It seems that in the current music business and the arts in general it is very hard to make any kind or real money unless one dances with corporate America. With the record business and radio in decline, even though pubic radio is becoming more and more viable for getting artists heard, one of the best ways for young artists to get their music heard is through commercials. Many film directors also get their start in commercials.
In the past, because record companies actually had money to promote artists that were not top tier moneymakers, and because the power of radio, it was seen as selling out if one sold their song to a commercial. Artists like Bruce Springsteen still do not allow their music to appear in commercials. I highly respect him for this, but let’s be honest, he has enough money that he doesn’t need to do that. I also read that Kanye West does not allow his work to be used in commercials. Whatever one things of him that is to be commended at least. But again he is someone that doesn’t need the exposure or the money.
I grew up highly influenced by punk rock. There still seems to me, even though I realize the rules of the game have changed, something disheartening about putting songs in commercials. It seems to have a corrupting influence on art, as once you hear a song in a Cheetos commercial or whatever, it can be hard to disassociate that song with that product. Art should also speak truth to power, not walk hand in hand with it. However, I do know that Hank Williams did commercials, and no one doubts that he was one of the greats. There are also more ethical ways to sell out. Moby allows his songs to be played in commercials, but then he uses a fraction of the money towards causes that he believes in. For instance he will allow his music to be in a car commercial, but then use some of that money for environmental groups. He is using the money of the company in direct opposition to what that company does.
After watching a few really awful commercials at the AMC theater last night, I thought of an even better way to sell out. The one commercial was a bunch of musicians making really bad music with coke bottles or some such nonsense. Part of my brain slowly died during that shit. So I think that artists should only allow their art to be used in commercials if they are given enough money to purchase a high end military vehicle like a tank. Then they should personally drive that tank to the corporation headquarters that gave them the money and blow it up. The artist would get paid and get exposure. Meanwhile the general public would not have to watch any more stupid fucking commercials by that company. What do you think of that?
P.S. The last paragraph is a joke if the NSA happens to be reading along. I swear!