martes, agosto 30, 2011

SERRUCHO- Zombifikatus estis (2010)

Este es uno de esos discos que despista y que es mucho más de lo que parece, pero a la vez todo lo que parece. En principio es un desparrame de vísceras, sangre, Grindcore desquiciado y letras delirantes con títulos como “Mil muertos aserrando frenillos” o “Los fist fucking del Doctor Serrucho”, y musicalmente una orgía de chillidos, guitarrazos y blastbeats.  “Puro, sádiko y enfemizo zombified grindcore”, como dicen ellos. Y lo es a rabiar y hasta sus últimas consecuencias, pero también es mucho más.

Todo suena rápido y cortante y la agresividad te da en la cara desde el principio, pero también hay chicha en la música y no se limitan a hacer el cafre sin más, evitando caer en la excesiva simpleza de otros colegas del género. Riffs y ritmos variados, cambios de tempo sencillos pero eficaces, unas melodías de guitarra dobladas de vez en cuando, dos voces -gutural y rasgada-… la fórmula perfecta para resultar amenos durante treinta temas y sin renunciar a la esencia del Grindcore más genuino y despiadado.

Más aún, la música flirtea a menudo con otros estilos y hay pasajes que tienen un cierto carácter de Death melódico, sobre todo cuando aparecen las mencionadas frases de guitarra armonizadas pero también en algunos riffs. Entre eso y el doble ataque vocal, el disco parece a ratos una mezcla del “Slaughtercult” de EXHUMED y del “Unhallowed” de THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER, o algo equidistante entre ambos. Y al añadirle algún efímero solo, arreglos discretos pero efectivos, samplers y ocasionales bases techno pero sin abusar y unas intros sabiamente elegidas y que no se pasan de duración, han logrado un conjunto impecable y han demostrado que se puede hacer el animal y hacer buena música a la vez.

Capítulo aparte y digno de admiración son las letras: los títulos van todos en la línea de los mencionados, con perlas como “La feria de la karne podrida”, “Masturbazión anal con un tampax usao” o “Despieze de maskotas”, pero concretamente estos tres hablan del 11-M, la telebasura y la experimentación con animales, y a lo largo de los demás tocan temas comprometidos como el maltrato a las mujeres, la drogadicción, la pederastia y hasta la escena metálica extrema, pero todo presentado bajo la apariencia de un simple cómic sanguinolento. De nuevo hay mucho más de lo que parece a simple vista, pero también abundan las letras que directamente son sólo una fantasía gore de vísceras y masacres, así que, como en el apartado musical, hay de todo y todo bien hecho.

Antes aludí a las intros y no quiero pasarlas por alto, porque en este disco además de ser cortas están fenomenalmente integradas con la música, tanto por su sentido como por el momento y la forma en que se funden. Y luego hay puntazos descacharrantes como el unir el “Hey! Ho! Let’s go!” de los RAMONES con el riff inicial del “South of Heaven” de SLAYER y que quede bien en medio de un tema furiosamente Grind. O fumadas como el interludio “Belzebú, el gran enemigo del Cielo”, más ejemplos del gran ingenio que demuestran a lo largo de todo el disco.

Y por último creo que también hay que elogiar el hecho de que se han currado un disco doble, o lo que en vinilo sería un disco doble: una hora y diez minutos de música, treinta temas todos a la misma altura de inspiración y todos igual de válidos y sin rellenos, una especie de “…And justice for all” en versión Death/Grind y a la española. No hay que andarse por las ramas con este tema: un disco de veintitrés minutos no es un disco, y en unos tiempos donde parece que con media hora los grupos ya han cumplido tenemos a estos tíos ofreciendo a la gente todo lo que tienen (incluso aunque cinco temas sean versiones). Y no es que por meter más temas un disco sea mejor, por supuesto, pero cuando un grupo está a tope de creatividad y de resultados como SERRUCHO, es admirable que lo den todo, porque perfectamente podrían haber sacado un disco de 35 minutos y dentro de un año otro igual, y no lo han hecho. Qué demonios, están dando dos por uno de un producto de alta calidad, qué más se puede pedir.

