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Songs and Marketing - NY Times Article


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Thanks for posting. I used to be against the use of songs in commercials but have come to accept it as a means of exposure (especially for many lesser known artists) since they don't seem to stand a snowball's chance in hell of receiving any commercial radio airplay these days. That doesn't mean it doesn't suck that it's come to this because as the article so eloquently states, it does. Thankfully we have things like progressive radio stations (as few and far between as they are, they are out there), internet radio and satellite radio where new artists still stand a chance at airplay. I also think how a song is used in a commercial can be effective, just so long as I don't forever associate the tune with a certain product I believe it works. One prime example would be Volkswagen's use of Nick Drake's Pink Moon which caused sales of his records to go through the roof. They have also used tunes by Richard Buckner and Wilco (among many others) without compromising the integrity of the artist. Then, we still have stalwarts such as Neil Young and R.E.M. who flatout refuse to allow their songs to be used in commercials. Sadly they seem to be about the only ones left who haven't given in. Another aspect of marketing that's addressed in the article is artists going through Best Buy and Walmart to offer up "exclusive" deals on new releases. Even supposedly anti-corporate artists such as the Eagles and Springsteen have given into this method of exposing their music to the widest audience possible by going head to head with corporations they used to so openly despise. That's just how hard it is to sell music as we rapidly approach 2009, something which I find beyond sad and fucked up.

Edited by Jahfin
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Thanks for posting. I used to be against the use of songs in commercials but have come to accept it as a means of exposure (especially for many lesser known artists) since they don't seem to stand a snowball's chance in hell of receiving any commercial radio airplay these days. That doesn't mean it doesn't suck that it's come to this because as the article so eloquently states, it does. Thankfully we have things like progressive radio stations (as few and far between as they are, they are out there), internet radio and satellite radio where new artists still stand a chance at airplay. I also think how a song is used in a commercial can be effective, just so long as I don't forever associate the tune with a certain product I believe it works. One prime example would be Volkswagen's use of Nick Drake's Pink Moon which caused sales of his records to go through the roof. They have also used tunes by Richard Buckner and Wilco (among many others) without comprising the integrity of the artist. Then, we still have stalwarts such as Neil Young and R.E.M. who flatout refuse to allow their songs to be used in commercials. Sadly they seem to be about the only ones left who haven't given in. Another aspect of marketing that's addressed in the article is artists going through Best Buy and Walmart to offer up "exclusive" deals on new releases. Even supposedly anti-corporate artists such as the Eagles and Springsteen have given into this method of exposing their music to the widest audience possible by going head to head with corporations they used to so openly despise. That's just how hard it is to sell music as we rapidly approach 2009, something which I find beyond sad and fucked up.

Couldn't agree more Jahfin. I had a hard time with it too and funny you should point out Nick Drake's Pink Moon, because it was hearing that song that changed my thoughts on it. They used to play the commercial all the time and I was so drawn to the music but had no idea who it was until a bit of research led me to Nick.

As you said, there are thankfully alternative ways to discover non-mainstream music and when you hear how much great stuff is out there that in a way, remains a bit underground and so much mainstream music is focused on becoming a brand rather than an artform, and artists having to butt up against corporate entities, it is a really sad time indeed. I don't know what the solution is to be honest. There isn't too much left of the majors and indies are rapidly being merged into the majors, more bands are doing it on their own...

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I think one of the most telling lines in the story was that while everyone loves music, people these days see no reason to pay for it. So in addition to the initial exposure, artists have to make a living and if this helps, then I suppose that's the way it has to be.

It will be interesting to hear how the folks sharing songs or finding "free" sites to download from feel if/when they go into the business and all of a sudden realize that music does have value and maybe them railing against the big corporate overlords wasn't really the way to go...

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I think one of the most telling lines in the story was that while everyone loves music, people these days see no reason to pay for it. So in addition to the initial exposure, artists have to make a living and if this helps, then I suppose that's the way it has to be.

It will be interesting to hear how the folks sharing songs or finding "free" sites to download from feel if/when they go into the business and all of a sudden realize that music does have value and maybe them railing against the big corporate overlords wasn't really the way to go...

These days artists make most of their money touring, not selling records.

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