“The saddest thing about selling out is just how cheaply most of us do it for.”
― James Bernard Frost
In some ways that is rather true. A good friend of mine and I were discussing bands and how some of them say they haven’t sold out when they clearly have. Selling out is the main fear of all artists, and yet all of them do it in the end save for those who never made it in the first place.
There hasn’t been an opportunity for me to sell out because I’ve never made money off of writing, although I did get paid for being an editor at my local community college’s newspaper once, so I guess that counts. One of my favorite moments in mocking selling out history is when The Who released a great double LP The Who Sells Out, which had joking commercials included and was the band admitting to a degree that even they had become capitalist slaves, too.
Sure there are people who have never given in, yet those folks were either lucky, incredibly talented or rich. The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, even Bob Dylan and Nirvana arguably all gave in, and Metallica was bashed by their fans for daring to make music videos, not to mention The Black Album, the point where the band reportedly “Sold out.” I love REM but there is simply before and after Losing My Religion, where the band went from being indie darlings to breaking into the mainstream. How does one contrast making art with the need to pay the bills, all without selling one’s soul in the process?
Its a rather difficult balancing act. Yet there is a difference between someone like Quentin Tarentino, who has become a famous success while still making great or good movies, and Brett Ratner, who has no talent and only makes films for money. I think that’s the difference. Maybe.