Recently many of the other “metal” websites, blogs, publications et cetera have been doing articles about the business side of music industry. Unsurprisingly none of these articles had the testicular fortitude to address the ugly reality of the underground metal economy as they are written by either slaves to the machine itself or losers who genuinely believe that they have “careers” in music which heavily depend on acceptance by the community. Since the Death Metal Underground staff bow to no masters social or corporate, we are in the rare position give you the truth in its rawest form. So with absolute disregard for the powers that be in metal, let’s take an honest look inside this machine to see how it really works.
Truth: Favorable Coverage and Reviews are Bought
Ever wonder why your band didn’t make the top 10 list in a major publication? While your album likely did suck, the real reason is that you (or your label) didn’t have the capital to buy your way into favor. And without that sea of green you’re not going to see any news, coverage, reviews, interviews, et cetera in most of the “major” “underground” “metal” publications.
For example, let’s take a look at The Blastbeat Network, which is an advertising syndicate that owns Decibel, Metalsucks, Metal Injection, CVLT Nation, Heavy Blog is Heavy, Lambgoat and some other publications. If you give them money (or if your record label gives them money) these sites will advertise your releases, review your albums, and report mundane news about your band. The more money you give them, the more favorable and prioritized your coverage will be. Since most aren’t aware that these sites are all owned by the same company it will appear to that a band is being reviewed favorably by several different publications and project a false image of communal popularity. And because many human beings are dumb and need to be told what to like, this is how they end up cultivating their taste in music.
Another gateway into this corporate wasteland is the path of going through a Public Relations company that’s “in bed” (interpret that however you like) with these publications and advertisers. But PR costs money, and the better “connected” these entities are, the more money they will cost. And even still, they will have multiple “clients” and are likely to favor the more “high end” ones that are going to pay them more for their “services.” Paying them for exposure is a lot like paying a call girl for the girlfriend experience.
If there’s one takeaway here, it’s that actual musical talent or innovation has absolutely nothing to do with coverage in these publications. It is all based on how much money is being funneled in through you or your label. The only exception to this rule is if you have a really outrageous gimmick like convincing social justice warriors you’re Chinese and have them view your screamo favorable due to infantilization, fetishization and orientalism.
Truth: Popular U.S.B.M. Musicians Had Rich Parents
Because the “mysterious foreigner appeal” was a major selling point in the commercialization of black metal, there weren’t any bigger labels making an investment in American black metal bands. Despite this, money was still behind the rise of many of the most well known U.S.B.M. artists such as Judas Iscariot and Liturgy. For these bands, however, that money was coming not from a label’s bankroll but from mommy and daddy’s pockets.
It is well known within the U.S.B.M. circles, and later confirmed by a public campaign finance scandal that Akenaten/Andrew Harris of Judas Iscariot was a trust fund millionaire. While these resources weren’t spent on Judas Iscariot’s production (likely given Akenetan’s cargo cult worship of Darkthrone and Burzum), they were crucial to getting the band released on every popular underground black metal label at the time. Similarly, Hunter Hunt-Hendrix of Liturgy is the grandson of billionaire oil-tycoon H.L. Hunt, providing him unlimited resources to influence virtually any label, metal site, festival, or movie production company into giving priority to Liturgy above other artists.
Judas Iscariot and Liturgy were both the most popular American black metal band in different decades though applying the “black metal” term is somewhat dubious, so isn’t it a ironic that they were both trust fund kids?
Truth: The Money Will Probably Never Return to the Underground
In the 1980s, the music business was full of wealth and influence. The powers that be could afford to bet on metal, and they did, and so we saw a number of bands playing massive stadium sized venues and riding around in big expensive buses full of vanity and material waste. In the 90’s the industry peaked, and labels began betting on even more underground and obscure artists in the hope of finding the next Nirvana. But by the 2000s, the freedom of information offered by the internet effectively dismantled the music industry’s grip on information flow. The market crashed, and remains in a free fall as top labels continue to crumble. This means that there’s barely any money left in the industry which explains why MTV no longer plays anything music related. This also means that nobody will be betting on metal anytime soon, especially underground metal.
Because they do not understand this principle, many metal musicians and bands still believe that they can reach the heights and success of Slayer, Morbid Angel, or Emperor. This can’t and won’t ever happen for an underground metal band in the foreseeable future because this capital investment simply isn’t there. This is why the headlining slots of every single metal festival are always filled by bands from the 80s and 90s: the industry invested more in these bands because, at that time, they were playing with house money.
