Artists that are 'sell-Outs'

It doesn’t say very much about the music at all, so it can be very good music, as well? :wink:
There is a lot of folk music from the south eastern parts of Europe that’s very “catchy” and at the same time is extremely hard to play, and if you try to analyze it it’s shock full of vitamins.
No matter how you look at it it’s very good music, so the question is do you like it?

It’s again in the eyes of the beholder.

As for ‘sell-outs’ it’s easier to yell at someone else to starve for you than doing it yourself.
You may also get tired of playing some style of music after 10 years and decide to change.
Too bad you you try to play something a lot of people already really like, you TRAITOR !!! :imp: :mrgreen:

Also there are record companies, concert promoters, cd stores and the general public to add to the equation so if you’re stuck playing music it’s maybe not that easy to do the right thing all the time?

So true. Once upon a time, when I envisioned myself to be the next great auteur of cinema, a professor of mine, who, unlike many academics, had actually worked and enjoyed considerable success in the industry, told me: “Unless you learn to deliver what your employer wants, you’ll never make it, and… you’ll starve.” If one examines the careers of the great innovators: Kubrick… Picasso… Eliot… Wright…one finds that they all got their starts doing relatively conventional stuff that “the man” had paid them to do.

How does one define “selling out?” I thought Steve pretty much nailed it in his OP. To me, it’s someone who has considerable talent, but makes music that is relatively simplistic or “lowest-common-denominator” in order to make money.

I think the biggest sell-outs have mostly been Jazz musicians that have prostituted themselves to do relatively basic pop stuff. For me, ALL Smooth Jazz players are complete sell-outs. In the 50’s, a lot of talented black Jazz players, mostly Be-Bop guys, abandoned Jazz in order to play Boogie Woogie on the chittlin circuit, because it was more popular and therefore paid better. Today, everyone remembers Charlie Parker; the names of the sell-outs are all forgotten.

Did ya’ll know that Schon, Lukather, and the Procaro boys were originally trained as Jazz musicians? Did you know that most successful sessions players honed their chops playing and studying Jazz? What was the old myth – that Peter Criss had a Master’s degree in Music?

John Lennon himself once said that the Beatles were the biggest sell-outs ever. He may be right. Before they hit it big, they were basically garage rockers, playing unbearably loud, hard-edged Rock in the Cavern Club. Once they got signed and joined George Martin in the recording studio, well, things changed

Nobody on the outside can judge whether someone is selling out or not. That’s an inner dialog. We can say, “Oh, I wish [he/she] stayed true to [his/her] original style.” We can say that we resonated with a bands younger, or original sound more than we like their new one. We can say a lot of things… but the fact is, a person’s journey is between themselves and their spirit. The journey is so individual. So, what is a sellout really? A sellout is when you do something that goes against your grain to gain someone else’s approval, or to gain materially while you hurt in spirit.

If you are not a pop star, yet “suddenly” you write a hit that uplifts others, and with in a year you are playing large venues and selling songs and albums, and others are inspired, and you are enjoying your ability to uplift and inspire, you are not selling out.

If you are not a pop star, and you are given this opportunity, and you really want to take it, but your friends accuse you of selling out, and in spite of the fact that you want to do it, and you have the talent, you listen to them, and you DON’T take the opportunity, for fear of disapproval and being called a sellout, you have actually sold out, but in a different way than is commonly understood.

If you are a poet/singer songwriter, and that is what you want to do, and your wife and father-in-law are always coercing you into “at least writing something with a hook,” and you do this because of them, and not because it is something that will prove in your best interests over time—and you are not aligned with it, you are a sellout.

If you are this same singer songwriter, and you get inspiration one day, and finally write a song with a hook, because you wanted to, and you sell it for four figures to an advertising company via Broadjam, and this begins a new phase of your creativity, and your wife and father-in-law celebrate your success, you are not a sellout.

I purposely used these examples, because they illustrate the internal landscape that is not often considered. It is not what it looks like from the outside, but what it feels like on the inside.

Be true to thyself, or thyself will make you feel your sellout acutely.


Excellent points; nice summations of the topic, IMO :sunglasses:

I’d add that even IF an artist feels within himself that he is “selling out,” it’s a bit silly how many of us elevate this into some sort of crime. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do. To ply one’s craft for remuneration is not evil, it’s life, including situations where one is being paid by someone else – LIKE YOUR BOSS – to do it! Further…I don’t pay money to attend a Bangles concert to hear virtuosity and to be “challenged” musically; if I want that, I can go over to the University of Illinois New Music concerts and pay THEM to hear THAT.

At this point, I’m not sure anymore that the term “selling out” even has any legitimacy whatsoever. I do recognize, however, the inner turmoil that a person can feel when they feel they aren’t following their heart’s desire. My dad once told me, when I was a young teenager, that I needed to start doing what I HAD to do, instead of what I wanted to do. I think a worse fate than slightly prostituting one’s music would be not doing music at all. A guy who had been a successful insurance agent, but at age 40 quit and became a composer, told me “You either follow your Muse, or it will become your curse.” :exclamation:

The three great phases of life:

  1. Being able to create something new and inspiring.
  2. Keeping oneself afloat in the world.
  3. Knowing when and how to let go of what does not serve you.

Of course everything ebbs and flows between them.

Technical ability and being impressed … not!
I used to ‘like’ John McLaughlin, especially in his Mahavishnu Orchestra days, though his version of Bill Evan’s Peace Piece was one of my ‘if I could just play that I would be happy’ inspiring pieces of music. When I was younger, Jimmy Hendrix was a guitar ‘hero’ as well.

