There was a time when a band's best hope was to get a song on the radio. But FM isn't what it used to be, and movie-soundtrack sales are slumping. Nowadays, with the quality of television on the rise (yes, we realize that sounds impossible, but it's true), getting a song on a TV show is a hell of a way for a group to get serious exposure. It can also lead to a decent payday, especially if the song makes it onto the CD compilation.
“Television producers are able to take risks with their music, and it's paying off,” says Alexandra Patsavas, music supervisor for Fox's teenage tastemaker drama, The O.C. “They're increasing their music budgets, and their taking more chances with the music on their shows.”
Music has always been central to The O.C. , which has given an enormous boost to several acts, including Death Cab for Cutie, Pinback and Spoon. Patsavas says she finds new music almost everywhere, and gets plenty of product from “labels, from managers, from publicists and from bands that know how to market themselves well and who can find me online.” She says that she regularly uses the Web as a resource, checks various blogs and is active on MySpace.com.
“The Internet is a great resource for me, and not just for American bands. It's helped me find Canadian bands and European acts. It's created a global community and broken down the idea of the regional scene—you no longer have to just know the music that's being played near you.”
Patsavas adds that “there's a lot of great music coming out of San Diego right now.” In fact, in the last year, several San Diego bands have found themselves on primetime shows. The Album Leaf has had a number of tracks appear on The O.C. , as well as on CSI: Miami and Cold Case , which has also featured music from A.M. Vibe. Louis XIV has also been heard around Orange County, and the title track to Anya Marina's Miss Halfway was tapped for Grey's Anatomy , another show Patsavas supervises.
But how does a band get its stuff on the tube? The Album Leaf's manager, Dave Brown, says via email that “it's cool being a part of these shows,” but doesn't claim to know exactly why the group keeps getting the call. “You'd really have to ask the music supervisors about why they selected us. I mean, it makes total sense to me, but then again, I'm biased.”
Patsavas agrees that there's no magic formula. She thinks In a Safe Place , the Album Leaf CD she's taken most of her tracks from, is a “beautiful and cinematic album,” and says that when it came to Louis XIV, “I was just struck by them, immediately.” A live show sealed the deal for her.
Of course, getting exposure on the drug of the nation won't necessarily break a band. Brown attributes The Album Leaf's recent success to a number of things, including touring, press, radio, licensing, marketing and MySpace. Plus, of course, music that doesn't suck.