Mad Men is the only show on TV that I can’t wait until it’s done being DVR’d to watch, therefore it’s the only show whose commercials I actually watch.
So last night my mouth gaped when I saw the new ad for Bing (which, frankly, I’ve never used—nor do I understand what it does) featuring one of my favorite new bands, The Lumineers. The Lumineers are this grungy little bar band whose song “Ho Hey” has never failed to make me happy. They’re a little band of musical gypsies, a real musician’s band, playing songs that make everyone in whatever small venue they’re rocking stand up and dance or cheer or sing along. They’re the real deal.
And now they’re on a Bing commercial (above).
Remember like 12 years ago when no self-respecting musician would be caught dead hocking products on national TV?
Well, times have changed. With electronic downloads now outnumbering CD sales, it’s nearly impossible to make money as a musician. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t even bought an iTunes album in months—not since I discovered Spotify. Despite Spotify being a legit source of downloading music (no piracy allowed), I can’t imagine The Head and The Heart (to whom I’m jamming right now) are making much money from my repeated listens. And I’m sure that if you haven’t heard their song Lost in My Mind on a commercial, you soon will.
So despite my purist roots (I was raised on Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones), I get it. And I’m glad for The Lumineers that they’ve struck a deal and are finally going to make some cash. I know that this is the future for musicians, it’s just hard to accept that the dirty little bar band I loved because I felt I had some sort of intimate musical connection with them is now the soundtrack of Bing. It’s okay, I’ve still got Banana Gun, the best rock band no one’s ever heard of (listen to ‘The Flame’)…
I guess that the fact that every band sells songs to TV commercials means doing so is no longer considered “selling out.” But I’m OK with that.
What do you think of what’s happening in music right now?
Has the advent of “selling out” created better or worse music?
What’s the worst case of “selling out” that you’ve ever seen? Was anything worse than Janis Joplin’s “Mercedes Benz” song being used for a BMW ad?
Is there any merit to being a band that doesn’t sell out, if it turns out nobody hears your music because you went broke?
Do you miss the era of the true “Rock Star”? Will there ever be another rock superstar like Robert Plant, Mick Jagger or Eddie Vedder?
(I’m including, below, a video of the same song performed live, the way bands like this get into your soul – a bunch of guys on stage without a bunch of glitz or production.)