Selling out
October 16, 2007 9:14 AM   Subscribe

The Moby Quotient [I]n the late 1990s, the techno artist Moby, as hip as they come, openly boasted of having sold every track of his breakthrough album "Play" to an advertiser, or to a film or TV soundtrack. The album should perhaps have been called "Pay." In homage Bill Wyman of Hitsville has dubbed his formula for determining the offensiveness of a rock-based advertisement. (accompanying article)
posted by caddis (138 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
There's an AskMe thread that should provide lots of material for the calculator. I entered Richard Buckner's "Ariel Ramirez," as heard in a Toureg ad, and got an astounding 243.24.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:22 AM on October 16, 2007


Great calculator.

I have to think that current rise in "WTF?" music choice in adverts has to do, primarily, with a) No one on the creative team being over 30 and having ever bothered to actually read or listen to the lyrics; and b) Old, cynical rockers thinking "OK...you want to give me a pile of cash to make yourselves and your product look clueless? Sign me up!"
posted by Thorzdad at 9:27 AM on October 16, 2007


Why is the artists' wealth in the divisor? The richer you are, the more OK it is to sell out? Seems like it should be the other way around

And why is he using the square root of 'artistic reputation'? Is he saying it's much less important then 'underground and nonconformist origins'? That dosn't seem too unresonable, but still.
posted by delmoi at 9:28 AM on October 16, 2007


It seems like the S (sacredness) for Moby's would be a 1, which would make the total score quite low.
posted by smackfu at 9:29 AM on October 16, 2007


I so very very badly want to give Moby a noogie. But at least he let Triumph make fun of him, so he's okay in my book.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:30 AM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]




smackfu - I dunno, back then Moby was kind of a big deal. Not so much thesedays, though some albulms that have been either awful or watered down rehashes of Play probably have a lot to do with that.
posted by Artw at 9:31 AM on October 16, 2007


I tried to calculate Moby Quotient of the use of "Lust For Life" in those cruise ship ads, but, unfortunately, the "Disconnect Factor" doesn't go to 11.
posted by dersins at 9:31 AM on October 16, 2007 [9 favorites]


I was impressed when Eminem managed to rhyme "Moby" with "blow me".
posted by rhymer at 9:33 AM on October 16, 2007


Don't forgot 'Stomped by Obie'
posted by no_moniker at 9:35 AM on October 16, 2007


Wow, I meant forget...
posted by no_moniker at 9:35 AM on October 16, 2007


My favorite one is always the Christian rock band, Sixpence None the Richer, doing a cover of the La's "There She Goes Again". A Christian band singing a song about heroin in support of an ad for a female contraceptive.

The mind reels.
posted by psmealey at 9:35 AM on October 16, 2007 [10 favorites]


smackfu - I dunno, back then Moby was kind of a big deal.

Right, but I think sacredness is meant to be about taking beloved favorites, like Rolling Stones songs, and selling them as ads. Since Moby's Play was all new songs, I think they would have a low value.
posted by smackfu at 9:36 AM on October 16, 2007


What's with the π?
posted by edd at 9:36 AM on October 16, 2007


What's with the ??

It makes the equation look awesome.
posted by Prospero at 9:42 AM on October 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


IS THAT BILL WYMAN THE CHILD MOLESTING ROLLING STONE BASSIST?
posted by quonsar at 9:42 AM on October 16, 2007


Since Moby's Play was all new songs, I think they would have a low value.

Since Moby's songs suck I think they probably have low value.
posted by tkchrist at 9:46 AM on October 16, 2007


It makes it even more awesome by having a non-standard value.
posted by edd at 9:48 AM on October 16, 2007


Why is the artists' wealth in the divisor? The richer you are, the more OK it is to sell out?

Arguably, the richer you are the less you need the money, and thus the less likely you are to betray your principles when making the decision to license. Of course, if the decision to license is appalling, that might mean the artist in question is either unprincipled or just has really bad taste. But it probably doesn't mean that their integrity is being at that moment crushed beneath the heels of the green-eyed demon of Capitalism.

And why is he using the square root of 'artistic reputation'?

Search me. I think they guy just wanted to make it look as much like the quadratic equation as possible.
posted by cortex at 9:50 AM on October 16, 2007


*David Caruso puts on shades, Won't Get Fooled Again screams out of the bridge, I puke & move on*
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:51 AM on October 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Commercials are better now that artists are selling out. So are TV shows. I'm glad they are gettng paid so I can hear their music.

Music critics, on the hand, have had no positive impact on my life at all.
posted by srboisvert at 9:51 AM on October 16, 2007 [12 favorites]


Old, cynical rockers thinking "OK...you want to give me a pile of cash to make yourselves and your product look clueless? Sign me up!"

A friend of mine is friends with an old, cynical rocker you've heard of. This person has *completely* moved on from his music career -- no recording, no retro tours, etc. He's just no longer into it.

He cleared almost $1 million last year, just on licensing. Every few weeks, his old manager calls him and says, "Just sign right here to make $100K."

So he does. And then he goes fishing.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:52 AM on October 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


Is it just me or is this formula completely subjective? It has no notion of how frequently an artist licenses their songs, which is ironic considering that he named it after Moby because he whored out 100% of an album.

