Will.I.Am: Laying the foundation for future fans

My favorite one-year-old came by with her parents the other day, and apparently one of her favorite songs right now is from “Sesame Street.” But not like “Teeny Little Super Guy” or some of the pinball songs that I loved from the ‘Street back in the 80s. Nope, her favorite song right now features Will.I.Am, someone whose videos are just as popular with her parents.

I was amazed by this. And there are plenty of other examples of contemporary artists appearing on “Sesame Street,” including Jason Mraz and Feist.

And it’s not just limited to “Sesame Street” – “Yo Gabba Gabba!,” another popular kids’ television show, routinely features Biz Markie doing a “beat of the day,” and groups like Chromeo have performed songs.

I really can’t decide what is going on here, because obviously the target audience for these shows has *no* idea who these artists are.

Since I work with lots of companies about their brand and reaching new audiences, I have to wonder if these artists are cleverly laying the groundwork for future fans. If your kid likes the song on “Sesame Street,” after all, wouldn’t it make you more likely to buy more songs like that for them? Or are these shows just finding ways to keep the adults entertained while watching with their offspring? I feel like kids are going to be really confused when they get older and hear the *actual* songs that these performances are riffing on. Even for me, every time Feist comes on the radio now, I can’t help but hear “1, 2, 3, 4, monsters walking ‘cross the floor” in my head, instead of the actual lyrics.


5 thoughts on “Will.I.Am: Laying the foundation for future fans

  1. Sesame Street tries to produce a show that is educational for children, and entertaining for both them and their parents. The idea is to get kids and their parents watching and learning together.

  2. I like. I think Yo Gabba Gabba is adopting the Muppet Show model- have something for adults and children alike. They’ve had some non mainstream artists – Leslie and the Lys, Shiny Toy Guns, Questlove, Devo, I think its awesome and a deliberate nod to hipsters who are now parents, not something nefarious on the part of artists.

  3. I agree it isn’t “nefarious” Richard, and it certainly makes the shows much more entertaining to watch when you’re not a toddler!

    But I can’t help but wondering…do you think Will.i.am and Feist and other artists who perform on these shows are doing it *solely* because they love kids and want to help out, or might there be an element of increasing their visibility and appeal to fans of any age?

  4. It’s generally music publishers such as Sony Music Publishing or Universal Music Publishing or boutique publishing/sync houses like RipTide and PIGfactory that handle the placement of music in TV shows, movies, and video games – although sometimes the search can start with the show or the directive to try and place it from the artists.

    There are definitely considerations like crossover exposure and PR taken into account, but a lot of the time, the revenue to the artist and publisher from the licensing deal is just as big an incentive 🙂


  5. My son loves Sesame Street, particularly the songs, and he doesn’t care who is singing. He likes the Feist song–I, too, cannot hear it without thinking about chickens and monsters now. This kind of crossover has been going on with Sesame Street and the Muppets for years. I always understood that it was kind of an honor to be asked to visit Sesame Street or the Muppet Show, or be in a Muppet Movie.

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