"Nowadays, more and more artists are willing to have their songs played in a commercial," says Andrea Kinloch, global strategy vice president for Warner Bros. Records. Her job is to get artists from her label into ads. "Music has changed so much. There are so many different ways to access music and learn about music that it's become a non-issue for artists to have their songs in commercials."
And she adds: "It's not a bad fee to make, either. Commercials pay fairly well."
There remain limits for some musicians, however. Meat Loaf recently appeared along with his music in AT&T ads for its prepaid mobile GoPhone. He even was willing to create a parody of his Paradise by the Dashboard Light for the traditional 30- to 60-second commercials. But he balked at doing a version for a five-minute Web ad (the original song clocks in at more than eight minutes).
"A little 30-second or 60-second ad — that's fine," Meat Loaf says. "I can parody (the song) and it won't get in the way. I won't feel like I've sold out me or the song."
Many factors affect fee
As with original songs, the licensing fee for an existing tune is affected by where, how and how long the ad will run. Added factors with existing songs can include the fame of the artist and/or the song and whether the song will be used in original form or changed by the advertiser.
"It depends on the product, if they want it exclusively in the product line and whether it's used in radio, TV or on the Internet," says Sony's Bandier. "Prices range from $50,000 up to $2 million to $3 million, depending on the song."
Some songs even seem to work so well in an ad that rights can later be sold to another advertiser for other commercials.
The Electric Light Orchestra's upbeat Mr. Blue Sky, currently licensed by EMI Music for use in a new ad campaign for JetBlue jblu, has been heard in previous years in ads for Guinness, Sears and Volkswagen. A version of it has been used in commercials for a French cellphone company, SFR.
More Michelle Branch
Creating a 30-second ad is complex, often requiring one to three days of filming and five to 10 days of editing. Creating the track takes additional time for writing music and lyrics or getting a song licensed, and then the audio must be added and mixed in post-production.
"Music is a huge planning element for an ad," says Richard O'Neill, head of production for agency TBWA/Chiat/Day, which created the Apple ads. "It's a real art, and a real craft. Whether you are buying a popular piece of music that's going to be perfect for that ad or composing a piece that you want to become a popular piece of music, it's really hard to try to find a 30- or 60-second hit song to go with that ad."
At a recent meeting at Human Worldwide, Bloch and a fellow composer, Cameron Ballantyne, spent an hour on the phone with an ad agency reviewing seven versions of a track for an ad for a Playtex women's hygiene product. None quite worked, according to Bob Sullivan, Grey's creative director. He wanted the tune to make a woman "get up and dance."
One interpretation needed to be "more Michelle Branch, less Hillary Duff," while track No. 7, considered a "Shania Twain version," had a "good melody," but the "voice needed to be more upbeat."
The next day Bloch and Ballantyne came up with a version in the ad, which now is in consumer testing.
"You can spend six hours working on the last five seconds of an ad," Human's Bloch says.
USA TODAY will be reporting from the annual festival throughout the week.