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Music Piracy

Piracy Offers Heavy Metal a New Business Model 246

Posted by samzenpus
from the run-to-the-dollar-bills dept.
hessian writes "Despite being extensively pirated worldwide, Iron Maiden have managed to put themselves in the £10-20m for 2012. This means that despite the growing popularity of the band on social media, and the extensive and pervasive torrent downloading of the band's music, books and movies, the band is turning a profit. This is in defiance of the past business model, and the idea that piracy is killing music. In fact, piracy seems to be saving music in Iron Maiden's case. One reason for this may be metal itself. It has a fiercely loyal fanbase and a clear brand and identity. The audience identifies with the genre, which stands in contrast to genericized genres. It doggedly maintains its own identity and shuns outsiders. As a result, fans tend to identify more with their music, and place a higher value on purchasing it."
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Piracy Offers Heavy Metal a New Business Model

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  • Maybe, but... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jones_supa (887896) on Sunday December 01, 2013 @01:43PM (#45568643)
    ...Iron Maiden had established a strong reputation and fan base before Internet piracy became a problem.
    • Re:Maybe, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by scream at the sky (989144) on Sunday December 01, 2013 @01:44PM (#45568653) Homepage
      So had Metallica...and we all know how that turned out for them.
      • Fair point.
        • Re:Maybe, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 01, 2013 @02:00PM (#45568777)

          Metallica drove away a lot of their early fans with the black (and subsequent) album, migrating to a more, dare I say, "fleeting" audience. And I say this as someone who liked the black album.

          Iron Maiden always stayed true to their original music. To their detractors, it means "it's always the same thing". Which it is (I hate myself for saying that ;) ). To their fans, it means even you started listening to it in the 80s you can pick up a new album or go to a concert and you know you'll enjoy it.

          Another point is Iron Maiden always put on a massive effort in their live shows. You get an awful load of bang for your buck.

          The upshot is a very loyal fanbase. Including myself since 1990.

          Last thing, Iron Maiden owns their music and always have. Makes a big difference...

          • Re:Maybe, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by dc29A (636871) * on Sunday December 01, 2013 @02:06PM (#45568841)

            Iron Maiden always stayed true to their original music. To their detractors, it means "it's always the same thing". Which it is (I hate myself for saying that ;) ).

            I challenge anyone to listen to the first three Maiden albums, then to Somewhere in Time, then to Brave New World, then to Final Frontier and come back with a straight face telling that it's the same. Maiden had always followed a slow but changing path. Ditching the punkish sounds in NOTB to introducing synths in SIT and SSOASS to more orchestration in BNW to a more prog approach in AMOLAD and FF.

            • by hairyfeet (841228)

              Its no different than Rush. To non fans its all "prog rock" but listen to the first album followed by 2112 and Moving Pictures and then A Show Of Hands/Roll The Bones finishing up with Clockwork Angels? You can see how the band has shifted in flavor and tone over the years.

              The REAL title of TFA should be "Record labels fuck bands that fans keep alive, News At 11" because lets face it the bands haven't been making shit on the albums since the days of Little Richard, its the live shows that most bands earn

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        in millions and sold out stadion and festival sized gigs at 100 euros per ticket?

        but.. one of these bands encouraged people to share their handheld recorder audio and video captures of their gigs and went as so far as to have a place at the gigs specificially for that. why? to drum up fanbase.

        then the internet came and they got their dicks in a knot about people using electrons instead of snail mail.

        iron maiden would be making plenty of cash either way though, with or without internet, I'd wager.

        • This, right here, with one addendum:

          Metallica's big problem was, as you state, the massive slap-in-the-face they gave to their fanbase, certainly.

          But, that little blunder was coupled with a series of albums that started effing awesome (e.g. Master of Puppets), to 'still pretty damned good' (Black/self-titled), to 'a little-bit-sucky-here-and-there' (Load), to wow-an-F5-tornado-couldn't-suck-this-hard (Re-Load), all the way down to 'Holy fuck! A supermassive black hole's event horizon couldn't keep up with t

          • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

            by hairyfeet (841228)

            Two names...Cliff Burton and Lars Ulrich. Cliff was the one that bitchslapped the rest of the guys in line and while they were able to stay true to the band for a few albums after that once Lars became band leader over Hetfield (who was having a well publicized battle with the bottle) things went to shit. Lars has always been a greedy little shit, you watch the early interviews and you can practically see dollar signs in his eyes when he talks about making it big.

