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Audio Savant: Mike Constantino of Homonym reveals the science behind music-based psychographics

MANILA – Music is emotive, intellectual, carnal, and highly visual. Just a few notes of a tune can conjure images, scenes, and stories, bring a person back in time or take him to him to some far off place, tear his heart asunder or bring a smile to his face, make him sway to the beat or stay a bit longer at the store, and make him think this product is part of who he wants to be.

And yet most agencies are visually oriented, focusing on compelling images for their campaigns, with music and audio components of their campaign as an afterthought. Most agencies base their strategies on how they see their clients and their audiences. But not Homonym. They listen, literally, instead. And music is their lingua franca. Homonym is the Philippines’ first audio-centric agency that identifies brands and audiences through music-based psychographics and provides creative services with music as its core competency.

“We believe we are the first and only agency of this kind in the Philippines. We think of our startup as the agency of the future. Though our structure is similar to the ad agency that we all know very well, our methods and the science behind our ideation is what sets us apart and allows us to support creative/media agencies, advertisers, and creators,” attests Homonym co-founder and managing partner Mike Constantino.


Simply put, tell Homonym what people listen to and they will tell you who these people are, and vice versa. Or alternately, tell Homonym who your brand is and they will tell you what you should sound like.

Sound science

Constantino explains their science and methodology, revealing, “We were greatly inspired by two landmark studies in Music Science/Psychology: The Do Re Mi’s of Everyday Life: The Structure and Personality Correlates of Music Preferences by Rentfrow and Gosling, 2003, and Individual Differences in Musical Taste by Adrian North, 2010.”

Rentfrow and Gosling categorize “four musical meta-styles, namely reflective and complex; intense and rebellious; upbeat and conventional; and energetic and rhythmic, which were associated with scores on the ‘big five’ personality inventory: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.”

North notes that “research suggests that several aspects of the listener other than personality might also be related to musical taste. The second aim of the present research was, therefore, to compare the strength of the relationship between musical taste and personality with those relationships concerning musical taste and each of self-esteem, age, sex, and income.”

Constantino summarizes, “Both studies sought to conclusively determine that preferences in music equate to specific and interestingly, almost all-encompassing traits across cultures, races, continents, generations.”

“We quickly discovered that there is no such data in the Philippines since nobody ever conducted studies of the type. So we decided to conduct a study of our own. This resulted in our landmark Music Preference vs. Consumer Behavior study—the first and only in the Philippines, maybe even the region,” he highlights.

Constantino reveals how they used actual musical events as venues for their study’s surveys. He recalls, “We partnered with various stages at this year’s Fete Dela Musique as these naturally segmented each audience by genre: Indie/Rock, Hip-hop & R&B, Blues/Soul/Funk. Our field researchers conducted one-to-one surveys based on a questionnaire that we patterned after the two aforementioned studies. From 2pm to 2am, we were able to get 365 respondents that form our baseline study.”

Homonym’s Music Preference vs. Consumer Behavior study provides specific and localized data such as daily musical consumption in hours, top 10 musical bands, top messaging applications, and details such as top shampoo brands based on musical genre.

Real world applications

Homonym’s study reaped valuable data for brands. “We now have good and current data not just on demographics, but preferences like: favorite local and foreign artists per genre, favorite shoe/clothing brand, favorite messaging service, preferred music streaming service/device, favorite soap/shampoo/deodorant, favorite alcohol brands, among many other very interesting data points,” Constantino explains.

Already they have applied their sound science. They first experimented on themselves. He recalls, “Being a startup, we tested the data on our own initiatives first. We produced four indie/rock productions, featuring only bands from the top 20 in our survey to see how it goes. We were able to engage the fans of these bands to troop to the venues and fill them up. Imagine that: data-based artist curation. We used these four shows plus some music data to get my band, Conscious & The Goodness, to play Jazz in July in Singapore, booking the gig via the numbers from our Soundcloud, Spotify, and Facebook accounts.”

Homonym has since harnessed their audio data in the service of their clients. “We’ve since done music marketing for Payoneer, booking Kitchie Nadal for their event since she is a preferred artist of their target demographic. We’ve helped Miladay change the perception of the young audience towards their brand by curating music for their 50th anniversary fashion show and producing a music-driven video content piece which they now show in all of their stores. We used our study’s data together with data from our partners at Spotify to win a pitch with MullenLowe for their Gen Z-targeted Krem-Top campaign, which we are now implementing and doing the media amplification for. And of course, everyone remembers the recently-concluded Boomerang Awards show that we produced wherein we booked bands that were at the top of the list of the expected audience—basically, young and upstart digital folks—and programmed the music for the awards show based on the 14 to 24 preferences of the wide age group that we know would be present. That’s why we featured hits from the 70s, 80s, 90s, 2000s. These were the songs that each generation grew up with and used to form their respective music identities,” he reveals.

Constantino enumerates real-life applications of their music-based psychographic market segmentation: “We’re now working with record labels, audio production houses, film and TV production outfits, phone manufacturers, retail stores, etc. to apply even more of our data so we can see if music can have a positive effect on their respective bottom lines. For instance, for one of the foremost Barbershops in the metro, we’ve developed a Music Identity (our version of a Brand Identity service) that is now inspiring the kind of atmospherics, language/tone of their staff and consequently, on-ground initiatives and content that they will execute and produce. Since it is music science and data-backed, we have a pretty good feel of what will work and what won’t for their target market. Our Music Identity service is a fresher, sexier approach to expressing a brand’s character to engage and incite their target market. Since it’s music, it goes straight to the heart of the consumer and hits them where it counts. We’re also working with the country’s biggest concert producer to help guide them as to which artists to fly in since we know the top 200 or so foreign acts per genre, courtesy of the respondents we interviewed. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.”

As Homonym’s reach in terms of brands and audience increases, the scope of their study expands correspondingly, growing in insight and accuracy, much like other highly disruptive and successful businesses such as Waze where the users unwittingly provide the very data that accounts for the system’s accuracy and timeliness, a culmination of Web 2.0 principles. “The data we have is just the beginning. We will expand to Pop and Dance genre within the year. We implore those reading this to send us briefs and include us in pitches so we can see what we can come up with to help you win over the ears, hearts and minds of your customers.”

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