Truth: Metal Musicians and Fans Must Reject the Corporate Conglomerate Commoditization
Metal musicians can break free of their suited oppressors by abandoning the materialistic greed that has long defined them. To find true success and happiness as an metal musician is to abandon the rock star fantasy and forgo the idea of a career musician. One must look inward to find self worth, and one must look away from music to satisfy life’s necessities. Therefore by not seeking the material desires of money, meaningless sex with groupies, and popularity through music one’s music will become art in its purest form. The quality of art is increased and the individual becomes of greater value to their society by pursing a career in the workforce and devoting themselves to their families by not being on tour 24/7. This will lead these lost and depressed victims of exploitation to happier lives away from unfulfilling vanities.
Meanwhile, if we as consumers can collectively reject the influence of main music industry pyramid schemes on underground metal bands and musicians then we strip suits of their influence over our purchases by rejected all the nutrient-free corporate corn flakes gavaged down our throats. This can be achieved by removing the value of coverage in these corporate backed publications and by not buying older material rehashed and simplified into rock music for shaved apes. Art is crucial to society but can exist without commercialization and the vain extremes of corporate capitalism’s endless pursuit of shareholder profit by dumbing everything down in order to reach every Chang, Ahmed, Ivan, LaTrell, Lauren, Taylor, and Roger in the world. Therefore save your dollars for the releases that aren’t corporate hack jobs and discard the merit of any Blast Beat Network Publication in favor of those who are truly honest.
Tags: blast beat network, crustfundies, cvltnation, decibel, dumbing-down, economics, economics of metal, funderground, ghost bath, judas iscariot, liturgy, mainstream metal, metal economics, metal industry, metal injection, MetalSucks, music industry, vice magazine
34 thoughts on “Dark Economic Truths of Underground Metal”
Judas Iscariot and Liturgy were both the most popular American black metal band never heard of them
I’m glad this Satanic endeavor is finally coming to a close… Mammon always betrays his own.
Let me interject for a moment.
How come every glam bands singer looks like Mick Jagger? Is it from stuffing so many cocks in their mouth?
LaTrell! My nigga!
Best article in a while
“I would have forgiven men for my struggle,” said Richard Halley.
“It was their view of my success that I could not forgive. I had felt no hatred in all the years when they
rejected me. If my work was new, I had to give them time to learn, if I took pride in being first to break a
trail to a height of my own, I had no right to complain if others were slow to follow. That was what I had
told myself through all those years —except on some nights, when I could neither wait nor believe any
longer, when I cried ‘why?’ but found no answer. Then, on the night when they chose to cheer me, I
stood before them on the stage of a theater, thinking that this was the moment I had struggled to reach,
wishing to feel it, but feeling nothing. I was seeing all the other nights behind me, hearing the ‘why?’ which
still had no answer—and their cheers seemed as empty as their snubs. If they had said, ‘Sorry to be so
late, thank you for waiting—I would have asked for nothing else and they could have had anything I had
to give them. But what I saw in their faces, and in the way they spoke when they crowded to praise me,
was the thing I had heard being preached to artists—only I had never believed that anyone human could
mean it. They seemed to say that they owed me nothing, that their deafness had provided me with a
moral goal, that it had been my duty to struggle, to suffer, to bear—*for their sake*—whatever sneers,
contempt, injustice, torture they chose to inflict upon me, to bear it in order to teach them to enjoy my
work, that this was their rightful due and my proper purpose. And then I understood the nature of the
looter-in-spirit, a thing I had never been able to conceive. I saw them reaching into my soul, just as they
reach into Mulligan’s pocket, reaching to expropriate the value of my person, just as they reach to
expropriate his wealth—I saw the impertinent malice of mediocrity boastfully holding up its own
emptiness as an abyss to be filled by the bodies of its betters—I saw them seeking, just as they seek to
feed on Mulligan’s money, to feed on those hours when I wrote my music and on that which made me
write it, seeking to gnaw their way to self-esteem by extorting from me the admission that *they* were the
goal of my music, so that precisely by reason of my achievement, it would not be they who’d
acknowledge my value, *but I who would bow to theirs*. . . . It was that night that I took the oath never to
let them hear another note of mine…”
Ayn Rand “Atlas Shrugged”
Hopefully, she met Herman Hesse in hell.
Fuckin self righteous bitch
Stop linking to Grim Jim articles!
Thank you for reading this message.
I don’t remember Judas Iscariot and Liturgy being the most popular American black metal bands in their respective decades.
Regardless, this article elaborates on something that most readers of this site probably see as obvious, but most ‘metal fans’ chalk up to ‘it’s just a matter of taste’.
It reminds me of the countless times I’ve told a friend that the latest BBN (or whatever) hyped shit release they’re enamoured with this week is just a dumbed down rehash of something better and the look of disbelief followed by a ‘nah man it’s awesome’ I usually receive in return.
