Apr 182013

Yesterday Trevor Strnad of The Black Dahlia Murder (a band we like quite a bit around here) went on a rant about piracy on Facebook. That was yesterday. Today, he posted this on the band’s Facebook page:

I want to apologize to any of you guys that were bummed out by my frustrated, overly aggressive, and pessimistic posts yesterday. Me and the guys are eternally grateful for all of you and your support, whatever form. THANK YOU! We’ll see you this Summer and beyond… – Trevor”

Apart from sounding a retreat, it looks like he and the band have also deleted the original rant, too.

I sort of wish he had stuck to his guns, even if he did go a bit overboard with yesterday’s missives to the masses. Saying nothing that might conceivably alienate a potentially paying customer, or apologizing when you do, is the way mainstream recording artists are trained (and ordered) to behave by their handlers, and are therefore bland as shit to listen to (except when they’re wasted and going after the paparazzi). And besides, what potentially paying customers did Trevor risk alienating? A bunch of thieves who think they’re entitled to download and probably aren’t going to spend any money on TBDM anyway?

Truthfully, Trevor really didn’t say anything new, and nothing new has come  out of the flood of vitriolic comments, rants, and counter-rants that have swept through the interhole since his first broadside. It’s the same old story. It’s like listening to the latest round of “debates” over gun control. Not one new thing gets said, and not one thing seems to change. But still, I think Trevor should have been making a different argument than the one he made.

In a nutshell, Trevor urged fans to buy a copy of the band’s new album Everblack, despite the fact that TBDM only receives “literally a fraction of a penny per album”. His point was that unless the album sells and thereby proves that TBDM is “relevant”, “the music industry” won’t make it possible for TBDM to play concerts, tour, create and sell DVDs and new music, and sell merch. He insisted, in all capital letters, that TBDM needs to sell CDs “TO EXIST!”

And by the way, he also accused 98% of the band’s Facebook fans of being “content to steal the album and in turn we get nothing”. That may not have been the smartest thing to say and it probably wasn’t fair to most of TBDM’s fans either.

Look, it’s easy to make fun of this, because his rant reflects the perspective of someone who has achieved far more popularity and success and received far more financial and marketing support from “the music industry” than the VAST majority of underground bands ever have or ever will. TBDM could tour and record new music and sell that music and sell other merch and EXIST! even if they did not sell a high volume of CDs. How do we know this? Because that’s what most other metal bands do, because they have no choice.

Does this mean that Trevor was wrong to call out people who steal TBDM’s music instead of paying for it? Not in my book. But I don’t find the reasons he gave very appealing or sympathetic. And those reasons will never advance the debate very far. They will always trigger responses by the thieves that they download the music to try it out, that they spend money on merch (claiming this is what the bands really want anyway), that downloading music actually helps increase sales by spreading the music around to people who will eventually buy it, that CDs are a dying breed and selling them is a stupid business model, etc, etc.

In a nutshell, when a band calls out fans for stealing their music, offended fans react by saying “we know better than you do what’s best for your business, so just shut the fuck up”. And claims about what does and doesn’t actually put more money in a band’s pocket can almost never be answered with hard evidence. So it just goes round and round and round . . . .

Yes, this debate really is mostly about money, but as soon as you start openly talking about it in terms of money, then the whole “discussion” goes south in a hurry. And it goes south in an even bigger hurry when the people who complain are doing it from a position of success. When the complaints are coming from a struggling band who are obviously just trying to sell enough music to pay for recording the next album and maybe making some physical copies for collectors, people don’t seem to react quite so violently.

Here’s the argument I think should have been made, and should continue to be made until the culture of metal changes: When an artist creates a work of art, it’s theirs. They own it. They get the right to decide what to do with it. They can give it away if they want, but if they don’t want to give it away and they want to sell it instead, then that’s a decision they’re entitled to make. It’s up to them, it’s not up to us. And taking what they’ve created without paying for it is not only disrespectful, it’s THEFT.

There is no answer to that argument, or at least no answer that makes any sense.

