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Wednesday Evening Discussion: Selling Out, Or Buying...

Posted by: Thomas Nassiff (05/25/11)
Here's a discussion topic for you guys: what constitutes selling out? Yesterday on Twitter, a few users and I were having a debate about whether writing music for other artists is a form of selling out. I contend that the frontman of an underground band can write songs for pop stars to make money without being considered a sellout. If he's making money to fund his lifestyle of making records that we love, who can blame him? Why do people get mad when their favorite bands find a way to make money doing what they're good at? Hop to the replies to give your thoughts on the issue. Is there a line? When is it crossed? Are DIY/indie musicians expected to dedicate their entire lives to the poor musician lifestyle? Discuss.
 
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03:25 PM on 05/25/11
#2
Thomas Nassiff
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My opinion expressed as an example: take a member of a prominent band. Let's use Sean Mackin of Yellowcard cause he's a friend. Sean probably does okay with Yellowcard but he isn't filling his swimming pool with Benjamins. If Sean writes a pop song for Katy Perry and it turns into an enormous single and he makes six figures off of it - good for him. I don't think he sold out at all. I think he MADE A LIVING by playing music - his job and calling, after all - and he used that living to keep doing something we all love - playing violin in Yellowcard.

As long as Sean doesn't start writing pop songs for Yellowcard and making the band wear neon clothes, he's not a sell-out.

Bottom line: if the artist doesn't change their own style or fundamentals, he's not selling out. Artists should go off and be in the touring band of a shitty Disney artist. They're making good money doing what they like doing.
03:27 PM on 05/25/11
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fuckyourscenes
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My opinion expressed as an example: take a member of a prominent band. Let's use Sean Mackin of Yellowcard cause he's a friend. Sean probably does okay with Yellowcard but he isn't filling his swimming pool with Benjamins. If Sean writes a pop song for Katy Perry and it turns into an enormous single and he makes six figures off of it - good for him. I don't think he sold out at all. I think he MADE A LIVING by playing music - his job and calling, after all - and he used that living to keep doing something we all love - playing violin in Yellowcard.

As long as Sean doesn't start writing pop songs for Yellowcard and making the band wear neon clothes, he's not a sell-out.

Bottom line: if the artist doesn't change their own style or fundamentals, he's not selling out. Artists should go off and be in the touring band of a shitty Disney artist. They're making good money doing what they like doing.
This. I couldn't agree more. I have one question, though:

What bands/artist would you say have sold out?
03:29 PM on 05/25/11
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Lueda Alia
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The term "sell out" is just hilarious. And childish. People need to stop using it seriously.

Artists should be allowed to do whatever they want with their art. That's pretty much what it comes down to because at the end of the day, it's not the status or the popularity of the art that dictates its quality.
03:30 PM on 05/25/11
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Mr. November
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The term "sell out" is just hilarious. And childish. People need to stop using it seriously.

Artists should be allowed to do whatever they want with their art. That's pretty much what it comes down to because at the end of the day, it's not the status or the popularity of the art that dictates its quality.
This
03:30 PM on 05/25/11
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AShannon04
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The term "sell out" is just hilarious. And childish. People need to stop using it seriously.

Artists should be allowed to do whatever they want with their art. That's pretty much what it comes down to because at the end of the day, it's not the status or the popularity of the art that dictates its quality.
I agree. Not to sound troll-y, but I think this is a stupid discussion to have.
03:31 PM on 05/25/11
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fearthesloths
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personally i think writing for someone else is totally fine, they're still creating the music themselves and it just happens to make them money. having your music written for you though, i think thats lazy and more along the lines of 'selling out'
03:34 PM on 05/25/11
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DevinDomino
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Definitely agree with Thomas' definition. I think the lines of what constitutes a sell-out have been so fluxed for a long time. These people aren't rich so if they're doing what they have to do to make a living on the side of their band, then that's fine as long as it doesn't compromise who they are as a person and what should be their main priority (their band; Ex: Yellowcard)
03:37 PM on 05/25/11
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DevinDomino
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personally i think writing for someone else is totally fine, they're still creating the music themselves and it just happens to make them money. having your music written for you though, i think thats lazy and more along the lines of 'selling out'
Agree with this. Having someone write your songs is lazy as hell. But most pop stars are lazy even when they do write their own shit. Will I Am...by far the worst writer in all of pop music history. He could benefit from paying someone to write something for him.
03:40 PM on 05/25/11
tiredofwaiting
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Everyone's got their own definition of "selling out." For me, it's all about expectations. If people are early to follow a band, they are wary of any changes in style, and resent their newer style becoming popular. See Green Day and a million others.

If a band came out and made it known that they were going to the top of the world, and it didn't matter how they got there, then by definition they couldn't "sell out" since it was their plan all along. It's the bands that are very musically unique, very intimate with their fans, and very humble when they enter the scene that have potential to sell out. I hated when Dashboard, He Is We, and others went away from acoustic...their unique sound. I hated when Fall Out Boy stopped writing songs with built in singalongs giving you the vibe that you were in a small club with them while listening to an album. I hate when bands that belong in small clubs start playing arenas and stadiums and even if I could afford a ticket, it'd be 1/10 of the experience it used to be.

Good topic though, intrigued to see some opinions on here.
03:40 PM on 05/25/11
carcrashofahart
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i used to be a total music snob and called every last movement an artist made selling out if it didn't fit into my idea of what selling out wasn't. what bullshit. it's called marketing, which if an artist is good at it, they'll have longevity in this business. and i'm not talking about just popular artists either.
03:41 PM on 05/25/11
DevinDomino
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But writing for another artist aside, what would constitute a band of selling out just in the confines of their band. I hear people say that a band changing their style to appeal to a wider audience, I don't know if I truly accept that as a sell-out
03:41 PM on 05/25/11
johnnyferris
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I don't think writing a song for another artist is considered to be selling out. The musician is merely expanding what he can do with his/her talent. However, I feel that a completely drastic change in sound or image for that musician's project can be considered selling out. Basically what Thomas said.
03:43 PM on 05/25/11
AsfAstAswegofar
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The goal of any career is to be successful in that career, why should it change when it's in regards to music? Sure, I wholeheartedly believe that any art should be from the heart but as long as your not betraying yourself than whats the problem? That being said I do believe that there are some "few" actual sell-outs(god I hate that term) that do not care about what they're playing, don't do it for the loe of music and just do it for the money. Do I like them? No. Do I respect them for making it in a dying career? Absolutely.
03:45 PM on 05/25/11
Thomas Nassiff
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Okay guys, change the word sellout to whatever your heads like to call it. I'm on the opposite side so I'm not calling anybody by that name.
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