Forget about the olden days when labels mattered: Atlantic, Stax, Matador, and Sub Pop. Now artists can release their records on Procter & Gamble’s Tag deodorant label!

A few months ago, Bacardi announced that it would help the English electronic music duo Groove Armada pay for and promote its next release. Caress, the body-care line owned by Unilever, commissioned the Pussycat Dolls singer Nicole Scherzinger to record a version of Duran Duran’s “Rio” that it gave away on its Web site to promote its “Brazilian body wash” product. The energy drink company Red Bull is starting a label that is expected to release music before the end of the year.

Next: soap companies will sponsor daytime TV dramas.

For rent: strip malls

The Journal reports on A3 that vacancies at strip malls jumped to 8.2 percent in the second quarter, their highest level since 1995.

That’s a bad sign of consumer health and evidence that the retail industry overbuilt in the last few years. As new neighborhoods are built, new strip malls get developed close to them. Lots of those neighborhoods are half-empty and the new shops have fewer customers than they expected.

Enclosed malls hit their highest empty level in more than six years.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu. Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.