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The State Of Heavy Metal

There it is again. Heavy metal. It doesn’t matter how many times the labels tried to kill it, mainstream it or commercialize it, Heavy Metal has remained consistent from when it began. Whenever pop music becomes pretentious, heavy metal rises up as an alternative answer.

What does the term “heavy metal” mean?

Black Sabbath started something in 1969 in the UK. Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin started something on the hard rock front. In the U.S you had Kiss, Styx, Ted Nugent, Journey. In Australia, you had a pub rock band called AC/DC. Progressive Rock became a force to be reckoned with on the backs of Pink Floyd, ELP, Genesis and Yes.

By the mid Seventies, disco, punk and new wave became the darlings of the scene and heavy metal and all forms of rock went underground again, waiting for the day to rise again.

Then came the New Wave of British Heavy Metal between 1979 and 1983. At the same time, hard rock, glam metal and speed metal roared out of the Los Angeles and San Francisco scene. Think Motley Crue, Ratt, Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer.

When heavy metal and hard rock drops off the mainstream scene, it is never gone for long. Heavy Metal is the answer to all things corrupt. It is the soundtrack.

Typically most metal fans come from working-class homes or changed family dynamics. According to a recent study, all us metal heads must have low self-esteem, because that is why we listen to metal music.

The mainstream always ignored metal music, seeing it as too dumb. Of course, when a band breaks through, the mainstream are the first group of media outlets to jump on the wagon. Remember Metallica. Ignored by the mainstream completely. The only mainstream press they got was the sad and tragic death of Cliff Burton. Then the Black album comes out and it is undeniable. It’s a juggernaut and everyone wanted to be a part of it.

So here is the list of the current state of heavy metal.

CLASSIC EVERYTHING

Rush – enough said. Move on.

AC/DC – enough said times two.

CLASSIC METAL

Iron Maiden – they need another great album like “Brave New World” soon or they will be playing to smaller and smaller audiences with each tour.

Metallica – they need to start making better decisions and they need to release new music. Look at their decision-making process. A project with Lou Reed (RIP) that just didn’t connect with the fan bases of each party involved and an $18 million dud of a movie. In relation to new music, they can only go back to the same market place year after year before the fans get burned on it.

Megadeth – Dave Mustaine said on “The Metal Show” that his top five Megadeth albums are “Countdown To Extinction”, “Rust In Peace”, “Peace Sells”, “So Far So Good So What” and “Killing Is My Business”. He needs to have a current album in that Top 5.

Slayer – are finished in relation to new music without Jeff Hanneman. He was the main songwriter in Slayer, full stop. To hear Kerry King saying that if the Jeff Hanneman music in the archives is not good, it will be not used is a load of B.S. Who made Kerry King the gatekeeper?

Judas Priest – is not Judas Priest anymore. It’s all about the dollars.

Black Sabbath – is all about the last paycheck. Anyone remember the recent album? Name me the whole track list without Googling it. I bet if i asked you to name me the whole track list on “Paranoid” or “Heaven And Hell” I would get an answer.

Pantera – lets hope that no one is stupid enough to reform Pantera with a “guitarist” paying tribute to Dimebag. Stick to your guns Vinnie. Pantera died completely when Dimebag died.

CLASSIC ROCK

Led Zeppelin is still big business in the market place. That is what the mighty Zep has become. A Corporate entity.

Pink Floyd are on hiatus however Roger Waters is still doing the rounds. He is the real deal anyway.

Motley Crue have gone back to the same market places year after year since 2008. The fans are getting burnt on this grab for cash as no new music has been forthcoming expect for the song “Sex”. The movie and the farewell tour are constantly dropped to the public.

Deep Purple should call it a day. They are out of ideas and inspiration.

Styx, Journey, Toto and Night Ranger are shadows of their former selves, doing enough to make a living in the current music business, but out of touch of what the music business fans want from their artists today. Which is a direct line, a connection.

THRASH/GROOVE METAL

Machine Head is the leader in this group. In Robb Flynn, they have a work horse of epic proportions who has the grit to see things through.

Trivium are real contenders. Say what you will about them, one thing is clear; they are not afraid to try new shit out and take risks.

METAL (all styles)

Avenged Sevenfold and Five Finger Death Punch lead this group. They are ticking all the boxes. They have the sales on the board and both are part of the public conversation.