La única pega de este formidable disco es que la mezcla no está bien compensada y hay un claro desequilibrio entre los instrumentos, especialmente las voces, demasiado por debajo de la música, y la batería va y viene pero en general también le falta presencia. El resultado es cierto barullo que le sienta muy bien a la brutalidad de la música pero que hace perder detalles en un disco que tiene muchos. Y las voces, por otra parte, casi nunca se entienden, y eso que “cantan” en español, pero en gran medida es resultado de la mezcla. Es lo único que empaña este álbum portentoso, plagado de talento a la vez que de furia y que admite tantas formas distintas de percibirlo, escucharlo y disfrutarlo.

(Originalmente publicado en Xtreemmusic.com)

domingo, agosto 28, 2011

Nergal de BEHEMOTH absuelto


Adam Darski, cantante y guitarrista de los polacos BEHEMOTH, más conocido como "Nergal", ha sido declarado inocente de ofender los sentimientos religiosos en relación con un incidente sucedido en septiembre del 2007, cuando al parecer dijo durante la actuación del grupo en Gdynia, Polonia, que la Iglesia Católica es "el culto más asesino sobre el planeta", tras lo cual rompió una Biblia y la llamó "el libro de las mentiras". El juez polaco encargado de instruir el caso, Krzysztof Wieckowski, ha dictaminado que el comportamiento de Nergal sobre el escenario era una forma de expresión artística coherente con el estilo del grupo, y que no es tarea suya limitar la libertad de expresión ni el derecho a criticar la religión. En favor de este veredicto contó también el hecho de que los miembros del público que testificaron en calidad de creyentes católicos dijeron no haberse sentido ofendidos.

La demanda había sido presentada por Ryszard Nowak al frente del Comité Polaco para la Defensa contra las Sectas, pero el caso fue resuelto a favor de Nergal en junio del año pasado, cuando la Corte del Distrito de Gdynia no vio delito alguno en la actuación del músico. Sin embargo, la acusación presentó una apelación y la Corte Regional de Gdansk ordenó en septiembre la reapertura del caso. Según el propio Nergal, quien se ha mostrado satisfecho con el veredicto, "los fans de BEHEMOTH saben lo que es BEHEMOTH, conocen las letras y conocen la filosofía de fondo, así que es sorprendente que haya gente que venga a un concierto y se sienta ofendida por lo que hacemos, y si alguien así viene a un concierto nuestro es que lo hace con el propósito de sentirse ofendido."

(Originalmente publicado en Xtreemmusic.com)

jueves, agosto 25, 2011

Welcome to the farm


Volvemos con los animales, pero esta vez le toca el turno al Death y al Grindcore, donde seguramente hay muchos más animales que en ningún otro género, o gente que hace el animal… o animales que hacen como si fueran gente.

Ahí quería yo llegar: quizá haya quien conozca a CANINUS, ese grupo que tiene en sus filas a dos rottweilers porque, como ellos mismos dicen, "All these death-metal bands have dudes trying to sound like animals, so we figured we'd give people the real deal". Es de una lógica aplastante, y encima los animales no tienen derechos sindicales ni piden royaltis. Pero incluir perros es una cosa digamos “normal”, ya que el Death Metal siempre ha tenido vocalistas que ladraban, gruñían, etc., así que el salto tiene su justificación, y, en el fondo, a estas alturas tampoco es lo que más puede sorprender a la audiencia. Por cierto, CANINUS hacen una música muy recomendable, al margen de estas cosas pintorescas y puramente anecdóticas.

En esta línea de grupos que incluyen en su formación a verdaderos animales al lado de animales del género supuestamente racional, tenemos también a HATEBEAK, donde las tareas vocales las desempeña nada menos que un loro. O cotorra, o cacatúa, o lo que sea, que tampoco estoy yo ahora por la labor de doctorarme en Taxonomía. Juraría que es un loro. En todo caso, este ejemplo sí que es puramente de cara a la galería y no va más allá de ser un buen motivo de risas y todo un alarde de exotismo, nunca mejor dicho.

Y volvemos a los humanos que simulan animales: tras los que sonaban como perros vinieron los que imitan a los cerdos, con sus pig-squeals tan queridos por muchos grupos de Grind, Gore-Grind y últimamente de Slam, esos chillidos propios de nuestros suculentos gorrinos en el día de San Martín. Se han puesto tan de moda que hasta se pueden encontrar distintas técnicas e instrucciones para aprender a hacerlos, y hoy día un grupo volcado en los subgénero más underground y cavernícolas no es gran cosa si no tiene un vocalista versátil que sepa pasar de los gruñidos a los wee-wees en menos que canta un loro.


