15 Great Musical Artists or Bands who’ve sold out to the Man & Three who Decline to do so.

Via Waylon Lewis
on Aug 9, 2012
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Would you let Shane McGowan drive your new Forester?!

Or, it’s easy to Sing about Integrity, while being a Backdoor Man. It’s harder to do it right: walk your path with integrity.

Qualification: if the music is sold to an awesome, sustainable, inspiring product…god bless. ~ ed.

1. Jimi Hendrix

2. Bob Dylan.

3. Postal Service

4. The Pogues

5. The Smiths

6. Clash

7. Ramones

8. Violent Femmes

9. Iggy Pop & The Buzzcocks

10. Descendents

11. Sex Pistols

12. Minutemen

13. Michael Jackson

14. Beatles

15. Rolling Stones

And three who refuse license to shill:

1. Beastie Boys

2. Neil Young

3. Tom Waits

Sure there’s many more…add in comments, below, I’ll add ’em in on either list. And if you have links to commercials, please include those.


Bonus: Here’s one we can’t help but love: Jose Gonzalez, for Sony. Any others you can’t help but love?


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


13 Responses to “15 Great Musical Artists or Bands who’ve sold out to the Man & Three who Decline to do so.”

  1. Judy Lief says:

    Bonnie Raitt should be in the not-sold-out list. She is a humble, heartfelt, and genuine social activist of great integrity. And her new album is great!

  2. wim says:


  3. Bob B. says:

    Being a music junkie,I really have to differ on this. In this day of age selling an album is just not a a profitable business anymore and many up and comers have to resort to alternative sources of income. Be that a commercial, a TV show or some other source it becomes reality in this day of age. I liken this to a yoga teacher. Can a yoga teacher survive merely on the revenue he or she derives purely from teaching? Highly doubtful given that most only earn about $7 a head. So, they open a studio, have a retreat, endorse a product or even worse become an ambassador at a Canadian megastore that caters to the yoga world. Does this practice detract from their enightenment? No more so than Bob Dylan selling his song rights to a product or an Iggy Pop song appearing in a nightly soap show.

  4. Skyneah says:

    I wonder how many of these artists had no choice in the matter due to their record companies, hidden license agreements, bad contracts, or unscrupulous managers? I'll bet some of these musicians are as angry about it as their fans are.

  5. chad says:

    Can't recall the band that was approached by Volkswagen–VW wanted to use their song in a TV commercial. The band turned them down, so VW hired a sound-alike group with a writer who could copy their sound exactly. VW was the Evil Empire in this situation, but the band would have made money towards their own security had they gone along with VW. So many bands and musicians are horrendously rich already though, and own ranches and mansions and are set for life if they manage their money well–the whole world is a huge, non-stop marketplace. Get it while you can.

  6. Carly says:

    Can't help but love The Weepies, Florence + the Machine.

  7. Gwynne says:

    Totally agree wit Florence + the Machine and would add Rage Against the Machine : ) ; the Red Hot Chili Peppers; PJ Harvey; and Jack White….GREAT artists who never sold out

  8. Marya says:

    Led Zeppelin licensing their music to Cadillac, is that selling out or greatly enhancing an otherwise boring commercial?

  9. Noname says:

    Let the music speak for itself.If you hear it for free,its free.If you paid anything for it,it was soldto you?

  10. joelio says:

    Not sure how Minutemen made this list. Maybe for the use of "Corona" in some MTV show? Whatever. As Bob B notes above, a band simply will not make it from album sales alone these days. Who knows if Mike Watt authorized the usage of Minutemen's music. Maybe you can ask him when he rolls through Denver (10/4, Larimer Lounge) in his white Econoline with the safe welded to the floor – the same van he's been touring in for decades. "Keepin' it econo" is a big part of what he is (and Minutemen were) all about.

    Leaving aside the fact that Minutemen ended in the mid-80s with the death of D. Boon, so it's not really possible for the band to actively sellout, if Watt and Hurley made some money from the TV usage, good for them. It ain't like they wrote the song expressly for the usage. And who knows how many people viewing the ad (or show or whatever) were struck by the song, looked it up and are now Minutemen fans (something to which we should all aspire)?

    Having a song show up in an ad does not automatically equate to selling out, though it may be a good sign of good business sense. Or will elephant add itself to the "sellout" list if/when someone finally has the good sense to invest in it?

  11. joelio says:

    BTW, some additional context, like what these artists did to make this list, would be useful.

  12. Matt says:

    Tom petty

  13. yogadev says:

    RANCID! Refuses to shill.