The Importance of Songs in TV Commercials

Twenty-five years ago, it was unthinkable to allow for one of your songs to be used in a TV commercial.

You were branded a sellout and as someone who would corrupt art just for the sake of a few dollars.  But that attitude began to change about a dozen years ago when people realized two things:

(1) The amount of money you could make licensing a song to a TV commercial could be staggering—or at least enough to help your band with a year’s worth of expenses; and (2) Songs in commercials equaled higher music sales.  For example, after the Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony” showed up in spots for Nike, sales of the Urban Hymns album increased 130%.  

Today, licensing songs for commercials is just seen as good business, especially in an era of declining music sales.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

One thought on “The Importance of Songs in TV Commercials

  • November 19, 2011 at 7:50 am

    I remember that Moby made a point of being open to all of the songs on Play being used in commercials. Did he help to shift attitudes about selling out, or did he just take the new norm to the extreme?


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