Así las cosas, el último giro de tuerca y la última conquista de nuestros zoófilos más estridentes ha sido empezar a sonar como… ¿ranas? Sí, eso parece. Ranas. Se ve que son el bicho más dado al metal extremo en todas sus variantes. Ranas guturales, ranas aplastadas, ranas regurgitantes, no se me ocurre nada más parecido a lo que sale por la tráquea de ese personaje casi de ficción que está al frente de un grupo con el bonito nombre de VAGINAL PENETRATION OF AN AMELUS WITH A MUSTY CARROT. Quien desconozca el significado de alguna palabra, que la busque, la diversión está garantizada. Estos angelitos vienen de Austria, y aunque su música vale menos que un puñado de alpiste caducado, sólo por “ver” a su cantante ya merecen la pena. Y por oírle, por supuesto, pero es que verle ya es todo un espectáculo. Y tiene que ser en persona, que es cuando despliega todo su potencial de personaje sacado directamente de una película gore de serie B. Tuve ocasión de presenciar su actuación en el festival “Brutologos VII” en Palencia en mayo de este año, y mientras el tipo estaba entre el público antes de subir a escena daba casi miedo, una especie de oso polar redondo, o un elefante marino puesto en pie, ataviado con unos pantalones militares y una enorme bata blanca manchada de sangre donde se podía leer “Snuff junky”, también en letras escritas con sangre (de niño muerto, por supuesto), una mirada perdida como de loco y unos movimientos parsimoniosos y amenazantes ante cuya envergadura nadie se atrevía a incluirle en el pogo. Luego la cosa no era para tanto, claro, y no parece que hubiera desayunado vísceras de huérfanos autistas, al menos ese día, y el tipo hasta resultó de lo más afable durante las fotos tras el festival. Pero la imagen es lo que cuenta, y el entretenimiento, y la capacidad de sugestión, y en todo eso los psicópatas de VPOAAWAMC van sobrados, aunque su música, insisto, sea de lo más flojo que existe en la actualidad. Son un grupo de directo, básicamente. Pero por si alguien quiere comprobar qué engendro espantoso es ese ruido que le sale por la garganta a este personaje inverosímil, recomiendo probar con el Split que han publicado con ELITE DRUG DEALERS, donde se puede escuchar el sonido del hombre-rana en todo su esplendor. Y no me refiero a un buzo.

lunes, agosto 22, 2011

Century Media vs. Spotify


En las primeras semanas de este mes de agosto ha surgido un más que interesante “debate” en tierras americanas entre la página de internet Metalsucks y la discográfica Century Media. No sé si fue un debate, una discusión, una pataleta o qué, pero unos y otros -y hasta muchos lectores a través de sus comentarios- dijeron cosas interesantes y que hacen pensar a fondo sobre qué está pasando con la forma de transmitirse y comercializarse la música. Este es un tema que en yankilandia lleva una ventaja considerable respecto a la vieja Europa, por ahora a la zaga en cuanto a comunicaciones y tecnologías aplicadas a las mismas.

Todo empezó cuando el sello Century Media hizo pública su decisión de sacar su catálogo de bandas fuera de la conocida plataforma de música. Casi a la vez Earache anunció que ponía a disposición de Spotify toda su lista de bandas y discos, pero lo sustancial de la polémica no vino de parte de esta discográfica sino de los redactores de Metalsucks, una página americana dedicada al Metal que cuenta con una base creciente de lectores y que abarca noticias, entrevistas, primicias de música en stream, enlaces a vídeos, comentarios sobre la actualidad, concursos, curiosidades… siempre desde un enfoque variado, con un carácter incisivo y una notable agudeza, pero también con un humor a menudo ácido y nada preocupado por quedar bien.

Los comentarios de Metalsucks tras la noticia motivaron una respuesta por parte de la discográfica, esta fue de nuevo contestada, hubo otra respuesta… Más adelante incluso empezaron a tomar parte en la discusión los propios músicos, algunos de ellos procedentes de bandas fichadas por Century Media, pero por ahora me ceñiré a esos primeros intercambios entre la página y el sello, todos en un tono comedido pero con un trasfondo poco amigable que le dio morbo y tensión a todo el asunto. Lo transcribo en inglés porque así es como se produjo y porque no me apetece ponerme a traducir, qué demonios.



