Because I’ve been alive during this particular period in music history, I’ve witnessed a transformation – one that tells us a lot about the direction our society, as a whole, has gone in the last couple of decades.
It used to be that a musician, being “sponsored” by some name brand, or letting a song appear in an advertisement, was completely taboo. Not too long ago (maybe 30 years or so?), your peers (other musicians) would have looked down on you with disgust if your song appeared in a commercial for Nike or Coca Cola.
But gradually, that’s exactly what became “normal”. We now are bombarded with fake art – music that was created to make money, and so “selling out” no longer has any meaning. I’m sure that some of this music was created with selling out as its true purpose.
There is very little “art for art’s sake.” Yes, succesful musicians have always made money – sort of. But nothing like today, which leads me to believe that most future musicians didn’t start taking lessons, in the good old days, with the goal of millions of dollars in mind. Now it really seems that it’s mostly about money.
And… these days it’s about MORE money. We now see musicians’ and other “artists'” work appearing in commercials even though these “artists” are already millionaires. I keep wondering, how much does a company has to pay a big star like __________* to have his song in their commercial? Or to have him appear on a commercial personally? I sure hope it’s a lot. I’d hate to think we’ve “progressed” to the point where a millionaire will commercialize his or her work for practically nothing.
(*note: I’ve decided not to give any sellouts any extra advertising space here. If anybody wants it, they can pay me. Wait… no, they can’t. They can go to hell.)
But maybe it doesn’t bother me so much that some people choose to commercialize their own creations. What really bothers me is when a musician has passed away, or just doesn’t own the rights to his or her own creation, thanks to a crappy deal with some giant, ever-greedy record company, and that creation is turned into an advertizing campaign.
I’ve heard songs by The Beatles, The Doors, and all sorts of other bands and solo artists used in commercials in the last few years. This makes me sick. No matter what you say to me, no matter what arguments you make, I will NEVER, NEVER, EVER believe that John Lennon would be OK with the use of any of his songs to sell something – and certainly not shoes.
Neil Young feels the same way I do. Here’s his great video for his song “This Note’s for You,” that was, for a while, banned from MTV:
Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.