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Selling out

Point.

Well, as I watch Elvis Costello hawk Lexuses (Lexi?) on TV, I wave goodbye to one of the last holdouts from the pre-80’s era. It’s now assumed that if you were a rock star with any integrity from this era, you now have no problem using your song about “social revolution” to sell jeans, trucks and Carnival cruises. The Who, Dylan, The Clash, Iggy Pop, Mellencamp, Sting…the list is long and depressing. The only holdouts remain Neil Young and Bruuuce, who turned down $12 million to use Born in the USA for Chevy.

Counterpoint.

In this kind of environment, the idea that a musician who works at all with a major label or sells a CD through a store like Tower or had concerts with middleman ticket sellers who charge exorbiant fees could somehow remain pure from “selling out” by refusing money to have her music in commercials became utterly silly. Shilling for Coca-Cola is a minor sin compared to any of these other practices, where you’re working with the industry to bilk fans of their hard-earned cash directly. In addition, a lot of indie rock types have been openly sympathetic to the fan complaints about pricing, and have sought alternate avenues to distribute their music that are a lot more affordable. In that situation, selling a song to Target for their commercials is seen not as selling out to the man, but a way to earn money through your music so you don’t have to sell out to the real villains in the music industry. Hearing the Go! Team on a Honda commercial doesn’t affect me in the way that paying $20 for a CD would, and furthermore, I know that the money they earned from the commercial gives the band leverage against their record company in terms of deciding how to tour and distribute their music, which results in cheaper ticket prices for me, if nothing else.

Put me in Amanda’s camp, with a lean towards Atrios. What do you think?

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2 Comments

  1. Justin says:

    Paul McCartney and Crosby, Stills & Nash both selling out were especially disappointing. I hope Neil Young sticks to what he wrote in “This Note’s For You.”

  2. mike says:

    The only place to hear good rock music on the air is on commercials and “Little Steven’s Underground Garage.”