The World of Emotions, Songwriters, and StoryTellers

A story is more potent when it has emotions involved in a meaningful way

Vivek Paul
12 min readJul 24, 2020
Picture from Canva

Preamble: My daughter, a high school student, is studying the Jungian Theory by Carl Jung. The theory focuses on Human Psyche and Behaviours, comprising of Shadow, Ego, and Persona as few aspects.

  • Shadow — Negative aspects of one’s being. Like light and dark
  • Ego — Understanding the process of emotions, feelings, and thoughts
  • Persona — Masks people wear to show the world

The crux of the matter, she explained to me, human emotions and how they contribute to personal human growth. We took this discussion forward, and this resource is inspired by questions she is finding answers to. Arts and Humanities is her favorite stream, logical for us to weave the concept for Creative Community. This is our 1st collaboration to spread awareness and share thoughts with the independents and emerging entrepreneurs.

Human beings are a social species, and cooperation makes our existence prosper. The world we live in is full of expressions, communication, feelings, introspection. Much of our thoughts, thereby actions, are stimulated by our peers, surroundings, consumption, and life experiences. Our direct communication, a mechanism of creating unique narratives, has a huge role in sharing stories. Stories are not limited to creative works, they are the foundation of every dialogue that takes place either directly or indirectly.

Around 2014, Professors Stuart Cunningham (Queensland University of Technology) and David Craig (University of Southern California) came up with the term ‘Communitainment.’ Their visit to India elaborated on a new framework emerging with the rise of digital and social media.

Prof. Stuart explained their research: Human beings are a social species, and cooperation makes our existence prosper. The world we live in is full of expressions, communication, feelings, introspection. Much of our thoughts, thereby actions, are stimulated by our peers, surroundings, consumption, and life experiences. Our direct communication, a mechanism of creating unique narratives, has a huge role in sharing stories. Stories are not limited to creative works, they are the foundation of every dialogue that takes place either directly or indirectly.

Communitainment stands for four different facets of this industry that operate in tandem with one another. We start with communication platforms that we call social media, followed by communitainers creating content, which describes unique genres of content, individual practices, and unique voices. The third factor is called commodification, which represents traditional and new forms of monetization. For example, advertising and subscriptions, but also fan funding. The last category is a community that describes the fans, the new types of cultural representation, and the new wave of media globalization.

Their research hypothesis was based on the insight that the traditional communications and entertainment industries are colliding in the age of social media. These industries will merge as the communication power moves from regulated-curated content into user-generated content based on unlimited content. This was one of the earliest thoughts that came in after Twitter introduced its concept of C3 — Content, Community, and Commerce.

The Importance of Emotions

A study done on YouTube by Good Science Faculty Director Keltner and his team at UC Berkeley, California, indicates that the consumption of content invokes 27 distinct emotions. These emotions are interconnected and fall within the category of the human universe having feelings of happiness, anger, surprise, sadness, fear, and disgust.

“There are smooth gradients of emotion between awe and peacefulness, horror and sadness, and amusement and adoration” ― Dacher Keltner, Ph.D.

Words are one of the first output mechanisms to express emotions. Words carry feelings and meanings of those emotions as vehicles for conveying the story imagined by an author. In its entirety, the creative industry focuses on narratives that invoke thoughts and feelings in the readers or consumers. Quality of thoughts is the most essential aspect authors have in the descriptions of expression, be it literary-visual-artistic or musical works. Creative artists immersed in creative writing do carry a fascination for the Universe and how it works. The invisible forces, the potential of quantum physics, the power of imagination, and untapped human potential have many ways of engaging with creativity.

Correlation between Theory and Practice

Emotional Agility, a book written by Dr. Susan David, a visionary of leading management thinkers, Harvard Psychologist, and Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author, is one of the inspirations behind this article. Her work that invokes words identification with the feelings of intense emotions resonates with the process of creative writings. In her Umbrella Theory, she unveiled the concept of digging deep and finding diverse word associations to a given feeling. The circumference of the emotions is very vast and usually not seen in a smaller radius.

This is very interesting as we take this concept and marry it with the creative thinking process of the entertainment industry. Two specific areas emerge in this context — Songwriters and Storytellers. The correlation between the theory of Emotional Agility and Creative Writing is that they both have a starting point in Life Experiences leading to Emotions and, eventually, a narration that gets carried into consumer engagement. The intersection of these activities boils down to an emotion’s journey from its incubation state to ultimately being consumed by another human being.

