Sony stepped in it this time. NME reports on a Twitter-spat (aka twat) Kapranos is having with his U.S. label Epic, owned by the Sony corporation, who licensed one of Franz Ferdinand’s tracks to the McDonald’s site latenightmcdonalds.com (the site’s been blocked for now) without the band’s consent. (To be clear, the ire is directed at the culprits at Epic; FF’s U.K. label Domino wasn’t involved.) “Dirty bastards. Stupid arrogant motherfucking pig-brained arseholes. I’d rather eat a cow-pat on a bun than a bloody McDonalds,” reads one tweet; “This is an example of how a band falls out with their US label. Did they think we’d approve this shit?” reads another.

True. It’s one thing to license without consent, it’s another for the illicit sellout to be in favor of a product so markedly at odds with a band’s character. For one, Alex is a published foodie, penning the gustatory travel diary Sound Bites. Further, it’s highly likely Epic was aware Alex would reject such an offer out of hand, since he did just that to a similar campaign offered last year for a U.S.-based Mexican fast food chain, invoking the grossness of McDonald’s in the process:

He told Absolute Radio (via contactmusic):

They asked if they could use our song Bite Hard and I think the idea was people were going to be biting into their chili enchilada while the song was in the background. It would be like going to MCDonald’s or something like that. It just didn’t seem right.

Look, whether music labels are themselves complicit in the desolate state of the music business or not, they are in the unenviable position of trying to monetize an increasingly free economy. We get it. Music licensing is one of the few reliable sources of income — we see it all the time. But that implies you’re getting your artist’s consent before lending their work to McDonald’s promotion of their heart-attack snacks. Without it, you’re no better off than the torrent-spying freeloaders you chastise. And from the look of Alex Kapranos’s Twitter, in the artist’s eyes you’re probably even worse. One of The Music Label’s last viable services it can provide a band these days is artist relations. Which usually means “relating to your artists,” not “whoring them out.” But you know, semantics.

Anyway, nobody should cry for McDonald’s through all of this. White Castle, on the other hand, is another matter.

Also, this is the most literal usage of the Where’s The Beef post-category in Stereogum history. Great job everyone.

Comments (43)
  1. Rab McSpaddun  |   Posted on Jan 22nd, 2010 0

    ah diddums! poor little Alex and the Ferdie-nands. I really feel for their artistic integrity – remember this is the same band that sucks the c*ck when it suits them, going on tour with Green Day fer chrissakes… – if you want the big money and play with the big boys don’t be surprised when you’re not in total ‘artistic’ control anymore, and SHUT UP and get on with it. No one forced you to sign with Sony afterall.

    • steve  |   Posted on Jan 22nd, 2010 0

      While your assessment is harsh, I kind of have to agree. This is the way major labels do business; and they’ve been doing it for the last 20+ years. It sucks that the song was used in a way the artists didn’t want, but it just seems like a weird thing to be surprised about. Next time, sign with Matador.

      • Mr.Quick  |   Posted on Jan 28th, 2010 0

        OR he could get all the money and fame of being major label, but bitch loud enough about this sort of thing to make sure it doesn’t happen in the future.
        Lots of major label artists avoid getting their music in really awful ads. They do it by making a stink when it happens. IF you make the label stacks of money you can get respect. No need to throw your riches away too. Especially with major bands jumping ship more often and music selling less.

        I think he is doing it right, but I’m sure your career advice is welcome.

  2. blah  |   Posted on Jan 22nd, 2010 0

    lamest post so far this year….ff chill out.

  3. Lyndsay  |   Posted on Jan 22nd, 2010 0

    Kapranos has all the right to bitch. He livens up my Twitter feed on a daily basis (or whenever he’s drunk tweeting – as that’s the only time he seems to tweet). What else can I say?

  4. I download torrents, eat McDonalds on occasion (sadly), and don’t really listen to Franz Ferdinand. But he has every right to complain about his label sellling his band’s music without his consent. There’s a difference between choosing to go on tour with a mainstream band and having your label overseas sell you out without permission.

  5. uhuhuh  |   Posted on Jan 22nd, 2010 0

    No your girls, McDonalds.

  6. Frankly Ferdinerd  |   Posted on Jan 22nd, 2010 0

    labels are in the business of making money, especially major labels. maybe he should’ve signed to a different one…
    and Franz Ferdinand is sort of the dance-rock equivelant of McDonalds anyway, right?

    • Justin  |   Posted on Jan 25th, 2010 0

      The dance-rock equivalent of McDonalds? Have you listened to FF? Maybe you’re thinking of The Killers, or simply suffer from the tatse deficiency of a deaf monkey. Franz is more richly textured, artistically concerned, and lyrically sophisticated than most indie bands out there, let alone pop bands. Sellouts, huh? Kapranos has turned down more offers than he’s taken…proof alone that the man cares.

