“Today” is Right Time to Sell
If you’ve seen Visa’s latest spot and are over 21, you should recognize that grungey guitar anthem in the background.
Yes, Visa has licensed the the Smashing Pumpkins 1994 hit, “Today.” Even though the uplifting lyrics are only heard at the end, they do offer an appropriate closure to the spot, and the song’s overall tone fits the strategy and execution nicely. And beyond the story-telling aid, the instant recognition of the song makes it a valuable component for the spot as well. So, it’s a good choice by Visa.
However, it is slightly startling that Billy Corgan agreed to this. Sure, the Pumpkin’s frontman is always looking for attention and a way to stay in the public eye and make some extra loot – and artists of all shapes and sizes are licensing their songs for commercial purposes these days. But given his past public defiance for using “Today” in this manner, it’s surprising he agreed to license this particular song. In a 2004 Newsweek interview, he said he turned down “heavy, heavy money” to license “Today,” because, as he put it, some things are sacred.
The record company’s literally begging me: go ahead and take these commercials. At this point in my life, I don’t feel comfortable. Those songs are the reason I’m alive. If your music is not sacred to the point where it’s a really, really, really heavy decision about whether or not you would allow somebody else to exploit it, then what’s not for sale?
Guess anything is for sale when you’re no longer relevant. But Billy is just the latest in a long line of artists who once vehemently opposed allowing their music to be in commercial endeavors, deeming it as “selling out” – but now see these opportunities for what they are: a viable platform to get their music heard and achieve some exposure amidst a landscape of shrinking outlets that are failing artists.
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So we could cut Billy some slack for his 180. But he didn’t make those statements back in 1994 when the song was released and the music industry was radically different than it is today. He said that just five years ago in 2004 when the music industry had already dried up and artists were proactively looking to marketers for exposure. But I guess like his foray into electronica and the ill-fated Pumpkins reunion, Billy’s just a little a late to the scene again.