[Steve Williams, brand director for Levi's] says all the bands Levi's is talking to are happy to appear in its marketing, and puts the change in attitude down to the rise of bling: "Just look at the US hip-hop artists that flaunt their association with big-name brands. I think that's changed the perception of brands working with artists."
I think there's definitely a bling of truth to this (zing!). An awful market alone has probably not been enough to force rock bands to license their livelihoods, and peers in hip-hop -- a genre unburdened by punk rock's anti-corporate philosophy -- have most likely been a major force in this turnaround. Jay-Z, Russell Simmons and Puff Daddy are all forerunners of what white rockers may someday aspire to be, stars who recognized their cultural impact and turned themselves into branding powerhouses.
It's yet another debt white rockers owe to their innovative black peers, although Aussie rockers Jet probably owe an almost equal debt to Iggy Pop and the minivan-safe adult alternative radio format.