Bullet For My Valentine – have a great album in them. Can they write it?

Stone Sour – should have released one album instead of two.

Sevendust – I love them and the new album was a welcomed return to form.

Disturbed – The Device album had the same impact as the last Disturbed album. Do they still have a place in the Metal world?

Heartist – could be the next big thing or they could crash and burn with their next album as now they have a record label A&R department in their house.

ROCK (all styles)

Shinedown are the new ROCK GODS. Volbeat are not that far behind with Black Veil Brides and Skillet as decent contenders.

Eve To Adam – released a great rock album but no one has heard it.

Buckcherry – veterans of the scene and play to a niche.

Thirty Seconds To Mars – took too long to release a good album. If you are going to take 4 years between releases, you need to release a great album.

Airbourne – fill the AC/DC void when AC/DC is on hiatus.

Alter Bridge – are an experienced team that deliver consistently.

One Less Reason – great music, great songs however if people buy a physical product from them, they need to deliver.

10 Years – a great fan funded release in 2012. Now they need to make some hard decisions. Do they go the fan funded route again or do they seek to get a deal or something entirely different.

DO IT YOURSELF ROCK

Digital Summer – they run their band as a company that puts money back into the band and they still hold down jobs that gives them money for living.

Burnside – released a great album that no one has heard.

Vaudeville – another band that released a great album.

SUPER GROUP

The Night Flight Orchestra – If you haven’t heard “Internal Affairs” from 2012 you need to. TNFO is made up of melodic death metal bands playing classic rock and metal.

PROGRESSIVE METAL/ROCK

Tool – it’s going to be an event when the new Tool album comes out. Is it too late? Time will tell.

Coheed and Cambria – can’t do nothing wrong currently. Excellent double releases, plus great fan perks.

Dream Theater – are doing their best to maintain the success they achieved 10 years ago. Need a great album otherwise it’s bye bye.

TesseracT, Protest The Hero and Periphery are the new leaders of Progressive Music.

Today I Caught The Plague, Sound of Contact, Op Shop, Scale The Summit and Lizzard are rookies to take notice off.

METALCORE (MELODIC DEATH METAL)

Killswitch Engage are firing on all guns.

In Flames need to bring out new music.

All That Remains needs to head back to the studio.

The rest of the bands in this movement need a re-think.

SYMPHONIC METAL/ROCK

Within Temptation – enough said

DEATH METAL

Lamb of God – they are angry and they are pissed off. A bullshit murder trial and banned in a South East Asian country by ignorant pricks.

SHOCK

One final mention; “Du, Du Hast, Du Hast mish a fraud.” Rammstein has a dicka, so let’s get together, what is the problem?

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

What can artists learn from The Pirate Bay?

As most tech savvy people are aware, The Pirate Bay turned 10 years old a few days ago. In all of this, the Pirate Bay has stood strong against the pressure put on it by the MPAA and the RIAA and their sister organisations throughout the world. Much larger organisations have tried to stand up against these bodies and have failed. The fact that the Pirate Bay is still alive is something to respect.

So what can artists learn from The Pirate Bay?

The Pirate Bay spread via word of mouth. It didn’t embark on a scorched earth marketing policy. For an artist there is no better marketing strategy than word of mouth. That is how virality works.

Metallica – built their fan base via word of mouth on the strength of their album releases and live shows. It wasn’t until 1992 that Metallica decided to form a fan club.

Heartist – built their fan base all on line via fan to fan connections. This was all done without even playing a show. It was a total online strategy.

Volbeat – built their fan base via the strength of their material. A song that they released back in 2008 got traction in 2012, which in turn started to bring attention to their 2011 album release. Success comes later in today’s world. In some cases much later.

Galactic Cowboys – Back in the late eighties, Geffen Records signed a band called Galactic Cowboys. I have three of their albums that I picked up in the bargain basement bin. Geffen just kept on pushing the band onto the public with a pretty high profile marketing campaign, however the public just didn’t take to them.

Mutiny Within – I remember the Roadrunner marketing campaign for the band Mutiny Within. The campaign had the band linked to Killswitch Engage and Dream Theater. Instantly this is putting a pre-conceived ideal into the mind of the listener and in my opinion, didn’t do the band any favours. One of the flyers that I saw, had phrasing like “Mutiny Within is the twisted child of Killswitch Engage and Dream Theater.” The public decided that the band was not worthy of that title and the band was dropped from their label deal.

