Advertising Age: Bob Dylan tops music chart again – and Apple’s a big reason why

“It used to be that when sales of a Bob Dylan record soared, the success would come courtesy of the inevitable five-star reviews of his controversial but lyrical take on the zeitgeist and his sacred place in pop culture. Now he can thank Apple, too,” Matthew Creamer reports for

“When his album ‘Modern Times‘ was released Aug. 29, it was accompanied by a rare thing: a heavy public presence by Mr. Dylan, long a recluse who’s come out of his shell late in his career to write a book, conduct a PR blitz and man a satellite-radio show. But most atypically, Mr. Dylan starred in a gorgeous TV ad for Apple’s iTunes and iPod. Rather than shout him down as a sellout, consumers turned out in droves, making ‘Modern Times‘ his first chart-topper since 1976’s ‘Desire.’ It hit No. 1 on Billboard its first week in release, climbing over more commercial and younger-skewing acts such as Christina Aguilera and Outkast,” Creamer reports.

Creamer reports, “The iTunes spot wasn’t just a run-of-the-mill celebrity-endorsement deal in which a big brand signs a big check to tap into the equity of a big star. This one flipped the formula, with the all-powerful Apple brand giving Mr. Dylan access to younger demographics and helping propel his sales to places they hadn’t been since the Ford administration. ‘The iTunes tie-in definitely did more for Bob than it did for [Apple], making him seem younger, cooler and more progressive,’ said M.T. Carney, partner at Naked Communications in New York.”

Creamer reports, “That doesn’t mean Apple didn’t have anything to gain.”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Pete” for the heads up.]
[Bob Dylan] was a very clear thinker, and he was a poet. I think he wrote about what he saw and thought. The early stuff is very precise. But, as he matured, you know, you had to unravel it a little bit. But once you did, it was just as clear as a bell. I was listening the other day to “Only a Pawn In Their Game.” You know, when Medgar Evers was shot there were all these folk songs written about it. Dylan thought it through so carefully, and wrote this brilliant song about it. And that stuff’s as good today as when he penned it… Steve Wozniak turned me on to him. I was probably … oh … maybe 13, 14.” – Apple CEO Steve Jobs (Rolling Stone, December 03, 2003)

Related articles:
Apple posts new iPod+iTunes Bob Dylan ad online – August 29, 2006
Apple iTunes offers exclusive Bob Dylan digital pre-order, advance ticket pre-sale – August 08, 2006


  1. The world has come full circle, Bob is cool again. I knew after the recent trend back to bell bottoms that this wasn’t far behind!

    Now if the Beatles would just get on board. I could see an old film being shilhoetted for the occasion to include all 4 in an iPod commercial.

    After all it was Paul who prophetically said many years ago after the Beatles stopped touring in ’66 and made music video’s in place of concerts: Someday people will be watching music. He predicted the original MTV.

    Always ahead of their time.

  2. Mike Q,

    ever bother listening to the lyrics?

    No one ever said Bob Dylan was the best vocalist on the planet, but his songs convey a message, stir emotion, and provoke thought as much as any artist Ive ever heard.

    Hes Bob Dylan for christs sake!!!!

  3. I’ve never listened to an entire Bob Dylan song in my life but I certainly purchased his first single through iTunes. Never would’ve done so without seeing that commercial.

    Imus had me liking it though but the commercial pushed me over.

  4. Pearls before swine, Mike Q. That’s what Bob Dylan songs are for you, my ignorant friend. Pearls before swine.

    I am always amazed by cries of “Sellout!” when big stars cash in their celebrity for money. Someone please tell me what everyone else is doing who works at a nothing job they can’t stand in order to get the money they give you for sitting at your desk every day like the good little robot they want you to be? The whole world sells out every day in the name of survival; but celebrities are not only supposed to entertain us, they’re supposed to be friggin’ saints in the bargain.

    Bob Dylan doesn’t need more money. What he is doing is what every artist aims to do: communicate. A whole new generation is discovering one of the giants of 20th century music. That’s a good thing.

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