Century Media pull their repertoire from Spotify

Century Media and its associated labels “InsideOutMusic”, “Superballmusic” and “People Like You” have decided to pull their repertoire from Spotify in an attempt to protect the interests of their artists.

While everyone at the label group believes in the ever changing possibilities of new technology and new ways of bringing music to the fans, Century Media is also of the opinion that Spotify in its present shape and form isn’t the way forward. The income streams to the artists are affected massively and therefore that accelerates the downward spiral, which eventually will lead to artists not being able to record music the way it should be recorded. Ultimately, in some cases, it will completely kill a lot of smaller bands that are already struggling to make ends meet.

At the same time Century Media also believes that Spotify is a great tool to discover new music and is in the process of reintroducing their bands to Spotify by way of putting up samplers of the artists. This way, fans can still discover the great music released by the label.

Physical sales are dropping drastically in all countries where Spotify is active. Artists are depending on their income from selling music and it is our job to support them to do so. Since the artists need to sell their music to continue their creativity, Spotify is a problem for them. This is about survival, nothing less and it is time that fans and consumers realize that for artists it is essential to sell music to keep their heads above water.

Obviously it is ultimately up to the music fan and consumer, how they access their music, whether it is buying, streaming or stealing. There needs to be awareness though, that how you will consume your music has direct consequences for the artists, who we are all trying to support.




Century Media pulls out of Spotify, buries heads in the sand
Monday, August 8th, 2011
by Vince Neilstein

Fans hoping to stream music by Nachtmystium, Inrtronaut, Nevermore and hundreds of other Century Media artists on Spotify are suddenly out of luck: in a move that leaves little doubt as to why the recorded music industry is in the shitter (key word: recorded), the label has suddenly pulled all of its artists off of Spotify. Word on the street is that they’re holding out for a better deal that pays more on a per-stream basis.
 
Full disclosure: Century Media regularly purchases ad campaigns with MetalSucks. Spotify never has.

In a nutshell, the mistake Century is making is this: it’s all about the long-term, not the short-term, you dummies.

This is an incredibly tough pill for the Century suits to swallow — they’re more concerned with posting impressive numbers to lock in their next contract than developing the careers of the label’s bands — but the value in services like Spotify is not in generating immediate revenue for the label and its bands, but in exposing fans to new artists, strengthening that artist-to-fan bond over time, and then capitalizing long-term on merch items, tour tickets, sponsorships and the like. Discovering new music has never been easier, and as such there is incredible value in having a label’s catalogue on Spotify. These bands will see profit from this exposure down the road in the same way that giving away a free mp3 on MetalSucks as an exclusive track premiere can be a boon for pushing sales of their new album. If Century is desperate for short-term revenue because they haven’t got their artists in Management / 360 deals (they’re the same thing), well, sucks for them, but frankly that’s not my problem.

This is the Napster debacle all over again, deja vu. Labels more concerned with numbers now than benefit later. Instead of fighting against technology, Century should be embracing it and figuring out a way to make it work for them.

In other news, the CD is going to experience a miraculous resurrection and solve all of Century’s woes! Phew! For a second there I was worried this new “digital” thing might take over.

Do what you can to get Century back on Spotify: ping them on Facebook and Twitter and let them know that you think they’re missing the boat.

-VN




Century Media responds to Spotify uproar: Vince responds to Century Media
Tuesday, August 9th, 2011
by Vince Neilstein

Yesterday’s post decrying Century Media’s decision to pull out of Spotify seemed to ruffle a few feathers at Century, so much so that today they’ve decided not only to issue an official response but to write me a personal email! Since this is MetalSucks and we delight in this sort of back-and-forth (and we always like to give the targets of our ire an open forum to respond), I’m going to go through Century’s email and dismantle their arguments one-by-one. Here we go
:

Here is a reply from the suits at Century Media on the genius post from Vince at Metal Sucks on why we should be giving away our artist’s music for free on Spotify.

Spotify pays artists. Regardless, I understand that Spotify’s rates are very low; I’m not disputing that.

What I am arguing is that the music industry model of the past 60 years or so — the model in which artists record music then sell that music for a high price — is dead. I’ve argued this many, many times on this site before: music has been overpriced for the past six decades or so simply because manufacturing and distribution have been tightly controlled and unavailable to the masses. With those gates opened, it’s an entirely different ballgame. Recorded music is no longer a viable income option; it is time to accept this fact on move on to another business model.