(To read the full text of Trevor’s original rants, you can go read them at Metal Sucks.)





  1. There’s STILL “fans” jumping out of the wordwork and going claiming that because they’ve clicked a “like” button hat the band seems to owe them something.

    When exactly did the fans become so self-entitled and start to think they were more important than the artists?

    Bands seem pretty screwed these days… either you go kickstarter and get shit from fans for not being “serious” enough, or you try and get your so-called fans to actually buy your album and get called “sell-outs”.

    Maybe Trevor’s phrasing wasn’t the best, but I totally support him. The fact that he WAS so clearly pissed off speaks volumes to me. It was an honest and very real reaction. It’s unfortunate that he’s had to self-censor so as not to upset the whiny crybabys who might spread shit about the band and fuck up their reputation simply because he called them out on their bullshit.

    “Hey guys… I bought a shirt!”

    So fucking what? You bought the shirt so everyone knows you like “cool” music. You didn’t even bother to BUY the fucking music.

    Rant over.

  2. Totally agree with Trevor 100%. They are one of the few bands able to live off their music and they work their asses off to maintain it. I don’t have much to add to the discussion that hasn’t already been said — Islander and Andy Synn nailed it perfectly — but as a musician with a new album about to come out (WOE “WITHDRAWAL” ON CANDLELIGHT RECORDS APRIL 23 YA HEEEEAAAARD!?) I feel his frustration.

    • I have heard about the Woe release, and I did my part for the working musicians. Even though I heard the preview, I still pre-ordered the CD. And in a fit of meta-promotion, make sure you check out metalbandcamp.com next week to read my review of the new one. Sneak preview: I liked it. A lot. (Although I guess it would be weird if it were the opposite. “Hey Chris, make sure you check out my article so you can find out why you suck!”)

    • A bit of a coincidence, since I’ve got a review of this album in the works too. 🙂

      • I’ve only just got into Woe, so I’m interested in reading that.

        • I want to hear the new record very much. Quietly Undramatically is an absolutely SAVAGE record. Probably one of the most pissed-off USBM albums I’ve ever heard.

  3. I’ll I have to say is I buy my music and will continue to do so.

  4. Oh Waaa, everybody feel bad for him because he’s scared he might have to get a day job one day. 99 percent of us LOSE money on our music our whole lives.

  5. I get why he’s mad, and I definitely think he (and every other artist out there) have every right to be mad about it. The problem is, this really isnt going to change anything.

    Now, Im not saying I know what the answer is, but somehow..someway…musicians and labels are going to have to find a way to adapt to the current landscape if they want to survive because this genie is out of the bottle and sadly it aint ever going back in.

    On a side note…I find it extremely lulzy that people are getting so offended by this.

    • The thing is that whole “deal with it” attitude helps no one. What he’s calling for here isn’t an embargo on piracy or anything else similarly impossible, it’s for those who claim to be “fans” to actually honour the social contract and SUPPORT the bands.

      The problem is we’ve developed a culture of entitlement, where “I” DESERVE everything I want, without putting in any effort or money, and “I” feel like bands OWE me something. And that’s what Trevor seems to be railing against… this idea that clicking “like” makes you a fan, with all these supposed “rights”, without the need to actually support the band properly.

      On top of that we have the convenient excuse that “labels are the bad guys… screw the man” which lets people justify their behaviour as if they’re doing something righteous! Such utter self-serving bullshit.

      Then you have the whole “bands make more money from touring” claim which you can see below, which again provides a convenient excuse… except when you realise that lots of these bands won’t even GET tours if they don’t have the potential sales to back them up. And I question the validity of that claim anyway.

      What Trevor is calling for is a change in attitudes, which is the only real way to improve the functioning of the music industry and the ability of our favourite bands to continue to make music and tour.

      But there will always be self-important dickheads who make sweeping claims about how bands SHOULD operate without money… because they have no concern for reality and like to live in their own self-righteous little world. And then they’ll justify their idiocy by claiming that “all the really good” bands will survive, as if this were some sort of “Survival Of The Fittest” deal.

