Amazon, Ad Council Reinforce Music's Power To Open Hearts

Modern medicine has harnessed music’s healing abilities (soothing “the savage beast”) in many different ways.

For example, a music therapy app for elderly dementia patients reportedly helped lessen symptoms by triggering happy memories through the music of their teens and early adulthood.

So why can’t current music prod today’s teens to cope with their emotional issues?

And why can’t parents and caregivers do the prodding?

“When You Can’t Say it, Play It,” suggests Amazon and the Ad Council in a collaboration launching today,

An online tool from the partners allows parents or caregivers to select from dozens of emotions like “happy,” “angry,” or “sad” and in return receive a list of applicable songs they can share with their teens.

The list is said to be “curated” from Amazon Music’s library of over 100 million titles, which theoretically means a boatload of choices. Still, after trying out the tool on several emotions, we can safely say that the suggested tunes -- as should be the case -- are of recent vintage.

Once a user chooses a song, they ask Alexa to share it with their teen, who can play the song and respond by sharing additional songs. 

“Sometimes it can be hard to describe how we're feeling, and that's especially true for kids, who are still developing the vocabulary to make sense of their experiences,” says Dr. Regina Miranda, professor of psychology at Hunter College and campaign advisor to the Ad Council’s Sound It Out initiative, which worked with the Amazon Ads Brand Innovation Lab on the new campaign. “Music offers the opportunity to connect to others whose experiences we can relate to and whose song lyrics help give voice to some of our own feelings.”

For parents, Miranda tells Pharma & Health Insider, “Using the lyrics from a song our kids relate to is one way we can "start small" and eventually open the door to conversations about important things that may be happening in their lives.”

Sound It Out was created in April 2021 by the Ad Council and Pivotal Ventures to use music as a means of getting young people to open up about their emotional health and well-being. Previous Sound It Out content has included an album and music videos.

The Ad Council previously worked with the Amazon Ads Brand Innovation Lab on “Alexa, what is love?” in 2022. That initiative updated the voice assistant’s answer to the question by using voices of everyday people sharing what love means to them and encouraging people to take meaningful actions to foster inclusivity.

To promote “When You Can’t Say it, Play It,” the Innovation Lab has produced Muchas Flores, a spot from Novemba Films that conveys the tension and awkwardness of a mother and daughter’s attempt at connection -- which gets better by sharing music.

The film, in :15, :30 and long-form versions, will run on media donated by Amazon across its ad serving platform, including owned-and-operated inventory and third-party inventory. Media includes streaming video, digital, audio and Fire TV.

Amazon and the Ad Council said the campaign has also enlisted the help of such influential musicians as Nico Craig, JJ Hairston, Carla Morrison and Ambar Lucid – whose “Letter to My Younger Self” not only plays a key role in the donated ad, but also showed up as the first musical selection when we used the tool to input “sad” as our emotion.

Sound It Out is part of the Ad Council’s $65 million, seven-year Mental Health Initiative, announced in November.

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