Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Should we be considered sell outs?

Now personally being a musician I know the feeling of that dream of wanting your passion and love for music to be your career, but does making that transition make someone a sell out? As I was asking myself this question I came across a blogger that was pretty much caught in the same exact cross roads as I was.  Robb Scott Drawings is an artist who enjoyed painting just for the fun of it and tried his best to not make his art become his career BUT after getting a family and many more responsibilities, Robb was in a position where he needed to sell his art. He depicts this dilemma in my following quote from his blog...

"I would not draw famous tourist landmarks, I would not pander to those with money, and I would only create what my heart told me to create. If it was not meant to sell immediately than it would sell in its own time. All great work takes time to discover, right?

As idealic as those thoughts are they were constructed during my life when I had little responsibility. I didn’t have a car, I had no children, no house, no cares. It was easy to pretend I didn’t have to do the little things necessary to get where I wanted.  And where I want to be was creating great art without caring if it sells.

However, I’m married now, I have two cars,  three children, 1 house and hundreds of kilometres worth of cares. I have to care that my art makes money and doesn’t just leave someone with a nice feeling. It feels great to be appreciated as an artist but that alone doesn’t pay the bills. Because of this I’ve been told often by other artists that I’m selling out."  (complete blog can be viewed @ http://www.robbscottdrawings.com/)

Now I am in a similar predicament as Robb for the fact I started playing professorial jobs at the age of 12, a stage in my life where anything more than $5 in my pocket was being rich. There wasn't any need for the money at that age and I myself said if given the opportunity I would play music for the rest of my life for FREE, sad part is now at the age of 21 that $5 I dreamed about being a kid, really can’t even afford to get me a meal. Plus being a student, with social needs as well, having music as my only career I have no choice but to try to make a profit on my music and not only be concerned about the quality of music. Of course I am still very picky as to what gets put out there and what people hear from me but still money became a big part of the equation after a while. Does that make me and Robb sell outs? Aren't we still providing pieces of art that people enjoy? And that are true to our beliefs? Then why are we sell outs, when all we are trying to do is provide ourselves with the basic elements needed to live?

Please readers I would really like to hear your opinions on this. Personally I feel there is nothing wrong with feeding yourself once you stay true to your art and don't give in to the current trends of media that are completely influenced by what society asks for. But I am very anxious to hear what you all have to say about this.


  1. No one should be considered a sell out for any career and path their on. It's just the opinion of people who has been influenced in this world. They compare and contrast with someone they believe to know that's famous, and under estimate people who have true talent but isn't well known out in the world. It's sad how judgmental everyone is but it's what this world has become. Everyone has a right to do what they love and shouldn't be considered a sell out, and they should stay true to themselves and not let the public eye influence them to become something their not. That's my opinion.

  2. I believe the issue of determining whether or not an artist is a sellout is complicated, and as with most other things in life, depends on the outlook you have on the matter itself. That being said, this is my outlook on the matter:

    An artist can never truly be a sellout. Here's why: whether or not the general public dictates the way the product is created, at the end of the day, the product is still a creation that was conceived and emanated from the mind of the artist - sure it may have been influenced by the public - but this does not make the artist a sellout. My point is that it is still the artist who creates the product and as such, he/she cannot be labeled as a sellout. Tailoring your product to fit the needs of the public whom you intend to sell the very product to would not seem to be such a terrible idea.

    Secondly, let us assume that artists can in fact be sellouts. In this case, no one can determine whether an artist is a sellout or not except the artist himself. I'll tell you why: Who is to say that the boundaries of a particular artist's creation should be between x and y? Shouldn't the artist alone be responsible for that decision? For example, it would probably shock and outrage her hip-hop fans if Nicki Minaj were to sing a country song - but what if country music was Nicki's true passion to begin with, will it be fair to say that she is a sellout? It seems to me that we make assumptions about what an artist should create and should not create, and when the artist's creation fails to match our expectations - we call them a sell-out.