Metal Band Chimaira's Frontman Talks DIY Versus 'Label Hell'

from the outspoken-critic dept

The Metalluminati blog has a great interview with Mark Hunter, frontman of the metal band Chimaira. Hunter is apparently a known critic of record labels, but he has a thoughtful and measured view, and in this interview he discusses the pros and cons of the DIY approach for bands:

Example: For us, leaving Roadrunner in 2006 was necessary for the band to continue. We didn’t feel part of a team, so I simply asked our A&R Monte Conner to let us go. The pro was we got our freedom; the con was our career in the UK suffered drastically. While we paired up with good company after, Nuclear Blast had less of a presence in the country and our sales (both, album sales and live tickets) dwindled in the UK while they went up in the rest of the world.

I can’t recommend what’s right or wrong, I can only guarantee there will be unforeseen consequences to any path you take. Some labels might have a market cornered — like heavy metal in the UK — so you actually might be better suited to stay in that “hell.”

He also addresses the question of piracy and free distribution in general, and the beginning of his comment is very reminiscent of rapper/producer El-P's comments in his recent guest post, which is interesting since the specific question he was answering was about how hip-hop has been faster to embrace these things than metal:

Personally speaking, spending energy yelling at fans of music for their method of intake would be trite, not to mention hypocritical.  Chimaira got popular thanks to Napster, Limewire, and various other file-sharing platforms.  We embraced YouTube in the beginning, and were one of the first metal bands to make webisodes.

The full interview is a good read and includes links to some other great comments from Mark Hunter, who is clearly a guy with a lot of smart stuff to say about the music industry.



Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Joe Burton, May 8th, 2012 @ 3:58pm

    This rings true for many...

    I'm a big metal fan, and I feel that Mark Hunters ideas are shared by many metal artists that are out there today.

    Most metal is not mainstream and never sees the light of day on the radio, or on tv. Its services like Pandora, Spotify, and Last.fm driving new fans to new metal bands, and without it, I don't feel metal would be where it is today. This also is to be said for file sharing and P2P.

    Much of the metal out there would not be heard if it wasn't for these new methods of sharing your music with your social peers.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2012 @ 4:47pm

    How was metal heard before piracy?
    I think there were just as many metal bands in the 80's and 90's as there are now.
    People keep confusing the benefits of online marketing, with supposed benefits of piracy. We've never had one without the other to test the theory.

     

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  3.  
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    Overcast (profile), May 8th, 2012 @ 4:49pm

    "and without it, I don't feel metal would be where it is today.'

    Well... bootlegging helped some bands - dramatically. Even pre-internet days.

    I mean, if any of us recall high school, etc - I'm sure a large amount of the music you bought, you had heard for free at a friend's house, or got for free on a dubbed tape.

    I had lots of Metallica copied from friends on the recordable tapes, but it didn't stop me from buying it myself either.

    But indeed, all I need to do is put their band name in Pandora and yet again, I can listen for 'free' - even though I do pay the yearly sub fee, since it's quite reasonable.

     

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  4.  
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    Overcast (profile), May 8th, 2012 @ 5:03pm

    People keep confusing the benefits of online marketing, with supposed benefits of piracy.

    I think that the 'marketing' in online and other situations is part of what drives piracy. People hear the song, for free, on the radio, the web - and want to hear it again. So they either just download a copy, rip it at the library, or get it from a friend, etc...

    But of course, in some cases people hear the music and want to buy it. I like to buy CD's just for the collection and I just like the physical disc...

    But even before the web, it was no different. People heard music free, and perhaps liked it. Perhaps copied it from someone or the radio or perhaps bought it - depending on the value of them actually having the original.

    Much of the music people get - download, copied - or such, for 'free' - just isn't compelling enough for them to buy it. I hear tons on Pandora I just don't think is worth the cost - to me.

    If I could freely download it, I might, but even if I can't listen otherwise - it's not worth buying in many cases - to me, anyway. I like it 'enough' to settle with hearing it on the web, radio or whatever - on occasion.

    But rewinding to the concept at hand - the marketing drives the music to be played to begin with. Simply put, there's no other way to sell it. After that point, it's up to the consumer if it's worth the cost. Some people just aren't going to pay - music or not music. I've always been a music customer (collector) that likes to buy. But even in the 80's, before the web - I knew a number of people that wouldn't buy anything - everything they had was a copy.

    It's just that the visibility is more notable now, the ability to copy has been around as long as the music industry - since without the ability to copy the music somehow - we'd have to just go to live performances and in Mozart's day - music wasn't terribly profitable, even for a genius.

    I think if the leaders in the music industry were to look back on their high school days - I would be *quite* willing to bet - they had dubbed tapes/8-tracks too. Unless maybe they pre-date 8-Tracks, but even then - record trading was common along with 'borrowing' records - my dad has been a long term music collector too.. :)

    They need only look at their own buying habits of the time, and those of their friends to know that today's digital age just mimics that - albeit, on a much larger scale. Regardless of any laws made - their business models will *need* to change to stay profitable - ask "Barnes & Noble" or "Blockbuster" about that one.

    It wasn't piracy that has and is forcing these two to close brick and mortar stores. It's on-demand cable and amazon.

     

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  5.  
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    Leigh Beadon (profile), May 8th, 2012 @ 5:14pm

    Re:

    How was metal heard before piracy?

    That's easy: piracy

     

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

  6.  
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    Gwiz (profile), May 8th, 2012 @ 5:20pm

    Re:

    How was metal heard before piracy?
    I think there were just as many metal bands in the 80's and 90's as there are now.


    Metal had some fairly good radio coverage in the 80's and 90's in Detroit, but we still referred to those songs as the "commercial" ones. You heard about the really good stuff by word of mouth from friends and from the cassettes you traded.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2012 @ 6:25pm

    And who would be more acquainted with hell than a metal band?

     

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  8.  
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    Atkray (profile), May 8th, 2012 @ 7:53pm

    Re:

    The soulless minions of the RIAA and MPAA and their handlers.

     

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

  9.  
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    Jesse Townley (profile), May 9th, 2012 @ 12:39am

    Re:

    Tape trading.

    That's how Metallica, Slayer, Megadeath, Exodus, you name it got ginormous in the 80s.

     

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

  10.  
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    The eejit (profile), May 9th, 2012 @ 2:02am

    Re:

    Piracy. I mean, seriously? Tape-sharing, copying, snail mail of tapes.

     

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

  11.  
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    The eejit (profile), May 9th, 2012 @ 2:03am

    Re: Re:

    I was going to say "soulless corporate-types," but yours works, too.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    JEIDIDAH, May 9th, 2012 @ 8:40am

    Set Tivo to "acquire clue".

    Really. Watch a documentary or something if you don't have any of your own personal experiences in this area. One of the cable channels just had a whole series dedicated to the subject.

     

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


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