At what point is making a sacrifice considered selling out?

It seems that a majority of the recording artists, writers, musicians and producers that I’ve worked with in the music industry all have their own project that they are trying to get off the ground. While that is in the works, they all seem to be working behind the scenes on other artists projects just to fund their own… myself included.

I find myself to be very picky with whom I work with; reluctant even. Some really dope opportunities have presented themselves, but I didn’t necessarily choose to pursue them. My hesitation might have been with the image that particular artist was trying to portray or even the content/context of their music in general.

As I’ve gotten older and more business savvy in the game, I find myself picking up jobs that I might not have necessarily picked up a few years ago. However, these jobs are career moves. They are gigs that have the potential to further my networking on a major scale or even catapult me into different genres. More importantly, these gigs are providing me with a steady stream of income and sustainability so I may continue to pursue my own career as a writer/performing artist. As it stands now, I long for the day that I can finish my own project and be on the performing artist circuit once again.

Anyway, keeping with career moves vs. passion moves…I think the most notable artist to “sellout” in recent years would have to be Common. Now, don’t get it twisted…Common is one of my idols and biggest influences in my writing. But the Common who wrote, “I Used To Love H.E.R.” would not have done a “Peace, Love and Gap” campaign nor would he have been on a record with the Jonas Brothers.

Obviously, we all know Commons biggest passion project (musically speaking that is) was “Electric Circus,” which I feel was some of his dopest work. It might have over shot his target audience, but his fans still appreciated it regardless. Even his past three albums, which brought him to super stardom, would not have been possible if he hadn’t done the Gap placement. That brought him into a whole new genre and put him in front of a larger demographic other than hip hop heads. It brought sustainability into his career as an artist. His music isn’t as raw and gritty, and he doesn’t come off as that hungry emcee but he still has quality music; he still has a message, a theme, and substance.

Now, without Common making career moves and taking the Gap placement, would he have had the number one album in the country? Would the same amount of people who listened to the music or bought the album, heard what he had to say? Taking it a step deeper, would a quarter of the people who had never heard of Common until “Be” or “Finding Forever” researched his career and have their world opened to a higher quality of hip hop music?

A big fear I have is being viewed as a “sellout,” despite what I do I’m pretty sure there will be those who think I am a “sellout”. There are things I am very unhappy with in the music industry and I feel I can be part of a catalyst for change. However, in order to move up in ranks and obtain a sustainable career there will be gigs or jobs I take in order to put me in better position to initiate the change I want to see