Should metal be a hobby or a career?


A recent article on Gene Simmons observed the following:

Rock star Gene Simmons says that when it comes to making money he is like a great white shark.

And that despite being worth more than $300m (£200m), he will never stop wanting to make more.

…”I’ll never stop hunting more money, I’ll never have enough.”

On the other hand, many excellent metal bands are probably clearing $300/month in royalties or less. At that point, we tend to call the making of metal a hobby and talk about their day jobs. The advantage to that approach is that the metal can remain un-tainted by commerce and with consumerism, the need to appeal to an audience by jumping on trend bandwagons or otherwise showing them what they already know they like, sort of like how baby food is ground-up vegetables.

Looking at the other side, it must be nice to be worth $300m and to have the power to do great things with that. Maybe Mr. Simmons has done so. But one might think that at some point, the money becomes more important than the music, which turns metal away from its mission of brutal realism and makes it a friendly, happy, warm and fuzzy product like your average American beer or hamburger.

Perhaps a middle ground exists, where fewer metal bands make $300m but also fewer worthy metal bands subsist on $300. Most metal musicians would be very happy with $60-80,000 a year. They tend not to be materialistic, except for collecting vinyl and guitars, but in the grand scheme of things those aren’t very expensive.

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16 thoughts on “Should metal be a hobby or a career?”

  1. Richard Head says:

    Did you just advocate centralize distribution of wealth in that last paragraph?

  2. Dualist says:

    I think most of the problems start once a band starts making enough so that they DON’T need a day job anymore or are on the borderline of not needing one. Then they start thinking about what sells before what’s actually great music.

    It would be nice if they could earn 40k and spend ALL of their non-touring time composing but then, like Gene Simmons, they’ll often start thinking how much MORE they could earn if they just change this or that…. And become Dimmu Borgir.

    I’d honestly say there’s not one single band who made better material once they started earning a living wage.

    On the other hand some people will always tend to do anything that makes them more popular, irrespective of the ‘quality’ of the new fans they get. I can’t imagine Sentenced ever made much money once they made the transition to embarrassing rock (I can’t imagine number 1 on the Finnish charts equates to much dough) but the allure of people shouting your name still ensures that even if bands are still broke they can still be tempted to produce utter shite.

    I’d love to know what actually goes through the minds of the Metallicas, Slayers, even Darkthrones of this world when they compare their latest dross to their early work.

  3. I blew my head off like Per Ohlin says:

    It can be both.
    But as soon as you’re making any sort of profit, it is a career, no matter how much artistic integrity you have (or don’t).

    So is music only art, when not consumed?

  4. Gene Simmons is a jew.

    1. I’m converting to Judaism.

      1. Meek Metalhead says:

        Youd still be a goy if you don`t have jewish blood.

        Gib israeli citizenship ploz!

        1. I’m going to visit Israel and join the IDF.

          1. Meek Metalhead says:

            Dual citizenship is anti-nationalist by nature.

          2. Robert says:

            You will have to join the Jew military, Brett. Yom Kippur!

  5. Meek Metalhead says:

    Observe how Gene Simmons almost shits himself.

  6. Sausage Water says:

    Nope, it shouldn’t be a career. They’re better off having some inoffensive day job that allows for ample free time, though this could be in some way linked to music–piano tuner, guitar shop salesman douche, guitar lesson giver douche, gay porn soundtrack consultant etc.

    Gene Simmons gives me the willies.

  7. Count Ringworm says:

    In a country in which the median *household* income (two working adults) is $50k the vast majority of individuals would be ecstatic to bring home $60-$80,000 a year.

    Funny you mention $80k. That’s roughly the amount that numerous studies have identified as the threshold at which income ceases to correlate with overall well-being and happiness.

  8. Disremember says:

    Gene Simmons is a very smart capitalist
    For a mediocre band to make this much of money is
    A big achievement ,
    being in the right time back in the 70’s and
    Capturing the middle class sentiments and exploiting in to the max ( similar to Star Wars the lunch boxes , t shirt, toys etc )
    Very very smart …

  9. How much money did the great classical musicians and composers of past centuries make for their work? While the standard of living was on average lower back in the 18th century, and a lot of these musicians relied on aristocratic patronage for their livelihood, I’d assume it didn’t prevent them from making great works (perhaps interspersed with whatever quickly realized filler they needed to please their masters). There’s enough similarities to well paid metal musicians that there has to be some grounds for comparison.

  10. bighatfbw says:

    I’m listening to Väsen’s Linnaeus Väsen (2007). I am untroubled by Gene Simmons, #metalgate, & perennial nonsense like wannabes, posers, & johny-come-latelys. the past is alive (inside); pagan fears

  11. Lord Pepper Shark says:

    It’s no sweat working a day job then pouring the extra time and money you don’t have into a band. Anyone who complains or quits because of the lack of money should have known better from the start. The rewards of playing are all personal and minute (sharing the stage with bands you actually listen to, getting a strong crowd reaction, personal satisfaction from composing/performing etc), if you’re pulling in below $50k a year (many great death metalers fall here) there’s no point in not setting up some long summer tours, the shit job isn’t going anywhere and will be there when you get back. You can have an interesting and fulfilling existence on very little money, only your mind and lack of cunning will hold you back.

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