Advertising Killed the Radio Star

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In this article Josh Sanburn is exploring the evolution and merging of commercials and popular music. Commercial music made $2.5 billion last year and aired during the most popular shows on television. This is much different than when commercials started as short, informative jingles. There was no way to mistake a commercial jingle for any song on the radio. In the 50’s and 60’s jingles morphed into full songs that became imbedded in pop culture, but were still very distinct from radio music. This held true until the 80’s and the rise of popularity of MTV. Companies wanted to capitalize on MTV and began to making commercials that sounded very similar to the popular music of the time. The commercials sounded so much like the songs on the radio that it actually led to several high level lawsuits from major artists. These very expensive lawsuits led to companies actually creating a career for musicologist. A musicologist sole purpose was to listen to commercials and make sure it didn’t sound too much like any protected song. To avoid these lawsuits all together, companies began trying to license music from the artist themselves. This practice was met with much negativity from artists as many considered it “selling out”. In 1999 Moby and his album Play broke down the wall between popular music and advertising. Moby successfully licensed all 18 tracks on the album and in turn was able to sell 10 million copies worldwide. The creation of Napster and mp3s also helped convince artists to start licensing their music, as these things drastically began to cut into musicians’ profits. Licensing music was still looked down on by larger artists until Apple changed the landscape of advertising. Apple was able to license music from acts U2 and Eminem for the launch of their iPod. The popularity of these ads changed the minds other big name artists to begin licensing their...
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