Artists (especially major artists) should seriously consider using The Pirate Bay to market the release of their next batch of songs. There is still a demand for free mp3’s. At the moment iTunes cannot service that demand as the iTunes platform needs to be paid. So what options do the artists have to provide their fan base with free mp3’s.
1. Use their own website and collect geographical information and email addresses. Get to know their fans and survey their fans.

2. Team up with Bit Torrent

3. Team up with The Pirate Bay

4. Team up with a crowd funding platform, where the perks involve t-shirts and so forth, with a free Digital Download of said music.
The Game Of Thrones creators have recently said that the piracy of the show has contributed to the cultural buzz of the show and that it is better than winning an Emmy. The creators have also said that they have seen a high increase in DVD sales. I always bring people’s attention back to the Southern and Central Americas’. Sales of recorded music is not high in countries that fall in the Southern and Central America zones, however bands have had great success in touring these areas.

The recent IFPI report shows Brazil as a market set to surge. Go to http://www.ifpi.org/content One of the comments on the report is a WTF moment. It’s on page 24 and it states the following;
“The launch of iTunes showed that Brazilians are prepared to pay for music. We thought consumers were so used to piracy that they would never buy music again. But this has been proved wrong. Moreover, a new generation of consumers can now have their first music experiences in the legal environment.”

To put the above comment into perspective, iTunes was launched in Brazil at the end of 2011. Seriously this is a terrible business model from the record labels. While they screamed piracy in Brazil and then had a real draconian Copyright law passed that can take down sites on the say so of the entertainment groups, the actual consumers, the music fans, could not download a legal mp3 in the country. Instead of trying to get licensing arrangements in place to launch iTunes earlier in Brazil, the Record Labels spent millions fighting piracy in the courts. Instead of trying to get licensing arrangements in place to launch iTunes earlier in Brazil, the Record Labels spent millions lobbying politicians to vote for SOPA and PIPA.

The Pirate Bay is easy to use. It has an ecosystem built around Trusted and VIP uploaders to Helpers and Moderators that delete hundreds of ‘spam’ accounts and fake uploads every day which in turn keeps the site running smoothly and its users happy. This ensures that the content is exactly what it is described to be. The ranking system of uploaders (which is a skull in different colours like the Karate belt system) allows any novice downloader to form a bond with a certain uploader.

As an artist, you need to have a unique reference point, something that is easy to find. Having a generic band name is not a unique reference point. If you Google names like Bon Jovi, Van Halen, Motley Crue or Metallica you know you get back searches that are related to the band name you Google’d. Google a band name like Today I Caught The Plague or Burnside. Then Google the same names with the term band attached to it. Any artist starting off needs to make it is easy as possible for people to find them online.

There is always room for improvement. The Pirate Bay keeps on evolving as technology evolves. Now it is simply an indexing site, that services the needs of its users, the same way Google service the needs of its users. It is always re-creating itself with the rise of new technologies.

All artists need to be doing the same thing. The web presence of any artist needs to be maintained, updated and recreated. It needs to adopt to changing technologies, to offer as many features as it can to its fans.

Why do so many Dream Theater, Bon Jovi, Metallica, Motley Crue or Five Finger Death Punch fans spend so much time on Forums that have no connection to the main web site of the band. Bands should be fostering these kinds of interactions on their main website. They should even be contributing to it, the same way they contribute to their Facebook and Twitter accounts. At least you know on the band forums, the real fans are there to interact and respond.

The Pirate Bay’s user base is growing because the users are prepared to share and people are prepared to download. This alone should inform the legacy gatekeepers that the fans of music are no longer sheep. The Pirate Bay showed the RIAA and the MPAA that their rules and prices suck and that service is a problem (remember iTunes launched in Brazil in 2011). The old model of basing success on record sales is gone. The old model of going to the record store and planning what albums you were going to buy in the months to come is over.

Artists need to service their fans. Make it hard for a fan to get your music, and they will go elsewhere. Trivium is a great example. They recently had a very complex (also brilliant) smart phone strategy that once you completed all the steps needed, the fan got to hear a sample of a new song. I can tell you that as a fan engagement tool, this attempt failed miserably. It was too hard for fans. So what do Trivium do next. They offer the full song for streaming via their website and as a free download. Now it is easy as hell. To paraphrase the Eagles, keep it easy…

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