Kurt Vile

This isn’t the ’90s, and these days no indie bands are getting cards pulled for licensing songs to advertisers. In fact, it’s generally accepted that ad-licensing money is one of the few economic things keeping many indie bands afloat. But when it comes to the much-hated Bank Of America, the rules, it seems, change.

Last week, an extremely mild indie-rock Twitter beef went down when Titus Andronicus frontman Patrick Stickles heard Vile’s “Baby’s Arms” in a B of A commercial. In response, Stickles Tweeted, “Come on, Kurt Vile, yr a million times better than that. #crushcapitalism If it is even true! Can someone confirm? if it is real, then you need to get real, man. I thought you were, like, the best dude in music!”

On his own Twitter, Vile responded: “sorry titus. i did it to be like the carpenters.and to buy my daughter high end diapers. and to pay back my publishing advance. and because i never cared about that sorta thing. whoops,i even have a bank of america account.”

Stickles apologized, Vile’s manager Rennie Jaffe posted a message on Facebook defending Vile’s decision to get money via ad licensing, and the controversy, from where I’m sitting, dissipated. Business Insider has the full postmortem.

I can’t claim to know what economic and ethical decisions indie musicians should make. I can, however, say that high-end diapers are mostly a waste of money; the Target joints work just as well.

Comments (21)
  1. tell em kurt. artists do need to find a new outlet for income though. i love titus, but my general rule of life is not to get uptight about what others are doing.

    • You have to have a limit, though. If licensing your song out for a product you have no quarrels with is going to keep your band running, I would call it a necessary evil. But to license your songs to whoever asks without taking into account the product, that’s just an irresponsible use of your craft. Evidently your song is entirely disposable in your eyes.

      So I think there’s a difference between hearing Of Montreal in a harmless, kitschy steakhouse commercial and hearing a Kurt Vile song in a commercial for a bank partially responsible for a world-wide economic collapse.

      • Why is this getting so many downvotes? Disappointed. The world isn’t black and white!

      • I agree with Kip’s comment (and upvoted it).

        But, I think the reason for the “beef” is that Titus comes from that “earn money on the road” frame of mind (i.e., the 80s/90s underground, Big Black, Fugazi, Minutemen frame of mind) whereas Vile just wants to make as much money for himself and family as possible (which I’m okay with).

        I’m in no position to tell people who they should and shouldn’t license their songs to and, hell, one of my favorite bands (Flaming Lips) license their songs to whomever they please, but I do feel that the decision of the Licensee (Kurt Vile) to license a song should be weighed against the product the Licensor (BofA) is pushing.

        An aside: This fight should’ve been called a “turkey” rather than a “beef”

  2. The minute you’ve sold any art you’ve produced for one red cent you have “sold out”. The amount of money and who is giving you the money is irrelevant in *nearly all cases. So lets all just chill, man, and let Kurt put food on his family.

    * the nearly is just protection against trolls finding examples like the Nazi party or asbestos manufacturers.

  3. Fuck me, you’ve got to hand it to Rappers, at least they know how to beef. By now there would have been diss tracks, shit talk about fucking each others bitches, and maybe a drive-by. What does Indie rock give us; a reasonable answer and an apology. I’m not saying anyone has to get shot, but COME ON !

  4. Wow. This was a very real debate for me….when I was 14

  5. It should also be noted that Stickles tweeted all this from a hospital bed after being electrocuted, so he was lit up more so than usual while venting his frustration.

  6. my head spins thinking of how many products of capitalism Titus used to look down on K. Vile.

  7. actually, it’s amazing, the difference between different diaper brands….

  8. This was such a huuuge controversy, y’all. I can’t believe it didn’t make the front page of the Who Gives a Shit Daily.

  9. I think a lot of people are just upset because “Baby’s Arm” would have been so much better suited for a commercial for one of those penis enlargement supplements.

  10. Omgz then what happened?

  11. mang! Vile’s such a puppet to the man

  12. The one that actually hurts my tender heart is the Victoria’s Secret ad with Midnight City in it. I’m fine with licensing songs, but now I can’t stop thinking about dead sexy half-naked girls with angel wings when I play that song.

    Wait, is that a bad thing?

    • dreaming of dead chicks naked is totally normal, as long as you don’t dream that you’re the one that killed them.
      …and as long as you’re choking yourself while tugging your slab.

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