The desire for every recording artist when they release a record is for it to be widely purchased by the public. This wish crosses musical genres and only the most masochistic of performers would not want their music to be bought.
In many of the genres, some of the musicians having been accused of betraying their musical roots and producing music that is seen as being too commercial. This is especially apparent when the style of the genre’s music was at times harsh and, originally, would not appeal to many people. There are so many instances when a band have started out in their careers and they have been so extreme in their style that they have only sold a few records. Over time they have mellowed in their approach and their music has become more appealing to the majority of listeners.
This is commercialization and sometimes to be criticized of this is like a death sentence to certain musicians. The Boomtown Rats started as a fast and loud Punk Band, but they soon realized that, by producing more appealing records, they would financially benefit from the riches this would bring.
The release of “I don’t like Mondays” in the summer of 1979 resulted in the Irish band producing the sixth best-selling record of that year. It was a great song but it wasn’t really a punk record and highlighted the conflict of interest.
Do bands want to be successful or do they want to be seen as loyalists to their musical genre?
Sometimes it has led to certain members of bands departing to form their own band. John Lydon (Johnny Rotten) was the lead singer of the Sex Pistols, writing the majority of their singles. The band were an example of a group that were commercially exploited and when they disbanded, he formed his own group – Public Image Ltd.
The naming of PIL was no mistake: Lydon completely changed his attitude towards the making of his music. The group never searched for commercial acceptance and they didn’t get it. They had a loyal and small band of followers, and although they produced many albums, they sold a humble number of records.
Some bands have managed to become more commercialized over time while still convincing everyone around them they have stayed loyal to their musical roots. The Clash were the political voice of the punk genre and would regularly preach about the dangers of exploitation by the major record labels and the horrors of commercialization. However, over time their music mellowed and in 1979 they released their third album London Calling. This is regarded by many respected rock critics as one of the greatest ever rock albums and it has sold more than 5 million copies. The question is whether the band ignored their moral ideals, or they just managed to get the balance right.
Heavy rock music is another genre that highlighted how different bands had different attitudes towards selling records. Deep Purple were on of the first pioneer heavy rock bands, and during their long career they never craved commercial acceptance. However, this did not stop them gaining a huge following and this resulted in them selling many records. Deep Purple were not renowned for selling huge numbers of best-selling singles. They managed just one or two, yet their audience targeted their albums. Over the years, the group has sold more than 100 million albums around the world. Some of them, such as “Deep Purple in Rock” and “Machine Head”, are seen as rock classics.
A group that were also regard as a rock band that sold many records was Queen. They managed to do this following a very different path from Deep Purple. They managed to create a brand of music that, over time, was influenced by many different genres and was more commercialized in its nature. The two groups’ different types of success is reflected in that type of records that they were famed for. Queen managed to produce some of the best ever selling singles. Songs like “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “We are the Champions” are just two of a host of their best ever singles.