Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Concert Tonight!...Featuring That Band From the iPod Commercial or Was It the Gap Commercial?

Television commercials are taking the reins when it comes to promoting a band to music lovers these days. From the long running holiday commercials of the Gap and Old Navy, to Apple and major automobile companies, new bands have found their careers exploding from thirty seconds on TV.

The idea of launching an artist’s career through music licensing isn’t new at all and many have had incredible success at it. (enjoy it Moby). We all remember when Nike used ‘Revolution’ by the Beatles for their 1987 TV campaign. It didn’t end well for Nike, having to discontinue using the song by 1988, after a year of intense legal battles. I'd guess that they sold millions of pairs of shoes after all the attention.

I remember hearing Minnesota’s own, ‘Low,’ on a Gap Holiday Commercial in 2000-1. It was their version of ‘Little Drummer Boy,’ from the Low Xmas record. It was a little bizarre hearing music from a record in my collection used by such a large retailer. I usually heard classic radio staples on TV commercials – such as the annoying ‘Like a Rock’ Bob Seeger commercials that Chevy has been using since 1991. They put that song to bed around 2004, but it is forever ingrained in my head every time I see a Chevy truck on the road.

What television has done for the younger generations, is put them inside the TV shows and commercials by borrowing from their personal playlists. Notice the shift from away from ‘record collections’ and ‘cd collections.’ Everyone now has a ‘playlist’ thanks to iTunes.

From Dawson’s Creek to Grey’s Anatomy to the Apple commercials themselves, television has not only used your favorite songs but they have introduced you to new artists that will soon become staples in your iTunes library. Apple is clever enough to use new artists like Feist, Yael Naïm, and The Ting Tings in their commercials and then offer their music for download from the iTunes site. Everyone gets a nice big pat on the back and most likely a very healthy paycheck.

This past fall the Cedar hosted Yael Naïm, who gained a good deal of her popularity from the MacBook Air commercials of last year. Local bloggers and reviewers spoke highly of the performance and the crowd left entranced by the music, but it would be interesting to find out what brought them to the show. Was it the commercials (most likely – her hit ‘New Soul’ reached #7 on Billboard); were they longtime fans?; or perhaps they were die-hard Apple supporters. Wherever you stand on the issue of artists licensing their music, it has become one of the most powerful ways to market yourself as an artist and I can’t see it going away anytime soon.

Here is a VW commercial from the early 2000’s, one that helped introduce a generation of young music lovers to Nick Drake.


Main Figurehead said...
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Main Figurehead said...

Before that VW commercial, Nick Drake was a beloved cult figure who sold a few thousand CDs a year. Now he's an acoustic legend whose "Pink Moon" CD sells in the tens of thousands. And you know what? It's still a damn good commercial.