There has been a change in terms of the attitude of artists regarding the issue of getting involved in advertising deals as a way of supplementing their income. This has been occasioned by the dwindling sale of their recorded music. During the 1960s, those artists that were involved in commercial advertising as a way of either promoting their music or supplementing their income were regarded as somewhat exploitative by the various players in the music industry. However, the music industry of today is very different from what was the case during the 1960s. To start with, many artists have mushroomed, gaining popularity and fame in the process. As a result, music fans have a variety of choices to chose from, when it comes to listening of music from various genres of artists. Therefore, the sale of music albums by individual artists has not translated into monetary gains, as the artists themselves would have wished. In addition, there are now many avenues through which music fans can gain access to the various popular songs by their artists of choice, without their having to purchase a record album from these artists.
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Modern Radio Situation
Various radio stations are today competing to play the most popular songs in the market by different artists. Although these radio stations normally enter into a deal with the artists, who gets paid based on the number of times that music fans request their songs to be played on air for example, the fact that there are many good artists today clamouring to have their songs played on air, means that artists have to seek for additional avenues to make money (Kiley, 2008 p. 3). Radio stations are also very selective when it comes to the genre of music that they play. Therefore, it means that an artist can only have his/her songs played by a given radio station on the basis of the category of music that such a radio station plays. The issue of piracy in the music industry is also very rampant. Although there are various copyright societies that try to curb this vice, it is not in doubt that this has had a big blow on artists, by way of crushing their morale. It is not a wonder therefore that a majority of the current and upcoming artists in the music industry are now more inclined on clamouring to feature in advertising deals that will offer support to the money they make through record labels.
Changes in Entertainment Industry
At the moment, the entertainment industry is facing monumental changes. Whereas the number of artists in them music industry have significantly increased, the advent in information technology has now made it possible for individuals to download music freely on the internet, using such gadgets as the iTunes. We have also witnessed a rapid shrinking of the various distributions windows that artists have previously relied on, such as mobile delivery and DVDs (Buskirk, 2008 par. 4). This has meant lost business for the artists as the sale of records have dwindled. There is a need therefore for artists to search for additional avenues through which they can be able to make money from the entertainment industry. Many of the television commercials aired in the United Kingdom and the rest of the world feature popular artists and groups. Various manufactures of products are now turning to these artists and the tunes in their lyrics as a way to help them for example, pitch cruises, cars, fast food, beer, insurance and software. In 1987, Nike was the first company to pioneer to use artists in their commercial advertisements, as a way of helping the company to market their shoes. In this case, Nike featured the record album, “Revolution” that had been originally recorded by The Beatles. The song was then subsequently used in al the ads that Nike aired on television, as a way of marketing their shoes (DeMarco, 2002 p. 2). Even though artists had previously turned to advertising as a form of supplementing the amount of money they made from selling record labels, nonetheless, Nike has received the credit for being the first company that successfully engaged a popular group of artists, in this case The Beatles, to promote their products through advertising. Although a majority of the people now claim that the “Revolution” song The Beatles used had little to do with commercial advertising, nevertheless, it is important to note that it set the pace for other companies to engage the services of artists through advertisements to promote their products. Since then, the original recordings of The Beatles have received little attention from companies while advertising their products. Nevertheless, their sheet music and words have been in use. In recent years, we have witnessed additional companies tapping onto The Beatles tunes. They include “Tax Man” by H & R Block, “Getting Better” by Phillips and “When I’m 64” by Allstate (DeMarco, 2002 p. 3). It is important to note that although nearly all the industries have relied on artists to promote their products through advertising deals, however, one of the industries that has been at the forefront is the auto industry. Bob Seger’s lyrics, “Like a Rock” have previously been utilized by Chevrolet while promoting the sale of their brand. On the other hand, Dennis De Young was featured as a lead singer in a television commercial for the automakers Volkswagen, in the song, “Roboto”.
Some More Examples
In 2002, Mitsubishi involved music as the leading element while running their ad campaigns. Accordingly, the automakers featured in their ads songs that topped the chart at the time, such as Bare-naked Ladies’ “One Week”. The Wiseguys were also engaged by Mitsubishis in this auto commercial advertisement deals, and their “Start the Commotion” song. In this commercial, we witness young adults inside a Mitsubishi car. The group bops and sings along with the beat of the music. The Rolling Stones are reported to have received approximately $ 13 million in 1995 from the giant software company, Microsoft, out of an advertisement deals that the group entered with the company. In this deal, the Rolling Stones were to feature with their song, “Start Me Up” in the various commercial advertisements that Microsoft undertook, as it prepared to release into the market Windows 95 (DeMarco, 2002 p. 4). Apparently, Microsoft was not yet done with the use of megastar in advertisement deals involving the launch of their new products. Accordingly, the Material Girl Madonna was engaged by Microsoft in a deal that would allow Microsoft to use the artist’s song, “Ray of Light”, and which helped Madonna win a Grammy award, when the company was launching into the market its new software, Windows XP.
