Being a teenager in the mid to late 90’s meant putting up with a ton of asshole teenagers at school ranting about this band or that band “selling out.” I guess that’s still the case, but luckily for me I don’t have to put up with asshole teenagers at school anymore, because I graduated in 1999. Now I’m a fucking adult, and it’s awesome.
But there’s still a mentality that, honestly, probably existed long before I was a teenager as well. It’s this notion that singers can’t accept money from corporations. They must only take money from fans. But there are two sides to this coin, and we sort of glossed right over it in talking about Amanda Palmer and her notions of making do as a performing artist.
Corporate sponsorship is not the enemy. Bullies are the enemy. Bullies can sometimes come in the form of corporate sponsorship, true, where a company pays the artist and then feels that because they are paying the artist, they have the right to turn them into their own little puppet. But that’s not always the case; in fact, I’d wager that’s rarer these days than one would think. In fact, I’ll bet that major record companies have historically been bigger bullies.
I used to have this rant a lot as a teenager, and I’m sure I was never even half as eloquent as Nataly Dawn, who rhapsodizes the freedom she feels as an artist backed by Hyundai Motors. Hyundai, as you may know, is a for-profit corporation that produces something other than music. They have previously used her side band Pomplamoose in their car commercials, and now they are sponsoring her solo tour. So she made a quirky video playing goofily on and with a new Santa Fe which they apparently loaned her for the tour; they didn’t pay her for the video, she just went and did it. Because she has a good business relationship with these guys. Because they are good to her.
Nataly hits the nail on the head in her blog post:
Go give it a read, and while you’re there, watch her video of her cover of a Justin Timberlake song starring her, her guitarist, and a Hyundai Santa Fe.
Selling out means changing what you believe in, or at least changing your behavior in a way that might betray what you believe in, because you are being paid to do so. That’s what selling out is. Being successful is not the same thing. Working with a corporation like Hyundai is not the same thing.