I mean, can we at least start with whoring frequency and mix in the subjective elements later? Also, what about licensing decisions made by a deceased artists estate?

whaddaya mean it's not for realsises...
posted by butterstick at 9:52 AM on October 16, 2007


Right, but I think sacredness is meant to be about taking beloved favorites, like Rolling Stones songs, and selling them as ads. Since Moby's Play was all new songs, I think they would have a low value.

Some hippies probably made out to them on a Goan beach or something, and consider them to be "their" songs.
posted by Artw at 9:52 AM on October 16, 2007


Since I heard Smashmouth's "Can't Get Enough of You" in a commercial for (I think) Pizza Hut the other night on "Heroes," I plugged it into this and got back the astonishing reading of 2.01. Which is probably about right. Can a band that never had any apparent aspirations bigger than providing the soundtrack to a frat party (but actually, in all likelihood, provided the soundtrack to many more junior high ice cream socials) really be accused of selling out? Evidently, the key to getting rich turning your songs into commercial jingles -- without guilt -- is to just suck in the first place. Young musicians take note!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:53 AM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Pete Townshend sold a song to Hummer!

Because Pete Townsend met the new boss and found out he's the same as the old boss.
posted by quonsar at 9:58 AM on October 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


(orange!) Smack songs seem popular. Vodafone (I think) used Another Girl, Another Planet, having previously completely OD'd on The Dandy Warhols. I quite like the subversion inherent in that.

For complete (orange!) disconnect, it's hard to beat Boards of Canada, as completely amateralist and ecogrok as you like, being used to sell very expensive German cars. I'm not even sure it's safe to drive while listening to BoC, given the flashbacks they generate in the susceptible. (orange!) The music means enough to me that I'm not going to let adland wankaholics fuck me about.

Best solution: either give up on the sacred nature of rawk, or don't watch television.

(orange!)
posted by Devonian at 10:01 AM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


The Cure in HP commercials. BAH. BAH! But Morrissey... oh my Morrissey... I can't think about it, I'm gonna cry.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 10:04 AM on October 16, 2007


Anyway, didn't we have punk so we don't have to give a shit about this stuff?
posted by Artw at 10:05 AM on October 16, 2007


"Why is the artists' wealth in the divisor?"
Yeah, I was puzzled by that too. The worst 'selling out' is when bands/actors/businesspeople who are already rich eagerly piss away their reputations for a few quid more. You can't blame someone who's broke for licensing a song or two to pay the bills, but a millionaire getting involved in tacky product endorsements deserves endless sneers of derision.
posted by malevolent at 10:06 AM on October 16, 2007


Is it just me or is this formula completely subjective?

OMGWTFBBQ

IS THAT BILL WYMAN THE CHILD MOLESTING ROLLING STONE BASSIST?

No.
posted by dhartung at 10:07 AM on October 16, 2007


This could just as easily have been called the Crystal Method formula. Is there a show on television that hasn't used one of their songs?
posted by Pastabagel at 10:09 AM on October 16, 2007


But Morrissey... oh my Morrissey... I can't think about it, I'm gonna cry.

Looks like he achieved his goal one way or another...
posted by Eekacat at 10:12 AM on October 16, 2007 [4 favorites]


I was just thinking about this the other day - Regina Spektor's "Music Box" shilling JC Penney - isn't the song about bulimia? Ok, then, JCP, whatever you say. Yes, I absolutely will buy your products and then go home and despair of my small ticky tacky box life and drink soap, sure thing!

That said, I think the concept of "selling out" is kind of silly, especially as reflected here by the "sacredness" factor. Are there some things that ought to be off limits for commercialization? I don't think so. Of course, if the artist is very "oh, my artistic integrity!" and then licenses to M&Ms, that's different.
posted by marginaliana at 10:14 AM on October 16, 2007


This "moby quotient" (whatever) might have been interesting in 1999, when Play came out. But that was over eight years ago. If the Washington Post was running articles about Moby in 1999, they were more likely to be "Wow, isn't Moby the awesomest musician in the universe?" puff pieces. Now, it's sort of like, what's the point?

It is curious that marketers seem increasingly intent on soundtracking everything they sell on the tube with baby-boomer and other so-called "sacred" music, which of course indicates heightened desperation. Unfortunately for the ad firms, I'm not more likely to buy some damn breakfast cereal because I hear some twee obscure Donovan song on the soundtrack.

Pete Townshend and the other members of The Who kind of permanently inoculated themselves against accusations of selling out with the album cover of The Who Sell Out, in my opinion.

And, one more thought: accusing Fall Out Boy of selling out by using "Thanks for the Mmrs" in a cell phone ad is sort of like accusing the Hillside Singers of selling out by using "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" in a Coke ad.
posted by blucevalo at 10:15 AM on October 16, 2007


DAMN YOU, HILLSIDE SINGERS!!!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:18 AM on October 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


I can't be bothered to plug in all the numbers, but my favorite disconnect will always be Volkswagen using Psychic TV's "Roman P", a song about the Manson killings and Roman Polanski's penchant for the underaged.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 10:22 AM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Commercials are better now that artists are selling out.