      Well unfortunately what you’re doing there is guaranteeing that the world fills up with more mass marketed Five Finger Death Punches, because these ARE selling… while you sit in your ivory tower, smugly downloading all the good bands becase… hey, you’re the FAN, you’re the IMPORTANT one, right? And bands should feel lucky to have you…

      • Im well aware of what hes saying, and I know all the arguments for and against piracy…Unfortunately its not a matter of whats right, or what should happen, its a matter of – this is the reality we live in now. Trevor can call for changes all he wants…hes not the first one, but its going to fall on deaf ears. As you yourself pointed out, people have become self-entitled and place no value on the actual product.

        The bands and labels have to change because they have no choice…there is no going back at this point.

        • Although this was in response to your statement it wasn’t specifically aimed at you, I hope that’s clear?

          I just used it as a jumping off point.

          • I get ya…I hope my position is clear as well. Im in no way advocating for people to pirate music. I just feel like we’ve reached a point where its not ever going to go away and by continuing to do things like we always have… like theres some way of going back to the days before pirating is just going to lead to more problems.

      • Speaking of sweeping claims, who exactly is this entitled “we” you speak of? I don’t think any band, much less TBDM, owes me a goddamn thing other than putting out a new album every 2-3 years and hopefully coming to my town on tour.

      • I think this really hits the nail on the head. Over the past year or so I’ve totally quit pirating. At first I couldn’t really figure out WHY, either. Yeah, I could more or less logically justify it to myself in a way that made sense. But it felt like I was doing something shitty and ultimately it just wasn’t worth that feeling. Even if you’re cool with screwing the label it’s pretty fucking hard to do without screwing the band as well.

        Part of it is that a lot of the convenient excuses have been kicked away. It used to be that if you wanted to hear the new album you had 30 second clips on amazon or you might hear the single on the radio if it was a bigger band. Now you’ve got exclusive streams across a half dozen sites and a half dozen more that’ll conveniently link you to any and all streams that come out. Bands put entire albums up for streaming at or before release. Bandcamp. Spotify. Theyre’s a fuckton of legitimate channels for you to try before you buy. Or just rent eternally, in Spotify’s case. So that’s what I do. I get my digital music from Spotify and if I really dig the album I buy the vinyl when my poor ass can.

  6. Well, the good effects of piracy for music is well proven and people who think otherwise don’t really know what they’re talking about. Please stop hating on things are good for the music business. This is an extremely real economic effect studied by pretty independent and unbiased sources. Look it up.

    Money that you pay for CD or iTunes or whatever mostly goes to labels and middlemen. These people sit in the middle and “make deals” effectively using their large amount of wealth and influence to get even more. Bands make more money from touring. Also, buying MP3s are completely pointless because you can’t sell them. Thank you anti piracy laws. Whereas at-least with CDs, you can sell them if you’re tired of the same thing over and over, because a secondary market exists for them.

    I don’t really pay for my music. I Spotify it. If it’s not there, then screw it. I don’t HAVE to listen to Led Zeppelin. As good as they are, they are being dicks about it or their label is. If a band I like comes to town, I go to their concert because that’s really the best way to support the band and local venues.

    As for the overall point of stealing, I agree that in general stealing sucks. But Black Dahlia Murder are a business and if I were running a business, I’d want to it to actually make money.

    • See, this is exactly what I’m talking about. Paragraph after paragraph of weak justification for not actually buying a band’s music.

      • I will never understand this argument either. “It’s O.K. to steal some stuff as long as I pay for other stuff.” I’m guessing that most grocery stores make more money from their own baked goods, for example, then the stuff they have to bring in from big distributors. Does that mean it’s cool to steal a gallon of milk as long as I buy an eclair?

      • While I have no sympathy for those unwilling to support the bands they like, we must acknowledge that there are real economic factors at work here and making some adjustments to the existing business models will help us out as artists too.

