Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Highlights from Wednesday Live Calendar 8/29/07

Wilco: Sellouts? or Guys Who Don't Want To Be Wal-Mart Greeters at 65?

Wednesday's Pick:
Wilco / Richard Swift @ Greek Theatre (Sold Out) – As I get older and more knowledgeable about the way the music industry works, I become less likely to call somebody a sellout. Wilco licensed their entire new album to Volkswagen, which has led to a lot of snarky bloggers (I’m looking at you Pitchfork) labeling them sellouts. For me, unless you’re a political, anti-Corporate punk band, you can do whatever the hell you want with your music. That said, I’m getting really sick of hearing these Wilco songs in VW commercials. Some of the tracks don’t work in the context of selling cars at all. What seems like a very personal album about Tweedy’s relationship with his wife, has been twisted into manufactured, tongue-in-cheek emotion about an actor’s love for a car. A bit lame. Anwyay, it’s really hard to blame them. Their previous album sold close to 400k copies. Assuming they got $2.50 per album (including their songwriting royalties – I think it’s a generous assumption) they made $1 million from record sales. After taxes, paying their manager (and a decent tax attorney), they maybe netted around $600k. With six members, assuming (unlikely as it is) that they divide equally, that’s about $100k each. While that’s a lot of money for an artist, it’s not very much for other professionals who are on top of their game. In fact, it’s about the same amount that a 28 year old would make his first year out of business or law school at the University of Chicago (and Wilco doesn’t get health insurance or 401k participation. Unlike a similarly popular hip-hop artist (or even country artist), a band like Wilco doesn’t get any commercial airplay. Fortunately, unlike hip-hop artists, they do make some decent money off touring and selling merch (but that ends once they stop touring). The last piece of the puzzle is licensing. A band like Wilco probably gets a lot of offers from crappy TV shows and movies that want to pay them $10-$25k to license their songs. If Wilco’s representation is earning their 15%, VW paid them well over $1M for these VW commercials. It’s a personal decision for any artist, but most people I know would have a really hard time turning down that type of money. Depending on your definition, maybe they are sellouts. But there’s no evidence that they’ve compromised the type of art they want to make. Enough with that nonsense; make sure you get there in time for Richard Swift. He put out one of my favorite albums of the year so far.

Also Appearing:
Wrong Way Driver / Love Lies Sleeping / Scott Watson @ Silverlake Lounge ($8) – This is BT’s first band as the frontman. You might now him from his stints in Earlimart, Radar Bros. (live) and Pine Marten. This is their second show ever and they go on at 9:00PM.
Low End Theory Club: Jel @ Airliner ($5) – For the Anticon fans.
The Faraway Places / Tables & Chairs @ The Echo ($5) – Tables & Chairs is an instrumental band with three of the guys from the Movies.
Club NME: The Like / Chow Nasty @ Spaceland ($8) – Should be a big crowd.

As Tall As Lions / Mae @ the Roxy ($16)
The Saw Doctors @ Knitting Factory ($17 adv / $20 dos) – West Ireland folk-rock super group
Exitmusic @ the Derby
Jonneine Zapata @ Crane’s Tavern [1611 N. El Centro] (Free)

1 comment:

stanhalen said...

geez, you make the reality sound so depressing. i imagined the members of Wilco driving around in gold-plated lamborghinis, smoking cigars made from $100 dollar bills and living life like the people in rap/hip-hop videos. i hope they can atleast write off their instruments as business expenses!