Monday, October 11, 2010

Converse, Branding, Ethics and "Selling Out"

Last week, I received an email about a collaboration between various bands for the shoe company Converse. I hesitated to post it, but others didn't. The same day, the Times had a story about Converse opening a new studio in Williamsburg (of course), dubbed Rubber Tracks, which give musicians a free space to record. Sound of the City's Zach Baron posted some thoughts about the arrangement, concluding that there was no such thing as "selling out" anymore, or at least, no one really cares. But as Baron writes, there's still some uneasiness around the whole relationship between corporations and indie rock bands, and some of the Times quotes reinforce that. One marketer calls indie rock a "Trojan horse" for advertising, and Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino's breezy comment about people "danc[ing] around in their Converse" comes off poorly.

But even if this whole arrangement is about selling more sneakers - and I'd like to believe that some of the folks at Converse and its ad agency, Cornerstone, honestly care about music - you can't really fault bands for relying more on corporations as the rest of the industry withers away. (Converse and Cornerstone have not responded to requests for comment.) If nothing else, at least musicians have a sort of cultural influence, even if the business side is imploding.

And yes, I have to say, the song is pretty good.

Bernard Sumner (of Joy Division/New Order) x Hot Chip x Hot City - "I Didn't Know What Love Was" by Some Kind of Awesome

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