In case you haven’t heard SXSW is probably the biggest music festival/industry festival in the world – which also sees a surprising number of insane fights every year – and every year thousands of bands flock to Austin to play as many sets as possible in order to try and get noticed and get that elusive record deal.
Loads of brands sponsor showcase events too in order to try and remain hip and relevant with today’s young crowd and it’s reached the point now that McDonald’s is involved and bands are playing in one of their outlets during the festival. I hesitated to use the word restaurant because it’s not really a restaurant, is it?
Anyway, as part of their tactics for even further reaching global domination, McDonald’s decided to approach several of the hippest up and coming bands to play at their showcase. One such band was Ex Cops – a pop punkish duo from North Carolina – who were offered a spot in exchange for the exposure it would bring them and maybe a couple of free Filet O Fishes. Unfortunately, despite having a net worth of $97 billion which is more than the net worth of the United States, McDonald’s were unable to offer any kind of budget to pay the bands at their showcase.
Let that sink in for a minute – one of the richest corporations in the world can’t spend a few bucks to help out some struggling musicians play at their showcase. I feel like ripping them a new one myself because I got so angry just typing that, but Ex Cops response was pretty much perfect so I’ll just leave them to it:
Featured Image VIA
McDonald’s asked us to play SXSW. This is Brian’s open letter about it.
This week our band was asked to play the McDonald’s Showcase at the annual South by Southwest, also known to music insiders as “SXSW.”
Their selling point was that this was “a great opportunity for additional exposure,” and that “McDonald’s will have their global digital team on site to meet with the bands, help with cross promotion, etc”
I don’t, and doubt that they know what this means either.
Getting past that rhetoric, at the very least a big corporation like McDonald’s can at least pay their talent a little. Right?
“There isn’t a budget for an artist fee (unfortunately)”
As of 2013, McDonalds is valued at 90.3 billion dollars.
I won’t get into the internet semantics of things you’ve probably seen on your Facebook feed; like that thing where it takes a McDonald’s worker 4 months to earn what the CEO makes in an hour, or their GMO love affair, and I will certainly spare you the bounty of photos showing how they treat their animals.
In lieu of being paid like a real artist, or anyone who is employed to do a service, McDonald’s assures us that we will “be featured on screens throughout the event, as well as POSSIBLY mentioned on McDonald’s social media accounts like Facebook (57MM likes!)”
We recently headlined a show at the Brooklyn venue Baby’s Alright. They are by no means a DIY venue, but they are still an independent small business. The owners are people our age who used to book shows at Pianos and busted their asses to open a venue of their own in Brooklyn.
While I haven’t asked Billy or Zach how much they make annually (that would be weird) I’m going to guess they’re not looking at brownstones in Prospect Park at the moment. Yet when we played, we were paid very very fairly, were provided with drink tickets, and each band member fed a full entree from their menu (try the Brussels sprouts)
I will also go ahead and save time for any schill / troll rebuttals; “Are the other showcases paying you? No one is holding a gun to your head!” This is true. It is our choice (pretty much) to fly to Austin, play shows without soundcheck, and get paid nothing to a little. But hear this loud and clear, we LOVE making music, it is what we do, and despite some of its very apparent flaws, SXSW still provides a decent venue to be heard by some people who are really there to hear new music and not just do blow with dudes who wear square toe loafers.
It is a horrifying and gross reality when one sees the true nature of corporations and their pathetic attempts to achieve relevance with millennials. Doritos received a lot of flack for their stage a couple years ago, but i’m going to assume they paid Lady Gaga.
Oh, I almost forgot; “McDonald’s will offer free food to all audience members”
I don’t doubt that tons of bands will kowtow to this lame, lame attempt at a rock show. And I’m aware that to achieve any exposure is a Herculean task in 2015, but the Boethian Wheel is a real thing, and this will continue to exist if we, as artists, keep saying yes in exchange for a taste of success. Even if smells like a shitty Fish filet.
Wow. Just great right? And it seems like everyone’s a winner as Ex Cops don’t have to play at a McDonald’s and eat Filet O Fish, whilst the fact that they’re making this statement and it’s gone viral means that loads and loads of people are going to be exposed to them and their music. They had just better hope they have some good songs so they don’t get remembered as ‘that band with the McDonald’s statement’. Not convinced that’s gonna work though.
McDonald’s have released a real snarky and asshole response to Ex Cops’ statement:
We follow the same standard protocol as other Brands and sponsors by inviting talented and emerging musicians to join us at the SXSW Festival. We look forward to serving McDonald’s food, drinks and fun in Austin. #slownewsday
On the one hand, that’s a major ass response, but on the other hand I kind of respect them for sticking to their guns and not backing down which is what a brand would normally do in this situation. On the other hand again though, this is McDonald’s so screw them. Go back to serving raw quarter pounders to people.