It's someone's job to pick music for TV idents, advertisements, trailers and in the middle of TV programmes when they're showing pictures but have no accompanying voice-over.

Music is used constantly to lend atmosphere to anything which is broadcast.

This is a job which I would love to have, though unfortunately it is just a small part of bigger job, as otherwise it would be too good to be true.
Actually the job is done easily by entering a key word into a computer which will give you a selection of relevant tracks, so a knowledge of music isn't even necessary.
In the past there have been flavour of the month tracks which have such popularity and generic appeal that they have been over-used, and there are also old classics, such as "Summertime" which has been used to lend a mood to almost every holiday/travel programme to denote a relaxing destination.

However, I have been deeply disturbed recently by the relentless use of Moby everywhere. Yes, I know that it's the only album ever to have every single track licenced for commercial use, but I think the people who choose incidental music must by now have forgotten what they did before Moby came along.

I loved that album, but

'nuff Moby already!

In 1999, they used Crystal Method's Vegas. The Gap was using Busy Child, Mazda had High Roller or Comin' Back (I forget which). I even heard ads with Cherry Twist, and Trip Like I Do samples in them.

There's always a easily-sampled record around that the hip production assistants happen to like. Fatboy Slim comes to mind as well -- I'm sure there are others. I hope they all get money for licensing them out like Moby did -- it's good music and they should get paid.
In a word, theyusedjingles. Or perhaps Vangelis, "The Moby From Before Moby" (tm).

The practice of using an existing piece of music in a television advert must surely date back to the beginning of time - most people cite The New Seekers' Coca-Cola anthem "I'd Like to Buy The World a Coke" from 1971, which is a long time ago - but it did not take off until the 1980s. Before then, advertisers tended to use jingles; short pieces of music commissioned for the advertising campaign and thrown away afterwards. The best jingles were catchy as hell. A generation of British people will go to their graves humming "for mash, get Smash". They might not remember their own names, or those of their deceased loved ones, but they will remember "for mash, get Smash". Long after Smash is gone; long after potatoes are gone, there will be echoes, reverberations, drifting into silence. The Who based their 1967 album The Who Sell Out around spoof jingles, and there must have been literally tens of academic dissertations and newspaper columns in which the advertising jingle was slammed as the degraded bum-gut of modern pop art culture.

However, the 1980s was a time of post-modernism, and notions of high culture were spurned as if they were the doddering delusions of dumb donkeys. Advertisers have always sought to associate their products with famous people, but until the 1980s these famous people tended to be sportsmen or actors. Rock bands of the 1960s and 1970s did not appeal to advertising executives, and I cannot imagine the Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin of 1970 or 1975 relishing the prospect of dancing for Brut. The Bee Gees put their names and faces to an obscure electronic beat-box by Mattel, but the whole intertwined field of merchandising, celebrity endorsements, and slick advertising did not gel until the 1980s. Perhaps it was the wake of Star Wars, and its multimedia blitz. Suffice it to say that, by 1984, Pepsi was willing to give Michael Jackson a large quantity of cash in order for him to dance and sing the virtues of their cola, and they were willing to give him a larger quantity of cash a few years later in order to sponsor his concerts. I wonder if Pepsi's corporate website has any mention of Michael Jackson today. Pepsi also gave a lot of money to David Bowie and Tina Turner. Coke had Bill Cosby, indeed they had Bill Cosby since the 1960s. As the 1980s wore on, Coke also had Paula Abdul, which Pepsi countered with MC Hammer. Truly, it was a remarkable time. I am glad to have lived through it. I have had this exhasion.

In Britain, the modern age of pop music in advertisements began in 1986, and was touched off by Levi's jeans, with an advertising campaign that used the first minute or so of Marvin Gaye's "I Heard it Through the Grapevine". The advert was a short film in which an absolute nobody called Nick Kamen went into a laundrette, stripped down to his boxer shorts, threw his clothes into the machine, and sat down to read a magazine, whilst the women around him gasped and gaped - but they did not masturbate, because British television in the 1980s conspired to deny the sexuality of women. The advert had nothing to do with Marvin Gaye's song (surely "Sexual Healing" or "Let's Get it On" would have been superb), but it touched a nerve. Overnight, British men threw away their Y-fronts and bought boxer shorts, and they also went out and bought copies of Marvin Gaye's song, enough to put it back in the top ten. I could write at length about boxer shorts, but I will not, not today. Levi's managed to capture lightning several times. In 1990 the company bought Steve Miller's "The Joker", and sent it to number one in the British charts. In 1991 Mick Jones of The Clash was persuaded to allow the company to use "Should I Stay or Should I Go", and it reached number one as well. Tom Waits' cover of Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "Heart Attack and Vine" was used by Levi's in the same year, and was also a hit, notably so given that Tom Waits was still very obscure in the UK at the time. By the 1990s jingles were dead, replaced with pop songs. I cannot think of any advertising jingles from the 1990s that were not deliberate, self-conscious parodies of jingles, such as the awful stroke brilliant Shake and Vac campaign, or "you can't get quicker than a quick fit fitter", or the Direct Line beeps). Oh, there's PC World's "Where in the World", I suppose.

