Apr 052011

Can we talk? I hope so. I had an experience yesterday that made me think about the marketing of metal bands, the do’s and the don’ts. And I’d like to vent a bit. You can talk back to me if you like, either under your breath or in the comments.

I saw a blurb on Blabbermouth about a French band called Loudblast. I got interested immediately because of the band’s name. I thought, this band’s name sums up my interest in metal, in one word: I like music that’s loud and blasts. Maybe my taste is s a little more nuanced than that, but if I’m brutally honest with myself, those are two key ingredients. In fact, those are often the only ingredients I need. Plus, the band is from France, and these days French metal bands are coming damned close to the Finns — they almost do no wrong.

So, I continued reading that Blabbermouth blurb. I learned that this band called Loudblast has a new album called Frozen Moments Between Life And Death due for release on April 18 via XIII Bis Records. Plus, the album has a cool piece of cover art. Plus, the album was mixed by Peter Tägtgren. And all that piqued my interest even more.

The blurb said the CD will be released in Germany, Austria, “Benelux”, Switzerland, Spain, the U.K., and Ireland. Uh, what? No mention of the U.S. and Canada? Well, that sometimes happens with some European bands and their labels. It’s like they’re trying to send the message to metalnuts in NorthAm, “You’re ugly and you smell like my rectum, and fuck you with a rusty crowbar.”

But I’m not offended. I get insulted or ignored all the fucking time. So I continued reading and learned that there’s a song from this album called “Emptiness Crushes My Soul” that’s streaming “exclusively” at a web site called RadioMetal.com. And that’s where the shit really started to piss me off.  (more after the jump . . .)

First, I jumped over to that RadioMetal site and listened to the song — and all my instincts were proven correct. I love when that happens, especially because my instincts are notoriously fallible. The song was fuckin’ good. It was loud, and it blasted.

So, my first thought was to write about the song and the band for NCS. But I needed to put the song up here. That’s just the way we are at NCS. We don’t care how brilliant you are as a writer, we’ve just always felt that there’s no substitute for listening — which is why we always try to make a song available for streaming or download whenever we publish a post about music. Good words are good, but no words can fully capture the experience of something that’s meant to be heard.

Yes, it’s true, I could have written my post about Loudblast and included a link to that RadioMetal site, but that ain’t the way we do bidness here. We’re so fucking selfish that if we can’t put the music RIGHT FUCKING HERE ON NCS, we can’t be bothered. Why? Because we’re selfish. I just said that. Twice.

So, yes, I saw that verbiage about the album stream being an “exclusive” to that RadioMetal site, but 9 times out of 10, that don’t stop us. By hacking the code on other sites, we can usually figure out a way to embed the same music player right here or download the song file and put it in our own music player. But that didn’t work with RadioMetal. They were sneakier than we are.

So, I went to Plan B: checking to find out if the song was on Soundcloud or ReverbNation or MySpace or YouTube or some other similar place with an embeddable player that I could stick in this post. No. Fucking. Luck.

And that’s what got me pissed. I understand the marketing benefits of giving one metal site an exclusive stream for a song or an album or a video. If you run a web site, that kind of thing just makes you slobber like a back-alley dog that’s caught the scent of its first meal in a week — especially if you run ads on your site and get money based on your page hits. Fuck, we slobber over those chances here, and we don’t make a goddamned red cent from doing this. It strokes the ego to get that chance, and who doesn’t like a good stroking?

But really, is that what makes sense from the standpoint of marketing the music? To be fair, I know next to nothing about the marketing of music. I’m just trying to reason this out in my own half-witted way. Isn’t marketing all about spreading the word to as many people as humanly possible? If that’s the idea, wouldn’t you want to make a song-stream available as widely as possible? Would you really want to rely on other metal sites sending their readers to some other site that has the exclusive stream instead of featuring the stream at their own site?

Is it really necessary to offer an exclusive to metal sites in order to get them to feature a song? I mean, seriously, most metal blogs are hungry for new things to write about on a daily basis. Must they be bribed to do the writing? Of course not. They’ll be writing about something, regardless.

Well, there you have it. A frustrating day in my NCS life. Do I have a valid point here? Probably not. Am I just ranting because I’m an irrationally selfish bastard who has no fucking idea what he’s talking about? Probably so.

Am I going to give you the goddamned link to the exclusive motherfucking stream of “Emptiness Crushes My Soul”? Uh . . . sure. Because I like the song. Here it is.

For your information, this band has been around since the mid-80s, and the new album will be their first in seven years (the last one being Planet Pandemonium). I’m looking forward to it, despite all the ranting.

Also, a video for the same song was recently filmed, starring “former porn star Nina Roberts.” I don’t know who that is. But it did get me to watch the teaser for the video (here), and it doesn’t include any porn stars as far as I can see. I believe in the marketing profession that’s called “bait and switch”. I feel another rant coming on . . . .

