Reporter’s notes: What constitutes a sell-out?

Nicole Aikens

“Hey these guys were good.until they sold out.”

I allowed this statement to roll off my tongue without even thinking about what I was saying. I didn’t think of what I was accusing the band of or even how harsh the label of a “sell out” is. I said it as a joke, but it made me think: What exactly is a “sell out?”

Some will argue that a band gains the all too ambiguous title of “sell out” when it changes its values for monetary gain. Others will say that a band sells out if it becomes too mainstream or changes its music just to become popular.

Here’s what I think: Obviously it’s hard to stick a band with a permanent label like “sell out” without knowing its motives, but what I think it comes down to is how the fans feel. There’s a good chance that if the people who once loved you think you neglected them in the name of money, then you sold out. At that point, the bridges are burned, there’s no going back after turning on the fans.

In my eyes, there is only one thing that will always make a band a sell out: The band changes its principles or sound in order to gain fans. These are the Fall Out Boys, the Green Days and the Good Charlottes of the world.

I’ll admit, I hate it when a band I like is on MTV, but I don’t feel like that is selling out. (And, no one has to worry about that anymore because TRL has been taken off the air. Now it’s time for the imminent downfall of MTV.)

Basically, there are two things that should be considered when claiming a band has sold out. The first is success. Just because the band you like has become popular, doesn’t mean they sold out. Be a true fan and support the band in its success.

Secondly, being on any given music television show or having music in a commercial is also being in the public eye (or ear). Every band wants fans. Let’s be honest, you would probably do the same. This also does not necessarily mean the band sold out.

But sometimes there is the sell out. There is the artist or band who has changed. And separating yourself from them is like breaking up with a bad date.

“You’re just not the same anymore,” you say to your band. But maybe they don’t see what you mean because they’re too busy swimming in money and living in the limelight they’ve gained from their “new sound” and fake fans. Rest assured that the band, your band, is living with the label of “sell out” over its head – and the whole band is well aware.

Contact all reporter Nicole Aikens at [email protected].