Mika's blog : About Believe Digital becoming Nuclear Blast's majority shareholder. [#2, 2018]

This time, the founder of Season of Mist gives his insight about Believe Digital becoming the majority shareholder of Nuclear Blast.

A few thoughts and facts first : 
They are not in order, nor concise as I’m short on time. I don’t pretend I’m right, this is my take on it, please feel free to give me your anti capitalistic lingo about how everyone is selling out to the man without having any music business experience ?

1- Spotify went public and raised 30 Billions. Most majors had equity. They have pockets full of cash right now. Interest rates are low.

2- Metal is a MAJOR genre at Spotify. The Spotify system is biased towards metal and similar “dedicated” genre. Because for the same $10 a month, a metal head listens to way more music than the average user. He listens to full albums – this is called engaged user content. A classical music user of Spotify will listen to 10 tracks a week, maybe. Metal? In the hundreds So for the same 10€ a month, the 4 tracks a week classical user pays 10/4/4 per track. The Metal user : 10/4/200. So, in a “real” equal system, the classical music track should pay more. It doesn’t. It’s all added together and divided. IN the case of our two users it would be ((10+10)/4/)210

So metal pays more “than it should”. As we are now the 2nd biggest genre on Spotify, as we listen to albums and not only the new Beyonce tracks, etc – and as streaming is the new paradigm, we are valuable.

3- A LOT of the metal content is owned by independents.

4- Digital aggregators, like Believe and Orchard, are either parts of a major or on the way to be one day. OR backed up by massive investors.Think of it this way : Spotify sells to you, but who sells to spotify, youtube, etc? Believe et Orchard do (they aggregate).

5- Since Spotify went public, and as this will be the new paradigm for years to come, investors sees those companies are extremely valuable long term investments. Market share, etc. Think : Netflix for music.

6- Spotify isn’t the problem! Youtube is. Youtube pays NOTHING. Spotify could be better but it’s way, way more than what youtube pays. The bigger market share Spotify and aggregators controls, the more pressure content owners can put on google – the ONE company who NEVER, EVER respected copyright, intellectual property, and NEVER cared about paying anyone but themselves. That explains the WHY those new big tech music companies are looking at content, and metal especially.

Part II;  For the artist, and for the sake of the art :

Those tech companies are tech. They don’t get it. They don’t want to. I bet the staff at NB will remain and keep on doing what NB does. Same for Century : since it was acquired, did it change? Not really.

Relapse got sold recently. Will it change the Relapse identity? Nah, they will still do the next Dying Fetus and Pig Destroyer. It is NOT in their interest to destroy the brand, as in the past It happened with Roadrunner, Sanctuary, Noise, etc.

I think it will revive the underground. The Iron Bonehead, HH, Van, Svart&co will do what they do and will be unaffected by all this. A new generation of underground label will arise while the bigger one will keep on getting bigger – because the whole genre is getting bigger. I believe BOTH the “bigger ones” and the independent ones will grow. I’m persuaded by it.

Bigger labels and smaller labels doing better is good for everyone, including the artists. I see on my royalties statements real money being paid to artists now. Compared to 10 years ago and the downloading era : things are improving- DEFINITELY. Saying otherwise is just ignoring numbers.

Hellfest selling in two hours also helps smaller festivals developing with a more arty and underground level – but still be profitable. The metal community spends money into fests. 

IF there is interest in your band, even on a smaller scale, it is now less hard than it was 10 years ago. I’m not saying its easy, but if you are going unnoticed for a very long time – I don’t think the state of the business is the explanation. The lack of interest that people have in your art is. I really think good bands are getting noticed faster nowadays. We’ve had so many bands in the last years who were “small” and who made it to the next level or even got big : Archspire, Beyond Creation, Ne ObliviscarisHeilung, Solstafir.. And a ton of smaller ones buzzing.

Overall : more money in bigger companies will mean more money into the underground too.I started metal with Maiden and two years later I saw stage diving in an early pre-Necroticism Carcass show with 150 people present. You start with the classics and you finish with a Revenge shirt one day. Not everyone finished with a Revenge shirt, but we all started with the classics. After that the question is : how deep do you wanna dig. So if the original pool is larger, more people will dig. This isn’t trickle down economics (they don’t work) but in culture, yes, it does. Because the 1% can’t retain more music to be created and stop the rest of the world from discovering it if they want to. 

We won’t be in the press anytime soon nor on mainstream radio, but Metal is maybe finally getting the treatment it deserves. Who would have thought that Hellfest and Wacken would become such machines? And that didn’t stop Roadburn, Beyond the Gates or all the myriads of smaller interesting ones to pop up and thrive (for the one who do it well, others are failing – that’s called being good at what you do and competition) So nah, bigger labels, bigger fests, means bigger need for underground too to seek for newer different bands. Not a bad thing. Win Win.

And no, more money in music doesn't mean lesser art. Golden era of music is late 60's and early 70's. Money was POURING then. So gimmeafuckingbreak. Give them girls, good drugs, and better hotels => better music. And to break it all and throw it back to the street you'll get new punks. No problem there.

Again, this is chaotic and because a few people that I respect asked – I decided to throw this out. Feel free to do whatever you want with it and call me names – apparently I’m already a white supremacist according to Metal Sucks (because one of our artist finally stood up to them and threatened to punch them in the face, and when they asked me to take their defense I sent them the link of the Body Count video, “Talk Shit Get Shot” ? – since them I’m a white supremacist apparently – “everyone I don’t agree with his Hitler” syndrome, etc). So if by this text I’m suddenly a capitalist pig, then please just don’t waste your time reading my texts.

by Michael Berberian

His first blog article about vinyl test presses and Solstafir. [...]

Neredude (Janvier 2019)

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