Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Edward Sharpe’s ad-friendly tune

It’s the wisdom of the crowds who work in advertising agencies at play. Chances are you’ve heard Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeroes’ “Home” at this stage. Even if you don’t listen to the radio all that often, you’ll have …

Tue, Oct 18, 2011, 10:23

   

It’s the wisdom of the crowds who work in advertising agencies at play. Chances are you’ve heard Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeroes’ “Home” at this stage. Even if you don’t listen to the radio all that often, you’ll have come across it a lot over the last couple of months. Even if you believe fervently that the stations on the dial are not really going to be up in your grill about a lovely slice of winsome folkie-rock from a bunch of Californian hippies, they are – and they are getting paid to play it too.

“Home” has featured on ads over here to flog mobile phones and insurance policies, while it’s been used across the Atlantic to sell jeans, phones, insurance and football coverage (the band’s other tune “Janglin’” found its way into a car ad). The track has also been used in a plethora of TV shows and films, but the number of ad placements it is receiving is most striking. If advertising agencies are looking for a tune to go with some heartfelt piece of footage designed to make you feel warm and cosy about the product in question, “Home” is currently the tune they’ll want on the ad.

It’s easy to see why the band say yes to the ads. According to band manager Bryan Ling in a piece earlier this year in Advertising Age, the act gets “mid-six figures for a larger commercial deal and closer to $15,000 to $30,000 for placement in a TV show or movie trailer”. Of course, you have to split this 10 ways – the problem with a big band – but it’s still probably more than they’ll make from record sales for the first year or two.

Add in the knock-on effects of having a song on ads in terms of royalties (radio stations are more likely to play your tune because someone else has invested money in it) and live revenue (the next time the band play an Irish venue, it will be in a bigger space than Crawdaddy) and you can see why the band says yes to “anything that has a positive message”. Those ads have meant that the band’s debut album “Up From Below” still has some life to it over two years on from its release in 2009.

What’s really interesting to observe, though, is the safety in numbers aspect at play here from the agencies and brands. Because “Home” has featured in one successful ad campaign, it’s now far more likely to feature in many more. The creatives know it works so rather than spending time going through submissions or commissioning new tunes, they’ll simply give Bryan Ling or his publisher a call because they know that the band are likely to say yes (one music supervisor told me that there is always a handful of fallback acts that you call when everything else fails because they will always say yes – one of these acts, oddly enough, is apparently The Who) and folks already know “Home” because someone else took a chance on the song ages ago.

No doubt, there will come a time when “Home” soundalikes are also be thrown into the mix because the band have to turn down an ad because the terms and conditions they’ve signed for a previous campaign prohibit them taking the brand’s money at that particular time. In time, of course, some other creative will stick a song by some another band to an ad and we’ll be off in a different direction again. But for now, “Home” is the tune the Mad Men want to hawk their goods and services so expect to hear it again and again in the coming months.

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