Don’t watch the sexed-up TV ads for Trojan Lubricants – just listen.

The song playing in the background – as the couples get ready for love – is a slow, sexy cover of a classic Elvis Presley song, “All Shook Up,” by indie duo Avila.

Behind the placement was MediaHorse, a Silver Lake music licensing and marketing firm that specializes in getting cover songs into commercials.

Shauna Krikorian, co-founder of MediaHorse, said advertisers like covers partially because they’re cheaper to use than originals. Just as important, brands set their own mood. The Elvis version wouldn’t have fit the erotic tone of the ad.

“Even if they have the budget, they want a fresh new take,” she said. “They want something more contemporary.”

MediaHorse was founded in 2010. The cover specialization took hold when Krikorian and co-founder and partner Joe Berman approached music publishers such as BMI and Imagem and made deals for rights to have new artists reinterpret old songs. MediaHorse pays a royalty to the publishing companies if the song gets placed in an ad or released for consumer sales, but nothing upfront.

The master recordings are co-owned by MediaHorse and the artists, who bear production costs and often record the songs in a home studio with some direction from MediaHorse. About 100 covers have been recorded thus far by various artists on the company’s roster.

The four-person company also contracts with music composers and producers for original music for TV series and film trailers.

The Trojan spot is the second cover tune to be placed in an ad. The first was Avila’s version of “My Favorite Things,” featured in a holiday season Victoria’s Secret spot.

The ads have become an important source of income for indie artists as album sales have cratered. A good ad placement can bring a band tens of thousands of dollars.

Avila’s “All Shook Up” hit iTunes’ Top 10 Singer/Songwriter chart after the Trojan spot aired.

“If we update it and make it current, it has a whole new life,” Krikorian said. “It introduces the song to a new audience.”

– Jonathan Polakoff

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