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CBS’ Watch Magazine Has a Soundtrack, and It’s Classical

Watch_June08If films get soundtracks, and television shows are backed by popular music and original scores, who says a print magazine can’t be, too?

Watch — an entertainment magazine produced by CBS, just debuted marketing videos for its celebrity and lifestyles coverage with a special bit of background noise — the sounds of a British violinist and a 22-piece orchestra.

According to an interview Watch magazine execs recently did with the New York TimesStuart Elliott, the CBS print spinoff (which, obviously, can also be accessed online, via smartphone apps and mobile devices, where the commissioned piece of music can be heard) decided to hire classical violinist Charlie Siem to write the piece for Watch‘s “brand videos”. Titled “Canopy”, the composition by Siem (who didn’t hesitate to call the project “unusual” but “rewarding”), was meant to “help [Watch magazine's] video content stand out amid the clutter.”

And after CBS’ Watch licensed the Chris Brown tune “Beautiful People” in 2013 for a big chunk of change, the pub was looking to incorporate original music into its social media and web promos for a cheaper price.

“We like to think the magazine is elegant and refined and glamorous,” Watch Editor in Chief (and VP of CBS Communications) Jeremy Murphy told the Times, “ … this music hits those highlights.”

At the risk of sounding trite, I listened to Siem’s piece, and it’s gorgeous. It begins with a commanding staccato rhythm followed by a lovely solo by Siem, backed by the swelling sounds of the orchestra.

Not going to lie — it made me want to read Watch magazine. So apparently, Watch took advantage of my emotions (who doesn’t love beautiful things?) and the mag’s experiment worked on at least one person. (Also, can we talk about how this is Siem’s first-ever composition?)

Anyway, CBS’ decision to commission a song begs the question: will every online publication start developing their own unique soundtracks? I  mean, really, if you think about all of the opportunities out there for digital pubs to extend their branding plays with music, it’s mind-boggling. Sure, Watch is inherently about entertainment, but go with me on this for a minute.

What would legacy media like the Times or WaPo “sound” like? If Pitchfork were to have a soundtrack separate from its wealth of music coverage, how would it sound? TIME? National Geographic? ESPN Magazine?

Sound off: is Watch magazine onto something here? Or is commissioning a soundtrack for a publication gimmick-y?

And, you can check out Charlie Siem’s full composition for Watch on YouTube here.

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