Ok, so in this inaugural version of “Venomous Words” I want to visit the whole idea of the internet (eg: crowdfunding and other things) as it relates to the music business–let’s just address the 900lb gorilla in the room straight away.
First, the disclaimer–I am not in the “music business” past this online station or some sort of self-described “marketing guru” (that should be quite obvious); I do not condone or encourage ANY illegal activities online; I speak as a fan with second-hand experience and as a dude who has interviewed several bands and have asked most what they think about this subject in one form or another either in phone calls or on social media discussing the subject; these are also only MY words (other hosts here may or may not agree with my opinion as well as the bands that have been interviewed by Venom staff). I’m basically just a metal head with a keyboard who has an opinion about topics that can affect us all as music fans and will attempt to write this blog as near a third-grade writing level as I can. Of course, I could be dead wrong about things and my opinion could be based in total bullshit and inexperience. Feel free to correct me in the comments.
Recently, a decently-well-established artist who has been playing music for 30-plus years recently stated on social media bands who crowdfund an album or tour are weak, have no guts and how it was an insult to those who have never asked for a dime from their fans in pursuing their dream of success in music. He went on to give some very impressive examples of what he had personally done to make it through the years, but I disagree with his opinion about the bands. In fact, I don’t believe asking for money in the form of an album or tour pre-sale is the same as some form of being on the dole or a sign of weakness. If you are in a band, you want people to hear and BUY your music and merchandise so that you may continue to do what you like or have chosen as a livelihood. It’s like the old saying of, “I need experience to get a job, but I can’t get any experience without a job”. I don’t believe there is shame in asking a friend for some help once in a while as long as it doesn’t become a habit. Sometimes bands need a little help getting over the next hurdle in order to produce something in a manner that best reflects what they deem as a good release schedule or quality level of product and friends—or fans in this case—should see this as a legitimate request while having the option to help or not to help while both sides giving due respect to each other.
Regardless of various opinions of the morality of the situation, sometimes it is necessary to “pay to play” in a local bar or club and in national tours or festivals in order to achieve success. This concept has been slammed by artists, but it still continues as it apparently is good for the venue and artist overall. If the promoter/club owner and band agree on what could basically be called “enrollment fees” for a gig or tour and/or a certain level of “compensation” in some form and everyone finds those terms acceptable, then there should be no problem. After doing this, some bands have said they were young and ignorant and felt they got screwed by clubs for having to do this in the past. I don’t think it can be called “getting screwed” if all terms were followed by both sides. If you are not sure—ask. Have a mentor. Maybe use Google. I would say you are responsible for your band and the decisions made regarding it. There have been several autobiographies written out there which assumedly touch on this subject. Learn from past mistakes, or don’t and take the risk. This is not to excuse shitty promoters or clubs that actively fuck-over bands—those people and establishments should be outed and exposed for their wrong doings.
Topically enough, in the last week there has been a band that went public to the music media stating that unless they get some financial help from their fans, they are breaking up and going away as playing music does not pay the bills. Some would argue that the band should just pack it in and retire and pursue other means of employment straight away. I believe this particular band truly realizes what time it is in their career, is letting their fans decide their fate sooner rather than later and can’t blame them for doing it. There are a lot of reasons for doing this, no doubt—but it all boils down to it is fucking expensive to be a working band. While working towards this goal of success or even some sort of stardom means there will have to be all kinds of sacrifices made, it doesn’t mean one should have to live in abject poverty if there are other options that include benevolent fans willing to help if they know they have an opportunity.
