You’re a sellout; here comes the math

Posted October 15th, 2007 by eric

A formula has been developed by a senior lecturer in mathematics at England’s University of Southhampton to determine and process “the ethical and aesthetic implications of any one instance of the pervasive blurring of the lines between rock and advertising. The formula kicks out a number that could be used to determine just how much of a sellout is a particular artist.” It’s called the Moby Quotient, of course, and it has been assigned the Greek letter “mu.” Yes, it is whole-heartedly taking the piss, but, if you’re one to dabble in degrees of selling out, it can be rather handy.


“The equation is designed to put things in perspective. If Kelly Clarkson sings for Ford, where, in the end, is the harm? Negligible artists singing on subjects that can be of less-than-pressing social import advertising silly products. One does not look to Disney pop culture puppets or artists given an imprimatur by the viewers of a Fox TV show for artistic integrity. Ms. Clarkson can sing for her supper anywhere she wants, and the world sits solidly on its foundations.

However. If you are an artist who traffics in — or has trafficked in — your outsider status; if you were a punk or a rebel or a beast whose rude yawp emerged from the underground and you are now hawking your anthems of defiance as ear candy to further the sales of a crummy telecom company, a new line of SUVs or the marvelous things General Electric is doing, well then, sir or madam artiste, expect your Moby Quotient to be somewhat higher.”

Moby is the perfect poster boy for a sellout formula because he licensed every single track off his album Play for commercial use. The author of the linked Post article duly notes that everything Moby has done since Play has been on a commercial and artistic “downward spiral.” Coincidence?

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