British acts conquer America through commercials

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The Independent Culture

British bands may have discovered the shortcut that will lead them to the pinnacle of every musician's ambition: to break America.

British bands may have discovered the shortcut that will lead them to the pinnacle of every musician's ambition: to break America.

By getting their tunes on to US commercials and television dramas, lesser-known British acts are winning the hearts of an American public that was indifferent to high-profile tours from big UK stars such as Oasis and Robbie Williams.

EMI's electronic dance act Dirty Vegas have provided the soundtrack to US ad campaigns for Toyota and Mitsubishi with their tunes "Home Again" and "Days Gone By" respectively. The Mancunian breakbeat artist Mr Scruff has seen his production "Get a Move On" used for American campaigns for Volvo and Lincoln cars. The south London dance music duo The Herbaliser, meanwhile, made it onto the Motorola US campaign for the Moto 360 with their track "Worldwide Connected". Motorola in the US has also featured "Weekend Song" by the UK dance act Freestylers.

Damon Albarn's Blur wonlimited recognition in the US but his side-project Gorillaz are set to get a huge lift as the new Apple iPod campaign goes out across America, featuring the band's track "Feel Good".

Sanne Hagelsten, owner of New York-based Zync Music, which seeks out suitable sounds for American commercials and television programmes said: "English music is more clever and the US bands always cite them as their influences. I think the music supervisors [who pick the tunes for television shows and commercials] are always looking for a gem. The gem is very often not Americana."

Ms Hagelsten said the music supervisors "are almost the new A&R men" and that getting a tune onto certain television dramas was now more important than radio play for new acts.

"TV stations are the new radio," she said. "It's better to be on The OC than on the radio. The kids follow what's on the shows and talk about the music in chat rooms."

The Essex singer-songwriter Imogen Heap had a track on the last episode of The OC and immediately found herself at number 38 in the iTunes top 100, feeding interest in her solo work.

The OC has recently featured tracks from both Coldplay and Gorillaz, the Beta Band, Athlete, The Futureheads and Kasabian. A popular website is dedicated to the show's music.

Psapp, another little-known British artist, has landed the title music to the hit ABC television show Grey's Anatomy with the track "Cosy in the Rocket".

Jonathan Tester of Bucks Music Group in London, said: "The big American dramas seem to be using a lot of UK music. It's fresh for them - we have more interesting sounds - it's not stadium rock when you have a quirky English band."

Bucks Music has placed tracks by three UK dance artists (Roni Size, D Product and Capoeira Twins) on the hit crime drama CSI.

One of the most successful UK artists in this respect is Amon Tobin, who holds a British passport but lives in Canada. As well as providing the sounds for three BMW ads in America, two Coca-Cola campaigns and another for Sleemans beer, his music has appeared on the US version of Queer as Folk and he has the soundtrack for the hit computer game Splinter Cell 3.

James Heather, of Tobin's label Ninja Tune, said the money generated from commercials and television equalled that from retail.

Mark Ross of Tuna Music has just remixed with British artist DJ Yoda a retro hit called Tiptoe Through The Tulips by Tiny Tim, as the sound of the new Nike commercial, shortly to be shown in the States. "It seems to be easier to break the British acts through ads than through the music charts in the States," Mr Ross said.

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