As with the previous paragraph and as I’ve heard it said “there is no money in music” unless you are in an absolutely huge band like the big four-type bands. (In the desire to be transparent, I have never been in a band that has had to struggle with these types of challenges for any length of time.) So for a band that has aspirations of becoming like the big four-type bands, I must ask, “what is the problem with asking the fans you do have for help to financially support a new album or tour? Surely this appeal is nothing more than a voluntary exchange of money for goods or services, right? No one is forcing anyone to do anything against their will”. As long as a band doesn’t expect help and treat their fans like shit if they don’t get it, where’s the issue? In fact, and in my experience, most bands usually sort out something nice for those that choose to help—a signed physical or downloaded copy of the album, video, instrument lessons, VIP passes or something else to show appreciation for those who helped the band out of a jam. Some rewards are better and some rewards are more mediocre. As long as the band uses those funds for the intended and expressed purpose and come through on their end of the agreement, I believe it is a “win-win” for the band and fan as the band is able to put out a new album for the fan and/or tour so the fan gets to see a band they appreciate. I don’t believe anyone could find fault in it if they are honest with themselves…
…except for those that see using crowdfunding or a band paying their way on to a tour or festival or using social media as cheating. These people seem to think because their opportunity wasn’t as great as far as the effort to reward ratio went when they started out, every band starting now should have the same small opportunity for reach as they did in the 80’s or 90’s—technology be damned. They say the bands should do it all themselves and not depend on the fans when, in fact, they aren’t doing it all themselves either as they depend on others to print their album, release it, publicize and distribute it and even sometimes a tour manager for the tour. I guess it is justified because it is those “others” job to do that stuff and the fan shouldn’t be bothered—except when it comes time to ass-up the money for purchasing the album. Letting a fan “assist” if and when needed also give the fan a small sense of ownership, if only in some sort of an emotional state, but it also may add greater loyalty to the band’s brand as well.
One solution to being more “DIY”, is looking into the various ways the internet is there to help them release their album without a messy record contract and all the negative crap that may potentially come from it. Then they could remain in total control of their destiny like they claim to presently be. That means pay a bit for a website to be built and set up, put a store on there and sell .mp3’s if you want to be as DIY as possible. Or use other preexisting ecommerce sites that aren’t hard to set up. Of course, just having an active presence on a band Facebook page might work too, but this won’t have the reach and connections for other stuff that a label might. Of course, a response could be, “we want physical CD’s and vinyl and—geez, I am not able to do all of that shit!! How can you expect me to be able to print all the art and physical media? I’m a musician!”
Exactly. We’re all dependent on someone somewhere—just because you choose not to be dependent on someone in one area that someone else is dependent on, doesn’t mean it is bad or rotten. Check.
I disagree with their attitude because as shown here it makes no sense, could be hypocritical and can only be based in jealousy due to the older band who either doesn’t know how to work modern technology or they cling to an outdated music business model that probably doesn’t even really exist but for a few. Either way, I believe it is based in ignorance, fear or just simple stubbornness as to why they won’t embrace this useful tool at their disposal.
Maybe they miss “the good old days” when there was no ability for a potential fan to preview a new album or just buy the “good” tracks like there is today—I mean, whatta deal, right? You could write a “10-song album” and have half of it filler garbage and half actual good songs with the consumer being be stuck with paying full price for half an album or less worth of decent songs. Makes total sense—most people were doing pretty well financially in the 80’s and 90’s and could afford to spend the $15-$20 on an album. But then somewhere along the line the consumer wised-up and got tired of paying full price for what was only really half an album, not to mention the economy of late has been shit so people are being wiser as to where and how they spend their money. This technology actually protects the consumer in a way and would seem to ensure bands weren’t “phoning in” their new release although people will still buy their favorite band’s new album without previewing it prior to purchase.
Willfully ignoring and even hating modern technology is akin to walking somewhere instead of driving—why would you choose to walk and then complain about how long it takes you and the struggles involved to get there? Much less expect others to make the same choices, and if they don’t they are somehow unworthy of any kind of respect. It’s not like they are spirit cooking with Hillary Clinton here—geez!
What do YOU think? Is crowdfunding a cheater way out or is there some merit to it?
