Indie Labels To Rolling Stone: Stop Making Excuses And Say You’re Sorry Already

Look, Rolling Stone and Camel really stepped in it with that poorly-disguised-as-editorial, totally illegal cartoony cig ad. Worse, though, they refuse to step out. Could be that the editors at RS are too busy taking their one to watch at their why-won’t-this-hook-leave-my-head word, but let us cut through that: Jann, Levy — it is definitely not too late to apologize. Especially when labels are sending out open letters insisting that you do. This from camp Kill Rock Stars:

We, the undersigned independent record labels, wish to share our indignation regarding Rolling Stone’s November 15th pull out editorial, which featured the names of our artists in conjunction with an ad for Camel cigarettes. This editorial cartoon gives every impression of being part and parcel of the advertisement wrapped around it.

The use of an artist’s name to promote a brand or product should be done only with the artist’s explicit consent, something that was neither solicited nor obtained from the labels or bands.

When questioned, Rolling Stone has referred to the “Indie Rock Universe” pull out section as an “editorial”, but it hardly seems accidental that this editorial content is wrapped in a giant ad from R.J. Reynolds announcing their support for independent artists and labels. The idea that this was a coincidence in any way seems dubious at best.

There are two other pull out sections in this same issue of Rolling Stone. Both are wrapped in advertising, but neither of these ads could be construed as part of the editorial content within. Many of the bands named, and the labels that represent them, are very unhappy with the implication that they have any involvement with R.J. Reynolds and Camel cigarettes. We ask that Rolling Stone apologize for blurring the line between editorial and advertisement, and in doing so, implying that the bands named support the product being advertised.

Sincerely, Kill Rock Stars, Touch and Go, Skin Graft, Lovepump United, Lucky Madison, 5RC, Audio Dregs, and Fryk Beat.

Honestly it isn’t that Rolling Stone hasn’t apologized that shocks the conscience as much as its steadfast refusal to acknowledge the insert as advertorial. One would think, at the very least, the mag’s staff would want at least marginally to mitigate the appearance of its editorial input into an indie chart featuring the Plain White T’s a puzzling sense of geography (Spoon’s from the Northwest and the New Pornographers are from Brooklyn, apparently — and yes we know Britt and Carl moved recently, but come on y’all).