This is a use of the word "better" of which I was previously unaware.
posted by DU at 10:24 AM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Commercials are better now that artists are selling out. So are TV shows. I'm glad they are gettng paid so I can hear their music.

Music critics, on the hand, have had no positive impact on my life at all.


I used to be a full-time professional music critic, and I endorse this statement. This article helped me realize that I want the artists I love to sell out.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:24 AM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think The Postal Service has sold out more than any other group in the last five years. That said, it's great music, so I don't mind.
posted by Mach3avelli at 10:30 AM on October 16, 2007


''We're putting money back into that fringe of popular culture,'' says Barnes, who has sold advertisers on such odd fellows as the Sea and Cake, Faust

FUCK YOU. You just put dollar signs on two of my favorite bands. FUCK YOU, FUCK YOU, FUCK YOU.
posted by Dr-Baa at 10:32 AM on October 16, 2007


Nobody's done a rating for MIA yet?
posted by jokeefe at 10:36 AM on October 16, 2007


<>

Oh chill out, the bands put a dollar sign on themselves when they accepted the offer to license. Besides, it should have zero bearing on how you feel about the music. Enjoy it for what it is.
posted by Mach3avelli at 10:38 AM on October 16, 2007


<> = Dr-Baa's quote
posted by Mach3avelli at 10:38 AM on October 16, 2007


Oh chill out, the bands put a dollar sign on themselves when they accepted the offer to license. Besides, it should have zero bearing on how you feel about the music. Enjoy it for what it is.

I more or less have to agree. As always (bitter-girl.com!): "Shakespeare got to get paid, son."
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:40 AM on October 16, 2007


Dumb use of mathematical mumbo jumbo.

For anyone who really gets rankled when a song they like ends up in a commercial: Is your attachment to a song or a band really that much more important than the opportunity for artists to make some extra money from their work?
posted by noahpoah at 10:41 AM on October 16, 2007


Point taken. It just blew me away to see that the two bands picked out of all of the thousands of possibilities just so happened to be ones I am particularly fond of. Outrage took hold, so to speak.

I do think you're mistaken about it having zero bearing on feelings for the music. Call me what you will, I tend to side with John Densmore on the subject.
posted by Dr-Baa at 10:44 AM on October 16, 2007


Even shitty made up formulas are selling out!
posted by Artw at 10:45 AM on October 16, 2007


I don't know how it works out mathematically, but KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) commercials playing Lynyrd Skynyrd's Sweet Home Alabama has been bugging me since I first saw it.

Apparently I'm not the only one either.
posted by quin at 10:46 AM on October 16, 2007


This is a use of the word "better" of which I was previously unaware.

Funny you should pretend to be cool while using those ironic air quotes.
posted by srboisvert at 10:54 AM on October 16, 2007


Not too long ago I heard a Feelies song in a Citibank ad and was pleasantly surprised. Maybe someone who had never heard the Feelies until then would be inspired to find out about them. The Clash selling "London Calling" for Jaguar was like something from the Bizarro world. "Lust for Life" in the cruise ship commericals reminds me of the the way Arrested Development used "Afternoon Delight." I hope the ad department responsible for that came to a sudden, horrible realization one day as they reviewed their work. Hearing CCR's "Fortunate Son" sell jeans is a travesty. Hearing Steve Miller's "Rock 'n' Me" sell blue jeans doesn't bother me. I think the Moby Quotient might explain that.
posted by Man-Thing at 11:00 AM on October 16, 2007


I always imagine that somewhere, somehow there are "extended versions" of all these commercials - Families on cruise ships standing about looking a bit awkward as Iggy sings from above about liquor and drugs. Then he hits the "Lust for Life" chorus and the beachball tossing begins again.

The worst is the use of "Fortunate Son" to sell some patriotic Wrangler jeans. In the extended version of that commercial, the jeans models all either get shot or addicted to heroin.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:06 AM on October 16, 2007 [8 favorites]


I do think you're mistaken about it having zero bearing on feelings for the music. Call me what you will, I tend to side with John Densmore on the subject.

Well, what I mean is, at least in the case of smaller bands like Faust and Sea and Cake, they've developed their music with all the heart, passion, and soul that came with it. The original intent was all pure and golden when they produced it.

Now, if they made music with the intent to make jingly one-hit tunes to license, or simply wrote a song for Nestle, then I'd see your point.

But to me, I see it as: band does what it loves. Band is offered opportunity to turn profit and gain exposure to continue doing what they love.
posted by Mach3avelli at 11:07 AM on October 16, 2007


...but KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) commercials playing Lynyrd Skynyrd's Sweet Home Alabama has been bugging me since I first saw it.
I'm not entirely sure that's really SWA in those ads. I thought it was, at first, too. Now, I'm more convinced it's a track designed with just the right hooks to sound similar enough to evoke SWA, without having to pop for the royalties.

In either case, I find those KFC ads shrill and irritating. Especially the vocal tags in the background. Like nails on a chalkboard.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:09 AM on October 16, 2007


You know, I don't think Pink Floyd ever licensed a song for use in an advertisement.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:10 AM on October 16, 2007




Who could have guessed that heroin addicts would end up prostituting their art for money?
posted by smackfu at 11:15 AM on October 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


Also, I must further temper my initial outrage with the fact that the licensor I referenced also deals with putting music in film soundtracks... To me, it seems there is a distinction between music being used to accent a scene in a film and using music to shill a product.

