Sell outs! Its a cry that is heard so often about bands. Is it justified? Well, thats up to you. Here though, are some of my thoughts on the matter.
It strikes me that no band sells out. Why? For the simple reason that whenever the argument is brought up, it centers around what THE FAN thinks that BAND is doing. And it usually centers around the fact that the BAND is doing something different to what THE FAN thinks they should be doing / wants them to do / believes they are about. So it always actually revolves around the FAN and not the band.
The fact that a fan even queries "sell out" shows how much it is to do with the fan as opposed to the band.
"They sold out, they're everywhere now". Hmmm, so the fan isn't happy about the band being on radio / tv etc. THE FAN isn't happy. Yet how many times do we as fans encourage others to "take a listen to this new band, they're so cool." it happens all the time We want others to hear a band. So it's hypocritical that when they do, we criticise. We also whinge and complain when radio / tv doesn't play anything. then as soon as they do what we want, we criticise.
"They sold out, cos they forgot the fans". The epitome of the "I'm a fan so the band must revolve around what I want." Recently in the uk, Korn pulled out the Ozzfest the week it took part. the reason was Head's wife was expecting. there was a little outcry from FANS. "They owe US. Why didn't they play for US. WE'RE THEIR FANS. How can they pull out of the gig, what about US US US." You don't own a band. get over it. They did something there for themselves, not the fans. Which was correct. especially given this "family values" thing they are promoting. they don't own the fans. The fans don't own them. You shouldn't like something just because it's by a certain band either. Make up your own opinion. not everything a band puts out is great. After all, if it was, when they come to record and release a new album, why does virtually every band in existence put down their previous album. even the bands sometimes dislike what they do. So the FAN has the right to think so as well. so don't decry people just because they dislike something. Korn are saying they aren't entirely happy with LiP. I'm sure a similar thing will be said when they release the follow-up to FtL. So make up your own mind on something.
"They're playing to a different audience, not the one they're about". Ah, so THE FAN is unhappy with the fact that other people outside those that they designate as being appropriate are now listening to the band. isn't that a bit elitist. No-one can control who listens to what. I'm sure that many "pure" bands of whatever genre would hate that I listen to them, as I don't fit within the tightly defined membership criteria of a genre. I'm sure to many I'm an 80s metal relic, so I have no "right" to listen to the new stuff I do, or the punk, or the hardcore, or whatever else I choose to listen to and whatever gigs I choose to attend. But whatever, it's not their fault that I listen. They can't control me. no-one can control me in terms of what I listen to. And no-one controls me in how I look.
Doesn't it in the end come down to simply that your tastes as a fan are potentially different to those of a band. Maybe at one point in time your tastes were in alignment. but well, hopefully as people we all evolve, change, experience more of what is on offer in life. Some of our thoughts, our ideals, our circumstances change. Well so may a bands. And remember, there's often 4 or 5 people in a band. So you have 4 or 5 people who's ideals, tastes may be changing. They surely have to compromise somewhere to come out with a sound that all are sufficiently happy with. and it just may be that the way their tastes have developed are different to yours as a fan. that's ok, but it's not selling out.
So they make songs which "to your mind, as THE FAN" are more commercial. who dictates that. The music I listened to 10 years ago wasn't considered commercial. It wasn't tame. But, now it may well be, because things change over time. It could be played on the radio now. If radio choose so. wouldn't make that old music commercial. the media dictates that. Not the bands. trends are created. music goes in cycles. It's a business. unfortunately the bands seem to matter little to the labels and the business anymore. they're not given the chance for longevity. So what is commercial? What is it?
An example, I saw Green Day the other week. Punk sell outs right? Don't stick to the ideals of punk right? They sold out a 2000 venue here in the UK. sellouts right? Since when is 2000 people out of 55 million selling out to "the mainstream" whatever it is, it's always going to be the minority. It doesn't matter if the play to 10000 or 100000. All that changes, is for us THE FAN, we loose that intimacy with the band. See, sell out all seems to revolve around what THE FAN wants. And it's the fan that makes the accusation. and it's why I say no band sells out.
But they disobeyed the rules of punk. Well, as punk, and probably most of the "new metal" is still perceived as two fingers to the establishment, amongst other things, what could be more punk than two fingers to the punk police who lay down the rules of what is punk and what isn't. They get people to sing a long. sell outs. So you never sing a long with an album at home? Ok.
At the end of the day, there are many bands that I once listened to that I don't so much anymore. Why? Some would say they are sell outs. Me, well for me it's simply that I don't get off so much on the music they have produced now. Sometimes I don't like the style of song. Sometimes I think they've stagnated and something else is giving me that musical excitement. That's not selling out. It's simply a change in what maybe I think and like, and what the band thinks and likes.
10 years ago I listened to thrash. I can still listen to it now, but I also listen to other stuff. So am I a sell out because i sometimes listen to say the Deftones? Or have my tastes merely changed, and I've accepted listening to other stuff. If so, then why can't bands. And if they do, then there's the chance that they'll listen to different stuff to you, be influenced by different stuff, and come out with songs that sound different. Not selling out.
And at the end of the day, we're not the band. we're not in their mind when they write something. We don't know how they think and what motivates. So although we do it, we're not really in a position to judge them.
If a band produces something you dislike, get over it. Yes, there are numerous bands whose new albums Ive eagerly bought, got home, put on, listened and thought what the fuck, this is shit. The easiest next step is to then say, they sold out. But maybe, just maybe it has something to do with me just not liking the songs theyve written. Maybe I think theyre bad songs. But thats different to selling out as its claimed by people. There are so many bands out there. So many deserving of your attention and support. Don't waste away over one band just because you were once in tune with their way of thinking and now you're not. It's not worth it. And it's not sell out. Just move on. Give your support to someone you think deserves it, instead of your energy to those who dont.