Web Documentary: How The Internet Changed Heavy Metal

from the hint:-for-the-better dept

A few weeks ago, I wrote about an upcoming web documentary by Metal Injection looking at the impact of the internet on heavy metal, among other things. The internet-focused episode was released last week, and it contains lots of interesting tidbits about the metal scene's reaction to changing technologies.

I say "tidbtis" because the format of the documentary is a little frustrating. It jumps rapidly back and forth among interviews with a huge variety of people including musicians, promoters, journalists and label representatives. It's kind of hard to keep track of who everyone is, and nobody really gets the time to make longer, more complex points, which also means there are a few quotes that are hard to interpret without the surrounding context. Nevertheless, there are some great views expressed, most of which will be familiar to Techdirt regulars.

At its core, the metal scene (like most music scenes) seems to be embracing the internet. One thing I found interesting was the number of people who clearly accept what's happening even if they don't entirely approve of it: whether they think that there is too much crappy music out there now, or that file sharing is bad for artists, they acknowledge that these things are here to stay and the only thing to do is embrace them and move forward.

There is also a running thread of the idea that the metal genre is especially well-positioned to build online business models, because metal fans tend to be big consumers of merchandise, and have a huge appreciation for large-form artwork and appealing physical products. Several people point out that it's no surprise the metal world embraced filesharing, since the golden age of heavy metal was fueled by tape trading—a topic that's discussed in more detail over at the Metalluminati blog.

You can watch the full documentary below.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 25th, 2012 @ 3:10am

    I have a few Swedish friends in metal bands and they made a point of telling me their fans buy their albums. They were kind of mystified, but pleased.
    So metal fans and artists may well be embracing the internet, but they are also embracing paying for the music.

     

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  2.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Apr 25th, 2012 @ 3:17am

    Re:

    "So metal fans and artists may well be embracing the internet, but they are also embracing paying for the music."

    That is because the musicians don't treat their fans like criminals, unlike the mainstream record labels.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 25th, 2012 @ 5:00am

    Heavy Metal / rock bands etc... now have to accept the internet and all it brings.
    There was a time , only 15 years ago when the people in power at record labels / studios / publishers all where rock/metal based. ( it's what they knew )
    Mostly they where OLD men with accumulated wealth.

    Now all that is out the window.

    Heavy metal doesn't need the old men with accumulated wealth in order to succeed anymore.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 25th, 2012 @ 5:16am

    Heavy Metal today is no different any other marginal activity or group. There are a few fans in each city / country / area, and they don't really have the critical mass right now to be a mainstream force.

    The internet (shock) allows them to group together and communicate, and to create a virtual community that allows them to be part of a bigger something.

    However, Metal is not better or no worse positioned to achieve good things. It's a music community like any other, perhaps slightly more marginalized than most. As a genre, it has always been a significant merch and "band gear" seller, as band shirts and such are generally part of the appearance package of being a metal head. You will notice that almost everyone in the video is wearing that sort of gear.

    It's not really difficult to understand.

    I don't think of it any different than other communities, such as Beanie Baby collectors or hidden camera pervs. Small groups that can connect online.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 25th, 2012 @ 5:38am

    Fans never stopped embracing paying, the internet is a place holder not a replacement for the original stuff unless you start calling everybody a thief than nobody cares about the original, nobody wants a piece of the artist and cognitive dissonance reins supreme, they may like the music but if they don't like the artist they don't buy anything else they don't put money on it, they don't start collections to acquire every piece of junk that the artist puts out.

    Further if you treat the fans badly natural social forces start to emerge and what was cool to own is now bad because you are financing the bad people who would harm as all and nobody wants to be on the receiving end of stinky eyes from their friends and family.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 25th, 2012 @ 6:51am

    Re:

    Forgive me if I'm wrong, but hasn't this been noted on this site in the past?

    Even when the band was offering the music for free off their own sites people were still buying physical copies.


