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The Power Of Advertising

by Steve Cahill


Love it or hate it, the trend of using old favorite songs to sell products is here to stay.

If you're among those who reacted in horror when Yoko Ono licensed The Beatles' "Revolution" to help Nike sell shoes, you're in good company. Rock heroes like Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young have consistently scorned all offers to turn their songs into commercials.

While one can admire their principled stand, lots of other songwriters are eager to reap the rewards associated with royalties from advertising.

Many have done very well licensing their songs to be used in advertising commercials. Bands like the Supreme Beings, Leisure, Moby, Stereo and Huffamoose have agreed to lucrative contacts with the advertising industry.


In some cases, advertising commercials have done more than sell product - they have actually managed to rejuvenate sales for some long-forgotten songwriters.

When Volkswagen ran Nick Drake's "Pink Moon" in television advertisements, sales for the deceased English folk artist's albums rose dramatically. Taking full advantage of the situation, Drake's label, Hannibal, re-issued copies of "Pink Moon" with stickers boasting "As heard on the Volkswagen commercial."

A spokesman for Hannibal recently credited the television commercial with helping to sell over 100,000 copies of the album, far more than it sold when Drake was alive!

Bottom line: For songwriters who want to make real "commercial" music, there's a LOT of opportunities in today's advertising business.


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