Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Automechanical Royalties

I love being reminded just what a magnificent, gonad-stomping job the Clash did with "Pressure Drop."

And it makes me want to chew broken glass until my mouth is a maw of blood and gore that the thing doing the reminding is a fucking Nissan commercial.
Oil pressure
Oil pressure
Oil pressure gonna drop on you...


bobby lightfoot said...

People gotta STAND UP against this shit! This fucking injustice! Somebody's gotta fuckin' man up and get their head up above th' fucking CROWD.

YOu first. I have to get back to the task of becoming a competent mediocrity so I don't die of hunger. Ta!

Larry Jones said...

Isn't the recording proprietary? If so, someone gave permission to use it in a commercial. Probably the record company, but what else is new? They must be tired of ripping off artists with one-sided contracts and creative accounting, and now they've moved on to dressing up the band as whores and putting them out to the highest bidder.

Roger D. Parish said...

Just like Michael Jackson did with the Beatles catalog he bought.

Neddie said...

Yeah, before posting my little screed, I tried to find out what happened to the Clash's mechanical rights in the disastrous years of their long, slow decline, but none of the usual sources was particularly helpful.

The music biz being what it is, I imagine that the remaining living members have been screwed out of it; I have a very hard time imagining Mick Jones looking at a proposal and saying, "Nissan? Yeah, all right..."

A few months back, there was a huge ad campaign for some credit-card company featuring Elvis Costello, and my sad thought was, "Dude do you really need the money? No screwery there, Costello owns the rights to his image and always will.

Roger, it's an interesting illustration of how royalties work that you never hear the actual recordings of the Beatles used in advertising. It's always an (invariably inferior) cover version.

That's because what Jackson bought (and I think has since divided with Sony) was the publishing rights to the songs themselves, and not the recordings.

There's an excellent and lucid explanation of the whole affair here.

Tom said...

It reminds me of this thing, which is supposed to be a replica of Joe Strummer's Telecaster... except it includes a picture of Joe holding a Telecaster which looks nothing like the replica. But, hey, it's got stickers and shit by the guy who did the whole "OBEY" thing, so there's that.

skunqesh said...

-ha! you think it's funny,
Turning rebellion into money

commodification of teh kewlness is nothing new, clearly.

And rebellion to most means staying up late eating extra cookies and watching David F'n Lettermon

But what I hate about that ad most is the douchebag driving style. I commute ~85 miles everyday and have seen puhhlenty wrecks along the way. Average highway speed is already well over 80mph, but you'll still see Capt'n Nummnutts bounding in-n-out of lanes forcing others into near collisions, just to 'stay ahead' of the rat race to consume mass quantities.

At least there're a few good college stations to tune in for the ride. The Clash are gone, but their story lingers on thru the airwaves.

HomefrontRadio said...

This raises a question that's irked me ever since I was a kid:

When a band adopts an anti-commercial / consumerist pose, doesn't that just heighten their appeal to a certain marketing demographic, (namely self-imagined 'non-conformist rebels')?

Basically, being anti-consumerist will greatly increase sales of your music to anti-consumerist consumers. It's still the act of selling and buying records.

Can there be no greater act of conformity than going to a record store and parting cash for the same impersonalised song that a band is happy to share with thousands of other consumers, (be it the Clash or Britany Spears), as long as they fork over the money for the priviledge?

As you can see, the ideas behind punk struck me as so much hot air.

Neddie said...

Tom, you owe me a new monitor, 'cause I just blew dinner all over the old one...

Skunqesh (if that is your real name -- which I doubt!) You and Simon Homefront both need to read Tom Frank's Commodify Your Dissent, a book of extracts from The Baffler, a small magazine published in the mid-nineties, which formalizes a thought that I'd held since I watched punk turn into a "fashion statement" in about 0.000003 seconds in approximately 1978.

From the Amazon review:

"...Corporations are in the business of manufacturing culture--what Frank calls the "Culture Trust." These essays analyze the ways in which this Culture Trust has co-opted the power of dissent by appropriating the language and symbolism of nonconformist youth culture, from hippie slang to grunge fashion; in other words, when the media markets rebellion, it becomes just another consumer choice."

Fuckin' book changed my life. And not for the better. I'm a much less idealistic person for reading it, but on the other hand, I know a lot better what the Clampdown looks like.

Larry Jones said...

skunqesh - What a snotty article you linked to! I won't claim to know why old guys want to re-form their bands and play concerts (as the writer does), but I can tell you that I have started playing live again, having quit in the eighties without ever attaining rock star status. The reason? There is no rush in the world like playing rock'n'roll for a live audience. This must be the reason so many aging rockers are doing it, don't you think?

Will Divide said...

Well, maybe somewhere Toots Hibbert is getting a large check, which would be a good thing, if, that is, he wasn't screwed too.

skunqesh said...