    I have had the same reactions myself, although music has never enthralled me in that way, but I have "obtained" certain copies of games and went on to purchase it a few times over as gifts or to get access to more content.

     

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  7.  
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    ltlw0lf (profile), Apr 25th, 2012 @ 7:10am

    Re: Re:

    Forgive me if I'm wrong, but hasn't this been noted on this site in the past?

    It has. Luckily, or unfortunately, depending on your mood, it keeps getting repeated because there are some of us here (ahem...a particular failed "independent musician" anonymous coward around here in particular) that don't believe it and would rather run around with our hands over our ears yelling "But, Piracy!"

    I've seen the same with myself, and it is funny that I didn't know anything about Jessica Frech until I watched her free youtube video and then started buying her stuff even though she makes it available for free on her website. I've done the same with many other artists. But there are some here that believe that free is evil and the only way to make money in this world is to treat your customers poorly, accuse them of stealing your stuff, and then complaining that piracy made you unsuccessful when it really was your own attitude and failure to sell yourself to your audience.

     

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  8.  
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    Richard (profile), Apr 25th, 2012 @ 9:17am

    Re:

    so metal fans and artists may well be embracing the internet, but they are also embracing paying for the music.

    When you buy an album you are not paying for the music in the album. Insofar as you are paying for music you are paying for the music in the next album. Those of us who understand this point are happy to pay for stuff even if it is available for free.

    But when it comes to snooping on and blocking the internet or crippling general purpose technology to accomodate the needs of DRM then you can get your **** tanks off my lawn!

     

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  9.  
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    weneedhelp (profile), Apr 25th, 2012 @ 9:29am

    Re:

    Small groups? You are kidding right? You prove you have no clue about this subject/genre. Metal heads are everywhere. One is probably sitting next to you now. In the metal heyday those bands sold out stadiums time time again, album after album, tour after tour, year after year. Albums were 7-10 bucks, concert tickets were 7-20 bucks and t-shirts were 7-10. Being a teenager with a decent job could afford you the album, t-shirt, and ticket.

    And surprise suprise, the first thing I used to do when I got an album was to dub it and give it to my friends. They would hear it, decide they liked it (or not) and shelled out the 7-10 bucks for it. I cant tell you how many albums I purchased that way. In the case of Iron Maiden the album art was as much a part of it as the music. Eddie is awesome.

    Flash to present day. Immortal Technique & Paris were given to me from a co-woker on a flash drive. The complete collections. After a month or so I had some extra cash and bought their whole collections because I liked their music.
    Clutch, Coal Chamber, Deathalizer, Devil Driver, Flaw, Grip Inc., Hatebreed, Hellyeah, Kyuss, Lacuna Coil, Lamb Of God, MurderDolls, Mushroomhead, and on and on, and thats just a partial from my Metal folder. Guess what? All free. Free, free, free, free, free, free, and free. Guess what else? At least one album bought, bought, bought, bought, and bought from each artist.

    Metalheads are older now. No longer do we dress in jeans concert shirts and denim jackets with the great Iron Maiden artwork patch on the back. (I still have it though.)

    Most of us now have kids, jobs, car payments, mortgages, etc. I dont give a fuck who it is 100+ for a concert ticket is absurd. 35-50 for a concert shirt, are they fucking out of their minds? I wont, repeat wont, spent that kind of money, and believe today's parents wont either.

    So now instead of having 100,000 fans shell out $15-$20 bucks to see them in a stadium, it is $50 on up for a 3000 seat club. Do the math.

    I dont care how much I love your music, when I can take my family camping for the weekend for the cost of 2 concert tickets, ill tell you to go fuck yourself.

    Now here is where your true colors show:
    Beanie Baby collectors or hidden camera pervs.
    What a fucking asshole you must be. Hidden camera pervs, yeah ok buddy.

