The Apple Effect


So it happened again. After watching the newest Apple iPod nano commerical I found myself looking up some song about doing handstands. It didn’t take much searching to find out it’s “Bruises” by a Brooklyn band, Chairlift. I couldn’t find the song on their MySpace page, but I was able to play the full song here.

Apple has certainly had a good track record in selecting catchy music for their ads, and today I came across a good article in The New York Times titled “Is Apple the Oprah for Indie Bands?” It explores the idea that Apple now has the magic touch to launch unknown artists into the limelight, the same way Oprah’s Book Club instantly turns books into bestsellers.

It’s interesting how Apple has somehow earned the reputation of being a respected band promoter, as they now have the ability to tap a band out of nowhere and offer them exposure to the masses, all in a matter of 30 seconds. And it seems to be working out for both Apple and the bands. So far I haven’t heard any talk of a “curse of the Apple ad” or any such thing. And I probably would have never heard of Yael Naim (“New Soul” for MacBook AIr) or The Ting Tings (“Shut Up and Let Me Go” for iPod) or The Fratellis (“Flathead” for iPod) without seeing their Apple ads. It’s interesting to read how Apple goes about scouting their potential bands. One of my favorite quotes from the article is from Patrick Wembley, Chairlift’s drummer, who says, “They want to keep their new campaigns top secret, so top secret that they are not even letting the band know they are going to be the song on the commercial.” It makes sense to keep everything under wraps if the song has something to do with a feature of a yet-to-be-unveiled Apple product. But does this new iPod nano really do handstands? Impressive.

So, to the bands hoping to be the next Apple “It” band, I have some advice:

Having your band’s music placed in a commercial for an Apple product is like winning the music promotion lottery, but you have to be prepared. You know those people who win millions in the lottery and in two years find themselves in debt, estranged from various members of their family, and explaining to daytime talk show hosts how they wish they never won the money? Yeah, you want to avoid that. See, when Apple comes calling you have to be ready. You have to have a whole handful of good songs, and maybe even a new album in the works. In the event that Apple has selected the only decent 30 seconds of music your band has ever produced, well, at least you’ll get some money and a professionally produced music video (for one-fifth of your song) out of the deal. I’m not even sure you can be called a one-hit-wonder when people only hear 30-seconds of your song, but let’s hope it does not come to this. Also, you need to be ready to go on tour. So make sure all members of your band are on good terms and ready to hit the road. It’s showtime. And, if you’d like to increase the odds of your song being selected I suggest you add some well-placed lyrics to the new songs you’re writing. For example, Yael Naim’s “New Soul” lyrics include the new-computer friendly: “I’m a new soul, I came to this strange world.” And the CSS song, “Music is My Hot Hot Sex,” used in the iPod Touch commercial declares: “My music is where i’d like you to touch.” Perfect. So if you could just work in something like:

I want, I want, I want to tell you
This AT&T service is quite remarkable
And if I never see you again
It’s OK ’cause my playlist is better than yours

This should up your chances considerably. Good luck!


Author’s Note (10-5-08): Listen to the first 30 seconds of this song “No One Does It Like You” by Department of Eagles. If this does’t sound like an Apple ad, I don’t know what does.


3 Responses to “The Apple Effect”

  1. 1 ilya

    But you also want to try and avoid the obvious lyrics like

    I like my iPod, because it’s so rad
    And my MacBook Air, with its sleek touch pad.

    You don’t want to be TOO obvious.

  2. 2 jasmine

    Ah, the coincidence! I came across this blog post when I did a search on Department of Eagles to see whether “No One Does It Like You” had been used in an Apple commercial. I too instantly had the same thought when I heard the intro of that song, I guess b/c it sounds like the song in the latest iPhone commercials.

  3. 3 seconddoubles

    You’re right. It does really sound like the song on the recent commercial called “Game Changer” for the Apple iPhone 3G–seen here It is actually “You, Me and the Bourgeoisie” by The Submarines. You can listen to their whole song on The Submarine’s MySpace page.

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