gumshoe, a “topic for lecture halls or independent art spaces” is precisely what you’re making this debate because you’re ignoring the important practical question of HOW DO MUSICIANS MAKE A LIVING? We can talk forever about what an artist should hypothetically do or not do, but in the meantime real bills need to get paid. Challenging the status quo is great, but the argument isn’t over what the most ideal imagined solution could be, it’s about the best possible solution that actually exists.
If Stereogum’s content was something that readers were willing to pay for, there wouldn’t be banner ads for Nike below this reply box. If Dev’s music was something a large base of listeners was willing to pay for, he probably wouldn’t be making gap commercials. So what’s an alternative to corporate sponsorship? I’m sure if there was a more ideal model, we’d see content creators (‘gum writers and musicians alike) embracing it.
I think there’s a major disconnect between the imagined reality of those who cry “sell out” and the actual reality of being a working indie musician. If you aren’t familiar with it, I’d recommend reading this article:
I don’t think it’s possible for a working musician to view their music as purely “personal” or purely a “commodity”. They have to see it as both, because it’s their living. Unless they’re fine with only pursuing it as a hobby or they have a trust fund, they’ll always have to find creative ways to fund their music. Dev writes for major labels, partners with clothing lines, licenses his music to MTV melodramas, and plays at festivals that are put on and sponsored by huge corporations.
And that’s totally normal in 2014.
20 years ago a band could have lived off of royalty checks and advances from labels, but these days they have to get creative about where their rent comes from. “Personal” music like Cupid Deluxe doesn’t tend to fund itself (I doubt the album has even recouped it’s recording and marketing costs), so a musician like Dev has two realistic career options- start making music that’s mainstream and radio-friendly, or fund your personal vision via methods like this. If you have a third option, please go into artist management, a whole industry of musicians needs your expertise!
Also, if you don’t see the irony of arguing about “selling out” on an indie music site that’s covered in Target banners, fine. I think it’s hilarious.
Look, it sounds like you have strong feelings about corporations and consumer culture. I thanks that’s laudable.
That being said:
1) Dev Hynes is already making most of his money working for evil corporations. He writes songs for major label artists like Britney Spears, Sky Ferreira and Solange Knowles, and you’re splitting hairs if you want to argue about whether record labels or clothing stores are more corrupt. He also partnered with Urban Outfitters for his last music video.
2) Right now Dev is 28. Even if he plays his cards right, he might have already reached his peak as a career musician, which is a job with a short life expectancy. Like professional athletes, there is a very small window of time where Dev is able to make good money from his talents. Worrying about “keeping it real” might appease his fanbase today, but where will they be a year from now? Knowing the indie music life cycle, they’ll probably already have moved from Dev to another hot new artist, and he’ll be left wondering why he was ever concerned about their armchair quarterbacking of his career moves.
3) While it’s great when a band like Fugazi takes a hardline stance against corporatism, that’s an insanely high standard to hold every musician to. In fact, we’re arguing about this on a website that makes it’s money off of banner ads for Gap so even YOU don’t meet the standard you’re holding Dev to. Dev might be making money from Gap, but everytime you go to Stereogum, you’re helping the site do the same.
Your entitled opinions and expectations for another person’s music, career, and life decisions are nauseating.
If it takes a corporate sponsor to help a talented artist turn their side project into a career, I can’t judge the guy for taking it. This isn’t the early 90′s anymore- I think you severely underestimate how difficult it is to make money as a non-top 40 artist. Most of the musicians covered on this site are still living with their parents.
Did you buy his album? Probably not. Let the man get paid. The shelf life of most indie artists is 3-6 months, he’s smart for striking while the iron is hot.
Mostly just sad because Gwen’s videos from the mid-00s were masterpieces and this feels slapped together. :(
yeah because La Roux is really burning up the charts…
Reminds me of the 90′s, when rock bands would make fun of grills and lowriders for cheap laughs/shock value.
Yeah, that’s what I mean about reading a lot into it.
I agree. The response to that video reeked of the indiesphere’s tendency to hoist love on things strictly based on the names attached to the project. Spike + Karen + Elle = reading a whole hell of a lot into a throwaway youtube clip.