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Musicians find commercial success

Alex Clare

Alex Clare (Credit: Alex Clare)

'The Lateness of the Hour," the debut album from British singer-songwriter Alex Clare, was released in July 2011.

But Microsoft and an omnipresent ad campaign for Internet Explorer 9 have turned Clare into an international superstar, one who cannot just sell downloads and albums, but also tickets to venues like Irving Plaza (Tuesday) and the Music Hall of Williamsburg (Wednesday).

Clare isn't the first artist to find fame and fortune in 30-second chunks. Here are five other acts that have gotten a career boost from Madison Avenue:

Nick Drake - "Pink Moon"
THE BRAND: Volkswagen
BEFORE: The English balladeer passed away in 1974, but became influential posthumously after being name-checked by artists like Robert Smith of the Cure and the Dream Academy.
AFTER: When "Pink Moon" appeared in a 1999 commercial for the VW Cabrio, it both exposed him to his widest audience ever and signaled a shift in how independent artists (or their estates) felt about selling their songs to advertising.

Moby - "Play"
THE BRAND: Various
BEFORE: Moby had been a big name in electronic music before the genre was appreciated by the mainstream.
AFTER: The producer, DJ and songwriter licensed every single track from his fifth album, "Play," for commercial or theatrical use. It has sold more than 2 million copies.

Jet - "Are You Gonna Be My Girl?"
THE BRAND: Apple
BEFORE: The Australian rock act got its record deal thanks to a strong E.P. and a surge in interest in garage rock after the success of bands such as the Vines and the Hives.
AFTER: Jet jumped from relative unknown to worldwide headliner. But the band would never see such success with any other track, and eventually broke up in early 2012.

Feist - "1234"
THE BRAND: Apple
BEFORE: Feist had already started to make a name for herself internationally with her debut album, "Let It Die," and television appearances on shows like "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon."
AFTER: "The Reminder," the album which featured "1234," was nominated for a Grammy and Feist went on to play sold-out venues everywhere


If you go: Alex Clare is at Irving Plaza Tuesday night at 7:30, 17 Irving Pl., 212-777-6800, sold out. He is at Music Hall of Williamsburg Wednesday night at 8, 66 N. Sixth St., Williamsburg, 718-486-5400, sold out.

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