    Coulda saved yourself a lot of tome and just posted Metal sucks.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    hurricane head, Apr 25th, 2012 @ 10:58am

    artists rights for an ethical internet everyone should be paid fairly

    acceptance without approval is just reality. I accept how things are today, but I can also work towards making them better for artists tomorrow. these are not mutually exclusive. there is no such thing as stasis. the difference is being defeatist or not. the law is against TD and yet TD spends a lot of time tilting windmills. good luck with that.

    if this was a non-starter, and there was no worthy and legitimate opposition you wouldn't be wasting your time in these conversations. you are scared. very scared, and you should be.

    the law supports artists. techdirt is against artists rights and copyright, and is promoting an agenda that there is no point in musicians defending themselves against tech corporations profiting in the millions or billions of dollars annually from the illegal exploitation of artists labor, which is an entirely unethical.

     

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  11.  
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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Apr 25th, 2012 @ 11:15am

    Re: artists rights for an ethical internet everyone should be paid fairly

    the difference is being defeatist or not. the law is against TD and yet TD spends a lot of time tilting windmills.

    Do you not see the inherent contradiction in those two statements?

    From our point of view, to give up on opposing laws that we very much believe are bad, or to stop pushing cultural ideals that we value strongly, would constitute being defeatists.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    hurricane head, Apr 25th, 2012 @ 12:46pm

    Re: Re: artists rights for an ethical internet everyone should be paid fairly

    yes, it's your contradiction. that's also just your opinion. the laws already exist to protect artists, despite you not wanting them too.

    you want other people to give up their rights so that you (and others) can profit from exploiting them. if there is no law to oppose you, than you are not doing it illegally.

    in the meantime, you are trying convince those opposed to you as to the futile nature of them doing so. so yes, you are obviously confused.

    the law protects the artists. you are arguing to change the laws that protect the artists. again, good luck with that.

    I respect you tilting windmills, and I know you know the serious amount of work you have to do to convince artists that they no longer need their rights or copyright so that tech corporations can profit with impunity without consent or compensation.

    you just don't get it.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 25th, 2012 @ 2:55pm

    Rather ironic that Techdirt posters claim metal fans buy metal albums because the bands don't treat their fans like criminals.
    Remember the band Metallica?

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 25th, 2012 @ 3:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: artists rights for an ethical internet everyone should be paid fairly

    Lolwhut. The law does not protect artists, it protects the middleman who steals artists' rights while smiling and saying "I'll make you rich kid, you just have to trust me". Artists get shafted at every turn.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 25th, 2012 @ 3:10pm

    Response to: Anonymous Coward on Apr 25th, 2012 @ 2:55pm

    Yes, because one band = an entire genre. Nice try.

     

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  16.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 25th, 2012 @ 3:30pm

    Re: Re: Re: artists rights for an ethical internet everyone should be paid fairly

    the laws already exist to protect artists, despite you not wanting them too.


    I want the laws to protect legitimate rights, for artists as well as everyone else. My beef with the laws as they exist today is not that they protect artists (taking for the sake of argument that they in fact do), but that they actively infringe on the rights of everyone else.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 25th, 2012 @ 3:38pm

    Re: artists rights for an ethical internet everyone should be paid fairly

    The law?
    Who cares about the law?

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 25th, 2012 @ 3:51pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: artists rights for an ethical internet everyone should be paid fairly

    so your solution to one injustice is to create and promote a larger injustice? artists get contracts with labels, artist get paid by labels, artists get promoted by labels, and artists have free agency to NOT accept a record deal if they don't want one.

    none of that is true with the tech pirates illegally exploiting the artists work with impunity, and without consent or compensation.

    show me a contract or the ability for an artist to opt out of the pirate bay and you may have a point. If the pirates wanted to respect artists they would 1) allow the artists to remove their works, 2) offer compensation to the artists for the exploitation of their works.

    the reason why these things are not offered is not because of record labels, but rather the vast majority of artists would defect rather quickly given the choice. unfortunately that choice has been taken away from the artist so that the pirates of tech can profit while paying the artists NOTHING.

    this is why musicians believe the techdirt community hates them.

