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Collateral Damage Part Four: Britta Phillips.

It's funny to think that around the same time the iPod was introduced, forever changing music as we know it, advertising had what was arguably its greatest moment in pairing music to spot. Namely, VW's Cabrio spot, which launched a long dormant (and long buried) singer named Nick Drake into the spotlight once again.

Cut to 2010 when Ford's wonky awesome "This is now," spot grabbed a more or less unknown band called SchwaB''s awesome song "The Mole Man," and tied the whole thing together in a bouncy bow.

Point is, somehow, despite the change in which we take in music, and despite the dismal news concerning piracy, music in advertising survived. The dark crystal ball forecast has a light spot afterall. For some the outlook it's measured, even hopeful.

Our ongoing series on how music piracy effects the ad industry has interviewed
journalists , the owners of production houses , and an icon of college rock, turned music rights activist. Each has their own take on the state of the music nation.

And now in part four we are pleased to bring you another perspective from Britta Phillips.
Part of husband and wife duo Dean and Britta , and former member of one of Kidsleepy's all time favorite bands, Luna .

In addition to being singer and bassist, Britta does voice over work for such shows as Morel Orel , commercial work, and oh yeah, she also sang the theme to everyone's favorite Truly Outrageous 80's cartoon, Jem.

With such a varied resume that has thrived over a few decades, Britta has been part of both the pre-iPod and post-iPod periods. In this Q & A she weighs in on selling out, making a living, and combatting the ad industries desire to knock off songs for cheaper prices.

Kidsleepy - Beach House is sadly not the only band to have had their music "copied" by production houses in recent years. In light of this, are you becoming more reluctant to talk to an ad agency when they come knocking?

Britta Phillips - No, we are happy to license our music. And I think a production house is usually less likely to copy a band after they talk to them since it is quite incriminating.

Kidsleepy -When "California (All the way)" was licensed by Calvin Klein people were still thinking in terms of 'selling out.' Do you see a sea change in that prevailing thought, as we continue to access music differently?

Britta Phillips - There are still some who feel licensing is selling out, and we would prefer not to have one of our songs associated with an ad (unless it's an amazing work of art in its own right), but these days it is one of the only ways for a band to make money since sales are at an all time low. So yes, definitely, I have seen a big turnaround in regards to what it means to "sell out." I would rather license a song than get a day job. Actually, getting a day job would feel much more like "selling out" to me. I guess I should define selling out. To me, it means not doing what you want to do musically. Compromising your musical instincts in order to make money. Being a hack. You can license your music without doing any of these things.

Kidsleepy -With record sales down nearly 64% across the board, is there anything the industry can do to correct or revamp itself?

Britta Phillips - I wish there was a way to track music that is downloaded. Like a digitally embedded barcode. All entities that make money by allowing people to download to have to pay the musicians who are downloaded.

There you have it. In the four opinions we’ve had on the subject it seems safe to say that piracy has caused a war that takes a toll on musicians, ad agencies and production houses alike. Some see no light at the end of the tunnel. Others wish to engage in constructive dialogue to create a new system of checks and balances— a Geneva Convention for the online world. While still others like Britta Phillips have learned to navigate the minefield. Refusing to compromise their vision, yet still demanding rightly that they be compensated for their works of art.

There’s no easy way to sum it all up.

No, wait. There is. Piracy and the Free Culture movement sucks. Stop the illegal downloads, kids. It’s devaluing music and further corrupting the advertising industry. The end.

See also Collateral Damage Part one: David Lowery
Collateral Damage part two - Adam Weber
Collateral Damage Part Three: Rob Levine

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Dabitch's picture

A "digitally embedded barcode" is a great idea, and photographers have been wanting that too for a while.

kidsleepy's picture

In the big box music stores they used to have those magnetic strips that would sound an alarm if you tried to leave with your Guided By Voices Cd without paying. And in the small record stores (at least one in Pittsburgh anyway) they called the cops, or made your life hell some other way. Point is, we used to police stuff before it left the store. We should still be doing so.