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Super Bowl ads mean mega exposure for brands and bands

A screen shot from the Lexus Super Bowl ad featuring the song
A screen shot from the Lexus Super Bowl ad featuring the song "Move Your Body" by Sia.

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The Super Bowl features the highest-priced commercials for any televised event. In exchange for a 30-second spot featuring their product, advertisers this year had to shell out an average of $5 million.

That means the network and the NFL are sure to cash in big. The brands themselves are hoping for a return on investment too. But there are others who profit as well: the singers and bands whose songs are used in the ads.

Jordan Passman, CEO of Score A Score, says the licensing costs for these songs can range from the mid six-figures for an older classic to seven-figures for a new hit. And that's not even including the likely bump in sales or streaming for a song after the commercial airs.

Getting a song placed in some sort of visual media like a commercial, movie trailer or video game, Passman says, is what's known as getting a "sync license." And right now, "it's one of the healthiest parts of the music business."

Passman says the music used in this year's Super Bowl ads fall into three categories:

The Throwback Jam

This ad from Wendy's, featuring Foreigner's "Cold as Ice," is one example of using a"throwback jam." Passman says it's an on-the-nose attempt at comedy that could be a risk, but in this case pays off.

Today's Hits

This commercial for Nintendo is a clever bit of cross-media marketing. The day the ad came out coincided with the release of Imagine Dragons' new single, "Believer," which is featured in the ad.

Timeless Orchestra

These songs aren't necessarily famous, but they can lend a timeless, cinematic quality to an ad, like this one for Budweiser.


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