Feelings are the crux of the matter when the idea starts to form in its incubation phase. The formation of an idea is primarily based on life experience and/or an information experience that leaves a profound impact on human life. The ultimate goal of any creative work is to move the fans-consumers emotionally. The creative talent is always aspiring to connect to the deepest and darkest areas of human emotions. In the incubation of a thought’s formation, there is an emotional aspect with a blueprint that points towards, depth, and reach, the recipient will carry a received emotion from a given creative work.

A story is more potent when it has emotions involved in a meaningful way - Vivek Paul

The 5 Step Process

Songwriters and Storytellers have a lot to learn from the insights of Steven Speilberg and Tunecore. In their individual capacity, they have similar thinking processes in two different business structures: movies and music.

Insights from Wendy Mcneill

“Music has always been a mysterious and comforting place for me.
It’s a place where my emotions can settle — a place without judgment.
Of course, there is a logical side to crafting a song, but for the most part, it is an emotion that fires my songwriting. It is the thing that gives the tone, texture, and even the melodies to my songs.

I think that often we carry emotions that we don’t really understand. That can be frustrating. We want to rationalize and get to the bottom of that feeling, but sometimes the bottom of that feeling is much deeper than we realize (maybe even deep in the subconscious).

I often start my writing by picking up an instrument and just letting the mood choose the chords or notes. From this, a tone emerges, and then as I relax into the Music, flashes of images come. I let these images drift around- almost like watching clouds- as I hum and sing bits of phrases. Then I bring the images into the phrases of the song with words. I often write many more verses than I need as a story/song develops. Then I use my rational side to edit it down to a shorter piece.

The strangest thing is that sometimes it is not until weeks, months, or even years later that I truly understand the story that unfolded in the song I wrote”.

Wendy Mcneill

How Emotional Manipulation Works

Evolving with Technology

With the rise of big data and increasing digital content consumption, we witness the emergence of — need to know, the hidden meaning behind the words, when it gets down to social media. Understanding data is becoming necessary to align with the emotional tone in the background of expressions that connect with the emotions of the users, who are then carriers of the same feeling.

One of the most commonly used mechanisms in big data is sentimental analysis. It brings out insights for the copyright owners and marketers to understand what makes them happy or irritated. Or, at what point do they get emotional triggers, which part of the digital content created the triggers — music, visuals, storyboard, characters, frequency, or brand positioning. One of the toughest things the machines have learned is the art of language, slang, culture, interpretation, and contextual meanings of FOMO (fear of missing out) or the hipster phrase from Terminator 2 — No Problemo, Hasta La Vista Baby!

It is important to note that not all human emotions can be categorized into 3–4 buckets — Positive, Negative, Neutral, Unidentified. It goes way beyond, and humans are learning as well as the machines are learning. A big debate that is continued is that since technology allows access to all kinds of data being used on the internet, should the songwriters work with data that can help them create quick hits? The majority of the songwriters don’t want to go down this path as it conflicts with content creation’s originality. While yes, the data helps in understanding the trends, patterns, and behaviors, it fails the test of unique and original.

In an interview with music:)ally, Musixmatch founder Max Ciociola says, “Words are mighty because they create a connection to the artist. We’re connected to a song because of the words. That song generates some feelings, and we remember a song that makes us happy or unhappy. It’s not only a feeling but also a context. We call lyrics the UI of music. The music itself is just a play button you press, but lyrics mean the eyes are on the screen.”

Personalization, targeted advertising, predictive analytics, and going beyond the genres and classifications are essential ingredients of data analytics, insights, and intelligence. While the creative and music industry continues to streamline its meta-data formation for the digital age, they have new opportunities as we start to focus on engagement — a new dimension of emotions, hidden meanings behind the chosen words, and inspirations behind the storytelling process which are becoming primary tools of artist-fan relationships.

In the earliest engagement product avatars synced with the emergence of cloud computing & streaming business, mood-based products started to find a way in the uses preferences and curation. CES in 2012 showcased HABU Music, a mood and genre-based product built over Gracenote APIs leveraging Sony’s capital, design, innovations, and ecosystem’s power behind it.