Maybe your friends have more refined tastes (Maarat I’m sure) or maybe you don’t have any friends (Rainer), but I can’t imagine I’m the only one who deals with this shit. How do you convince someone to listen to the classics over hackjob dogshit? Is it time to give up and slip some cyanide into their Capn Crunch/fine imported cheese?
Slip them some roofies when opportunity arises, then proceed with domination.
Leave no asshole unsodomized!
The answer is “You shouldn’t”: For every release people nowadays consider ‘classic’, there were dozens, if not hundreds, which were entirely forgettable and worse-than-forgettable in the past. Twenty years on, we shall know what ‘classics’ were released today. It will be preciously few among a mountain of ok-but-not-good and total-tripe ones.
Music isn’t just recorded, it’s also performed. While recordings can be kept forever (in theory), performers have the unfortunate habit of dying. Hence, replacments are called for.
If I buy a ‘classic’ album today, I typically contribute to the bottom line of some commercial entity which has long-since recouped its initial investment and will gladly take this “free money” over investing in new stuff.
I don’t want that.
There’s also some value in ok-but-not-good (or good-but-not-terrific) but recorded today over terrific-but-recorded-30-years-ago: A collection of ‘classics’ is really just a fancy tombstone for something. Nietzsche’s »transforming the fact “I’m going under” into the imperative “everything must go under”« is not for me: I’m not dead yet. Hence, I want to put money in the underground (to the degree I have money and find some at least tolerable – and there’s much better stuff than tolerable – underground) because I want it to remain alive and not just a fond memory.
[could write more on this if I could]
“[could write more on this if I could]”
Hasn’t stopped you yet.
That made some sense until the final paragraph
This also doesn’t make sense: “[could write more on this if I could]”
So, you’re saying you could if you could. That’s retarded. THIS is the shit on which you should be autistically perseverating!
There are more things/ aspects I would have wanted to mention but I don’t have the slightest idea how to express them.
I’ll probably be on a gig tomorrow. This means a day (mostly) without ‘party animal’ office types (‘potted party orc’ would be more appropriate) clogging up everything while trying to “out potted party orc” each other in order to impress the potted female party orcs typically accompanying them. There are no ‘supersuckers’ like Blood Incanatation on the bill this time, so, one can reasonably hope that the density of people attending events because people of the kind they’d like to appear as ought to attend events like the one that’s supposed to happen will be low. No “I’m posing HARDER than you!” types to deal with. No groups of people trying to overshout the music because THEY want to get heard. No men dressed up as women because that’s so hahaha-funny. Nothing which cries out “Look at me! I’m not worth it!”.
It’s not possible to get something like this ought of an album recorded in 1992, no matter how good.
Regardless of this, most of what TrveMetalPlastic hypes is probably crap. But that’s by far not everything.
“I don’t remember Judas Iscariot and Liturgy being the most popular American black metal bands in their respective decades.”
Oh you don’t , don’t ya? Which American black metal bands DO you remember as the most popular?
Hell, which American black metal bands do you remember, AT ALL?
Pretty sure the most popular American bands are hipster shit like Krieg and Twilight.
It wasn’t just U.S. black metal that was mostly bankrolled by rich parents. It was/is far more common in Europe than it is here, actually.
Never stop roasting these garbo hipster metal publications. Let it be known that if you kiss goblins it will be chronicled.
Nice article, Brett
There is nothing better than to leave these new fools who compulsively buy metal bands of lie, then I go to their houses the theft, I sell them and I listen to Slayer drinking beer with the money of the sales!!
Dear Sardonic Webbmaster, do tell what are the good metal websites…
“The quality of art is increased and the individual becomes of greater value to their society by pursing a career in the workforce and devoting themselves to their families by not being on tour 24/7.”
Hahaha! Do you also go to church on Sundays?
I don’t know, I think it’s a pretty fair point. I can’t think of a single “professional” metal band that hasn’t artistically shit the bed. Even though they don’t have anything of any value or interest to offer anymore, they still keep releasing progressively worse and worse material because that’s how they pay the bills (or, even worse, because that’s how they hope to eventually pay the bills some day).
Having something else to do with your life and having a real income not dependent on touring or getting signed to some label removes the incentive to make garbage music. Garbage music will still get made, of course, but that will be mainly due to the fact that the people making it just aren’t that talented as opposed to talented people who should know better doing it to make a living.
Agreed. Making your art a means for survival just results in shittier art.
Unless you don’t survive.
why did you post a photo of Pauly Shore?
ugh, thsi was supposed to be on the Larryland deathfest article
is this an anti-capitalist site now? what’s the matter, can’t handle the free market, comrade?
I think, and maybe I’m incorrect, but I think Brock’s point and criticism is being levelled against specifically crony and monopoly capitalism, not capitalism in itself. And actually these are not “free market” capitalism at all.
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