Rob Flynn expounds on how commerce crushes creativity


Alternative metal band Machine Head frontman Rob Flynn recently launched a blog-based tirade in which he excoriates the current music industry for being too industrial in its approach to music. In his view, as soon as something succeeds and lots of people show up to make money off of it, creativity is crushed.

His specific beef is the twofold: the focus on quick sales as a means of determining the value of a band, and on the high charges passed on to bands through union rules for playing past eleven at night. However, Flynn also hits on some ideas that parallel those expressed by underground metal musicians.

The music business has sucked the life out of creativity. No one is encouraged to take risks, no one is encouraged to push the envelope, because it’s all about first-week sales! It’s about pointless radio play and how good your last tour went. How venues and promoters are squeezing the last drop of spontaneity out of your soul by not ‘allowing’ you to playing past curfew and not drawing outside the line.

When we play that game, we essentially applaud mediocrity.

There’s nothing dangerous about music these days, there’s nothing surprising about it either. There can’t be.

His complex rant (mainstream media would say “rambling”) ranges from topics such as how social media disconnects us and a loathing of requisite patriotism in music to the glory days of rock ‘n’ roll in the 1970s, but his point is clear: the more we formalize, make profitable and regulate the process of music, the more we convert it from being a passion into another blockhead industry.

Flynn concludes with a voice of some desperation. “Someone has to stir the pot. Something needs to come along and wake us up out of the slumber.” As underground metal observers, we note that any time a new genre becomes popular, it soon gets mobbed by imitators and marketers who drag it down and turn it into the same old “safe” but “edgy” stuff that in fact has no value to anyone. These people are apparently blind to the fact that they have crushed the value of a genre they pursued specifically because it had that value. Then, having polluted something else, they look for the next big thing to latch on to and parasitize, dragging it down as well.

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5 thoughts on “Rob Flynn expounds on how commerce crushes creativity”

  1. Nito says:

    Robb Flynn has spent the last 25 years doing what that last sentence describes.

  2. apathetic loser says:

    Flynn’s previous band Vio-lence put out a couple of decent speed metal albums with 1988’s Eternal Nightmare and 1990’s Oppressing the Masses, but Machine Head was part of the dumbing down of metal in the mid-1990s that emphasized the dreaded groove rhythms and macho-vocal expressive posturing. Not as obnoxious as Pantera but basically in the same league.

    Nevertheless, he does make some valid points here. When art becomes business it ceases to be art and becomes superficial entertainment.

  3. The man next planet says:

    They don’t call it the «Music Industry» for nothing.

  4. Lord Mosher of the Solitary pit says:

    All hail Eternal Nightmare!
    Now bang your head against the stage!

  5. Thorn says:

    Flynn has a lot to answer for and this little spill doesn’t cut it

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