Musician's Corner: Sell Your Soul To Rock-n-Roll?
By Tom Leu, MusicDish.com
What's your position on musicians or any celebrity
endorsing and selling consumer products and services? To some, this
practice is taboo, akin to selling your soul. To others, this is
sometimes a survival and often lucrative proposition. This topic
has been, and surely will continue to be debated by purists and
capitalists as long as commerce exists.
The argument is that musicians are watering down the
value of their artistic integrity by getting paid to hawk Doritos
or McDonalds for example. Does their credibility as songwriters
and players suddenly diminish because they're doing a commercial
for AT&T? Or are they simply padding their pocketbooks and gaining
additional exposure while affording themselves the opportunity to
continue to make the very music that people love?
Does it make a difference if an act is very well established or just
getting started when considering sponsors and endorsements? Most often,
you have to be an established act or star to even be considered for
endorsements or sponsorships, but not always. Even at the local or
regional level, securing sponsorships for music events and merchandise
is not only possible, but also probable.
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Obviously the logic is that famous artists and celebrities
have huge audiences just waiting to run out and buy whatever they're
selling. Look at Aerosmith, Garth Brooks, Britney Spears, and of
course KISS to name only a few. These acts have had no problem offering
up their star-studded names in exchange for a lot of extra green
backs to afford that extra house in the Bahamas.
I am always skeptical however whether these musicians
or celebrities are really using the products or services they endorse.
Does it really matter? Who cares as long as we think they are using
the stuff. Isn't that the basic premise of politics as well? We
don't really know exactly what our politicians are doing except
what they're telling us they're doing. By and large we want to believe
them, so we usually do, don't we?
Businesses at the local level are also looking for
new opportunities to get their name out there to new audiences.
Enter the local and regional musician. Here lies the opportunity
to secure corporate sponsors for upcoming gigs or promotional campaigns
promoting your new release, merchandise, etc. Sometimes, especially
for new artists with little or no money, obtaining sponsorships
from companies or private investors is the difference between being
broke and breaking through.
So the debate rages on. Some see no harm in making
a little extra scratch putting their name next to Nike, Hanes, Taco
Bell, Mountain Dew, or A1 Plumbing. Others vehemently oppose "selling
out," refusing to be Johnny and the Moondogs being brought to you
The benefits to securing sponsorships are...positive
cash flow, being attached to and associated with respectable and
reputable businesses, increased exposure while marketing to a sponsor's
target market, prestige in some cases depending on sponsor profile,
and newsworthiness. The disadvantages are... accusations of being
a capitalist, conforming to sponsor demands and demographics, maligned
by your contemporaries again for "selling out."
Are there some happy mediums that would allow groups
or individuals to take advantage of the additional "funding" out
there through sponsorships or endorsements without sacrificing all
of their artistic integrity? Is it possible for there to be a gray
area that isn't all or nothing all of the time? My position on this
topic is to possibly find and agree on reasonable middle ground
that could achieve both agendas. Never say never, and never say
The Bottom Line: Whatever your position, musician
and celebrity endorsements of consumer goods always have, and always
will be a reality. The fact is that most "consumers" like the warm
fuzzies they get knowing that Britney Spears is guzzling Pepsi or
Dwight Yoakam is wearing GAP jeans. Personally, I like the Mountain
Dew commercial featuring the cool car rocking out to the Hoobastank
by the MusicDish
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