Are Festivals Suffering Because Of Record Companies?

Former Guns N’ Roses manager, Alan Niven, believes record companies are to blame for the cancellation of Sonisphere.  He’s got a point.  If you haven’t read the article yet, click HERE, then come back, since I’ve got a little more to add.

You’ve read it?

He makes some good points, doesn’t he?

I also believe the media in general and ultimately the audience need to take their share of the blame, too.

Let me explain.

Upto the early 90’s, if you wanted to listen to any sort of Rock and/or Metal and you lived in the UK, you listened to The Friday and Saturday Rock Shows on Radio 1 and set your video recorder for The Power Hour/Noisy Mothers/Raw Power.  Not only would you be hearing your favourite bands, you’d also be hearing new ones that you’d never heard before from all over the Rock and Metal spectrum.  The same went for those of us who bought the magazines.  In the likes of Metal Hammer, Kerrang! and Raw, you’d be reading about Iron Maiden on one page, followed by an article about (for example) Tigertailz on the next.  That lead to an audience more educated and with wider tastes.  We were also more likely to go find new music based on what we were hearing and reading about.

Then the bean counters took over, obsessed with audience figures and profiles rather than being passionate about the music.  Things changed, and not for the better.  ITV’s late night music strand vanished (probably deemed too expensive).  New management at the BBC “refocussed” the station on the “yoof” market, targeting audience size over their public service remit.

The magazines became more focussed, and not necessarily in a good way.  Around the world, so did the radio stations, both broadcast and the newly minted internet stations.  New stuff wasn’t actively sought, so the perception was that no-one was interested.  That became a self-fulfilling prophecy.  The media outlets weren’t exposing new stuff, so the audience weren’t hearing it, so they weren’t being enthused to go look for more.

That leads us to today.

There are no new headliners because the record companies aren’t investing in new bands.  The record companies aren’t investing in new bands because the customers aren’t buying material from new bands.  The record buyers aren’t buying material from new bands because they aren’t getting to hear the new bands on the radio, see them on the TV or read about them in the magazines.

The websites, social media and forums aren’t exactly helping, either.  The Metal Taliban hold sway.  You see it on various Facebook pages… “Have you ever heard of *such-and-such-a-band*?”, followed by post after post from semi-literate idiots hurling insults about the band in question and their fans.

Doesn’t exactly make you want to suggest a new band other people might like, does it?  Puts you off, doesn’t it?  The bands themselves suffer too, because since no-one’s heard of them, no-one turns up to see them when they play.  That means no word of mouth, so the record companies and journalists don’t get to hear about them… and so the cycle goes on.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though.  There are people trying to break the new bands.  Team Rock have Sophie K’s show, Metal Hammer and (to a lesser extent) Classic Rock.  The Wyrd Ways Rock Show has Elfie’s Shock Of The New.  Dr Jim has his Hammer Of Retribution.  There’s Planet Mosh, The Wall Rock Radio,,… it’s all out there.

Really, it’s down to us at the grass roots to save it.  We can make the next Iron Maiden.  We can bring through the next Metallica, Avenged Sevenfold, Slipknot… All we have to do is find them and go to their shows, buy their MP3’s or CDs from Bandcamp, CDBaby, Pledgemusic, Kickstarter or wherever it is you buy your new music and talk about them.

Spread the word.

We can save Rock ‘N’ Roll

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