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Selling Out: Industry Success or Compromising Artistic Integrity


Originally aired Dec. 10, 2007.

Tom Fudge: Musicians are artists. But they're also business people. And nobody blames a popular rock musician, let's say, for trying to make a buck. We've all got to do that, right?

But there certainly was a time when music fans looked down on those bands, singers and composers who licensed their songs to sell products. In fact, we called it selling out. Somehow, in our minds, that commercialization of the tune degraded it. But is there any well-known music star who hasn't licensed his or her music to sell products. The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, John Cougar Mellencamp, Bob Segar, The Beatles, U2. The list goes on and on. You see their songs accompanying sales pitches for electronic devices, cruise lines, automobiles, lingerie, you name it.

The reasons why we're seeing more and more of this says something about our consumer society. It also says something about the way the music business has changed. We're going to talk about the concept of selling out, how the music business works, and how commercialism has changed our notions of artistic integrity.


  • Steve Poltz , award-winning singer-songwriter. He has two new albums Travelling and Unravelling coming out in January.
  • Aram Sinnreich , managing partner of Radar Research , a research and consulting firm specializing in media and technology. He's also a professor at NYU's Steinhart School of Culture, Education and Human Development.

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