Thought I'd publish some thoughts and see what comes of it.
Today, I'd like to say that Rage Against the Machine was the last time I really considered if a band 'sold out' or not. They seemed to be so great to me, and musically I still consider their first album to be truely groundbreaking, but it was 'wrong' to me that a band should go on MTV talking about Leonard Peltier. That seemed to be for the underground, and not for jocks to know about.
That was pretty backwards thinking, especially now that no one talks about political prisoners on MTV. And everyone sells out now that Green Day made it punk to do so.
Now, I still think they sold out, but for different reasons. From their own website, you can see that when they did a benefit concert for Leonard Peltier in 1994, before hitting the spotlight, they raised $75,000 for his defense fund.
A year later, they did the same thing for Mumia. However, this concert raised just $8,000. Without specific numbers that I could research, it appears at quick glance that, even though in that one year they had gained worldwide fame, hit song and video on MTV, new album, and presumably a wider range of resources available to them to raise money, they in fact were less effective.
Why? From every story I've ever read of how the music industry works, and from my own experience working in the independent and underground version of such, everyone gets their hand in the till.