Rosetta Stone Meets Guitar Hero: Making Music For Agency's Invention Division

BBH is hustlin’. Not only is the global agency home to clients like Axe, British Airways, Google, Johnnie Walker, Sprite and Vaseline, one of its side companies is creating products in the fashion, security, and, most recently, music industries.

The latest product to bring in an additional revenue stream is Playground Sessions, a music learning software program that teaches users -- from beginners to more advanced learners -- how to play the piano.

All you need is a keyboard with a USB or midi connection, allowing the instrument to connect with a computer to receive real-time feedback, and $149. 

Playground Sessions is the latest brainchild of BBH's brand invention division, ZAG. In the past, ZAG’s worldwide offices have created products like Ila, a personalized alarm system for women, and Mrs. O, a book and website on First Lady Michelle Obama’s style.

Chris Vance, Managing Director of ZAG US, describes the concept of Playground Sessions best -- as “Rosetta Stone meets Guitar Hero.”

Playground Sessions is a multimillion-dollar investment for BBH, and the agency is in talks with VCs for a series A round of funding. 

The agency teamed up with YouTube celebrity pianist David Sides, who created musical arrangements and leads students through video tutorials ranging from beginner to advanced. Tutorials cover topics like keyboard pattern recognition, staff notation literacy, rhythmic competency and playing by ear. Online, users can see their progress improve and share their scores with family and friends. 

Rain, a digital software agency, created the software.

Check out an intro video of a student learning to master One Republic’s song “Apologize,” in 30 days.

One obvious difference between typical music lessons and Playground Sessions is the music. It’s more current. Pop hits from the past couple of years -- such as Beyonce’s “Halo” and “Hey, Soul Sister” by Train -- are used to help students learn piano.

“When building a brand you always have to start with a fundamental question: what does the consumer need, or what problem needs to be solved,” said Vance. “We identified there was a need for consumers to play music (less than 7% of people know how to play a musical instrument). We also recognized that the problem with the traditional way of learning (expensive, isolating, sometimes boring) is that it doesn't work for most people.”

The $149 price tag includes three free songs for users to practice. Additional songs can be purchased for $6 each.

Look out for additional instruments, including the guitar, to be added to the Playground Sessions portfolio in the future.

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