While indie rockers and cigarettes may go together like music fans and snap judgments, no one in the "Indie Rock Universe" is smiling over their inclusion in Rolling Stone's recent, eponymous "editorial"–and surprisingly, it's not just because it's super lame. The pull-out (a drawing of "An Alternate Dimension Where Everyone Wears Black Converse" that lazily name-checks dozens of bands from Sonic Youth to Grizzly Bear to High On Fire) came unfortunately wrapped in an "advertorial" for Camel, giving the appearance that the bands within were willingly lending their names to the selling of smooth, satisfying cancer sticks. Nine states have already sued Camel, citing the 1997 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement forbidding the use of cartoons to sell cigarettes, and today the following "Open Letter To Rolling Stone" landed in our in-box from Kill Rock Stars and other labels who wished to express their extreme disapproval of the whole nasty mess:
We, the undersigned independent record labels, wish to share our indignation regarding Rolling Stone's November 15th pull out editorial, which featured the names of our artists in conjunction with an ad for Camel cigarettes. This editorial cartoon gives every impression of being part and parcel of the advertisement wrapped around it.
The use of an artist's name to promote a brand or product should be done only with the artist's explicit consent, something that was neither solicited nor obtained from the labels or bands.
When questioned, Rolling Stone has referred to the "Indie Rock Universe" pull out section as an "editorial", but it hardly seems accidental that this editorial content is wrapped in a giant ad from R.J. Reynolds announcing their support for independent artists and labels. The idea that this was a coincidence in any way seems dubious at best. There are two other pull out sections in this same issue of Rolling Stone. Both are wrapped in advertising, but neither of these ads could be construed as part of the editorial content within.
Many of the bands named, and the labels that represent them, are very unhappy with the implication that they have any involvement with R.J. Reynolds and Camel cigarettes. We ask that Rolling Stone apologize for blurring the line between editorial and advertisement, and in doing so, implying that the bands named support the product being advertised.
Sincerely, Kill Rock Stars, Touch and Go, Skin Graft, Lovepump United, Lucky Madison, 5RC, Audio Dregs, and Fryk Beat.