Of course, this distinction is completely wrong when you take into account soundtracks that are merely advertisements for the movie (Spiderman, for example, with that Hoobastank song you couldn't escape).

I'll now depart this topic and go back to being all idealistic and hippy-dippyish.
posted by Dr-Baa at 11:16 AM on October 16, 2007


You know, I still don't know who the fuck Hoobastank is.
posted by cortex at 11:20 AM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


You know, I don't think Pink Floyd ever licensed a song for use in an advertisement.

Unless you count their infamous shilling for Bush/Cheney in 2000:
We don't need no education.
We don't need no self control.
No evolution in the classroom.
Teacher leave those kids at home.
Hey! Teacher! Leave those kids at home!
All in all it's just a... nother Dick on The Mall.
All in all it's just a... nother dick on The Mall.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:22 AM on October 16, 2007



You know, I still don't know who the fuck Hoobastank is.

You aren't missing anything.
posted by Dr-Baa at 11:23 AM on October 16, 2007


Get over it. So art gets co-opted? Big deal. Maybe people want it all to be special because they like to think of themselves as all so special. Well. Guess what? It's special for a gazillion other people, too.

If a song has meaning for you then it being used by some crappy TV show with David Caruso is no different than it being used for the special theme of billion other people. They all bought it too. So what.
posted by tkchrist at 11:28 AM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Dissonance:

"Lust For Life" while happy families frolic in the sun on cruise vacations. Presumably there's a complimentary set up of smack in the cabin when they get back to the boat.

"Happy Jack" while a young boy builds and races a soapbox racer modeled on a gigantic penis enhancement (a.k.a. a Hummer). Until I look up the lyrics and realize it's not a song about masturbation, after all.

I swear I once heard "Here Comes a Regular" on Muzak.
posted by lodurr at 11:32 AM on October 16, 2007


There are too many fields on that calculator.

And the equation is severely in error with regard to the proper role of artist net worth in the equation.
posted by lodurr at 11:33 AM on October 16, 2007


I was shocked when The Fall song 'Blindness' was used in a Mitsubishi commerical. Looks like it moved some product, though
posted by neat-o at 11:34 AM on October 16, 2007


Arguably, the richer you are the less you need the money, and thus the less likely you are to betray your principles when making the decision to license.

Right, in which case the artists wealth should be figured in, not the reciprocal of the artists wealth, as we see here.
posted by delmoi at 11:41 AM on October 16, 2007


Moby did cover a sacred song ("That's How I Escaped My Certain Fate"), so that counts for something.
posted by MarshallPoe at 11:42 AM on October 16, 2007


This is beautiful. First, we download their songs without paying a dime, and now we bitch and moan when someone else is willing to pay them for their work.
It's interesting how much we value integrity in other people.
posted by rocket88 at 11:42 AM on October 16, 2007 [8 favorites]


Oops, I meant "That's When I Reach for My Revolver." But "Certain Fate" is a better song.
posted by MarshallPoe at 11:43 AM on October 16, 2007


The Stones get a 41.32 for allowing "Start Me Up" to be used in a commercial for Windows.

However, it may be necessary to give them special consideration, since this is the only instance I know of where they've allowed one of their songs to be used for a commercial.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:52 AM on October 16, 2007


Bob Dylan tackled this subject recently on his radio show. A listener emailed him asking for his opinion of Sheryl Crow recording Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away" for a hair dye commercial. Dylan defended her action saying…

"…a lot of people get to hear commercials, and if it makes one person curious, about either Buddy or Sheryl, I'm all for it. Not many people ever heard of Nick Drake before he was in a car commercial… … and Jakie, you ever seen a Victorias Secret Ad?"
posted by JBennett at 11:57 AM on October 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


any talk of selling out always reminds me of this link.
posted by PugAchev at 12:01 PM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Commercials are better now that artists are selling out.

Yeah, I see your point. However, I think it is possible for music to be completely ruined by commercial endorsements.

For example, I am physically incapable of taking Van Morrison seriously, since nearly all of his hit songs have been used for some commercial or another.
posted by Afroblanco at 12:02 PM on October 16, 2007


Right, in which case the artists wealth should be figured in, not the reciprocal of the artists wealth, as we see here.

Explicitly not so, by my reasoning: bigger numbers = worse sellout, as the article says:

The higher the result, the greater the degree of selling out.

So if we incorporate the artists wealth, rather than the reciprocal thereof, we're suggesting that being wealthier makes the sellout more profound. Which is obviously not a settled question, but the position I'm taking is the opposite: that a rich, made-man motherfucker isn't selling out so much as has sold out; that the sting is less because the damage is done.

There's no drama when you're already worth millions like there is when you're touring in a broke-down van and struggling to cover rent. No testing of principles; no moment of truth; no agonzing pitting of one essential thing against each other. When you could retire on what you've got already, it's just a line item on a ledger.
posted by cortex at 12:02 PM on October 16, 2007


"...this is the only instance I know of where they've allowed one of their songs to be used for a commercial."

