Shadows Fall -- The Threads of LifeBy now I think we can all agree that Shadows Fall’s latest release Threads of Life has been a miserable failure by industry standards. Threads of Life, the band’s first release on Atlantic Records after leaving metal mainstays Century Media, has sold only 68,000 copies since its release April 3. With the announcement that the ballad “Another Hero Lost” will be the next single from the album, Atlantic is seemingly going for broke, giving it one last shot before throwing in the towel. This begs the question that we often ask here at MetalSucks; can metal bands be successful on major labels?

“Another Hero Lost” is an excellent song with a legitimate shot at being a radio hit, but even if it catches on it’s hard to imagine the album going beyond 100,000 copies sold. By Century Media’s standards this would have been a big success; Shadows Fall was a #1 priority there and got every ounce of attention and marketing expertise the label had to offer. At Atlantic the band seems to have gotten the “throw it against the wall and see if it sticks” treatment; once the disappointing first week numbers were released, all marketing and promo efforts ceased and the band was hung out to dry. 68,000 copies sold on a major label is the equivalent of growing an apple tree and selling only a dozen apples. This has been a miserable failure. People will lose jobs over this.

No disrespect to my friends over at Atlantic; it’s not your fault. It just goes to show what we’ve been saying all along:

1) METAL BANDS SHOULD NOT SIGN WITH MAJOR LABELS. Bands, are you reading this?? It doesn’t work. It has nothing to do with “cred” or “dyi ethos” or any of that shit; it’s just a plain economic business fact. Metal records can’t sell enough copies to make the major label business model work; the audience isn’t big enough. You’ll lose your core of fans who’ve been with you since the beginning and are now crying “sellout” (regardless of whether or not you’ve actually sold out). The record labels will promise you the world and we all know you could use that fat advance check, but the fact of the matter is that it’s the last money you’ll see unless you change your sound so drastically that you aren’t even a metal band anymore.

2) MAJOR LABELS SHOULD NOT ATTEMPT TO SIGN METAL BANDS. Major label A&R folks, are you paying close attention?? (I know you’re reading this). Your marketing departments aren’t designed to market bands the way metal bands need to be marketed. The scorched-earth marketing tactic isn’t effective for reaching metal fans. You will never earn any royalty checks. At the same time, you will destroy the career of the band by alienating their core fan base to the point where all that’s left are flavor-of-the-moment kids who will forget about the band by the time the next record is released.

I hope we’ve learned something here. Like that crazy bitch of an ex-girlfriend who you keep letting back into bed because the sex is SO good, sometimes it’s just better if you sever the ties completely. It sucks to live without the sex but in the end you’ll both be better off. Major labels? Who needs ’em.


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