Hall Of Shame
By Reed Tucker

(FORTUNE Magazine) – Neil Young defiantly proclaimed he "ain't singing for Pepsi" in his 1988 anthem This Note's for You, but these days you can't be sure whom an artist is singing for.

In a recent Sony Music memo obtained by FORTUNE, the company blatantly offers to include product plugs in the lyrics of an upcoming album by boy band B2K. So the group will sing for Pepsi, Old Navy, or almost anyone--for a fee. And, says Lori Lambert, VP of strategic marketing at Epic Records (the Sony division that represents B2K), the same offer will be extended on behalf of "most of our pop acts."

Has it really come to this? Seems that way. Music companies are hurting from slowing CD sales, while marketers have witnessed the cachet that can come from an in-song mention. For instance, Busta Rhymes's (unpaid) ode "Pass the Courvoisier" has helped the cognac "achieve double-digit percentage growth" this year, says brand spokesman Jack Shea.

Epic's Lambert calls the band-for-rent trend "commonsense good business." She says product mentions would only accompany a larger package (with things like tour sponsorships), and artists will have the final say on any deal. Plus, only Epic's lighter pop bands are up for grabs (Korn won't be rhyming about Doritos anytime soon). B2K, on the other hand, may be releasing "2 Much Luv 4 Cinnabon" any day now. --Reed Tucker