Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Merchandise or Music?

How many times have you found yourself singing along to the song used in a TV commercial? I know it's happened to me quite a bit over the year, and certain company's are better at picking the songs in their ads then others. Sometimes they do a better job of selling the song than the product. On of the ones I still remember to this day was from either '97 or '98 when Luscious Jackson did "Let it Snow!" in an ad for the Gap.

Now it's more than just commercials, the shows themselves have joined the fray. The WB started featuring acts from the Warner stable of musical artists in their TV show years ago, but now all the networks are on board. A group is just as likely to make it big by having their song playing during a critical point of Grey's Anatomy then they are by gigging and radio play.

One such artist is Ingrid Michaelson who has become much better known these days as 'the chick who does the song from the Old Navy commercials.' Her songs were also featured in Grey's and One Tree Hill, and she may end up becoming a success because of it. Not that Ingrid isn't talented, because she is a fantastic singer-songwriter, but there are a whole lot of them out there.

Sara Bareilles (pictured at the begining of this post) is another singer-songwriter with a beautiful voice who needed a bit of help to reach a larger audience. So to are Colbie Caillat, Tristan Prettyman (pictured bellow) and my favorite Missy Higgins.

The are all pretty girls, who sing with pretty voices about a range of things. Their songs are sometimes sweet and sometimes about tragic and gut wrenching circumstances. This particular grouping are all very honest musicians who sadly don't have the one thing needed to rocket to the top of the charts without some kind of nontraditional marketing. None of them are particularly bombshellish. Don't get me wrong, they are all beautiful but in a nice girl next door kind of way. A bring home to your mom kind of way, not a whisper in your ear that she's not wearing panties kind of way. And that, my friends is what sells without effort these days.

If you don't have the right look to cash in on sex appeal, you have to go to the people with your sound (the thing that it really should be all about anyway, but we all know isn't). A great example is The Icicles who's song "La-ti-da" has probably been stuck in your head at some point in the last few weeks. It is a happy and catchy little song that is the quintessential 'get stuck in your head song' which is probably why Target picked it to be their fall marketing song. No one will ever mistake The Icicles for The Pussycat Dolls (either in looks or talent) but they made a great little song.

So don't call it selling out when a favorite indie artist of yours shows up in a nighttime drama or a commercial for a big box store. I've loved Sara Bareilles for years now, and I am truly happy when I hear her song being used in "Brothers and Sisters" because that means more people are getting to hear her brilliance. Leave the calls of sell out for the early 80's punkers who are stock brokers now.

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