oh, no. And then thirdly, the spooky bedsheet ghost trend. I'm not sure if that's the name, but that's what we're gonna go with. The video that starts off with this BTS behind the scenes of people getting ready putting a sheet over their head. And then as the music ramps up and the beat drops, users start cycling through photos of themselves in these bed sheets pretending to be ghosts. Super spooky. But enough of that. Devin, tell us about the beat makers on Tick Tock

(Devin)

Yeah, so I think you know, it's important to recognize TikTok’s origins, which was basically ase a karaoke app. And then like, from there, that was it actually, for a long time. Like it actually went like a really long time before people realized what they could do with it. And since then, it's become basically like the most powerful music promotion tool the world has ever seen. I think there are a lot of people who make music specifically for the app, and they're very, very good at it. They're basically just making like 12 second songs. It's now showing up in, like actual you know, traditional recorded music, they've been doing a really good job of bringing this music to the app. I think the most recent example that really stands out.

One was Olivia Rodrigo and Driver's license. We always talked about how she broke all the Spotify records and it was just because she made a lot of really great content for TikTok herself, her own content, she was already like, you know, a budding celebrity, but that really, like exploded. And then like, the song was just really applicable to people's videos. It had a really nice vibe. It had lyrics that were extremely coherent. And it just kind of like was applied to everything that the numbers are insane. And then the most recent example would be Lil’ NAS x again, like, you know, he did Old Town Road, that was huge. And that was probably the first TikTok hit as far as I'm concerned. And now he's back a year more than a year later with Montero. But for that one, I mean, he's already like the TikTok content King. But for this one, his team created a snippet from the music video. So there's a scene where he slides down a pole from heaven to hell, and basically took a snippet. So it sounds like he was sliding past you, and uploaded that as the song as the sound for the platform. And then from there, like, I mean, that just created so many pieces of content we're talking about, like dozens and dozens of pieces of code. With millions and millions of hits on each one, up many, many viral hits, like it's crazy where this is going. So it's really fun to watch. But it's also kind of evolving out of music and more just into sound in a very, like artistic way.

(Spencer)

Yeah, sounds have so much of an impact, especially from Meme-rs. Features like talk, the text where subtitles are spoken out loud by this robot voice. It makes posts interesting to watch and is a little bit different. It's not somebody's voice. It's another avenue to tell a story. And it's having a lot of success. I've used it myself, just because I would love to hear the robot speak more than myself in my voice. But you know, sounds on TikTok also have the ability to be searched. It's another huge thing. You know, people can now start finding community, the sound, they don't have to type in a hashtag anymore, or go to a page that repost other people's posts, you know, they can just click on the sound and go through 25,000 videos of people saying beings.

And speaking of community, you know, there's also this ability to layer audio on top of each other. And this has highly benefited people in the theater community. People who did the Ratatouille musical is a great example. it's just these performers who would each play their own part in different places, all recorded on different phones, and then layered on top of each other to make this musical, all on Tik Tok during the pandemic.

(Devin)

Yeah, Ratatouille the musical was pretty awesome. That was a very wicked effort. I remember the New York Times review was like, “impressive”–which it was! it was really cool how people are able to build off of each other like that. And I think those are saying it's like the first time these like audio means have really occurred and mass where it's like a low barrier to entry, you just kind of need to understand how the app works. Like you literally just click on the sound that you like to make with sound like it's like a three clicks, you don't need a subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud, you don't need a nice camera, you just need an idea, and a basic understanding of how this app works.

Really, you can make anything you want to make there. It's really pretty incredible. But there's another side to that. And that's kind of like this audio theft, which you've kind of started seeing pop up. So you'll see a video go viral off platform, whether that be, you know, Twitter, Reddit, Instagram, and then there'll be someone else's audio and then the person acting will have like, memorize it and like just have lip sync essentially, or like, like mouth the words and then use their audio. So they get all the credit for the idea and often like the audio and which is if it's viral like it's presented? Well, it's well acted, and they just act on it, like body language and video on top and they steal it. And that's actually a huge thing that's kind of coming up now. So there's always going to be this kind of other side to like the access that people have to this sounds like the barrier to entry is that low? Like it's kind of if anyone can do it, right? Like, anyone can do it. So you can just kind of steal things. Probably even more, it's probably easier to steal some of these audio clips to like, even though it's as easy as like screenshotting a meme.

(Spencer)

Yeah reminds me of things I didn't used to do as a kid such as download. mp4 is from places like Pirate Bay and such. And yeah, I didn't do that either. Wasn't it? Sound is just another thing that can be stolen. But you know, at the same time such a beautiful thing can help people find community like we're talking about, you know, people promote their songs, and it has so much power especially now in the day and age that we're in. So, you know, it doesn't stop there. You know, audio text messages are a big thing. Now you'll start hearing people who just send audio messages. I have a friend who refuses to text me—will only send me sound bits. And then when I look back at the text, it's just me texting. You know, it's like me texting myself because of the little text message. Yeah, they disappeared and it's just like, Oh, great. Okay, cool. And then that extends to other social media platforms like Clubhouse, this new social media platform where it's all sound, you just listen, you tune in, you know, you can be listening to someone talk or you can just catch up with somebody on there. It's letting sound really take center stage and sharing and social media as a whole. And I love to see that personally. Just because you know, a sound is super catchy, whereas visuals aren't always.

So next time you're creating a video, TikTok, whatever it may be for yourself, brand a client, don't underestimate the power of sound. Don't underestimate how far a good sound can take your video, or how much a bad sound can hold back your video.