Arcade Fire Super Bowl fracas: No Ads, No?
In case you had better things to do with your time than join the possibly record-breaking tens of millions of Americans who tuned in last night, the New York Giants won the Super Bowl.
Speaking of giants, the indisputable titans of indie-rock, Arcade Fire, unwittingly made an aural appearance during the big game. Pitchfork reported early this morning that the song "No Cars Go," from last year's Neon Bible, soundtracked a montage that aired just after Tom Petty's hirsute (but definitely nipple-and-controversy-free) halftime show.
The band is currently preparing to tour Japan and hasn't commented, but the Arcade Fire fan forum has been aflame about the news since last night, with various posters indicating that this wasn't the first time the song's been used in this season's NFL montages.
As usual, pop-music blog Idolator went the extra yard and posted the actual clip, which clocks in at well under 30 seconds, contains no lyrics (just a yelp or two) and, by numerous informed accounts, seems to fall legally under the ASCAP television license.
The Arcade Fire legal camp is reportedly reviewing the facts before releasing a statement or taking action, but don't start dangling your copy of Funeral over the sell-out pyre just yet: the band definitely didn't specifically approve and was previously unaware of the NFL's usage of "No Cars Go." Still not convinced? Arcade Fire drummer Jeremy Gara recently spoke to music rag Under the Radar about AF songs being used for commercial purposes:
Under the Radar: "A lot of indie artists have had songs in TV commercials in the last year. What are your thoughts on this? Do you regard these artists as sell-outs or is that an outdated notion? Is there any product that you feel your music would be best suited to advertise and is there any product that you definitely wouldn't want your music to advertise?"
Gara: "Painters have to sell paintings to survive, no? Does the fact that Banksy sells work to Christina Aguilera make his work on the barriers in the West Bank any less amazing? If bands can't support themselves and their families by selling records because no one's buying, should they just all break up and get office jobs? Besides, having your music in a commercial is almost better than trying to get it on the radio (other than NPR, which is still awesome). I've heard a lot better music on TV than on radio in the last few years. We're extremely lucky that we make enough to pay the rent by touring and making records, so I doubt we'll head into commercial world."
There you have it, straight from the drummer's mouth.
UPDATE: The Daily Swarm posted a reminder that a similar incident occurred in 2005 when a Minor Threat song was used as a "bumper" during an NFL game. According to TDS, "a quick look at the copyright law books shows that the odds of Win Butler and Co. having any recourse – legal, financial, or otherwise – are slim to none."
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