Tuesday, July 15, 2008

We Sold Our Souls for Rock & Roll. And We Like It.

*Wilco in a VW commercial.
*TV on the Radio as dramatic background music at the end of an episode of Grey’s Anatomy.
*The Shins as the centerpiece of an awful movie by Zack Braff. (There, I said it-I hated Garden State)
*Sonic Youth's approval of a celebrity compiled “Best Of,” to be sold exclusively at Starbucks.

Given the current state of the economy it could be argued that most musicians no longer have the option of turning down a paycheck for the sake of their ethics. For those of you who don’t bother to open a newspaper every now and again, the global economy is in shambles. Inflation is rising, wages have stagnated, and numerous industries are failing rapidly. And this directly affects how musicians are making decisions on allowing their music to be used in movies, television advertising and video games.
Moreover, due to a number of factors (less disposable income, online downloading, poor marketing), CD sales continue to decline. People are no longer buying music in the same quantities or in the same mediums as they used to. As a result, many artists have had to make some difficult decisions. The licensing of a song to a commercial may or may not generate album sales, but those residual checks are guaranteed.

Part 1: The Ethics of Selling Out. Why Punk Rock No Longer Applies to Generation Y.


Mukisa said...

you're right. this is definitely an argument that been talked about under the table for a long time now.

you're on point in your description of the current environment (both in general and for musicians). the fundamental argument remains the same --- whether you are a major artist, mid-level, up-and-coming, startup, new, veteran (especially). i think that the music consumer should identify the current climate and respect their artists in whatever decision they make --- as long as it doesn't noticeably compromise the quality of an artist's music or way of relating to the fans (touring, general interaction) or the message/image of the group.

however, artists shouldn't be surprised when they lose fans b/c of the marketing and financial-driven decisions they make. contrary to Sprite's message --- image is still largely everything and musicians are heroes to so many. possibly for the wrong reasons, but generally positive ones --- i think. *shrug*

Kyle said...

Tom 4, Mike, and I were in Montreal and 4 decided to play some Of Montreal to set the mood. And "Wraith Pinned to Mist and Other Games" came on -- or as I called it, "The Outback Song."

That led us to a breif discussion about the fact that the money they got for changing their song to feature "Let's go Outback tonight" was probably more than they got on total album sales for that album.

I agree with you that it's their right, but the artists should understand that the original version of their song can be tainted (like the Of Montreal song where you think of Outback every time you hear it) or the song can be overplayed to the point where you just can't stand it (ie U2's Vertigo/iPod dare-I-say disaster.)

Anonymous said...


Don't forget stupid Common with Coca-Cola. He, above the others mentioned, is particularly laughable because of his "conscious" rap.


P.S. The White Stripes, too, made a Coke commercial that was only distributed, I think, in Europe.

Kevin Vonesper said...

Somebody pay me! I'll whore myself for people to hear my music and for me to eat.

SydAjax said...

God I had no idea that was OM in that commercial. How awful is that. This is why i listen to music created by dead jazz musicians. Never seen coltrane in a cadillac ad.
Ik ben Ajacied. Arsenal sux.