The music industry and that

I was given cause to muse on things tonight. Music industry things specifically. Why? Today I deleted the music store at Metal as Fuck because it was an epic fail. Also, I’ve been sharing resources about the music industry with one of my writers, to help him with his studies. It all gave me cause to think that I really, quite honestly, know (this is totally contradictory) quite a lot and fuck-all, all at once.

Last week, on the suggestion of one of the MaF team, I sent out the first mega team email, in a bid to unite peeps, to get them to work towards the same sort of goals. It was a heartwarming exercise, not just for me, but, judging by some of the responses I got, for those who received it. It lit a fire under some people, who pulled their fingers out and submitted a ton of work for me. It served as a nice little reminder that we aren’t all just individuals doing our own thing, but a team who are all living the same thing.

One comment I got was that it made the recipient feel ‘part of something epic’. And truly, on reflection, Metal as Fuck is fairly epic. When I think about where my team resides (all over the damn world), what we do, and what we aim to achieve together, it is huge. Far bigger than my tiny little office, which honestly doesn’t look metal at all. I only really started to work this out when I emailed everyone.

And it’s the little things you miss that make you feel like you’re doing something worthwhile.

In terms of the music industry, I’ve garnered quite a bit of knowledge over the years. I take ARIA, for instance, with a pinch of salt. Some people, like Phil Tripp, who’s been in the industry longer than you’ve probably been alive, take ARIA to the wall – with reason. I’m not, however, a big whiz at marketing or publicity. I know various people in the industry, who help me along and give me advice. I (used to) read voraciously anything I could get my hands on, but if you look at the IMMedia music industry online bookstore, there is probably not one title that I have read. I know I should read them. I want to read them. It’s all a matter of finances, ultimately. I could borrow them, but fuck that! I want to own them.

I know enough about the industry to function; to know which labels are where, who distributes them in which country (roughly), roughly which bands reside with whom, who the labels’ publicists and contacts are. I know how to gain media accreditations for massive festivals in Europe – festivals I have never been to, and am likely to not get to any time soon. I know quite a bit about social networking, and building relationships and good rapport. I know enough gossip to keep me functioning in social music situations; and my listening history when it comes to metal is, compared to most people I know, absolutely fucking pathetic. I also know how to run events, how to stage manage events (though it’s been a very long time since I have done so), what makes a good release, what makes good criticism. My knowledge of the industry is very broad, realistically. But it’s not even 70% solid, I don’t think it ever could be. It would be better if I actually fed my knowledge, but lately I’ve been not feeding my brain with anything much.

And yet – here I am.

The fact that I can help others with music industry bits and bobs surprises me a little bit. It shouldn’t, I’ve been totally immersed in it for a number of years – not full time, granted – but it still does. I have dreams of running my own label at some point, or of managing artists, but that is dodgy territory, when I am struggling to monetise my own publication. Things never happen quickly – apart from bad things – so I’m patient. And yet … I have mega dreams that I want to achieve before I die.

The music store at MaF is a case in point. It was a good idea while it lasted, but it failed. Why did it fail? Poor management on my behalf (let’s be brutally honest), poor publicity for most of the time (though despite solid market research even our gung-ho marketing was a fail), the realisation that if you want to sell music you have to buy it in yourself and not rely on a commission model when you don’t have a fully automated system, and so on and so forth. So, it’s not gone for good, but it’s gone pending restructure. Like a lot of things in my life right now.

The music industry is a fickle beast, but to some extent it’s fickle because of the personalities within it. It is, after all, a living and breathing thing because it relies on people for absolutely everything. It fluctuates and changes. Ultimately, whether you’re an artist, a publicist, a distributor, a retailer, a publisher, in the end you’re dealing with people. It’s all about psychology. Like a lot of life is, come to that.

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