Mulling a Music Video? You Know It’s All About That Basic Engagement

Musician Jeremy Katz and executive producer Ron Springer explain why they believe music is such a strong player in audience engagement in the workplace.

Jeremy Katz decided to bring his music video production chops to the workplace to help companies create parodies to build engagement.

Sure, a drunken display of karaoke at the office Christmas party isn’t the brightest idea —  neither is accidentally letting your new workout playlist blast through your otherwise quiet office.

Listen to This

Jeremy Katz isn’t the only guy engaging employees via music videos. Ron Springer, president and executive producer at Esprit Productions, has been producing corporate events for almost 30 years. Creating music videos, as employees lip-sync in front of a green screen, is one activity at these events.

“It is by far the most crazy audience engagement tool I have ever seen,” Springer said.

What’s important to remember about engagement activities is that they fit the overall theme of the meeting or conference, he said. Creating a music video fits perfectly with the very popular music theme.

Springer produced a three-day-long conference for California-based Sun Healthcare Group about 10 years ago. The conference, which took place in New Orleans, included music-based audience engagement activities.

For example, every member in the audience got a harmonica with the company’s logo, and at one point all 500 people played at the same time. Another day, New Orleans trumpeter Terence Blanchard and his musicians played for an hour and a half. He would stop the regular set every so often for five-minute long vignettes about the metaphor of music, life, business and working together as a group.

“He tied together the whole idea of, to be a great musician or leader of a group, you not only have to know the score, but you need to have a good understanding of all your musicians, their strengths and weaknesses, and when it’s important to step back and let them take the lead.”

Finally, the conference had the create-your-own-music-video booth, complete with a green screen, costumes and a large selection of songs. Within five minutes, each participant got a DVD to take home.

Music in all these cases was used as a metaphor for working together. When you can do a meeting with a musical theme and then let people perform in their own silly way, Springer said, the results are very positive.   

—Andie Burjek

But there are other ways to fuse music and work that catch an employee’s attention and foster engagement: creating a music video for instance.

Jeremy Katz Music uses music videos as a team-building exercise. A one-man production team, Jeremy Katz, provides all the vocals, music, producing and editing for parody music videos, which companies can use to communicate a message.

“Music is probably the best communicator to get any type of message across,” he said. “On a societal level, it is the universal language of everything from love to persuasion to marketing and advertising.”

People remember a music video better than a boring lecture or PowerPoint presentation.

Katz’ first client was Royal Dutch Shell. Shell had a new workplace safety campaign, “Goal Zero,” designed to help eliminate accidents in the workplace. A team at Shell wrote “All About That Goal” to the tune of Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass.”

Katz then recorded the song with the new lyrics and sent the MP3 to Shell, where employees took iPhone videos of themselves lip-syncing to the song. Katz used the video and audio to put together a comedy parody video that would engage employees and promote the message of safety in workplace conduct.

Activities like this are effective, Katz said, because they bring people together, and anyone who wants to be involved can participate in some capacity.

Although his business is new, just a few months old, the idea behind it is not entirely new. For example, Esprit Productions in Libertyville, Illinois, also produces music videos at corporate events (See “Listen to This.”). So do Kidbilly Music and Motion Source to name a few.

Making music videos “boosts morale,” Katz said, “And within the company, you get everyone involved. Everyone brings something from their own cultural background, their own expertise and their own hobbies.”

It also bridges the generational gap between employees because good music isn’t generational, he added. Both older classics and current, popular hits work well. The song choice all depends on the needs of the company, the goal of the video and the organization’s tastes.

Katz wouldn’t comment on his next two clients or the songs they chose to parody because the projects are not yet finished, but he said Shell’s video worked because of the upbeat song choice. It allowed both 20-something and 60-something participants to get excited and enthusiastic.

Just like the universal appeal of music brought employees together, so did their shared connection with Shell. They incorporated “Shell humor” — inside jokes from their industry — in their lyrics, Katz said.

The company still shows the finished video at big meetings, he said, as an icebreaker and an introduction to Goal Zero.

And it’s all about that goal for Shell and any other company considering choreographing a music video.

Andie Burjek is a Workforce editorial intern. Comment below or email editors@workforce.com. Follow Workforce on Twitter at @workforcenews.