            Frankly I would have loved to have been a

      • by gman003 (1693318)

        Metallica also did everything they could to destroy that strong reputation (Load, Reload and especially St. Anger) and antagonize their fanbase. Even without piracy, they'd be having issues.

        Iron Maiden had a bit of a slump in the late 90s (a lot of metal bands did around that time), but they've been going very strong since Brave New World. Can't really compare the two.

      • Re:Maybe, but... (Score:5, Informative)

        by MightyMartian (840721) on Sunday December 01, 2013 @02:10PM (#45568877) Journal

        That's because Metallica are a bunch of whining undertalented primadonas. Metallica, the original Nickelback.

        • by gtall (79522)

          I don't care for the rest of Nickelback, but their drummer is top-notch. Metallica's drummer tried out to become Dream Theater's new drummer after Mike Portnoy quite and then wanted back in. The rest of DT claimed Portnoy really nailed the audition but frankly, I cannot see him coming close to Portnoy. Now they have Mike Mangini and he's great.

          Another old group still touring is Deep Purple. Jon Lord left and then died a bit later (not so long ago, in fact). And Ritchie Blackmore is playing Renaissance music

      • For those not old enough to have a laugh when these came out. Metallicas fan base https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5mtvlUDn6iE [youtube.com]

      • Re:Maybe, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Charliemopps (1157495) on Sunday December 01, 2013 @03:16PM (#45569323)

        Metallica's first album couldn't get into stores. No one wanted to carry metal, no-one ever has. The only reason they got big was because their fans made bootlegs and traded them across the country. This got them gigs, and eventually there was so much buzz about them that stores had to carry them. This is continuing today, but rather than simply be destitute the first few years of your carer you can now start touring, making money from that and merchandize sales. Touring metal bands do VERY well. They are one of the few touring acts that still attracts medium sized audiences. The arena acts today pretty much only hit the major cities, so there's no one left for the "larger than a bar but not an arena" size places. But if they bring in metal bands they can be sure they'll get a crowd. Bluegrass is kind of exploding in the same way, they've taken some notes from the metal guys. You can tour, be on the lower end of the "Famous" scale and make enough money to live on. That's not so bad, and I think if you look at how much money musicians are making now as an entire group compared with before the internet it's probably a lot bigger number... it's just spread out over a lot more musicians. We're returning to how music has always been, and how it should be. Decent musicians making a decent living and fewer and fewer PR created megastars sucking up all the entertainment dollars.

      • by Dan667 (564390)
        metallica sued their fans.
      • by Nyder (754090) on Sunday December 01, 2013 @04:57PM (#45569889) Journal

        So had Metallica...and we all know how that turned out for them.

        Metallica cut their hair.

        Then they went on a rampage against napster.

        Then the quality of their music started to suck.

        But the biggest problem? They cut their hair.

        Rockers have long hair. Anything else is just posing.

        • by geekmux (1040042)

          So had Metallica...and we all know how that turned out for them.

          Metallica cut their hair.

          Then they went on a rampage against napster.

          Then the quality of their music started to suck.

          But the biggest problem? They cut their hair.

          Rockers have long hair. Anything else is just posing.

          You may have a strong point in identifying the genre, but a balding rocker sporting anything but a short 'do is wearing nothing more than a desperate comb over that would make Donald Trump laugh.

          Heavy Metal artists aren't magically immune to genetics.

          • by Nyder (754090)

            So had Metallica...and we all know how that turned out for them.

            Metallica cut their hair.

            Then they went on a rampage against napster.

            Then the quality of their music started to suck.

            But the biggest problem? They cut their hair.

            Rockers have long hair. Anything else is just posing.

            You may have a strong point in identifying the genre, but a balding rocker sporting anything but a short 'do is wearing nothing more than a desperate comb over that would make Donald Trump laugh.

            Heavy Metal artists aren't magically immune to genetics.

