Moby’s game-changing 1999 album Play was the first to have every track licensed for use in film, TV, and advertising, unlocking the door to new audiences and new forms of income for artists in the face of the music industry’s diminishing returns. Since then, artists have striven to maximize the profitability of their creative output by keeping an ear out for marketing tie-ins, as Jessica Reed noted in her Mood blog post from July 12, 2013. In the example from her post, the band OK Go! successfully shopped their car-themed video “Needing/Getting” to Chevrolet for use in a 2012 Super Bowl commercial spot for the Chevy Sonic.

One way to increase the likelihood of this occurrence is reminiscent of the way studio musicians attain steady work: by proving themselves adept in the techniques of several different genres. In the midst of my music program updates, I have noticed a pronounced versatility within new output from bands or artists, allowing them to be easily represented in the Music Design for a wide variety of clients. I will elaborate on the relevance of this “pluralist” approach by discussing two bands whose recent albums have become mainstays of my playlists.

The first is Elastic Bond, a four-person unit from Miami whose album Real was released earlier this summer on the Latin music label Nacional Records. The album moves fluidly between throwback soul, loungey downtempo, and electronic pop, as the following sampler video demonstrates. As a result, I am able to draw tracks from Real for use in several different Core and Custom programs, allowing the band to generate more income from licensing fees than if their particular sound had only been filtered through the lens of one or two genres.

Another band that exemplifies this approach is The Garifuna Collective. Based on the Atlantic coast of Central America, the mixed African-Indigenous American Garifuna people took the world music industry by storm in 2007 with the Collective’s album Wátina (I Cried Out), which was ranked #1 on Amazon’s 100 Greatest World Music Albums of All Time list. Their follow-up album Ayó (Goodbye), just released this month on Stonetree/Cumbancha, continues the band’s enticing blend of neo-traditional songs in the Garifuna language with imported sounds and innovative production techniques. While several tracks have a steady groove and use studio effects fitting for dance-oriented programs, others evoke a relaxed island atmosphere perfect for programs with Latin and Caribbean flavors and still others feature percussion and guitar work fitting for programs with a heavy Afropop element.

When bands add brand marketing to traditional avenues for exposure (touring, music videos, merchandising) by licensing a stylistically diverse body of work, they not only increase their chance of sustainability: they diversify the pool of musical selections for brands, ensuring that those brands are represented by the most suitable music.

– Submitted by Amy Frishkey, Music Design