The amount of times that I have heard people complaining about how commercial music has become, and how artists are sell-outs, really just irks me. What people fail to realise, is that most of the time, they are the cause of the musician’s need to sell out.
I would love to have seen someone tell Jean Simmons that he was a sell-out. KISS basically put their face and name on every piece of merchandise they could think of when they were performing back in the 80’s. Even condoms had their brand on them for goodness sake! But they are still seen as one of the best rock bands of all time, and definitely not as a band that only craved to make as much money as they could.
As a South African, I believe that it is so important to support the local live acts. Some of the musicians that this country is producing these days still catch me off guard, as there are some acts that sound like imports. That’s how good our music industry has become! One of the bands that many people seem to have labeled as sell-outs are The Parlotones, and for no apparent reason. Yes, they hold one of the largest audiences in the country, but doesn’t that mean that their music speaks to the core values and experiences that we all understand? Yes, they get involved with many different social causes and there are great marketing campaigns built up around them so that people know that the band is involved. They have a social conscience. So what? And yes, they endorse loads of different products, but the music consumer in South Africa has pushed the local artist to this point to ensure that they survive.
Downloading of music has done this to the artist. They can no longer be the radio star whose hit comes onto the airwaves and everyone runs out to buy it, as it can be downloaded faster and costs a lot less cash to do so. So maybe next time before you open your mouth and say that our artists are sell outs, think about what you have done to push them to this extent. In the end, everyone needs to eat.