＜ Branded Music Curation : Special Case ＞ CREATORE with PLUS × Nippon Rediffusion Limited Dialogue on Branding a Space
We worked on a playlist as spatial music for CREATORE with PLUS, a furniture shop and showroom with the theme, "working in your own way", newly opened at Yebisu Garden Place.
Now that the space is filled with music suiting the store with its carefully selected furniture, we had a conversation with Ms Nonaka of PLUS Furniture Company, who was in charge of the overall direction of the project, and our Music Director, Mr Ojima, about the process leading up to this point. The talk was held at the new office at Yebisu Garden Place of Plus Corporation’s Furniture Company, which operates CREATORE with PLUS. In their stylish, fresh and breezy space, the dialogue was full of creativity.
“I could only give keywords... And yet it turned out to be the most perfect playlist imaginable!”
Ojima:This is such a great office. The employees can choose their seats according to their work style, and there are booths where they can concentrate, and café spaces for communication. I envy the workers here! The CREATORE shop&showroom also has well-designed, comfortable-looking chairs and sofas that I would love to have in my own home!
Thank you very much for your help in creating this playlist. The communication with Ms Nonaka for this project is still fresh in my memory, and it was a time that I consider to be really enjoyable.
Nonaka:Thank YOU very much. It's a perfect playlist and all the staff are delighted with it!
When your team curated the music for the exhibition for the launch of our new furniture in 2018, we were satisfied with Rediffusion's careful consultative approach and the workmanship that exceeded our expectations. And we could relate to your idea, 'branding the space with sound', so I couldn't imagine doing it without Rediffusion.
However, the playlist was to be played in a completely different space from that time, and the shop&showroom had not yet been completed, so I was only able to provide keywords.... But it turned out superb, and I said to myself, “they are such professionals!”
Ojima:Thank you very much! I think it's because Ms Nonaka spoke to us concretely about the brand image, concept and keywords, and it was easy for us to get a grasp of what kind of music to play, and to crystalising the music concept.
Nonaka:'CREATORE with PLUS' is the first store in Tokyo. Therefore, it was very important that the tempo and tone of the music matched the following images: "customers can relax and look at the furniture", "the music is in tune with the feelings of the customers who look at the furniture", and "it creates a sense of quality in the space".
We didn't want to compromise, so we told you a lot of things, and I'm really grateful that everything we requested was met with great success.
Conceptualising from the first sample songs.
Ojima:I am glad to hear you say so. However, at first I proposed a different genre from what is currently playing in the store, which was European Jazz. Keywords such as 'luxury', 'calm atmosphere' and 'natural richness' resonated with me, so I decided to go with jazz.
There are both American and European jazz. American jazz sounds more down-to-earth and funky. European jazz, on the other hand, is based on classical music, and is characterised by sophisticated sounds and beautiful melodies.
For CREATORE with PLUS, we thought gentle music would be good to accompany the customers who came to the store, so I first proposed a demo playlist of only European jazz instrumental tracks.
Nonaka:That playlist was actually very nice. But from a customer perspective, I felt a bit uneasy about it. If it was playing in a well-known store, the customers might think it was cool, but CREATORE doesn't have that level of recognition yet.
So I thought I might want a gentler, warmer sound. It was only because you suggested this demo playlist that we were able to develop this kind of image. We also felt that the acoustic playlist you suggested for another area of the store would be perfect for the whole store, so we decided to use that as the basis.
Ojima:Each conversation I had with Ms Nonaka-san gave me clues. There are many different genres of acoustic music. Some are jazz, some folk, new age, alternative pop, etc. So, instead of a flat playlist, I combined various genres and came up with a structure that would never get boring.
I also wanted to let the customers feel that they would to take their time and visit again, and to keep the staff who work all day interested.
Nonaka:Indeed, there was a number of songs that I could listen to every day and never get tired of. We were given abundant reference songs, and they were all so good that it would be a shame not to use them, and I wanted to use them elsewhere.
So we listened to them over and over again, and communicated, “Please cut this one and put that one in its place”, “The piano piece in high key sounds a bit too sharp, so is there something else you can suggest?” “I really like the tone of the male vocalist's voice, so I definitely want to have that.”
The tempo that suited CREATORE was decided while comparing reference tracks we received each time, and the touch and spice of the vocals, both male and female, and the edginess were also decided. In the end, I think you have summed up the branding of CREATORE very well in terms of music. I was happy that you were able to curate exactly what we wanted.
The key to curation? 'It's all about getting a firm grip on your brand image.'
Nonaka:But I wonder how you curate it. With images, you can just look at the thumbnails and pick them up, but with music you have to listen to each one individually. Do you have all the music in your head? If the image you’re looking for is bright, do you have all the artists and songs stocked up?? Tell us how you produce it (laughs).
Ojima:I have listened to so much different music in my life that I can't count the number of drawers that contain music (laughs). I open and close several drawers repeatedly while selecting music.
The trick to curating is to get a firm grasp of the brand image. It is no exaggeration to say that this is the only way.
