Music's new pitch: this track in TV spot

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Call it commercial success.

With the music business in dire straits, artists from Dirty Vegas to Phil Collins have licensed their music for ads to widen their potential audience and help sell more records. Now, they're taking a page from package-goods marketers, promoting their music "as seen on TV" via stickers plastered on CDs at retail.

As the recording industry is battered by piracy issues, economic woes and a shrinking retail environment, more artists are embracing cross-promotions that not only admit to their use in ads, but call attention to them. "The music industry is basically at a crossroads right now," said Randy Dry, VP-marketing for Universal Classics Group, whose Decca Music Group has actively sought out cross-promotional deals. "Any advantage we can get for our projects right now, from commercials ... to film and TV deals, that's the competitive edge."

connecting the dots

Mr. Dry's Decca Music Group is the label for Bond, a classical crossover girl band that pushed its April 2001 debut album with a reported $10 million sponsorship deal with watchmaker Raymond Weil. The quartet repurposed its "Victory" music video for a TV spot for the Parcifal watch to gain exposure to a broader audience.

"Through the stickering and on print ads we were able to connect the dots," he said. "In the music industry we don't have same kinds of marketing budgets as major brands in the advertising world or our partners at the [film] studios. We wouldn't be able to buy that kind of exposure or reach as we received in the Raymond Weil opportunity." Weil and Bond have continued their relationship for the group's follow-up album, "Shine," which also features a sticker that says "as featured in the Raymond Weil Geneva TV commercial."

An earlier success for Decca was the use of classical artist Andrea Bocelli's signature song "Con Te Partiro" ("Time to Say Goodbye") in ads for the 1998 launch of the Bellagio resort. Although the song was featured on the tenor's 1996 U.S. debut album "Romanza," when the spot broke two years later, the Bellagio campaign "brought it to a whole new level," said Mr. Dry. The company added stickers to the album to call attention to the song. "Our audience isn't going to discover our artists via radio or television. MTV and VH1 don't play Bocelli or Bond," he said.

Rock acts are referencing commercials on CDs, too. When '80s pop rocker Phil Collins released his "Testify" album after a six-year hiatus, Atlantic Records boosted its release by licensing the single "Can't Stop Loving You" to Toyota Motor Corp. for an Avalon spot. The spot broke eight weeks ahead of the album's release, helping the song break the top 10 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary charts within two weeks-and a small, but key, element of the promotional effort was that Atlantic stickered the commercial reference on the CD case.

`days go by'

Commercials, of course, have in some cases made artists: Dirty Vegas' cut "Days Go By" catapulted the British band from domestic obscurity due to its ubiquitous play on Mitsubishi Motors' Eclipse spot. Telepopmusik's "Breathe" for Mitsubishi's Outlander helped push the techno band's song up the dance and pop charts. And Columbia Records signed a deal with Alana Davis to release the single she performed in a spot on Super Bowl XXXVII for Sony Electronics Corp.

Now popular music is also drawing Web traffic-for marketers that use hot tunes in their product ads. Procter & Gamble Co. expanded a jingle into a full-length song and hyped it with a web address added to its existing Cheer spot. P&G is now trying to get radio airplay for the song, "Always (Thinking About You)" from Canadian artist Lisa DelBello.

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