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No money for bands playing McDonald’s SXSW showcase, but at least fans won’t go hungry

By | Published on Monday 9 March 2015

Ex Cops

Following on from Doritos last year, this year’s most depressing SXSW sponsor is McDonald’s, which will be showcasing new artists at its very own show at the festival. Everyone weakly high five the person to your left.

Still, the great thing about all of it is that McDonald’s is mega rich, so will be able to pay the artists for the uncomfortable feeling of having fat men in suits trying to rub off some of their coolness onto themselves. Possibly literally. And that means that everyone gets something out of it worth having. I mean, imagine if a company like McDonald’s claimed not to have any money. Ha!

One band apparently asked to play the showcase was approved duo Ex Cops, though they turned down the opportunity. The major reason for doing so was this sentence in the proposal from McDonald’s: “There isn’t a budget for an artist fee (unfortunately)”.

Detailing the whole sorry incident on Facebook, the band’s Brian Harding wrote: “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 (57 million likes!)'”.

There would also apparently be free food for the audience. Which is nice for them. Or would be, but I presume it’ll be McDonald’s food. Anyway, Harding continued: “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”.

But, he added: “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”.

Indeed, you may remember at the time that at least one Doritos exec expressed disappointment that after paying $2.5 million for the show, instead of running through the hits, Gaga rode around on a mechanical bull while someone was sick on her. This is still, to my mind, the greatest thing Lady Gaga has ever done.

McDonald’s did not respond to a request for comment from CMU, but did get back to Rolling Stone. That’s favouritism for you. Anyway, a PR rep said: “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”.

Yeah, chiiiiiiiiiiiiiill, dudes. Bands not getting paid by billion dollar multi-national corporations to play their music events is such a non-story. It’s so not a thing that it’s appropriate to dismiss the whole notion with a hashtag. Sure, when Harding was shown this response by Rolling Stone, he noted that smaller brands had offered performance fees to pay their showcases, but are those brands going to be handy out floppy, tasteless burgers? Are they? Huh?

UPDATE 9 Mar 2015, 4.30pm: McDonald’s has now responded to CMU’s request for a statement. It’s the same as the one sent to Rolling Stone but without the hashtag. So that’s nice.