Sunday, November 29, 2009

CB's ANTI-Endorsement

Here is a list of artists I no longer will support:

- Death Cab for Cutie
- Band of Skulls
- Thom Yorke
- Lykke Li
- The Killers
- Anya Marina
- Muse
- St Vincent
- Bon Iver
- Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
- Sea Wolf
- OK Go
- Grizzly Bear
- Editors
- Alexandre Desplat

What do they have in common?


Now before people want to rag on me, let me be clear: I understand that people have to get a paycheck. However, there are better ways to get it. I don't hate these artists as people - in fact, I've only ever met one of them and she went U2 (or the indie rock/entourage equivalent of that) a while ago. I'm just not gonna write about them anymore. So, enjoy that last Hurricane Bells post. I'm sticking with artists that keep their financial integrity.


Bob Ignizio said...

I don't know, think about it like this. Because these bands are on the 'New Moon' soundtrack, hundreds of thousands (maybe millions?) of people are going to be exposed to new music they might not otherwise have heard. And if someone is going to benefit from this, both in reaching new fans and getting a nice one time paycheck, isn't it better that it be Grizzly Bear than, say, Shakira?

Bridget Callahan said...

I have nothing to say about anybody mentioned in this post except THOM YORKE. Really? THOM YORKE is selling out by being on a soundtrack? THOM YORKE is compromising his financial integrity?

This actually makes me want to buy that soundtrack, cause I had no idea it was so good.

Also, does this apply now to every band on every soundtrack? Or just movies that you don't consider good?

Cookbook said...

@Bob, right, but I think the point is how much integrity do these artists ultimately have to compromise in order to keep that new fan base happy? Particularly when the fan base is flaky and largely passive in terms of discovering "new" things, letting others/Hot Topic dictate to them what they think is cool?

It comes down to simple commoditization of the music -- in the end St. Vincent or Grizzly Bear become no different from Shakira or some flavor-of-the-month pop band, at least to the Twilight crowd. Their music becomes less art and more income source. That's what's wrong with it, at least IMO.

CB said...

Bob - Like Cookbook, I agree that you make a solid introductory point, but I also agree that Cookbook's response is superior.

Look, I'm all for artists making a living from their art. That's why I spend a good chunk of my paycheck (probably more than I can afford, really) on supporting the work of artists I appreciate AND go out of my way to advertise gallery openings and events.

However, I don't give shout-outs to everything. I have to like the work AND respect it.

Respect means different things for different people, and what I appreciate most is folks who do the work they do the way they are inspired to do it. And then if it sells, great. Shit - I hope it sells for A LOT! But I also want them to keep their integrity.

I'm not against musicians crossing over to films, whether by acting or by contributing to a soundtrack. One of the band's that put out an album that I've been really digging this year, Bishop Allen, has had at least two of their members star in and contribute movies to various mumblecore films. And those directors are trying to make money. But I'm also willing to bet, even never having conversed with the dudes from Bishop Allen, that they believe in the art.

You think Thom Yorke or any of these dudes "believes" in Twilight? Of course they don't. It is just a fat paycheck, at least comparatively, for them.

And let's not forget exactly what this film is - possibly the most banal cultural artifact to come out of this decade. These guys didn't contribute their work to something we can celebrate - they contributed it to the mega-budget filmic production of the biggest and latest piece of "literary" garbage to take the nation's shoppers by storm.

At this point, it is no longer art. It is consumption, pure and simple. At this point, to me, Thom Yorke = Shakira. In fact, I'd prefer Shakira, because she's probably not going to pretend otherwise while counting her money.

thatgirl said...

Maybe it's just me and my hopeless 90's fixation, but there were a lot of great bands on that "Singles" soundtrack and it was pretty shameless pander to the Gen-Xers and a pretty terrible movie.

I don't know why that's the first thing I thought of when I saw that list.

Arabella said...

All I can say is, my record label would have died out years ago had it not been for film licensing. Bands you think are doing well and don't need the money, well, surprisingly they DO need it. No one buys music anymore compared to years past, the royalties are hardly anything, and really the only way for a band to survive and keep going is film/TV.

A few of our bands totally did the, "we won't do a commercial for company X or a movie starring celebrity Y" but guess what, those opportunities came and they went for them. They have mortgages, car payments, family to take care of, debt and all the other crap we have. Don't get me started on what major labels don't pay for anymore, so much comes out of your advance for videos, tour support etc., even if you are Death Cab.