      He’s got a right to call out the fat cats. Though being an asshole should be perfectly legal, it was a douche move regardless. Hopefully Epic loses business as a result.

  7. Snow forrest   |   Posted on Jan 22nd, 2010 0

    Their music feels like someone has thrown a cow-pat in my ears.

  8. Candy Slice  |   Posted on Jan 22nd, 2010 0

    I don’t know…where IS Warhol these days…

  9. McCuzin  |   Posted on Jan 22nd, 2010 0

    McDonalds is delicious.

  10. OOIOO  |   Posted on Jan 22nd, 2010 0

    $.99 value menu > FF’s last album

  11. Montell Williams  |   Posted on Jan 22nd, 2010 0

    way to go alex! so sick of sleazy corporations ruining everything

  12. I’ll defend Alex on this one. The bottom line is it’s his song, and it’s a shitty move on the label’s part. Sure, Epic is legally allowed to let McDonalds use the song, but hearing about decisions like this being taken completely out of the hands of the people who should matter the most (that is, the musicians) makes me really uncomfortable. I don’t care what Franz Ferdinand have done with their songs before. Even if they had, for instance, recorded an exclusive jingle for Burger King or whatever, if they don’t want to let McDonalds use their song that should be their decision – not that of some random guy at a desk.

    • I love that you always write a mini essay for every comment you make.I imagine it would get grating if I didn’t agree with you most of the time.

      • Why thank you. (I am supposed to take that as a compliment, right? :-P) I usually don’t mean to leave long comments, but they seem to come out that way more often than not. I think I just take both music and writing a bit too seriously.

  13. anon  |   Posted on Jan 22nd, 2010 0

    I learned about their music from those iPod commercials, soooo…he should just calm the fuck down.
    They’re a “commercial” band, anyway.

  14. Relaxbabybecool  |   Posted on Jan 22nd, 2010 0

    Oh cool! I can’t wait for lunch. I’ll go to MCDs drive thru. Order a Big Mac, large Franz Friez, and blast ‘Take Me Out’ on my cheezy car stereo…extra bass please?

  15. David hates franz  |   Posted on Jan 22nd, 2010 0

    what a tosser – if he feels so upset don’t take the royalities. Sony are of course such an ethical label in the first place. Everyone I know is bored with Franz Ferdinand and there are so may better Scottish bands. I’m off for a chicken MacSandwich

  16. Chris  |   Posted on Jan 22nd, 2010 0

    As much as I try to defend labels (most people don’t realize how necessary they are) Epic definitely went too far. I hope they get this sorted out so we don’t lose access to Franz Ferdinand in the US.

    • Cory  |   Posted on Jan 22nd, 2010 0

      Epic along with many other labels that you defend are failing greatly, and while they had no intention of respecting Franz Ferdinand’s artistic integrity, they almost MUST do stuff like this to sell their albums here. Unfortunately, it’s so difficult to get on the really great American indie labels sometimes, that alot of British, French, Swedish, etc., bands sign with major labels in the hopes of good Marketing & Promotion. Unfortunately, Franz Ferdinand lost about any M & P they got from Epic because of this, and it’s not like they’re making music like Radiohead did with EMI, so I have a feeling, Kapranos will go solo and just sign with like Vice in the U.S. next time(if Vice wants him, cause Franz Ferdinand’s lost alot of appeal from people here).

  17. waaaahhhh!  |   Posted on Jan 22nd, 2010 0

    this shitty band advertises with big business all the time, do they not? are their songs not
    featured in countless commercials? he sounds like a hypocrite. calm down and eat some nuggets, pal.

  18. CT  |   Posted on Jan 22nd, 2010 0

    What song was used?

  19. Meatismurder  |   Posted on Jan 22nd, 2010 0

    A lot of us have a problem with McDonald’s that we don’t have with iPods. I sure do. Nothing hypocritical about it. The point is not licensing, the point is not going on tour with Green Day, the point is not whether you like FF (I’m not in love with em). The point is deciding what you do and don’t want you music selling. He’s completely right, disgusting underhanded move by Sony.

  20. Ah, I can see the headline now: “Franz Ferdinand says ‘Take Me Out’ to Record Label and McDonalds”.

  21. I’m lovin’ it

  22. have it your way!

  23. Rab McSpaddun again...  |   Posted on Jan 22nd, 2010 0

    ah, this has been a good discourse right? you’re right, it’s his song and he should have the final say and all – BUT where’s all the righteous indignation coming from? he’d sell his Mum for a hit single (that’s why they signed to sony after all and didn’t stay on the domino label in the states) this is great free publicity for the band, so I say again, Alex Huntley, SHUT YER FUCKING TRAP and try and make a record that doesn’t sound like an XTC b-side for a change.

