Bob Dylan’s appearance in a Chrysler commercial during Sunday’s otherwise dull Super Bowl seems to have outraged thousands of music fans online. My Facebook News Feed was filled with friends’ mini-tirades about the folk-rock icon “selling out” and how Dylan’s uncompromising legacy was co-opted by some corporate admen (& women).

Well — as to co-opting —  I’m sure Dylan was paid a pretty penny by Chrysler; so it’s not like he’s some hapless victim here. And we ARE talking about the guy who appeared in a Victoria’s Secret ad a few years back. Plus, I assume he slept quite soundly Sunday night.

Selling out just ain’t what it used to be

But what about “selling out?” Is there even such a thing anymore in an age where many musicians rely upon sponsorships and sync placements to keep their careers moving forward? And if so, who gets to decide whether an artist has sold out? Should that judgement be in the hands of diehard fans, listeners in general, or the artist alone? [In the case of the Chrysler commercial, it was Dylan’s image, song, and voice — and he doesn’t really OWE us anything.]

Have you ever purposefully changed your style to appeal to a wider audience? Have your songs ever been used in commercials? Depending on the person and the circumstance, either of those moves could be regarded as selling out or just smart business.

As an artist, what are your limits — and where do you draw the line? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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