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Old 10-15-2007, 04:28 AM   #1
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The Art of Selling Out

This was in Sunday's Washington Post. It was written by Bill Wyman, the former arts editor of National Public Radio, who writes the blog Hitsville
link to the article

It's a fun read.

How to Calculate Musical Sellouts

As Rockers Cash In, The Moby Quotient Helps to Determine The Shilling Effect

A commercial during "The Colbert Report" recently featured a happy family shopping in Circuit City for back-to-school technology for their comely daughter. She's a big fan of the bubblegum punk group Fall Out Boy, and while the band's fabulous song "Thnks fr th Mmrs" plays, she imagines all the exciting Fall Out Boy-related things she could do with many different amazing Circuit City products.

As the happy family leaves the store, Dad hands her a new cellphone and says, smiling, "You can take a study break with Fall Out Boy!"

The kid is tickled pink.

Right after that came a Nissan commercial, which wanted consumers to understand that, if you owned an SUV, you could drive places. To underline the point, the commercial broke into the Ramones, who sang, "Hey! Ho! Let's go!" That's the famous break from the punk rockers' "Blitzkrieg Bop," a heartfelt ode to pogoing to the beat of a Nazi military assault.

Well, at least it wasn't a Volkswagen ad.

It seems as if every commercial these days has a rock band in it. What was once the mark of utter uncoolness, a veritable byword of selling out, has become the norm. More than a decade ago we became inured to the most unlikely parings. Led Zeppelin in a Cadillac ad. The Clash shilling for Jaguar. Bob Dylan warbling for an accounting firm, or Victoria's Secret. An Iggy Pop song about a heroin-soaked demimonde accompanying scenes of blissful vacationers on a Caribbean cruise ship.

There is no longer even a debate, let alone a stigma. "If you did an advert, you were a sellout," notes Billboard Executive Editor Tamara Conniff. "The Rolling Stones broke that when they allowed the use of 'Start Me Up' for the Windows campaign. Though there was an initial backlash, it suddenly made it okay for bands of integrity to do commercials. Now, it's almost as if as an artist you don't have a corporate partner [or] commercial, you've not really arrived."

Indeed, in the late 1990s, the techno artist Moby, as hip as they come, openly boasted of having sold every track of his breakthrough album "Play" to an advertiser, or to a film or TV soundtrack. The album should perhaps have been called "Pay."

So we submit: The battle has been lost. But that doesn't make it right. There are even some who disagree.

"People say making money is making money, but there's a difference," says Bill Brown, a onetime rock critic who now works in the New York publishing world. He examines the implications of this new age in rock commercialism at great length and no little erudition on his Web site, Notbored.org. "If you're in a band, you want to be paid, definitely, but the music is for people to use and enjoy. The problem with branding yourself and selling your songs to commercials is the music is no longer for the listener.

"Instead, the ad is signaling that, 'This company is cool, and we've gotten this band to sell us some of their music.' It's the difference between selling to me, and something else: Pete Townshend sold a song to Hummer!"

Clearly, what we need is an objective formula for determining just how offensive a particular rock-based advertisement is. I am proud to announce that this lack has been righted.

I recently enlisted the aid of Jim Anderson, a senior lecturer in mathematics at England's University of Southampton. An expert on hyperbolic geometry, he embarked on this task with tongue firmly in cheek, and developed a formula that can be used to process the ethical and aesthetic implications of any one instance of the pervasive blurring of the lines between rock and advertising.

The formula kicks out a number that could be used to determine just how much of a sellout is a particular artist.

We are pleased to call this number the Moby Quotient and to assign the Greek letter "mu," to designate it.

The equation is designed to put things in perspective. If Kelly Clarkson sings for Ford, where, in the end, is the harm? Negligible artists singing on subjects that can be of less-than-pressing social import advertising silly products. One does not look to Disney pop culture puppets or artists given an imprimatur by the viewers of a Fox TV show for artistic integrity. Ms. Clarkson can sing for her supper anywhere she wants, and the world sits solidly on its foundations.