  24. Cory  |   Posted on Jan 23rd, 2010 0

    Truly what was franz ferdinand thinking signing with Epic over here? Domino promotes the hell out of their artists, and markets them better than most indie labels do.Franz Ferdinand’s last album didn’t sell as well as their first, but despite being mostly considered one hit wonders, they’re technically two hit wonders, considering they had “Do You Want To” as a minor hit, which got tons of airplay on MTV, Fuse, and Alt-Radio, so why would they leave? Especially, considering the fact that their third album is probably their most accessible, with Domino, it probably would’ve been their best selling, and would’ve broken their title as a one hit(no, two-hit) wonder. This is why I stand by this theory, and always will: If you have moderate independent success, DO NOT, sign with a major label, because you’re success will disappear. Did we not learn anything from 90s cult bands? Despite that a few of those bands who signed with major labels have went on to have much more success and a lengthy career, the majority of them broke up quickly after the record deal, and/or released albums that had alot of “input” from their labels. Kapranos & Co. are fools for signing with Epic, aka Sony, aka the parent of other failing labels such as Def Jam, Columbia, RCA, J Records, Jive, and Arista, most of which are being destroyed by Clive Davis. Ask Kelly Clarkson, a major label and money advances from them, aren’t all what it’s cracked up to be. All the big artists have, or about to go independent anyways, so some advice to the big indies, DO NOT sign to a major label. They’ll entice you with Marketing & promotion, money, big tours, and artistic freedom, but you’d be lucky if you end up seeing two of those, if one.

    • Richard Hellish  |   Posted on Jan 23rd, 2010 0

      Cory speaks a lot of truth there. To be completely clear, Domino had as much to do with this license as the band. The word is they didn’t think they had enough cash to market them to a pop audience (what the hell were label or band thinking they could be a pop phenomena anyways?) and so took the large cash advance from Sony. The band were happy to do this also, as they’ll turn-up to the opening of an envelope if they think it’ll help their career. They’re not a cool band, they’re dressed-up in indie clothes but they’re the type of band who would have gladly signed with a major and played for high stakes like The Killers. This McDonald’s stuff is funny as they’ve done worse in terms of credibility with sponsorship from other parties, but it’s funny how even mugs like them draw the line at McD’s – didn’t they know it’s now ironically cool to back McD? :)

  25. Kind of sucks for them, but this is the kind of things one associates with major labels. I’m pretty sure that, if Epic did this, there’s a clause on their contract somewhere that entitles them to do so without their prior consent.

  26. wtf  |   Posted on Jan 23rd, 2010 0

    In today’s indie culture where it’s okay to sell your music to advertising, why are people offended that Franz would draw the line? Far more “credible” bands have sold their songs to even more mind-numbingly offensive corporate overlords in search of a paycheck. So why is Franz getting hatred for being sell-outs? Anyone remember Dylan’s Victoria Secrets ad? Phoenix being used to shill expensive cars to yuppies?

    Look at it this way, I don’t think he’s offended by the crass commercialism of the situation, as he’s allowed his music to be licensed for things like the PSP, but rather that he has a problem with the product he’s being associated with. I can understand and respect that objection. Were he to attack his label on the grounds of some supposed anti-commercialism stance then yeah, I’d call hypocrite but that doesn’t seem to be the intention.

  27. yum  |   Posted on Jan 24th, 2010 0

    i haven’t eaten macdonalds in years but I’m so fucking hungry after reading about this.. and there’s a macdonalds not 3 blocks away from my house…

    • Bender Bending Rodriguez  |   Posted on Jan 25th, 2010 0

      Damn McDonald’s trolls, googling until they find a thread about them, then planting suggestions that “I’m so hungry, and there’s a McDonald’s!” Well, it won’t work on me! No sirree!

      …Not until my lunch hour, at least

  28. yup  |   Posted on Jan 26th, 2010 0

    d33r, we can rant and rave and debate all we want but your comment is the reality of the situation here. when they signed the contract and it didn’t have licensing veto power in it, they could have expected this. what he could do is take the exact amount that he makes from this licensing deal and put it toward a healthy/organic/local food cause of some kind

  29. Should have gone indie then……you get hungry enough, you eat big macs even if they are hard to swallow.

  30. ben  |   Posted on Jan 27th, 2010 0

    You guys should have called this post “No you mcgriddles”

  31. People, a record label cannot license a song without the publisher’s consent. The publisher works for the song writer. Unless FF sold their publishing or relinquished all rights to control it (for $$$), they had to sign off on the license fee. So, either FF sold off their publishing or signed off on this deal, took a pay check and then bitched about it. Labels are generally passive in the license process – a publisher negotiates a license fee and then the label usually takes an equal fee. So something is amiss here.

    • Exactly. Methinks Mr Kapranos doth protest too much. Sony, and especially McDonald’s, are as lawyered-up as it gets. No way this would happen without Kapranos et Cie’s knowledge. Caught red meat-handed, they have chosen to play the fool rather than the knave.

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