Black Collar Workers

Jari Mäenpää Alleges That Nuclear Blast Records “Would Rather See Wintersun Dead Than Me Doing a Crowd Funding” Campaign

  • Axl Rosenberg

Wintersun Snow PhotoIt’s been nearly two years since Wintersun released their sophomore album, Time I, the arrival of which was awaited by fans for nearly a decade. Its sibling album, Time II, was supposed to be released in 2013, but just two months into that year, the band announced that it wouldn’t arrive before 2014. (This despite the fact that the band premiered new material while touring behind Time I.) And now 2014 is more than half over, and there’s still no release date for the record. So what gives? Will it be another eight years before fans get the third Wintersun release?

Hopefully not… but things do seem pretty bleak for the group right now, if the allegations made this Facebook post from founding multi-instrumentalist Jari Mäenpää are true. It’s very long, but it’s definitely worth reading:

“Reality Update About Crowd Funding, TIME II And Future Albums

“I’m very happy to see that we have so much dedicated fans that would be willing to pledge and be a part of funding a studio for Wintersun, so I could make the next Wintersun album without it taking another 10 years again.

“I’ve been thinking about this Kickstarter/Pledge crowd funding thing for a while and I’m very confident now that there is enough of you guys that would help us raise the money for the Wintersun studio! This would give me the freedom to make music efficiently and nonstop. It would eliminate lot of the problems I’ve struggled with all my life and still continue to struggle everyday. For example right now I need a studio to reamp guitars for TIME II. And not just any studio, my own studio where I can craft my sounds exactly like I want them. 3rd party studios have never worked for me and I’ve never gotten satisfactory results for the insane prices they charge.

“I live in a small shitty apartment building and I have neighbors. It is very very hard to work like this. I can’t record vocals, can’t practice my singing, I can’t record guitars, I can’t record guitars even with modeling amps, because the electricity is so bad in this shitty building so I get lots of interference, I even play and practice the electric guitar acoustically without an amp 99% of the time in my home, I can’t record drums or basically any acoustic instruments, I don’t have the room or cool space for a big computer farm which is a must for the orchestrations for the next album (the place is too small and hot even for the one computer I have), I can’t mix properly, ’cause the room is so bad and there´s always ambient noise in and outside the building. That’s why I usually turn my sleeping rhythm around and mix at nights, but that causes problems in my everyday life. I can’t do pretty much anything properly in this situation. Building a professional studio for Wintersun would erase all this and give us the freedom to make music nonstop. It would upgrade our album sound significantly and most importantly speed up the album making process significantly. This would even raise our live game. With proper preproduction, able to tweak our live sounds and setup properly we would sound pretty incredible live. We would also be able to rehearse more and that would allow us to be able to play live more often and come to places where we normally have not been able to come. The studio would allow us to have more time for everything.

“But the problem is this. I have a record deal with Nuclear Blast. If I would do a Kickstarter with a downloadable album for example, they would come with lawyers and take % share (more than half) away from the money that is your money meant for the Wintersun studio and the album production. Would you even want to pledge if Wintersun didn´t get 100% of the money you´ve pledged for the album production? Then our management would take their % share away. Then there’s taxes of course. The Finnish government would take something like 40% away. This would leave me nothing. I would be totally screwed. I’ve been trying to have a discussion with Nuclear Blast about crowd funding, but they are totally freaking out. They see the crowd funding as a threat to their business and they would rather see Wintersun dead, than me doing a crowd funding. I think this would not hurt them at all, only benefit them, but they cannot see the big picture of Wintersun doing well. They actually told me point blank that I should just stop making music and they will never release Wintersun from the contract. It´s really like this, because they can’t or won’t loan me enough money to build a studio and fund an album, they don’t want other people (the fans) to fund it either… unless they get a crazy big cut of the funding (for doing absolutely nothing).

This is the way a record deal works: The label gives an advance to make an album. This is a loan and they will recoup every penny back from the record sales. The reason why TIME I&II has taken so long to make (and still is taking long to finish TIME II), is because I haven’t gotten enough advances (money) to make these complex albums. Not even close. So I´ve been struggling all these years and sacrificed everything to make these albums. I have never really made any money from Wintersun. All my money has gone to album production, but you can guess who have made tons of money from Wintersun. The point is that I need my own studio to make the future albums, but Nuclear Blast won’t be able to loan enough money to make that happen and then they won’t allow me to do a crowd funding campaign either that would make it happen. And even if Nuclear Blast would be able to loan me the money for the studio, our management would take their share of that money and I would get only part of the money, but I would still have to pay back 100% to Nuclear Blast from the record sales. So I would actually lose big chunk of the album production money straight away, which makes no sense at all. And then there´s the taxes. So there´s no point of taking these ‘loans’ either.

“This all is stressing me out very badly and it’s slowing my workflow. I’ve got enough technical problems to deal with making these albums. I just want the freedom to make music, but I guess it is what it is. Honestly, I feel like I’ve signed a deal with the devil and I’m just a slave in the system.

“I’ve got probably 5 long albums worth of new insanely good material! And there´s no filler material at all! The music is much more refined, much more advanced in arrangement/composition/productionwise. It´s diverse and beautiful, heavy, chaotic and exploring different styles&themes and some new dimensions I feel no band has explored before… The stuff is simply on another level, in a different universe than the debut album and the TIME albums combined. I wrote the TIME albums around 2006 and before, that was a lifetime ago. Think of the stuff I’ve written ever since to this day! And I just keep on writing, I feel like I´m on fire. The music is just flowing out of me. I’m so excited about all this new music and I can´t wait to start recording and sharing it with you… BUT I can’t without a studio, that´s the problem…


p.s. Should have stayed working in the post office!

So, at least from Mäenpää’s perspective, the delay in the release of Time II is due to a classic case of art versus commerce. I’m sure Nuclear Blast has their own side of the story (they may feel as though they’ve already given Mäenpää plenty of money with which to complete the record, and/or that Mäenpää is scapegoating them for his own failures), but regardless, this much is definitely true: Time II isn’t coming out at any point in the foreseeable future. Bummer.

Thanks: Peter W.

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