Are they selling their kudos for a song?

Don't be surprised if you hear your rock hero in the ad break – collaborating with the Man isn't what it used to be, says Chris Mugan

What price your credibility as an artist? Not a lot, it seems, when you are nearer drawing your pension than drawing breath after some post-gig debauchery. Musical legends we admired for their left-field kudos or rock'n'roll wildman antics are mellowing with age and finding it a lot easier to get into bed with brands eager for secondhand cool rather than groupies seeking another notch on their proverbial bedposts.

New Order and Motörhead may be musically very different, but members of each band have inked deals to work with major corporations on creative projects. The former's ex-frontman, Bernard Sumner, has written a number for sportswear manufacturers Converse in collaboration with one of the UK's most acclaimed current outfits, Hot Chip, and production duo Hot City.

Motörhead, meanwhile, have re-recorded their classic "Ace of Spades" as a shuffling, harmonica-led blues track for a beer advertisement. And Lemmy never seen without a Jack Daniel's in his hand – is he going soft in his old age? The veteran rockers have now gone further and pimped out their forthcoming album. Ahead of its official January release, The Wörld Is Yours will be available on newsstands as a one-off magazine brought out by music monthly Classic Rock.

What is particularly galling is the newfound craftiness evinced by these old stagers, especially New Order. In the past, these Mancunian stalwarts have been lambasted for their clumsy schemes to make money from the dancefloor classic "Blue Monday". Most toe-curling is Sumner singing a jingle to the tune of the 12" best-seller on a TV ad in the US to promote Sunkist fizzy pop. In the late Eighties, admittedly, the band were suffering financially from Factory Records' mismanagement and ploughing funds into the bottomless pit of the Hacienda.

Since then, the single that originally lost money for the band thanks to its artful record sleeve has become something of a cash cow thanks to all the remixes and reissues that followed, so there is less excuse for their decision a couple of years back to let Mars use the tune to sell chocolate bars.

Rather than sell off their 1980 hit to the highest bidder, Motörhead returned to the studio to strip down "Ace of Spades" to its bare essentials and this phlegmatic version succeeds in its own wry, knowing fashion, as Lemmy drawls "I don't want to live forever" before blowing into a harmonica. For Sumner, "I Didn't Know What Love Was" provides a glowing reminder of New Order's Balearic period that helped turn on a generation of indie kids to dance music.

What is frustrating about such moves is that it is younger artists who should be cashing in on these grey areas between artistic integrity and corporate sell-out. Back in the day, performers could adopt counter-cultural personas based on cool aloofness or grizzled decadence and still watch the record and ticket sales rack up. With major labels struggling to support any but their mega-selling acts, the onus is on musicians themselves to connect socially with fans and open up different revenue streams.

This is not necessarily as grotty a process as it used to be, thanks in part to the corporates themselves deciding to operate more subtly – we have come a long way from McDonald's offering to splash the cash every time a rapper namechecked Big Macs. By paying for studio time, the likes of Converse are offering themselves as tasteful patrons rather than bean-counters who see songwriters as mere assets. While this suggests that the marketers are seeking to deepen relationships with artists beyond merely buying tracks from them, the rewards are hard to resist, as the hip-hop community could point out.

For now, though, brands with budgets prefer established names to give them kudos. At least younger acts inspired by Lemmy or Sumner might look at their actions and realise that the world has moved on – but they may have to wait to reap the rewards of these fluid times.



Dermot O'Leary attends the X Factor Wembley Arena auditions at Wembley on August 1, 2014 in London, England.


Arts and Entertainment
At this year's SXSW festival in Austin, Texas

Music Why this music festival is still the place to spot the next big thing

Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished
tvReview: The latest episode was a smidgen less depressing... but it’s hardly a bonza beach party
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig as James Bond in Skyfall

Mexican government reportedly paying Bond producers for positive portrayal in new filmfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Disney’s flying baby elephant is set to return in live-action format
filmWith sequels, prequels and spin-offs, Disney plays it safe... and makes a pachyderm
Arts and Entertainment
Nazrin with Syf, Camden
The QI Elves photographed at the Soho Theatre. They are part of a team of researchers who find facts for the television programme 'QI'.
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv0-star review: Sean O'Grady gives it his best shot anyway
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss