Product Showcase: Music Pre-Test – Cocktail

Both my personal twitter account and the @OrmaxMedia account are perpetually flooded with queries on some of our research tools & techniques. What is the research design? What is the sample? How do we arrive at a set of actionable findings? How reliable are these results? And many more such genuine questions.

The tricky thing about research is that unless you are a statistics major, it is difficult to explain some of these concepts without getting technical. However, that doesn’t take away from the genuine need to share answers to the questions above. We thought the best way to achieve the same will be to put up what I call ‘product showcases’.

In a ‘product showcase’, we will take up a case study so that we can show you actual data and hence make the product come alive right here on the blog. This will be far more effective than trying to explain the math of the process. All product showcase studies have been conducted by us at our own cost, and are not client projects. Also, the research was conducted using public domain material, i.e., material already out in the media, e.g. promos, posters, songs, etc. Hence, we have full freedom to share the findings here.

So here’s the first product showcase, on one of my most favorite products at Ormax Media. A simple yet extremely powerful tool – Music Pre-Test. This tool allows producers to test their music with consumers and identify the potential hits. This, in turn, allows them to decide which songs to promote, in which sequence to promote them, and how many weeks of promotions will they need.

We have taken Cocktail as a case study in this case. The research was done immediately after the music of the film was officially released. Some songs have already been running as promos on television, and that may have an impact on the results. In reality, the best time to conduct Music Pre-Test is before cutting the promos. The Cocktail Music Pre-Test was conducted only in Mumbai.

In each product showcase, we will look at the following stages – Product Design, Case Study and Interpretation of the Results. Let’s get started!

Product Design

Given below are the various steps involved in Music Pre-Test:

1. Target group (age, gender, market, theatre-going behavior, etc.) are decided based on the film’s marketing strategy. This is done by the producer, with our inputs, if required.

2. 60-second (approx.) edits of all the songs in the album are prepared as the ‘stimuli’ for the research. These have to be either all audio or all video. Audio testing will give us the aural testing results, while video testing will give us the promo-related results. Both are legitimate techniques, and the choice depends on the context. For Cocktail, we went for audio, as we didn’t have access to videos of all the songs. Only one (primary) version per song is used and remixes are normally excluded. For Cocktail, this comes to seven songs.

3. A statistically significant test audience sample is recruited from various parts of the city, so that they fit the target audience definition in 1 above. Minimum sample is 50 per city, though upto 100 per city is recommended for more acceptable error margins.

4. Test audience are called to a ‘central location’ in batches of 15-20 each. They are given a questionnaire and asked some warm-up questions. Then, they are played the 60-sec clips of the songs one after the other. For each song, they are asked to rate it on a 0-10 scale.

5. Now obviously, we all know that music grows and fatigues with time. Hence, we just can’t play a song once and use the scores to draw any conclusions. To make the process ‘real’, respondents are played the songs four more times and scores sought every time. Hence, a total of five rounds (R1, R2, R3, R4, R5). In each round, the sequence of the songs is changed, so that there is no sequence bias that develops over the five rounds. Also, ‘detox’ questions are used between every two rounds. These are dummy questions, more like the coffee beans they make you smell at perfume shops, to remove the effects of the previous round from the audience’s minds.

6. Results from the five rounds are compiled. The 0-10 scores for each song in each round are converted into a % score. How we do this conversion is the only part I can’t share here.

7. The Music Pre-Test plot of the album is generated using these % scores, and this is then used to interpret the results and take action accordingly.

Case Study

Cocktail’s music was tested only in Mumbai. Given the distinct Punjabi flavor in many songs in the album, the results may have varied in certain other parts of India.

Below is the Music Pre-Test plot of Cocktail.

Interpretation of the Results

Music Pre-Test results are interpreted on two aspects:

1. Score brackets: 80+ is chartbuster material, likely to be one of the biggest songs of the year. 60-80 is likely to be a big hit. 40-60 is likely to do well if promoted aggressively and if the film supports the song through a strong situational appeal. Less than 40 is a non-starter, and may do well only if the film is received exceptionally well and the entire album works as a result.

2. Growth from R1 to R5: If a song grows slowly from R1 to R5, it indicates that the song requires a longer promotional window, because in reality, five complete hearings may take almost 3-4 weeks for normal audiences. However, if a song reaches its peak in R1 or R2, it requires a shorter promotional window. Rarely, a song may drop from R1 to R5. Such a song is weak on lyrics and will fatigue out fast, and should be used for promotions very close to the film’s release.

Basis Cocktail’s Music Pre-Test plot above, here are the recommendations (written as if the promotions have not started yet):

1. Tum Hi Ho Bandhu is set to be one of the biggest hits of 2012. It should be used as the lead song of the soundtrack.

2. Daaru Desi is a strong track which should which take only about 2-3 weeks to become a hit. So, it can be promoted closer to the film’s release.