If you look back in history, musicians (artists of any kind, really) didn’t get rich: they didn’t collect salaries, certainly didn’t get royalties from music sold. They got by on commissioned pieces, residencies, and live performances, but for the most part they created music because they loved to do so; many of them problably had other jobs to make ends meet. What we’re experiencing now is a “correction” of sorts, a correction of the overly inflated musician lifestyle (and supporting industry) the past few decades have afforded us. I liken this to the “correction” the U.S. housing market suffered in 2008 when people suddenly realized, “Hey, wait a minute… all those brand new [ugly] houses aren’t really worth that much after all.” As such, the industry needs to adapt. Everyone needs to get used to making less money. And yes, I totally include myself in that last statement.

The bottom line: any item or service is only worth what people think it’s worth. “Worth” and “value” are nebulous terms that ultimately lie in the eye of the beholder. More on this in a moment.

We always appreciate any help and advice from the community on how to navigate these challenging times, where more and more people feel that free music is a birthright.

Now Vince tells us “it’s all about the long term not the short term, you dummies”.

Well, that is great news Vince. Our problem is that staff and bands expect payment for recording and rent short term and when I tell them not to worry about the reality of their lives, but to suck it up because somebody will pay them long term, they are not amused.

From now on I tell them not worry about gas and groceries and go and eat at Vince’s house.

I don’t know about you, but all the guys in bands that I personally know (including bands signed to Century Media and plenty of other labels) all get day jobs when they come home from a tour. Come to think of it, I don’t know a single metal musician that survives only on revenue generated from his band’s music. And that is totally ok with the musicians; they understand that the “dream” isn’t a reality. It’s so commonplace at this point that it really isn’t a surprise… it’s just accepted that if you want to make music you’re going to have to do something else to make ends meet. In some cases tours will break even, in some cases turn a profit, in some cases band members will willingly put in a bit of their own money to finance a tour. And you know what? They keep making music anyway! Because they love it! And they would still do it even if no money was at stake! Same goes for the hundreds of “industry” folks that operate on a DIY basis. I’d wager that taking money out of the equation entirely would actually improve the overall quality of music because we’d have less kids in it for the booze/drugs/bitches… but I digress.

By the way, touring bands are welcome to stop into the Vince Division of the MS Mansion anytime for a nice home-cooked meal of the Ramen Noodles the blogging lifestyle affords me!

I also invite Vince to come work for CM for free, we will expose you to a well of information and music, learn from you how to really run a company and maybe you even have a mate or two who can play music people want to listen to and gives that to us for free or 360 style as well. All the trust fund babies think like that and if you require a salary for the short term I would have to quote my mate Vince:

Well, sucks for them, but frankly not my problem.

Guys, the realities of the music business are way above the polemics of a kid who probably never had to run a company before in his life.

I run MetalSucks, together with my partner Axl, thank you very much; neither of us has worked a day job for roughly two years, and by that measure I’d say we’re a fairly successful company. I have also spent many years working at record labels, both major and independent, a management company and a booking agency before I ever even started blogging. So I’d say I’m quite familiar with how the business works and quite familiar with how to run a company. But it’s cute that you tried to insult me that way!

Part of my ability to run this company, of course, has to do with the ads placed here by Century Media and several other record companies, concert promoters, etc. For that I am grateful. Running a successful metal blog was not something I ever thought I could do or even wanted to do, until that fateful night Axl and I decided to see what would happen if we launched a crappy WordPress blog and started funneling our thoughts onto the Internet. I look at it this way: this has been an incredible, incredible ride! But some day it is going to end, and that will be ok. If it ends because all the labels go under and all of our ad dollars disappear, I suppose that’s the natural course of history and I’ll just do something that’s actually useful with my life like become a teacher. I don’t live a lush or fancy lifestyle right now and could certainly be earning more if I’d stayed at the major label, but I get by ok, and most importantly I love what I do.

But I don’t actually believe all the labels are going to go under, because I firmly believe that all the labels (including Century, as one of the biggest metal labels in the world) are going to wise up, turn into Management houses that also invest in bands (unlike current managers), and right the ship. The industry will definitely find a way… that “way” will just not have sales of recorded music as a part of it because ever-changing technology dictates so.

We are asking you a simple question: Does Music have value for you?

