Thursday, November 27, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Opinions about song licensure singing a new tune

By
From page B1 | September 07, 2012 |

decicco column sig
Not so long ago, an artist who allowed his songs to be used to sell soda, cellphones, cars or any other product was a sellout hack who couldn’t make it “the real way.”

However, in recent years, popular opinion with regard to licensing songs for commercials changed.

One of the most famous flaps came in ’87, when the surviving members of The Beatles famously fought against the use of “Revolution” in a Nike ad.

After the late Michael Jackson bought the rights to a number of Beatles songs in the 1980s — a business practice to which he was introduced by Paul McCartney, no less — the decision to use “Revolution” to hawk sneakers didn’t lie with Macca, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and Yoko Ono, but, instead, Jackson and EMI-Capitol Records.

“If it’s allowed to happen, every Beatles song ever recorded is going to be advertising women’s underwear and sausages,” the late Harrison said in 1987. “We’ve got to put a stop to it in order to set a precedent.”

McCartney, Harrison and Starr would win an out-of-court settlement in 1989, the details of which were never disclosed.

McCartney was less absolute than Harrison about protecting The Beatles’ vision, but also kept an eye toward the future.

“(T)he most difficult question is whether you should use songs for commercials,” he said. “I haven’t made up my mind. Generally, I don’t like it, particularly with the Beatles stuff. When 20 years have passed, maybe we’ll move into the realm where it’s OK to do it.”

In terms of the timeline toward acceptance, McCartney’s guess was pretty close. As recently as five years ago, Chicago alt-rockers Wilco licensed a number of songs from its sixth LP, “Sky Blue Sky,” for use in a series of Volkswagen commercials.

The choice was met with a stern critical glare. Some accused the band of selling out or lacking artistic integrity, a curious argument given that the band felt so passionately about protecting its artistic vision that it was dropped from Reprise Records for refusing to kowtow to its label’s demands surrounding the recording and release of “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.”

“We see this as another way to get the music out there,” said the band in a message on its website at the time. “We feel OK about VWs. Several of us even drive them.”

In the past five years, it feels like the tide has turned. Increasingly, people have come to the realization that licensing songs for commercials is a necessary evil.

It played a role in popularizing Vampire Weekend, which had “Holiday” in simultaneous 2010 yuletide ads for Tommy Hilfiger and Honda.

It led to a humorous moment on “The Colbert Report” when Vampire Weekend confronted The Black Keys, who have had their songs in Zales and Victoria’s Secret commercials, in a “sellout-off.” Host Stephen Colbert ended the contest by declaring the groups had “both equally whored out (their) music.”

Just three years after the Wilco bashing, the Colbert scene shows the changing attitude toward song licensure.

Wilco’s story encapsulates why I and, I think, many others don’t really care if a band licenses songs for use in advertisements. The band was never asked to change its artistic vision by, say, writing a song named “Volkswagen” extolling the virtues of VW ownership. Instead, the German carmaker appropriated an existing piece of music.

To me, selling out is compromising one’s art for commercial gain. For example, the Black Eyed Peas were a socially conscious jazz rap group before Fergie came along. Now look at them.

Let’s not be deceived by the notion that while artistic integrity is to be coveted and guarded, there is a point when pragmatism takes over.

Artists who turn down opportunities at exposure in such a competitive industry are just cutting off potential revenue streams. It makes good business sense and, ultimately, these artists are businessmen and businesswomen in a capitalist society, not altruistic artists living in a vacuum where money is no object.

I think we’ve moved to a place where most people understand that and can see the gain to an artist by placing their ad in a commercial, so the cries of “sellout” are fewer.

To read more of Nick DeCicco’s blogs, visit http://dailyrepublic.typepad.com/forthoseabouttorock. Follow him on Twitter @ndeciccodr.

Nick DeCicco

Nick DeCicco

Nick DeCicco is the editor of the Tailwind and writes the pop culture blog/column For Those About to Rock. Before joining the DR staff in July 2007, DeCicco (pronounced Deh-CEE-Coh) worked at The Union in Grass Valley, Calif., and the Greeley Tribune in Greeley, Colo. A 2004 graduate of the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, DeCicco spends his free time attending concerts, listening to music, going to movies, traveling and hiking.
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Recent Articles

  • Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • .

    Solano News

    Middle Green Valley plan moves forward

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1

     
    School district continues look into Armijo grade-change scandal

    By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Veterans ready to serve Thanksgiving dinner

    By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    New focus on achievement gap of black males

    By Mayrene Bates | From Page: A2

     
    Vacaville art gallery schedules open house

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

    What’s the matter with Kansas Street?

    By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Sandbags available in advance of storms

    By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Governments shut doors for holiday

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A4

     
    Fairfield police log: Nov. 25, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

    Suisun police log: Nov. 25, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

     
    Weather for Nov. 27, 2014

    By Daily Republic | From Page: B12

     
    .

