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4/12/2005

Stereogum posts about Death Cab For Cutie selling out, and gets some interesting comments from readers. The sad part about any major-label-sellout discussion amongst fans is that they focus on the artistic integrity issue without understanding the financial stakes. I don't think any band that jumps to a major is planning on changing their music. I believe they go in with the best intentions, having their egos so recently fed by suits upon suits making them huge promises to make their genius music heard by the world.

What the bands don't think about, in my opinion, is the financial reality of signing to a major. Sure the payoff could be bigger (commercial radio, more fans) but the stakes are higher. The recoupable amounts and overhead get way higher, they take home fewer dollars per records sold, and suddenly they have people who've failed their way up the corporate ladder pressuring them for a single. Forget the indie one-release-per-year pace and hands-off artistic freedom. All this for the shot at one radio hit. I mean, best case scenario is what Modest Mouse just went through. You get your big hit, but then you go away. If Modest Mouse has another huge radio hit, I will eat my words.

My bet is that DCFC will look back on the times when they could sell a few hundred thousand records on Barsuk as the "good old days."

(As far as the issue of selling out goes, I don't think bands should be criticized for having their songs played on "The O.C." or licensing their music to commercials. It's hard to make money out there as a musician. And that licensing money, unlike a major label contract, should come with no strings attached and therefore be no threat to derail anyone's career.)

But I digress. One of the most interesting comments on the Stereogum discussion had a link to a rant by Dave Eggers from 2000, in response to some Harvard literary magazine writers who asked, among other questions, if Eggers was "keeping shit real?"

The rant is wordy but interesting. If you wish to skim, don't miss the part toward the end where he namedrops a bunch of celebrities and mentions money amounts he was paid by prominent media outlets to do very little work.

This is my favorite part. It shall be our thought for the day:
And I do not get along with people who say no. When you die, and it really could be this afternoon, under the same bus wheels I'll stick my head if need be, you will not be happy about having said no. You will be kicking your ass about all the no's you've said. No to that opportunity, or no to that trip to Nova Scotia or no to that night out, or no to that project or no to that person who wants to be naked with you but you worry about what your friends will say.

No is for wimps.... No is to live small and embittered, cherishing the opportunities you missed because they might have sent the wrong message.

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