Bethany Klein. 2010. as Heard on TV: Popular Music in Advertising

By Pinson, Heather | Current Musicology, Spring 2011 | Go to article overview

Bethany Klein. 2010. as Heard on TV: Popular Music in Advertising


Pinson, Heather, Current Musicology


Bethany Klein. 2010. As Heard on TV: Popular Music in Advertising. Farnham and Surrey, England: Ashgate.

Bethany Klein's As Heard on TV: Popular Music in Advertising provides an introduction into the recent history of popular music as a marketing tool in television commercials and assembles a chronological history of the most well-known usages of popular music utilized in advertising campaigns. Klein includes a series of case studies throughout this book, such as the Beatles's "Revolution," used by Nike; Iggy Pop's lyrically salacious "Lust for Life," used by Royal Caribbean Cruise; and Creedence Clearwater Revival's song "Fortunate Son," used in a Wrangler's ad. As a media industries scholar at the Institute of Communications Studies at the University of Leeds, Klein's focus is on the commercialization of popular music and its involvement in other media. As such, her main goal is to create a chronological history of the significant collaborations between musicians and corporate businesses and to provide insight into the decisions, reactions, and outcomes of popular music licensers and advertising industry representatives. Framed in the rhetoric of market communication and media research, As Heard on TVs broad scope makes it best suited for an introduction to intersections between the music industry, advertising, business practices, and popular culture.

As Heard on TV explores the relationships between music executives, musicians, and music business practices through various modes of communication such as e-mails, written contracts, and verbal exchanges. For each commercial discussed, Klein provides any written or verbal accounts stemming from the advertising agency's inquiry into the potential use of a band's song to the final acquisition of the music license. Much of the author's information comes from newspapers, online magazines, magazines, industry journals, scholarly books, and interviews that Klein conducted. Many of these interviews were with music supervisors, musicians, advertising "creatives," and licensing managers. These individuals serve as the basis for much of her insight into the business side of music making and is an examination of the frayed relationship between marketing executives, licensers, and the music supervisors who must create a business arrangement between the band and the product's brand name. While Klein acknowledges that these interviews are not ethnographic in scope or nature, as have been studies of American culture such as Tia DeNora's Music in Everyday Life (2000), these interviews do offer a unique insight into the advertising industry.

Drawing from a range of resources that include newspaper editorials and her own interviews with musicians or music supervisors from advertising agencies, Klein gauges audience reactions to the music. She introduces reception theory as discussed by socio-musicologists Simon Frith, Sound Effects (1981) and Music for Pleasure: Essays in the Sociology of Pop (1988), and Leonard B. Meyer, Emotion and Meaning in Music (1956), who examine the mass appeal of popular music. While I commend the author's efforts to present the historical happenings as well as the documentation from various news sources on the specific commercials that include popular music, it seems that Klein missed some opportunities to expand on the information presented from her almost thirty interviews. I wonder, for instance, what questions the author asked during their conversation, what commonalities, if any, were found in their answers, and what effect these commercials had on the person being interviewed. Subjectivity involving discussions on taste, musical style, and business ethics are expected, and Klein is well aware of this slippery slope. Still, her presentation would gain greater significance with further analyses in semiotics, as a study in hermeneutics, that specifically analyze the meaning of the song interpreted by different viewers who see the commercials. …

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