Friday, November 24, 2017
Dave Carlock - A Day In The Life
NO SUCH THING AS A 'SELLOUT'
Originally Posted: 03-22-2013 7:26 PM
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On a friend’s Facebook wall the question was posed: what does it mean for a musical artist to “sell out”? “Sell out” has been a term of heavy indignance for as long as I can remember and I’ve always thought it was little more than a jealous spear thrown at successful artists by people who hadn’t made it happen for one reason or another.

The call for commentary inspired a few funny remarks from various people, a few thoughtful ones, and I finally offered up “there is no such thing as a sell out.” This seemed to spark a challenge in someone I’ll call ‘Mr. SuperIndie’ who disagreed, replying: “if there’s no such thing as a sell out there’s no such thing as integrity.” In the Old West, this would be the moment that all the bar customers would quickly settle their tabs and scuffle out the swinging front doors.

Another poster could smell the rank self-holiness in Mr. SuperIndie’s comment and asked him what he did in his spare time, which prompted a quick response listing his accomplishments as a PROFESSIONAL touring musician, family man, and small business owner in addition to volunteering 10 hours a week at a “non-commercial” radio station.

I, for one, am tired of this snooty indie artist judgment. This is the lunacy hipster jokes are made of. No one has the right to judge why another artist makes the decisions they do. Just because someone has a family or doesn't, volunteers or doesn't, or is a professional musician or isn't, doesn't make their own career decisions more or less correct or their experiences more or less valid. One person's “musical integrity” is another person's folly, clearly, as Mr. SuperIndie’s continuing comments quickly outed himself as a stereotype no less cartoony than his own view of Justin Beiber.

Art and money collide and influence each other all the time. Everyone from Mozart to the Beatles created simply because they needed to pay their way at times and if even one person's estimation of the world's greatest unknown artist were to die without an audience because someone like Mr. SuperIndie imposed their concept of “musical integrity” on that artist's prosperity, I'd say what a waste. Artists limit themselves in the end and all they need to hear from the world is "we hear you" or "we see you". Anything else is irrelevant, even praise, but at least praise is encouraging.

Throughout his posts, Mr. SuperIndie crowed that anyone who thought Justin Beiber was as valid as someone like Alex Chilton had no sense of critical discernment. It blows my mind when critic-musicians like Mr. SuperIndie believe that their experience as a musician or even a listener is any more relevant from a point of value than successful artists like Justin Bieber or his fans.

Mr. SuperIndie’s personal concept of "artistic integrity" means nothing when he can't figure out a way to connect with large numbers of people. And if I’m forced to view things through his "who's better or best" nonsense game in regard to the only thing that really matters—connection—the artist who connects with 500 loses miserably to the person who connects with 10 million. Those millions of Bieber fans crying tears of joy and happy emotional release in stadiums of people have a shared communion of love and appreciation for those silly love songs and dance moves while bitter "critics" like Mr. SuperIndie cry about how no one knows what good music is.

What is good music? Good music connects. A supposedly “superficial” connection to millions still trumps a supposedly “deeper” connection to 50 people at a shot in clubs, no matter how much or little either opposite experience is monetized. Why in the world does anyone feel a need to put down another person’s experience loving as certain kind of music?

And in his final act of folly, Mr. SuperIndie’s choice to invoke the name of his hero, Alex Chilton, was the bullet that ended up shooting through his foot and into the saloon floor as he actually proved my point. Alex Chilton’s first hit was in fact, groomed by a nefarious and infernal team of—gasp!—a songwriter, a producer, an A&R rep, & additional session musicians and arrangers, the very same "sellout-crafting-record making process" Mr. SuperIndie disdained. And that success was the only reason Alex Chilton was around later to inspire the indie scene at all.

Could it be that the indie saint Alex Chilton was also their devil incarnate—a 16 year-old teen sensation? Yes, he was put on the map in 1967 with a number one international hit called "The Letter" with his band, The Box Tops. So with a horror similar in scope only to the discovery that Darth Vader was Luke’s father, I informed Mr. SuperIndie that ALEX CHILTON IS JUSTIN BEIBER!

There is no such thing as a sellout in today’s music business. Music either connects or it doesn't. If it does connects, the artist has a chance at a continuing, maybe even prospering career. If it doesn’t, they don’t. And remember this, the best way to connect your music to the masses is working together with teams.

FIND A WAY, MY FRIENDS
Dave Carlock
DAVE CARLOCK -
A DAY IN THE LIFE
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