Rock Biz

This post is brought to you by rockin’ Rolaids

In 1981 when the Rolling Stones embarked on their American tour in support of "Tattoo You" they enlisted the support of Jovan cosmetics as an official tour sponsor. Up until that time, no one had ever had an official "tour sponsor" but leave it to Mick Jagger to lead the way in encouraging major corporations to claim their slice of the rock and roll pie. After that tour things were never quite the same as is pointed out in Brad Kava’s piece "Rock inc." (registration required) in which he details the growing relationship between rock bands and pop stars and the companies that they schill for. Does this development spell the beginning of the end for rock and roll as we know it? Well not really as bands for the most part either don’t have the clout to attract major sponsors or product promotion opportunities or they just don’t want to get involved in the whole sordid business of "product promotion" so there are more bands than not who avoid becoming salesmen but still, big business has for the most part co-opted both the bands baby boomers are nostalgic for (Led Zeppelin promoting a Cadillac?) or the whole artificial American Idol meets Super Bowl marketing machine. And we would be naive in forgetting that the Beatles promoted Coca Cola and the Stones promoted Vox amps but still, the whole practice seems kind of mercenary to me. Luckily for us big business is pretty lazy so there is pretty much zero chance you will see The Waxwings promoting garbage bags. At least not until they get popular!