        The fact that you can’t sell digital (at least DRM-free) music on a secondary market is problematic, that diminishes it’s value, this is something nobody should support. The genie is out of the bottle if somebody really wants to get a hold of that album they will, not letting people sell their digital copies on a second hand market does nobody any good.

  7. People should buy CDs.. I am pretty sure that everyone on this site does so and that is all that matters. And i do hope we all at some point in our lives get others to do it as well.

  8. Look, I udnerstand the backlash, especially against Trevor, because he’s a hard man to love. I’m rpetty sure he’s swung a fist at 90% of the entire Detroit metal scene (albiet, mostly in the pits, but still),

    None of that changes that he’s completely right. HE works, and deserves fair compensation, and music piracy is good for no one, not even the pirates themselves.

    Likewis,e none of that changes that the digital era is not going away, and the power necessary to police against piracy is unethical. The ONLY way to combat piracy is to take personal stands as musicians, fans and other workers in the industry. It needs to become a social more–piracy makes you a little shit. And it’s up to US to enforce it.

    I think the burden particularly falls on bloggers like Andy, Islander, Israel and I, because we are an ingrained part of the internet culture, but we still get records for free (full disclosure, i buy vinyls of the ones I like. that’s still probably 5% of the free music we get from labels, but at least i know,s peaking for myself, I delete the other 95%).

    There is no reason Strnad should have tor etract his statements. I stand by the man. Even if he laid me the fuck out at that Converge show!

    • Fuck!!! I remember getting kicked in the head by Pierre from Knuckledust (legends) at a show years ago, can’t say it put me off, if anything, it made me want to dance harder!

  9. I’m about to pre-order five records right now. Mostly indie bands. Fuck pro-piracy advocates.

  10. I’m an unemployed college student and I *still* buy music. Sure, I have a backed up list of CDs from last year that I still haven’t acquired, but I’m not going to get them until I get enough money to PAY for them.

  11. I really can’t deal with downloads. Call me old fashioned, call me out-dated, I just can’t get into it. I love having something real, something tangible. It just feels right to me. Perhaps it comes from being a nineties child and I’m clinging onto nostalgia, but fuck it, I love having a proper record collection, I love going out to buy music from real shops and I love listening to CDs/vinyl on proper stereos (god forbid the day they die out). Sure, I listen to a lot of stuff on the PC/iPod but that’s purely for convenience as we all have to work/study/lounge about. In any case, I’ll be buying the new BDM and a billion other albums that are scheduled this year, because even if a band does only get a fraction of the proceeds, they deserve it, they’ve made a difference to my life and I’m grateful for it.

    I’m dreading the day when labels switch to digital, but hopefully that will be a long way off.

  12. If you’ve ever visited my blog, then you’ll know my opinion about this issue, but I’ll reiterate myself. The two main reasons why people pirate is because they either can’t afford it or they live in an area where legal options don’t exist. I should know. Where I come from, the closest thing we have to a record store is Wal-Mart, and their metal sections is almost non-existent. Sure, I can buy metal albums on either Amazon or eBay, but I don’t have any disposable income. I don’t have the privilege of being able to buy whatever CDs I want, therefore, I have to pirate.

    You might call me entitled, but that’s nothing more than a pointless ad hominem attack that does nothing to address the complex economic reasons as to why people pirate. You might compare piracy to stealing food from a grocery store, but that’s a false analogy. When you download something, you’re simply copying digital data, and copying is not theft. If you steal a candy bar or a car, then you’ve left someone without something to eat or something to drive. If you download an album, then the artist still has his album. He hasn’t suffered any actual theft. You might tell me, “If you can’t afford to buy physical music, then why can’t you just go without?” If you’re truly concerned about money, a pirate and a lost customer who “goes without” look exactly the same. Being sanctimonious accomplishes nothing.

    • I cannot agree with the latter half. But there is a problem that exists when it comes to buying physical CDs here in India and i imagine it to be same for some of the other asian countries. You are compounded by a lack of availability and excessive shipping charges. Shipping charges come around the 3-5 dollar mark and that is like half the price. One of the more important reasons, is the lack of good Distros which needs to come in ASAP. Then again it is just no excuse to rip. Used to be a heavy downloader until late. I pulled the plug on that habit when i started earning.

