Mike Damante ' Roshan Bhatt" />
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Monday, October 2, 2023

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Sound Check: Worse things than selling out


Mike Damante

There was a time when "selling out" was looked upon as a negative thing. Then I realized that I’m an adult, not a teenager anymore; I have no right to judge the decisions another person makes regarding his or her life. If a band wanted to change labels or tweak its sound, who am I to judge? A band is called a sell out if they cut their hair, change their look, sign to a bigger label, and God forbid you mature as an artist and experiment with your sounds.

OK kids, follow along; major labels are the devil and you should never support your favorite band if they decide to sign with one of them. All kidding aside, while most major labels are sketchy by nature, there are a few good ones where artists have reached financial success without hurting the integrity of their artistic freedom.

Though there are certain cases where behaviors just scream "sell out." if a company (a good, non-corrupt one) wants to sponsor a tour, that is OK, but personally I do not want to hear product placement in my songs (Jay-Z, I’m looking at you). I remember when Nas turned down a large amount of money from Coors Light, because he didn’t want to be associated with a beer company and influence his younger fans. The band Jawbreaker sums it up best in their 1994 song "Indictment".

"I just wrote the dumbest song, it’s going to be a sing along / All our friends will clap and sing / Our enemies will laugh and be pointing/ It won’t bother me, what the thoughtless are thinking."

Roshan Bhatt

When it comes to the music industry, selling out is a touchy subject for some. Indie or hipster elitists have no shame in dropping the words on an Internet message board like Pitchfork or Punknews.org for any band or artist that signs to a major label, hops onto an amphitheater tour or even dares to experiment with new sounds.

Let’s face it though, so many of us get a little irked when our little garage bands start playing 300 capacity venues, and you’re no longer one of 25 who are there for that band that hasn’t caught on, myself included. This was my basic mentality throughout high school.

As I got older, I realized that it isn’t as big of a deal as I once thought. I should be glad that some of my favorite bands’ talents are being recognized, even if it does mean sharing the floor of a show with 14- and 15-year-olds, taking into consideration I was once that 14-year-old.

In my eyes, as long as the band isn’t changing their sound to fit the mainstream mold, having action figures made (My Chemical Romance) or just being a complete tool of the media (Pete Wentz and the nude photos come to mind). I think most bands are just doing what they’ve always dreamed of.

If I was in a band, I would also like to play shows where people actually show up and pay for merchandise so I have food to eat while I drive across the country in a comfortable bus instead of a rundown 12-passenger van, while keeping in mind some of rock and roll and hip-hop’s finest have been signed to majors and have been a part of huge tours.


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