sell out

< Previous | Next >


Senior Member
This is an extract from Rain Fall. This is a trio. They play jazz. They are talking to an audience who is a friend of one of them.

"You have to understand, Ken feels like he sold out by doing gigs at established places like the Blue Note. Sometimes he takes it out on us."

Would you like to give me the meaning of "sell out" in this case? Thanks.
  • Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Our dictionary has this definition of sell-out as a noun:
    a betrayal.

    In your sentence, 'sold out' used the verb form of the same meaning. 'To sell out' is to betray something in order to earn more money, have a higher status, or to fit in socially in some other way. Apparently, Ken feels that he should have played only at less conventional places, where he would have been able to be true to his own standards for music. Presumably, the audience at the Blue Note would not appreciate more experimental or sophisticated music.


    Senior Member
    English - Australia
    Just to add to the information Cagey has given, you can also find an appropriate definition under "sell out" in the Word Reference dictionary:

    • 3 (sell out) abandon one's principles for reasons of expedience.

    emre aydın

    Senior Member
    A girl asks his uncle who signed with a label recently:

    + You reckon your label will go for it?
    - Who cares? They're not paying me enough to sell out.
    + That's really cool that you're pressing it on vinyl.


    What does "sell out" mean in this context?

    Thanks for your help.


    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    It has the meaning cycloneviv cites in the post above.

    In practical terms, the uncle is saying that he will not let the people who run the label tell him what kind of music to play. For instance, if the uncle plays a kind of music that is not fashionable at the moment, and the label wants him to play a more popular style, he will not do it.


    Senior Member
    British English
    In the context of musicians' professional lives, expressions based on "to sell out" are often used.

    A musician may have a strong desire to make certain kinds of music that are only liked by few people.

    A recording company may offer the musician lots of money to abandon or dilute the their preferred style and adopt a more mainstream style that will be attractive to large audiences.

    So if an musician or other artiste agrees to adapt their musical style to the wishes of the recording company in return for money and the security of a contract, they are sometimes said to have "sold out" or to be a "sell out". The term "sell out" is, of course, negative and used by those who did not want the artiste to do that.

    This use of "sold out" is completely different from saying that a concert or tour was "sold out" - that means every ticket was sold and no more are available.

    emre aydın

    Senior Member
    Thank you Cagey and Linkway. First I couldn't reconcile this definition with music, that's why I asked. Now it is ok.
    < Previous | Next >