    • That was very well said, BreadGod and I fully agree with you

  13. If he wants to sell records he should have picked a different genre of music to play. Selling records has never been promised in Death Metal. Social contract? You expect Death Metal fans who don’t respect social norms to respect social contracts? This is why underground people hate Black Dahlia Murder and Job for a Cowboy. One day Metalcore/pro-tools click DeathCore will be dead just like nu-metal and hair metal, their fans will either follow the next pseudo-metal trend or listen to techno,and Autopsy will still be putting out new records. Now I have to go to my day job, ewaaaaa buy my record so I don’t have to!

    • I’m pretty certain selling records is part and parcel of any musical social contract. And that includes Death Metal.

      But don’t let that stop your little rant about how “pro-tools click Deathcore” isn’t true metal (it’s only pseudo-metal after all, and all their fans will go on to like “techno”).

  14. The appropriateness or not, as well as the possible ‘wtf how could you not know’ of this question aside, I’d really appreciate an answer. When I buy a CD, how do I get the music from it on my pc’s hard drive? I tried a couple of free ripping programs, they sucked, I tried using windows media player, it worked but did not save the music info, so the songs appeared with titles ‘Track 1’, ‘Track 2’ etc..Head, meet keyboard, keyboard, meet head. I’ll go ahead and assume this is ok, legally/morally speaking, since being required to change the CD in the tray every time I want to change the album would be one ridiculous inconvenience for any listener.

    And yes, to answer the obvious question, I only bought CDs once, since I only started having disposable income recently, even if it was several CDs of albums I’ve listened to for a while. One notable exception, Rastlos(2012) by Finsterforst – bought without having ever heard anything from it, loved it, would love to hear more recommendations for similarly epic sounding albums.

    • Assuming youre just trying to upload music to your computer..

      If you want to just use Windows Media player…try this link and see if it helps http://www.7tutorials.com/how-rip-audio-cds-windows-media-player-12

      Or..you could just look into MP3/Flac programs for your computer…should be plenty of good ones for free download

      Or..you could download Itunes, which I believe is also free. Just be sure that whatever you upload is done in a universal file and not an Apple only file (something you can adjust easily in options). Its not a big deal if your only using your computer or your Ipod, but it limits what files can be played on other systems (such as connecting your Ipod to the USB on a car radio)

      (honestly if you just want to upload and listen to music on your computer…just go with Itunes. It easy to use and will be fine for your needs)

    • Agree with SurgicalBrute. Just load the Windows version of iTunes onto your computer. When you put the CD in your player, iTunes will automatically ask if you want to import the songs, and it will use the Gracenotes database to get the song titles, album title, artwork (which is sometimes hit or miss), etc., and then add all that to your iTunes library. You can modify the import settings however you want to determine the file type in which iTunes will save the song files (eg, mp3), although you can also do the conversions after songs have been saved to your library.

      • Its kinda the only time i rip. When i’ve bought a CD i torrent down its mp3 version. For its far easier. Downloading itunes specifically will take about half an hour more which is not really worth it with the download speeds around here. Ah well.

  15. Let me start by stating I’m not trying to make an argument or excuse my actions. I’m a piece of shit and I know it. I love this band, but I’ve only ever purchased one of their albums, “Nocturnal.” I just don’t believe in buying music. If I really like a band, I’ll go see them live whenever they come to town and I’ll buy merch. I know it’s wrong, but if I purchased the music of every band I like, I wouldn’t have any money left over to pay my mortgage or my student loans. I’ve seen TBDM at least 12 times, live. I own 4 hoodies and about a dozen shirts. Most of those, purchased at shows. I guess in my mind, they get far more money outta me than most that just pick up a new album and never go to a show and never buy a shirt. I’m not saying this justifies anything, but they definitely aren’t going broke, either. For an underground band, they make decent profit of which I have contributed my fair share.

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