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A Word With Willie

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What's a Sellout and What Isn't?

Watch What's a Sellout and What Isn't?
Have you ever felt guilty or souless for getting paid for your skills as a musician? Here's What Willie Oteri has to say on the idea of "Selling Out".

I was asked to talk a little bit about the term "Selling Out" -especially in art, what that means. Relating to a lot of artists who feel ashamed to ask for money for their art. Musicians who feel ashamed to change a little direction -or sometimes it doesn't matter, sometimes they just change direction on their own and are termed, "Selling Out."

Miles Davis -they said he sold out when he stopped playing straight ahead Swing Jazz and decided to play Free Jazz and Funk and -Rock guitar players in his band, "Oh he's sold out!" No. He was doing what he wanted to do; something creative. It's different.

A band that got accused of selling out -famous bay area band- Green Day -whether you like them or not -In the beginning early in their career they were playing small clubs -hundred seat -three hundred seats -smaller than that, (and maybe up to two hundred seats - in my memory). In a short time, they were having to close those clubs for fire codes because twice as many people as the club could hold would show up. So they knew -the band knew that they needed to get good management that could get them better gigs in bigger places and in festivals. And they were offered it and they took it and then everybody said they were selling out.

But if you look at interviews with Mike Dirnt of the band -he says he doesn't even really know how you marginalize your integrity -how do you compromise your music? He doesn't know how to do that. He's still the same guy still doin' the same music -still doin' ya know -now they might listen to what a producer wants them to do on a record or something - but that's -That's not selling out. That's not marginalizing your integrity. That's improving your music.

Compromising your integrity is probably the main definition of selling out. To me that's somebody who goes to work say for the government and writes software on how to spy on people, or builds -works towards building Terminators so that police can have these robots that chase your ass down the street. -Because they get paid a million dollars and they think, "Oh you're a loser. You should have done it. I got a million dollars I retired early." That's selling out.

But in art? No, you're not selling out.

Some of us go to work nine to five every day for some evil Corporation just because that pays a decent salary, and we can have a house, and pay our rent, and eat, and feed our kids, have a car. To some people that's selling out.

But if you're -are you really marginalizing your integrity? Are you compromising your integrity? Are you being evil?

Maybe your music suffers because you don't have a lot of time to do it -your music and art, you don't have much time if you're doing a full nine to five job. So, who's doing that that really wants to do their art instead and is offered an opportunity to be paid for their art if it goes in a certain direction -don't call them selling out. They're still beating -ya know they're beating it. If they're happy and they still get to do their art, it's pretty much the art they did before -ya know shoot!

I have friends who play on the road all the time with musicians that -famous entertainers that -a lot of people think they're selling out because they're supporting this kind of -this type of music "Oh that's not punk that's..." -ya know- "Mainstream" stuff old people listen to. So? All these guys play in nice clubs in their hometown when they're off the road and do their own stuff.

Marginalizing your integrity, compromising your integrity, selling your soul -that's really different than what people usually term selling out in the music business.

Don't worry about "Selling Out" in someone else's eyes. If you're paying your rent and you're getting to do what you want to do in life and you're not harming anybody, no one's being harmed -are you doing what you wanna do? Is your music knocking some other great music out of the way because you're playing -OH- a soft tune!? -Or metal!? -You know... (Sarcasm) Everything should be in this little box that's the not selling out underground box.

Don't worry about it. Okay, so get out there and do it! Have a good time.

Last modified onFriday, 11 December 2015 04:06
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