Ginger Writes for Metal Hammer – Sept 2012

By Ginger | September 16, 2012

Hot on the heels of a wildly successful PledgeMusic campaign that rumbled the UK charts, Ginger Wildheart is living proof that the music business is transforming. As he explains…

THERE’S A NEW GAME IN TOWN

Ginger writes for Metal Hammer magazine

The evidence: Sonisphere and Download competing for ticket sales – one thrives, one suffers, and it’s not because of a lack of fans. It’s down to there being less than a dozen huge rock beasts in the world capable of selling enough tickets for such events, and most of these have been headlining mega events for decades. AC/DC, Kiss, Maiden, Metallica: these giants also form the blueprint from which labels have been working for years, grooming hopefuls to be shoe-horned into ill-fitting costumes to provide little but a replication in sales. Or labels splurging budgets to chase hipster happenings, and utilising arcane marketing techniques with no forward-thinking and equally diminishing results.

Corporate rock is over. Next to face the same fate are surely mags pandering to a teen audience while mindlessly favouring bank-busting, genre-blurring acts Like Green Day and Foo Fighters, like every other mag on the shelves. The teen market is plentiful, but they won’t stay kids for long. What they will remain, however, are music fans, and the subsequent soundtrack of their experiences will also remain strong.

We’re a complex bunch; we need more than a dozen bands to provide a sonic timeline to our lives, that’s what labels never understood. The traditional feeding rota worked like this: if labels aren’t championing it, the magazines don’t write about it and the promoters don’t showcase it. We all gotta get paid, right? Why not just stick with the established bands and methods? Less thinking, less work. For everyone. The trouble is, hard work and imagination will be the currency of survival in the future. The history books will be kind to the persistent.

A new shift in music is about to take place, designed by a new breed of musician for whom the music is paramount. One who’ll gladly swap riches and fame for the chance to express themselves musically. One who will break down the final wall standing between audience and artist in order to understand who they’re actually playing for. The type of musician who doesn’t give up because the radio won’t play their songs, who will carve out a fanbase person by person, until a few thousand people hang on every word, riff and gruelling experience of this artist.

This type of musician has earned the right to a career. Direct-to-fan communication and funding is an important shape in the morphing of independent music, a new division that removes the middleman and creates a stronger bond between musician and supporter. Take a Look at the bandmember’s slice on this piechart. Now imagine owning the whole pie and paying for your own producer, working at a studio of your choice, having a friend as your manager, and making the music you and your fans want to hear.

And the argument behind there being a need for record companies? They act as a ‘filter’ so the public don’t have to suffer substandard music. How’s that working out for everyone? That filter should be the audience. Let the people decide what albums get made and which acts deserve a career. The standard of the band/artist will be all important in this future paradigm. Their relationship with their audience will separate the grafters from the divas, for everyone to see. No longer will artists be able to hide behind expensive videos and live backing tracks. We’ll all be expected to prove it on the pitch, and in the sales pitch. If you’ve worked hard enough, for long enough, to create an audience that believes in you then you’re in the hands of your crowd, and those are safe hands indeed. They want you to succeed. They want you to make new music. This is the way it was always meant to be. Fans, show your support for the musicians who care. They deserve to make a living at this.

Musicians, meet the new boss. They’ve always controlled things around here.

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