A few years later, I went to a concert where John McLaughlin, Al de Miola, Paco de lucia and Steve Morse were on together. All ARE virtuosos on guitar for their own styles, but I ended up finding it hard not to fall asleep, because while they exuded technical competence and flair, they were clearly doing stuff to impress, and I wasn’t impressed, but bored! At that point, it really brought home that technical ability per se is not life inspiring for me, so not worth my effort in its own right.

Popular imperative and inspiration
Several years ago, an Australian band did a song called Down Under. It went ballistic worldwide, and has become a rallying point for Australians everywhere, notwithstanding the legal problems with the flute riff much later. However, they followed that with what seemed like a fairly depressing sort of songs. Then I heard an earlier live recording of their big hit, and it seemed to have the same depressed feel about it. Obviously someone else had pushed them where they naturally, if left to their own devices, would not have ventered. I’m glad for that person(s) being there that pushed them out of themselves. Was it a sellout or that someone saw potential for the song to be something much more and made it happen?

Making decisions that open doors
When my current wife and I got together 14 years ago, I didn’t know that she could sing, nor did she know that I could do mixing.
We bought her a guitar so that she could do something with it. I wrote a few simple lyrics to which she wrote some music, and that opened a door to her composing lots of songs.

Eventually, we decided to get a sound card so that we could record her. When I heard the first ever few seconds of a rough test recording, I ‘knew’ that we needed to get her music down and it was enough to inspire me to go through the ‘agony’ of the hundreds of hours it took to get her first CD out.

We hired a couple of musicians to play her songs on the CD to which she sang. We managed to get it into JB HiFi (35 copies in the biggest CD store in Australia), but unfortunately didn’t have the money or the marketing skills to make it any more than a concept proof that we could make a record that someone would want to sell.

Since then we moved to another city and every time the crunch came between earning money at my lucrative IT job to keep us afloat and making something of the music, the music kept getting rated down in importance.

However, for six months at the start of last year, I could not get any work, not even at 2/3 my normal rate. At that time, we decided that music needed to become a major focus of our business. Later found out that that was my double Saturn return, which is a time when circumstances in life force one to make a choice about the direction of one’s life.

Now, over the years, I had bought all sorts of instruments – a flute, bass guitar, Takamine 12-string – but on none of them could I even remotely make music, and let them go. It just did not seem to be within me.

However, soon after the music decision, I saw a Griff Hamlin ‘4 note blues’ YouTube, downloaded it and suddenly it all made musical sense and I could actually play lead guitar. Which was interesting because while my wife had become very proficient on finger-style and rhythm guitar, we were stumped as to how we could get lead type stuff done. Problem solved!

Now, me wife’s folk-country-whatever ‘mongrel’ music (her words for cross genre) is not something I would buy for my personal entertainment, which tends to favour 60s pop, but I can play with it. I have even heard some hints of Peace Piece in my playing at times (not by my design as I wing it by feel).

I got to building a proper studio for audio visual recording over the next eight months and we have just got out our first YouTube and download, 18 months after the decision to up the musical ante. I played Martin OMCPA4 guitar and U-Bass on it, and played bluegrass-style Eastman mandolin on the next one coming up soon.

The question then is: Have I sold out or am I doing what I am supposed to be doing?

While you ponder on that, I’ll take the $64,000 to keep doing it, thanks.

Go on X-factor!

Now that is basically promoting selling out, like xxx Idol, etc. That is, ‘I’ll do whatever you want to get my 15 minutes of fame, even performing stuff you wouldn’t catch me dead doing if I wasn’t here’.

Of course these shows perpetuate the myth that there can only be few winners, when the industry could support a whole lot more people full-time, but just not excessively rich.

When we did our CD in 2004, I worked out that if we sold as few a 200 CDs a week at that time, we would have as much income as I was getting from my full-time lucrative IT work. Now, in Australia, a gold record is 35,000 album sales, which means that at 200/week, it would take over three years to get a gold record.

After Casey Donovan won Australian Idol in 2004, her album sold over 200,000 copies, or hex gold = triple platinum, but her record company considered her a failure because they expected a lot more (despite rushing it out in a week, which showed) and dumped her.

The big labels really only want a few really-successful artists who are very industry-savvy. They want to minimise advertising overheads, and lots of artists means lots of money down the drain. Sponsoring these ‘talent’ shows is supposed to produce guaranteed sales to people who have emotionally invested in their favourite ‘sacrificial lambs’, er … artists. They have not really been interested in artist development for several decades, especially since they have been forced to stop fleecing artists of their royalties.

The only musicians who complain about the Music Business are those who were rejected by it and are now bitter. The exact same people who would sell out in a heart beat if false nose and glasses mogul offered “that contract”.

It’s hard being a “has been”, but really painful being a “never been”

Go on X-Factor. You get 2 minutes of fame being rejected.

Mom gives the best iron love!!

And music royalty auditors.

Fortunately, these days the price of entry into the recording business is a lot cheaper than a couple of decades ago, but publicity still costs! Very few can afford a $50k advertising budget, but it could make a lot of difference.

Otherwise, its YouTube and SEO legwork.

Cream just for Wrapping Paper. Traffic for Paper Sun and all those bands who decided their music was shi… and did everyone else’s on bad clubs for dud money. Dressed as polished turds.