If your answer is YES, then please be prepared to acknowledge the fact that the people who bring this music to you, do this full time and need to eat and sleep somewhere – short term.

It cost about a minimum of $50,000 to $100,000 to have a new master recorded, promoted, manufactured and distributed internationally on a proper scale. Try to remember this when you think it’s cool to steal music. We feel we are bringing value to a community of music lovers who are willing to pay for that music. As long as people do, we will be able to continue doing that. If the majority of the new entitlement generation feel that we should do it for free, I can tell you, you will be listening to a lot less new music in the future.

Don’t give me the old tired “music lover” guilt trip… that argument holds no water because it isn’t about me. I love music, value everything that goes into producing it and getting it out to the masses (which I know first-hand from the years I spent working at labels), and do not advocate stealing music. I’m not sure where you read that I advocated stealing music, because I definitely did not say that… where is that coming from?

Here’s the thing about “value:” it’s a very, very, very sticky word. Value is in the eye of the beholder: something is only as valuable as people think it is. If I spend $100,000 on an arts and crafts project that’s near and dear to my heart made entirely out of found materials, garbage, scraps, whatever the fuck… is it “worth” $100,000? To me, yes. To someone else, its value might be closer to $1. Likewise if Madonna takes a shit, tries to sell it on eBay and someone decides to pay $100,000 for it, is it worth that $100,000? Well, yeah, I guess it is. My point: value is entirely subjective and has nothing to do with the cost of what goes into making something.

It’s not about “entitlement:” it’s about reality. People say that recorded music is not worth what it once was. Therefore, that is true. This is how “value” works.

I also don’t buy the bit that we will “be listening to a lot less new music in the future.” We get something like 50 emails a day (maybe more?) from unsigned bands the world over who record entire albums by themselves at little to no cost on their home computers using Garageband. Shockingly, a lot of these recordings sound really, really good — close to as good as or even equally as good as “pro” recordings. I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true. Technology is cheap; distribution, via the Internet, is basically free. I totally understand and appreciate all that goes into marketing, PR, etc etc — all the things a label brings to the table — and those things absolutely help develop a band. But as far as no new music coming out, I absolutely don’t buy that argument because I know first-hand it is not true.

We all tried to tell artists, managers and lawyers that the band should give us their work for free. Guess what they said? “Well if Vince and his mates do not want to pay for it, that sucks, but quite frankly it’s not our problem!”

You know what? It is their problem, it is our problem and it is your problem as well.

I am sorry you grew up in a world where the media and your parents told you that music is free.

It is not! You have been lied to.

No one told me that music is free. I believe it has value. Just not the same value as it once had. Like I said above: the world has dictated that music is not worth what it used to be worth. No sense in fighting this, because “value” cannot be fought: buyers determine value, not sellers.

Rather than bitch and moan about it, take responsibilities for your lives, add value to the metal community and ask yourself: Whose side am I on?

Feel free to ask the 30,000 people (and still growing) who visit MetalSucks every day whether we’ve added any value to the metal community and whose side we’re on. Just because I argue that music isn’t as valuable as it used to be (which it clearly isn’t) doesn’t mean I don’t support metal. I’m just calling it like I see it, in an honest and true fashion. Spotify has proved that the value of music has changed, in no uncertain terms: millions of people agree that unlimited streaming music is worth exactly $10/month. This is not up for debate: it is fact. That is the value of music right now since that is what music consumers have decided. Spotify are not the bad guys here… they’re just responding to the market!

Decide for yourselves if you want to give all you have away for free, do it if you want to, but do not tell other people they should, too.

There are still some real fans out there who appreciate the artist’s work and are happy to contribute to it. These are the people we all work for – not the Vince’s of this world. Sorry mate.

While I believe that recorded music’s value has drastically dropped over the last decade, I believe other sources of a band’s income still have a very high value: live shows and merchandise among them. This is why I advocate a transition from the traditional “record label” model of selling music to an all-encompassing “360 deal.” I hate the term “360 deal” because it carries negative connotations when really it is in fact the exact same thing as a management deal. No one scoffs at managers for taking their 15% or 20%. Why is that? Labels need to become managers and participate in every facet — and income stream — of a band’s career. As managers, you will need to step up and invest money into bands, something that managers do not traditionally do. Label and manager becomes one. I know for a fact that you guys at Century are already doing this with your new management division… so you’re moving in the right direction! Fighting Spotify, a service that will expose your artists to the masses so you can reap the benefits of other income streams, is not the answer.

