.Editorial - Not In It For The Money?
Metal Reviews

Release year: 2006
Reviewed by Ben

I’ve been listening to heavy music for almost as long as I’ve been alive. Since the time of my first metal cd so much has changed in my life and the way that I perceive things that its about time for me to put to writing my thoughts on this industry. I can vaguely remember how I would feel so long ago when metal was new and fresh to me and each new album was a forty to fifty minute gift from the heavens. There was a time when I was actually moved by certain bands and I can easily play in the eternal stereo that is my mind close to a hundred albums from beginning to end on memory alone. I also remember times when I was excited and thrilled to meet heroes and childhood idols. When I stumbled into Kai Hansen at a gas station in Atlanta I was a befuddled fan boy that could only mutter a few words and shake his hand. For three days before my first interview with Tobias Sammet I spent hours coming up with questions and could barely sleep that night and was up three hours before the eight AM scheduled time with my phone and recorder ready. I saw bands that were up and coming like Sonata Arctica and Nightwish climb to new heights of success and was proud for them and felt somewhat special for having been a follower since their origins. Now, I can honestly say that those days of reckless musical joy are long gone and will never return. Instead of bright eyed naivety (yes I was very naïve when I first began writing for this site) I am a bit wiser in my ways, slightly more cynical, and see the music industry in a whole new light. And while this new perception is not exactly the most positive it is closer to the truth than ever before.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to sound like I hate life, despise metal or eschew doing what I do. I still find happiness in conducting my interviews, talking to bands, and writing about new music but it is a more refined feeling than simple adulation. Instead of thinking, “Teehee I just got done talking to Sharlee D’Angelo,” it is more like “Hey that was a good interview and some nice networking.” I look towards the bigger scope of things instead of the now. My goal is to ultimately become an A&R rep for a reputable label and the more connections I make and the better I conduct myself when it comes to interviews, dealing with publicists, etc. provides myself with more material for a portfolio that I am compiling. I’ve also learned the hard way that the more involved with the industry one is the burden of responsibility and professionalism increases. A thick skin is needed to last and even now in my meager role I’ve had to deal with some pretty tough instances concerning matters in the industry There’s the usual mundane (and always expected) emails from bands that didn’t get a perfect score and no matter what country they’re based in or what language they speak are always along the lines of “fuck you you fucking piece of shit” to business related matters amongst colleagues. This leads me to another point and one that the majority of listeners seem to be unaware of and that is while heavy metal is a fine art form it is still part of an industry and the powers that be in this industry are out to make the money.

Back in my earlier years I was all about “keeping it true,” the underground rules, sellouts must die, blah, blah blah. It was easy for me to say that when I used to live at home and all I cared about was my own personal listening pleasure. I used to think that bands made music for me and other fans and that it doesn’t matter that they aren’t making any money off their 3000 record sales it’s all about the music right? Wrong. For any group who looks to be successful and have their music be their career they require much more than just sheer talent. Luck, timing, and marketability play into the equation just as much (and in some instances even more) than the abilities of the band. While I applaud the many independent labels all across the world for providing stellar material I have to be honest and say that a deal with an independent means basically nothing for a band. Signing with a small and respected label does give an artist a better outlet to release material than the trunk of their car outside the venue but that’s about it. You don’t get played on the radio, see posters in Tower Records, or have quality music videos when signed to an independent. Now before everyone begins to clamor for blood and proclaim that I’ve lost sight of what the music is really about, sit tight. The lifestyle of a musician is not an easy one. It’s not a big 24 / 7 party it’s constant never ending work. Touring is a rough way to live and bands like Shadows Fall (who toured somewhere near three hundred days out of the year in the infancy of their career) and Into Eternity that literally live on the road must be given credit just for surviving and not disbanding after seeing each other day in and day out. Believe me, every day on a tour lasts a lifetime so I can only imagine what it must be like to drive three times around the country in a busted van with five smelly guys for the better part of a year. Is it so wrong for musicians to want to get past this type of life? Is it such a dreadful thought that maybe, just maybe, these people can sign a major label deal and sell enough albums to afford a little luxury? Apparently the majority of the metal community thinks so. Maybe it’s because when a band becomes famous a fan no longer sees them as “their” band anymore but I find it somewhat disheartening when five or so individuals accomplish their life’s goal only to be bombarded by insults and heckling. While I may not necessarily enjoy every album released by bands such as Lacuna Coil, In Flames, Shadows Fall, or Opeth, as part of the metal listening community I am glad for these artists because their success paves the way for other up and coming acts. The lofty heights reached by all of the mentioned bands give hope and inspiration to others in the metal scene that, yes you actually can succeed, the ultimate fantasy for a musician really does happen to people in your peer group.

There’s a stack of cd’s that I should have probably taken a crack at before writing this editorial but I just had to get these thoughts out there finally on paper. I just recently got my hands on Rocket Ride and listening to any new music of this band puts me in a good mood. Add on to that that Sonata Arctica is coming to town on Thursday and this is shaping up to be a good beginning to a great week. The metal community, from the top heads in the industry and huge stars, to the unknown musicians touring in their car with a box of seven inch vinyl’s, to the legions of fans (which everyone is at heart, even the CEO’s), all have one single trait that is shared by everyone and it is the most important. Whatever role it takes in our lives, without our music life would be devoid of fulfillment.

Killing Songs :
Ben quoted
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