Do Musicians Have Any Business Starring in Ads?
What about Bob Dylan then, who most likely has more money than God? Well, in its own way, what's more counterculture, more punk, than doing whatever you want to? Maybe the man just likes Chryslers. More importantly, when you've spent as many years as he has flouting the world's expectations of you, you essentially have carte blanche to run wild. Who's going to seriously question Dylan's credentials in 2014?
Hip-hop as a genre also raises an interesting point here. Rap music is one form of expression that perhaps has its deepest roots in realness and truth; there's a reason Rick Ross is criticized for making up stories in his songs. Everyone does that in other genres, but in hip hop you are expected to be real, be yourself, and stand for only truth.
Yet more than any other genre of music, hip-hop has embraced commercialism and capitalism wholeheartedly. No other genre glorifies a paycheck as much as hip hop. No music other than rap music is so intrinsically tied to things like endorsement deals and wealth.
No one bats an eye when Jay Z makes a deal to release an album exclusively with Samsung, or when Lil Wayne gallivants on stage drinking shilling Mountain Dew, or when Ghostface Killah signs a deal with Adidas. That's part of the game. That being said, if anyone ever found out Jay Z made up all those stories about selling crack on the streets, the entire world of hip hop would want his head on a pike.
You see the dichotomy, right? Somehow in the confines of rap music it's become acceptable, even encouraged, to "sell out." It's something fans of other genres could perhaps take a cue from. Music is a business, and musicians have to get paid to keep producing quality work for their fans. No fans have understood that as much as hip-hop fans.
It sounds nice to embrace a punk ethos of rejecting capitalism and financial gain, but it's completely unrealistic unless you're selling ten million copies of every record you release. Since no one is doing that in 2014, musicians need their music in ads -- and the paycheck that comes with that -- more than ever.
That doesn't make them sellouts, it makes them human beings who unfortunately need money to continue to live and practice their craft. Maybe the world would be a better place if artists' financial needs were met by wealthy benefactors, but the world no longer works that way.
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While Dylan's commercial may be weird to see, and let's not even get into the whole "American engineering" concept behind it when Fiat just purchased the last bit of Chrysler they didn't already own, it's simply a product of our times. The idealism of counterculture punks and hipsters has to die for the music they love to live on. It's a nice fantasy, but no one can actually survive in that world.