Stay tuned for the next installment where we discuss downloading music…
Saying this new SOULFLY album “Archangel”, “is pretty damn good’ could very well be an understatement depending on what your current taste in extreme metal is. Seems as though Max Cavalera has been listening to a bunch of black metal lately as this is one of the darkest SOULFLY albums to date. It’s still SOULFLY, still what you’d expect in certain areas, but at the same time, another well-done change. Here’s my take track by track of the CD/DVD/Deluxe version of the “Archangel”.
The disc starts out with a punky almost up-beat sounding hardcore-ish track “We Sold Our Souls To Metal”. Probably the brightest (as far as emotional happiness and “joy” goes) if there is any on this album. Following it is what we’d expect of SOULFLY with the dark-sounding title track, “Archangel” where a bit of melodic guitar work can be heard while the time changes in the song set it apart from average metal fare in true Marc Rizzo style.
Up next is “Sodomites” featuring vocals by Todd Jones of NAILS—one of my favorite songs on the album—which has an intro that sounds like a band Max was previously involved with and made successful in the late 80’s and early to mid-90’s. Good crowd participation and groove song here with some DM and BM influences. Lyrically it is from passages in the Bible… Huh? Although Tony Campos has left SOULFLY for FEAR FACTORY right after the recording of “Archangel” the bass parts he lent sound great on this song as well as the rest and key to this album’s overall heaviness.
In “Ishtar Rising” Marc Rizzo’s solos are still there, but seems a bit subdued–and that’s fine, in this album the riff is King along with its cousin groove.
I think SOULFLY made the perfect choice to have Matt Young guest on “Live Life Hard!” and it is another stand-out tune for me on this album. Matt is the demon-possessed, psycho, water bottle emptying, butt-crack showing front man for Melbourne hardcore/punk/thrash/grinders KING PARROT and his wild-man screechy and newly shown guttural vocals only make this song better than it was probably originally intended to be as live he embodies the title. Blast beats are present but the song breaks down in to a smelly pit of dirty, crusty sludgy metal… Though it is a bit simple lyrically it has decent musical dynamics and a winner overall.
Want occult chants? You’re in luck, “Shamash” starts out with a cool, but brief chant of sorts (which are heard throughout the song) then goes full-on into a hair whipping frenzy of riffs. Again Rizzos’ leads are minimal but meaningful and add to the track. Seems a bit dystopian lyrically, but that’s ok—if you are expecting uplifting songs about unicorns and rainbows, it is a reminder you have made the wrong purchase.
“Bethlehem’s Blood” sounds a bit familiar as another release I’ve heard in the last year or two from another band because of the “rams’ horns” in the track, but it works and this is nonetheless a decent track I’ll listen to again. The horns add a very apocalyptic mood to the song.
“Titans” follows and brings a bit of the thrash flavor that Cavalera is an expert in, but the symphonic BM influences are heard here as well as other parts of the album. Yet another favorite of mine and also the third longest track on this version of the album clocking in at 4:44.
Track number 9, “Deceiver”, starts out fast and furious with intensity and show some great guitar prowess in the riffs expertly riffed out by Max and Marc. Soon breaks down into a tasty wah-lead by Rizzo before going into and end of the song galloping bridge section sure to have thrashers everywhere wrecking their necks.
Keeping the Cavalera tribe involved in SOULFLY is something we can always expect from Max so it is no surprise Richie and Igor Cavalera (Max’s Sons—from INCITE and LODY KONG, respectively) share lead vocals with Max on the track, “Mother of Dragons”. Also featured is another metal artist, Anahid who is an Iranian woman and vocalist of MASTER OF PERSIA (“M.O.P.”). This and the previous tracks are responses full of the hate to those who have assumedly trashed Max/SOULFLY/the Cavaleras in general and it is delivered with vehemence. Or maybe they are for anyone talking down to anyone and actively keeping them down… But I guess that’s for the listener to determine.