            Ya, well, I'd feel sorry, 'cept my genetics allow me to have long thick hair for the rest of my life. Anyways, it was a joke.

            • by GungaDan (195739)

              "my genetics allow me to have long thick hair for the rest of my life"

              Nose and ear hairs do not count.

          • You've never seen the Devin Townsend Skullet eh?

        • Re:Maybe, but... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by yourlord (473099) on Sunday December 01, 2013 @06:02PM (#45570271) Homepage

          I'm an 80's metal head. I even played bass in a metal band up until 2009.

          The Black album was an abortion, but I could forgive them for it.

          3 main things drove me away from them.

          First, they essentially released Cliff 'em All and then relegated Cliff to nothing more than a footnote. I went to see them on their black album tour and they played a half hour video before the show of which, I kid you not, 30-45 seconds at the beginning mentioned Cliff. The remaining 29 minutes made a point of excluding him. Even in clips of old shows and behind the scenes footage from those years they purposefully omitted anything that had him in it. To top that off they billed it as a 4 hour show and played maybe 1.5 hours and called it a night.

          Second, Load of shit, and Reload of shit.

          Third, and what was the final nail in the coffin was the Napster incident. For a band, who were where they were only because of bootlegging, to unleash the lawyers on their fans was the biggest kick in the balls, douche bag move I've ever witnessed from anyone in the genre. I wouldn't have heard or bought their albums, or gone to their shows had it not been for my cousin giving me a dubbed cassette tape of Ride The Lightning.

          I vowed then that they would never see another dime from me, and they haven't and never will. I wouldn't piss on them if they were on fire.

          I still listen to the Cliff era music, but that's the only music they ever put out really worth listening to anyway.

          I'm all about Maiden though!

        • Re:Maybe, but... (Score:5, Informative)

          by luckymutt (996573) on Sunday December 01, 2013 @06:56PM (#45570585)

          So had Metallica...and we all know how that turned out for them.

          Metallica cut their hair.

          Then they went on a rampage against napster.

          Then the quality of their music started to suck.

          But the biggest problem? They cut their hair.

          Rockers have long hair. Anything else is just posing.

          Cutting the hair isn't an issue...Bruce Dickinson not only cut his hair, but went on to get his commercial pilot's license to fly a Boeing 757. He flew the plane on the last couple of world tours that Iron Maiden did.

      • by sjames (1099)

        And they were doing fine. Then they proved themselves to just be 'the man' in metal clothing and lost a lot of their support.

        At that point file sharing could have just gone poof and they would still have declined.

    • Re:Maybe, but... (Score:5, Informative)

      by dc29A (636871) * on Sunday December 01, 2013 @02:01PM (#45568793)

      I know it's anecdotal evidence, having seen Iron Maiden at least 15+ times live since the late 80s, one thing you notice today that on their live shows there are a huge number of young teenagers. Their shows are not filled with old fans like myself. So there is this new wave of Maiden fans that probably don't even know what it is like to buy a CD. They did establish a strong reputation, sure, but their fans are not only the old ones form the 80s.

      Also, unlike other big 80s bands, they don't sue their fans for downloading. They also didn't hop on every possible trend in music, they kept true to their origins. They also didn't became born again christians who refuse to play at festivals because some 'satanic' band plays. They also didn't create drama. When members left or where fired, it wasn't publicized and criticized by other members.

      Despite making some of the most memorable heavy metal music, Iron Maiden was always ran as a business, since their early days. And this focus allowed them to go through the download era without issues. They never had major video exposure on MTV (yes, back when there was music on that channel) so music downloading didn't really impact them.

      Up the Irons!

      • by Joce640k (829181)

        Yep. They played here last summer and people started queuing outside the venue the day before the concert.

        Young people. Not old farts from the 1980s.

        Whatever it is they're doing, they're doing it right.

      • by gtall (79522)

        Actually, Nicko McBrain did become a born again Christian about 1999. However, he doesn't find that incompatible with Iron Maiden.

    • ...Iron Maiden had established a strong reputation and fan base before Internet piracy became a problem.

      That's not really part of the argument, though - Maybe it should be, maybe it shouldn't be. Fact is, they have a strong brand that is valued by their fans.

      Of course, you could always make a joke that the older fans don't actually understand the internet and its series of tubes.

