Microsoft Rips Off Arcade Fire

It was the fifth single from Funeral, but it’s probably the most covered, maybe even the most beloved Arcade Fire song. And it’s been used to soundtrack the film trailer to Where The Wild Things Are, Premiere League soccer, and the Super Bowl. Now “Wake Up” has been ripped off for a Microsoft commercial:

(Thanks for the tip, Mark)

Compare it to the original:

But hey, that’s cool! When Arcade Fire licensed “Wake Up” to the Super Bowl, they donated 100% of the profits to Partners In Health to provide medical and supplies to people in Haiti. Maybe they would have done the same thing this time if the agency behind this ad didn’t just hire someone to do a soulless version of “Wake Up” instead. What do you think? Does Microsoft have the money to license the original?

Comments (35)
  1. It’s so obvious, so why not at least make it good?

  2. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  3. i’m having trouble downloading…

    • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  4. Don’t companies hire the bands to sometimes record a sound alike, so the band can not get acused of selling out? I guess it’s possible Arcade Fire recoded a sound alike so they could pocket the publishing money.

    It’s a conspiricy!

    • No, companies never do that. When you hear something like this it’s because the original band either was too expensive or not into it. Shit like this is unbelievably cheap compared to an actual hit song.

      • Actually, companies and bands probably do do that. Fleet Foxes, at least, seems to think it’s (semi-sarcastically) possible-

        Obviously, most of the time the company just pays some anonymous studio musician to do the sound-alike, but it’s not exactly unheard of for the band itself to do it.

        • pretty sure that fleet foxes tweet was more than semi-sarcastic. i would be absolutely baffled if a company ever did that. the tweet was a reference that fleet foxes got similarly stolen from by some european company pretty recently

  5. Just look to Mich Mathews, SVP of MS Marketing in last week’s Ad Age:


    The same week Microsoft placed its choice account into review, Ms. Mathews raised eyebrows in the ad world with remarks made during a panel at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Speaking about the cost and time effectiveness of first-to-market campaigns like its ad on a Vanity Fair iPad app during last summer’s World Cup, Ms. Mathews expressed concern over the long process through which it took her and her agency partners to execute.

    “After that I looked at it and thought, ‘Wow, it might be more powerful and cost-effective if we hire one guy to do this in India, and we would’ve just cranked that out,” Ms. Mathews said. “‘Should I be handling that in-house, or am I looking to completely change the structure of my service partners so we can be agile and do these things together?’”

  6. they did the same to helvetica, instead of licensing it, they made ARIAL

    shut up slaves…

  7. Ugh… Microsoft is so annoying.

  8. I think this is total crap!! Microsoft has enough money to pay an artist for their work . Thank you for bringing this up in discussion. It reminds all us artists to be careful about are rights.

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    • Really??

      This does nothing for Arcade Fire. It certainly doesn’t promote them. It tries to emulate them in an attempt to reach for the same affect, directly avoiding promoting them or paying them. “Everybody wins”?? How does anyone win?

      In spite of you, I’m glad that others still value creativity and the arts.

  10. gross… they raped an original song just like they raped the font in that stretched out Bing logo.

  11. yeah how can they not get in trouble for this? i hate the consecutive note policty or whatever the shi it is.. if changing a few notes doesn’t constitute stealing the overall idea.

  12. Uh, what’s the big deal? The production company who produced the commercial used a sound-alike track from their massive music library. So? Is it cool? Maybe not, but it happens all the time. I work for a company who does a ton of local spots; clients will come to us and say “we want you to use something that kind of feels like ‘Start Me Up’ by the Rolling Stones”, we find a sound-alike track in the music library and boom, done. There’s nothing nefarious or shady about it. Some hacky musician out there made a few hundred bucks “writing” a song that sounds suspiciously like a more famous song.

    • Just because you do it for a living doesn’t mean there’s any integrity involved.

      • C’mon now, so people aren’t allowed to make new things that kind of remind of of other pre-existing things? Nickeback would be forced to sue itself into oblivion, if that were the case…
        I suppose you never buy generic drugs or store-brand toilet paper, because they’re totally being manufactured by someone who didn’t originally create it. THOSE TARGET-BRAND IBUPROFEN PILLZ ARE TOTALLY FRIGGIN’ SELLOUTS, MAN!!!!

        • What’s “strictly legal” to do, and what’s “not douchey” to do only have limited overlap.

          This stuff doesn’t keep me awake at night or anything, but it is annoying, and it does make Microsoft look like a bunch of arseholes.

  13. have you EVER tried to licence a song via a record/publishing company? i have. it used to be a daily part of my job (producing radio commercials). it’s a nightmare and if your campaign has anything less than a 3 month timeline from initiation to broadcast you may as well give up. No matter how much cash you have to splash. Hence the availability of ‘library’ music. Arcade Fire and their associates profit from this event via publicity. Get over it.

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