Whether marketers buy music from an agency like Human or licenses existing tunes from labels or publishers, they are paying the big bucks because the right chemistry among product, music and ad message will make a brand stand out.
"If a brand is going to spend tens of millions of dollars for TV, radio or Web time, they want a song that has immediate recognition and that can put you in a particular place or time," says Martin Bandier, chairman and CEO of Sony/ATV Music Publishing. "The world has recognized that music is the great thing that can catch your attention. This is a good time to be in the music-publishing industry."
Sony's sne music-licensing revenue is up 17%, and the volume of deals is up 9% for the fiscal year ended March 31, Bandier says. He recently named Rob Kaplan to the new post of global marketing vice president, making it Kaplan's job to sell songs from Sony's list of 750,000 to marketers and their ad agencies.
Ad use has proved to have a payoff beyond license fees, particularly for up-and-coming artists. Billboard has even started tracking when ad use causes a tune's sales to spurt.
"In the last few years we've given more attention to branding news," Mayfield says. "Every week we have a number of different opportunities to explain (sales) increases on a chart, and if something picks up steam we look for causes of that."
More and more the cause turns out to be an ad. Use in an Apple aapl ad for the MacBook Air, for example, helped push New Soul by newcomer Yael Naim to the top of the charts at iTunes — more than 800,000 downloads have sold since the TV ad began airing in February.
Love Song by Sarah Bareilles rose as high as No. 2 on Billboard's Hot Digital chart after it was in an ad for music-download site Rhapsody.
Apple and Old Navy gps have, in fact, made an art of catching artists ready for a career breakout: Naim and also Feist with Apple; Ingrid Michaelson and Lights with Old Navy.
Everyone wins when it works — the advertiser gets a fresh sound for a steal, and the artist gets prime TV exposure at a time when promoting new music has gotten tougher.
"Radio playlists have been tight for decades, and it's really hard to sell an album these days," says Billboard's Mayfield. "In an environment like that, commercials, in a way, are the new radio stations."
Licensing existing music is not simple, however. Even when a music publisher just wants to sell an advertiser the right to redo the music with studio musicians, the original artist and label typically have to be on board.
"It's not a business you can just go into overnight," says Sony's Bandier. "You need a history and understanding of songs."
Ad use no longer has stigma
Changes in the music business and pop culture, however, have eliminated a lot of artists' former reluctance to sell their music for ads. These days, you hear music in ads from everyone from The Beatles (Hello Goodbuy, a pun version for Target tgt of Hello Goodbye) and Bob Dylan (Victoria's Secret) to Meat Loaf (AT&T) t and Sting (Jaguar) to Iggy Pop (Carnival Cruises) ccl and The The (M&Ms).