3. Yaariyaan has very high potential, but will require time to pick. It should be the second track after Tum Hi Ho Bandhu in the promotions.

4. Tera Naam Japdi Phiran has some potential, but it shows no growth from R1 to R5. It should be used either in the week of release to build the story further, or immediately after the release.

5. Second Hand Jawaani seems to have limited potential purely on the audio. However, if the video has high appeal, the audio scores are at least good enough to boost the song’s chances.

6. Luttna and Jugni are non-starters, at least for the Mumbai audience researched here, and should not be used for promotions.


How much does a Music Pre-Test cost? Why should a producer pay for seemingly ‘obvious’ information? Let me say it like this: If you spend only about 0.1% of your marketing budget on Music Pre-Test and it prevents you from making a costly error of judgment (e.g. Subah Hone Na De) that can potentially affect your opening weekend by upto Rs. 5cr, will you think twice?

About Shailesh Kapoor

Founder & CEO - Ormax Media. Film Lover. Media Insights Detective. Budding Author. Lifelong Student.
This entry was posted in Films, Music, Product Showcase and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Product Showcase: Music Pre-Test – Cocktail

  1. harsht says:

    Shailesh, good job on explaining the methodology. Would like to supplement your last point. We social scientists often face this criticism, that we say “seemingly obvious” things after loads of research. Everything is obvious once we know the answer. We all have intuitions, but we need proofs of them. Which is why precisely, producers need such research, or for that matter most social science research is done. And sometimes intuitions can be way off the mark.

  2. golghosh says:

    Thank you Shailesh for the insightful article. Can you post an article on the steps of marketing a film? I mean the whole process. The do’s and dont’s included. It would be really helpful.

    • Puriwat says:

      Contd/ from earlier Coming back to IP Office, I have nitcoed that the FAA (earlier Mr. Parmar and now Mr. Kardam) are hand in glove with the CPIOs and have been disposing off the appeals by stating that the CPIO has been busy and has not been able to give information in time and that he/she has been asked to give the information, which never came. The FAA has never taken any coercive steps prescribed under the RTI Act.Knowing the mindset of Mr. Kardam, I know he will not review his order, but at the same time I would suggest that the review application should in any case be filed. I know that Mr. Kardam would perhaps go in the technicalities as to whether he has the power of review or in other words if at all review lies. Then is there any time frame within which he is expected to dispose off the review petition if filed? The appeal filed before him is to be disposed off in a month.Should we not file the RTI application(s) in each of the IP Offices to ask what charges they are charging for photostating under the RTI Act. I read in one of your bogs earlier that in Delhi office the CPIO had put up the notice that the application under RTI Act would be accepted with the fee of Rs60/-. Upon filing of RTI application with respect to the charges, the reply was given that the fee under RTI Act is indeed Rs10/- however, the further charges of Rs50/- is for Speed Post. In that very blog it is also stated that the speed post charges for Local delivery in Delhi is Rs12/- and this way the IP Office (read CPIO) is earning Rs38/- each application for the Government. More than even the basic fee under the RTI Act. One thing is for sure, that the Delhi office is asking for Rs2/- for photostating per page under the RTI Act. Of course they may now start asking for Rs10/- being encouraged with the present decision of Mr. Kardam which you have mentioned. More particularly when I notice that the same CPIO who had asked for Rs10/- is now posted in Delhi office (though he is not the CPIO in Delhi). The amount is not going into the pocket of CPIO. But this is used as a tool to discourage (read deny) the applicants. Discouraging/reducing the RTI applications was also the motive of CPIO Delhi when she had put up on the notice board for the fee of Rs60/-. I have nitcoed that some of the CPIOs names have changed as per the information available on the official website of the IP Office including the Appellate Authority. Now there are many Appellate Authorities under the Patents Act, Mr. Amar Prakash is shown as Appellate Authority under the Trade Marks Act and so on. Mr. Kardam is shown as Appellate Authority for Patents in Delhi. Earlier there was only one person as Appellate Authority for whole of the IP Office namely Mr. Kardam. Mr. I.S.Juneja the Senior Examiner is shown as the CPIO.You must take this issue which you have raised in the present blog to its logical conclusion and if need be please take it to High Court or even above. Yes it would take time, but then better late than never. SO KEEP IT UP.

  3. Danish says:

    Agree with Golghosh…
    Shailesh can we have the process of marketing a film. It would really be helpful.

  4. Sandeep says:

    Cud u explain y u used Subha Hone NA De in the bracket??Cud u elaborate on it?

  5. Really interesting, learned also some methodology you adopt. Keep sharing some interesting snippet with us.

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