Oddly enough, I didn’t hear much of a fuss when Feist became the latest artist featured on an Apple iPod commercial. I had some reservations about her music being so blatantly promoted alongside the ubiquitous portable music player, but since I didn’t read much resentment on any indie music blogs, I guess no one minded either.
There are two things that should be noted other than the spoof being unfunny. One, the song is a pretty good one. Two, the song is the most commercial song that Feist has ever made. So it’s a terrible song to judge the rest of music on because most of her music is nothing like it.
The former is a continued proclamation of me thinking Feist as a great artist who makes great music. The latter is more of a gripe because I never would’ve thought that I would hear a Feist song on the radio, and now I hear it everywhere because it was featured on a freaking iPod commercial. It’s a lot like how I felt when Regina Spektor’s “Fidelity” was constantly played on the radio this past summer. It was also Regina’s most commercial song, and anyone who’s ever listened to her earlier music can attest that fans of “Fidelity” probably wouldn’t be as open to (i.e. like) her more experimental stuff.
I guess it all comes down to what came first, the chicken or the egg. And if you want to be even more cynical, does the question even matter if you like chickens and eggs?
Feist made great music long before her association with Apple (both when she was with Broken Social Scene, and with her solo works Monarch and Let It Die), She will continue to make great music long after Apple finds another artist for its ads, and long after “1234” stops getting regular airplay.
So it comes down to whether you think Feist deserves the popularity and the sales bump she gets because of the exposure. Am I glad that Feist is getting the recognition she deserves? Absolutely. I am going to be disappointed trying to find tickets to her concert, though, since I’ll be fighting more teenage girls for them.
But do I think Feist should have tried another promotion avenue for her music? Yes and no. The iPod has a funny history. It’s an amazing device. Some will argue it has lost its appeal because millions own one and millions more continue to buy it. But the main demographic of iPod users tend to match those same demographics of professed indie fans. So logically, shouldn’t indie music and iPods go hand-in-hand? Tough one.
Indie artists struggle most in the music industry because they always have to walk that fine line between indie credibility and commercial success, and I think it’ll be best to leave it at that.