Music Dealers

Pumpkins, Korean Cars, and Football
January 30, 2009, 4:19 pm
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You’ll get all that this Sunday as Smashing Pumpkins will debut a new song…via a Hyundai commercial…that will air during the Super Bowl.

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Yeah, getting your song in a spot during a show that will be seen by hundreds of millions is one way to make sure people will hear it.  Which I’m guessing was the main reason control-freak Billy Corgan allowed this, as his last effort – the “Smashing Pumpkins reunion album,” Zeitgeist – was heard by less people than who will actually be in the stadium on Sunday.
And it appears the Pumpkins (who’s original members consist of just Billy and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin now) forced cellist Yo-Yo Ma out of this spot.  Can’t blame Hyundai for that – a little rock music will likely get your spot more notice than classical music…especially from the beer-drinking, nacho-eating Super Bowl audience.  But it’s hard not to feel for Yo-Yo missing out on a chance to be heard by hundreds of millions.  I mean his name’s already Yo-Yo Ma…and now he gets bumped from having the largest audience he’ll ever get.
Poor Yo-Yo
Anyway, hopefully this partnership with Hyundai and exposure from the Super Bowl will work out for Billy and his new song, FOL.  It would be nice to see a bald 6’5 egomaniac millionaire rock star like himself finally catch a break.

Big Brands Release CD to Support Indie Radio
January 26, 2009, 11:16 pm
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Toyota and Urban Outfitters are teaming up to bring music fans a compilation of new songs from some pretty cool bands – all for a buck – and all to benefit independent radio stations.  Sound too good to be true?  I thought so myself, but check it.

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So yeah, apparently this is for real.  And slightly surprising.  It’s hard enough to find brands who leverage music wisely to advance their own cause, let alone those who actually give something of quality back to the consumer.  But here we have two brands that not only deliver on that, but also do so in the name of aiding indie radio.  And they’ve even previously extended the promotion with in-store shows, after-show parties, and fundraising drives, showing they know how to get the most out of their partnership with music.

No Age play for indie radio

Of course, Toyota and Urban Outfitters are likely doing all this in an effort to simply look cool and ratchet their brand image up a notch or two.  And it will probably work.  But hey, when they’re practically giving away new music while trying to raise awareness for independent radio stations, well, let them try to be cool all they want.

Still not sure if this will exactly make me buy a Yaris or hit up Urban Outfitters more frequently.  But for Toyota anyway, it at least starts the process of making amends for scalding my ears with their “Saved by Zero” jingle all fall and winter.

Pepsi Gives Music History Lesson
January 26, 2009, 4:33 pm
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If you haven’t seen Pepsi’s new anthem spot, it’s worth checking out.

While usually I’d decry the uninspired selection of a song as cliche and outdated as “My Generation” for use in a commercial, the new twist Pepsi puts on the 60s anthem is creative.

Starting with Pepsi’s incarnation in the early 20th century, the spot takes us on a history lesson while it weaves some early western stylings, swing, 50s doo-whop, 60s psychedelia, 70s disco, 80s hip hop, and 90s grunge into the song’s grooves in a way that makes the song sound fresh, while still maintaining the original’s integrity. And in the process, the spot not only draws attention to Pepsi’s heritage, but also tells a little story about the history of music as well.


However, conspicuously absent from this spot is any music from the current decade (what do you call this decade anyway?  The 0’s? The single digits?  The first ten years of the 21st century?).  Based on the end tagline, “Every generation refreshes the world.  Now it’s your turn.”  I guess they’re leaving it up to the audience to decide what today’s representation of music should be.  Kind of the lazy way out, but I guess that’s better than them deciding it’s Britney Spears or Nickelback.

So, what do you think it should be?  What should be the music styling that represents this decade when Pepsi updates this anthem in twenty or thirty years?  (Hopefully via something other than a Who song from the 60s).  And if you say Britney or Nickelback….well, you’re wrong.

Groove Armada and Bacardi Continue Partnership
January 21, 2009, 5:52 pm
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Here’s a cool digital music distribution idea from electro act, Groove Armada, and global spirits brand, Bacardi, that builds upon the partnership the two forged almost a year ago.

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Hard to believe that the pyramid template for music sharing hasn’t been used in this manner before, but apparently this is the first time.  And as Bacardi’s branding agency affirms, this file sharing system “encourages and rewards consumers for sharing music in a legitimate fashion” and that it is indeed a “new model challenging the traditional music industry model.”

In addition to allowing their music to be distributed in this manner, Groove Armada will also provide music for Bacardi advertising efforts and perform at several Bacardi-contracted shows as part of their partnership with the brand.


Bacardi has engaged in music partnerships before, and this latest endeavor proves again that they are a brand who’s learned to harness the power of music, and leverage it in new and exciting ways that make sense for their brand identity and marketing strategy.  Maybe they could give Citibank or Sears some pointers.