      • by Belial6 (794905)
        It should, but the premise is wrong. Piracy has always "been a problem". Iron Maiden built their reputation at a time that was not only rampant with piracy, but in a time when the legal system would laugh you out of the courtroom if you tried to sue anyone but a large scale for profit operation.

        The other posterboy band would be Metallica. The band that built a reputation and fan base on piracy, and then became the face of the anti-piracy movement.
    • by Joce640k (829181)

      ...Iron Maiden had established a strong reputation and fan base before Internet piracy became a problem.

      So... how come most of the people I saw at the concert last year were youngsters? University student age.

      • So... how come most of the people I saw at the concert last year were youngsters? University student age.

        Probably because the concert was at one of the few venues of that scale that still allows under-21 fans to attend. A lot of touring bands end up playing at venues that serve too much alcohol to be considered "restaurants" under the law.

        • by xaxa (988988)

          So... how come most of the people I saw at the concert last year were youngsters? University student age.

          Probably because the concert was at one of the few venues of that scale that still allows under-21 fans to attend. A lot of touring bands end up playing at venues that serve too much alcohol to be considered "restaurants" under the law.

          Wow, that must really suck. Is it easy for 18 year olds to sneak in? What about 16 year olds? 18-21s are a big part of the standing audience at many concerts in the UK, and it's pretty common to see a few under-15s with a parent, sometimes not looking too impressed with the music :).

          Example: http://www.wembleyarena.co.uk/the-wembley-experience/faqs [wembleyarena.co.uk] (14+ to stand, 15+ to be unaccompanied). That's normal -- 18+ is the exception, and generally when the event is held in a nightclub that will start its club

          • by tepples (727027)
            A lot of U.S. states have 21-to-enter laws for venues that serve alcohol but do not qualify as restaurants and require the bouncer to check IDs at the door. How should an effort to change these laws be organized? Or should high school seniors who are music fans consider whether a state has a 21-to-enter law when choosing which out-of-state university to attend?
            • by xaxa (988988)

              A lot of U.S. states have 21-to-enter laws for venues that serve alcohol but do not qualify as restaurants and require the bouncer to check IDs at the door. How should an effort to change these laws be organized?

              I don't know -- I doubt 14 is in any law, it's probably some balance between the cost of insurance / perceived risk and the income from under 18s.

              Maybe Ticketmaster could do something. They should realise that their ticket sales trends: http://media.ticketmaster.com/en-us/img/static/ticketlogy/images/2012_Concert_Trends_v11.pdf [ticketmaster.com] is lacking a 14-18 category, which presumably exists for their UK market (they are possibly the biggest ticketseller here). I can't find a report for the UK though.

              Last.fm or Music

  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Sunday December 01, 2013 @01:47PM (#45568679)

    of the record labels. Before records, musicians made money by playing in live concerts. That's what musicians should do today, and "piracy" would cease to exist, along with the vampiristic record companies: live gigs would turn a profit, and free recordings (Youtube, MP3 and others) would be like film trailers, something to draw you to the live concerts.

    Famously, the Grateful Dead encouraged people to record their concerts and saw nothing wrong with that, because 1/ every gig was different, and 2/ they considered their concerts to be where the interest, and the money, was.

    • of the record labels. Before records, musicians made money by playing in live concerts. That's what musicians should do today,

      I agree, but what do you mean "should do", it's what they do do. Search for "$ARTIST_NAME tour dates" and you'll either find the option to buy tickets or see evidence of recent touring activity.

    • by UPi (137083) on Sunday December 01, 2013 @02:29PM (#45568993) Homepage

      Is it just me, or does the word "offer" in the article title sound biased?

      "Piracy forces upon heavy metal a new business model" might be closer to the truth. At this point the fact is that the music industry must adjust its practices and find revenues outside the sale of physical media. They can turn to live tours, merchandise or whatever else, but calling this an "offer" is just as much a misnomer as "piracy".

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by drinkypoo (153816)

        Is it just me, or does the word "offer" in the article title sound biased?

        "Piracy forces upon heavy metal a new business model" might be closer to the truth.