     

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  19.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 25th, 2012 @ 3:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: artists rights for an ethical internet everyone should be paid fairly

    An interesting argument, but it relies on a falsehood: TD as a site and collectively as a community is not pro-piracy.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 25th, 2012 @ 4:04pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: artists rights for an ethical internet everyone should be paid fairly

    sorry, you don't have a "right to steal". copyright does not infringe on you.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 25th, 2012 @ 4:06pm

    Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Apr 25th, 2012 @ 2:55pm

    Yes, because one band = an entire genre.

    Of course i wasn't saying that.
    What some here are saying is that 'Metal' is somehow different. And yet one of the most notorious anti-piracy actions was undertaken by one of the most important Metal bands operating in the internet age.
    You just need some perspective.

     

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  22.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 25th, 2012 @ 4:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: artists rights for an ethical internet everyone should be paid fairly

    Please. I'm not talking about a "right to steal". I'm talking about actual, real, legitimate rights. Property rights, free speech rights, and privacy rights come to mind off the top of my head.

    I'm talking about the infringement of the rights of people who never pirate, and even theoretical people who never expose themselves to music and such in any way at all.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 25th, 2012 @ 5:11pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: artists rights for an ethical internet everyone should be paid fairly

    It is strongly pro The Pirate Party however, and strongly opposed to all anti-piracy measures whoever proposes and whenever they are proposed.
    So how is TD not pro piracy when it is pro the Pirate Party?

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Lars Duchebag, Apr 25th, 2012 @ 5:26pm

    Re:

    It that exact reason I downloaded all their music even though I had most of it anyway, and also why I would never go to a concert.

    And BTW, Metallica does not represent the whole of the Metal genre.

     

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  25.  
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    vegetaman (profile), Apr 25th, 2012 @ 5:51pm

    Nice.

    Not only has the internet given my band an audience, it has also given us a chance to continue to make new music in spite of the hundreds (or thousands) of miles that may separate us. And it allows us to collaborate with people on other continents, who we may never have met otherwise.

    And that we give our songs away for free? I know for me personally, I just enjoy making the music and sharing it with people (who will also hopefully enjoy it). It is my hobby, and I don't need any money for it.

     

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  26.  
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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Apr 25th, 2012 @ 7:41pm

    Re: Nice.

    Amen to all of that!

    The collaboration part is something we maybe don't talk about enough here - because that is such a huge part of the magic of making music in the online world.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 25th, 2012 @ 7:48pm

    Re: Re: Nice.

    Amen to all our music coming from hobbists?

     

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  28.  
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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Apr 25th, 2012 @ 7:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: artists rights for an ethical internet everyone should be paid fairly

    I respect you tilting windmills, and I know you know the serious amount of work you have to do to convince artists that they no longer need their rights or copyright so that tech corporations can profit with impunity without consent or compensation.

    you just don't get it.


    Wait, so do you know I know? Or do I just not get it? You're all over the map buddy! Don't worry, that happens when your mind is slowly opening up to a new and better way of looking at things...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Apr 25th, 2012 @ 7:51pm

    Re: Re: Re: Nice.

    Is that like a guy who makes hobbits in his spare time?

    But um, yeah sure - amen to that totally. Most of the music I listen to nowadays comes from really small-time artists that I find on Bandcamp and Soundcloud. There is no shortage of amazing stuff out there. There are some big artists I like too of course, but one thing I'm certainly not worried about is that there won't be a tonne of awesome music for me to choose from. You'd have to be a fool to worry about that.

    So, yup: whoever wants to make music should, and I'll find and support who I like. If it turns out that's "hobbyists", fine by me.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 25th, 2012 @ 9:37pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Nice.

    Oh ok.
    All the hobbyists I know would prefer to be full time professionals. Also, most of the hobbyist created music I come across is not as satisfying as the professional stuff. Mainly because the hobbyists don't have the spare time or money to concentrate on their music.
    Do you prefer local ball players to NBA action?

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 25th, 2012 @ 10:53pm

    Re: Re:

    "Small groups? You are kidding right? You prove you have no clue about this subject/genre. Metal heads are everywhere."