    US / World

    Passengers in Russia’s Arctic give airliner a push

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Court: No warrant needed to draw parolees’ blood

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

    Armored vehicle nixed by Davis ends up in Woodland

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

     
    Homeless man beaten to death in San Francisco

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

    Obama administration sets stricter smog standard

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

     
    Obama gets the bill for White House Thanksgiving

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

    Heart stent for Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg, 81

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

     
    Snow makes Thanksgiving travel ‘a little hairy’

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

    Union focuses on security guards at Apple

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

     
    American among hostages targeted in Yemen raid

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Sierra Leone official: Ebola may have reached peak

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Hong Kong police arrest key protesters, clear site

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Canada police arrest ex-radio host in sex case

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Impoverished Lebanese city is target for IS group

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Spy balloons give police new view of Jerusalem

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Prosecutor faces new criticism over Ferguson case

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

    Grand jury documents rife with inconsistencies

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

     
    Small crowd protests in Oakland for third night

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

    Ferguson residents clean up, hope for calm night

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

     
    .

    Living

    Today in History: Nov. 27, 2014

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Community Calendar: Nov. 27, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

    Nursing homes full of opportunities for giving

    By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

     
    Horoscope for Nov. 27, 2014

    By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

    .

    Entertainment

    TVGrid

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

     
    Missing model-restaurateur B. Smith found in NYC

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

    Garth Brooks cites Ferguson for cancellation

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

     
    University in Tennessee cancels Cosby appearance

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

    Tom Hanks, wife to host Christmas tree lighting

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

     
    With shake-ups, AC/DC perseveres with album, tour

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

    875 hours of holiday programming on TV last year

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

     
    .

    Sports

    All City football: Vikings sweep top honors

    By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Seahawks, 49ers meet for 1st time this season

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

    Panda heads put away with Sandoval’s departure

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    NFL might not flex any Sunday night games in 2014

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    San Francisco’s bid for 2024 Olympics taking shape

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

     
    Spurs’ Popovich undergoes medical procedure

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    AP source: Tomas in process of deal with D’backs

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

     
    Harden leads Rockets past Kings 102-89

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    Smith to start at QB for Jets vs. Dolphins on MNF

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

     
    Butler knocks off No. 5 North Carolina, 74-66

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    RG3 benched: Redskins to start Colt McCoy vs. Indy

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

     
    Raiders’ Woodson expects to play in 2015

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    Curry, 3s too much for Magic; Warriors win 111-96

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

     
    Sharks sign emergency backup goalie

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    Atletico Madrid, Arsenal reach knockout phase

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

     
    .

    Business

    FBI data show thousands of gun sales beat checks

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

     
    US new home sales up 0.7 percent in October

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

    US agency threatens to act against air bag maker

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

     
    Twitter now tracks other apps you’ve installed

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

    Health insurance sign-ups coming to shopping malls

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Esther Ringler

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    Dora Maria Aranda

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

    Adrian Looy

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Pickles

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Baby Blues

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Sally Forth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Baldo

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Get Fuzzy

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Garfield

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Rose is Rose

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Beetle Bailey

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Blondie

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Wizard of Id

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    B.C.

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Frank and Ernest

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Dilbert

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    For Better or Worse

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Peanuts

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Zits

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Bridge

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

     
    Cryptoquote

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

    Word Sleuth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

     
    Sudoku

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

    Crossword

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

     
    .

    Holiday Gift Guide 2014

    Why millennials prefer electronic gift cards

    By The Washington Post | From Page: HGG2

    How to give holiday gift cards

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG2

    How to establish gift spending limits

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG3

    Teen gifts: ideas for hard-to-buy-for big kids

    By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG3

    Novice crafter? There’s a project for that!

    By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG6

    Gift ideas for the special seniors in your life

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG6

    Time and money-saving holiday gift ideas

    By Statepoint Media | From Page: HGG7

    Oy vey, holidays! Does Hanukkah wannabe Christmas?

    By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG7

    How to save on high-tech gifts

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG10

    Shop top finalists for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund

    By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG11

    Sharing music: a personal gift made easy by tech

    By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG12

    Great gifts for music lovers

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG13

    Kitchen gift-giving made easy with personality profiles

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG14

    Great gifts for the family foodie

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG14

    Holiday shows abound in Solano County

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: HGG17

    Great gifts for people who love to read

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG19

    An oft-elusive yet gifty treat: coffee table books

    By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG19

    Steps to take before giving pets as gifts

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG22

    2014 holiday toy predictions

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG22

    Eco-friendly gift ideas for ‘green’ giving

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG22

    Things to consider before buying this holiday season

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG22

    Trend-setting gifts for the women on your holiday shopping list

    By Brandpoint Content | From Page: HGG23

    Gifts to keep kids engaged

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG25

    Gift wrap tricks to save time

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG26

    Save time and energy with a family gift this holiday season

    By Brandpoint Content | From Page: HGG27

    Gift exchange dos and don’ts

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG30

    Right at Home: gifts you can use – and use up

    By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG30

    How to send gifts to faraway friends and family

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG30