The Lumineers saw demand for their song 'Ho Hey' explode after it appeared in an episode of CW's 'Hart of Dixie.'(Photo: Shelley Mays, The Tennessean)
NASHVILLE - The opening chords begin playing just as Barney gets down on one knee to ask for Robin's hand in marriage. By the time she says "yes" and they embrace for a kiss, the first verse of Let Your Heart Hold Fast is underway.
For fans of CBS' How I Met Your Mother, the engagement of two of the show's lead characters was a momentous occasion. It was just as important to Fort Atlantic, the band whose star rose after its song was used in the scene.
"We had almost 400,000 views and 15,000 downloads of the track in the week following," says Paul Roper, president of the band's Nashville-based label, Dualtone Records. "We didn't have a ton going on before that placement. Now we have a story we're going to take and tell to the rest of the industry, especially radio."
This strategy of placing musical works on television shows and in movies, commercials and video games is becoming an ever-more-important tool for record labels, artists, songwriters and music publishers grappling with how to make money on a product that customers have become less willing to buy.
"It's a great revenue driver, and that's one of the reasons it's become so popular for publishers and labels and artists," Roper says. "It can really shine a light on a developing artist and on a key song."
Commercials for cars, big-budget love stories and TV shows such as ABC's Nashville provide opportunities for Nashville artists, songwriters, labels and publishers to squeeze new dollars from the sluggish market for music by selling what are known as "synchronization rights," sometimes for hundreds of thousands of dollars per use.
"It is the one area that is growing, and you actually have a little bit of control over your destiny," says Kent Earls, executive vice president and general manager of University Music Publishing Group. "The decline of CD sales - I can't do anything about that. But actively pitching our music for synchronization use, we make it a priority here. It's a big priority for us."