The soundcloud city

Volcler, Juliette
Publisher:  Le Monde diplomatique
Date Written:  01/08/2013
Year Published:  2013  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX18488

Cities are increasingly saturated with visual information -- advertising, instructions, prohibitions -- so smart marketing is shifting its attention to a new battleground in its quest for your attention -- your ears. Sounds are used to attract and repel, to inform and sell. Private companies and public services try to seduce customers through their ears, or to discourage non-target groups.



After switching to electric delivery scooters, the Domino's pizza chain in the Netherlands decided to use sound to tackle the increased accident risk. The scooters are equipped with a device that plays a recording of a human voice mimicking engine noises and repeating the brand name every few seconds. Known as the "Safe sound", it also has the advantage of producing marketing sounds that make people smile, at least for the moment: businesses are dreaming of a public space permanently filled with their acoustic signatures, with safety just as a pretext.

Music in public places probably doesn't interact with human beings quite as much as its purveyors would wish. But it does make its mark in places where it is played, constantly promoting consumerism and directing behavior. McDonald's plays the latest pop hits inside its restaurants and outside deploys the unpleasantly high frequency of a Mosquito anti-loitering device, a sonic repellent only audible to the under-25s. Its use is not yet widespread in France, but is common in the UK and the US. Its message: eat up and push off.
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