In India, during the initial lockdown phase of Covid-19 > 2MN, people moved to Work from Home in the tech industry. Social Listening to data and social conversions became a new angle to track consumer reactions for brand campaigns, content usage, or product reviews. US-based ATCS Tech and Bangalore based Senseforth Technologies did a lot of work following the emotions of the users on the internet.

“Marketers are using many digital tools to gain insights into the emotions behind their marketing messages. This helps them in tweaking consumer-centric messaging for maximum impact. With data coming off sentimental analysis, they can measure goals like maximum clicks and consumer responses. This is an essential aspect of the data insights because marketers’ reputation is of high value. They make no compromise on integrity, trust, and purpose.

Musicians and Marketers have a common link in building value systems around their messaging, a key metric is driven by platforms that can measure them for better conversations and engagement. Clevertap is one such tool that can create output analysis., on the other hand, is leading the chatbot ecosystem into Advanced Conversation AI, which optimizes ROI. The creative industry has an exciting opportunity with big data and analytics to create unique original works, understanding the emotional values embedded within the creativity. Instead of a trade-off between emotional input and creative work as output, there is a vacuum in between that can be filled by intelligence and insightful data to bridge the artist-fan relationship.” — Riya Anand, Product Evangelist, and Innovator

Clevertap and Pharrell Williams Song — Happy:: Analysis //

Redefining Streaming, Meet Moodagent

As music consumption starts to become more social on the internet, personalization is becoming key to the entire concept of music consumption. Moodagent is leading the way to defining how the future of streaming music would look like. They describe their product’s thinking asThink of your favorite song or band. Now consider how you were first introduced. It was probably someone close to you who knows you, cares about you, and wanted to share something great. As music transitioned from being physical to digital, somewhere along the way, the art of discovery was lost, and music became commoditized. But music is life, music is emotion, music is essential, and — most importantly — music is an empathy machine, one capable of breaking through barriers and forging bonds between creators and individuals.

This is a significant development as we start to get closer to the definition of inspiration for music, the thought behind it, the emotional scale it is conceived at, and the connection it makes with the consumer. Such tools and data intelligence are essential for the Songwriters, Musicians, and Storytellers to learn more about the fans’ reactions. Moodagent fulfills a void in the digital music industry, including markets like India, where their operations are expanding.

Jyoti Handa, Managing Director, Moodagent India, explains, “There is a vacuum for recommendations and discovery in music streaming. Moodagent not only fills this vacuum via its unrivaled dynamic and personalized recommendations and discovery but does so in a way that reminds listeners of the joy and community of music that has largely disappeared via the commoditization of the other DSPs”.

Ahead in Time

Many aspects of the business dynamics change as we cross the current situation created by the pandemic situation. Creative industries heavily dependent on Technology Innovations and Brands Capital will need to realign as both these industries evolve. Agencies managing brand spends are witnessing a shift from work for hire into collaborative work, from face to face meetings into digital connections. One thing that remains constant is the human spirit to overcome challenges and evolve. Compelling Stories, Unique Storytellers backed with insightful date and purpose are some of the new normals. Going lean in the workforce and agile in approach is the new mantra. Emotional stability shall play a significant role in hitting new milestones.

Two areas where disruption at a mass level is quite visible are Holograms and Brainchip. Holograms have existed for a long time in the live music market. From Tupac at Coachella to Michael Jackson, Maria Callas, Roy Orbison, Frank Zappa, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe — holograms became a multi million$ industry for licensing images and creating a new revenue stream. Keeping the legends alive keeps the emotional connection going with the fans as they continue to engage with the musical works.

Elon Musk unveils that Neuralink is working on an implant that can stream music right into the brain. This is an exciting thought and demonstrates that the emerging industry’s philosophy is not limited to confined thinking. Music listenership, which has evolved from Peer to Peer — Radio — Walkman — iPod — Mobile Device — Noiseless Headphones Parties, going to the brain waves directly resonates with the significant shift, thought, and emotion combined, captures and connected right at the inception stage.

The vastness of the product design is very similar to the universal vision of the songwriters when they conceive the idea of the song. Technology, hence, enables a new era of human connections with the original emotions of the creator, much before the marketer’s world diluted its uniqueness. Significant progress for the creator to connect it to their legacy!

By Vivek Paul. This resource is inspired by a discussion with my daughter Gaenessaa Paul (High School Student ).

  • This resource contains personal views of the author and collaborators.
  • The source of information is tagged in the links.

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