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.

Filed Under: heavy metal, internet, metal injection, tape trading


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Apr 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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