This interesting article on Advertising Age yesterday talks about the way bands are being used by (and using) corporate brands. Its a slippery fine line as Band of Horses found out, and fans tend to be quick with their squawks of "sell out!" But songs by Jet and Feist have been used in iPod ads, further boosting their burgeoning careers and doing little (well in Feist's case anyway) to hurt their appeal to longtime fans. In the article The Walkmen talk about how they sold their music to a car commercial to pay the bills...
"The Walkmen's Peter Bauer said his band did not expect a Saturn Ion commercial featuring their song "We've Been Had" a few years ago would further their career. Like many emerging artists on small, independent labels, the decision was made out of financial necessity. "We needed to take the money," the organ and bass player said. "If you don't need the money, why do it?"
But i start to get a funny stomach when i hear people, like the new CEO of EMI Guy Hands talking about funding artists records by corporate sponsorship.
Rolling Stone: "he plans to increasingly use corporate sponsors to defray the costs of producing and distributing music — Nordstrom, Victoria's Secret and the New York Daily News have all paid for the right to put their brand on music from EMI artists, including Joss Stone and the Spice Girls."
You can read the full article, and more on the EMI artists and their managers response. I'm not shedding a tear for the Spice Girls' lost integrity or anything that rash, but it presents an interesting (and predictable) example of the way the music biz is trying to deal with their current problems and flailing profits.
Ad Age also run an entire blog - Songs for Soap - dedicated to music branding and licensing issues. They're currently talking about ad agencies decending on SXSW, Ciara getting in bed with McDonalds and Keith Richards modelling for Louis Vuitton (with pictures by Annie Leibowitz).