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In Praise of Poverty


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I don't think there can be much argument about "what counts as 'selling out' these days" . . . it's the same as it ever was ["In Praise of Selling Out," by Miles Raymer, June 22]. What's novel are the arguments from journalists, bands, and blogs these days justifying it, none of which really make any sense. It's not taboo anymore because more and more indie rock bands license their music to corporations--yeah, but it's still "selling out." Your band feels OK about VWs, and even drives them--that's great, you're still "selling out." People who make music for a living have to support themselves, and the industry is changing--this is sad, and true. But once your band's song is in a McDonald's ad, you've lost some of your artistic integrity, and you're "selling out." It might be old-fashioned to care about such things, and intelligent people have argued that the counterculture and corporate co-optation have always operated in a synergistic way (see Thomas Frank's The Conquest of Cool). But I don't think it's too much to ask of bands that achieve their initial success with a DIY ethic to look for a more creative way to pay the bills, one that doesn't cheapen their music for the fans that brought them success in the first place. It might be harder work, but look at it this way: you get to be a rock star. There's no salary, but the fringe benefits are great.

Jacob Kart

Wicker Park

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