Sellout: Everyone’s doing it, literally

Keith Cousins

Since I have several friends who attended the Coachella Music Festival this past weekend, I have started thinking about the state of music today. More specifically, the trend among music listeners to abandon the artists they previously liked due to their commercial success or mainstream fame.

Statements such as, “Oh, I liked them before they were on MTV,” or “Yeah, I was really into them until I heard their recent stuff all over the radio,” are common when talking to certain people. More often than not, the phrase “sellouts” will be tossed around as they rant about the band or artist they used to like.

Which brings me to my point: everyone is a sellout. Whether artists want to create records that are commercially viable and make a lot of money, or are content to play in their basement in between rounds of Dungeons and Dragons, these musicians are all buying into a certain philosophy of what music should be like. As artists, they are choosing what portion of the industry to “sell out” to.

Yes, it irks me just as much as the next music lover to hear Iron and Wine playing during an M&M commercial, or The Flaming Lips being used to sell computers, but what is so wrong about capitalizing on the popularity and success of what you have created? Some now-famous painters who died starving on the streets would have loved to have gotten their hands on the ridiculous amounts of money their art sold for after their death.

Why get angry and bitter and stop enjoying a band whose songs you enjoy, simply because they are doing what they love and getting paid well for it? It may be cool to say you knew these bands way before they were big, but that does not mean once they make it you have to stop listening. Remember that you, through buying their album or attending their shows, contributed to their commercial success in the first place.

So, keep finding new and exciting music to listen to, but don’t throw away bands you love simply because of their fame. Instead, keep on enjoying what brought you to like that band in the first place.

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