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Music For Adverts

A recent review in Pitchfork panned The Ting Tings latest album, dismissing it with this swipe:

"The restless genre-hopping vibe makes this feel less like an album and more like a series of tracks written to briefs."

The Ting Tings have had their music licensed in spots and performed in adidas-sponsored events. But the review is implicitly critical of what it perceives now to be a conscientious decision to write music for the express purposes of licensing.

And so we pass a new milestone in the "Sell Out" whine is reached. Where music geeks create ever more complex rules on what is and isn't acceptable. It's time we sat them down, turn off their latest OFWGKTW mix, take their nicotine-stained fingers in our hands and say: Get over it. It's not a new thing.

Lou Reed sold out for a Honda scooter.

Of Montreal allowed one of its songs to be rewritten as a bloomin' onion jingle.


And in the most meta of all sell outs, G. Love sold out for Coke in its "Chilltop" spot that was itself a cover/rip of the song in Coke's original 1971 "Hilltop" spot.


Those are just a few examples out of a bazillion. We could argue that some like Lou Reed, had enough cash to avoid this supposed indignity. But for bands like The Ting Tings and Of Montreal who aren't going platinum any time soon--they gotta pay the rent too, no?

It's 2012. The way we process music has changed. The way musicians make money has also changed. Most bands cannot make a living without selling something other than music. Be it merchandise or music licensing. They need money because they don't sell nearly the same amount of records as in the past. Licensing also helps them reach an audience they otherwise couldn't.

Is this different from bands in the 50's and 60's using the payola scheme to their music on AM radio?

Answer: Yes it is. The bands actually make money this way. So they can then make more music.

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