"She's a rainbow" was used to advertise the original multicolored iMacs, so they've shilled for both Apple and MicroSoft.
posted by Mcable at 12:05 PM on October 16, 2007


For example, I am physically incapable of taking Van Morrison seriously, since nearly all of his hit songs have been used for some commercial or another.

I am physically incapable of taking Van Morrison seriously, since I have seen too many dumb, drunk, beefy, red-faced cap-hole frat boys singing along to "Brown-Eyed Girl" in terrible faux-Irish theme bars in New York, Boston, and Portland.

It has nothing to do with his songs being in advertisements, and everything to do with his songs being in jukeboxes.
posted by dersins at 12:07 PM on October 16, 2007


I was sort of shocked to hear Hum's "Stars" in a Cadillac commercial. I mean, it's a great hook, but it's a song about driving your girlfriend insane....on purpose. I boggled at all of the shiny new Cadillac's...

Then I thought, "Hey wait... this was a mid-90's college hit. Those college kids are in their mid to late 30's with careers. Cadillac is trying to lure them with their pseudo hipness."

Then I changed the channel, and went to see if I could find my two hum CD's...
posted by Benway at 12:07 PM on October 16, 2007


I'm still waiting for Negativland or Plunderphonics to be used in commercials. On that day, my head will explode. With pleasure.

Meanwhile, freetekno and breakcore is due to start appearing in commercials... right about now.

Hey, if we time this one right we might be able to slip in a bunch of offensive Apocalypse Now samples and really toothy, crunchy acid synth lines. Just don't step down to the 2-step, eh?
posted by loquacious at 12:13 PM on October 16, 2007


You know, I don't think Pink Floyd ever licensed a song for use in an advertisement.

So, you think you can tell
When hemorrhoids don't swell
Comfort or pain...
posted by maxwelton at 12:22 PM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


[man sprays self with sleek black cannister]

"Careful with that AXE, Eugene..."

[man hops on motorcycle, girls in tow]
posted by cortex at 12:23 PM on October 16, 2007 [4 favorites]


Two words: Coldplay. "Clocks."

An entire industry of corporate video and film is based around that song. It kills me.
posted by fungible at 12:27 PM on October 16, 2007


Play was soooo overexposed at the time that I got sick to death of it. I heard some of it a few days ago and I realise I'm still sick to death of it.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:29 PM on October 16, 2007


After having read MetaFilter for a few years, seeing a link to something I built in the blue pushed me over the hump into getting an account.

On Friday I was finishing this app and thought "Geez, is Style ever going to get me a copy of that formula?" On Saturday I picked up the bulldog and thought "Hey, there's my first app mentioned in print." On Sunday I thought "Now let's see if anyone uses it." On Monday there were about a couple dozen songs in the database and I thought "Yeah, OK, that's pretty good use for a 'Hey, type in this URL from the bottom of the article' app." And today I see it on blogs and I think "Awesome, I was hoping people would have fun arguing about this."


"Lust for Life" was was the very first song to pop into my head when I was filling in some test data... it's just so "ow my brain". A Slate story a couple years ago also singled it out.
posted by Harkins_ at 12:32 PM on October 16, 2007


sell out, moby...sell ALL the way out.
posted by sexyrobot at 12:35 PM on October 16, 2007


Look, I think it's pretty obvious that if Pink Floyd were to sell out, they'd sell "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" for use in some antipsychotic, or "Us and Them" for some schizophrenia medication. Thorazine -> "Comfortably Numb", etc. It's almost too easy.

Half of their catalogue is responsible for putting people on those drugs in the first place.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:36 PM on October 16, 2007


Naw. Shine On You Crazy Diamond would be for De Beers.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:44 PM on October 16, 2007


Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving With a Pict for Tickle My Ass With A Feather Elmo.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:46 PM on October 16, 2007


pushed me over the hump into getting an account

A ha! Hiya, Peter.
posted by cortex at 12:46 PM on October 16, 2007


I'm as anti-corporate as one can be living in a capitalist society but I've always found it odd that we freely throw the word "sell out" so often. It's a romantic notion that our favorite artists should be held up to a higher standard but how is it selling out when you have bills to pay and a family to support? And why are only white artists put under the critical lens while its fine for black artists to rake in the bling bling? Moby's music has always been main steam dance music. By its very nature, it's meant for a wide commercial audience. How is he selling out? Heck, most of my favorite artists never made a dime while they were recording and touring in the 80's. I'm glad they can make a few bucks now and enjoy the fruits of their labor. I also find it distasteful that most people who cry "sell out" are usually being groomed for a life in corporate America instead of fighting the so-called system. So yeah, I'm not going to cry one bit just because the Dead Kennedys are featured in the new Guitar Hero game.
posted by cazoo at 1:14 PM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Thanks to all for these perceptive comments on my "Moby Quotient" article. Am digesting now and will answer any questions I see.

First off, however, I want to acknowledge that the use of "pi" was not, strictly speaking, necessary....

Bill

(not text, but texture)
posted by billwyman at 1:26 PM on October 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


I have no trouble with artists "selling out". More power to them. However, when the dissonance between the song and the product is off the charts - that's when I just... lose it.

Lust For Life being the prime example that seems to jump into everyone's minds.

It's like the people who choose the song never listened to the song... are they (the marketers) too stupid or just cynical about the intellect of their target market? Whichever... it's just painful sometimes.

