That “Pink Moon” VW ad: … was supposed to be the Church’s “Under The Milky Way Tonight.” < k e a n u > Whoa! < / k e a n u > And that painkiller ad that featured a Sam Prekop track? No accident. I was just talking with a friend at work about musicians and ads just the other day.

The trailblazer along this new path is Richard Hall, better known as Moby, the electronic musician (and descendant of Herman Melville) whose album “Play” proved the power of advertising to sell not just soap but CD’s as well. When it first came out in June 1999, the album’s beguiling mixture of electronic beats and old gospel and blues recordings drew great reviews, but radio and MTV didn’t have a spot for it.

Blocked at the conventional routes, Moby started to license songs for commercials, movies and television shows. Suddenly, his music was everywhere: on sitcoms and movie trailers, on ads for Nordstrom and American Express. The label made deals for every song on the album. “It was very short-lived, but we made a lot of money,” says David Steel, head of special projects, including licensing, at Moby’s label, V2. In all, Steel says, they signed more than 100 licenses in North America alone, for which Moby’s cut is approaching $1 million. More important, the exposure opened doors at radio and MTV, pushing sales of the album past seven million copies worldwide.

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