image by Mike Sutfin

Hey there ladies, Gs and Gents (not to suggest that ladies can’t be Gs, or Gs can’t be Gents for that matter, but lets not go there right now). So, yesterday morning we received a friendly announcement with respect to the recently launched marketing campaign / music label, Green Label Sound. Sponsored by Mountain Dew and ultimately helmed by parent beverage and snacks company PepsiCo, GLS is being presented as a “program designed to help up and coming artists”. Their first release features The Cool Kids on an exclusive track called Delivery Man. Of course, The Cool Kids are smart enough to realize that questions of selling out would immediately be raised so included within the press release is their perspective (defensive much?) on the project. Here it is:

“We entered into the Green Label Sound program because we saw it as an opportunity to put a song out to the whole world with the backing of something that everyone grew up on,” said Chuck Inglish of The Cool Kids. “Mountain Dew is not trying to push their product through music like everyone else; they just wanna support music. … And with us tying to set up our new record without a record company, Mountain Dew gives us an unexpected helping hand to get up those steps.”

Mikey Rocks of The Cool Kids added this. “Green Label Sound is giving artists like ourselves an opportunity to get to a different scale than we were previously on. The program gives us a further reach than we would’ve had on our own, but we still get to keep the same creative independence that we like to have.”

Here’s the thing though, it seems to me that the exact reason Mountain Dew (PepsiCo) created the program is, ultimately, to push their products. How anyone could think otherwise is beyond me. As pointed out by Wired Magazine’s recent, slightly critical, report, PepsiCo has a long history of using artists as spokespersons (missing from this list are a slew of rappers including Ludacris, Kanye West and even the The Notorious B.I.G., see: Pepsi Freestyle). Just because they are getting more sophisticated with their marketing programs, trying to pull instead of push, does that mean their goals have changed? The reason for their existence, the means of their survival, is to sell soda and potato chips to youths and young adults between 12 and 30 years of age. This should not be clouded by their sponsorship of artists, performers or anything else, hip-hop or not. But let’s for a moment consider the possibility that The Cool Kids really think the motivation behind GLS is altruistic in nature, are we to expect from them a music experience which, as they state, maintains creative independence? You know, it might just be possible. Forgiving for a moment that their cover art looks like a Mountain Dew can, the Delivery Man song actually doesn’t seem to have anything to do with soda. But what about when you attend a show? Or when you visit the website? Well, that’s another question.

Placing my personal conflicts with soda, high-fructose corn syrup and fast food aside, I have no strong objection to artists that align themselves with corporate sponsors, unless they front or rationalize the ultimate objective. That’s straight up bullshit. I can get beyond (or I should say, I don’t spend the time to dwell on) the fact that when an artist partakes in a corporate exercise, they are implicitly ok’ing the product, but don’t tell me that its all about the music, it never is. Inglish and Rocks are not known (as far as I know) for their anti-corporate stance or pro-health lyrics, so I don’t hate on them for this. But let it be known, in the same way marketers are becoming more subtle and sophisticated with their techniques, consumers are also becoming more aware. Even though companies, as KRS-One puts it, are beginning to recognize that authenticity is the new business model, consumers are also awakening to the fact that lifestyles can not be packaged, and products don’t become more acceptable through affiliation. We still don’t believe the hype. And I hope, somewhere deep down inside, the artists don’t either.

All about the music mp3 link: The Cool Kids – Delivery Man