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The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

When does a musical band become a "sell out"?

Asked by The_Compassionate_Heretic (14621points) July 4th, 2009

I tend to disagree with the notion that when an act becomes popular, that they sold out to do it.

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25 Answers

applesaucemanny's avatar

I believe it’s a matter of opinion

ragingloli's avatar

when they make music to make money instead of making money to make music.

Lovey_Howell's avatar

Never, and considering that most band members will say what they love most about the industry are the fans, the music and the money, I don’t see how anyone could ever be labelled a sell out.

Even musicians/artists who claim to just want to play music and don’t give a hoot who is listening will have every right to sell their artistic property and make a buck.

jrpowell's avatar

When they change the music to appeal to a larger audience for monetary gain.

Blink-182 is a good example of this. Listen to Cheshire Cat and then Dude Ranch. They are very different.

Dog's avatar

They are a sell out when their songs are on commercials for feminine hygiene products or insurance ads.

I do not think because a band is popular means they have sold out. Some would say the same about visual artists- that once they create work with the intent to just make money with no message behind it they have sold out.

Personally I think everyone is entitled to make a living.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

@Dog If a band sells a song to an ad agency, does that make the song any less good?

Tink's avatar

Maybe it’s just pride that they have and tend to be concieted.

Dog's avatar

@The_Compassionate_Heretic Actually that would make an excellent question in and of itself.
Here is my response. Branding is about the association of an image or song with a product.
When a song or artwork is used for branding it takes on a new association and meaning. The song may still be as good a song but after seeing the branding the message it conveys may be altered in the mind of the watcher.

To this end the brand might make the long less attractive or interesting or it might make the song even MORE interesting. This happens sometimes in movies that incorporate a song into a soundtrack. The song could have a whole new flurry of sales.

Again though- I do not fault a musician for wanting to make a living.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

@Dog Good answer.
I will probably ask later. For now I’ve maxed out my questions. Keep an eye out later today. heh

cwilbur's avatar

As near as I can tell, when someone says that a band has sold out, he’s claiming that they don’t sound like they used to because they stopped doing it for love and started doing it for money.

The thing is, bands change their sound over time as they evolve anyway.

SuperMouse's avatar

A long time ago I heard and interview with Fee Waybill of The Tubes. The interviewer asked him about complaints that the band had sold out with their song She’s a Beauty. His answer made lots of sense to me. He said that if they didn’t make music that sold well enough for the band to make a living, they couldn’t afford to keep making music.

tinyfaery's avatar

Sell outs: Liz Phair, Sugar Ray, No Doubt

They purposely changed their sound to sell more records. And they did not always suceed.

alive's avatar

when they start wearing make-up.

Dog's avatar

@alive All performing bands wear makeup to counteract the lighting.

If changing ones sound to improve sales is so bad why do we not scold athletes who change their training to perform better on the field?

alive's avatar

@Dog no. that is simply not true. bands that are worried about their appearance more than their music wear make-up. (this goes for males and females, though i would say clothing rather than make-up is more of a tell-tale sign for women, cuz most women are already earing make-up on stage…)

Dog's avatar

@alive I am not following how you are using appearance as an indication regarding selling out.

I am going to assume you are referring to band that wear blatant makeup rather than the makeup used to keep a performer under hot lights shine-free and flesh toned.
You also mention costume as an indicator.

Immediately your analogy fails as such classic and legendary bands as the Rolling Stones, Kiss (who built their careers on the mystique of hiding behind makeup and garish costume) David Bowie, and nearly all heavy metal bands carried an image and persona to the stage through costume and appearance.

If you are referring to a musician who wears makeup and costume in public as a sellout I present to you the case of Mr. Jackson who was not a sellout as you might assume but a very insecure person. Had he been a sellout we would be seeing commercials for aftershave to the tune of “Man in the Mirror” and Raid Bug Spray for “Off the Wall.”

As you can tell I am not a fan of vast generalizations. One cannot tell a book by its cover nor a sellout by it’s appearance.

alive's avatar

first of all i am sorry you do not have a sense of humor.

second, all the bands you named are huge bands. how is being a huge band not being a sell out?

have you ever been to a bar? seen a live band that is not FAMOUS? they are not exactly man-in-make-up friendly.

Dog's avatar

@alive When kidding around you need to use a tilde. (~) It signifies sarcasm. If you have hung around here enough you know I do have a very good sense of humor.

I was a musician in a few bands that played bars and parties. Funny thing is that most gigs like that call for cover songs to be almost exclusively played- you know- songs by famous bands.

I think you are under the false assumption that musicians who earn popularity or an income are sell outs. Do you feel the same way about CEO’s of large companies or professional athletes?

How does becoming “FAMOUS” equate to selling out? Why must a musician be poor and unknown to be legitimate?

Response moderated
tiffyandthewall's avatar

when they’re doing it more for the money than for the music. or when they’re purely catering to the fans (i.e. making the same record over and over just because the fans like it, thus pretty much ‘doing it more for the money’).

DeanV's avatar

When they put their songs on the Twilight soundtrack… Which wasn’t actually bad… Damn.

It’s really a matter of opinion. Many people think that bands don’t sell out. And lots just think that any band with a platinum record has sold out.

augustlan's avatar

This all reminds me of this article, in which Dave Eggers talks about being a sell out. Scroll about 3/4 of the way down the page to read his rant about the idea of ‘selling out’. It’s a good read.

I’m pretty sure someone linked to this article on another question, but for the life of me I can’t remember who or what question. Sorry for not giving credit where credit is due!

chelseababyy's avatar

This is what I think. Murs, who is an “underground hiphopper”, if you will.. talked about how mainstream was lame, and how he wanted to be underground because it was better than being famous. He was all about the underground scene, so on an so forth.. Well recently he’s been on MTV a lot and while I can’t blame him, it’s still shitty to see someone like him go all mainstream.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

Korn sold out. look at the style before and at the beginning of their rise to fame, and look at how chunky the lead singer gets. they turned into a weird techno metal for the most part.

Poppa Roach is right up there, so is Green Day if you ask me…

Tink's avatar

@dverhey HAHAHA that album was awesome!!

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