Artists 'SELLING OUT' - can we discuss?

So, regardless of Chan in particular, what do you think of artists lending their music (and therefore their image, etc) to sell products?

(btw, I realize some artists don't own all of their catalog and don't have control over how their music is used, for example : The Beatles.)
It's not a big deal, I mean popular music has always been about commerce. It's no different than seeing your favorite actor acting in a commercial.

If it bothers you, go listen to The Who's "Sell Out".
it used to bother me, but i watched the henry rollins show recently and he had a short segment where he expressed his opinion on the subject. basically he said good for them that they're making some money for their hard work, and it's their choice. it gave me a fresh perspective on the subject, and i totally respect their choices.
It used to bug me also. As an aging hippie, some of the music from the 60s and early 70s was made by artists who claimed a higher purpose for their art. Sounds pretentious now and besides Neil Young I can't think of any others who still follow that ideal.
It no longer bothers me much as those times are gone.
my feelings mirror musicdoc......its tough out there....if an obscure band like the sopwith camel, or nick drake's estate can make some well deserved dough...thats is a sign of the times though, when rock anthems are rewritten in history as jingles..."you say you want a revolution? plop plop, fizz fizz....."
My only objection is that, in all too many cases, my experience of artist's "selling out" (this includes actors as well) is that they inevitably seem to be very much influenced by those outside sources that they've come to depend upon for their income. This usually is reflected in the style and content of their performances. I couldn't care less about their making money from their work and creativity..all the power to them in that regard. The artists I tend to like the most seem to be those who've created their successes on their own terms, rather than those dictated by others.

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A new Volvo commercial features an old Feelies track. The band has been gone for years, so it's unlikely to affect their future output. I'm not quite ready to buy a Volvo, but I like their taste in music.

Kublakhan this isn't the first time Chan has done this. Did you not hear her cover of the The Nerves/Blondie song "Hanging On The Telephone"? It was for Cingular or T-Mobile or some other carrier I believe.
Led Zeppelin seloing Caddies. I don't think it can go much further.

What next - Talking Heads schelping Wal-Mart?
this thread has brought back a memory from when i was stationed in japan from ~'82-85. there was a brief japanese television commercial i remember seeing with either dustin hoffman or deniro schlepping whiskey or something in which he spoke three words--"i'm a boy!" well, you can bet he walked away with an enormous check. btw that very thing (hollywood doing ridiculous-yet high-paid japanese TV commercials) was nicely parodied by bill murray in "lost in translation." i never really thought about that commercial until now. funny how little buried memories can pop up like that.
I put 'selling out' in quotes for a reason. For me, selling out is when an artist who has made a living purporting certain values, who has created a fan base who share those values, suddenly for nothing more than another paycheck goes against those values and betrays their fans.

There are plenty of artists who I believe will never sell-out.

1. Tom Waits

2. Neil Young

OK, that's not plenty but it's a start.
Kubla- I agree with you. Selling, is not the same as selling out. If Neil Young sells the rights to use "The damage done" in an anti-heroin commercial, more power to him; if he sells the rights to "Bluebird" to a company that had named its latest attack fighter plane "Bluebird" that would be selling out!!!!!
Make as much as you can while you can, most bands dont have a shelf life like The Stones' so rake it in while you can and get over it.
swampwalker, this is what started me off again thinking about the subject of this post. Chan Marshall (Cat Power) sings about isolation, the fear of reaching out for love, etc... and now she is on a commercial singing some song promoting diamonds. first of all, nobody should be lending their music to sell diamonds, imo, but least of all chan marshall. so she's really disappointed me.

I need to add this to my list:

3. John Coltrane (had he lived past 40 he would never have sold out. Never. Not for anything.)
i would humbly submit that to purport to know what is in the heart and mind of another in terms of how they choose to apply their art is a flawed premise. not trying to pick a fight. freewill + human nature + democracy = shit happens. sorry it bothers you so.
musicdoc, i agree in chan's case but in others' they make a great effort to be unmistakably clear what their music is about and then so often sell out.

"freewill + human nature = democracy = shit happens." talk about nonsensical.
an artist who has made a living purporting certain values, who has created a fan base who share those values (...) suddenly for nothing more than another paycheck goes against those values
Are you raising the question of financial supremacy, i.e., "for the right amount of money, anything can be bought" or is it more of a moral question: "with people/in times, of weak(ening) moral fibre, cash rules over personal beliefs?

Both perhaps.