Sincerely,

The Suits From CM

Closing statement: If you’re in a band, you should love Spotify because all the new people it exposes to your music will become fans, pay to come to a show, pay to buy a t-shirt, and hey, at least you get some money from streaming as opposed to stealing (by the way: by pulling out of Spotify you are actually incentivizing people to steal!). If you’re a label, you should love Spotify because you will soon have all your bands in management-like deals (there is no way around this) and you, too, will benefit when a fan who discovered a band on Spotify pays to go to a show and pays to buy a t-shirt. Everyone wins. If not right this moment, definitely in a couple of years. Taking your artists off Spotify is bad for business, plain and simple. Your bands need this exposure, now more than ever. Call up your label’s bands and ask them: what do they think of Century pulling their music from Spotify? I bet the vast majority are pissed.

Seriously, Suits from CM, thanks for taking the time to write your response. When Axl and I came up with the stoned idea for MetalSucks five years ago it was completely inconceivable that we’d ever be interacting with the owner of any record label, let alone Century Media.

Sincerely,

Vince Neilstein



Century Media responds again! The Spotify debate rages on!
Wednesday, August 10th, 2011
by Vince Neilstein

And the feud continues! “The Suits” at Century Media have responded directly to MetalSucks about Spotify once again! This time they are responding to what I wrote yesterday. But it’s going to end here… this will be the end, until the next chapter. We’re going on indefinite hiatus, as industry lingo dictates.

CM has requested I publish their letter all in one fell swoop then shred it to pieces afterwards instead of going line by line, so that’s exactly what I’ll do. Here we go:

WOW!

Today it’s the “white collar criminals” from Century Media (not sure how we got there) coming back to “Vince the MAN”.

I must admit, we are all very excited here about the attention and flak we are getting for taking the liberty of saying “NO” to something we disagree with.

We didn’t know that “manufacturing and distribution have been tightly controlled and unavailable to the masses…for the past six decades or so”.

We do, however, remember the 70’s and 80’s where independent punk and hardcore bands would make and sell their own vinyl and tapes. As a matter of fact, we were some of those people, that is how Century Media started.

We also vigorously disagree that “Recorded music is no longer a viable income option”.

And that “musicians (artists of any kind, really) …, certainly didn’t get royalties from music sold.”

“Come to think of it, I don’t know a single metal musician that survives only on revenue generated from his band’s music.”

Do you really think all the big metal acts you cover on your blog do not make any money? Or is this part of the cool lies we tell each other because otherwise our heroes would all be “white collar criminals” and “suits”.

I hate to deflate anybody’s bubble here, but Century Media pays out over $5 million a year to its artists and depending on their lifestyle and management they certainly live off their music. Does this apply to all newcomer bands on the label? Of course not.

But the label is the middle man here. We invest in music/artists we hope you guys like and if you buy their music, they make money and so do we. It’s pretty simple and straightforward. Millions of fans out there do that and we are very grateful for their support!

We understand that it is “cool” to think of the label as the bad part in the equation that sucks the artists dry and never pays them a penny. Some of the same people think foreigners are inferior, all multi-ethnic folks are lazy and the government is here to protect you. Prejudice to some of us is like a religion, but at least be aware of your prejudice and do not throw shit at the people out there that do not conform to your religion.

But we are happy to listen and learn:

Vince knows, “And you know what? They (the artist) keep making music anyway! Because they love it! And they would still do it even if no money was at stake! Same goes for the hundreds of “industry” folks that operate on a DIY basis. I’d wager that taking money out of the equation entirely would actually improve the overall quality of music because we’d have less kids in it for the booze/drugs/bitches…”

Well that is good news. First of all, we are the industry folks that operate on a DIY basis, but let’s stand by your word Vince. We gratefully accept your offer to take the money out of the equation, hence thank you for giving Century Media all ad space on Metal Sucks for free from now on. We appreciate that!

On the same token value is pretty easy to determine. In a free market, the price determines where both seller and buyer feel they are giving something up of lesser value to get something of higher value. It’s a personal decision. Now all we are saying is: we feel we are getting next to nothing from Spotify so WE do not do it. Others do and that is good. We encourage them to be on Spotify! They must be smarter than us.

