In a recent Loudwire interview, M. Shadows mentioned some viewpoints on the current state of the music business.
One of the big comparisons that every artist or media personality makes today, is the status of sales right now vs sales more than 30 years ago. And everyone today, especially artists or media personalities, always say that the Eighties was so much better. It is a bold claim to make, especially when the Eighties have been known as the era that record labels ripped off artists.
In a way, the magical Eighties was easier for an artist as “a lot of the work around them” just happened like magic. All the artist needed to do was create songs, record them in a studio the label selected, then go on tour that someone else organised. Fast forward to 2014, the artist is across all aspects of their career and they need to make the decision. Things just don’t magically happen anymore. The artist is aware and they make these things happen.
In relation to sales, let’s look at Metallica and Megadeth compared to Avenged Sevenfold.
Metallica released “Kill Em All” in 1983. It wasn’t until 1989 (yep six years after) that the album was certified GOLD for sales in the U.S. So much for the argument bandied about in 2014, that sales from the Eighties are better. After six months, Metallica was back in the studio recording the follow up.
Of course, on the back of the Black album juggernaut, by 1999, “Kill Em All” was certified 3 x Platinum, 16 years after it’s release. Yes, 16 years later.
Megadeth released “Killing Is My Business (And Business Is Good) in 1985 and still to this day it hasn’t been certified anything. So by default this album hasn’t passed 500,000 sales in the U.S.
Avenged Sevenfold released “Sounding The Seventh Trumpet” in 2001 and like Megadeth’s debut, it still hasn’t passed the 500,000 Gold barrier.
So if you compare the first album release of each band, all of them failed to achieve GOLD status within the first two years.
But, but…. sales of the eighties are awesome compared to today. How can bands today survive? Rubbish is what I say.
Metallica released “Ride The Lightning” in 1984. It wasn’t until 1987 that the album was certified GOLD in the U.S, three years after it’s release. In 2012, twenty-eight years after it’s release, the album was certified 6 x platinum.
Megadeth released “Peace Sells.. But Who’s Buying” and it was certified GOLD in 1988, two years after it’s release. By 1992, the album was certified Platinum for 1 million sales in the U.S.
Avenged Sevenfold released “Waking The Fallen” in 2003. In 2009, it was certified GOLD for sales in the U.S., six years after it’s release and with the new anniversary edition coming out, expect these sales to increase even more.
So who is the winner for the second album sales. Megadeth reached GOLD in two years, Metallica in three years and Avenged Sevenfold in six years. Still, is the Eighties so much better. Both Megadeth and Metallica went back into the studio nine months later to record follow ups, while Avenged Sevenfold had a longer run before entering the studio.
Who really knows what level of sales, “Waking The Fallen” will be at in 2031. Who really knows, the amount of streams or YouTube views the album would reach by 2031?
Metallica released “Master Of Puppets” in 1986 and it was certified GOLD for sales in the U.S in the same year. In 2003, 17 years after it’s release it was certified 6 x platinum. The digital mp3 of the song “Master of Puppets” has also passed the 500,000 barrier. Again, massive sales numbers did not come right away. It took time and a lot of great music.
Megadeth released “So Far, So Good, So What” in 1988 and it was certified GOLD in 1990, again two years after it’s release. By 1998, 10 years after, it was certified Platinum. Again, massive sales did not come right away. It took time.
Avenged Sevenfold released “City Of Evil” in June 2005 and six months later it was certified GOLD for sales in the U.S. Eventually the album would pass the 1 million sales barrier in 2009 four years after it’s release. In addition, the song “Bat Country” also being certified GOLD in Digital sales.
So after three albums each, which band reached GOLD the quickest? Metallica and Avenged Sevenfold both reached 500,000 sales for their third album, within six months.
But…. Bands had way more sales in the Eighties than today…. The answer is NO, they didn’t.
Sales for Megadeth and Metallica got a lot better after the Black album and the Countdown To Extinction albums. Those albums converted alot of fence sitters into fans who then went and purchased the back catalogues.
In reality, sales of music really haven’t dried up. The fact that “Master Of Puppets” has moved six million units since it’s release should not be taken into account right now. Who knows how much “City Of Evil would have moved by 2022?
People still purchase music, so it is not harder for bands like Avenged Sevenfold, Bullet For My Valentine or Five Finger Death Punch to sell millions like the artists from the magical Seventies, Eighties and Nineties.
All they need is an album that will unite the fragmented metal genres in existence today.
What is harder is getting the great music heard from the rest of the noise that internet distribution has allowed. I am a believer that all great music will rise above. It might take years for some artists or it could be instant for others.
I am sure by 2030, young bands starting up will be saying that there will no band at that point in time that will be able to sell millions of albums or have their songs streamed 100,000,000 times or have YouTube views in the trillions.
However like the artist of today, they are as successful or if not more than those bands from the “glory” years.
As M.Shadows mention in the interview, don’t be worried following the sales metric as a sign of success. Focus on writing good songs and delivering live.