Yesterday I came across this article about selling out by Paul Resnikoff from Digital Music News. As usual Paul brings some interesting points, this time to a discussion about selling out.
My response is – isn’t selling out the point? Or, if it isn’t, at what point does making money from music become selling out? Surely when a band posts their music on iTunes they’re not hoping to make zero dollars? Of course not, they’re looking to sell as much music as they can.
Is there then a dollar amount that you’re allowed to make and still be considered safe from the label of being a sell-out? If so, what might it be?
No, in fact there are not logical answers to these questions. Artists make music first because they love it, and then they try to disperse their labor of love in order to get something back from it – why should it matter what the income stream is? Especially at these times when there seems to be so much uncertainty about the music business model.
I’d also argue that if an artist garners the attention of a brand, chances are they’ve already sold out many concerts and had success in album sales, synch fees, merchandise, etc.
Instead, I’d offer that those labeling artists as sell-outs are merely doing so out of jealousy or worse still because of some ridiculous musical value-system. If the latter is the case it seems silly to criticize a band on getting paid to promote a brand when the real critique should be focused on the music itself. Those are two VERY different things.
Selling out is the goal. That’s why artists do what they do – to sell out. They want to support themselves by making music and I see no problem with that. If fans do then they’re deluding themselves – I can guarantee that pretty much everyone I know would take money just to wear, drink, or use something that they already enjoy doing.
Leave a comment and let me know what you think – should artists accept income from brands? Why or why not?
Something I’ve always found interesting about the idea of “selling out” is how it’s viewed in reference to the particular genre of the artist. For rock-y/folk-y artists it seems like having too much commercial appeal is a mortal sin, whereas in rap/hip-hop it’s not only accepted but encouraged to an extent. I’m sure there’s some deeper social commentary somewhere there, but I’ll leave that to someone smarter than myself