The Contras: You Can’t Sell Out

When Adam Yauch (MCA) of the Beastie Boys died in 2012 it was revealed in his will that none of his songs could ever be used for an advertisement.  (Apparently this is legally dubious.)  This was hailed by his fans as a way to make sure the Beastie Boys never “sell out” their artistic integrity.  But in this current media environment, is it possible not to sell out?  The Rolling Stone’s “Colors” is being used in two separate ads on TV right now – one for some perfume Jennifer Lawrence is promoting and I think the other one is for a car that has Alexa technology in it?  While I do on some level wonder what they need the money for, I don’t hold it against Mick and the gang that they sold their song to Hyundai(?) –obviously not very effective use of the song since I can’t remember but you get the idea.  For a long time Led Zepplin wouldn’t allow their songs to be used in advertising, but over the last fifteen years that has gone by the wayside.  I hear some songs on commercials before I ever hear them on the radio, Pharrell’s Happy and X Ambassador’s Renegade are two recent examples.  Now that streaming has killed the money you make from actually selling albums and the tour money is now the thing (that’s why you could see a concert for $18 in the ’90’s and now it’s $200) selling for commercial reasons is one of the ways to keep being able to be a band and produce music.  I guess what I’m saying is, can you really sell out anymore?  If you promote yourself on Youtube there’s going to be an ad run before we see you, and if the financials of today make it necessary to sell a song for an ad to continue to afford to make music – then aren’t the old concerns about this dead?   My kids are interested in the Beatles, Led Zepplin, The Rolling Stones etc, partially because they were exposed to their music through advertisements, tv shows or movies – isn’t that a good thing for an artist – more people liking your stuff?

Where do you stand?