Licensing songs for commercials, or synchs, is a decades-old trend that has grown to become a meaningful part of the industry's revenue (over $342 million globally in 2011, according to the IFPI's 2012 report) and even more meaningful part of an artist's awareness (fun.'s "We Are Young" rocketed up to the top of the Hot 100 after featuring prominently in a Super Bowl spot for Chevrolet.) Billboard takes a look at the artists, music supervisors and publishing companies who make these deals happen in our new recurring feature, Anatomy of a Synch.
How Caveman's "My Time" came to grace New York State's new $5 million "I Love New York" TV (and taxi) campaign goes back to the stalking last summer of Caveman's manager Jonathan Pardo in Los Angeles by a very enthusiastic and determined music licensor who usually doesn't A&R bands.
"I totally stalked Jonathan," says Carianne Marshall of Songs Music Publishing who tracked Pardo down at a show by another of his clients. "I'm obsessed with Caveman, I think they're amazing so I tracked him down and talked his ear off until he said he would consider signing with Songs." Which is all the more improbable considering Marshall runs Songs' film and synchonization department and rarely A&Rs bands. But Caveman, as she would tell anyone who would listen, was her favorite band at 2011's SXSW.
Pardo, who vividly recalls the stalking, was swayed both by Marshall's enthusiasm and conviction that she could "extract value from the record and recoup our advance."
Pardo and Caveman signed a publishing deal with Songs believing the boutique firm, which also reps the catalogs of Q-Tip, Bright Eyes and Sleigh Bells among others, could better focus their energies on the project than a large publisher. To wit, since signing last summer, the band has landed synchs with MTV's "I Just Want My Pants Back" and "The Pauly D Project," Internet ads for Lenovo and Chevy, and an indie film entitled "Four."
In January, the band signed to Fat Possum Records who re-released Caveman's album "CoCo Beware" in March. The label hired their own licensor Julie D'Angelo of Music For the Masses to shop the band's music. Pardo says the deal resulted in the band doubling its synch reach without the two parties stepping on each other's toes as D'Angelo's label-backed team benefits only from the master recording license.
Caveman's debu album "CoCo Beware" on the Fat Possum Records site.
Marshall and D'Angelo pitched the band separately working their own connections at BBDO. "The synchronization business, I would argue, is not just sales; it's relationships and matchmaking," says Marshall. "A woman at BBDO came to me to see if Caveman was available for licensing in general and I said 'of course." At that point Julie was looped in and she made everything happen on her end and I made everything happen on my end."
In late April Pardo got two emails within an hour of each other as he was driving to a show in Boston. "One was from Julie saying it looks like we're in the final running for "My Time" to be placed in this I Love New York commercial," he recalls. "About an hour later I got an email from Cariann, saying 'I got a Surprise! It looks like we're in the running for this New York commercial.' It was great."
Caveman's "My Room," a different version of which appeared in the film "Four"
Caveman, three of whom hail from New York City and a fourth from Albany, have deep New York roots and were thrilled. "The first thing the band asked me was if they would get to meet the Knicks - it wasn't how much money there were going to get paid," Pardo says.
Nick Sonderup, an associate creative director at BBDO says he knew from the beginning they needed a New York-based band to really make the spots all about New York. Sonderup already knew and loved "Coco Beware" and felt "This Time" had the energy and vibe to make the campaign work. "I knew Caveman was a rising band on the cusp," Sonderup says, "their involvement would add that extra cool factor to help in our efforts to make NY state relevant again."
The $5 million ad campaign created by BBDO launched May 30 and is slated to run for seven weeks in areas within a five-to-seven hour range of NYC, including Montreal and Toronto. It will also run in 6,000 New York City cabs (for which band will receive performance royalties, says Pardo). But most gratifying for the native New Yorkers: the ad will appear on the Jumbotron during Mets and Yankees games.
VITAL SYNCH STATS
Licensed Song: "My Time"
Artist: Caveman: Matt Iwanusa (lead singer/songwriter); Jimmy "Cobra" Carbonetti (Guitarist) Stefan Marolachakis (drummer) Jeff Berrall (bass) Sam Hopkins (synths).
Band Manager: Jonathan Pardo
Record Label: Fat Possum
Campaign: I Love New York
Client: Empire State Development Corp.
Carianne Marshall, Songs Music Publishing
Julie D'Angelo, Music For the Masses
Agency: BBDO, New York: Chief Creative Officer: David Lubars; Senior Creative Director: Linda Honan; Associate Creative Director, Art Director: Kurt Lenard; Associate Creative Director, Copywriter: Nick Sonderup; Executive Producer: Ashley Henderson; Executive Music Producer: Rani Vaz.
Production Company: Elastic TV
Director: Andy Hall
Editorial House: Rock Paper Scissors: Editor: Anton Capaldo-Smit
(Additional reporting by Andrew Hampp)