What Do B2B Marketers Do Now? is an ongoing email. Join the mailing list to be the first to receive these weekly insights!

How can you tell when a lead singer is at your door? They can’t find the key, and they never know when to come in… 😊

Okay, okay – maybe that was a bit harsh and tough on vocalists. But it seemed to be a good intro to our discussion on ‘key changes’ this week.

Give this song by Bon Jovi a listen with me as we see what the experts are saying… and pay attention to the key change in the song!

Changing your holiday marketing ‘key’

For years, songwriters used a key change – usually a quick shift up – to add some extra punch into a song. They can range from subtle (yet effective) like all the key changes in the first 30 seconds of The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me” to the jarring one that comes just past the three-minute mark in Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer.”

As B2B marketers, what can we do to change keys and add some ‘oomph’ to the end of our year?

How about this? Spotify Wrapped 2022, the viral feature that shows Spotify users their favourite songs, artists, and genres of the year, dropped recently, so you’ve probably seen these pop up all over social media ever since. Considering the feature has been out for six years now, CivicScience launched a few polls to get the pulse on users’ experience with the offering.

Other platforms are holdin’ on to what they’ve got and replicating this style of personalized, year-end recap, and the desire for these features widely exists. Roughly a quarter (23%) of US poll respondents 13+ (n=2,506) said they were at least somewhat interested in this sort of year-end offering on other platforms.

The main takeaway: consumers like to see personalized data, and this is likely a trend that is only taking off. How can we use this in our B2B marketing? I’d love to hear from you – have you seen any great B2B examples utilizing this trend?

The death of the key change in modern music

One of the key changes – pun intended – to the pop music charts in the last 60 years is the demise of key changes. What happened?

Rick Beato (one of my favourite Ricks!) outlines the change in detail in this cool video. And here are some great examples of hits with key changes.

The keys of G major, C major, and D major are most prevalent in hits from 1958 to 1990. Why? Because these keys are easy to work with on the guitar and piano – the two most popular compositional instruments during this period. Since 1990 and the proliferation of electronic composition, many more keys have been popularized.

If I record a song in the key of C major into digital recording software, like Logic or ProTools, and then decide I don’t like that key, I don’t have to play it again in that new key. I can just use my software to shift it into that different key. I’m no longer constrained by my instrument.

Furthermore, digital recording software lends itself to a new style of songwriting that isn’t as inviting to key changes within a recording.

While composing, it’s likely that I’ll work linearly. That means I’ll write section-by-section. First I’ll write a verse, then a chorus, then another verse, and so on. One way to create intrigue as I get to a new section is to change something. Maybe the lyrics. Maybe the melody. Or maybe the key.

We hear this in “Every Breath You Take” by the Police. Most of the song is built around a laid-back groove in Ab major, but then on the bridge, the energy kicks up as the song shifts to the key of B major. Because songwriters in the pre-digital age were writing linearly, shifting the key in a new section was a natural compositional technique and Sting used it to his benefit!

With digital recording, this linear style makes less sense, as songs might be built around a bunch of short loops. It’s a much more vertical approach to songwriting than the linear approach outlined above.

How can you apply this thinking to B2B? Recording software isn’t the only technology that’s continuing to evolve, and the strategies that go with them are changing, too. Think about what ‘key changes’ you can use in your own work so instead of livin’ on a prayer you can have a big hit of your own!

As always, don’t hesitate to call me to brainstorm or just say hello!

Looking forward,

Rick Endrulat, President | ricke@v-causeway.com | www.linkedin.com/in/rickendrulat