This process of un-jinglification did not go entirely smoothly. Tom Waits successfully sued Levi's for using his version of "Heart Attack" without having consulted him first, but in most cases the artists did not have a say in the use of their music, because the rights were owned by other people. Michael Jackson famously owned the rights to most of the songs recorded by The Beatles, Paul McCartney's old band, although he generally showed restraint when it came to commercial exploitation. There was one exception, though, an incident in 1987 when Nike were allowed to use "Revolution" to advertise trainers. The Beatles' back catalogue is ripe for exploitation; "Taxman" could be used to advertise banks, and perhaps "Helter Skelter" could be used to sell painkillers. Led Zeppelin and Bruce Springsteen continually refused to allow their music to be used in adverts throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Springsteen was courted by the odd duo of Chrysler and Ronald Reagan, who both wanted to use his 1984 hit "Born in the USA" for their own ends. The song was a bitter, ironic attack on the broken social contract faced by Vietnam war veterans, but people only heard the chorus, with its loud bombastic synthesisers and loud drums and its chant of "Born in the USA, I was born in the USA!".

It is unusual for the same piece of music to be used in different adverts. The German band Trio had a European hit in 1982 with the song "Dah Dah Dah". White goods manufacturer Ariston either copied the track, or paid homage to it, with a memorable and surreal series of television adverts (the music, and the bleepy beat, were much the same, but the lyrics became "Ariston, and on, and on"). In the early 2000s Volkswagen paid up for the original tune, and it was a hit all over again. During this period there was a movement whereby the Nuggets and Pebbles compilations were raided for catchy old 1960s garage pop tunes, and unlikely artists such as The Sonics, Marmalade, and The Rumors found themselves on television, probably for the first time ever. Perhaps the royalties were dead cheap. In general, though, companies do not want to have their adverts associated with adverts from other companies, and so it is rare for a single tune to be licensed more than once. This has not stopped KC and the Sunshine Band from selling " That's The Way I Like It" to Burger King, KFC, Budweiser, and HP Sauce. The Kinks have sold "Days", "All Day and All of the Night" and "You Really Got Me" several times over. Hot Chocolate can retire on the advertising proceeds of "You Sexy Thing" and "Everyone's a Winner". Allied Dunbar and Motorola don't mind that they both used The Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want".

Advertising can be a useful source of revenue for a band. The Chemical Brothers do not sell records any more, but they are not poor, because Ford likes them. I cannot think of a more anonymous, undistinguished band than Groove Armada, but they are not poor either, because Asda and Renault like them. Nonetheless there are pitfalls. Babylon Zoo were killed off by their Levi-driven mid-1990s hit "Spaceman"; the advert used an awesome but unrepresentative portion of the song which gave the impression that the group was a dance band. It reached number one on the strength of pre-orders alone, but most buyers were disappointed to find that the song was actually a mid-paced glam-rock number. Stilskin were created purely to put faces to Levi's' "Inside", and died a death immediately thereafter. Old punks were not pleased at The Clash for allowing "Should I Say or Should I Go" to be licensed, although the song did the band's back catalogue sales no harm. In 1999 the hyped indie band Hurricane #1 allowed one of their songs to advertise the right-wing tabloid The News of the World in the UK, smashing any indie credibility they might have had into little tiny pieces of dirt that were washed down the drain into a crap-filled sewer of filth. Advertising still has a certain stigma. "Serious artists" such as Radiohead or Godspeed You! Black Emperor are not keen on having their music used to sell soap.

In the UK there are several compilation albums of television advertising music, such as "I Love TV Ads" and "Music to Watch TV By". They are faintly disturbing, and could easily be used to bolster a claim that Britain is turning into America.

I used two sources. Firstly, my head. Secondly, and more importantly, I used the internet. In particular, I used the internet website, which is beautiful.


At present (in the UK at least), Royksopp is the music of choice for... well, practically everything.

I recently saw a Channel 4 special on the Le Mans 24 Hour race, and EVERY SINGLE INTERLUDE, such as presenting the cars, talking about the track, and so on was done to a Royksopp track.

This is, of course, after at least two car commericals featuring one of the Norse funsters' tracks, and innumerable radio stations using 'Eple' as their background music while the DJ natters away. Nobody seems to care about the marvellous 'Remind Me' video.

Other overused songs include The Verve's 'Bittersweet Symphony', which was quite literally run into the ground by advertisements. Quite why 'My Favourite Game' by the lovely Cardigans is suitable for car ads escapes me, but that didn't stop them... it was even the title track for the Gran Turismo 2 intro sequence. DIY and other 'reality' shows in the UK are especially fond of inappropriate incidental music.

To answer the question, it's simple. Enya. Chicane. Perez Prado and countless other big band acts from 50 years ago. In fact, I suspect everyone will have at least one serendipity where they hear a song - and realize they've known it for years because of an advertisement. If anything, it means more money for the band, more airplay for the song, and saves the advertisers having to commission their own terrible jingles (see: the DeAgostini 'I Love Horses' song).

On the flip side - as we have seen (and thank you mkb for helping me realize this) it can also seriously harm the band's career and/or crediblity. All these ahteests will now be forever associated with the advertisement. The frustration of releasing an album only to get most of your money from the tracks being licenced for advertisements or TV themes (see - The Rembrandts and the Friends theme) must be huge.

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