        Wrong again. It's an old business model. Copyright forced a new business model upon the world. Copying is what we had before copyright. Granted, you couldn't copy a song, because there was no audio recording equipment, but copyright predates audio recording. If someone wrote something down, you were free to copy it if you could see it. Ideas could not be "stolen" until the invention of intellectual property. Before that, we just had ideas.

        • Granted, you couldn't copy a song, because there was no audio recording equipment

          You don't need audio recording equipment to copy a musical score. And some scores were even machine-readable, such as those for player pianos.

        • by Tom (822)

          Ideas could not be "stolen" until the invention of intellectual property. Before that, we just had ideas.

          We also had secrecy. A lot of the world knowledge used to be available only to tiny fractions of the world population.

          Throughout history, most artists of any kind - musician, painter, author, whatever you take - lived and died poor. Throughout history, a very small fraction of them made it, and made it big. Celebrity status is not a modern invention.

          So copyright, neither in its absence nor in its presence, didn't change anything about that, ever.

          What it did change is the creation of a media industry. And a

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            a media industry was necessary to get the mass entertainment media we have today. There would be no 100+ mio. dollar movies without it.

            Oh noes!

            I'm sure you're right. As a species, we'd have had to wait until recently before we'd even see digital effects, because otherwise they'd be too expensive to put in the kind of movies that actually do get made.

            If we were to abolish copyright, do you really think it would benefit the authors? My guess is that they would get paid even less, because big media would rip them off even more,

            Without copyright, big media couldn't even exist.

            • by Tom (822)

              Without copyright, big media couldn't even exist.

              In a fantasy world, yes. I did say that they only started to exist because of copyright.

              But now, they do exist, and if we were to abolish copyright tomorrow, they would not magically cease to be. They would whine for a while, but they would also frantically look for ways to continue existing.

      • by sconeu (64226)

        Don't tell Lars about this!!!!!!

      • by gtall (79522)

        If by music industry you mean "record companies", I don't think they can survive on tours because any decent band is going to keep the reins to themselves. There isn't enough easy money to skim off. Not so decent bands won't draw. Individual performers already are managed by sharks, they don't need music companies sponsoring their tours.

        • by geniice (1336589)

          Problem with your decent band? No one has heard of them. Which limits their ability to sell out even mid sized venues. They need marketing and well that's what the the music industry actually does (the recording studios are very much secondary).

    • by Gramie2 (411713)
      When I started going to concerts in about 1980, an arena show (Rush, Molly Hatchet and Nazareth were three bands that played at the arena near me) cost about $6-8 ($16-20 in today's money) per ticket. Nowadays, a typical show at the arena near me costs 3-5x as much, and big names 5-10x. Where is all the money going? Surely a tripling of the gate should compensate for a lot of lost recorded music sales.
  • by Dialecticus (1433989) on Sunday December 01, 2013 @01:49PM (#45568701)

    The audience identifies with the genre, which stands in contrast to genericized genres.

    I'm pretty sure that fans of any genre of music think that their genre is special and that all the other genres are homogenous and generic. This is not something special about heavy metal. To paraphrase Tyler Durden, heavy metal is not a beautiful or unique snowflake.

    • by Jonah Hex (651948)
      Whovians, Browncoats, Trekkies, etc, etc, etc...... Yes people place value on actually buying things they are into, but they'll pirate the fuck out of it in order to watch it. *looks at my hard drive and bookshelf* Yep...
    • Not so sure. You don't see elaborately embroidered denim jackets with "Justin Timberland" on the them.

    • by TubeSteak (669689) on Sunday December 01, 2013 @04:15PM (#45569641) Journal

      Japan is the perfect example of an entire country utilizing a completely different business model.
      First and foremost, "piracy" is deeply embedded into the cultural fabric of the country.
      By way of example, in 2012, Japan had 3 albums & 3 singles go platinum and 8 albums & 8 singles go gold.

      As a result, the entire music industry revolves around concerts and merchandise.
      Albums are a footnote; a marketing tool, not a profit center.

      Second, Japan is the perfect example of generic genres.
      J-Pop groups are manufactured from start to finish and tightly controlled by corporate handlers.

      It's no surprise that Iron Maiden is rolling in dough by focusing on concert tickets and t-shirts,
      instead of obsessing about marketing campaigns and album sales.

