THE HARD R: DALLAS ON WHERE THE MUSIC BUSINESS IS HEADED
Axl and Vince have proclaimed “music is worthless” many amounts of times. Stating that music is worthless is a bold point. Honestly, I’m surprised the dudes haven’t come under more scrutiny for saying such a thing. It is a VERY bold statement. Every single time I see this statement written on the site I have a gut inclination to write about this very topic. So here goes…
In my honest opinion, MetalSucks.net is a very influential site. [Thanks! We hope you’re right. – Ed.] Kids across the world come here every day to find metal news, metal gossip, metal opinion. From the moment I came to the site I knew there was something different about it. My first impression was an interview my brother did with MetalSucks.
When I read the interview, something clicked for me. At the time, I didn’t know exactly what it was that made me get in touch with Axl and Vince and start The Hard R. I did my first blog and the dudes were stoked. I was, too. Speaking to Vince and Axl recently, they’ve informed me that many of their celebrity bloggers approached them about writing for the site. MetalSucks has an amazing amount of influence and a lot of it has to do with its overall vibe, but also the “muse” behind the content. It’s obvious that the musicians think MetalSucks brings something different to the information metal highway.
This is the CNN, the MSNBC and, occasionally, the FOXNEWS for the metal scene. The serious issue here is: what is stated here can be interpreted as truth more times than not. It’s one of the many reasons I have respect for these guys. They don’t give a story legs until they make sure it’s legit. If they do jump the gun it’s because they have something else to say: usually funny, mostly sarcastic and sometimes frightfully prophetic.
Let’s take a look at the landscape of the metal scene from the business standpoint as it exists today. FACTS: 1) Record sales are way down. 2) Internet* downloading is through the roof. 3) Record labels, in general, stereotype themselves to reach a specific demographic which they believe will sell them more albums. RUMOR: The album is extinct.** With this grim picture, I’d have to say Axl and Vince are spot on.
MUSIC IS WORTHLESS
Blame the internet? Don’t think so. It’s not fair for a metal fan to feel pressured to buy ten records a week and not know exactly what he’s getting. The internet is a necessity in today’s musical market. I call it the S.M.P.*** Honestly, all out there who think the net is evil need to get over it. It’s a fact of life. It’s here to stay.
Blame the record labels? The labels are suffering. Maybe more than anyone else. Yes, they sign shitty music. Yes, they spend money in all the wrong places. But they were doing that when The Beatles and Led Zeppelin were becoming legends. Labels just have less money to spend. They seem to find a ton of value in the music they own. If they didn’t they wouldn’t be record labels. They’d be strip clubs.
MUSIC IS WORTHLESS
There’s a simple reason for the bold statement being true. The majority of bands making the music in the metal scene are uninspired copy cats with no clear, distinct voice. It’s true across the board. Of course there are exceptions, but stagnation seems to be the Kool-Aid most young bands are drinking these days. It’s like the newer crop of bands are seeing the same psychiatrist and taking a group therapy narcotic to dampen their personality and voice.
“Sound like them… Sound like them… Now we sound good.” No, you sound sad. Sorry.
I attended New England Metalfest a couple of weeks ago and it was a sad state of affairs. Yes, it was fun. Drinking and catching up with old friends is always fun. But the fest was off. Scott Lee did a great job putting it together. it was professional. Everything ran on time. But, the bands and the audience didn’t seem to care about the event. Periphery gave their ALL, playing a great set and challenging the audience with something different. It seemed the crowd couldn’t decide whether or not they wanted different. I saw people looking to each other for approval silently communicating, “If you like it, I’ll like it.”
Watching Mastodon was even more mind-blowing. It was as if the audience felt they were supposed to dig Mastodon, but had no clear distinction why. Mastodon: Challenging. High minded. Mastodon is the only new band since LOG to break through to the mainstream metal scene. And the metal audience: Lost. Untapped. Uninspired.
When God Forbid did New England Metalfest from 2001 through 2005, there was this element of danger at NEMF. An element of hope. It was visceral. There was a real vibe of something new. It was an event. People were engaged. They were invested. We were there for a purpose. Back then I would’ve said, “We came to Metalfest to kick ass!” But now, I’d say, “People have to hear us… to know there is still something real and honest out there.” Looking back, it was an awesome time in metal.
It’s up to the people making the music to dictate the business. As a musician, it’s your duty to engage the audience/consumer and get them invested. Dictating the business is very difficult without passion. It’s difficult without experience. And it’s more difficult without a message. The producing business in metal since the early 2000’s has been very interesting. The go-to guys in music production have been familiar musicians on stage or in the scene. Adam D., Jason Suecof, Erik Rutan, James Murphy, Tim Lambesis, etc, etc. I could go on and on with this list but the point is: “Control Your Creation = Dominate Your Market.”
CREATOR CONTROL CREATES VALUABLE MUSIC
People don’t buy music for the music anymore. You have to give them more than just good music. One question a fan asks is, “What else do I get with this amazing song?” If you’re in a brand new band, you should ask yourself that question. What else is there to this band besides the music?
If you want your music to be valuable, than give something of value. Give something that isn’t already free on the Internet. Rage Against The Machine provided a pure emotional connection of rebellion. To this day I can still feel that vibe when I play them. God Forbid didn’t offer 100% originality, but our passion and drive was undeniable. We wrote about a spiritual sense of the unknown. We got people thinking. I think that’s a small part into why we became more popular than the average metal band.
Some bands are kicking ass. Triptykon, Heathen, Periphery, The Judas Syndrome, Sick Of It All, Levi/Werstler. Listen and pass around.
It takes elephant balls to stay true to your vision. Congrats for doing so!
** We’ll see about this.
***Shitty Music Police