Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Least Indie Thing I've Seen All Week

Alright, so one of the bigger DC-area acts these days is a band called Middle Distance Runner. I can't say I know their music all that well, but they seem to have a pretty big following, and several blogs that I know and respect have a pretty high opinion of them.

I noticed earlier today that they're scheduled to play Iota, right down the road from me, in late March, so I figured I'd go to their website and see exactly what they sounded like.

My verdict? They're fine. But that's not the reason I'm posting. If you go to their website, and click on the "Placements" button at the top of the page, it takes you to a listing of all of the advertisements that their music has been used in.


Listen, I know that this is how bands make money these days, and I don't have a problem with the New Pornographers or Of Montreals of the world selling their songs for ads. But do you really have to devote an entire page on your website to list each time you've done it?

That so is not punk rock.


At 10:55 AM, Anonymous Matt said...

Totally with you, and what's dangerous about it is when someone seems this focused on licensing their songs, it's easy enough to imagine that they write their songs with licensing in mind. Saw a good article somewhere (can't remember where) that talked about how we can now assume bands aren't just writing songs so that they can get licensed, they are writing 15-second sections of songs designed to be licensed.

The end result is that something that is supposed to be about communication between an artist and a listener instead becomes refracted to be about communicating to a listener through a brand, which by definition means the song is little more than a tool to make you have positive associations with a brand.

I have (grudgingly) accepted that bands need to be more aggressive about licensing to make a living, but it's hard not to wonder if for some the focus has become more on selling their songs than on creating great art.

As an aside, maybe the best model is Yo la Tengo's, who writes quite a bit of commercial and soundtrack music, but do it completely separately from their actual releases. From what I understand, they'll happily write music for a candy commercial, but they'd never license, say, Sugarcube to Starburst.

At 11:13 AM, Blogger Steve said...

Dude, you should work for Pitchfork or something.


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