However. If you are an artist who traffics in -- or has trafficked in -- your outsider status; if you were a punk or a rebel or a beast whose rude yawp emerged from the underground and you are now hawking your anthems of defiance as ear candy to further the sales of a crummy telecom company, a new line of SUVs or the marvelous things General Electric is doing, well then, sir or madam artiste, expect your Moby Quotient to be somewhat higher.

The formula sits proudly on this very page, along with a few examples of the sorts of Moby Quotients certain artists earn. We have to be realistic: This tide of greed will never slide back out. Indeed, it can only get worse, since new generations of rock fans have grown up with the practice and apparently see nothing wrong with it.

Our one hope is that what greed created, greed may eventually eliminate -- in other words, that younger artists will view Moby's career as a cautionary tale. The jut-jawed vegan still makes a good living touring and doing film soundtracks and the like. But it's also true that commercially and artistically, his recorded work since "Play" has been on a downward spiral. Let the sellouts beware.


To see The Moby Quotient -- complete with examples --
click here

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Old 10-15-2007, 04:48 AM   #2
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Re: The Art of Selling Out

First off, entertaining setup there-I like using Moby as the standard . The math bits kinda make my head hurt (it's after 2:30 in the morning, so my mind's not exactly in equation mode right now), but an ingenious idea nonetheless.

Second, interesting article. I can see where the writer is coming from on some aspects, but there's other stuff I disagree with. Like this:

Quote:
Originally posted by indra
"If you're in a band, you want to be paid, definitely, but the music is for people to use and enjoy. The problem with branding yourself and selling your songs to commercials is the music is no longer for the listener.
Says who? It can still be for the listener, too, it's just that now there's a wider base of people for it to appeal to.

Getting serious for a moment, I see the point of those who get all upset about this, especially if you are extremely anti-corporate (although an argument can be made that LOTS of music listeners who were all "Rebel against the system!" in their youth have turned around and wound up working for the system in their lifetime, so they're really not on any high moral ground here, either).

But at the same time, I dunno, this just isn't an issue that really bothers me all that much. That, and I'm just so sick to death of the term "selling out", 'cause it seems a band can't do anything now without somebody slapping that label on them. If you're signed to a major label you've already gone corporate and sold out in some people's eyes, so why should doing anything beyond that be worthy of criticism? It's just gotten to the point where it bugs the hell out of me.

And as the link itself to the scoring pointed out, sometimes artists have no say in what their songs get used for, so you can't always blame the artists for this. Plus, with newer artists, it's a good way to draw attention to them. Can you really fault them in that case? And could a lot of music listeners honestly say they wouldn't do the same thing if they had the chance?

Just some thoughts on that aspect of it all. We may now return to our tongue-in-cheek attitude, though, which they did a good job with. Thanks for sharing this .

Angela
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Old 10-15-2007, 01:54 PM   #3
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Old 06-17-2009, 08:56 PM   #4
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IS this selling out?

YouTube - This is the new Jaguar
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Old 06-17-2009, 10:14 PM   #5
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Nothing says blue collar populism like a Jaguar ad. I mean, at least $ting looked like the kind of snot who would drive one.

Now I can feel doubly secure in hating Oasis.

Also:

Quote:
Originally Posted by indra View Post
There is no longer even a debate, let alone a stigma. "If you did an advert, you were a sellout," notes Billboard Executive Editor Tamara Conniff. "The Rolling Stones broke that when they allowed the use of 'Start Me Up' for the Windows campaign. Though there was an initial backlash, it suddenly made it okay for bands of integrity to do commercials. Now, it's almost as if as an artist you don't have a corporate partner [or] commercial, you've not really arrived."
Like the Stones ever had any integrity. They were corporate whores as soon as they had the chance to be, not a coincidence when the lead singer went to the London School of Economics.
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Old 06-17-2009, 10:43 PM   #6
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I think the song makes the advert
Looks good as well
They need ALL the promo they can get in USA

Not the first time anyway, they used All Around the World for At&T to make a great advert

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Old 06-17-2009, 10:59 PM   #7
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Interesting article. I can't understand the maths and alegebra 'cause I'm not a maths person.

