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Does getting commercial success compromise the politics of radical bands?

Submitted by not_AFX_lol in Music

I originally posed this question on the old site, but I'd like to ask it again.

Have anarchist and left-wing bands like Rage Against The Machine or Chumbawumba done the movements they support a favor, by getting themselves major media attention and the publicity of a major-label deal? Or do they compromise their principles when they do this? Should bands stick with small independent labels instead that will not get the same spot in the public eye? Should they release their music for free instead? Should they take an alternate path and start their own label?

Interested in hearing your thoughts.

Comments

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Tequila_Wolf wrote

I don't think it's necessarily a compromise to move away from purity - which is a distinction I'd like to make here. I don't think that having pure values is necessarily a good thing because you just can't predict how you'll affect the world. Maybe pure values helps you build a brilliant community from the inside, maybe impure ones create a gateway to the pure one for people who wouldn't have had access otherwise. Ultimately I suspect there isn't a generalisable answer to this question and it'll depend on your very specific situation. What communities do you already have access to, what are your band member's needs, how mainstreamable is the music you enjoy playing, things like this.

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Bells_On_Sunday wrote

I think that's a good measured response but there's another side of course. Major record labels are owned by the same corporations that manufacture arms and fuck the world over in general. If you don't share their values, why work for their profits? You've got a choice about being part of something like that just like you've got a choice about whether or not to work for a bank. Given the existence of the Internet there's absolutely no need to anyway.

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evilsjw wrote

Generally speaking I really don't like this concept of a band "selling out", both politically and artistically, because it either assumes that reaching a wider audience is against the artists intention or changing artistic direction/broadening a political message can only be motivated by "going mainstream" and earning more cash.

Especially in the case of bands like RATM they're definitely doing the movement a favor. Signing a major-label deal - especially back when they started - means they can adress a wider audience and IMO that's a great platform to reach people that maybe aren't into leftist politics in the first place. They published all their records with a major-label and I don't think anyone would argue they "sold out" or somehow lost their integrity because of that deal.

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anarchistspectacle wrote

I have friends who know Tom Morello IRL and they can attest to the fact that he has not sold out and that his heart is in the revolution and music. Being popular spreads our message. "Selling Out" is when you stop caring about the politics.

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zorblax wrote

Honestly having a major record deal isn't such a big deal anymore. You can release on Alternative Tentacles or something and get big these days.