My answer to either would be, I don't really know. I would personally side with the proposition, "stick to what you preach", as you do.
BUT consider the following:
1) an obscure artist -- obscure to the mass market -- may see this as a way to touch many more people... One example: many years ago, before most of our times, there was a hit called "Those were the days (my friend)". This song referred to the Spring of Prague (short-lived revolution against Soviet rule in Czech). Not the sort of music to play in the erstwhile Soviet Union. However, as a "hit", this song WAS played in certain other Soviet countries... however unlikely and unexpected this would seem. OK, maybe an extreme case.

2) The "human" + financial side: some artists grow older. Playing their song -- even in a commercial -- may make them feel there's a come back (and it helps the industry resell their work).

3) The "human side"-2: some people may feel there is recognition in their work being chosen -- even for a commercial.

I don't know if, for example, Chan, subscribes to any of the above, however.
Don't trust anybody over thirty.
Kudos to Tom Waits for suing that car company for ripping off his singing style. But in the end it's really more a question of "when" rather than "if" almost any popular song will be used to sell soap, Starbucks, or maybe botox or motorized wheelchairs. If it doesn't happen in an artist's lifetime, then his estate will probably do it. Choice of placement can make a difference. Iggy Pop can probably smile at the irony of "Lust for Life" covering a cruise-line commercial, and "Happy Jack" as background to a bunch of kids riding around on toy Hummers is more acceptable than "Who Are You" as the CSI theme song. When the royalities keep the wolf at the door it's OK: it was painful to see Roger Daltry a few years back making ends meet by peddling Time/Life 60's compilations on 3AM infomercials. But Peter Noone belongs there. Like Kubla I suspect Neil Young never will.
There was an interesting program on NPR dealing with this issue. The upshot was that artists can no longer rely on traditional forums, such as radio to disseminate their music. Therefore, artists have become increasingly eager to get their music on car commercials and inserted into video games. It seems to be working, especially with regard to younger listeners.
John Densmore of the Doors had a great article in The Nation some years back in which he succintly laid out his rationale for not allowing the Doors music to be used as a selling "hook". His two bandmates were of a decidedly different mind. Of course, it was those same band members who thought a Doors reunion concert without Jim Morrison was a grand idea. I must admit that while I don't care at all what bands do with their music long after its expiration date (or at any time), I was a bit dismayed when I heard Peter Gabriel's Solsbury Hill on the telephone ad. Perhaps he donated all the proceeds from the licensing to Amnesty International or Doctors Without Borders or the Peter Gabriel Fund.
I think one needs to think of selling music through commercial endeavor as an extension of their profession and equate it with whatever job or profession you are employed.

A band may start off rehearsing in a basement, garage, loft etc... If they get gigs and eventually a record deal, and play to larger audiences it is equivalent of you or I getting a promotion or raise and being wooed by another company.

If you believe that artists who decide to license their music to a company or sell their catalog for compensation then I hope you turned down your promotion or raise because you have decided that you do not want any further economic rewards for your occupation because you just love doing your job and that is reward enough
Bianchi27, your argument is flawed in that you can't compare an "artists" work to that of most people's jobs. If you believe in "art" as something other than a commodity that is.
Well, maybe my perspective would be different if I had talent, and were a working musician. Hey, the classic groups of the '60's and '70's had grueling tour schedules, enless hours in the studios, constant creative and personnel conflicts, and were always getting screwed by their record labels. So maybe to them, it was primarily just a job!

I don't have a problem with the "B" list groups making some extra money. By "B" list, I'm not referring to talent, just fame & money. But I do hate it when commercials change the lyrics to hawk the product...a musical venial sin, IMHO! I was actually amazed to hear the Buzzcocks song EVERYBODY'S HAPPY NOWADAYS for some SUV ad. Good for them!

I do hate it when the "A" list groups sell out!! How did the piss away all of their millions, or do they just want more millions? The Stones are now a corporate enterprise, and charge hundreds of dollars to see their "Dead Men Waking Tours", not to mention that Mick hasn't been able to sing live for 20 years! I feel like the "A" listers are "pimping out" their children to make more money. But I do agree with Dgarretson concerning the use of the Who's HAPPY JACK for Hummer. I actually liked that one, because I thought that the commercial artistically portrayed Jack as a kid!

