During the late '80s, Neil Young released "This Note's for You," a critically praised tune (and accompanying video) in which he defiantly refused to let his music be used for advertising purposes. Today, a performer making a similar declaration would be judged insane by any court in the land, and Sara Bareilles's experience shows why. Last year, the California singer-songwriter, who opens this gig for James Blunt, earned generally positive notices for Little Voice, a debut CD well stocked with accessible if unspectacular piano pop midway between Fiona Apple and Michelle Branch. But sales were modest until "Love Song," the disc's single, was chosen for a Rhapsody commercial, at which point the ditty became a top-ten smash. Such success demonstrates that in a period when radio listenership is in decline and formats are splintering, TV ads may be the best way for performers like Bareilles to reach the masses. And that's why her notes are for sale.
Get the Music Newsletter