Earlier this week, I was watching “Gossip Girl,” and during a commercial break, an ad for Target came on. I’m not really sure what the Bullseye was promoting though, because all I could focus on were the words being sung in the background. “One day I woke up, and there was more to love…” I quickly jotted down a few lines from the lyrics, then turned to my computer and Googled the phrases. A couple minutes later, after scrolling through a page or two of search results, I found what I was looking for: “More to Luv” by Minnutes. While I don’t normally buy entire albums off of iTunes without first listening to a few songs, I had a good feeling about this band Minnutes and downloaded Pretty Baby right then. It was exactly what I was hoping: indie pop music with a cute and catchy sound. Strangely enough, I recognized another song, one called “I Can,” as well. I’d heard it in an ad for Dove Go Fresh.
Advertising companies know consumers listen to the music in commercials. Apple is especially good at using songs from up-and-comers that reinforce the brand’s cool factor. The bands, in turn, get a paycheck and a little name recognition—or at the very least, one of their songs becomes forever associated with the Shuffle, Nano, iPhone, or App Store. And what do we, the consumers, get? Music recommendations.
While most people probably wouldn’t want to admit to downloading a song they’d heard in an ad on TV, Apple or otherwise, I think commercials are wonderful sources of new music, especially the stuff I like: adorable-sounding songs sung by women. This genre doesn’t get major play on radio stations, but it accompanies product ads marvelously. And I don’t even think about the commercials they accompanied (to the companies’ chagrin, I’m sure) when I’m bopping around to a fun, upbeat tune.
Did you hear the song in the Chevy Traverse ad with shoes falling from the sky? That’s Emy Reynolds. When I first searched for the song from that commercial last September, she didn’t even have an album out. According to her MySpace page, an EP is coming soon.
And the music in Old Navy’s sweater commercial last winter? That was Ingrid Michaelson singing “The Way I Am.” I’d heard her name before the commercial but didn’t bother listening to her music until I heard her voice in an ad for cheapo knitwear. Actually, while they don’t get much recognition for breaking new artists the way Apple does, Old Navy has a good commercial music track record. The Weepies, a favorite of mine, were featured in a holiday ad last year (they also had songs in JC Penney and L.L. Bean commercials). And Lenka’s “The Show” got play in last year’s spot for great jeans.
Even though these artists have “sold out” by some people’s standards, I don’t like them any less for lending their songs to corporations. Everyone needs to make a living, and when you’re in a small band that isn’t playing at Madison Square Garden, you’re probably barely getting by. If a car company thinks your song will put consumers in a pleasant mood while they hear about “best-in-class cargo room,” why not take the national exposure?
Apparently, I’m not the only person who takes note of songs played in commercials and isn’t ashamed of adding them to my iPod. That Minnutes song Target used is leaps ahead of the album’s other songs in the popularity rankings on the iTunes Music Store. And there are tons of websites that list what songs have been featured in which commercials for easy reference. Not including “More to Luv” and “I Can,” Pretty Baby has eight songs that haven’t been heard in ads. I’m crossing my fingers that “IceDream,” will make it into a commercial for Breyer’s Double Churn Light.