Industrial Strength Broadway: The Secret Music of Corporate Events Still Exists Today.

Last night, part of the Live Spark crew went to see "Industrial Strength Broadway": a musical honoring the musicals written for corporate events in the 1950s-80s by Steve Young--the star of "Bathtubs Over Broadway" (same topic). 

We're not talking about jingles here--nothing that the population at large has seen. We're talking about "here are the benefits of our line of disposable paper medical supplies vs other supplies or competitors."

The conceit--along with highlighting the absurdity and the kitsch of musical numbers set to tractor benefits (paper cups, diesel engines, silicones, bathroom fixtures, etc.) and sales successes--was that this was both a peek into a secret world that was never meant to be seen by the general populous, and that it was a relic of a different era. 

Yes to the first point--who even knew that parody songs (or original compositions) written to be performed at sales meetings even existed? (Well, apart from those of us in the industry. To wit: see point two...)

No to the second point--because "industrial" musical numbers never quite went away. 

As we were watching the show I turned to my colleague during a particularly detail-heavy number about the uses of silicones (not silicone--never SILICONE) and whispered, "This feels...slightly traumatic." 
"Because this is still my life!"

My assertion was a joke, of course, but the days of listening to product managers, sales VPs, marketing luminaries, etc., espouse the details of their product and having to synthesize a song encapsulating all those features and benefits in a very specific (not always fitting the meter of your song) way are not yet past us. 

We've done several "Time Life Music Collection" parodies for companies highlighting their equipment in various ways (features, benefits, purpose, etc.), we just wrote a parody highlighting a three step sales process that a company wanted everyone to learn (and how better to get the order of the steps correct than to set them to a musical reminder?). 

There may not be Ziegfeld-Follies-level dance numbers to accompany the music anymore, but the music still exists. In addition to highlighting product features and benefits, we'll write songs to close an event--encapsulating the attendee experience for the entire meeting in just a few verse highlights. We'll introduce incentive trip destinations or next year's show through song. We'll even open a show and give the high points of what to expect for the next x days with an opening number (an Oscar number on an Oscar Meyer budget). 

All these songs endure because music engages us emotionally. It's a fun way to get information, it helps content stick, and it provides a point of storytelling and interaction that just cannot be matched by spoken presentation. 

There's a reason why people unrelated to any industrial/corporate world packed a theater to see the inner-workings of the corporate industrial musical--these private, funny, weird, secret songs still have the ability to engage and move us. 

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