Rothco

Apple Music Group
"Saylists"

Client: Apple Music Group
Product: Playlists
Title: Saylists
Media: Digital
Country: Ireland/Global
Date Of Campaign: March 2021 - Present

Background: As part of Warner Music Group’s corporate social responsibility, they support initiatives in music with positive social impact. Musicians have long used their art to help with speech sound disorders (including WMG’s Ed Sheeran), so this area was a perfect match for the company.Speech and language therapists have an arsenal of tools at their disposal which can help their patients. Most of these patients are children, however, which raises a problem that most tools can’t overcome - how to keep kids engaged in their therapy. We set out to provide speech and language therapists with a unique and accessible new tool that could help their patients practise the sounds they struggle with in a way that doesn’t bore them: by reimagining speech therapy within the world of popular music.

Idea: Repetition is key to overcoming a Speech Sound Disorder, but for kids, repetition is boring. Except when it happens in music. Young people happen to be both the primary audience for pop music, and the group most likely to have a Speech Sound Disorder (SSD). So Warner Music teamed up with Apple Music to analyse over 70 million song lyrics (the largest data analysis of lyrics ever), isolating songs in which particular sounds occur in particular patterns that are beneficial for speech therapy. These songs were collated into Saylists: playlists categorised by problem sounds, providing an easy, accessible, and enjoyable way for kids to practice the sounds they have trouble with, simply by singing along to their favourite songs.The approach to this project consisted of looking at an existing data set from a new perspective: analysing it for its previously unrealised therapeutic potential. The data analysis was achieved by building an original algorithm that combined a linguistic approach with a therapeutic one, with curation by music industry experts providing the final quality assurance test: assuring that each song would tick the box not just for efficacy, but as something that our primary audience would genuinely want to listen to.

Results: They’ve only been out in the world for a matter of weeks, yet Saylists have already been enthusiastically welcomed and praised by people around the globe, with Spain’s El Mundo newspaper describing it as ‘Apple’s next great invention’. Most important was the incredible response from the speech and language community. Saylists are already being recommended by therapists, and used in therapy sessions; the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapy expressed their excitement at the project’s release, and the department of English Language Teaching at Cambridge University has gone so far as to publish lesson plans based on Saylists and how they can be used in classrooms. Due to the initial response Apple Music are now expanding the project into other countries around the world, with playlists specific to languages beyond English. For Saylists, the story is just beginning.

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