The LA Times has an article about selling out. I find the article to be written about 5 years too late – the record industry has been imploding since the early part of the 2000s. Ten years ago Moby licensed all of Play. In 2003 Bob Dylan appeared in a Victoria’s Secret commercial. 2004 saw U2 team up with Apple. As for Mariah Carey and rap stars? Well they’ve never really turned away from endorsements.
In a time when CD sales are at all-time low, artists need to make money. The industry doesn’t work the same as it used to. Popular music is the only medium where an artist is accused of selling out. Newspaper reporters have never made their money entirely off of the sales of their papers – it was through advertisements. Has anyone ever accused a newspaper reporter of selling out? And in the words of Don Draper advertising is “is based on one thing, happiness. And you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It’s freedom from fear. It’s a billboard on the side of the road that screams reassurance that whatever you are doing is okay. You are okay.”
Unfortunately there’s never really been a model on how to “sell out gracefully” until the past decade. But does it really matter? I groaned when I saw Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” on a commercial for the Olympics. But it is the artists’ song and they can do what they want with it, despite the fans’ personal attachment to it.