    Metal tends to wax and wane. It falls into popular culture, it becomes very mainstream, and then *click*, it seems to shut right off. Right now, we are in one of those periods where metal music is shut off from the mainstream, and as such, there isn't as much activity. It's much more fashionable these days to be into "alternative rock" then it is to be a true metal head.

    You pretty much hit the nail on the head, as an old metal fan you are not going to pay the price for what is being asked out there. That makes you the perfect example of why CwF+RtB is a failure: You are smart enough to realize that inflated merch prices and inflated ticket prices are self-defeating.

    Moreover, you have shown a willingness to do the one thing that is against Techdirt policy, which is to actually pay for music. Why the heck would you do that? Very old fashioned!

    Anyway, my main point is that, during the times (like today) when metal wanes, the numbers of new fans in the bottom of the system (newbies) is pretty small. Rap, rap-rock, and alternative right now are all pretty much wiping it out. So actual active metal heads, those willing to spending money... they are rare in each town. There might be tons of fans of the music, but actual active metal heads? Rare. Can you name any others in your town? Where is your closest heavy metal only night club?

    For most people, the online community is the only way to be part of any community, because locally, they just aren't that strong. In Europe, it's still fairly active, but in North America in particular, metal is pretty quiet right now. Online communities do help to keep the flame alive.

    As for the beanie babes and upskirt pervs comment, it isn't to suggest you are either - rather just to give you a scale right now of where the active metal fans land. It's kind of sad.

    As a side note, did you ever get to see a Gwar show? I saw a few, including the tour with them as their own opening act as X-cops. Nice combination of theater and metal. Messy, but fun.

     

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  32.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 26th, 2012 @ 11:04am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: artists rights for an ethical internet everyone should be paid fairly

    strongly opposed to all anti-piracy measures whoever proposes and whenever they are proposed.


    That's just not true, unless you use a very narrow definition of "anti-piracy measures". TD certainly does oppose anti-piracy measures that harm non-pirates, though. And I agree with that stance.

    So how is TD not pro piracy when it is pro the Pirate Party?


    Because The Pirate Party is not really about piracy.

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 26th, 2012 @ 9:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: artists rights for an ethical internet everyone should be paid fairly

    >strongly opposed to all anti-piracy measures whoever proposes and whenever they are proposed

    If those anti-piracy measures actually worked you might actually have a case. What we've seen is that years of suing has had shoddy, unevaluated evidence, over-the-top penalties for non-commercial infringement, and a general lack of technological understanding in these issues. If you can take down Megaupload under current law why do you need SOPA to be proposed in the first place?

    You can whine about Techdirt all you want, but even outside the Internet, few people are amused by the sort of idiocy that surrounds these cases. Prosecution against Megaupload has spent years of planning, taxpayer-funded resources and what did they get? Nothing but procedural fuck-ups. I don't see why they should be forgiven for this epic level of sheer idiocy.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    a huge metal fan, Jun 14th, 2012 @ 9:22am

    Actually, if you think about it is not that bad.

    I gotta say the production cost of a metal album is far greater than pop shit. There is money spent on the artwork of the album and some spent years writing songs for a new album. That means the average cost of a metal album could be higher because they spent more money on it and it sells far fewer copies than mainstream music. My point is, does it really have to be about money? Maybe it is better that a band releases 5 great albums in 20 years than 15-18 albums of half-assed music so that they will make some money. What do you think?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    a huge metal fan, Jun 14th, 2012 @ 9:24am

    Actually, if you think about it is not that bad.

    I gotta say the production cost of a metal album is far greater than pop shit. There is money spent on the artwork of the album and some spent years writing songs for a new album. That means the average cost of a metal album could be higher because they spent more money on it and it sells far fewer copies than mainstream music. My point is, does it really have to be about money? Maybe it is better that a band releases 5 great albums in 20 years than 15-18 albums of half-assed music so that they will make some money. What do you think?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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