Sony stepped in it this time. NME reports on a Twitter-spat (aka twat) Kapranos is having with his U.S. label Epic, owned by the Sony corporation, who licensed one of Franz Ferdinand’s tracks to the McDonald’s site latenightmcdonalds.com (the site’s been blocked for now) without the band’s consent. (To be clear, the ire is directed at the culprits at Epic; FF’s U.K. label Domino wasn’t involved.) “Dirty bastards. Stupid arrogant motherfucking pig-brained arseholes. I’d rather eat a cow-pat on a bun than a bloody McDonalds,” reads one tweet; “This is an example of how a band falls out with their US label. Did they think we’d approve this shit?” reads another.
True. It’s one thing to license without consent, it’s another for the illicit sellout to be in favor of a product so markedly at odds with a band’s character. For one, Alex is a published foodie, penning the gustatory travel diary Sound Bites. Further, it’s highly likely Epic was aware Alex would reject such an offer out of hand, since he did just that to a similar campaign offered last year for a U.S.-based Mexican fast food chain, invoking the grossness of McDonald’s in the process:
He told Absolute Radio (via contactmusic):
They asked if they could use our song Bite Hard and I think the idea was people were going to be biting into their chili enchilada while the song was in the background. It would be like going to MCDonald’s or something like that. It just didn’t seem right.
Look, whether music labels are themselves complicit in the desolate state of the music business or not, they are in the unenviable position of trying to monetize an increasingly free economy. We get it. Music licensing is one of the few reliable sources of income — we see it all the time. But that implies you’re getting your artist’s consent before lending their work to McDonald’s promotion of their heart-attack snacks. Without it, you’re no better off than the torrent-spying freeloaders you chastise. And from the look of Alex Kapranos’s Twitter, in the artist’s eyes you’re probably even worse. One of The Music Label’s last viable services it can provide a band these days is artist relations. Which usually means “relating to your artists,” not “whoring them out.” But you know, semantics.
Also, this is the most literal usage of the Where’s The Beef post-category in Stereogum history. Great job everyone.