I Love That Tiny Bit of Music!


Earlier this year I was forced to endure the lobby music of a bank for hours on end.  The radio station they had it tuned to had a nasty habit of playing an insurance commercial which featured a seconds-long snippet of the Phillip Phillips song “Gone, Gone, Gone.” I recently saw the newest trailer for How to Train Your Dragon 2, which included a snippet of the 30 Seconds to Mars song “Kings & Queens.”  That song being used in combination with visuals of flying? How original, just like it was when it was used in the trailer for Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’hoole!  Although, in both of those cases the music was used to emphasize the awe of adventure and flying, as opposed to the 2010 movie Skyline where it was used in a hilariously misplaced attempt to make driving through Los Angeles seem epic.  I’m curious if it’s just cheaper to license a little bit (sometimes very little) music rather than having something original composed.  Clearly, nobody who licenses music is worried about whatever message they convey being muddled by overuse from other people attempting to convey the same message, such as Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive,” which was the go-to song for trying to tell audiences “this is a big and important thing.”  Clearly, nobody was concerned that, through overuse, audiences might simply roll their eyes with a dismissive “you too?”

And what do the artists behind these songs feel about this? Sure, cynically, they don’t care about the use (and abuse) of their work so long as the licensing checks roll in, but do any of them get at least a little annoyed and say “you know, there was a whole song there that I worked on.”  But then maybe they’re all like Smash Mouth, whose “All Star” was made specifically to be sold out.


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