A NAPALM DEATH cover of “You Suffer” is included as the first of three bonus tracks on the CD/DVD/Deluxe version of the album with Max’s grandson, Roki, doing a vocal intro. Wait–Max is a grandfather now? What is happening to my heroes? It took longer for me to write this than the song’s length. Hard to offer opinion on a song this short, but nonetheless, NAPALM DEATH are a great band to listen to. Enjoy.
Next is “Acosador Nocturno”–a song about Richard Ramirez with the vocals delivered by Tony Campos. As an American that only speaks English, I’m not opposed to this type of stuff and think it is a good break from the normal stuff I normally hear. Rizzo rips a couple of good solos in this one as well.
Closing out the album is an acoustic instrumental, “Soulfly X” that has a bit of a TOOL flavor in its feel. It features Roman Babakhanyan playing a “duduk”—and Armenian woodwind instrument. Not too surprising that Max has done this with Roman as SOULFLY has included world music on several of their previous albums and it shows the true artistry that the group has. This song it kind of mellows you out from one of SOULFLY’s shortest (if not THE shortest) album to date.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Zyon Cavalera’s drumming style is fitting and unlike the previous album not lacking in any area like it seemed to be at times on the last one. Plenty of straight forward playing but with some tasteful flair where it needs it on the album. The young man is definitely coming into his own and I can’t wait to hear what he brings live and in future SOULFLY efforts.
Is “Archangel” a return to Max’s former band days but with modern day sensibilities, techniques and trends? Maybe I’m too much of a romanticist with the bands I grew up with… Did the band have a chat with Nergal during pre-production and discuss his new album, “The Satanist” in depth? Maybe. If so, does that mean it is a perfect “cold, frost-bitten” and/or “kvlt” elitist BM album? Nope and I don’t believe it was intended to be, but I can definitely hear the BM and DM influence on this record. Matt Hyde undoubtedly has been a huge factor in the sonic presentation of this disc as his experience with several styles of music production shows. Also and once again, Max Cavalera has his ear to the ground bringing what may be unknown or “up and coming” artists to his musical tribe proving he has, in fact, sold his soul to metal.
So what does it take and more importantly how much does it cost to be an internet radio host on Venom Radio or another station?
The answer is not a short one. Assuming one has a decent computer and broadband connection already, it can be as cheap as right around $200 and as expensive as each individual wants it to be depending on the gear they believe they may need to purchase. I’ll try to answer some questions and give an idea of the basics of what you’ll need—
A computer. Laptop or desktop doesn’t matter. More than likely, if you’re reading this, your computer will work. But preferably something that less than 5-6 years old—only because if you bought yours at a Best Buy or similar “off the shelf” place, these will have at least the bare minimum hardware requirements to run a show. I’d suggest Windows 7 64bit as the OS with minimum of 6GB (8+ GB is preferred) of RAM, and at least 100GB’s of free hard drive space to store your .mp3s on. Having a “better than” onboard sound/video card is a plus, too, though may not be required. A lot of this is up to the individual and this is by no means a minimal requirement of performance standards, but it is very close to the minimal requirements—I still have an XP 32 bit computer that is capable of running my show. Usually, if you can stream an HD video, you should be able to stream a show. An external hard drive is also a great thing to have to back-up your music in case your computer crashes. Also, it has been proven to me that although you can go wireless, having a hard-wire internet connection provides a bit more bandwidth and connection security.
A broadcasting program for your computer like SAM Broadcaster Pro by Spacial Audio—on sale you can find it for as low as $150, while normal price of this is $300. In the past there have been payment plans, but it is unknown when these or other specials may pop-up past the normal holiday sales events. SAM is now also supporting Mac platforms as well as .m4a files in SAM Broadcaster PRO 2015.1, so that is a plus for not only the iStuff users, but PC users with .m4a files laying around. Finding “less than legitimate copies” of SAM is discouraged as there is always a chance with “found copies” there could be faults with it. Plus, doing things right ensures it will work as it should.