      • by Gramie2 (411713)
        Also note that in Japan CDs are still commonly $30-40, about 3x what they sell for in North America. You'd have to be stupid to willingly be gouged like that.
    • by hey! (33014) on Sunday December 01, 2013 @07:52PM (#45570911) Homepage Journal

      I think you've got the wrong end of the stick. I think anything sounds homogeneous to someone who doesn't listen carefully, e.g., someone who doesn't care for the genre.

      When Charlie Parker [wikipedia.org] went out for chicken and waffles after a gig, he used to listen to country music on the juke box. This was Charlie Parker arguably the greatest god in the serious jazz fanatic's pantheon. When the other musicians would complain that country music was corny, Bird would simply say, "Listen."

      The problem with the recording industry is that it is not in the business of producing music. It is in the business of producing and exploiting hits. I had this epiphany when struggling with the iTunes Store one day. "Why is the interface so bad? Why do they make me fight my way to what I want to buy?" Then it hit me: the iTunes Store was trying to steer me to what everyone else was buying. It's part of the hit industry.

      It's no wonder that kids listen to music on YouTube these days. True, it's *free*, but to me there's an even bigger advantage. It finds me what I want, even if its a bit odd and even (gasp) non-commercial. The other day I was reading an old murder mystery got a hankering to listen to some old English music hall songs. That's practically a major project on iTunes but on YouTube you just pop "British Music Hall Songs" in the search box and Bob's your uncle.

  • by gman003 (1693318) on Sunday December 01, 2013 @01:56PM (#45568745)

    I've been an Iron Maiden fan for a while. I first got into them (and a bunch of other bands) by pirating basically everything they ever made.

    I have been trying lately to make up for it, usually by buying merchandise (since many bands don't get anything from CD sales). I hadn't gotten around to Iron Maiden yet, but I'm looking at their store now and their merch prices seem extremely low given how huge of a band they are. Normally big-name bands charge like $50, sometimes even $100 for a simple t-shirt, but they're charging £10 to £15, which should come out to $20-25, not much more expensive than any printed t-shirt. Definitely buying some of them.

    I do have to wonder who the hell is buying "The Trooper" golf balls, though.

    • I've been an Iron Maiden fan for a while. I first got into them (and a bunch of other bands) by pirating basically everything they ever made.

      LOL. When I got into them piracy meant ignoring the "home taping is killing music" label on the inner sleeve, where they'd cunningly made the cassette into an skellington.

    • by xaxa (988988)

      That might be regional...

      Normally t-shirts at concerts or festivals are about £12-£15, over £18 ($30) warrants some muttering about the prices.

  • by alen (225700) on Sunday December 01, 2013 @02:02PM (#45568809)

    That's how they make money
    I doubt they care if anyone pirates their music since it sells concert tickets in huge soccer and Olympic stadiums

    And they probably have enough money to finance their tours themselves instead of relying on loan from record companies and livenation

  • by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Sunday December 01, 2013 @02:05PM (#45568829) Homepage Journal

    It's been well understood in the music business for decades that different genres have different business models, and metal's has always been to use album sales as a way to promote concert attendance. It was rockers who first began giving performances in sports stadiums, because the nature of the music is quite amenable to being played over low-fidelity sound systems, especially because the sheer energy of a big crowd all rocking out far more than offsets any loss in audio quality. And even as stadium rock died out, hard rock and heavy metal bands still made the majority of their money by touring... concert tickets and merchandise, especially t-shirts.

    So, while I think it's awesome that Maiden is continuing to make good money doing their thing (I'm a fan, though not hardcore), and that the Internet is even helping them execute their old business model with even greater efficiency, by allowing them to track their fan base through bittorrent statistics, it's not a new model at all. And I think there's a good argument to be made that it's a model that won't work as well for other genres, especially pop and other more "casual" genres. Which may not be such a big loss.

