On Selling Out

I won’t go into too much more on this topic since Anna speaks on the more poignant points. Frankly, I never understood the notion of “selling out” when lauded at artists, creatives, or artists. Making money off one’s work isn’t selling out; it’s basic commerce and the basis of the capitalist system.

You make something that people enjoy. You try to monetize it. If your audience is unwilling to pay you for what you make then you have to find other revenue streams like advertisements, product placements, etc. There is this expectation of free content available to the masses, particularly through online channels and sources, but people get that making videos, music, art, etc. isn’t cheap, right?

All those pieces of media that you love took someone to make. It probably required at least a few hours for them to make that particular song, artwork, video. Add to that the cost of supplies and ability to upload and host the content somewhere. Then, add the years of practice and study that it probably took that individual to get to a point in their craft that they were comfortable showing their work to the public.

After all that, are you going to really chastise someone for wanting to eat, pay rent and bills, make money for more ongoing and future projects, or simply make some extra cash for the occasional expense and luxury like a movie or something?

Selling out is not trying to make money off your work. Selling out is compromising your ideals and morals and ethics to make money. If that didn’t happen, the artist just wants to be able to make a living off doing what they love and to have enough to keep doing it.

Really, having the occasional fifteen second blurb or ad at the end of a video or the occasional social media post about something that interests the artist that they think their audience might also enjoy is little price to pay for your “free” content that you enjoy.

3 thoughts on “On Selling Out

  1. In Metal circles, ‘selling out’ often means the band is too creative. For example, Limp Bizkit are sellouts because their music has heavy elements of Hip-Hop.

    People love the purity of art thing, but it’s useless when the product is bad. How many ‘underground’ artists out there have bland production and blander songwriting? In art, the only thing that matters is the finished product. Anything else can be fun to discuss, but it won’t affect the piece’s quality.

    • But that is completely subjective on the audience’s part. What is a “bad” piece of art (in any medium)? It seems, at least to me, that the accusation of “selling out” is used more as a justification for not liking an artist without having an actual reason to.

      • Just because it’s subjective doesn’t mean it’s not worth discussing. ‘Selling out’ is just a meaningless critique that tells you nothing. Linkin Park are sellouts compared to Slayer because, what, the former combines multiple genres? Great!

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