- "Sold Out" redirects here. For other uses, see Sold Out (disambiguation) or Selling Out (disambiguation).
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Selling out is the compromising of integrity, morality, or principles in exchange for personal gain, such as money. In terms of music or art, selling out is associated with attempts to tailor material to a mainstream or commercial audience; for example, a musician who alters his material to encompass a wider audience may be labeled by fans who pre-date the change as a sellout.
In politics 
In political movements a "sellout" is a person or group claiming to adhere to a one ideology, only to follow these claims up with actions contradicting them, such as a revolutionary group claiming to fight for a particular cause, but failing to continue this upon obtaining power.
An example of political selling out is a political party who has formed a coalition with another party it had historically opposed, such as the Liberal Democrats' leader Nick Clegg's coalition with the Conservative Party after the 2010 general election in the United Kingdom.
In entertainment 
There are two distinct forms of selling out in terms of music. The term 'sell out' referred to those who signed for major labels and those who licenced their music to companies for use in advertising that contradict their apparent values, and more recently it can also refer to those who sacrifice their musical integrity through a change in their musical sound, sometimes due to pressure from major labels  or in order to gain profit by making their music more appealing to a mainstream audience.
Dave Rimmer writes that with the revival of punk ideals of stripped-down music in the early 1990s, with "Cobain, and lots of kids like him, rock & roll ... threw down a dare: Can you be pure enough, day after day, year after year, to prove your authenticity, to live up to the music [and] live with being a poseur, a phony, a sellout?"
Record labels and advertising 
Since the time of big band radio shows there has been an established relationship between musicians and commercialisation, and it was not until the punk subculture in the 1970s that the notion that musicians should be completely independent of commercial influences began to increase in popularity. This partly manifested itself in the reluctance of bands to sign for major labels, as this would include taking part in activities that were seen as crass and overly commercial, and would continue into the 1980s, when bands were scorned by fanzines for signing with major labels as the mainstream success this would bring was symptomatic of the general decay in culture. However after a number of bands maintained the quality of their records after signing for a major label, by the end of the 1980s the focus on selling out had shifted to advertising.
The attitude held by those who disliked the idea of selling out towards advertising was very negative, with comedian Bill Hicks claiming that any band who licenced their music for advertising was "off the artistic roll call forever", and Neil Young mocking the fact that songs became associated with brands on his 1988 album This Note's for You. However, although it was possible for fans to feel a sense of betrayal, due to the relationship they developed with the song and artist, when artists did allow for their music to be used for commercials others considered the advertised product to be more appealing. As CD sales fell and record companies became unwilling or unable to afford the push new bands needed to become established, sponsorship of bands by major companies began be seen as more acceptable, with even minor record labels devoting time and money towards marketing deals with well known brands.
By the 2010s the use of licencing of artists in commercials had become an accepted part of the music industry, and even those who would previously have been considered part of the 1970s resistance to "selling out" have been used in advertising products, such as former Sex Pistols frontman John Lydon advertising Country Life butter and Iggy Pop endorsing car insurance. Consequently, it has been suggested that the acceptance of music in advertising is generational, as younger listeners are comfortable with the relationship to the point of indifference whilst those who have seen the industry evolve still reject it.
Musical integrity 
The second definition of selling out refers to putting aside musical quality or original intentions in favor of commercial success, where a distinction is made for those who achieve success without changing their original sound. The difference between the two is often subjective. Whilst artists may change their musical direction for commercial reasons, such as pressure from major labels who require songs to appeal to mass markets a change in sound may also be part of a natural progression of creative maturity.
An example of an artist being accused of selling out is the band Metallica, whose 1991 eponymous album has been considered as the turning point in the band's musical direction, and have been called the "poster boys for musical un-integrity" after the band's attempt to sue fans downloading their music through Napster. The album, known as The Black Album, saw critics and Bob Rock, the album’s producer, acknowledge that there was a move away from the band's previous sound. Rock claimed that the change stemmed from the band’s desire to "make the leap to the big, big leagues", whilst some fans blamed Rock himself, going as far to eventually create an internet petition demanding the band cut their ties with him. However, other fans did not consider the change in sound to be significant enough to be considered selling out and others accepted the change as part of a natural evolution of the band’s style. Ultimately The Black Album became the band’s most commercially successful, going 16x platinum, but the differing reaction by fans to the album is an example of the difficulty in labelling an artist as a sellout objectively.
