Thursday, June 21, 2007


I have no outright beef generally with good music being placed in advertisements, but I gotta admit shock whenever I hear a band I dig on the TV backing something or another.
I just now saw a University of Phoenix ad featuring the New Pornographers.

And then there's the new VW/Wilco ad:

I can clearly remember hearing Richard Buckner in another VW ad. And the first I heard Devendra Banhart was in a New Belguim ad (I actually discovered the world of music-in-TV-ads message boards searching out what the hell that tune was).

In my mind, the notion of "selling out" as it's usually applied to music certainly predates Napster, if not the mass use of the Internet itself. Between the Net and digital music distribution methods and Clear Channel and the unapologetically dirty world of record label consolidation, things just ain't remotely the same any more.
I don't think that excuses anything outright. But I think there needs to be a new conversation on the matter, including everybody who holds an opinion.

Having met folks from most of the bands mentioned above (if just in the fan-at-a-show way), I can't bring myself to hold a hard line on the subject. Frankly, it just may be a post-modern, anti-anti sort of way of excusing previously DIY-banned behavior, but I reckon the phrase "sell out" is just about done.


JLC said...

badly drawn boy in a commercial for some truck or suv... highly unanticipated. but does it count as a sell-out if they've already done the soundtrack for a major motion picture featuring hugh grant?

Charlie said...

There's no other way to make real money these days, I fear. One commercial will generate as much revenue as a year on the road in some cases. I don't think we can talk about selling out as we used to because of the way file-sharing has changed the music business. Mind you, I was never that fond of the "They sold out!" outrage to begin with. In the piece I wrote on Joe Strummer, I quote him explaining why he's in favor of hearing music he likes, his own included, in certain spots. I can get you a copy, if you e-mail me. It's a miracle Pavement hasn't gone the route of other alternative/indie bands. Or maybe they have and I'm not yet aware of it.