McDonalds Asks Indie Rockers To Play For Free, Here Is Their Amazing Response

McDonalds Asks Indie Rockers To Play For Free, Here Is Their Amazing Response

Even if Amalie Bruun and Brian Harding from the indie rock band Ex Cops planned on selling their souls, they certainly wouldn’t do it for “exposure” and french fries. Nonetheless, that’s what McDonalds offered them to play at a showcase during March 13-22’s SXSW (South by Southwest) music festival in Austin, Texas.

That’s right. The worlds’ hugest fast food chain has a net worth of $8.61 billion, and pays their failure of a ex-CEO Don Thompson $3 million for “consulting.” But when it comes to paying trending music acts like Ex Cops to play in their [email protected], fauxhemian “showcase,” McDonalds says sorry, “there isn’t a budget for an artist fee (unfortunately).”

When Kelly Conaboy from Gawker asked McDonalds, “the $90 billion corporation, powered by poverty-stricken workers,” about their SXSW offer to Ex Cops, she received the following reply from McDonald’s Global Media Relations director Becca Hary:

Kelly –
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
Thanks,
Becca

Whoa. Pseudo-hipster McDonalds even came up with a snarky hashtag. Oh, and sorry, McDonalds doesn’t have a budget to pay their workers a living wage either. So #ScrewYou, America.

Hipster McDonalds says Ex Cops only went viral because it's a #SlowNewsDay.
Hipster McDonalds says Ex Cops’ awesome response to their SXSW “offer” for them to play for free only went viral because it’s a #SlowNewsDay. Image: Bullsh!t.

But Bruun told Rolling Stone the “protocol” McDonalds mentions for their paltry offer to Ex Cops doesn’t exist. SXSW’s other sponsors actually do pay.

“That’s not true. They’re not following any guidelines because everyone else is offering money. They’ll have to take that up with South by Southwest if they think they’re following the guidelines … Other, much smaller corporations are offering us money.”

Harding then snorts in disgust:

“It’s gross. It’s a perfect example of an archaic company trying to be hip by putting a hashtag at the end of an e-mail.”

Furthermore, Ex Cops told the New York Times they’re booked for six events at SXSW — including one sponsored by Pandora — and they’re all paid.

Business Insider adds that — despite what the people at McDonalds think — Ex Cops isn’t desperate and doesn’t need to perform for “exposure” and free food. They’re actually doing quite well, thank you.

Ex Cops is a pop punk duo featuring Amalie Bruun and Brian Harding, who are signed to a well-respected independent label and have a cult following.

The four-year-old band may not be mainstream, but its members make a decent living off their music

Ex Cops: McDonalds asked us to play SXSW. This is Brian’s open letter about it.

On March 4th, the Ex Cops shared their amazing response to McDonalds’ pathetic excuse for an offer on their Facebook page.

Ex Cops responds to McDonalds' lame offer in their Facebook post: McDonald's asked us to play SXSW. This is Brian's open letter about it. This week our band was asked to play the McDonald’s Showcase at the annual South by Southwest, also known to music insiders as “SXSW.” Their selling point was that this was “a great opportunity for additional exposure,” and that “McDonald’s will have their global digital team on site to meet with the bands, help with cross promotion, etc”
Ex Cops responds to McDonalds’ lame offer in a Facebook post.

Here is the full text with the letter Harding wrote on behalf of Ex Cops.

McDonald’s asked us to play SXSW. This is Brian’s open letter about it.

This week our band was asked to play the McDonald’s Showcase at the annual South by Southwest, also known to music insiders as “SXSW.”

Their selling point was that this was “a great opportunity for additional exposure,” and that “McDonald’s will have their global digital team on site to meet with the bands, help with cross promotion, etc”

I don’t, and doubt that they know what this means either.

Getting past that rhetoric, at the very least a big corporation like McDonald’s can at least pay their talent a little. Right?

“There isn’t a budget for an artist fee (unfortunately)”

As of 2013, McDonalds is valued at 90.3 billion dollars.

I won’t get into the internet semantics of things you’ve probably seen on your Facebook feed; like that thing where it takes a McDonald’s worker 4 months to earn what the CEO makes in an hour, or their GMO love affair, and I will certainly spare you the bounty of photos showing how they treat their animals.

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 (57MM likes!)”

We recently headlined a show at the Brooklyn venue Baby’s Alright. They are by no means a DIY venue, but they are still an independent small business. The owners are people our age who used to book shows at Pianos and busted their asses to open a venue of their own in Brooklyn.

While I haven’t asked Billy or Zach how much they make annually (that would be weird) I’m going to guess they’re not looking at brownstones in Prospect Park at the moment. Yet when we played, we were paid very very fairly, were provided with drink tickets, and each band member fed a full entree from their menu (try the Brussels sprouts).

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.

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.

Oh, I almost forgot; “McDonald’s will offer free food to all audience members”

I don’t doubt that tons of bands will kowtow to this lame, lame attempt at a rock show. And I’m aware that to achieve any exposure is a Herculean task in 2015, but the Boethian Wheel is a real thing, and this will continue to exist if we, as artists, keep saying yes in exchange for a taste of success. Even if smells like a shitty Fish filet.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out Ex Cops’ music, here’s a video with a “stripped-down” live performance of Black Soap.

Featured image: Ex Cops’ Facebook page.

Elisabeth Parker is a writer, web designer, mom, political junkie, and dilettante.

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