Tom - there's a sizable market for 'relic'd rock guitars. Personally I don't get it, since I'm perfectly capable of dropping my axe down the stairs all by myself. True story btw, I once backed over a guitar with my car on mistake. If I'd known that would increase the value, I'd have done it twice!

Ned, thanks for the book title - I shall peruse the virtual stacks for it. FWiW, I play my own instruments, still collect vinyl, and have a tendency to enjoy bands that fail upwards.

Larry, I agree, there's no rush quite like it! I don't even care if there's an audience, just collaborating is lightning to my soul. I think of playing in a (garage) band as an integral part of myself, and I miss it. So maybe I'm a little grumpy in this state of jam-abstinence, grrrr. I hope someday I can regroup with my olde timey players, but for now I gotta keep baby in diapers and milk while keeping the roof down.

I felt that article, albeit cynically, had some merits. I do take exception to the author's statement "But the corporate attitude that now sustains the biggest bands acts as a deadening influence on newcomers." BS. Twas ever thus. What 'kills scenes' is the kids making them find/create jobs, grow older, have babies and mortgages - until the cycle starts all over again. At least my kiddo shall not want for an honestly abused tele and a 100watt amp. Where she goes from there is entirely up to her.

The Viscount LaCarte said...

On the same topic:

Merchants of Cool.

Related but slightly different topic:

The fact that The Beatles made no secret of wanting to be commercially successful but still managed to play excellent groundbreaking music has aged well.

billy pilgrim said...

Henry Rollins said (talking about his movie caree, but I think the point stands) " I looked at the fuckers making this thing, and they had lots of money and nice cars. I didn't. I said "Fuck Yeah! Give me some of your Money!'"

The mental association of songs has more to do with the listener's image of how the song relates to himself.

The songwriter may or may not have become a whore; did he write the song for commercial reasons, to put it in a commercial? was the reference to Doritos included to make it a marketing statement?

Or is it just an impoverished artist who sees a chance to dip his toes, however briefly, in the stream of cash roiling throughout our Wonderful Capitalist System?

In the case of teh Clash, though, it would be nice if the artists got the money, rather than unrelated C+ business majors who see everything as a commodity.

bobby lightfoot said...

The first time I fucked the woman who ran a club so we could get a return engagement I said to myself, "that wasn't so bad".

jdmack said...

Neddie, I always have mixed feelings about things like this. Hearing a song like "All You Need Is Love" in a commercial makes my blood boil. But when I heard a song by John Zorn's Naked City in a Nike commercial, I felt like perhaps the world has a future if someone thinks that *that* music will sell something!

Regarding The Clash ... well, they did have some hit singles. I mean, that's not very punk, is it? And then Mike Jones formed Big Audio Dynamite, which was a decidedly commercial move on his part. I think that they all were capitalists at heart.

If you want musical integrity, then look to Pat McDonald of Timbuk 3. He lives a fairly meager lower middle class existence, and has turned down hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years offered for the use of "The Future's So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades" in various advertising campaigns.

Larry Jones said...

Bobby Lightfoot - Hahaha. I wouldn't have thought that was a good way to get a gig, until recently, as I have slipped into a recurring engagement specifically because my friend is fucking the club owner. She lets him book the place, so his band and mine play there quite a lot. He gets the better slots, though.

Ronzoni Rigatoni said...

Haw, Bobby. A lotta years ago I was taken to a wee pub in a small town in the south Nederlands, where the owner, a toothless old hag, told me, "You fuck, you drink for free." Well, being in my prime in those days, I didn't, and I didn't. Damnation! Ask me NOW,babe, ask me NOW!

Beth said...

It just goes against EVERYTHING to use a punk song in a commercial, doesn't it? Iggy's selling off every damn song (I'm waiting for eHarmony to use "I Wanna Be Your Dog"), and didn't The Ramones let one of their songs be used in an ad?

It's weenie-ism, I tell you.

HomefrontRadio said...

Thinking about this some more, isn't this the only likely way the surviving members of the Clash are guaranteed an income, since now junior punks will most likely use their 'anarchy / smash the state' rhetortic for no greater end that justifying the illegal downloading of their entire back catalogue?

Roger D. Parish said...

Sunday's (14 Oct) WashPost Style section had an article about this very subject entitled "The Moby Quotient", a tongue-in-cheek quantization of selling out.

Josh Bowen said...

The Clash, though I respect 'em, not the original artist. Check Toots, fools. I wish I had the energy for misdirected anger.....They covered it, you hostile mother fuckers!!!! check your sanctimonious shit at the door. To be that young, and to have that much time to waste....fuck corporate AMERICA, MAN!!! They are ruining our country, Braa!!!! I agree, but check you facts, kiddies! It helps the argument, if you are smart, right????