Poseur is a pejorative term, often used in the punk, heavy metal, hip hop, and goth subcultures, to describe a person who copies the dress, speech, and/or mannerisms of a group or subculture, generally for attaining acceptability within the group or for popularity among various other groups, yet who is deemed not to share or understand the values or philosophy of the subculture. While this perceived inauthenticity is viewed with scorn and contempt by members of the subculture, the definition of the term and to whom it should be applied is subjective. While the term is most associated with the 1970s- and 1980s-era punk and hardcore subculture, English use of the term originates in the late 19th century. A hardcore punk band that signed a lucrative contract with a major label would probably be labelled as poseurs.
Film and television 
In film and television "selling out" refers to compromising the content of produced media, primarily for financial reasons; for example, introducing product placement.
Product placement, or embedded marketing, is the placement of brands or products in media in order to advertise, and has been in television from almost the very beginning, but has increased with introduction of devices such as DVRs which allow viewers, and therefore consumers, to fast-forward through adverts. It has been suggested that the idea that product placement is a form of selling out is Anglocentric, as American television shows such as American Idol and Celebrity Apprentice recorded over 500 examples of brand integration in 2011 according to Nielsen.
Stand-up comedians occasionally face accusations of selling out. Comedians who start out in comedy clubs might often use foul language and blue humor in their routines. A comic who alters his or her routine by "sugar-coating" his language and using less-offensive material to obtain mainstream success may be accused of selling out.
George Carlin was accused of being a sellout for appearing in television commercials for MCI's 10-10-220. Carlin had previously spoken of his dislike for MCI's commercials in his 1996 album Back in Town. In his 1999 album You Are All Diseased, which contains rants against advertising and business, Carlin admits the dichotomy but makes no attempt to explain himself, stating, "You're just gonna have to figure that shit out on your own." In interviews, Carlin revealed he appeared in the advertisements to help pay off a large tax debt to the IRS.
Comedian/actress Janeane Garofalo can be considered a sellout based on her participation with the TV show 24 playing Janis Gold. Garofalo initially turned down the role because of the way the show depicted torture scenes, however changed her mind later on, saying in an interview, “Being unemployed and being flattered that someone wanted to work with me outweighed my stance [on torture].” Garofalo admitted to selling out for losing weight in order to gain more acting work.
Video games 
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American author Tom Clancy has been accused of being a sellout for giving the rights to his name to French video game publisher Ubisoft. Tom Clancy sold the rights to his name to the company. Any war game Ubisoft comes out with — such as the Splinter Cell series, Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter and its sequel, and the newest title H.A.W.X., Ubisoft Entertainment can put Clancy's name on the cover art, though he had nothing to do with development. Of course, this is similar to "Tom Clancy's Op-Center" books, which are written by others under the umbrella of the Tom Clancy created Op-Center universe, along with "Tom Clancy's Net Force" and "Tom Clancy's Net Force Explorers."
Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe is thought to be symptomatic of creators Ed Boon and John Tobias selling out, primarily due to a crossover with the likes of Superman or Green Lantern. In addition, the Mortal Kombat series is known for its exceptional violence and gore, which was removed from the game to achieve a family-friendly rating.
Valve Corporation was long known for an exceptionally protracted development schedule. Half-Life 2 and Team Fortress 2, for example, spent an extended period in development hell before release to critical acclaim. At E3 2009, a sequel to 2008's Left 4 Dead, was announced for a fall release. Immediately after, multiple parties claimed Valve had sold out and become similar to their publisher Electronic Arts.
Square Enix, or specifically Square's part has been considered to have sold out in various RPG gaming circles upon hitting the mainstream (the release of Final Fantasy VII), with it becoming especially evident in the PlayStation 2 era where it ceased its attempts to be creative and started focusing on Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts series mainly, with a noted emphasis on graphics and easier gameplay. It has been speculated that the Spirits Within's failure caused this, after the much maligned (yet moderately successful) releases of Final Fantasy XIII and XIV, most of the core RPG community has given up on it.
In Sports 
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In 2011 when Major League Baseball player Albert Pujols left the St. Louis Cardinals for the Anaheim Angels, many St. Louis fans called him a sellout for taking the larger contract that Anaheim offered, rather than staying loyal to the team he had been with since his rookie year in 2001.
Selling out is also a concept debated within the sport of skateboarding.