Moby's "Play", if anything, is an example of the perfect marketing music. It's entirely anonymous with no messages - it's like high quality elevator music. It's just "there" like scenery. I can see exactly why it was possible to license every single track for some marketing purpose.
posted by C.Batt at 1:37 PM on October 16, 2007


The formula fails to take into account the Rule of Cool; for commercials, an otherwise-offensive use of a song can be forgiven if the commercial is just damn cool, and the Moby forumula doesn't take that into account.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:39 PM on October 16, 2007


Feist '1234....' Moby Quotient = 22.22

I notice that two people put in Iggy Pop's 'Lust for Life' but to completely different quotient totals.
One calculated to 64.67 and the other was 111.11.

I guess it all depends on how important you think the artist is.
posted by Rashomon at 1:40 PM on October 16, 2007


Welcome Harkins_ and billwyman. It is always nice when someone being discussed on MetaFilter stops by to say hello.
posted by caddis at 1:46 PM on October 16, 2007


I think a better formula would be:

(Offensiveness of the product in question) (Artist Hypocrisy Factor)

An artist who has no stated intention except to make money has a zero hypocrisy factor, and then can never "sell out," since they had nothing to sell in the first place. However, if you've made your mint railing against the Man, unless you're providing accompaniment to a Save The Children ad, you lose.

For easier comparison, I propose that we force-fit the output of the formula to an absolute 0-100 scale, where 100 points is Rage Against The Machine doing a recruiting ad for Blackwater.

My earlier comment contained an HTML/display error; there was supposed to be a pi in it, but it got eaten.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:09 PM on October 16, 2007


This reminds me of a commercial I must have seen about five years ago for Ralph Lauren clothing. Y'know how Ralph Lauren stuff all has that red-white-and-blue faux patriotism kind of flavor? And how fashion companies like to strike poses relating to that sort of "we are genuine homegrown" kind of attitude?

Some genius had added to this commercial featuring all these happy american men and women wearing happy american clothes the old Creedence song, "Fortunate Son." Coupled with images of broad, sweeping imagery, one heard the first line of the song:

"Some folks are born, made to wave the flag
Ooh, that red, white, and blue..."


...but was PR-concious enough to just loop the riff after that point. They must have known the rest of the words, they were just smart enough to know that the next words:

"...but when the band plays 'hail to the chief,' they point the cannon at you."

were just a little too counter-culture to actually sell any clothes.

That pissed me off no end. I really like Creedence. Of course, I've discovered since why things like that happen to them, and since it's out of their hands, I don't blame them.

But the disconnect seemed so broad in that case as to boggle the mind.
posted by koeselitz at 2:10 PM on October 16, 2007


I notice that two people put in Iggy Pop's 'Lust for Life' but to completely different quotient totals. [...] I guess it all depends on how important you think the artist is.

The first time I heard Badly Drawn Boy's "All Possibilities" in that Target ad, I almost had a fit...and then I realized I'm probably the only person who holds that poppy love song in such high regard.
posted by kittyprecious at 2:16 PM on October 16, 2007


I'm still waiting the infinite recursion of selling out; some modern bank decides to use a cover of "We've only just begun" by The Carpenters. It was a cover for the Carpenters, of a jingle for some now defunct bank in california.
posted by nomisxid at 2:31 PM on October 16, 2007


[man sprays self with sleek black cannister]

"Careful with that AXE, Eugene..."

[man hops on motorcycle, girls in tow]


Aweeeeesome!!!!!!!!!!!!

How bout "One of These Days" for the Ginsu knife?

Mademoiselle Nobs would be a tough one though...
posted by The Deej at 2:31 PM on October 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Am I the only one to notice how wrong their value of pi is? 3.1417? In which alternate dimension?
posted by Plutor at 2:41 PM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's just rounding up, Plutor. Way up.
posted by cortex at 2:42 PM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


How dare the musicians I listen to sell their work for substenance, while I'm whoring myself out at this corporate job? The true, unmitigated gall of it all!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:45 PM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Sustenance or subsistence?
posted by cortex at 2:50 PM on October 16, 2007


Malcompetence on my part, sorry.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:53 PM on October 16, 2007


Eh, it's no account irregardless.
posted by cortex at 2:59 PM on October 16, 2007


"Evidently, the key to getting rich turning your songs into commercial jingles -- without guilt -- is to just suck in the first place."

why not? Barry Manilow *shudder* based his entire career on this premise.

of course most of you kids are too young to remember his ear-bleeding hideousness anyways.
posted by lonefrontranger at 3:13 PM on October 16, 2007


I thought the most incongruous ad was the GE coal energy campaign to the tune of "Sixteen Tons" that was mentioned in the Slate article above. I remember being shocked when it came out.

Add me to the group that believes that wealth should indeed be in the denomintor. It's the big leap from "poor artist" to "company shill" that really indicates selling out. Once that's happened and the musician is already rich, it's just more of the same.
posted by rmless at 3:37 PM on October 16, 2007


I forget which car company used "Bohemian Like You" by the Dandy Warhols. They used the first line ("you've got a great car") but not the second ("yeah, what's wrong with it today").