    Snark aside, I have no doubt that pop stars will continue to be able to rake in big bucks even if the current model of selling copies of music vanishes entirely. Whether they get paid for touring, or for shilling products, or whatever else, if they can achieve widespread fame through their music, then there will be a way for them to make a living. IMO, the Internet makes the first part of that equation -- achieving widespread notoriety -- much easier. I look at some of my favorite YouTube acts, Lindsey Stirling and The Piano Guys, and I think the success they're achieving would have been impossible pre-Internet, and they've done it by essentially giving their music away for free in a model that's partially ad-supported, but mostly just about building notoriety which they can then exploit in other ways (currently, by selling albums, but other models of exploiting fame would work as well).

    • by rsilvergun (571051) on Sunday December 01, 2013 @02:22PM (#45568947)
      the majority of their money touring? Last I heard unless you made it through your first few record deals with your popularity intact and could re-negotiate you weren't making anything on record sales. Heck, at times you were paying the studio to sell your records in the form of loan interest.
      • by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Sunday December 01, 2013 @03:03PM (#45569231) Homepage Journal

        the majority of their money touring? Last I heard unless you made it through your first few record deals with your popularity intact and could re-negotiate you weren't making anything on record sales. Heck, at times you were paying the studio to sell your records in the form of loan interest.

        No. The big pop acts make their money from record sales. Yes, it's true that early in their careers they tend to get a lower royalty rate than later on, but if their early albums are going multi-platinum, they make lots and lots from royalties.

        (I should mention my source: I spent a while working for Universal Music Group, building a royalty calculation engine, and in the process talked extensively with several label account reps who'd been around for a long time. I spent lots of time with the guy who managed U2 for most of their career.)

        The way the labels work is that for new bands they do give them with a moderately low royalty rate, meaning the band gets a fairly small percentage of each album's wholesale price. But that's not where they stick it to them. Where they stick it to them is in all of the other deductions and fees. Basically, every penny the label spends to promote the band is recorded and -- usually -- dramatically inflated. During the band's recording session, the label puts the band up in a swanky hotel (either owned or partially owned by the label, or with inflated prices and some kickbacks), provides a limo (owned by the label) to whisk them to and from, buys all their drinks and meals (and drugs and hookers), provides the sound studio (owned by the label) and engineers (employed by the label), etc., etc., etc., all at very inflated prices. Plus there's also all of the expenses around promotions, getting airplay, etc., and all of the touring expenses. Oh and typically there's also an advance on the royalties, cash paid to the band up front.

        The labels tally up all of that stuff, with interest, and "recoup" it from the royalty payments that the band would otherwise be due. It's not uncommon for the recoupable expenses associated with an album to reach almost to seven figures. Combine that with the low-ish royalty rate and the band has to sell a lot of records, tapes or CDs to pay back what they "owe" before they ever see a dime. Most bands never do, because most bands don't reach the level of sales required.

        There are some other tricks as well, such as "breakage". Back in the days when music was sold on shellac records (before nylon), it was common for a high percentage of records to break in transit. Since it was too hard to track what the actual percentage was, the labels just assumed a certain breakage percentage (10% IIRC) and deducted that from the retailer's price, and passed the deduction on to the artist, taking all of it out of the artist's royalties, not sharing the pain. When new technology came along, more durable nylon, and later very durable 8-track and cassette tapes and CDs, labels continued this practice, giving the retailers a free discount on the wholesale price and making the artists eat all of it. When questioned they say "oh, it's just a promotional discount, under the old name". And promotions are charged to the artist.

        However, bands that really make it big do sell enough records to recoup, and start making big bucks on royalties. Later they get wealthy enough -- and smart enough -- that they don't take all of the extremely expensive handouts from the record labels. They have money so they don't need advances. They have their own cars and drivers and don't need limos. Maybe they use the label's studio and maybe they don't, but if they do they have lawyers and agents who negotiate more favorable terms. And they buy their own hookers and blow. So recoupment becomes less of an issue. And eventually they may even negotiate better royalty rates, though that's less common than you might think. The really big stars eventually just create their own labels and contract out distribution through existing la

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 01, 2013 @02:05PM (#45568837)

    They are supported by Satan!

