The Austin Chronicle

License & Registration: Bon Iver

By Darcie Stevens, May 30, 2008, 10:59am, Earache!

In the new music model, as major labels get more and more desperate and "indie" means more "cool" and less "underground," album sales have given way to other ways of making money for the artists. It's not a case of Napsterism or file-sharing. Musicians have become more open to the idea of everyone hearing their music, as opposed to everyone paying for their music. No longer are people fooling themselves into believing in making millions of dollars off of multiplatinum records – unless they graduated from American Idol, natch.

The future of substance for musicians is in licensing. There is still money to be made off of touring, but with $130/barrel oil, those show dollars don't go as far as they used to. These days, it's difficult to turn on the TV and not hear the latest hype coming out of the speakers.

Case in point: Bon Iver. Justin Vernon's brilliant debut album, For Emma, Forever Ago, has swiftly become Jagjaguwar's fastest-selling album to date, selling more than 30,000 in just three months. If you still haven't heard his lilting falsetto and moving songcraft, please, for Pete's sake, check it out.

Not only had Vernon turned the indie world – and every music mag in existence – on its ear. He's swept up prime-time TV at the same time. On May 19, Bon Iver's "Re: Stacks" made the saddest House M.D. ever that much more emotional. It was the perfect scene setter for the season 4 finale, even though it lasted about 15 seconds. The fact that it was followed by José González and Iron & Wine only made the tears heavier. Man, that's such a good show. With great taste, to boot.

The question is: How much did Vernon take from that perfect placement? Here's betting it was no mere pittance. The fourth season of House goes into reruns this week. Let me know if I missed something.

As our favorite artists hit the screens both big and small, check this space for a full report. Hear something creative and/or surprising on the latest episode of some sitcom? Drop me a comment, and spread the word.

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