Artists need to think about their music as a product. In the end we (the fans) are all suckers for good products. Give us a good product and we will reciprocate.
So I am listening to the new Protest The Hero album, “Volition”. What a product it is! For the record, I was one of those fans that contributed to the Indiegogo campaign so you can say that my views are biased.
And what about this for a piece of PR? As soon as they were made aware of a few leaks hitting the internet in bad quality, Protest The Hero hastily arranged a download site for their Indiegogo contributors, sent an email to everyone about it with instructions on how to get their unique download pin and away we went, downloading the album.
The best way to fight piracy is to communicate with your fan base. They are your only concern. In relation to people downloading the album some will come to a show and some will download it and hate it.
So what was my immediate thought on the new album?
Original and evolutionary. This is Protest The Hero continuing on from what they have created in the past by adding a few more bells and whistles. The decision to go the fan funded route was just the beginning. During the recording process they lost a drummer and got an even better drummer in Chris Adler. They then got some friends to build some IT support to store all the data of the fans that contributed via Indiegogo.
So to sum up, Protest The Hero were able to record, mix, master and produce an album without having any record label support and without the need of a record label advance that they would have had to pay back AND they are still able to use the record labels to distribute the standard release worldwide.
Going back to the drumming, what a brilliant job from Chris Adler? It’s inspiring in the sense of “I Want To Break Stuff” inspiring. It just feels very metal like.
While Dream Theater and Korn get a lot of ink in the press, it is bands like Protest The Hero, Machine Head and Digital Summer that are stealing the thunder by reaching out to their fans, connecting and doing it the new way. They are cutting out everyone that gets in the way of them and their fans. It is a band to fan connection. It is a fan to band connection.
On a side note, when I listen to new music from bands, I normally place the music in the following categories;
1. Progress is derivative (to others this is the stolen or copied bucket).
2. Evolutionary (this is bands building on their past a little bit each time. It is the iterative approach)
3. Original (this is something that is so divergent or out there that it hasn’t been done before)
4. Maintenance (this is where the band delivers the same album over and over again)
So looking at my top 20 list of music so far from 2013, in which categories do they fall in.
Progress Is Derivative
Avenged Sevenfold with the “Hail To The King” album.
“Lift Me Up” from Five Finger Death Punch and “Kingmaker” from Megadeth also fit into this category.
This list has quite a few releases in it.
Protest The Hero leads the way with “Volition”. It builds on all of their previous efforts.
“Vengeance Falls” from Trivium is also an evolutionary album, building on the shorter song structure from “In Waves” with better melodies and technical precise riffage.
The concept album from Black Veil Brides falls into the evolutionary bucket for me. While the overall musical themes of the album are still rooted in the previous releases, there was enough growth to show a band evolving.
Mutiny Within hit the evolutionary path with the release of “Synchronicity” which shows the band moving further away from the metalcore stigma that Roadrunner put on them.
30 Seconds To Mars went all world music on “Love Lust Faith Dreams” which is again an evolution of “This Is War.” My wife loves this album.
Audrey Horne released “Youngblood” which is a further evolution from their previous album, moving more into a blues rock/metal vibe.
The next two albums are debut albums and the reason why I saw them as evolutionary is that the evolve from the sounds of Korn and Genesis/Pink Floyd.
Brian Welch’s solo project, Love and Death released the excellent “Between Here and The Lost” which is an evolution of what Korn was doing prior to Head’s departure. If i had to pick between Korn’s new one and Love and Death, my vote goes to Love and Death.
Sound Of Contact released a sci-fi concept album with “Dimensionaut” that captures the eerie spirit of sci-fi soundtracks merged with Pink Floyd/Genesis and Marillion prog.
I see Volbeat as an original band.
With “Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies” they merge country with their metal/rockabilly style. This album could have fitted in the evolutionary bucket as well, however in my opinion there is another of a blend of different music styles to class it as another original release.
I just finished reading a post on the Classic Rock Magazine website with Michael Poulsen, the lead singer from Volbeat. In that interview, he states that artists cant make any more money from record sales and that selling records doesn’t put food on the table anymore.
This is strange coming from a band that shifted 300,000 units in the U.S with their previous album. So if you do the math 300,000 at $10 a CD comes to $3MIL gross earnings on the CD. The current album is sitting at about 130,000 units in the U.S so far. So if Volbeat are not getting any money from the sales of recorded music, they should be speaking to their label about re-negotiating their deal.
TesseracT’s “Altered State” to me is a great piece of work. It isn’t just a bunch of songs put together and called an album. This is an album that needs to be listened from start to finish, with high quality headphones. There is so much happening that each listen is a new experience. It’s original to me.
All of these releases are good releases showcasing what the band does best. In a lot of cases, bands produce their greatest album by doing this and in some cases bands produce a few forgettable albums as well.
Coheed and Cambria – “The Afterman – Descension”
Dream Theater – “Dream Theater”
Bullet For My Valentine – “Temper Temper”
Stone Sour – “House Of Gold And Bones Part 2”
Alter Bridge – “Fortress”
Killswitch Engage – “Disarm The Descent”
Five Finger Death Punch – “The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell Vol 1”
Pretty Maids – “Motherland”
Buckcherry – “Confessions”
An artist and their music can move up or down in these categories throughout their careers.
The lessons here are that bands don’t have to be ground breaking original to be successful. They just need a well thought out approach that is executed well.