Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Music and Advertising: is it Impossible to sell out?

Last week in Seattle, Pearl Jam shot a music video with movie director Cameron Crowe. Nothing out of the ordinary. But it was strange that the historically anti-corporate band (see their lawsuit against TicketMaster) was being sponsored by large corporate emporium Target. What the what?

In the past, this probably would have sparked an outrage. But, the times they are a-changin’.It seems as though we are completely desensitized to our favorite artists' being in commercials for everything from crayons to push up bras to all kinds of cars. Apple is to blame. iPod and iTunes ads are highly coveted PR spots for any band, whether small, big or biggest in the world. It’s now acceptable that bands sell random junk to us (including the Wuggie).

But it’s not just on TV. Most music festivals are using corporate sponsorships to manage costs. Last year, Rage Against the Machine played on the AT&T stage at Lollapalooza. One of the most politically outspoken bands of the last decade was playing on a corporately sponsored stage. And no one cared! It doesn’t bother me that I saw Modest Mouse on the Bud Light stage or LCD Soundsystem on the Myspace stage or Girl Talk on the PBR Hipster Stereotype stage. If advertising can help subsidize ticket costs and get more bands, I’m all for sponsoring everything at a festival (this year, Rob Blagojevich sold naming rights for the fountain in Grant Park (Slightly dated, totally lame topical reference!))

Exceptions: I don’t want to see Bon Iver for the Wisconsin Board of Rural Tourism or the Arcade Fire for Crest White Strips (seriously, lets keep the Arcade Fire exclusively for soundtracking mindblowingly awesome movie trailers). But for the most part, I don’t mind this trend at all.

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