John Densmore, drummer for The Doors, wrote an interesting article in a recent edition of The Nation, in which he discusses the continued refusal of The Doors to allow their music to be used in commercials and other publicity and advertising campaigns. Interestingly, back when Jim Morrison was alive, the band had a clause written into their royalty agreement that said that every member of the group had veto power when it came to making such decisions, so any commercial use of The Doors’ music had to be unanimous. Nowadays, according to Densmore, keyboardist Ray Manzarek is constantly pushing the other two (Densmore and Robby Krieger) to accept the corporate cash, but they are holding out because they believe that it would cheapen the music, and because they don’t need the money.
I must say that, given all the good songs that have been partially ruined for me by their constant play in certain commercials, i have quite a bit of respect for Densmore and Krieger’s position (Densmore also seems to take a rather anti-corporate, anti-capitalist position, which i find quite heartening, but maybe that’s a topic for another thread). I was just wondering what other Dopers think when their favourite recording artist’s songs end up on a commercial for a computer or an SUV or some hair product. Does it give you the shits, or do you just think, “Hey, take the money and run”?
In some (or perhaps too many) cases, the publishing rights are owned by a third-party, such as the recording company or the highest bidder. Michael Jackson owns Northern Songs (the early Beatles).
There’s lots of money in jingles. Using popular music is much cheaper than employing slave labor in the Brill building, where folks like Neil Diamond and Carole King wrote original jingles.
Wouldn’t we all be using Hunts Catsup were it not for Carly Simon’s ‘Anticipation’ in the Heinz commercial?
The Rolling Stones (including Sir Mick) were approached by Bill (the) Gates who wanted to buy “Start Me Up” to promote some software Microsquish put out in 1995. Accounts vary, but word is it went like this: (BtG): How much? (TRS): "<ungodly figure in the multimillions> (BtG) ::writes check::
I’m disenchanted with how Roger Daltry and Pete Townshend have sold the rights to their songs. He says something like 'they’re our songs… "
But…but… this is art. The Who are fortunate to receive accolades for their songs and performances while they’re alive. And it’s good that we heard them. Yet, maybe the body of their work is ‘ours’ (their fans) too. They’ve cheapened it. No doubt.
There was one commercial, for VW bugs a couple years ago that did a swell job with what I believe was a Nico song.
Ray Manzarek is an artist. I hope there’s some way for him to protect his/Robbies/Jim’s songs for at least 100 years (right?).
Nothing can compare to having The Dead Kennedy’s song ‘Holiday in Cambodia’ playing in a GAP commercial. I think it was for Gap, anyway, or some similar company. Jello Biafra must be spinning in his grave. And yes, he is dead.
Let me see if I’ve got this straight.
The songs of The Whowere art, until they sold the rights off for commercials, at which point the songs lost all artistic value.
Get outta here.
There’s a REALLY simple solution to this: when the commercial using The Who’s music comes on, change the station.
And Pete Townshend is correct. They are “his songs.” In no way, shape or form are they yours or anybody else’s unless you care to pony up $50 -100 million to buy The Who’s song catalog. then you can do whatever the fuck you want with them.
Pete Townshend never wrote any songs with you in mind.
As far as the Doors music being used in commercials, it’s funny because they DID sell the rights to several songs including Light My Fire, although in that case, the Doors were forced by Morrison to renege on the deal.
According to the book: When The Music’s Over, Kreiger, Manzarek & Densmore went back to LA after their 1968 world tour, while Jim snuck off to London without telling the other 3. Back in LA the other 3 got a sizebale offer from Buick to use Light My Fire in a commercial. Morrison couldn’t be reached, but Kreiger, with the support of the others, decided to sell the rights to the song.
It’s not called the music business because acts and the record companies want to lose money.
The songs are valuable, and there’s no reason that the person who created that value can’t cash in. “Starving artist” sounds romantic, but when you’re starving, you can’t create more art. To be “artistic” is merely narcissism when you can’t pay the bills.
Yes, and if you’d read the article i linked to in the OP you’d know that Densmore refers to this incident and (he says) is glad that Morrison forced the rest of them to back down. In fact, according to Densmore, Morrison told the car company that if they used the song he would smash one of their cars with a sledghammer on television.
And, by the way WSLer, is such aggression really necessary on what had been, up until your post, simply a forum for people to present their points of view on this issue? Your point of view on the issue is no doubt shared by many people, but you don’t make yourself seem like much of a rational debater by using such childish hostility. But if that’s the way you like to do it, go ahead - it’s a free country.
and RealityChuck wrote:
These comments are certainly valid, and in fact, as i pointed out in the OP, Densmore says that one of the reasons that he constantly says no to using Doors songs in commercials is because he doesn’t need the money. Let’s face it, just about anyone who receives a big offer to use their music for advertising purposes has probably already achieved financial success. After all, large corporations (except for the music business) and the advertising industry are not in the business of discovering and promoting unknown artists. How many unknown garage bands, or “starving artists,” get offered multimillions for their songs?
I think it was Bill Hicks who had a rant about this in his act. He said, basically, you are welcome to sell your material to advertisers to use to hawk their products, just so long as you also simultaneously cease to call yourself an artist.
'Course you might not agree with Bill Hicks, but i think he has a point.
The only exception to this rule that I can think of is chumbawamba, who licensed “Tubthumping” to ( I think) Nike for £70,000, then promptly donated the cash to a group of activists who protest about use of sweatshop labour.
I think I can say there’s something wrong with that.
Carly Simon’s “Anticipation” has been mentioned a few times. The first time I heard it was the commercial. I didn’t know it was anything other than a commercial. I was surprised to find out later it had been a song.
Maybe it’s a good song. Quite possibly Ms Simon was thinking about something- love? sex? life?- other than ketchup when she wrote it. Maybe when she wrote it, it meant something to her.
But when I hear it I think “ketchup”. Sometimes I think “catsup”. But that’s about it.
I don’t think there’s any question she had a right to sell it. Seems like a lot of work to go through for me to think “ketchup” though.
The Who sell out; W’re only in it for the money, etc.
I remember way back in '68 or '69 when B.B. King–B.B. King!–sang in a Coke or Pepsi radio commercial–pissed me off! But what the hell, why shouldn’t money be a reward for producing a product people will buy? Why is a commercial for Pepsi different from a commercial for yourself? When I was a kid, I wanted to play rock and roll so as to get groovin and get laid. I wouldn’t have said no to cash! The peace love and woodstock thing was just a cover for the narcissism that was at the root of all that stuff. If a little creativity and "art"accompanied it, well, all the better. But it all took place within, and was made possible by, a bigger social and economic system we call capitalism. Can’t get away from it. We instinctively say “right on” to Densmore and Kreiger for “holding out,” but it isn’t really costing them anything; they’re just keeping the old fantasy alive for nostalgia’s sake.