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RANDY BLYTHE ON MARILYN MANSON AND THE VALUE OF RECORD LABELS

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Always-outspoken Lamb of God vocalist Randy Blythe recently took to Twitter to go on a little rant about the first week record sales for Marilyn Manson’s new release, Born Villain, and the state of the record industry. As usual, Blythe had a lot of interesting things to say — although I do think there’s two serious flaws in his argument.

So first, I’m just going to print what Blythe tweeted in full, and then I’ll be back at the end to say why I somewhat disagree with Blythe’s logic.

Here’s the tweet-a-thon:

“So Marilyn Manson’s new record debuted at #10 w/just over 38k sold, including iTunes. He released it independently on his own record. This is a guy with 3 platinum records, 3 gold, 5 top 10 debuts including two NUMBER ONE RECORDS in the US.

He also has a HUGE CULT FOLLOWING. A #10 record? 38,000 sold first week for arguably one of the biggest “underground” type acts? IT’S FUCKING PATHETIC. The industry is DYING.

All the people who argue about not feeding the record labels, the corporate machine, etc, about how artists should just release their albums THEMSELVES and THE FANS, THE REAL UNDERGROUND FANS will back them to support the artists? There is your fucking answer.

I don’t listen to MM but dude has cred for making his own artistic choices. He hasnt released a record in 3 years & his fans, his HUGE ASS FAN BASE, could only chart 38k records? That’s fucked up- MM is a MUCH LARGER BAND than LOG, & we outsold him by over 10k 1st week.

Not because we have gotten bigger, but because we had a label, a promotional machine behind us. So so much for the “release it yourself & we will support the artist” “and not the greedy corporate label pigs” theory. Amazing.

MM is rich as fuck, & this won’t put him in the poorhouse by any means, but if a huge-ass rockstar like him can only sell 38k records 1st week, RELEASING IT HIMSELF, then how are the bands putting out their FIRST record when nobody knows who they are supposed to survive? Don’t cry for me, Argentina- I can tour til the cows come home & pay my bills.

But I feel sorry for the young bands. Good luck guys & gals- yer gonna need it. “Support the artists no the labels…” GET THE FUCK OUTTA HERE.”

Blythe later added “the whole point of that was not to draw comparisons to my band’s & MM’s quality of music,” which is an important distinction to make — because, as everyone should be aware, quality and sales really have nothing to do with each other. It’s an unfair world, and sometimes great artistic works aren’t consumed en masse by the public, while total crap is.

And while I wholeheartedly agree with Blythe that there are great people at a lot of the labels who really love the music and work their asses off to make sure the artists get as much support and exposure as possible, here’s a fact I think Blythe is simply overlooking: Marilyn Manson’s popularity has waned severely in the past five to ten years, and just because you sold millions of records once doesn’t mean you’re going to do it forever and ever and ever. I’m sure that artists ranging from Kris Kross to Crazy Town thought they had it made for life, only to discover that they were a passing fad. Manson obviously had somewhat more staying power than those groups — but that doesn’t change the fact that even a lot of people who once considered themselves Manson fans (like me) have felt really let down by his recent output, and plain old think that Born Villain sucks. Now, I got a promo copy, and maybe all those other disappointed Mansonites illegally downloaded the album — but it’s also entirely feasible that none of us would have purchased it in the first place. After hearing the full-album stream on AOL, I certainly would not have been in a rush to give Manson money for Villain. The sad fact is, as an artist, you are still, to some extent, only as valuable as your most recent work. The fact that Domination was awesome doesn’t change the fact that Illud Divinum Insanus blew goats and asked for more.

Which brings me to the other questionable aspect of Blythe’s argument: that Manson somehow didn’t have “support” for Born Villain just because he kinda-sorta released it himself. I saw just as many ads for Born Villain in magazines and around the web as I did for Lamb of God’s Resolution (including ones running on this very website), and Manson got plenty of coverage from media outlets, major or otherwise. In other words, it’s not like people didn’t know that Born Villain was coming out, and it’s not as though there were things that, say, Epic (the lable LoG is on) would have done for Manson that weren’t already taken care of. In that regard, comparing a Manson self-release to that of a young upstart band is extremely unfair — arguing that Manson didn’t get his shot is, frankly, kind of ludicrous.

So, again: sure, part of the weak sales had to do with the fact that the industry is not in great shape, and everything is selling less than it probably would have fifteen years ago.

But why did Lamb of God outsell Marilyn Manson? It’s impossible to ignore the simple fact that, in 2012, Lamb of God are more relevant than Marilyn Manson, despite the fact that Manson is, technically, “bigger” than LoG. Manson has alienated a substantial portion of the fan base he built up; LoG have not. Manson has been putting out experimental albums that don’t have much to do with the sound that made him famous in the first place; Lamb of God still sound more or less like Lamb of God.

In other words: it’s not that the industry isn’t in shit shape. It’s just that this may not be the WHOLE explanation as to why Marilyn Manson doesn’t sell as well as he used to.

As always, feel free to agree or disagree with me in the comments section below.

-AR

[via The PRP]

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