Check out this link to judge yourself how many records it takes for an artist to sell or stream to make “minimum wage”.

http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/2010/how-much-do-music-artists-earn-online/

We think this is ludicrous, so regardless what you think of it our bands are not into this for “the dream only.” They take their job seriously and like to get paid for it.

Thus, when we say NO, it’s a decision we are free to make. It is that simple. And I do not understand why it ruffles anybody’s feathers because according to Vince there are millions of good bands out there who like to give their music to you for free or for next to nothing. Embrace them!

Come to think of it, we would like to extend an offer to Vince to have his own imprint on Century Media, where without any money he will sign, record and bring bands to you, of course through any streaming service he seems fit. We will throw a big party in Vegas from the profits and invite all Century Media Fans and Metal Sucks readers.

There the suits at Century Media, sorry the white collar criminals at Century Media, will bow down to Vince and pay him the respect the fruits of his ideas deserve.

Please take us up on the offer. We see you in Vegas! Enough said.

The Suits

Here is the problem with this letter: Century Media is willfully ignoring the entire crux of my argument, namely that their business model of charging a lot for pieces of plastic (or digital files to be stored on a harddrive) is outdated, and that all record labels are going to have to evolve to act more like management groups in the very near future. CM hasn’t addressed that argument directly at all.

The line that you “didn’t know” distribution was unavailable to the masses in the ’70s and ’80s cracks me up. Of course it was available — it was just fucking EXPENSIVE! Now that the Internet has broken the distribution walls down it’s an entirely different ballgame that ANYONE can play, and the Internet is 1,000,000 times more powerful and widespread than tape-trading ever was.

Feel free to disagree that recorded music is “no longer a viable income option”… in other news, the sky is green, up is down, and Vampires Everywhere are a great band (haha, couldn’t resist! sorry). I have no doubt that Century pays artists royalties from sales of recorded music NOW, but I also have no doubt that these amounts are diminishing and will continue to diminish to nearly nothing. Why not diversify your business and get into the management, merch, publishing, etc game? You’re going to have to in order to survive. Evolve or die.

I, too, have seen that “minimum wage” link. But it actually further proves my point and dis-proves yours: RECORDED MUSIC IS NO LONGER A VIABLE INCOME SOURCE! If not now (while a few remnants remain), most certainly in a few years. Diversify your business. Think long-term. Spotify will actually help you with this.

You feel you are getting nothing from Spotify: you’re right! In the short-term, that is. Think long-term. Think benefits beyond immediate income. This is where you’re really missing the boat.

Your offer to me to start my own Century imprint with no money is a cute jab, but further proves that you didn’t actually carefully read what I wrote yesterday. Music costs money to make (less than ever, but still costs money to do properly) and definitely costs money to market; my point is that labels should be looking beyond record sales to other income sources to fund these things. Management companies already do this — 15-20% of ALL income — yet no one poo-poos them for signing their artists to 360 deals! The step that needs to be taken is manager and label merge into one, so you have the funds and marketing expertise all in one place while collecting from all sources of income. So, if you’re offering me an imprint where I won’t have to worry about sales from records to fund it and instead can look to the future at other revenue streams, sure, I’ll do it. Actually, come to think of it… if a label can’t see the long-term benefit of a service like Spotify, I’m not so sure things would work out between us.

I don’t feel it’s “cool” to single labels out as the bad guy. Labels still have plenty of value. I do, however, feel it’s poignant to call them out when they’re going down with the sinking ship and wondering why the water level keeps rising when all they do is keep piling boulders on board. Also, it’s hilarious that you’re calling an extremely liberal, Jewish blogger from Brooklyn whose great-grandparents literally travelled across Europe on foot to escape oppression “prejudiced”… so I guess that makes you the prejudiced one with regards to what I am and am not.

Lastly, since you seem so keen on making offers, I’d like to extend an offer to YOU for a free year of ads on MS, under two conditions: 1) Century goes back on Spotify (today or tomorrow, not next week or next year), 2) the ads link to Century’s Spotify page.

Cheers! This has been fun.

Sincerely,
Vince Neilstein

P.S.: Don’t feel special for receiving the “White Collar Criminals” category; we’ve been using that heading on MetalSucks for years to take jabs at Roadrunner, Sumerian, Earache, and pretty much every label out there. We’re equal opportunity haters!

P.P.S: I’ve been contacted by a number of music industry employees and band members (some on CM) over the past day or so, and guess whose side they’re on?