Selling out or selling in

People like to throw terms around and require very simple definitions to use them correctly.

One term that shows up in metal is “selling out,” or changing your music in such a way that you know it will appeal to a broader audience, which by definition has a lowest common denominator taste that is of a very simplistic nature. First, the more people you get involved, the lower the lowest common denominator is, because individuals are so different that you have to really stretch to find something in common; second, when you include the vast masses of asses, you get idiocy because most of them like pre-chewed music and stupid, sentimental memes.

But there’s another form of selling out, which is preaching to the choir. Since dear readers you require very simple definitions, I’m not going to group it under selling out as I have in the past, but instead will give it its own name: selling in. Selling in happens when you change your music to appeal to a captive audience by hitting all the things they love. While selling out happens when bands add groove, dumbed-down riffs, ballads, etc. to make their music more like the majority rock ‘n’ roll, selling in occurs when bands deliberately play up their metal-ness, and make the music more abrasive and less populist so that they can please the metal audience.

A band that mixes country music and hip-hop into its heavy metal and then tells you that its newest album is “unique” and is for “open-minded headbangers only” is speaking in code. They’re selling out. Translation: we added more of what makes other albums succeed with a wide audience, because we want money. So have this simplified dishonest crap that panders to you so you can buy it and we can retire.

A band that suddenly starts wearing bullet belts, xeroxing their black and white covers, and singing adoringly of Satan and suicide while proclaiming “allegiance to true metal” or the “the true kvlt spirit” is speaking in code. All retro bands and ultra-elite occult weirdness fits under this banner. They’re selling in. Translation: we know that all of you who like metal tend to like these surface attributes, so we’ve prepared a hollow course that contains these surface elements so that the broadest segment of this captive audience, being clueless and probably congenitally dumb, will buy it. So have this simplified dishonest crap that panders to you so you can buy it and we can retire.

Selling in really is a subset of selling out. In each case, you know what the audience likes and so you deliver a surface treatment of those techniques, as if selling music by the pound. Gone is the ambiguity, the challenge, the journey between point A and point B that we’re not sure we’ll survive, in which we learn and change inside as we adapt to what we’ve learned. Instead you get music where the starting point equals the ending point. It’s like a television commercial, telling you what you already know so you feel comfortable around it and might buy the product. Needless to say, sold in music is just as bad as sold out music in end result: vapid, depthless, pandering sonic mulch.

0 thoughts on “Selling out or selling in”

  1. Leperchaun says:

    When I started to think about metal “sell-ins”, the VON reunion came to my mind pretty quickly – their works are curiosities at best, but thanks to the Internet proliferation, their “cult” image has been revitalized and now a cash-in attempt ensues; Archgoat is pretty similar as well.

    The most archetypal metal “sell-in” though, is probably Manowar. In the last 15 years, all of their activity has focused on the adulation/pandering of the “trueness” of their fans, making recycled and tired metal anthems which will be bought by the “lock-in” fans no matter what.

  2. Morbid_Lad says:

    I’m not so sure metal bands “sell-in” out of greed. It seems more probable to me that they’re feeling old and nostalgic so they want to relive the bullet-belt age when they had no prostate problems.

  3. Flanky says:


    I agree, monetary greed probably isn’t a huge factor. I’m sure most all of these bands work side jobs. I do believe there’s a lot of greed for human approval involved, though. Just put on some corpse paint and make a cassette of 5th-rate Transylvanian Hunger material and a few people will think you’re awesome, guaranteed. The nostalgia factor you mentioned probably also has some effect, depending on the band.

  4. Adrian McCoy says:

    I fucking hate sellouts, just as much as I hate rap and wigger metal…

    And don’t fucking diss me this time, all I said was I hate sellouts, nothing more, nothing less….

  5. HELL says:

    The whole “kvlt as fvck” thing with bullet belts n all was fun about 10 years ago when I was a teenager but I’ve learned since to chase quality music instead of blatant metal for the sake of metal whatever. People spending $100 a week buying “essential kvlt releases” cannot possibly be taking any of it in, its just another form of cheap entertainment like video games with no quality whatsoever made by people with absolutely nothing better to do.

  6. Adrian McCoy's Mother says:

    Adrian Jacob Leibawitcz!

    How many times do I have to tell you to stop saying the word Wigger! Wigger implies that naughtly little N-word that got you beat up last week in your school. After the principal and I spoke, we developed a pro-active plan to monitor your internet use. I know you’re making a lot of friends on http://WWW.ANUS.COM, the only true metal site in all of ever, but you need to be careful. For example, what if Darnell were reading on the DARK LEGIONS ARCHIVE (\m/) BLOG and saw your little comment? He would be showing up at our door, beating you up again, and then I would be forced give my ass up to him again. I mean how could I not like last time? I can never resist that big, dark man, black as the moonless night rearing my sweet cougar ass with his monster meat… this time Adrian, please don’t ask him for a reaming as well… Darnell’s dick is for my ass only. You really need to realize this.

  7. Adrian McCoy says:

    Disregard that comment Mom, I sucks cocks.

  8. sdsadsadsa says:

    cocks in my cereal

  9. Douchebag Darrell says:

    I sell into Adrian’s ass every morning.

  10. Adrian McCoy says:

    Do you ever bother to think that you might be hurting my feelings?

    All I try to do is point out the shitty music, and you fucks diss the shit out of me…

    So are you telling me Korn is more metal than Pantera?

  11. Adrian is black... says:

    My name is Adrian McCoy and I am an AFRICAN AMERICAN!!!

    You should know by now what color I am…

    Of course I hate wiggers…white boys need to stay the fuck out of hip-hop…FUCK EM ALL!!!!

  12. Fuck white people!!! says:

    Korn is the gayest band on Earth

  13. Fuck Mars says:

    Is it me or does this guy look like a dyke?!!!!


  14. 604753 says:

    Since I won’t really derail the the ‘discussion’ into off-topic territory…

    Would anyone else agree that this blog should have its ‘comments’ section shut down or at least heavily moderated? The IQ<80 flames were barely funny first time over.

  15. 604753 says:

    (Damn parser.)
    …the dismally below-average IQ fueled flame wars were barely funny first time over.
    This blog is too good for the typical inturnetz turd tossing.

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