- The Washington Times - Friday, October 5, 2007

Did you hear that on TV last night? If the question hasn’t quite attained water cooler ubiquity yet, it will soon: Over the last few years, television has become a conduit for new music that has equaled, and possibly surpassed, the importance of radio, a beleaguered medium struggling to maintain relevance.

TV remains a cultural unifier.

“Almost everybody in America still watches TV every day,” says Larry Jenkins, head of CBS Records, a fledgling record label founded by the CBS network as a formal recognition of the increasing integration of music and programming.

“They might be watching the original broadcast,” he continues. “They might be time shifting and watching on their Tivos. They might be downloading an episode on ITunes. They might be in a bar watching the game. But they’re still watching in massive numbers.”

Those matching pairs of eyeballs and ears have translated into a tantalizing market opportunity for songwriters at a time when radio, bricks and mortar music retailers and major record labels are on the ropes.

Bands such as the Fray, Snow Patrol and Death Cab for Cutie have received massive pushes from TV shows like ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” and the erstwhile Fox hit “The O.C.”

It’s not just episodic television, either; commercials, once considered the refuge of sellouts, have become kosher for both hard-bitten indie rockers and heritage acts alike. The Austin band Spoon shilled for Jaguar. Led Zeppelin did so for Cadillac.

The Canadian chanteuse Feist just saw her song “1, 2, 3, 4” reach the Top 40 of Billboard’s Hot 100 singles chart thanks to relentless flogging on an Apple ad for the IPod Nano.

Even sports mecca ESPN has gotten into the act: Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder, Kid Rock and Foo Fighters have lent new songs for broadcast during “Monday Night Football.”

“There’s zero stigma attached to it now,” Mr. Jenkins says. “It’s the complete opposite: ‘How do I get my songs on “Ghost Whisperer”? ‘How do I get my songs on “CSI” or “Jericho”? These are the calls I get every day. I can’t even remember the last time I had a conversation where I had to convince an artist to say yes to licensing their song to a film or TV show.”

If artists aren’t licensing their music to TV, they’re simply pitching it like so many salesmen: Just ask QVC stars Carly Simon and Barry Manilow.

In some case, the artists are TV stars themselves: The soundtracks to the Disney Channel movie “High School Musical” and its recent sequel have sold 3 million and 2 million copies, respectively. And Miley Cyrus, star of Disney’s “Hannah Montana” show, has emerged as a multiplatinum recording star.

Jerry’s kids

Jason Alexander, a British-born recording engineer, worked with ‘80s rock stars Tears for Fears for several years. After the band played NBC’s “The Tonight Show,” he met a woman with an intriguing job title — music supervisor.

“I didn’t even know that was a job,” laughs Mr. Alexander, a music supervisor who now runs his own company, Hit the Ground Running. He has placed music in shows such as CBS’ “Cold Case” and “Without a Trace” and HBO’s “Entourage.”

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