Artists have been using songs in reference to brands and products for a long time now. For example, Paul Simon sang, “Mama don’t take my Kodachrome away”, while in “Mercedes Benz”, we witnessed the artists Janis Joplin making a plea to have a new car, in the form of a Mercedes Benz. These are endeavours by artists to take part in advertising deals meant to create awareness about the existence of a given brand of a product to the target market. At the same time, artists stand to benefit in such a deal in two ways. First, they are more likely to gain popularity out of featuring in advertisement commercials (Kiley, 2008 p. 4). Accordingly, it is highly likely that their popularity may translate into additional sales of their recording albums, or music. In addition, artists, by signing an advertisement deals with a company, earn a decent amount of income, based on the agreement they have entered with the company in question. Advertisements deals that involve artists have now taken the form of product placement. In this case, artists are paid to record a song for example, whose lyrics endeavor to cerate awareness about the product of a company in question. A case in point here is that of the fats food chain MacDonald’s. The restaurant chain has entered into a deal with popular hip-hop artists who are paid to write songs that seek to promote the products of MacDonald’s, with the approval of the company. By working the words ‘Big Mac’ into their lyrics, these hip-hop artists, along with the companies that they represent, gets paid, based on the number of times that the songs gets to be played on for example, a radio station.
Spice girls, a pop star group that gained fame in the 1990s in the music industry, has been lucky to engage in various advertising deals with manufacturers. For example, in 1997, the group was engaged in an advertising deal with the soft drink manufacturers, Pepsi Co. (BBC News, 1997 p. 2). The deal led to the Spice Girls earning more than £5 million. According to the deal, Pepsi would feature the Spice Girls on various bottles and cans of their brand al over Europe. This is in addition to the rights that Pepsi acquired from the group, to use their song, “Move Over (Generation Next)” while promoting their brand. In 2007, Tesco, a leading retail outlet in the UK, engaged The Spice Girls in the company’s televisions advertisement that was aimed at increasing its sales over the Christmas period. In this advertisement deal, each of the spice girls was awarded £1 million (BBC News, 1997 p. 2). Another supermarket chain in the UK, ASDA Supermarkets, created more than 40 different Spice Items for their shoppers during the Christmas period of 1997. The supermarket chain managed to develop official merchandise, party supplies as well as meals for the kids that had been branded with the logo for Spice Girls, in the various restaurants that the supermarket chain owns. In this advertisements deal that the Spice Girls entered with ASDA Supermarkets, the group managed to earn more that £1 million.The Spice Girls have also previously been involved in an advertising deal with Domino Sugar, in which the group managed to promote the sale of the brand in the North American market, in return, the manufactures acted as a sponsor for the group’s tour. The deal with Asda Supermarkets was projected to translate into over £300 million, in terms of the group’s earnings, in 1997. On the basis of the projected earnings for the artists, and given the fact that the music industry has been dealt a hard blow by the advent of the internet, in which fans download popular music at no or very little fee, advertisement deals therefore forms one of the most lucrative ways through which artists can supplement their income.
The run-up into the Spice Girls opting to venture into advertising deals was occasioned by a series of dwindling sale for the new album that they released in 1997. given that the groups had previously enjoyed their limelight at the top of the music chart not just in the UK, but also globally, this can therefore acts as a pointer to just how the music industry has transformed lately, implying that artists have to seek for additional sources of income, besides relying on the sale of their albums. When the albums sales of a popular artist suddenly start to decline, this could be an indication that consumers are already fatigued by the lyrics of the song.
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Advertising deals can therefore be used by artists to boost the sale of their albums, or as reinforcement as they wait to release a new album that would hopefully place them back on the limelight. The ancillary revenue streams indicate a proliferation of artists in the music industry, often characterized by short-periods of fame in which they make a decent income out of their record sales (Peter, 2007 p. 1). However, this period is usually short-lived. For the professional artist, the physical and digital sale of their records can no longer be the sole means of earning their income. Advertising deals therefore proves to be the much-sought after remedy to help artists sustain their current and future earnings.
BBC News. (1997). Spice sales not so hot. BBC News 2010.
Buskirk, E. V. (2008). Products Placed: How Companies Pay Artists to Include Brands in Lyrics. The Listening Post, 2019.
DeMarco, D. (2002). Pop artists go commercial; advertisers are turning to pop tunes that will click in consumers’ minds, while artists have learned that exposure and money far outweigh the stigma of selling out.’
Digital Spy. (2007). Spice Girls to star in Tesco commercial.
Kiley, D. Hip Hop Two-Step Over Product Placement. Business Week,2006. Web.
Peter, A. (2007). Ancillary revenue streams: how deals have changed. Web.