Music and advertisingDecember 3, 2008
Here on z=z, we’ve written previously about the alliance of independent music and advertising. Bethany Klein, now a lecturer at the University of Leeds, wrote the book on it, literally – her book As Heard on TV: Popular Music in Advertising, is scheduled for release in April 2009. It’s based on the research in her dissertation, and a paper that was just published in Media, Culture and Society, “The New Radio: Media Licensing as a Response to Industry Woe,” gives us a taste of her work.
As the title suggests, she suggests that the rise of music licensing (providing soundtracks for commercials and TV shows) is one way in which the music industry is hoping to hedge against the widely-feared, quite hypothetical revenue loss due to filesharing. Klein paints a portrait of cultural mores in transition: licensing one’s music for advertising has gone from being construed as ‘selling out’ to being widely considered a good way to get exposure. She suggests that this change in perception is a consequence of the deregulation and consolidation of commercial radio, and the subsequent loss of diversity in playlists. As Joe Pernice says, ‘It’s almost like commercial and television placement are the new radio.’ But as with commercial radio, Klein argues, the commercial imperative of corporations and TV shows is fundamentally at odds with artistic goals (even if music supervisors present themselves as saviours of independent music). And as licensing becomes increasingly accepted as a way for new bands to get exposure, it’s going to start looking a lot more like radio, with minimal licensing fees paid to the artist or even a pay-to-play model. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, MTV is leading the way, and Klein describes their astonishingly sleazy policy: if you submit a video to be considered for airplay, they reserve the right to strip the visuals and use the music as a soundtrack to its shows, without even paying a synchronization fee.
There’s a lengthy interview with Klein at policy website Miller-McCune, which also has a sidebar on ten famous (or infamous) uses of songs in advertisements. Klein’s paper is behind a paywall, but you can read the first page here and you might be able to ask a friendly neighbourhood academic for a copy of the PDF if you’re interested.
[via Boing Boing]