In recent years, roller derby has gone from almost complete extinction to having a small cult following, to becoming more and more mainstream. There is much debate amongst roller derby athletes and fans as to what direction the sport should take in the coming years. While WFTDA continues to be "by the skaters, for the skaters," former roller derby owner Jerry Seltzer waits in the wings witih the possibility of once again making money off of the sport his dad created. Sponsored teams such as Team Bionic have also challenged what for more than a decade has been an understood boundary of no company names on uniforms or on the team name itself. Some feel this will open the door to roller derby being more like cycling or NASCAR. While this is a goal of some, others feel that the skaters themselves should maintain the rights to their bodies, not allowing them to be places for advertising. While many of the roller derby skaters in the early 2000s were known for their skimpy clothing, many embraced it because the skaters themselves had control, without other people making money off of their bodies.
Criticism of the term 
An artist may also be accused of selling out after changes in artistic direction. This conclusion is often due to the perception that the reason for the artist changing artistic style or direction was simply potential material gain. This ignores other causes of artistic development, which may lead an artist in new directions from those that attracted their original fans. Artists' improvements in musical skill or change in taste may also account for the change.
Other times, artists resent the term on the grounds that the perceived desire for material gain is simply a result of the band seeking to expand its message. For example, when questioned about signing to a major label, Rage Against the Machine answered "We're not interested in preaching to just the converted. It's great to play abandoned squats run by anarchists, but it's also great to be able to reach people with a revolutionary message, people from Granada Hills to Stuttgart".
Other bands (including those without politically oriented messages) may also reject the term, on the basis that not going mainstream or signing to a bigger label—to avoid "selling out"—prevents a band from addressing a wider audiences, regardless of whether or not there is any real artistic change, and arbitrarily hampers the artists' course of mainstream success, with the assumption that mainstream success must be against the artists' intentions. When confronted with the accusation of selling out in 2001, Mike Dirnt of Green Day said:
"If there's a formula to selling out, I think every band in the world would be doing it", he said. "The fact that you write good songs and you sell too many of them, if everybody in the world knew how to do that they'd do it. It's not something we chose to do."
"The fact was we got to a point that we were so big that tons of people were showing up at punk-rock clubs, and some clubs were even getting shut down because too many were showing up. We had to make a decision: either break up or remove ourselves from that element. And I'll be damned if I was going to flip fucking burgers. I do what I do best. Selling out is compromising your musical intention and I don't even know how to do that."
See also 
- Thirty pieces of silver
- Jumping the shark
- Recuperation (sociology)
- Tall poppy syndrome
- Acting white
- "sellout". Dictionary.com. 21 February 2012. Retrieved 21 February 2012.
- "sell out". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
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- Bosso, Joe (1 August 2011). "Metallica's Black Album track-by-track". MusicRadar. Retrieved 22 July 2012.
- "Metallica: 20th Anniversary Of The ‘Black Album’". Geeks of Doom. 13 August 2011. Retrieved 22 July 2012.
- Definition of poseur at Dictionary.com
- Kokemuller, Neil. "Concept of Embedded Marketing & Product Placement". Chron. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
- Schneider, Michael (31 January 2012). "Product Placement: Is TV Selling Out?". TVguide.com. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
- Burrell, Ian (14 February 2011). "P is for product placement as TV shows sell out to advertisers". The Independent. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
- "24: It's A Chloe-Janis Rivalry--Or Not, As It Seems". Buddy TV. February 2, 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-29.
- Itzkoff, Dave (February 15, 2009). "Deep Inside the Grim ‘24,’ Two Comics’ Inside Joke". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-03-29.
- Yuan, Jada (2010-02-19). "Janeane Garofalo on Botox, Spanx, and the Troubles of Finding Work As a 45-Year-Old Former Slacker Icon|". Vulture. New York. Retrieved 2012-11-23.
- The Art of Selling Out: Compromising the Music
- The Balancing Act Between Art and Commerce (article about musicians "selling out")
- 'Selling Out': The New Radicals and Natasha Bedingfield (article explaining why "selling out" can be confusing)
- Paul McCartney? Is That You?: What he's doing in that Fidelity ad (commentary)
- Tangled Up in Boobs: What's Bob Dylan doing in a Victoria's Secret ad? (commentary)
- Things with indie credibility (commentary)
- Albini, Steve (1993). "The Problem with Music". The Baffler (5) (Chicago: Thomas Frank). ISSN 1059-9789. OCLC 24838556. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28, also archived from the dead Baffler site. (Legendary producer Albini's take on "going major". Reprinted in Maximum RocknRoll #133 (June 1994) and later various websites.)