How Do Songs Get So Popular? Advertising.

A year ago, I had an epiphany. I was reading an article about how the hip hop industry became popularized in the 1980s. Hip hop in those days was based on empowerment, filled with songs about social issues. With such powerful lyrics, you would think this would grab anyone’s attention; only, it didn’t.

It was not until rap group Run DMC had made a song mentioning ADIDAS, a shoe company. Run DMC was offered 1.5 million dollars for use of the brand name and advertisers went wild. This was a new way to market. It was not just about using songs in commercials, but now advertisers can use product placement techniques into songs. It works in television shows, why not songs?

Although many rappers claim they use brand names because they like them, there is proof that their songs have a big influence, particularly on the youth. The most common alcohol among young adults (and even underage drinkers) come from the most widely promoted brands in alcohol songs. There is a substantial correlation with this.

From my own investigation, I have noticed in recent years too that country and rap have been making big comebacks. Both have been on a decline for nearly decades and all of a sudden, they are back on the scene. Taylor Swift, a country pop singer, has no doubt made a big impact on the country scene. I realized around the same time I read this article that her song “Red” uses the word “Maserati” in her song. There is no surprise why advertisers would pick her and that song. Taylor Swift is popular and “Red” is the name of her album – so picking a song like “Red” would undoubtingly be a hit.

Recent country songs too have been using more advertising in alcohol such as Southern Comfort, Jack Daniels, and Budweiser. Rap, which has also been gaining a lot of popularity, has been promoting a lot of liquor and brand names. Companies like Reebok, Grey Goose, and Ciroc have been used. If you look at the Top 40 songs right now – most of them will have at least one brand name in them.

So after this investigation, I had to question whether or not this is intentional. Are advertisers really paying for artists to use their brand names? Or are they just singing about something they have a strong opinion about? Whatever the case may be, companies are (mostly) benefitting from this! Positively or negatively, it is still attention, and attention is what companies strive for. Television advertisements will come and go, but if a brand name makes it on a hit song, they will receive recognition that will last for years to come.


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