Major Music Artists Unite for New Ad Campaign
January 20, 2009, 4:27 pm
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What type of company could enlist the likes of Kanye West, Thom Yorke, Stevie Wonder, Lil Wayne, and Coldplay, among others, for an ad campaign that will span TV, radio, print, out-of-home, and online? The type that pays tribute to and bestows awards upon these artists.

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It’s no coincidence that most of these big music stars also happen to be up for major awards at this year’s Grammys.  So, not only are they reciprocating the academy for recognizing them by being part of this campaign, but a bigger audience for the Grammys means a bigger audience for them, which will lead to bigger album and concert sales for them.  So, of course they want to help.  They’re essentially advertising for themselves.  Kind of shameless.  But this is the music business.

cid_b14ef087-116d-4cd7-86bb-a9b65a710c04urbanThis multi-million marketing campaign – which is the biggest in Grammy history – is in response to the ratings for last year’s show which were the lowest in 16 years, along with the dismal ratings for this year’s prime-time Grammy special that announced the nominations.  Clearly, people are losing interest in the Grammys.  Perhaps that’s because they’re pretty much a joke.  And becoming more so every year as they continually honor the safest and least compelling music being made today.  (I mean when your “most prestigious award” – Album of the Year – has gone to the likes of the Dixie Chicks, Celine Dion, and Christopher Cross, you may have a problem).

But nonetheless, it’s nice to see major artists of all genres coming together for a similar cause.  Even if that cause is themselves.

Rockville” Welcomes Indie Bands
January 16, 2009, 10:17 pm
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Here’s an actual cool idea from the land of Hollywood, where there’s a dearth of cool ideas these days.

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Okay, so the title “Rockville” doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.  And I normally wouldn’t want to trust a show about a rock club in the hands of the guy behind “The O.C.” and “Gossip Girl,” or the network that brought us “Blue Collar TV” and “The Jaime Kennedy Experiment.”  But the overall concept that leverages the strengths of the internet, TV, and indy music is what makes this a cool undertaking.
And as far as the actual show, Schwartz seems to have a solid grasp of his vision, as he confirms the fictional nightclub and storylines are based on his own experiences.  He tells Variety, “I spent a lot of my early-to-mid-20s, before ‘The OC,’ at these kinds of clubs.  It’s a time when you’re poor and you don’t care.  Music matters to you. … I really wanted to capture that (time).”

Sounds like it has potential.  Schwartz also affirms that he was “given an incredible amount of freedom” from the producers.  Yeah, I guess so.  Storyline aside, producing a web-exclusive TV series may not exactly be groundbreaking anymore, but it’s still a significant venture…and one that isn’t exactly a cash-cow.  Yet anyway.
The Kooks will be visiting Rockville
As far as the bands go, Schwartz confirms he was looking for a mix of national and indy bands to mirror the types of clubs he used to frequent, which is why you have bigger acts such as Eagles of Death Metal and Travis in the show, along with indies like The Kooks and White Lies.  And he says these bands only get a small licensing fee for their work.  Which still makes this a pretty good deal for some of these bands.  Merely the opportunity to be in the show and have full songs featured online via is not bad just on its own.
So, this is a rare idea that seemingly benefits all parties involved: the bands, the internet, even the TV industry – and mostly importantly, the audience.  Since it makes so much sense, it likely won’t last for long.  So, better check it out while you can.  Even if the show turns out not to live up to its potential, you’ve still got the exclusive music videos there.  And it’s all gotta be better than watching “The Surreal Life” or “The Wayan Bros.” or whatever else WB is throwing out there, right?

Ad Age’s ’08 “Best of” Leftovers
January 14, 2009, 5:06 pm
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Advertising Age has released their “runner-ups” that didn’t make the  cut for “Ad Songs of the Year” (as previously discussed here.)


Again the general criteria here is “taste and creativity,” although  the author’s don’t deny that their own musical tastes and preferences  come into play.  Naturally.   Just as you can argue ad nauseam over  what makes one song or band better than another (with certain  exceptions of course – for example, there is no argument that Rage  Against the Machine is better than Linkin Park), the same can be said  of such a list as this.  But it makes for interesting discussions  nonetheless.

Of note here is that both Apple and Sears have used the same song for  ads, as detailed by the inclusion of Brendan Benson’s, “What I’m  Looking For”/iPod spot on this list.  That companies as disparate as  Apple and Sears, with advertising at opposite ends of the spectrum (as  noted here) , can use the same exact song for marketing purposes either points to  music’s inherent flexibility and capacity to derive a variety of  emotions and interpretations – or is just another example of laziness  on the part of marketers that they land on the same song out of the  hundreds of thousands out there.


Also of note is that Radiohead finds themselves on this list.  Yes,  that Radiohead.  The fiercely progressive band who go out of their way  to shun the mainstream and even went around the record business with  their last album by selling it exclusively online and allowing  consumers to decide how much to pay for it.  That such a strong-willed  and ambitious band is willing to lend their music for advertising  purposes, points to the power and value of such corporate partnerships  for musicians.   Or I suppose it could also point to all the money the  band lost by allowing consumers to name their price on their last album.