27 Responses to “LOUDBLAST! (A MINDLESS MEDITATION ON THE MARKETING OF METAL)”

  1. byrd36 says:

    I think those in charge of marketing in music have gone completely stupid. What pisses me off is a good post praising a band somewhere like TNOB and then when you try to play an embedded vid you get “this video contains content owned by ass-suckers and is restricted for playback on certain sites”. You know, the sites that are trying to help promote your bands and artists. That really pisses me off.

    Also, you could try a program like Freecorder and capture the stream from another site as an mp3 and put it here. That would be super sneaky.

    • Islander says:

      I’ve done something that once before with a site that used a “flash video” (.flv) file to stream the song, even though it was a purely audio file, but I didn’t think to try it with this song. There’s also a limit to how much time I’ll spend trying to get something I can use in an NCS post. Usually, I just forget it and find something else to write about — which is sort of the point.

  2. Aaron says:

    Why not ‘aquire’ audacity (torrent that bitch!) And record the audio of the song, then just embed the audio here!

    • Islander says:

      Tried that, too, but couldn’t find a download before I said “fuck it” and just started writing this rant. That’s really a last resort for me, and I’ll buy the album when it becomes available for sale when I do that. Not preachin to anyone, just happens I can afford to buy so I can’t justify (to myself) not paying.

    • Phro says:

      If I’m not thinking about a different Audacity, it’s open source. Torrenting it is unnecessary, as it’s freely available on it’s website.

      (Or in the repos, should you be using Ubuntu/Linux.)

    • Islander says:

      I think I misinterpreted you’re e-mail Aaron. Now I know what you’re saying — not something I’ve tried before and will have to explore.

  3. Niek says:

    I know all about the frustration you speak of! It blows!

    • Islander says:

      I don’t know anyone who is going to buy an album, or maybe even take up hard-drive space for a download, without listening first, unless it’s the kind of personal favorite band whose every release you’ll get, sound unheard. The issue is how much trouble will people go to in order to get that listen. So, it seems like if you’re a band or a label, you’d make it as easy as possible to do that — spread it far and wide.

      I dunno, I’m probably overdoing this, because usually an exclusive stream only lasts so long before a song leaks out or the band/label intentionally start spreading it around in other ways. It’s probably just bloggers like you and me and byrd who get frustrated.

      • Niek says:

        Maybe it’s about teasing and about getting a buzz going for some bands. But in the end you’re definitely right. Besides, there’s no point in creating a buzz if you’re not called Soilwork, In Flames, At the Gates, Kataklysm, or some other well known name. Nobody’s going to be bothered by a buzz about even a band just below the most well known.

        • Phro says:

          I’m a bit confused by this…why is not important for smaller bands to get a buzz going?
          I thought it would be MORE important for them…

          • Niek says:

            I guess I could’ve put that more clearly. It does seem a bit brainmashed.

            What I mean is, would you be impressed by an exclusive stream on some remote Metal blog by a band named Promethee for example? It’s a band, and a pretty decent one too, but I bet you’ve never heard of them (I pray you haven’t). For such bands it’s more effective to target their direct fans, those that are subscribed to their facebook / myspace and shit and for them to spread the word on behalf of them. And to get as much exposure as possible, as Islander said it.

            Of course if a new band gets to get a stream on something big like Metalsucks, that’s a bit of a different story I guess.

            • Phro says:

              Okay, yah, that makes a lot more sense.

              I guess when I think of buzz, I think of it in the Hollywood sense, not the underground music sense..

            • Islander says:

              Having MetalSucks feature you if you’re a new band is of course a great way to build buzz. The question is whether you’ve got to offer an exclusive string to get MS exposure if they’re not already on to you. I have no idea. Maybe bribery is what it takes. But otherwise, I question whether giving lesser known sites an exclusive stream is necessary to get you featured or does much to build buzz.

  4. Phro says:

    I don’t have much to add, except to say that, in some ways, I can kind of understand why some websites would want exclusives, so labels and such might be in a position where they are kind of forced to grant exclusives to drum up exposure…

    But that seems kind of stupid, doesn’t it?

    One other thing (that I’ve expounded on before) that I’d like to tack onto your rant: why don’t more bands use the digital distribution means that are freely or cheaply available to reach a wider audience?????

    For signed bands, I can see why there might be some reasons not to (perhaps legal) do this. But for any unsigned bands out there, someone please explain why the fuck you’re not using bandcamp or the sort to actually get your music out there and possibly even make extra money? I’m guessing there is a damn good reason, because it seems like so many bands DON’T do this, but I’m too stupid to know what it is.

    Seriously, people are gonna rip it and torrent it and steal it whether you do this or not. If you provide a (simpler) way to get your music for a decent price, wouldn’t you get more customers.

