Sunday, 15 March 2009
How to make a Fuckload of Money out of Music (It's a lot easier than you think)
So, another Comic relief has come and gone. Of course it was awful*, but that’s another post for another time, what I want to talk about is one of the silently unacknowledged purposes of Comic Relief that few people know about.
As we all know, Comic relief exists for three reasons.
1. For Lenny Henry to give African children hope by proving to them that it is possible to be black and overweight
2. To remove any remaining gravitas from newsreaders by making them sing 70s hits – this is part of a secret government initiative to soften the blow when they inevitably have to break the news of the global nuclear holocaust**
3. To raise money... What? There’s no joke here. Comic relief raises a fuck of a lot of money. What kind of a monster do you think I am?... Pricks
What you might not know however, is that Comic relief also serves as a handy barometer of the recording artists set to make a shitload of money through in the coming year through their songs being used in adverts and corporate films.
The standard logic amongst the advertising & TV industry is that if it works over dying Africans, it’ll work over anything. That’s why whatever you hear on the comic relief soundtrack of misery is almost guaranteed to show up over training videos and Hollyoaks montages for the next few years.
Basically, you can bet your bottom dollar that several despicable little shits 'in advertising' were sat there on Friday taking notes.
Sceptical? Well, just think of the Comic Relief big hitters, Keane, Coldplay, U2, Sigur Ros, Snow Patrol, Leona Lewis, (slow) Greenday. All of these bands make much, if not most of their money from usage of their songs by big brands.*** A Coincidence? I think not.
If you’re in a band, the chances are you’re thinking about how you can get on this list. Don’t worry, from what I can gather it’s not hard, you just have to obey a few simple rules. Rules that I have of course helpfully outlined...
The No One Really likes Jazz Guide to making an Ass-Load of Money from Corporate Usage Royalties...
There are only a few acceptable lead instruments for a song if it’s going to be adopted by Proctor & Gamble or BP. They are, piano (Leona Lewis/Coldplay), wishy-washy guitars (Snow Patrol/U2), or a combination of the two (Sigur Ros). Combine that with a shitload of strings and you should be sound as a pound.
Remember, keep the chords inspirational, but with a hint of sadness - that’s the sort of thing that can really make a corporate training day ‘pop’.
The main rule is stay away from anything specific, if the song’s clearly about something then you completely limit ‘brand utility’**** which is of course the last thing that any serious artist wants to do. Much better to stick to vaguely uplifting (yet sad, remember) statements like, ‘Hold on,’ ‘I’ll be there,’ or ‘You elevate my soul, baaaybaay.’*****
Sigur Ros have mastered this with the genius idea of singing all their songs in a made up language. Unfortunately, that trick probably won’t work twice.
You also need to remember not to look too desperate, don’t seem like you’re begging these companies to use your track. U2 fell into this trap on their last album with the little know song, ‘I love you more than facilitating client-facing best practice.’******
3. Big Finish
You need at least 45 instrumental seconds at the end over which a voice-over artist can flog whatever the company’s trying to sell. This bit needs to be big but not so big that you can’t concentrate on the pitch. If all else fails you can just turn everything up a bit.
If you’re not sure whether your big finish works, just try saying some generic phrases over the top. Stuff like this.
• ‘We’ve been working tirelessly for more than fifty years to bring you advanced...’
• ‘Just 5 pounds a month can buy mosquito nets for...’
• ‘Our globally tested networking systems help your business to...’
If these work, you’re onto a winner.
It’s okay, you don’t have to thank me.
*Charity is no excuse for dumping material too piss-weak to make it into your already ropey TV show – Walliams, I’m talking to you.
**The other part involves getting Jeremy from ‘airport’ (the plan was written around the turn of the century) to demonstrate the procedure for euthanizing your radiation-sick relatives in a comedy cabin crew style... So that’s something to look forward too.
***From the five minutes I watched this week it appears Adele, Kings of Leon and Elbow have joined their ranks – if the bastards end up ruining ‘Home Town’ for me I’ll be really angry.
****This is a marketing phrase, if you don’t know what it means for God’s sake don’t look it up. Anyone who knows the meaning of this phrase is immediately condemned to hell. It’s too late for me, but a few of you could still be saved.
*****Liberal use of ‘Baby’ is a necessary evil. Otherwise, with this sort of music, people might think you’re talking about God as opposed to nothing. God doesn’t sell, remember that