Selling Out is Kind of OK Now, Right? So Why is Titus Andronicus So Angry at Kurt Vile?

No more Bank Of America overdraft fees for Kurt Vile
No more Bank Of America overdraft fees for Kurt Vile

Today, Pitchfork reports that Titus Andronicus frontman Patrick Stickles was pretty unhappy after learning Kurt Vile's song, "Baby's Arms," was used in a Bank Of America commercial. He ranted about it on his Twitter account, tweeting things about Vile like "I thought you were, like, the best dude in music!"

While many share the opinion about Vile's music --  this year's Smoke Ring For My Halo is some of the best music being made -- it didn't stop Stickles from lashing out against the artist, whom he seems to respect.

Isn't his criticism a little self-righteous, if not completely outdated?

We're living in a time when it is virtually impossible to make decent money playing music unless artists license their songs to television shows, movies and advertisements.

Maybe I'm getting old, but I can still remember 20 years ago, when leveraging your art for money was considered the lowest thing a credible musician could do. You were selling your soul, jeopardizing your art and your fanbase for some cash. Greenday was chastised for signing to a major label. So was Nirvana and even Vanilla Ice. (You might remember a This Week In Dallas Music History story we ran recently, in which Vanilla Ice claims his manager made him pocket all the money from "Ice Ice Baby.")

Nowadays, who cares? Artists are scrambling just to find enough money to continue making art. In Vile's case, he can't be accused of anything more than that. So long as his music doesn't suffer, who cares if you hear it in a Burger King bathroom? (For the record, Vile's music is doing just fine. "Baby's Arms" is a gorgeous song)

Stickles cares, especially because the song was licensed to Bank Of America. By making his statements, it seems that he is aligning himself, whether he means to or not, with the sentiments of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

"Did I hear Kurt Vile's great song 'Baby's Arms' was in a Bank of America commercial? If so, man, that's #SHITLIST if anything ever was," he tweeted. "Come on, Kurt Vile, yr a million times better than that. #Crushcapitalism ... "

But if Vile can't lend his music to Bank Of America without getting his hand slapped, who can he license his music to? A small business, like popcorn gift basket company? That's still capitalism.

If musicians can't license their music to corporations, they're screwed. It's not like they're making much money on album sales, given that almost anything is available on Mediafire. 

In the end, Vile isn't helping the corporate machine continue, as much as he is exploiting it to continue creating his art. And for that, he ought to be commended, not criticized.  

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