Saturday, April 18, 2015
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

.

Solano News

 
 
Child care program helps teen parents, students

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1, 6 Comments | Gallery

 
Wood students entertain guests at Epcot

By Susan Hiland And Susan Winlow | From Page: A2

 
 
 
Solano County Science Fair continues to grow

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
 
Fairfield police log: April 16, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

Suisun City police log: April 16, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

 
Weather for Saturday, April 18, 2015

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B10

.

US / World

Family awarded rights to rare coins

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
 
Dog flu outbreak sweeps across the Midwest

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

AG announces anti-bias training program

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
 
Iraqi officials believe Saddam’s top deputy killed

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Germany mourns citizens lost in plane crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Following Alps crash, debate over pilotless planes heats up

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

.

Opinion

 
Time for meaningful financial reform

By Paul A. Volcker | From Page: A8, 4 Comments

 
.

Living

Today in history: Saturday, April 18, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: April 18, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: April 18, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A7

 
My daughter is upset that I didn’t attend my former in-law’s funeral

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A7

Idea from Adam Sandler film used to soothe dementia patients

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
.

Entertainment

.

Sports

JC baseball: Falcons win as Pavlovsky, Evans homer

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

 
Prep badminton: Mustangs roll to 15-0 win over Wolves

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

Prep baseball: Haney hurls Vanden to 3-2 win over Benicia

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

 
Armijo nears girls soccer title with 2-0 MEL win

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

SCAC girls roll past MEL 55-28 in All-Star hoops game

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
SCAC boys slip past MEL in entertaining All-Star game

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Athletics fall to Royals 6-4 in rematch of AL wild-card game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Warriors, Pelicans enter series with different pedigrees

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Prep softball: Seldon powers Rodriguez to victory over Armijo

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

 
Collmenter shuts down Giants, gets three hits in D-backs win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Merritt’s 61 trumps Masters champion Spieth’s 62

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

2 minor league baseball teams to test game with 5-pitch rule

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
NBA could alter schedule, but no change to playoffs, lottery

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Coonan stepping down as Santa Clara’s athletic director

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel says he “let down” fans

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

49ers fullback Miller at home in Georgia after March arrest

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Rockhold hopes win over Machida launches him into contention

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Martina Hingis to make singles comeback in Fed Cup match

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Injured Giants fan throws out first ball in San Jose

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Flyers fire head coach Craig Berube after 2 seasons

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Hornets GM Cho: Stephenson ‘didn’t work like we expected’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Brazil eyes historic medal haul in 2016 Rio Olympics

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

2 weeks before Mayweather-Pacquiao, not a ticket to be seen

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Big Ten’s Delany lays out plan for freshman ineligibility

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Before ruling out an upset in NBA East, listen to these guys

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
Western Conference teams face perilous path to NBA Finals

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
This date in sports history for April 18

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Back on the USA Network: Sports return with NHL playoffs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

 
.

Business

Secrecy shrouds decade-old oil spill in Gulf of Mexico

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5 | Gallery

 
Frederick’s of Hollywood reveals closing of retail stores

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

Don’t plan to line up for Apple Watch next week

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Glaxo recalls flu vaccine due to potency problem

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5, 4 Comments

 
California home prices hit new 7-year high, sales rebound

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

.

Obituaries

Douglas Craig Sparks

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7