Musicians who "sell out"

What’s your take on music artists whose songs are used for commercial purposes?

Let’s split this between a)existing songs used to sell products (“Like a Rock”) and b)songs written especially for a commercial by an established artist (all those Barely Man-enuff ditties from the 70’s :slight_smile: )

I say as long as the artist admits he’s doing it for the money, there’s no problem. I hate it when an artist says something like, “I never liked that song much anyway, so I let (insert name of corporation here) use it.” Just admit it, they gave you BIG bucks and/or stuff.

The downside is the fact that Sony owns the publication rights to the Beatles songs and they’ve been popping up left and right. Thankfully, though, they’re not the original versions, but it still sucks.

P.S. No flaming by Barry Manilow fans, please. I actually like some of his music. I’M ONLY JOKING!! Can’t you see the smiley face?

Just a side note on musician sell-outs.

No musician has managed to yet reach the sell-out level reached by Huey Lewis and the News when they dropped trousers, bent over, spred cheeks, and recorded “It’s hip to be square” for Nancy Reagans “Just Say No” anti-drug propaganda campaign in 1986.

From “I want a new drug” to “It’s hip to be square” in three short years. Huey, you must have thrown out a vertibrae bending over so fast.

Just somthing for us eighties kids.


I used to love critisizing musicians who sold out, however you define it. Then I actually thought about it, and you know what? I would.

I don’t really think about artists selling out. did michelangelo sell out? he was commissioned to do the sisteen chapel (sp). Plus people forget, musicians gotta eat too, thier kids need new school clothes.

Besides, anyone can cover a song if they really want. they may have to pay royalties (not publishing, they’re not printing it anywhere) but if your song was gonna be used with or without your permission, you might as well let them use your version and get the big bucks.

We live in an age that reads to much to be wise, and thinks too much to be beautiful–Oscar Wilde

I think “I Want a New Drug” was an antidrug song of sorts too. I’m not a big News fan though, so go ahead and trash them.

When I become a celebrity, I probably will lend my name and works to Madison Avenue, but only in aid of products that I genuinely enjoy already. I do have some scruples. I’ll still take the wheelbarrows full of money though.

Well, in one Garbage song (my sis listens to it, don’t even start…) they say “I sold out before you even heard my name…” Makes sense. Any and all bands you know about have sold out, with the possible exception of R.E.M.- their ‘popularity’ grew slowly over years, not all at once due to releasing a song. Do you really believe any band hasn’t? Any band that performs concerts has sold out. Period. (Not that concerts are bad…)

It’s human nature to want to tell everyone about some great new underground band you discovered only to despise that band (and all the new fans) when they actually make it.

The true definition of selling out is probably crossing that thin line which separates the love for your art and the means of creativity with the love for material goods and the end result of wealth or fame.

I think it would take considerably less time to list the musicians and artists who did not sell out or attempt to.

I’m not even sure how much it means anyway, I mean even Faulkner stooped to writing hollywood crap to make bucks, rather than pine away writing honest, unprofitable novels and short stories. If you are still able to summon your creativity and be inspired, you can not truly ever sell out.

Hell is Other People.

What’s interesting is the way people use the term “selling out” when they really mean “I didn’t like my favorite bands latest album.” Or people will refer to a bands earliest albums as being the best, “but that was before they sold out.” (I do this too) No, it usually means they’ve improved as musicians, songwriters, whatever.

It’s a long way to heaven, but only three short steps to hell.

Wasn’t Joan Jett quoted a while back as saying that she hated herself for not selling out, that all of her contemporaries were raking in the bucks, while she went broke by sticking to her principles over songs?

Just more stuff for the 70’s-80’s folks…

The minute an artist takes his vision, puts it on tape and sells it to someone, he is a sell-out by the very definition of the term.

All in all, I say let them make their money anyway they see fit. It the tunes are good, it doesn’t matter if it’s being used to sell shoes. And if they suck, your integrity means shit.

Yer pal,

Sounds more like Tool, from “Hooker With A Penis”.

I personally don’t get the whole selling out thing… to me, the cries of selling out are just jealousy. Some fan likes a certain band, and feels part of a special group that knows about the band. The band makes it big and suddenly everyone likes them and the fan isn’t part of a small group anymore.

As far as selling songs to commercials… well, they’ve got to pay for the drugs somehow. Car companies are willing to pay huge bucks to spoil people’s memories (I’m kinda bitter that two of my favorite songs, Mr Roboto and How Soon is Now? got turned into car jingles in the last year). I don’t know about that “Like A Rock” song though… I never heard it till the commercials. It kinda sucked anyways.
The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

I can’t remember who said it, but some guy said, “If you play jazz, and more than 10 people like you, you’re a sell-out.” (Early morning hilarity for everyone)

I define “selling out” as when a band made really great music at first, but changed their style to appease the masses. The Red Hot Chili Peppers are guilty of this. Their first two albums (self titled and Freaky Styley) were amazing. All of a sudden they began releasing banal tripe and eventually they “progressed” to crappy pop ballads. Just my opinion, folks.

Formerly unknown as “Melanie”

I like what Bobcat Goldthwaite said about the Beatle’s “Revolution” being used in Nike ads:

“Do you think John turned to Paul and said, ‘Paul, I’ve written a really good sneaker advert.’?”

I agree. I would say the number one offender in my book would be Metallica.



I probably should have defined “sell out” a little better. My definition is when an artist goes on and on about integrity and such and then does a 180. Like REM’s stand on doing videos. At first they were against it and the next thing you know they’re on MTV & VH1 accepting awards for the damned things. And was Don Henly REALLY that concerned about Walden back in the 70’s when he was snorting enough coke to kill a hippo?
Slightly off topic, but related, NEWT?

Aw Mel, you’re saying Mothers Milk and Blood Sugar Sex Magic were a step down? You been inhaling too many sax polish fumes.

Now the Go-Go’s – they were a bunch of sell-outs. And Belinda Carlisle, remove your vibrator before you start singing, 'kay?

Back off, man. I’m a scientist.

Jason Newsted once said in an interview something like “Yeah, we’re sell-outs. We sell out every show, every time.”

I fail to see how their quality las lessened over the past eighteen years. Try listening to “Whiplash” followed immediately by “Fixxxer.” Personally, I feel that the latter is superior both musically and lyrically.

Steve Pantol
CRC Radio
“Waah-Waah, Yea-E-yeah” --James Hetfield

And by “las” I mean “has,” of course.

I’ll have to agree with Gary Trudeau on this one. “Selling Out” is a white, middle-class hangup.
Rappers don’t think they’ve made it until they’ve “sold out.”

Steve, try listening to “Battery” right before their cover of “Turn the Page”. The first is fast-paced- “kick-ass” is how I’d describe it- the other lulls me to sleep.

I don’t know if it’s selling out as much as missing Cliff. Soul Asylum’s another story…