My personal favorite, but I'm so unhip y'all probably knew it anyway.
posted by Lucinda at 3:42 PM on October 16, 2007


heh - you just beat me to it, Lucinda. I think they altered the third line, also:

You've got a great car
Yeah, what's wrong with it today?
I used
I'd like to have one too...

posted by UbuRoivas at 3:52 PM on October 16, 2007


Maybe it's a pitiful sign of aging, but frankly I owe a lot of my greatest musical discoveries since I passed 35 to media - The Concretes (Target), Sun Kil Moon-Mark Kozelek-Red House Painters (Shopgirl), Spoon (Stranger Than Fiction), Wilco, The Shins. I've probably gotten more great singles from the closing minutes of The Sopranos and Rescue Me in three years than a decade of FM radio.
posted by docpops at 4:02 PM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Evidently, the key to getting rich turning your songs into commercial jingles -- without guilt -- is to just suck in the first place."

I've long thought that a relatively simple way to make millions is to write a sucky but catchy song about a particular theme, so that it gets trawled out by unimaginative sods whenever that theme appears in a shitty current events or lifestyle program.

For example, Who Let the Dogs Out? - de rigeur whenever there's a story about choosing a dog breed, about dogs attacking people, or in anything about a dog-related sporting team, the Iditerod, greyhound racing, or in blokey programs doing a segment on ugly women.

Another one that makes my stomach churn: We Are Family - used for every single feelgood story about members of a family doing anything at all together.

Pen one of these, achieve moderate chart success, and profit! - as the royalties keep flowing in, year after year after year.

The key is to identify a niche that hasn't been done yet. They've already done dogs, families, bicycle races & (wanting) candy, but there are probably still gaps for things like laundry detergent, ice skating & talking loudly on mobile phones in public places.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:07 PM on October 16, 2007


If the song "Corona" being the Jackass theme song means Mike Watt can afford long-term care insurance, then I'm all for selling out.

And if ten kids heard that riff and liked it and went out and got Double Nickels on the Dime, then great.

"Selling out" used to bother me when I thought rock music meant something important.

Hint: it does not.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 4:08 PM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think The Postal Service has sold out more than any other group in the last five years. That said, it's great music, so I don't mind.

How so? All I know is that they settled a dispute with the US Postal Service over trademark infringement (or something like that) by agreeing to do some promotional work. Wikipedia also adds that the Apple commercials were not related to the Postal Service.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:21 PM on October 16, 2007


Why shouldnt they sell their wares to advertisers? I think the connection to certain companies belonging to the "man" and musicians loudly decrying them has worn more than a bit thin. Its so late 60s and ignores what professional musicians really do: they sell music. They sign contracts. They have lawyers. They talk about money as much as anyone. They pay bills. They have savings. They buy cars. etc.

The idea of the professional musician as using the system and not being part of it is pretty antiquated. A professional musician by definition is a self-employed or franchised businessperson. Its time hipster fans accepted this. I'm sure it gets old pretending to be against the system to the fans while yakking on the cell phone to the lawyer pissed about contract negotiations. Grow up, kids, please. Dont pressure musicians to put up such goofy fronts so you can feel all anti-establishment.
posted by damn dirty ape at 4:37 PM on October 16, 2007


Plutor: no. See previous comment of mine.
posted by edd at 4:50 PM on October 16, 2007


Really? A Feelies song in a Citibank commercial? Man, that's just too surprising to be pissed about or righteous about. And I bet they could use the lucre. Good ole Feelies! Which song?
posted by DenOfSizer at 5:03 PM on October 16, 2007


Barry Manilow *shudder* based his entire career on this premise.

Barry Manilow may have put out a lot of boring records, but the man can write a hook and would have made millions as a songwriter regardless of his recording career. You just wouldn't have heard of him. It's not what I would call art, but Madison Avenue alone would have made him multi-millions.
posted by caddis at 5:34 PM on October 16, 2007


the Apple commercials were not related to the Postal Service

The UPS commercials are.

Barry Manilow *shudder* based his entire career on this premise.

Well that, and backing Bette Midler in bathhouses. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:00 PM on October 16, 2007


It isn't selling out, it is buying in.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 6:26 PM on October 16, 2007


"Raging within the machine" is the correct terminology, I believe.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:45 PM on October 16, 2007


"Raging within the machine" is the correct terminology, I believe.

I will require one giant robot suit, stat.
posted by loquacious at 8:02 PM on October 16, 2007


Rage Against The Machine doing a recruiting ad for Blackwater

Killing in the name of...(duDUH...duDUH)

Thanks Madison Avenue. Can I have my millions now?
posted by Sparx at 2:54 AM on October 17, 2007


I recently discovered Feist and The Feeling off television ads. I distinctly remember hearing the ads a couple of times, thinking 'I love that song' and going to google the lyrics and find out who the band was. However, I haven't got a clue who or what the ads were for.
posted by jacalata at 6:56 AM on October 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


DenofSizer: All I remembered was that the Feelies song was from The Good Earth. Then a quick Google search found this page, which tells me that the song was "Slow Down." And that "Let's Go" had also appeared in a Volvo commercial. Last I heard (which was a few years ago), one of the Feelies was working as a security guard at Disney World. So I guess if this commerical placement allows him to hang up the holster and mouse ears, that's okay by me.
posted by Man-Thing at 7:01 AM on October 17, 2007


Barry Manilow may have put out a lot of boring records, but the man can write a hook...

