Over on Hitsville, Bill Wyman explores the concept of selling out, and seems frustrated that people no longer seem to differentiate between pop music and rock and roll:
The extent you care about this in directly related to whether, as a matter of first principles, you believe that rock and roll holds a special place in the pop-cultural firmament or that it doesn’t.
If you don’t, in a way you’ve excluded yourself in the discussion, because you don’t have anything at stake in it.
That said, you might consider whether there’s any line you will draw. Should Saul Bellow have done commercials? Should he have stuck in some paid product placement in his novels? (“Saul: Manischewitz wants in; can you have someone making matzoh?”) […]
In other words, you either believe in art as an activity separate from the crassly commercial or you don’t.
Worth a read. And personally, I’m still as conflicted about the issue as I’ve been every time it’s come up since we launched this site in 2001. Wyman defines selling out as “when artists embrace rock’s attitudinal posturings early in their career, and then turn around and sell the songs they made their reputation with to some TV ad.” That seems as good a definition as any, but it might exclude pretty much all post-70s music. Can you think of any current indie rockers who even come close to embracing “rock’s attitudinal posturings”?