Just the way I look at it, Moby would never have written all songs on Play with the intention of them being used by companies. The fact that they were all used by companies almost seems admirable. A strong collection of songs that obviously have some resonance with a consumer's ear. Even if Moby isn't the biggest name going around, the songs have power.

Key thing here is that the use of a song in advertisment by a lesser known artist isn't so much a case of selling out as it is a case of mere promotional activity. Indeed, a support act is a marketing activity, in the same way playing a live gig and selling merchandise is marketing. And why not? ...might as well get paid for making music.

Using older songs is great for bands, gives the song a whole new lease of life, and is great for companies to leverage off existing associations between a consumer's knowledge of the song and their product. Win-win.
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Old 06-17-2009, 11:49 PM   #8
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What I don't like is that when I hear songs that I like in the first place and they are used in adverts, I forever associate them with the product or company the song was used with. Every time I see an AT&T ad, I expect to hear "All Around the World" which annoys me because that is not the way I want to hear Oasis. I will do the same with the latest Jaguar commercial. Since I have "The Shock of the Lightening" as my ring tone, I am pretty sure people will hear my phone and will say "Hey that is the Jaguar commercial" never mind the fact I have had the ring tone for quite some time.
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Old 06-18-2009, 12:21 AM   #9
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That damn recent beer commercial has almost entirely ruined The Dodo's 'Fools' for me, so I can relate to MVD's comments.
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Old 06-18-2009, 12:42 AM   #10
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I have to say that I do have a problem with high-profile artists who own their song rights and decide to use them in advertisements for cash. I wind up losing some respect for them, especially if they appear to be anti-establishment or outside of the mainstream.

I think one of the best examples of this type of selling out is Billy Corgan rapping Bullet with Butterfly Wings for some sort of pay-per-view wrestling. That song used to be my favorite Smashing Pumpkins song but now I can't listen to it without thinking of being trapped in a "six-foot steel cage." It's moves like this that damages the artist's relationship with the audience.

YouTube - Lockdown PPV Open w/ Billy Corgan
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Old 06-18-2009, 04:06 AM   #11
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At least Shuttlecock had the decency to use their music to endorse a music-listening apparatus (and downloading site), so when you hear Squirtigo, you're not thinking of product.

A very small difference, but a significant one.
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Old 06-18-2009, 06:25 AM   #12
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Some songs can stand the strain, many cannot. I've heard David Bowie's Heroes in at least one ad for something or other, but more fool them: the song is so strong I just thought, oh nice, that's that ad (for something or other) that has Heroes playing in it.

Other songs, many others, are immediately, irrevocably, ground into aural dust, never to recover. Especially if the song hook relates in some way to the topic of the ad. 'Start Me Up', anyone? Yeah, I still get wet when I think about Windows 95, which I'm using to type this, incidentally.

Selling out means something, guys. I'm just not sure what it is, but I know it when I see it. I think it means, taking everything you ever stood for, putting it in a small pile and setting fire to it, even if you didn't need the warmth anyway. I can see where there may be confusion, as some artists never stood for anything to begin with. That's ok too, they're probably nice people (except for the ones who aren't).
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Old 06-18-2009, 08:57 AM   #13
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The Amstel Light commercial with the Fratelli's Cheslea Dagger is annoying me too. These songs are close to being removed my playlists.


YouTube - Amstel Light - One Dam Good Beer Ad [60 Sec Long VSN]
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Old 06-18-2009, 09:01 AM   #14
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Ash and NASCAR.
YouTube - NASCAR on FOX promo --- Long version
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Old 06-18-2009, 09:47 AM   #15
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Big Grin

Quote:
Originally Posted by lazarus View Post
At least Shuttlecock had the decency to use their music to endorse a music-listening apparatus (and downloading site), so when you hear Squirtigo, you're not thinking of product.

A very small difference, but a significant one.
Plus they took no direct cash (or cocks) for it.
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