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From an MTV story at the time on the subject: "Courtney — owner of her late husband Kurt Cobain's songwriting copyrights — had been looking to take on an investor 'as a partner in the proper development and exploitation of the catalog,' her spokesperson Alan Nierob said." (source)
In a lengthy article for Forbes online, Primary Wave Chief Executive Lawrence Mestel, former chief operating officer of Virgin Records, says he "expects most licensing deals for Nirvana songs will be with the producers of movies and TV shows." (source)
Primary Wave Music Publishing - a company founded in January 2006 - describes itself as a "next generation music publisher" and its main responsibility with respect to handling the Nirvana catalogue is licensing to film, television, advertising and any other medium.
Some background from their website: "The company acquires culturally important iconic catalogs, which provide numerous opportunities to enhance long-term value while preserving the musical integrity of its artistry. This value enhancement is achieved through tastefully marketing the intellectual property through opportunities for re-uses in film and television [...]" (source)
As for the Nirvana deal - more details from an article in Rolling Stone: "When Nirvana singer and lead songwriter Kurt Cobain died in 1994, his widow, rocker Courtney Love, became the primary beneficiary of his estate, which includes more than ninety-eight percent of the band's publishing rights. Band members Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl were left with part of the remainder.
'We're going to remain very tasteful, and we're going to [retain] the spirit of Nirvana and take Nirvana places it's never been before,' says Love. 'My goal is to keep the music very true to who the songwriter was and what his passions and tastes would be,' Mestel adds, 'and to work through Courtney to figure out exactly the best way to go about exposing his music to a new youth culture to a new generation.' " (source)
Check out this article from Forbes about the Primary Wave deal. Note that it mentions an episode of CSI: Miami in which Nirvana music was to feature prominently. This never came to fruition, however. There's also an article on Primary Wave Music Publishing here.
This section details some of the venues in which Nirvana's music has been used since the deal with Primary Wave Publishing was announced. As of March 2008, Nirvana's music has been licensed to a number of games, some high-profile TV shows and a couple of movies.
It has also been announced that an officially licensed and sanctioned Kurt Cobain collection of shoes will be launched by Converse in early 2008. More info in the NFC story that broke the news worldwide. For further details on how the Nirvana catalogue will be used in the future, refer to this page as well as the NFC news section. Enjoy!
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Four games in Sony's popular SingStar series include Nirvana songs:
Description from Wikipedia:
SingStar is a popular game in which players sing to music videos in order to score points. Players interface with their Playstation 2 via USB microphones while a music video plays on screen. Lyrics are shown at the bottom of the screen. SingStar matches a player's song voice to the original track, with players scoring points according to how accurate their singing is. Usually, two players compete simultaneously. Certain modes of the game may vary this basic pattern, but the principle is similar throughout. More info.
Includes Nirvana's Come As You Are and Hole's Celebrity Skin. Note that the Nirvana track does not appear in the U.S. version of the game. It does appear on international editions, however.
Includes Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit. Note that the Nirvana track only appears in the international edition of the game.
Includes Nirvana's Lithium. Note that the Nirvana track only appears in the U.S. edition of the game. Other artists featured include R.E.M., Seal, Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots and Santana.
SingStar Amped (only sold in the U.S.)
Includes Nirvana's Come As You Are. Note that the Nirvana track only appears in the U.S. edition of the game. Other artists featured include Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age, The Ramones and ZZ Top.
Official product description:
Get ready to step up on stage and into the spotlight as you turn on your inner rock star with SingStar. It's like Karaoke but amped up toward a more sophisticated game level. Unleash the rebel within to pulse-pounding tracks from legends like Nirvana, David Bowie, Nickleback, Foo Fighters and Ozzy Osbourne in this Amped edition. Steal the spotlight with a solo performance in single-player mode and share the stage with multiplayer options including cooperative Duet Mode, one-on-one Battle Mode and the team-based Pass-the-Mic. Players can easily expand their song library by accessing the song list from any SingStar game for the PS2 while playing another, via the quick disc swap feature.
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Rock Band (2007) is a game developed by Harmonix, published by MTV Games and distributed by EA. It is available for the Xbox 360, Playstation 2 and Playstation 3. The very popular game allows you to play in a "virtual" band by providing up to four players. The game's soundtrack includes 58 playable songs - featuring Nirvana's In Bloom (the master track was provided for the game).
It also offers downloadable albums - one of which will be Nirvana's Nevermind according to the game's senior designer (see interview).
Description from Wikipedia:
Rock Band allows players to perform in virtual "bands" by providing up to four players with the ability to play three different peripherals modeled after music instruments (a guitar peripheral for lead guitar and bass guitar gameplay, a drum peripheral, and a mic). These peripherals are used to simulate the playing of rock music by hitting notes on-screen.
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One of the songs licensed for the game is a cover of Nirvana's Heart-Shaped Box. There are 64 songs total in the PlayStation 2 version while there are 74 songs total for the Xbox 360 version.
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Nirvana's Breed is also included in the upcoming Nintendo DS game Guitar Hero: On Tour to be released in the summer of 2008.
Guitar Hero World Tour which is expected to be released in October, 2008 for Xbox 360, Playstation 2, Playstation 3 and Wii will include Nirvana's About A Girl as one of the master recordings, according to Wikipedia. Read more here.
Major League Baseball 2K7 (2007) is a MLB-licensed baseball game released for the Playstation 2, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. The soundtrack used in the game includes Nirvana's Breed as well as songs by The Pixies, Sublime and The Stooges.
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Skate is a skateboarding game by EA (often referred to as EA Skate) which was released for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in late 2007. The game uses Nirvana's Lounge Act.
