For centuries, artists got their financial support from admiring patrons. Shakespeare and Mozart wouldn’t haven’t been able to do what they did without generous donations from people who loved their work.
When music became commoditized about 150 years ago and began to be sold as sheet music and in physical formats like records, new revenue streams developed. The need for patrons diminished.
Some reckless souls tried to improve upon this money-for-plastic model. In 1986, a British band called Sigue Sigue Spuntnik–a gimmicky outfit who proclaimed that their way was the way of the 21st century–released an album entitled Flaunt It. Instead of leaving the customary two-second gap between songs on the record, they sold this space for advertising.
Music fans were aghast at such wanton commercialism. Still, L’Oreal, i-D magazine, a clothing shop called Pure Sex and others jumped in.
Sigue Sigue Sputnik soon fizzled along with their plan of selling ad space on albums.
But that was then when everyone bought albums. Today, with that revenue stream having disappeared for thousands upon thousands of artists, is it time to rethink things? Maybe selling ad space is the way to go.
Maybe that’s too crass, though. How much do you hate sitting through a commercial before you get to your YouTube video?
So let’s think about this: why not meet halfway between advertising and patronage? What about sponsored albums? Why not have, say, Coke, adopt an artist and finance the recording of their new material in exchange for some kind of promotional consideration? How far removed is that from licensing your music to a TV commercial or TV show?
Noisey follows up on this notion. It’s not crazy, you know. Maybe Sigue Sigue Sputnik was onto something in ’86.