When someone asks me, "hey can we use this song in this piece of crap for 13 seconds, we'll give you $8,000" I don't care if it is a piece of crap starring Jessica Biel, the band is stupid not to take it (And I will kick their ass if they don't!). We have stuff in horrible MTV shows constantly, but the bands kind of just think it is funny and kitsch.

I hate the whole Twilight thing, but I'd have no problem taking money from Stephanie Meyer, and exposing a band to a wider audience whether they'll appreciate it or not. Who said something can only be art if only the "cool" people know about it? What's the point of that?

My friend who died recently had a song in The Silence of The Lambs. People still love that song today, bands cover it, people remix it, and teenagers were sending him fan mail because Grand Theft Auto asked if they could use the same song in the game (staff being fans of it from Silence of the Lambs), so these young kids newly discovered it. He wouldn't have experienced any of that had he said, "Oh, well I'm not gonna let my music be in some Jodi Foster movie!" or a violent video game for that matter.

I can't tell you how many soundtracks led me to discovering, or newly appreciating, certain bands. The movie didn't have to be good, in fact, most were shitty aside from the soundtrack.

Bridget Callahan said...

Calling Thom Yorke, the man who gave his album away for free on the internet, a sell-out because a soundtrack used his song is just not right. And I think, given what great music he's given us over the last twenty years, he deserves to be compared to better than Shakira. I hope that every tween who watches that movie buys that soundtrack and gets influenced by that. Just like I was influenced by the Crow soundtrack and the Singles soundtrack, and all the other crap I was listening to when I was tween myself.

Tom said...

Wow, dude. Not listening to a band because they've gone 'mainstream' enough to be on a movie soundtrack is just so.. trendy. Your blog is way too hip for me. Enjoy being your bleeding-edge self.

CB said...

Tom - you are right, it probably is. Please don't read it anymore.

Tom said...

With great pleasure!

CB said...

Arabella - I totally get where you are coming from, but I also get that where you are coming from is a business perspective. And that's fine. And as I've said before - I'm all for artists making a living with their work. But I'm also for doing it with a modicum of dignity. And Twilight does not meet that qualification, at least in my mind. And, fortunately, that's what this blog is all about - my mind.

What I believe in, deeply, is "keeping it real." Call me naive, but I do it in my own personal life. In my line of work, I frequently do media interviews, and I won't do work with tabloids, drive-time radio, or anything owned by Rupert Murdoch. Sometimes that costs me money - not a lot, sure, but maybe a few hundred bucks here and there. I have the same financial pressures anyone else has, but I try to make my decisions in a way where my choice is consistent with my principles.

Obviously, my first principles are different than others. All I care about, when considering someone else's first principles, is whether they come from someone honest and sincere. Clearly, that is the case with your argument. We are just starting from two different perspectives.

CB said...

Tom - you are still reading. Stop already.

Mike Uva said...

CB, I enjoy your blog, but railing against musicians for selling a song to a popular movie soundtrack is the height of indie-ish snobbery, as is your deciding which movies are worthy of such esteemed musical accompaniment.
Huge numbers of people are being exposed to new, relatively obscure music. So reconcile that fact with the banality of the movie. And choose your battles, this isn't Halliburton, it's pop movie trash.

Tom said...

Sorry, CB. My bad. I forgot to uncheck the box that opted out of email notification of follow up comments. Never would have known you replied if it didn't wind up in my inbox. I don't read your blog at all. Blame Bridget Callahan for linking to this post on her FB page. Never would have come across it otherwise. But now that I'm here, I'll just bring the Tool song Hooker With A Penis to your attention. The lyrics apply.

CB said...

Aw geez, Tom. Will you please go away already? This is getting tedious.

Mike - Thanks for saying you enjoy my blog. I can see where one might interpret this decision of mine as some dimension of hipsterism. I don't think that's the case, though. I will admit it is a form of elitism, though I compare it more with the decision made by Jonathan Franzen when he initially declined to participate in Oprah's book club (before market forces led him to change his mind). Course he caught a lot of crap then, too. I get where some people who disagree with me are coming from, and see the merit of their arguments. We are just starting from different first principles. That's all.