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« Kudos to Volkswagen and Wilco | Main | Easier to Comment »

July 03, 2007


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Chuck Tanowitz

I'm confused. One the one hand you praise Wilco for working with, and probably accepting money from, VW. Then you get on other artists for "crass commercialism." Where is the line between the two?

Walk through any art museum and you'll see lots of great paintings of very rich people or paintings done specifically for the church. Why? That's where the money was.

Why is music any different?

Peter Kohan

If you noticed the title of the post - it is a "thin line" between what is looked upon as tasteful, and by whom.

The difference is one of degrees, and one man's trash is another's treasure. Wilco didn't have to compromise their music to get Volkswagen to buy into working with them. Even Cartel, as circus-like as their effort with Dr. Pepper was, didn't compromise their music per se to get the corporate sponsorship.

There was an effort by McDonald's sometime last year to seek product placement in song lyrics. I don't recall too many songwriters and artists finding too much credibility in that effort. There were certainly no hits that came out of the effort. This Candie's effort is somewhat similar in nature. If you're a brand that needs to pay an artist to sing songs about your product, and not have them just name-drop your brand because they think the brand is cool in and of itself, then it's hard for me to imagine listeners believing in that brand the way that brand wants consumers to.

'N Sync once did a commercial for Chili's singing the "Baby Back Ribs" song, but they never put it on their album or singles as a commercial track. Fergie is saying - "my art is for sale to the highest bidder," not caring that her fans might find her motives disingenuous.

Your analogy to the church or the culture of patronage has some relevance. But here - the label has already committed to the artist the funds to record the record and market it to the public. What the label and artist are doing in this case is saying "we need another party to come in and help us recoup our costs and to market this artist because it's financially impossible for us to spend this much money on this artist ourselves." And I'm sure the label has more influence on the content of the released product than the brand here. The brand could end up realizing down the road that another track on Fergie's album is "too hot for TV" and the artist association might alienate consumers instead of drawing them in. If a Renaissance artist created a piece of sub-par work for a church, do you think the church had to worry about the citizenry panning the church with bad reviews or going to attend another church many miles away? The church had power and authority to boot. In today's market - the consumer has all the power and authority. They decide what brands to buy and which ones they will ignore.

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