antiMUSIC is pleased to welcome aboard
Trent McMartin who not only has been filing special news reports but now
will give you the "lowdown" on various music related topics!
As always the views expressed
by the writer do not neccessarily reflect the views of antiMUSIC or the
iconoclast entertainment group
The Art of Selling Out: Compromising
A few months ago I wrote an article entitled
The Art of Selling Out examining the growing trend today where musicians
are selling their songs to corporations to be used in advertisements. I
debated the pros and cons of musicians selling their creations as a way
to make money and to gain exposure in todays short-attention-span music
industry. What this new article will examine is the propensity of many
musicians to compromise their musical integrity. When an artist actually
chases fame and fortune putting aside musical quality, original intentions
and moral convictions
In the summer of 1998 the Ben Affleck/Bruce
Willis popcorn flick Armageddon was a huge hit in theatres and everywhere
that summer could be heard the Dianne Warren penned hit I Don't Want To
Miss A Thing. The song was sung by veteran rock act Aerosmith and it would
become the bands first ever number one hit even though they didnt write
it. This of course isnt the first instance of an artist not writing their
own material but it stood out because it took 25 years and someone else
to provide Aerosmith with their first number one song.
The king of rock and roll Elvis Presley
wrote little of his own material hiring countless musicians and songwriters
to provide him with the hit making material that would propel the unstoppable
Elvis machine. Prolific songwriting duo Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller wrote
some of Presleys greatest songs such as Hound Dog, Jailhouse Rock,
and King Creole.
Even if someone writes their own material
or brings in songwriters there is always an inclination to come up with
something catchy, new and relevant that has the possibility of becoming
a hit. You cannot blame an artist wanting to make a living from creating
music and wanting to spread their music to as many people as possible.
Thats every artists goal but sometimes during the pursuit of success,
the music is compromised.
I've been a punk-rocker for a long (expletive)
time and I guess I've struggled with the thought of bands that would want
to compromise the music they create to try to make it, said Liam Harvey
Oswald, vocalist for the Canadian pop/core outfit A Last Goodbye. I always
thought that there are two kinds of musicians...the ones who play the music
for the love of it, and the ones who just want to be famous.
Fans are not stupid and usually they can
pick up on the distinction between artists doing it for the music and others
doing it just for the money. I would say that selling out is left up
to the listener/buyer of the CD, said Jason Manning, Music Director for
Edmontons modern rock radio station Sonic 102.9 FM. Some people get pissed
when an artist sells a lot of one CD. Take for example Moby.
Play sold a TON of records.....his last 2 CDs...well they have not done
so well. Is his music crappier now....well thats for his fans to
decide. I do not think bands automatically suck after they sell a
gazillion CDs, Manning added.
Oswald agrees. We're seeing alot of really
heavy bands, mellow out, and have producers work with them to help give
them the 'hooks' that the radio execs wanna hear, the vocalist said. It's
pretty much left up to you to decide which bands are full of (expletive),
and which bands have any integrity at all.
Can artists be blamed when they dont or
just cannot write the same material they did when they first started out?
Many bands have been accused of going softer and because of that, theyre
branded as sell outs. In 1991, Metallica would release their most popular
record to date, The Black Album, which would go on to sell more than 10
million records bringing heavy metal into the mainstream. Many hardcore
fans cried fowl calling it Metallicas sell out album but others were kinder
and less judgemental. In my opinion their sound didn't change, said 92.
5 JOE FM Assistant Music Director and huge Metallica fan Ryann Bradley
of Edmonton, Canada. Why not go mainstream to make the bank account
fatter and gain a more diverse audience?
Its really hard to say who has sold out
and who has kept intact their artistic vision. A guy like Neil Young could
never be accused of compromising his music. But it also could be said that
Neil Young only has the ability to follow his musical ambitions because
of the success and achievements he garnered early in his career as a solo
artist and a member of Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and
If youre an up and coming band it may
be more tempting to write something more appealing to listeners or to bring
in outside help. The music industry is ruled by suits now, and you have
to play by their rules, said Cort Smith, television producer at Vancouvers
Global television. You absolutely need to sell yourself if you have any
expectations of making a career out of music.
And its this dilemma that tears apart
many artists who feel conflicted between their artistry and the industry.
Kurt Cobain went through this conflict up until his tragic death in 1994
taking the accusations of being a sell out very hard. Having the ability
to write great hooks and catchy melodies should not be criticized but commended.
As one community figure remarked to me recently, art is a state of mind;
and for one person to slag another persons vision or opinion is crap.
And while many artists and people agree
with the concept that selling out is nonsense, others remain hesitant to
follow trends. I don't think I'd ever be happy if I allowed someone to
take complete control over all the things that make a band great, said
Liam Harvey Oswald. I do believe that it is almost impossible to do it
all on your own, and expect any sort of great success, but still believe
that with hard work, and determination, anyone can achieve their goals,
After all, radio & video stations
ain't everything... it's the people behind your music, at the shows, showing
their support, helping to inspire, and allowing you to continue to do what
you love to do.