"People should look at advertising like they would radio," said Bill Meadows of Crispin Porter + Bogusky, "what would you do to get on radio ten years ago?"

Meadows' comments came during "Secrets of Agency Music Producers & Supervisors" panel at Billboard's Media & Advertising Conference. The panel, moderated by Josh Rabinowitz, senior VP of Grey Worldwide, explored the shifting roles as artists become more comfortable with associating themselves with advertising.

Panelists cited ads like Apple's MacBook Air spot that used Yael Naim's song "New Soul" to illustrate how artists are using advertising as means of introducing their music to new consumers. The ad led this previously unknown artist selling to sell a million downloads within six months of the song airing on the commercial in mid-January of 2008.

A key to success is "360 degree awareness" through the use of explicit text, such as adding a chyron to an ad spot, suggested Peter Nashel, Partner at Duotone audio group. "Otherwise it's a one-off moment where you see it, and it's done." While it is clear that both parties benefit from exposure, song placement alone, as seen in the Macbook Air example, can substantially drive an artist's sales.

The group discussed the decision music supervisors have to make between using licensed music or creating something completely original, as technology makes high-quality new music more accessible. The line begins to blur, as licensing offers the opportunity to leverage celebrity brands, but original works allow advertisers to create 100% brand equity and often provide a less expensive way to inject the vitality of new music into a commercial spot. Bonny Dolan of Comma worked with artists on McDonald's campaigns, where artists regularly are asked to integrate a McDonald's original jingle theme into their work, thus allowing the artist creative license while also reinforcing McDonald's sonic branding.

Against the backdrop of a decline in advertising dollars, creative content firms are just one casualty among many. "We've never been busier and never made less money," Marc Altshuler, managing partner, Human, says about the company's ability to function in the current economic climate. The idea is to be the last man standing when the money starts coming in again. All panelists agreed that it is just a matter of maintaining relationships while weathering the storm.

The Media & Advertising Conference runs June 4 - 5 in New York.