In Their Own Words: Adele, John Lennon, and Tyler, The Creator on Selling Out


Does anybody care about "selling out" anymore? It seems like a thing of the past, probably because we've mostly become immune to it. In hip-hop, they've found some clever ways to form corporate partnerships (sneakers, clothes, alcohol) that seem either natural or at least obvious enough to let us accept them instead of feeling tricked by subliminals (thanks T-Pain). Plenty of artists from all genres have licensed their music for commercial use, and even the former indie darlings who kind of almost got too popular to be cool (just kidding, kind of) let their big single get used in a Taco Bell commercial. And nobody flinched.

Check the Internet, check YouTube, check Pigeons & Planes. There are ads everywhere. I read a statistic once about how many advertisements the average person in New York City sees every day and it blew my mind. I forget the exact number but it must have been in the billions. Of course, everyone still hates a fucking advertisement, but we're so used to it that we don't even notice it anymore. We just deal with it. We all understand how and why advertising exists and as annoying as it is we understand that it's not going anywhere.

As a result, we're coming to terms with the fact that artists are going to do what they have to do to get paid. Licensing songs out for commercials, partnering up with a label mate, suddenly turning pop to sell singles, holding up products in videos, the list goes on, but who cares? It is just one small gear in a very large machine. Yelling "sell out!" and turning on your favorite artist for going pop is unfashionable and frowned upon these days.

But as a concept, "selling out" still exists, and it happens every time an artist compromises artistic integrity in exchange for a check. It's not a black and white issue, and everyone's got their own opinion about when it's okay, when it's not, how much it hurts or helps music, and who's guilty of it. To better understand the artists' take on it, click through to see what musicians like Adele, The Black Keys, John Lennon, and Tyler, The Creator have said about selling out.

Click to start the list

  • Jumi

    They’re all in the Illuminati so it does matter either way.

  • Birdman17

    Rolling Stone released a good Q&A with Jim James yeaterday. He takes some shots at Nirvana and tells it how it is about sellouts in the current industry. Its a good read.

  • Evan Loewe

    The first picture for the introduction reminds me alot of the original cover of The Moon & Antarctica.

  • shoe

    The fact that Tyler is open and not giving a fuck about selling out, actually makes it seem like hes not even selling out, cause his brand is already just like ‘i dont give a fuck anyway’.

  • frank

    what happened to pigeons and planes? the old comment section was much more user friendly and was racking up before the change. shit now im being put off by these ads.. its too much! confusion tell us why???

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