Based on the keywords that you gave me, Ms Nonaka, I developed my own image and to broaden my imagination, I searched for images of European furniture etc.
Then, I would put myself in the shoes of the customer, and think what kind of music would make me feel comfortable when I entered the store, what would make me want to visit again. And as a music professional, how I could contribute to the CREATORE brand. It was a continuous process of trial and error, imagining, thinking and generating ideas.
It's a one-of-a-kind playlist, a playlist that no other brand can use. I shared Ms Nonaka's view of not wanting to compromise, so I opened my drawers to the full and selected the songs.
With the responsibility of selecting music and the willingness to fulfil my job as a professional, I do my best to utilise my drawers. As a music lover, it was a very rewarding and valuable time for me!
There is always an intention behind every song selection.
Ojima:But it must have been difficult for you, too, to communicate something that had no form.
Nonaka:It was quite easy (laughs). I was able to just say exactly what I wanted. For example, I could say, “The song as a whole is good, but I'm a bit worried about this part.” Whatever I felt, I told you.
In response, Ojima-san would immediately understand the point, saying, “I thought you might say so”, so the conversation went very smoothly. I really appreciated the stress-free communication.
I was particularly thrilled when I got a precise answer. I asked what you thought when I was sceptical about adding well-known artists’ songs to the playlist. When I asked the question, I was surprised when you said, “Songs that are not known are fine, but when songs you have heard are played, it creates a sense of security.”
Ojima:There is a tremendous number of songs. While non-major songs can be refreshing, major songs are known and familiar to many people, and it gives them a sense of security.
Nonaka:If the client is not keen on a song, it would be easy to just remove it, but Ojima-san was able to give me a professional perspective, which made me feel very satisfied and more trusting.
Ojima:Thank you so much. Yes, there is always an intention behind every song selection.
Abundant number of songs and a fluctuating range from PlayNetwork library enables highly accurate playlists.
Ojima:This playlist is sourced from our partner PlayNetwork in the US.
PlayNetwork is a Seattle-based company that curates music for global brands all over the world.
It offers a wide variety of music choices, not only major music but also a lot of indie music, much of which is not familiar to Japanese audiences.
The choice varies from innovative and spicy songs to orthodox classics. This is our great advantage in being able to produce highly accurate playlists that you won't find anywhere else.
Nonaka:I see! I've listened to the entire first month's playlist, but not the entirety of the next month's, so next time I'm in the store I want to listen to it all day while I work. It's very comforting, so I'm sure it will help me get more done.
Customers who visit the shop actually tell us it's comfortable and the music is lovely.
Music that vibrates your cells - that's the playlist made by Nippon Rediffusion.
Nonaka:Music is something you feel. It's not music if you don't feel anything when it's playing. The music that Rediffusion offers makes you feel that your cells are vibrating.
The finished product, as well as the music sent to us as reference, are all beyond our imagination. The work is strictly professional and has exceeded our expectations. I wasn't worried because of their extensive track record, including dealings with well-known companies, and their previous excellent products, but I was once again glad that I had asked you to do this for CREATORE.
I felt that we were able to work together as a team with Rediffusion, a group of craftsmen who do good work in a solid and honest manner.
Ojima:Thank you. I'm very happy! There was a lot of fumbling at first, but Ms Nonaka’s honest opinions and feedback helped me to broaden the selection of songs, and I think we were able to work together as a team to produce the playlist. I would be honoured if we could continue to keep this creative work together.
Nonaka:Same here. CREATORE will continue to evolve, and we look forward to continuing to work with you.
Music is one of the things that affect the senses in a working environment. I would like to work together with you on initiatives to ensure that this is valued.
Ojima:That would be great. It would be absolutely delightful if we can work on music for work environment too!
CREATORE with PLUS
A shop and showroom based on the concept of 'My wardrobe', where you can find “your own way” of working. The shop offers a wide range of high-design items that cater to customers' particular tastes and inspire their creativity, allowing them to style their “working space in their own way”. Products range from high-quality foreign-brand furniture, home-working furniture, lighting fixtures, to carpets and accessories. It opened on 8 November 2022 on the B1 floor of Yebisu Garden Place Centre Plaza.
Executive Officer at Plus Corporation Furniture Company
Deputy General Manager, Sales & Marketing Division / Business Manager, Creative Business Division
After working for a major information technology services company and an interior design office, Yumiko Nonaka joined Plus in 2006. She has worked in interior design and direction, mainly for offices, facilities and residences. She launched the seat reservation system Suwary and promoted solutions for hybrid work. She has been responsible for the overall direction of the office relocation to Yebisu Garden Place and the opening of CREATORE with PLUS.
Music Director at Nippon Rediffusion Limited
Ryoya Ojima started taking music lessons and learning the Electone at the age of five. After graduating from high school, he moved to Tokyo and graduated from Shobi Music College. Currently, he is mainly in charge of proposing in-store background music playlists for brands and department stores. As a hobby, he performs on the Electone, and provides and arranges music for recitation theatre and aquarium short films, etc.