ex-The Haunted Frontman Peter Dolving Rants Against Music Industry, Century Media
There was a time in the not too distant past when then-The Haunted frontman Peter Dolving was an outspoken Internet personality and a total lightning rod for criticism, much the same way characters like Frankie Palmeri and Chris “Fronz” Fronzak are now… except, like, more intelligent by about 100 IQ points. His essays were always worth a read, and we even had him contributing to MetalSucks for a spell.
But things happen and people move on. Dolving got quiet for a while then he left The Haunted, and though he continued to release excellent music, his profile in the public eye faded. Has he continued publishing his usual brand of progressive, well-informed, slightly off-kilter opinions consistently over the past three years? I’m honestly not sure.
But then Facebook, in its ever-changing algorithm’s mind-reading glory, decided to show me something Dolving wrote this past Saturday. And man, the guy hasn’t lost it! He’s just as sharp, biting, uncompromising and honest as ever. The topic: the business end of music, all those involved, and his distaste for that side of things. Dolving’s got some particularly choice words reserved for German powerhouse record label Century Media and their Product Manager / A&R Leif Jensen, but it’s clear he’s talking about the industry as a whole, too.
Here’s the post:
By now, I believe most have accepted that I am not actively pursuing a career in music anymore.
What did me in, in regards of how I percieve the music business?
The business. Simple as that.
My primary job in The bands I´ve have worked with has been as “lead singer”.
But I have also had a far more important position in the band – Communicator, and PR/Marketing.
The Haunted was very much a Fugazi-like construction.
(Yeah, that´s a band-reference…)
Jonas Björler is a tight musician, and his accounting is just like his playing. Water tight. Awesome for accounting.
It´s strange, but I first noticed it in 1992.
People who work in music, just don´t get marketing.
I understand that this is never really part of the financial plan record compnies like Century Media, Nuclear blast etc.
What I have come to see is that; “The music business” – one that could really be an amazing thing, with potential for true positive influence in society, is a mess.
It should be a market based in a couple of basic cultural contextual facts that make it, if tended to – beautiful.
But instead – I found disgust, unwillingness and ignorance. Narcissists, and even psychopaths in far too many positions of power. People who don´t HAVE abstract conceptual understanding, and the necissary skill sets to act in way that is good for the companies they run or work for.
People who only serve themselves are not good for much. That´s just sad fact.
Music, composed, recorded, treated and packaged – is a product.
I don´t understand what is so Holy about that. The Artist that stands in the way of reality for himself, in this regard – you will never be able to love the people who pay your salary.
As a live musician – You are an entertainer. The audience doesn not owe you a God damned thing. And you you owe them only what they pay for.
It´s a transaction. Clean and simple.
With an awesome side-effect; It feels great, and it´s good for the soul to let it all out, and rage a bit. At least that the reality about 600 out of a thousand.
But escaping reality to uphold an illusion is bullshit. Companies like Century Media, and Nuclear Blast are destroying money.
Their business model is based in chance.
Which means that in absolutely best best case scenario – these companies run best at a loss. The staff don´t care – they are fine. But the jarheads making the music – who actually believe they are going to become rock stars…
Capitalism. It is an interseting construct. A lot, actually most, think that it´s all about profit. Not true. It´s all about having correct number in the bottom line. Really.
So, corporations, like the ones I have mentioned and several smaller or slightly bigger ones that are focussing their business on business; they are mostly not effieciently run business entities.
Kind of sad. Just because there are so many lazy, and ignorant people…
Anyway. Why this down-playing of the importance of Marketing?
Well, what most of the “metal”- record labels have in common=(actually, this is true for all genrebased record companies)?
The knowledge that they only have to sell a life style, and you will come running for the accessoiries. And you do.
This is not being cynical. I am merely pointing at the facts of how the business looks.
So what was my job in the Haunted? I was marketer, head of PR and information. It was my job, besides singing and being part of the creative group; I was chosen by the group to present and try and communicate whet The Haunted was, and what we represented.
In hindsight, I can admit it was really hard to try to make The Haunted and our record label with Leif Jensen as some sort of A&R.
After 10 years, I accepted. Leif Jensen is a fat bitter German with a slowly increasing liver and kidney disease, just like so many of his particular ilk.
I honestly must say; I admire your enthusiasm for never letting go of the principal ideas of your adolescence, but dude; This is capitalism. And companies like Century Media, etc. are actually part of creating what has made the business of records collapse.
We go to business-school to learn the basics of 1´s and 0´s.
The theory of it all is really boring.
But the thing with Capitalism is; If you cheat. The mechanism breaks.
Most of the music business is built on cheats, and loopholes.
Silly, but true.
The intention of artists, diluted by the existance of so much half arsed mediocrity, has driven the business to a point of meaninglessness.
No one really cares about music anymore.
Which is natural.
It´s just noise. I like. Others don´t. People like me found they had a talent for it, and that we enjoyed it – and could clearly use the leverage music offered to communicate various ideas.
I am curious; How´s the Haunted or At the gates, doing as far as press and communication these days? I suppose with At The Gates Tompa is up for the job, he´s smart and well-phrased. But he really doesn´t stand for anything. He´s the epidimy of all the German metal labels love; A harmless white middleclass academic, with a shitty self image, great education and great taste in music.
How come, these days, pop and rockstars rarely say anything really inspiring anymore?
I am frequently impressed with friends like Devin Townshend, Randall Blythe and Adam from Killswitch, or people like Corey Taylor.
People who are here, and now. At least trying to walk the strange paradoxal razors edge of “Being public”. It´s part of the job.
If you don´t get that, please give that instrument to someone else. Someone who doesn´t have an ego that stands in the way for the audience.
As fans you have the power in the new world. You really do.
I don´t think you understand just how powerful you are.
Not alone. As a group.
Your power is in your wallet.
Where you put those 20 dollars – that´s power.
What kind of world do you want?
Lots to unpack here, including how much of Dolving’s opinions are based on his own frustrations with The Haunted’s (and his own) inability to take it to that proverbial “next level” (probably at least some), and how much is true of the industry in general (certainly a lot). But it’s hard to disagree with his overall premise — that marketing is important, and those in charge of it often aren’t very good at it — and I like the way he calls out personalities such as Devin Townsend, Adam D and Corey Taylor as being masters of marketing their own brand. Truth.