    Yes, customers. If you’re selling your music, you’re goal is not purely artistic, and you don’t need to worry about whether or not people like it, but only if they buy it. If your goal is purely artistic, why aren’t you giving it away for free???

    I have a feeling this post was really disconnected. Both internally and from reality. Feel free to point that out below. 🙂

    • Islander says:

      Well, I have EXACTLY the same questions. The only answer I’ve ever heard is that bands with ambitions to sign a label contract want to hold up on mass distribution of their tracks until they’ve exhausted those efforts, so they’ll have something “new” for the label to distribute right away.

      I can sort of understand that if you’re a band that has already built a fanbase and a name through previously self-released demo’s, EPs, etc. — as long as you don’t wait too long. But if you’re just starting out, I really do not understand why you wouldn’t use Bandcamp or CD Now or something similar to get the music out there and maybe even make a little money at the same time. Puzzling. Like you, I’m waiting for an explanation.

      • Phro says:

        Okay, that KIND OF makes sense…except why not at least put up an EP? Have two or three songs that people can download and save the other seven to ten or what not for a label?

        Still, I’m not the one making the music and slaving away, so I should probably just keep my damn mouth shut.

        • Islander says:

          Fuck no, don’t shut your damn mouth just because you’re not the one making the music and slaving away! Under that standard I’d have to shut my own damned mouth, and that ain’t happening.

          Besides, I think the EP idea makes tons of sense, and I’ve seen a number of bands do exactly that — release a few tracks for nothing, while holding on to others to fill out an album while searching for a contract. As time passes, if the contracts don’t come and you continue creating new music, then eventually you ought to just self-release everything through one of the sites we’ve been talking about and move on.

  5. Ray says:

    Well, at first I’d call this proper trolling. I looked at the title and became interested, and read the article, even though it wasn’t my “scheduled blog reading time.” Though really, I would have seen it in a few hours anyways, so it would make no difference for me. it would be useful for those that read this blog purely to make fun of the writing, who would for once become interested enough to check out the band in question, but there aren’t too many people like that.

    Besides, with a name like Loudblast, you aren’t really the sort of band that would troll. Loudblast is a good, honest metal name, the sort of thing I would name my first child so he (or she) would instantly be accepted in metal circles 😛

    • Islander says:

      I’m thinking of having my name legally changed to Loud Blast. I would like to receive mail addressed to Mr. Blast. I would like to be called Loud by my friends (though they may already be calling me that behind my back).

      But seriously, I really did like the Loudblast song and I really do intend to get the album when it arrives. If I hadn’t liked the music, I wouldn’t have gotten so frustrated. Yes, people really should check out the song and not stop with my written drivel. 🙂

  6. Labels give us exclusives because part of us having the exclusive means we’ve got extra incentive to push it via every means possible; twitter, Facebook, email blast, featured banner up top… in addition to the actual blog post itself. It’s also a great way of getting people to actually buy the product; labels usually ask that we include a pre-order (or order) link along with the exclusive, which we do, because obviously we support the artists and their labels and want everyone to get paid / make their money back.

    In some cases we might do that anyway by just linking to wherever the stream is (like with the recent BTBAM album… surely we would’ve written about it, helped spread the word and posted a buy link even if we weren’t hosting the stream). But the exclusive was a way of Metal Blade saying to us, “hey dudes, thank you so much for all the support with this band… have this delicious bone we’re throwing you.”

    And really, is it that hard to click one link to listen to music on another site?

    -VN

    • Islander says:

      Thanks for the comment and the explanation. It’s usually better to get some actual facts from the horse’s mouth than sitting around speculating. But we have so few actual facts around here . . . . And no, it really isn’t that hard to click one link to listen to music on another site. As I said, I’m just a selfish bastard.

  7. Evildead says:

    Hey,

    I don’t know shit about marketing, but thanks for talking about Loudblast. I’ve been listening to this band for almost 15 years now (they’re from my home town, Lille, north of France) and I was eagerly waiting for this new album that I’m listening to right now 🙂

    If you don’t already know it by now, try listening to the “Cross the Threshold” EP (especially No Tears To Share), it really blasts 🙂

    • Islander says:

      Hey, thanks for your comment. I think I’ve proven beyond doubt that I don’t know shit about marketing either — but I do like music (which I’m not sure I know much about either) and I’m happy to have that recommendation.

      I also have to say that your mention of Lille brought back a vivid memory of Dumas’ “The Three Musketeers”, which I read when I was a lot younger. It made a big impression on me. I remember The Executioner of Lille, who had branded the fascinating female character Milady early in her life with the mark of a criminal, and then, near the end of the novel, after she has married and unsuccessfully been hanged by Athos for her treacheries, nearly seduced D’Artagnan, and successfully plotted to assassinate the Duke of Bukingham, is beheaded by the same Executioner of Lille after the musketeers themselves judge her for her crimes. I’m sure there are other, better reasons to know of Lille. 🙂

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