  • Wait second (Score:4, Informative)

    by Dunbal (464142) * on Sunday December 01, 2013 @02:21PM (#45568937)
    So, bands that have halfway decent music, that produce new material, that go out on tour, and that have a loyal fan-base actually MAKE money long term compared to bands that perform artificial commercialized crap that is shoved down teenagers' throats by the likes of Disney et al, who only make money while the commercial spots are running?
  • by Areyoukiddingme (1289470) on Sunday December 01, 2013 @02:25PM (#45568973)

    We've all seen the pie chart showing just what a tiny fraction of the pie the artist receives for a sold recording owned by a record company. Iron Maiden is losing so little it's unnoticeable. Far better for them to have their fans pirate the recordings they don't own, leaving more available disposable income for spending on things of which the band gets a much better cut, like their merchandise and concert tickets. Basic economics.

    And yes, despite the herpaderp sarcasm of the anonymous coward at the bottom of the comments, it really is acting as free advertising, exposing an entirely new generation of potential customers to their music. Cory Doctorow was right: “Obscurity is a far greater threat to authors and creative artists than piracy.” Eric Flint echoed the sentiment when the Baen Free Library was established. Then he proved it with sales numbers.

    Holding a gun to people's heads and demanding money does not make you liked. It makes you hated. People prefer to spend money on what they like. Finding what they like is tough, and getting tougher every year as the amount of entertainment material in the world explodes even faster than world population. So yeah, free downloads work. This is only a surprise to the MAFIAA and their persistent shills on Slashdot.

    • by brit74 (831798)

      Holding a gun to people's heads and demanding money does not make you liked.

      Oh, is that the analogy we're using now? Remind me again when musicians "held a gun to their fans heads and demanded money". Oh right - copyright works the same way that the entire merchandise market works: if you want something you pay for it, if you don't want it you don't pay (and you don't get the stuff). Saying that musicians held a gun to people's heads and demanded money is about as ridiculous as saying every single store holds a gun to your head and demands money (because they won't give you thei

      • Saying that musicians held a gun to people's heads and demanded money is about as ridiculous as saying every single store holds a gun to your head and demands money

        I can't live without eating, and I pretty much can't buy food without going in a grocery store that has major label music playing, with a percentage of the price of food going to the record industry as a performance royalty. And say I wanted to write and record my own music. How should I do so without running a risk of being sued for accidental infringement like George Harrison was?

        • with a percentage of the price of food going to the record industry as a performance royalty.

          A very tiny percentage, don't worry about it.

          How should I do so without running a risk of being sued for accidental infringement like George Harrison was?

          Edge case. Don't worry about it.

    • by swillden (191260)

      We've all seen the pie chart showing just what a tiny fraction of the pie the artist receives for a sold recording owned by a record company.

      Maiden owns all their recordings, and always has. And even if they hadn't near the beginning of their career, they certainly would own all of the later stuff now. The pie chart doesn't apply to successful artists after the first 5-10 years of their career. They no longer really need the labels.

    • by master_p (608214)

      Holding a gun to people's heads and demanding money does not make you liked.Finding what they like is tough, and getting tougher every year

      So, according to you, it would be ok to get a Ferrari, ride it for as long as I like, then dump it because it did not like it after all, withouit paying a dime, right?

  • MP3's have helped so many heavy metal bands gain exposure and allow them to tour. Most metalheads have found new bands by talking with friends and then downloading albums. This in turn gives the band enough exposure to allow them to tour. On tour they actually don't make much per concert, most make about 100-200 which would be losing money. However, at these shows they are able to sell album and merchandise. Can anyone think of another genre that people are so willing to advertise for? There are so ma
  • And that's the way it's supposed to be done. The problem with the big copyright industry is that the big artists are harder to control and especially harder to take advantage of. Once their ridiculously abusive contracts are up and the band or artist has a strong and loyal fan base, the copyright clowns have no further control over anything new these people create. They won't tolerate it. So what have they been doing? They have dumbed down the products and the producers. They have genericized them to

  • Piracy offers Heavy Metal it's old business model back.

    Loyal fans pay money for music they enjoy. Who'd have thought?

  • Fewer people even want to pirate Metallica any more.
  • . . . I saw this headline and expected to see something about the use of lead and mercury in attacks on commercial shipping.

  • Or maybe Iron Maiden just happens to produce music that is worth buying, unlike a lot of "new" bands and "artists".

Don't steal; thou'lt never thus compete successfully in business. Cheat. -- Ambrose Bierce

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