A mic. This is a whole realm of potential scariness in and of itself depending on how you want to sound and what the quality level requirements your station has. I’ve seen pictures of online DJ’s who have this involved setup with a mic on a boom stand, with a pop filter going into a mixing board that goes into their computer. This isn’t always necessary—I have a Logitech headset I’ve used since I started doing this back in 2010 and it works fine with good sound. Another guy I know uses his $30 webcam mic with zero problems. I’m not going to pretend to know what all is involved with capturing the human voice and making it sound good via actual “real-world” mics, but I know of several people that do have the more elaborate set-up and can’t say their sound quality is noticeably different from the guy I know using a webcam mic. The cost? $20 for a cheap mic that sounds decent to hundreds of dollars buying all the “real studio”-type stuff which, if you are just starting out, you will not need. I would invest in a decent mic/headset (whatever the individual prefers) that can be found for under $100.
Then there’s some legalities with playing copyrighted music as well. It is much too boring and long to post all of it here, but once someone decides to approach Venom Radio or even another station, they will and should be advised of it.
“Can I make money at this?”
In most cases, probably not. The “pay” comes from the love of doing this and being invited to obtaining pre-release music from labels and interviews with bands. Of the half-dozen stations I’ve been at, no one has gotten paid to my knowledge. It has always been a “volunteer thing”. Think of internet radio as being in a local band—we’re not the most talented or known and haven’t been able to command any “real pay” yet but we do it for the right reasons and “exposure”. But, the sky IS the limit. You are in control.
“How much time do I have to commit to do doing this?”
Again, a bit of a loaded question. At Venom Radio we have a “one, two hour show a week minimum” commitment. This is two hours, “on air”. Keep in mind there may be a few hours prior to your show (either right before or in the week prior to your show every week) required to get your show playlist together. Some people prepare their stuff days or weeks in advance, some do it right before the show, and some fly by the seat of their pants and go with the moment. So the amount of time spent on doing this is dependent on how you believe you can do your show justice.
“When can I do my show?”
At Venom Radio–anytime you like as long as another host doesn’t have that time slot. Unlike other radio stations, we don’t dictate when you can or can’t do your show. Of course, as the schedules fill, then there are less options. Also, the possibility of an “ad hoc” or “random show” (eg-“raiding the stream”) is open as well as long as someone else isn’t on. A live host is always better than the Auto-DJ.
“What kind of music can I play?”
At Venom Radio, we play everything from rock and roll to extreme metal. Again, we don’t dictate that. And if a random country or hip-hop song gets thrown in the mix… well, that’s on you! As far as what other stations do, that’s on them as well… I can’t speak for them. But would a primarily hip hop show or country show ever be on Venom Radio? More than likely, absolutely not. It’s called Venom Radio for a reason and that brand and image doesn’t lend itself to other styles very well.
“Can I play requests?”
Ahh, yes–this is a favorite question of mine. The short answer is yes, but according to the DMCA there has to be an hour passed from the time the request is made until a host plays that request. Of course, if the song is already in the playlist to be played in the next couple of songs, this rule does not apply. Yes, there ARE different rules between your local terrestrial station, other online music things like Spotify and internet radio stations like Venom Radio. I don’t make the rules, I’m just forced to follow them. I personally don’t like the request rule myself, but it is what it is.
If there are any other questions, feel free to ask and I’ll answer them in the comments section below.
This Friday, Hoppah’s Rock & Roll Overdose will air the interview with Brad Divens of Back Alley Gators, Souls at Zero & Wrathchild America! Various topics will be discussed including the name change from Wrathchild to Wrathchild America then later Souls at Zero, Touring with Pantera and exactly what Brad is up to these days and much more! This will be a special 3 hour version of Hoppah’s Rock & Roll Overdose.
Friday 5:00PM-8:00PM Pacific, US
Friday 8:00PM-11:00AM Eastern, US
Saturday 12:00AM-3:00AM UTC
Saturday 11:00PM-2:00PM Eastern (Melbourne), Australia