By Corinne Love / Opinions Editor
By Corinne Love / Opinions Editor
We really should have seen it coming.
Indie rock songs now sell consumers cars, cotton fabric and other random assorted items.
It’s sort of strange really.
A couple of years ago, hearing an unsigned band during a commercial surely meant the death of their indie credibility.
Now, it’s not at all surprising to hear a Cure song advertising Hewlett Packart products.
Music and advertising have always been linked.
However recently the two have become almost inseperable.
As CD sales continue to nosedive, musicians have to look for other ways to make money.
A good way to do this is through the licensing of their music.
Commerical licensing of music is nothing new.
However, licensing of independent music is something almost entirely new.
Indie darling and actress, Zooey Deschannel recently starred in a Cotton: Fabric of our lives commercial that featured her singing while she tries on thrift store finds.
The actress is part of the low-key indie band She and Him.
Deschanel’s decision to star in such a mainstream commercial has not sparked outrage between fans but instead has showcased her music to people who otherwise would not have heard it.
Other than Deschanel, many musicians are using commericals as a way for easy promotion.
Vampire Weekend’s “Apunk” has been used in a Google map commercial as well as for iPods.
French rock band, Phoenix’s “1901” has been featured in a new Cadillac advert, and some indie circles even think that the band is now too saturated in multimedia.
Many music elitists, regardless of what the commercial was for will argue that any commercialization of independent music is simply “selling out.”
Of course, it is.
While it would be nice to think about artistic intergrity, people should be more realistic about the situation.
Music does not sell on its own.
Foremost, the record industry is a business.
Businesses make money, or at least that there’s aim.
The logic is pretty straightforward, so what is the harm if an independent musician is using an advert to earn some extra money.
These kind of deals are great for bands that do not have the promotional power of a group like U2, Coldplay and Mary J. Blige.
When a commerical uses a big star like the aforementioned stars, consumers are drawn in by the star power and not so much the product.
Blige’s single “The One” was featured in a commercial for AT&T, and prior to the single’s release, I thought that the song was written just for the commerical.
It was not.
Its incredibly easy to find music now, and increasingly simpler to buy it, no one needs to discuss in great length the success of iTunes.
A couple of years ago, if a band like Phoenix wanted to sell a couple of albums just to financially break even, unless they were U2, it would have been near impossible.
Even though commercials and TV shows are great for shining the light on new talent, it’s also a catch 22.
Much like everything in the entertainment industry, if something makes money it’s going to be duplicated to ad nauseum.
Commericals that now feature indie music artists, usually go after the same type of songs.
Usually these songs are acoustic, quirky or sang by some singer/songwriter and the song just becomes part of the product.
The identity of the musician loses itself, when the band’s only gateway to success is through an iPod commercial.
Then there’s the inevitable, backlash against the song and the artist.
While Feist’s quirky “1 2 3 4” was a warm and fuzzy song, by the time the song had been played for the zillionth time in an iPod commerical, all one could remember was the first four numbers.
A particular problem with the licensing of indie music for commericals is that advertisers are once again trying to sell consumers the idea of “being cool.”
Because at the heart of it, thats what iPod consumers really want in life, to be “cool” and “fresh.”
Using a Feist song, or some other obscure song, lets advertisers feel like that they are on the cutting edge and therefore consumers will be on the cutting edge.
Not to sound like the pariah of whats cool and whats not cool, but imagine an advertising executive wearing a “Snow Patrol” t-shirt.
Wouldn’t that sort of kill the “coolness” of the band right then?
Maybe not for everyone, but for a large sect of fans, it probably would.
Music being used in commerical, and trendy television shows are not going to stop anytime soon.
Sometimes it’s a mixed bag, the commercial and the song just don’t mix.
As the different avenues of media become intertwined with the other, it’ll be interesting to see the end result.