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Is there a such thing as “selling out”?

This article is a part of the blog “You are Not So Smart”. The blog is sort of like the book “Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape our Decisions”-a great read if you haven’t already read it. It sets out to figure out the psychology behind why we act and think the way we do. In one of my favorite articles, YANSS sets out to question the idea of “selling out”.

Here’s a part of the article, to wet your whistle. The entire article is a must read. Good stuff.

For example, say there is this awesome band no one knows about except you and a few others. They don’t have a record contract or an album. They just go out there and play, and they are great.

You tell everyone about them as they build a decent fan base. They make an album which sells enough copies to allow them to quit their jobs. That album gets them more gigs and more fans. Soon, they have a huge fan base and get a record contract and get on the radio and play on “The Tonight Show.”

Now, they’ve sold out. So you hate them. You abandon the band and go looking for someone more authentic, and it all starts over again.

This is the pump by which artists rise from the depths into the mainstream. It never stops, and over time it gets faster and more efficient.

Unknown bands are a special sort of commodity. Living in a loft downtown, wearing clothes from the thrift store, watching the independent film no one has heard of – these provide a special social status which can’t be bought as easily as the things offered to the mainstream.

In the 1960s, it took months before someone figured out they could sell tie-dyed shirts and bell bottoms to anyone who wanted to rebel. In the 1990s, it took weeks to start selling flannel shirts and Doc Martens to people in the Deep South. Now, people are hired by corporations to go to bars and clubs and predict what the counter culture is into and have it on the shelves in the cool stores right as it becomes popular.

Entire article here

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