Sunday, December 19, 2004


Since people have been writing articles about "indie going mainstream" this year, I decided to compile a few notes on selling out.

I thought Matt had a great idea for a band called The Sellouts. I guess someone else had the same idea.

You sunk your worth in being
different, just to be like your own
kind. You traded in objectiveness,
for the underground you follow

This comes from an older Five Iron Frenzy song... which reminds me of

So now my fans are crying sellout,
they say that I've lost my touch.
They say I should just get the hell out,
before I do too much.
Hear my songs in an ad for a bathroom cleanser -
they say it's greed,
And now I'm wondering where my friends are in this time of need.
But if you change your mind and buy it,
I hope you enjoy my new box.
I hope you enjoy my new box,
I hope you enjoy my new box set.

the song Box Set, from Barenaked Ladies' first album.

Then you have this cool interview with Isaac Brock:

O: Was licensing your songs to commercials a tough decision?

IB: Figuring out ways to pay the rent isn't really a tough decision. Around the time we did the beer commercial and the shoe commercial, I thought, "Am I compromising my music by doing this?" And I think not. I like keeping the lights on in my house. People who don't have to make their living playing music can bitch about my principles while they spend their parents' money or wash dishes for some asshole. Principles are something that people are a lot better at checking in other people than keeping their own. My rationale behind the beer commercial was, "I like drinking MGD! I like beer probably more than I should, probably more than is healthy." I was hoping I could get a lifetime supply out of the deal, but I guess I'll have to buy it with that big ol' check. [Laughs.]

And this article, which got this whole post rolling:

Has trying to make a living at music changed the way you look at the, sometimes, narrow definitions of selling out?

Tunde Adebimpe: "Daddy, why can't we eat?" "Because Daddy's punk as fuck. Don't be such a little sellout." I don't understand that so much. I think that "selling out" is more about being paid to forget who you are and do something in the service of something empty, something you don't really believe in, which honestly, depending on your situation, is sometimes necessary and happens at a lot of jobs. You should get paid somehow for your art, especially if it's what's occupying most of your time. It's not really a vital thing in the eyes of the world and people could just stop caring at any time, for whatever reason, so if you're working you should be compensated, so you can keep working if, or when, no-one cares.

Well, there you go.

1 comment:

  1. I think it's such a tired argument ever since day one, which was "punk died the day the Clash signed to CBS".

    I didn't find that Isaac Brock interview all that enlightnening. Except for the part about how many drugs he took. I didn't know that before.

    I think "selling out" is another one of those non-issues that people like to have. Like what kind of music should be played in church, or who should be President. Spending time constructing and delivering an argument on either side means that is time you are not contributing to something meaningful.