From an article at about.com: "The SKATE soundtrack features 45 songs from some of the most influential and celebrated artists including David Bowie, Nirvana, N.W.A. and The Ramones." Steve Schnur, Worldwide Executive of Music and Marketing at EA mentions that to help decide on which songs to use for the game, they spoke with hardcore skaters from around the US and states that the soundtrack is a tribute to the skateboard culture (source).
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Six Feet Under
Prior to the 2006 deal with Primary Wave Publishing, Nirvana's music was licensed for a couple of TV shows. One of them is the HBO drama Six Feet Under which used Nirvana's All Apologies for the episode All Alone which originally aired on August 7, 2005. The In Utero version of the song is used in a scene where the character Claire remembers talking to Nate the day Kurt Cobain died. The Unplugged version of the song is used in the final scene of the episode where Claire listens to the song and Ruth tucks Maya into bed, followed by the end titles. Read more about the episode here. (source: HBO)
In May of 2007, ABC aired the season finale of their hugely popular show LOST. The final episode of the show's third season features a scene where the main character Jack is driving to a funeral home. On the way, he listens to Nirvana's Scentless Apprentice (from In Utero) in his car.
This marked the first time that Nirvana's music had been used on network television in the United States.
LOST is one of the most popular and most watched shows on television. The Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning show averaged 15.5 million viewers per episode in its first year, and has a huge fan following.
Some background info: ABC expressed interest in using a Nirvana song for their season finale of LOST. They provided a description of the scene in question, and the representatives of the Nirvana catalogue presented them with 4-5 songs that they could choose from. In the end they selected Scentless Apprentice. Here is how it was used in the episode: Shortly into the episode, Through The Looking Glass (Part 2), in a flash-forward scene with Jack, you see him driving in Los Angeles, on his way to a funeral home. On the radio, Nirvana's Scentless Apprentice is playing.
In the car, Jack is looking at a newspaper clipping from the April 5th edition of the Los Angeles Times. It is conceivable that the radio was playing the Nirvana track in memory of Kurt Cobain who comitted suicide on the same date in 1994.
Indeed, suicide is a general theme of the episode: both Jack and Locke contemplate suicide. Mikhail uses a grenade as a suicide bomb to kill Charlie. And Sawyer, Juliet, and Hurley embark on an apparent suicide mission to save the three at the camp.
In September 2007 it was announced that no less than 8 Nirvana songs would be used extensively in the fifth season premiere of COLD CASE - a show running on CBS. The featured songs were: 'All Apologies,' 'Stay Away,' 'If You Must,' 'Lithium,' 'Drain You,' 'Heart Shaped Box,' 'Something in the Way' and 'Come as You Are.'
From a press release: " 'We're thrilled to be featuring Nirvana songs exclusively throughout this chilling episode about two seemingly nihilistic male teens who may have been falsely accused and convicted of murdering three 10-year-old boys,' said COLD CASE Executive Producer Veena Sud, who wrote this episode. 'Nirvana's music not only evokes the era when this case's killings took place but brings a starkness and poetry to the story that deeply enhances it.'
The episode, entitled 'Thrill Kill', takes place several weeks after the COLD CASE season four finale, when Lilly (Kathryn Morris) was shot and critically wounded. She has just returned to work and tries to convince her boss, Stillman (John Finn), and herself that she's emotionally ready to spearhead the re-opening of the disturbing 1994 case after new evidence suggests that the boys' real killer may still be at large. The episode was directed by Alex Zakrzewski."
In an earlier episode of the same show, there are several mentions of Kurt Cobain and Nirvana, although no Nirvana music is used. Read more about that episode here.
Aside from the shows detailed above it should be noted that Nirvana's Come As You Are was used in Singing Bee - a show on NBC in the United States.
Nirvana's music has been used in a handful of movies, including Love Buzz in the 1995 Drew Barrymore film Mad Love which was long before the deal with Primary Wave.
Something In The Way is featured in the 2005 movie Jarhead starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Jamie Foxx. Jarhead is based on former Marine Anthony Swofford's best-selling 2003 book about his pre-Desert Storm experiences in Saudi Arabia and about his experiences fighting in Kuwait. The movie also includes music by Public Enemy, The Doors, Naughty By Nature and the Jackson 5.
Since the deal with Primary Wave was completed, Nirvana's Come As You Are has been licensed to a 2008 movie called Definitely, Maybe starring Ryan Reynolds - a romantic comedy that focuses on an engaging father and his 10-year-old daughter. The song is played in the background during a romantic scene with Ryan Reynolds and Isla Fisher which takes place in Fisher's character's apartment. In the same scene, a poster for Nirvana's Nevermind is clearly visible and the characters talk about the song, Nirvana and Cobain when it is playing. The scene is from a flashback that dates to early 1992.
A 2008 french feature film currently in post production, The first day of the rest of your life by Rémi Bezançon will include Nirvana's Drain You.
Finally, a documentary entitled The Man Who Souled The World (2007) by Mike Hill uses Nirvana's Territorial Pissings. The film tells the story of Steve Rocco, the irreverent genius who transformed the skateboard industry from corporate to skater owned with a do-it-yourself punk attitude.
As of early 2008, Nirvana's music also appears in a couple of TV commercials: Breed was used in a commercial for A1 Telecom in Austria, and the same song appears in a commercial for the game MLB 2K7 video game which is covered earlier in this section.
For a very detailed and lengthy list of various movies and TV shows that include some sort of Nirvana mention (e.g. by displaying a Nirvana poster in a scene), visit this section. It should be noted that this section hasn't been maintained for a few years and is no longer updated continuously. However, the section you're viewing presently will be updated when Nirvana's music is licensed in the future.