Barry's OK in my book. Most of the songs were saccharine pap (I still like "Copacobana", sue me ["Copacobana / Eat a banana"]), but he knew what he was doing when he wrote them, gave credit where credit was due ("I'm not an arranger," he'd say whenever anybody complimented the production), and is just an all around entertaining guy when you put him up in front of an audience and behind a piano. He's like a gay Tom Jones: Clearly loves what he's doing and takes it all just seriously enough to do it well.
posted by lodurr at 8:26 AM on October 17, 2007


Barry Manilow *shudder* based his entire career on this premise

Sort of. That's somewhat true, but there was no "selling out" about it. It was his job: he was a professional jingle writer (McDonald's, KFC, among others) before he was a touring musician. Nothing wrong with getting paid doing what you're good at, while you use the opportunity to develop your own craft.

Now, those of us who had Manilow-obsessed middle aged mothers in the 70s can agree that his own stuff is torturously cheesy, but I don't see what Manilow did as any less valid than anything else you can do while you're preparing for a career in performance.
posted by psmealey at 8:53 AM on October 17, 2007


As for the whole selling out debate, BitterOldPunk nails it:

"Selling out" used to bother me when I thought rock music meant something important... Hint: it does not.

The "Rock 'n' Roll" ad for Cadillac was so jarring only because it was an old favorite of nearly everyone's youth used to promote such a staid, old-fart brand. As for selling out, I don't think Led Zeppelin was ever about putting artistic purity above making as much cash as they could while nailing as many chicks as they could. Still rocked, though.

Having said that, if I ever hear that a Fugazi song used to sell pharmaceuticals, I may kill myself.
posted by psmealey at 9:25 AM on October 17, 2007


Man-Thing: "DenofSizer: All I remembered was that the Feelies song was from The Good Earth. Then a quick Google search found this page, which tells me that the song was "Slow Down." And that "Let's Go" had also appeared in a Volvo commercial. Last I heard (which was a few years ago), one of the Feelies was working as a security guard at Disney World. So I guess if this commerical placement allows him to hang up the holster and mouse ears, that's okay by me."

Damn skippy. Those guys deserve to be rich for life for their stuff, but sadly probably won't be. The Good Earth is one of my favorite things.

I don't mind, like you say. If this were 1989, I might believe that P. Buck had used his fabulous riches to set up a trust-fund or something for all those underprivileged people they got their schtick from, but nowadays that just doesn't seem like something REM would do.
posted by koeselitz at 10:52 AM on October 17, 2007


I guess my biggest beef is that it's increased my exposure to quirk lite-indie bullshit that I'd have been able to avoid a few years ago.

I'd like it more if everyone took the Ween Pizza Hut route.
posted by klangklangston at 3:43 PM on October 17, 2007


Back in about 1989 or 1990, there was a Canon commercial with Andre Agassi in it that used the Chili Peppers' "Good Time Boys" riff. Of course this was before everyone had an idea of what horrendous cheesedicks the RHCP were about to become, but I thought it was a pretty cool moment. A not terrible product giving some much needed exposure to what was then a relatively unheralded and sometimes great band.

Or not.
posted by psmealey at 3:58 PM on October 17, 2007


cheesedicks?

Hah, wack you and Fugazi ten times over with a wet noodle.

your favorite band sucks eggs.
posted by caddis at 6:40 PM on October 17, 2007


Just 'cause I've got the shirt, kittens, doesn't mean I want to be hearing the Cure in my HP commercials. Bah.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 6:59 PM on October 17, 2007


one of the Feelies was working as a security guard at Disney World

...that's the most depressing thing I've heard all year.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 7:42 PM on October 17, 2007


The Feelies were supposed to play my wedding and then cancelled two weeks in advance for a better gig (can you imagine a better gig than a wedding). Given the two feet of snow that fell that day it was probably a good thing we had a local wedding band instead, and cheaper too, but not by much because the Feelies were nobodies then, but it would have been pretty cool to have the Feelies, at least that is what a young recent college graduate couple thought at the time.
posted by caddis at 7:48 PM on October 17, 2007


I'd like it more if everyone took the Ween Pizza Hut route.

Deserves a link.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:55 PM on October 17, 2007


"cheesedicks?"

Sometimes I feel like
I don't have a partner
Sometimes I feel like
My only friend
Is the city I live in
The City of Angels

First born unicorn
Hard core soft porn
Dream of Californication
Dream of Californication


Yes: cheesedicks. I take your noodle lashing and offer you cappellini instead, with extra cheese sauce.
posted by psmealey at 4:06 AM on October 18, 2007


Yeh, I remember hearing these songs on the radio, then hearing the announcer say it was RHCP, and doing a "whuh?!" Easily in the running with Chicago for Most Dramatic Change In Style After Major Personnel Change.
posted by lodurr at 5:37 AM on October 18, 2007


My earlier comment contained an HTML/display error; there was supposed to be a pi in it, but it got eaten.

Mmmm, pie....
posted by klausness at 10:11 AM on October 19, 2007


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