Bob Dylan And The Future of Advertising

If it's Wednesday, it must be time for Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour on XM Satellite radio.

Each week, Dylan selects songs that play off his theme of the week. Last week, it was classic rock, and by that, he meant the kind made of stone. This week, the theme is the Cadillac, and the whole show is advertising masquerading as content.

District-based XM makes no pretense about what it is up to here, bragging on its Web site about its cross-promotional multimedia tour de force: Dylan pitches the Cadillac Escalade and Cadillac plugs XM in its print and TV ads and XM promotes Dylan who promotes....

What do you think about such arrangements? You can hear his show and see the TV ads here.

By Dan Beyers  |  October 24, 2007; 3:43 PM ET
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Songs are songs, they are not advertising masquerading as content. Don't be ridiculous. I think it's important to realize that important artists need new avenues to reach wide audiences. Now that two companies own all of the radio stations, and MTV and VH1 forgot that they were Music Television and Video Hits, artists must have innovative new ways of getting their music to the people. Whether Sting has to place his songs in Jaguar commercials, or Dylan is pimping the iPod, the important thing is that the music is getting out there. More power to anyone who can beat the system. Moby made a fortune showing everyone the way with his PLAY album, everyone else is just following his model. I think it's awesome, and I'd rather hear a brilliant new Dylan song promoting the iPod than another rap or teenie bopper track. Props to all of the ad execs who are gutsy enough to put the old guys out in front of their new technology.

Posted by: Danny Z | October 24, 2007 5:50 PM

It's okay when everyone from former government officals to editors of the Washington Post make money off of their talents and knowledge, but let someone like Dylan earn some cold cash and all of the sudden the idolistic dreams of a generation go down the tubes. I'm listening to Dylan's "Idiot Wind," right now and I suspect much of the criticism of him falls somewhere in those lyrics.

Posted by: John Tully | October 24, 2007 11:27 PM

I'm not sure how a playlist that includes music from Buddy Johnson & His Orchestra, Andre William, the Dizzy Gillepsie Quintet, and Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys can be characterized as "advertising masquerading as content." It's a typical eclectic Theme Time grouping which, yes, ties into a promotional campaign, but didn't diminish my enjoyment at all.

I think Mr. D. pretty much put his stake in the ground - very deliberately - with his reply to the "email" Theme Time supposedly received in an earlier episode:

"...When's the last time you heard Buddy Holly on the radio? There aren't a lot of shows like Theme Time Radio Hour. A lot of people get to hear commercials, and if makes one person curious about either Buddy or Sheryl [Crowe], I'm all for it. How many people never heard of Nick Drake until he was in a car commercial?

A lot of musicians have always been proud to have commercial affiliation. Sonny Boy Williamson sold flour. I can't imagine Sonny Boy saying, 'My blues is too sacred. I wouldn't sell flour.' Jimmie Rodgers sold biscuits. Sheryl Crow sells hair dye. More power to her. And Jackie, have you ever seen a Victoria's Secrets ad?"

And more power to him, I say.

Posted by: Fred Bals | October 25, 2007 8:06 AM

If Bob Dylan had ever really pretended to be anti-establishment then this would be pretty hypocritical- but he's always just said that he's "just a singer" or "just a guitar-player."

So, y'know, fair enough.

Posted by: Hobolad | October 25, 2007 9:36 AM

Who cares what Bob Dylan does? I don't care, and neither should you.

Posted by: Scott | October 25, 2007 10:09 AM

Here's to the greatest song and dance man that ever lived, a true outlaw.

Posted by: George Bailey | October 26, 2007 3:34 PM

I'm a faithful listener of TTRH, and believe me, it's not content "disguised" as anything. Dylan plays music that would otherwise never be played on any station, and gives props to people who are unknown, forgotten, or don't happen to dance around half naked and lip sync. It also happens to be darn fine music and a ball to listen to. It's been 40 years since Dylan made it clear he will do as he pleases.

Get over it already, would ya?

Posted by: Moon | October 27, 2007 12:35 AM

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