R.E.M. Breaks Up Days After Finally Licensing a Song for a TV Ad

'Oh My Heart' touts University of Georgia

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As you've probably heard by now, R.E.M. said Wednesday that they're splitting up after 31 years. Oddly enough, the announcement came just days after an R.E.M. song popped up in a TV ad, apparently for the first time. The band notoriously vowed never to sell its music to commercial ventures, and they didn't break that promise with the new spot, by Bulldog Collective, for the nonprofit University of Georgia—the alma mater of all four original R.E.M. members. The song used in the ad, which broke Sept. 3, is "Oh My Heart," from the album Collapse Into Now. "The enthusiasm of the filmmakers, the resonance of the song in the spot, and the band's love and respect for Athens—those were the factors in our decision," R.E.M. manager Bertis Downs said last month of the band's approval of the song's use. "As alumni ourselves, we're proud of the PSA and feel the song really complements the film's emotion and imagery." Another song that R.E.M. recorded, "Superman," from Life's Rich Pageant, was used—in a newly recorded version—in a Lotus Notes commercial in the late '90s, but the band had covered that song and did not own the rights to it.

@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.