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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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Spotify – Will Rock and Metal bands reach a 100 million downloads in such a short time frame?

Daft Punk’s track Get Lucky has been streamed 104,233,480 times so far. Spotify generally pays 0.004 a stream to the rights holder. So by doing the math that comes to $416,933.92 in payments from Spotify to the rights holder. How much of this money is distributed is given down to Daft Punk from Columbia Records is unknown. For a song that was released in April, this has proven to be a pretty good earner.

YouTube also shows Get Lucky getting close to 112 million plays. What YouTube will end up paying for that is unknown, as the payout figure is calculated on the type of advertisements shown.

To me, the Spotify and YouTube stats prove that if a song makes a connection with people, people will be going back to the song over and over and over again. As an artist, this is the statistic you want reported to you as you know that people are playing your song or songs.

In relation to sales they come a distant last, however just to make this post complete, Get Lucky has been downloaded over 2.4 million times in the US and over 1 million times in the UK. This means that the song in combined sales (US + UK) has earned roughly $2.4 million (that is based on using the iTunes 0.7 formula).

So if your view of the recording business is that “I WANT TO BE PAID RIGHT NOW” then the sales figure is your brass ring. However, in time the sales figure will die down.

If your view of the recording business is that “I WANT PEOPLE TO PLAY MY SONGS FOREVER and BE PAID FOREVER” then the streaming figure is your brass ring. Streaming has taken the concept of listening to a song a million times at home on your stereo into the digital world.

For all the complaints about streaming payments, an important note to make is that there is NO RELIABLE data from the PRE-NAPSTER era, that suggests that musicians received more money from recorded sales. The good old ADVANCE from the Record Labels always clouded the creative accounting employed by them.

Sound recordings these days are purely for promotion purposes. If you can make money from it, like Daft Punk has, great. In the end, once artists start looking for sales of their recorded music they start to become entrepreneurs. An entrepreneur is an individual who organizes and operates a business, taking on the financial risk to do so. As an entrepreneur you have to offer something which somebody else wants to buy. If you want to make money you need to provide something of value that somebody else wants to pay for.

In relation to radio plays, yes terrestrial radio does pay more, however with the rise of internet connections in all new automobile’s, terrestrial radio is dead. They just don’t know it yet. The world has shifted online and with all things online there is always one winner that comes out on top. Google, Facebook, Amazon, iTunes and Twitter are just some names that come to mind.

So what are the rock/metal numbers like for new music that came out in April 2013.

Bring Me The Horizon is sitting at 3.2 million for the song Shadow Moses.

Paramore is sitting at 7.6 million for the song Still Into You.

Fall Out Boy is sitting at 20.1 million for the song My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark.

Killswitch Engage is sitting at 1.2 million for the song In Due Time.

Volbeat is sitting at 2.63 million for the song Lola Montez.

Device is sitting at 525,000 for the song Vilify.

Rob Zombie is sitting at 347,000 for the song Dead City Radio And The New Gods Of Supertown.

If it is a numbers game, metal and rock has a long way to go to get to the 100 million streams of Get Lucky. One thing is clear, online streaming will not slow down. If you are a DIY artist, you need to play in this field. Streaming is just one cog in the complex machine that the music business has become.

If one of the bands above had that crossover songs, then….

 

For some artists it works really well, for others not so well. In relation to sales, Killswitch Engage, Rob Zombie, Volbeat and Device are still selling physical and digital units as they tour around the U.S. All of the bands have moved over 100,000 units each for their albums released in April.

If you are comparing sales numbers to streaming numbers, the streaming numbers are way more spectacular. In the end, all artists want to be heard. So what are are the artists doing, to give the people a reason to listen to them.  

The live business, the merchandise business and the recorded music sales business are other cogs in the complex machine that the musical business has become. 

One last note, Black Sabbath’s Paranoid has earned close to $44,000 from Spotify. Not bad for a song that was released forty odd years ago. Now who gets that money and how it is distributed amongst the band members is a different story entirely.

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