What does selling out actually mean? Is it the moment a band gives up their moral conscience and musicality for money? Or is it a band making a wise investment choice in order to pay their rent? Perhaps it’s a mixture of both. Either way, the seemingly endless debate about selling out has come back into the mainstream after The Futureheads created an interactive music video for their song ‘Heartbeat Song’ in order to promote “their passion for staying healthy” or something. The problem comes in the fact that the music video was a joint project with BUPA, the private health organization. Considering that this band rejected the big-name corporate record label route by setting up their own label after their first album, is this collaboration with a large health enterprise, that’s only available to people who can afford it, a form of selling out?
Is this collaboration with a large health enterprise, that’s only available to people who can afford it, a form of selling out?
Not really. To be honest, The Futureheads are novices at selling out. In fact, one could almost categorize their collaboration with BUPA as a shrewd business decision, and let’s be fair; the music video is available to all. If you want proper selling out, you need look no further than Johnny Rotten.
If you want proper selling out, you need look no further than Johnny Rotten
Johnny Rotten, the punk poster-boy and anarchist supreme who enjoys putting country-life butter on his sandwiches. This hilarious advert from 2008 that borders on the edge of parody shows Johnny Rotten strutting round the English countryside in a tweed jacket and a flat-clap looking, well, dreadfully middle-class. If we were back in 1978 and Sid Vicious was still alive I would imagine this as some sort of subversive ploy from The Sex Pistols to poke two fingers up at the establishment and artists that have “sold their souls for commercial gain.” Yet none of this is true, Johnny Rotten simply starred in the country-life advert because he had to fund his new PiL album.
It’s not something extreme like doing a music video with ISIS
And what exactly is wrong with that? Selling out is a subjective phrase; usually it’s only brought into the equation when an artist does something that displeases the one fan that never wants their favorite band to make any money. Of course there’s a difference between a band being successful because of their art and a band being successful because they are the record label’s bitch, but who can blame a band for wanting to make a living from doing something that they love? The Futureheads have survived over ten years without a label because they know how to sell themselves and manage their own PR. Johnny Rotten managed to fund his critically acclaimed album This is PiL because of his country-life advert. So long as it provides a way for a band to fund bigger and better musical projects, and it’s not something extreme like doing a music video with ISIS, then it shouldn’t matter.