During a trip to Las Vegas last week I saw one of those things that is both initially startling and subsequently blindingly obvious. The Luxor hotel and casino, a massive, shining black pyramid on the Strip (who’d want to stay in such a funerary structure outside someone with an interest in the novels of Ann Rice and was hoping to get lucky?), had on one of the faces of the 350-foot high structure, an Absolut vodka ad. At first it seemed odd that the MGM Mirage people would give up that space for an ad. It sort of seemed a bit tacky. But then I realized where I was.
And it led to the idea: In the future all surfaces will be advertising.
Later that evening, I attended a corporate function during which a name-brand band performed. This wasn’t the first time I’ve been at such an event. Heretofore I’d always thought that it was a bit, oh, disappointing that bands would sell themselves to corporations for private shows, as though there is something more noble about playing for a Live Nation-organized gig, or Ticketmaster, or whatever.
Isn’t it better for a band to play for an audience consisting, by and large, of people who knowingly want to hear the music? Probably not. Money all spends the same, and the take for a private gig is probably less stepped on as it gets to the purses and wallets of the performers, right?
In this case the band was selected because one of its songs is being used as the soundtrack for a series of advertisements that the corporation is rolling out with. (I am not identifying the band and the corporation because they’d probably cause distraction and nothing more.)
Presumably, the band is excited about this prospect, knowing that the sales of things otherwise not selling particularly well (think of Nick Drake or Styx [or Wilco – Ed.] and the VW commercials [Or even more recently, Feist and Apple – Ed.]) can get a real boost from such exposure. And the corporation gets the kind of sound that it otherwise would have to contract with a commercial studio to achieve.
Combining the Luxor and concert experience I have come up with what could be the future of music: Corporate sponsorship.
No, I am not talking mere sponsorship vis-à-vis bands going out on the road and having the shows being identified as being sponsored by investment houses or telecommunications companies or whatever. That’s how it’s been done.
What I am talking about is full-blown sponsorship, wherein bands are signed to corporations. Not Warner or EMI. Rather, to Proctor & Gamble or General Motors. Given that companies of this ilk are always trying to get fresh, relevant tunes for their commercials, instead of waiting until after the fact, they can get in when it is happening. By signing acts, they’re able to get the sounds that they’re looking for. Forget about bands worrying about whether they’ll be getting enough money from their music available online. The links will be built right into the sponsoring corporation’s home page, and so the money will be paid out of the marketing communications budget. The band makes money. The corporation gets exposure. Ticket prices for shows can be a fraction of what they otherwise might be. The band members won’t care; they’re getting the money direct deposited.
By the way: I’ve decided to patent this idea, so I’m expecting my share of the action from the first giant corporation that takes this idea and deploys it. After all, we’re only in it for the money, right?
Image courtesy of BladeZone.