MasterCard (that’s right, the credit card company) has officially joined the music game. They have recently released a single Merry Go Round as a statement of intent for their full length album Priceless to be released around Spring time later this year.

Picture this: It’s 2030. A late surge in numbers from Unilever’s fresh release has stopped Toyota in its tracks as it was hoping to become the first brand to dominate the top two spots of the charts. A job that we, here at HSBC Music Journalist Group, were beginning to think impossible.

“[In 2020] everything is bought. And now close your eyes, stick your headphones in and the music is bought too.”

If we needed any more confirmation that marketing has gone too far, it’s confirmation that brands are creating music just to help improve their image. In 2020 you cannot read an article, watch a film, or pretty much look at any ten metre stretch of metropolitan space without being sold to. Everything is bought. And now close your eyes, stick your headphones in and the music is bought too.

MasterCard plans to “organically and authentically integrate the company’s brand values and sonic identity”. A set of ideals & values that I’m sure will be far better demonstrated in this album than they were by overcharging 46 million customers, or their 500 euro fine from Brussels for steep, limiting transaction fees to try and secure a monopoly.

“The [forthcoming MasterCard] album plans to span multiple genres & cultures – just to make sure they hit the mark with everyone possible. Because let’s not forget, this is a product – not a record.”

The album plans to span multiple genres & cultures – just to make sure they hit the mark with everyone possible. Because let’s not forget, this is a product – not a record. All this makes you think of is an overpaid marketing team sitting in a board room, comparing percentages & bar charts to try and work out if opening or closing with their reggae track will be more likely to drive up consumption & engagement.

“I would say that they have tried to dress up blatant brainwashing, but that would be unfair – because they haven’t.”

However the most frightening part of this concept is yet to come, as MasterCard chief global marketing officer Raja Rajamannar, claims MasterCard is “Not just making music for the sake of creating music, but using our melody non-intrusively and subtly integrated into these songs so the people listening will become more and more familiar with MasterCard’s melodies”. I would say that they have tried to dress up blatant brainwashing, but that would be unfair – because they haven’t. If MasterCard are one thing here, it is transparent (excluding the use of the words non-intrusively).

They have literally created a “sonic logo” which they are trying to blend in with music spanning every genre to make you think of their brand when you listen to music. The only safe part of this is they are letting us know they are doing it before you engage with it. MasterCard themselves have gloated this “signals the way that music and consumer consumption is changing” as if they are trailblazers paving the way for us during this exciting change in the industry, rather than putting the first nail in the coffin.

“[Corporate] companies have proved time and time again that they have the money to throw around, and the lack of respect towards the arts to go with it. Nothing is sacred.”

How long is it really before brands have their sonic logos put into the latest DJ Khaled track? These companies have proved time and time again that they have the money to throw around, and the lack of respect towards the arts to go with it. Nothing is sacred. In ten years from when you’re watching the camera jump cut onto the Audi logo during the 30th Avengers film, Subway’s sonic logo will dance into your ear. You’ll slowly nod your head, and think fuck. I’d love to eat fresh right now.

Words: Alex Crowley