Thursday, November 02, 2006

A sell out and proud of it...at least for now.


The latest LCD Soundsystem’s album has received critical acclaim. Pitchfork, perhaps the most discerning indie hipster in the crowd, gave the album an 8.0, the literary equivalent to a worship bow. While it’s little surprise that an LCD album should be well received by the critical masses, it is surprising that this particular album has been.

The album, titled 45:33, was commissioned and released by Nike, meaning that LCD aka James Murphy, created an entire album that bares his name and is branded with a Nike swoosh, a fact that has not been lost on the critics. In fact, nearly every critic has addressed the topic of “selling-out” in their write-ups but subsequently have gone on to evaluate the album for what it is, a decent 45 minutes of electronic music.

I find the critical acceptance of 45:33 quite comforting. Primarily because I work for Nike and I’m responsible for cranking out more albums baring the names of top artists along with the Nike swoosh. The acceptance of this album invariably makes my job easier. The album along with Murphy’s sincere album notes outlining his creative approach and impetus for doing this project, has shown that an artist does not have to check his soul at the door of corporations provided it’s the right opportunity.

In this specific case, the opportunity was to combine Nike’s running insight with Murphy’s musical genius to create 45-minutes of music for runners. To do this we (Nike) commissioned Murphy and provided him with a brief outlining the general structure of a 45 minute run, i.e 8-10 minute warm up, 25-30 steady drive, and a 8-10 minute cool down. In the briefing we said something along the lines of “Think of this like you would playing to a packed club, you want to take them up, keep them up and then bring them back down.” It was clear from the get-go, however, that Murphy didn’t need a musical reference, he understood the task at hand. After the briefing, Murphy went away and did what he does best: made great music and thus 45:33.

The other reason I find comfort in the way that 45:33 has been received is that it makes me feel a little better about the fact that I have worked in the corporate world for the past 10 years (all at Nike). While I’m by no means an artist like Murphy, I do have the occasional artistic tendency and/or ambition and have often toiled with the idea that I should be doing something a bit more…er…artistic.

10 years ago I abandoned my dream of playing professional soccer and signed up with Nike. Over the years I have dabbled in various creative endeavors (writing mostly) but my livelihood has always come by way of my work at Nike, work that has always demanded a combination of creativity and athletic insight. On good days, I see my job as a continuous articulation of the music brief we gave LCD, i.e. my job is to create something inspirational and useful for athletes. On bad days, I see my job as a glorified shoe salesman. The critical acceptance of 45:33 has helped make today a good day.

Related articles:
The Year 'Selling Out' Broke
The Daily Californian
By Tyler McCauley

5 Comments:

Blogger Patch said...

Artists need to make a living somehow, as long as the artistic core is genuine I personally don't have a problem with it. Artists have been sponsored by kings, wealthy tycoons and corporations since before the Renaissance.

The only thing that bugs me though, is the swoosh is prominently displayed on the cover, a little bit to in your face.

9:00 AM  
Blogger OS said...

Patch, I agree, the line between a sell-out and commissioned artist must be drawn by the individual's conscience.

I hear you on the branding too, it is definitely a bit over the top. Unfortunately Nike+ is in its infancy so we feel the need to establish it's visual identity (i.e. red line and swoosh+). Nevertheless, I agree, it can be done with a bit more subtlety.

2:14 PM  
Blogger Patch said...

Keep a look out, I'll use one of LCD's latest as a music inspired painting.

Hope you start posting more too!

7:28 PM  
Anonymous Oliver said...

e,

no reason for me to wax-introspective about a genre i know little about.

i did, however, purchase the album without so much as a preview just because i'm thinking of taking mateo out for a run today and wanted something other than 80's tunes and Madonna to keep me company.

as a chemical plant exploded in a neighbouring industrial waste facility, i may just hold off on that run tomorrow.

zivali,

o.

10:52 PM  
Blogger Foulweather... said...

I think that album will be a good excuse for some 'ethical shoplifting.'

7:42 AM  

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