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Musical Space: Jingles


There’s been a noticeable trend away from using jingles in TV commercials. This really doesn’t bother me too much; jingles are designed to lodge themselves into your brain, and an effective one can have the same effect as a toothache. I’m interested, though, in how jingles have been replaced.


Now, an advertiser will typically pay a licensing fee to a songwriter or band to use a song from their catalog. This could either be a well-known hit or an unknown tune from an up-and-coming act. The license can be costly; the use of a song can cost 6 times as much as hiring a jingle-writer. But advertisers are happy to pay; the right song can tie a band’s cultural vibe to a product.

This makes songwriters happy, too, because it is a way for a new act to get noticed and for an older band to get back on the airwaves. It makes the recording industry is even happier; now that sales are low, advertising licenses have become a fundamental part of its business.

I’ll admit I feel a little strange hearing a Led Zepplin tune used to sell Cadillacs, but I’ll take it over that Meow Mix jingle any day.

Music: Jarvis: “So In Love”

Mark Foley is principal double bass of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra and professor of double bass and head of Jazz Studies at Wichita State University.