Sir Paul is the worst of the worst. I remember years ago when he was halking a credit card as a concert tour tie-in. "You can only buy tickets with the XXX-card", he merrily gleamed, as he sold out all of his integrity, in one stroke. Well, I hope he put some money aside, as his divorce is going to cost him...BIG TIME. Marrying a girl young enough to be his daughter, without a pre-nuptial...I guess that confirms that he wasn't the brains of the Beatles! Sell Paul, sell [out].
What is it about musicians (and by implication other artist) that makes so many people begrudge them the right to make an honest dollar? Being a musician is a job! It's a way to put food on the family table. It's also a very hard and extremely competitive occupation. Public taste is fickle and there's always some new kid in town who spent his entire adolescence in his family's basement learning everyone of your solos. And that's assuming you achieve some level of success which practically speaking is highly unlikely since most musicians cannot support themselves without taking day jobs. (Buddy Guy drove a truck for nearly a decade after cutting his first records.) After years of playing in bars, endless touring and getting ripped off by record companies/agents someone offers you 5 or 6 figures for a song you did a decade ago. And because of that someone has the gall to say you're selling out! Maybe the artist is thinking of a piano player or drummer he worked with for 20 years who died in a ward room of a public hospital of cancer (all those nights in smokey bars) and how people had to take up a collection for his funeral expenses.

But of course a different standard is used when the artist is successful. But can anyone explain to me why Sir Paul, MIck & Keith, Smokey, Dylan or Eric shouldn't be billionaires? But then again, by some of the replies here Shakespeare or Mozart would be relegated to performing on street corners for spare change. In a meritocracy talent is rewarded.
Well I am sure the bands that where 'back in the day' on the commercials here in the US, especially the car adverts are glad of the additional income as It perks up their retirements. Or is it that the Car manufacturers are trying to be in tune with the age group that they are trying to sell to?
ie 40 somethings.
Onhwy61 said it all! This is their job and how they mostly make a living, anyone judging them needs to get off the Soap Box and worry about themselves.
Don't trust anyone UNDER 30. Uh, make that 40.
Make that 50 please.
I certainly don't begrudge anyone making money, selling their work/art or however you want to put it but... that isn't the same as "selling out." Maybe you need to be part of that generation to understand (yes I said understand) where David Crosby was when he penned "Almost Cut My Hair." Ok so that song is dated and can't help sounding pretentious now but in 1970 it was real. And if Crosby ever sold that song to Great Clips, he is selling out.
If he needs the money, wants the money, needs to be in the spotlight or whatever I don't begrudge him. It's his song but by the standards of that time, he's selling out. So standards and motivations change.
Timrhu, I am part of that generation. But one thing to remember is that the Summer Of Love was also the same summer that Detroit and Newark burned. You have to remember to always look at the past from both sides. Some of the ideals from that era are still valid (afterall, What's so Funny 'Bout Peace Love And Understanding), but all the talk about the revolution seems quite naive by today's standards. Hell, Newt G. had a more successful and longer lasting revolution in the early 90s.

Regarding the two time inductee to the Rock Hall Of Fame Mr. Crosby -- does he now have a record deal? How is he making a living? I know he's still touring at 66. I wonder if he can retire? Assuming he even wants to. What will he provide for his children? Hopefully his fans won't ever let him down.
And now for a new low! "Viva Las Vegas" has now become "Viva Viagra". I think I'm going to puke!
That song was a sellout when Elvis made it.
Chadnliz, apparently, we have different standards for "selling out".
lol..........yup, can you tell I am not quite from that generation?
BTW I was watching the NFL network and that damn commercial was on EACH AND EVERY god it is annoying!
An artist owns his music--of course he can sell it. The Beatles sold the rights to their music and now Michael Jackson owns it.

My point is this: I do value certain compositions to the point that I am at times annoyed with association to a product. This does not make for good marketing.

Still, probably the best marketing use of a song was the introduction of Windows 'latest' software release some time ago, when they probably paid the Rolling Stones a fortune for the use of "Start ME Up'. This did not bother me.

The use of a John Lennon tune would in most cases bother me to the point of boycott.
Does it make sense to get worked up about a song that was simply performed and not written by the Artist? Like with the Elvis tune, he didnt write many songs himself correct?
Chadnliz, I understand your point now. I do have several copies of VIVA LAS VEGAS that have been performed by many different artists [The Dead Kennedys version is a favorite]. But changing the lyrics for a BONER DRUG ?!!!!

Unclejeff, The Rolling Stones are now a corporate enterprise and stopped being a R&R band years ago. They should only be allowed to perform a concert once a a Halloween house of horrors! Talk about scaring the kids...geez!
..artists have to "sell-out" because they usually get ripped off by their own record companies....;)
IMO: Artists have always "sold" out, nothing new.
I would much rather see artists making money from their craft than have the situation faced by so many of the older black blues musicians. So many of them never had the rights to their music and so received nothing at all, not even royalties from those who would become wealthy much later on from covering their songs._Mrmitch
Preperation H wanted to use Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire", but the family tasefully declined. Kinda funny though :).