Friday, August 1, 2014

Crowd Funding vs. Record Labels - Let's Analyze That Response From Nuclear Blast to Wintersun's Jari Mäenpää


MetalSucks posted an article recently containing the response to Wintersun's Jari Mäenpää claim that "[the label] sees crowd funding as a threat to their business and they would rather see Wintersun dead, than me doing a crowd funding campaign."

Essentially, he is (rightfully) blaming the label for the release of their upcoming album Time II since they will not allow him to accept funds from a crowd fund campaign that fans have already petitioned to start for them.

They didn't seem to want to analyze it over there at MetalSucks (for obvious reasons, they don't want to bite the hands that feed), which is cool. I saw a bunch of things in Nuclear Blast's response, however, that made me really want to point them out so that everyone can understand clearly what the ghost writer of NB's statement wanted to skirt around and avoid.

Mainly because, in my personal opinion, these things would be better off known.

First off, here are the official words from Nuclear Blast:

Hey everyone,

We are aware of Jari’s recent statement on his current situation and business experiences with Nuclear Blast regarding the most anticipated “TIME II” album. We highly appreciate the strong reactions this statement has caused in the metal community as it once more shows how much people care about their fellow metal heads and especially the musicians that go through many hardships to give us what we all enjoy the most: A good blast of METAL

We also have always been metal fans at heart and we still strive for the same goal we have since the formation of Nuclear Blast 27 years ago: To support our artists in the best way possible and to get the music everybody deserves out to our fans worldwide.

This being said the business side of music can often be rough and especially with a project as extensive as the TIME series compromises have to be found to make an album both beautiful and feasible to all parties involved – the musicians, the fans and the label. This process includes many things that should not be discussed in public as debates sometimes get heated and misunderstandings occur, but we take great pride in the relationship with our artists until this day.

So be assured that we all love Wintersun as much as you do – nobody at Nuclear Blast wants to see them gone and we are working together with Jari and his management to find the optimal solution for his concerns.

Stay true,
Nuclear Blast

I take issue with the part where he tries to foray around the argument by saying callously "This process includes many things that should not be discussed in public as debates sometimes get heated and misunderstandings occur..."

I'm sorry, is he addressing a class of second-graders or fully grown adults and interested taxpaying consumers and music fans? It's completely understandable for a company to not discuss their business strategies in detail, for competitive reasons, but this particular issue that they are so carefully tiptoeing around really needs to be publicly debated and quite frankly, overhauled in favor of the general consensus.

Crowd funding vs. Record Labels. Of course labels are feeling threatened by crowd funding. They should, by rights. It should also be causing them to rethink their operational strategies and procedures as well, because crowd funding was born of regular people who were tired of getting music and media thrust upon them without choice or regard to their feedback or their wants and interests.

It was born of people who were tired of seeing talentless pop "artists" get showered in money to put on lavish performances, while all the bands and artists they really wanted to see struggled to even get the basic, essential gear they needed to play on a stage or record an album. People who were sick and tired of seeing bland and empty sitcoms on cable be the only shows available to watch on a given night, while the shows that really commanded their attention and hooked them in were cut from the budget due to an outdated rating system being more important to networks than actually listening to their viewers. It was born of people tired of seeing lame ass rom-coms, sequels and prequels with no substance while the movies they wanted to see made got rejected from consideration for a few assinine, wealthy (and presumably ugly and smelly) fucks in suits who didn't think it would make enough money to finally get that extra billion to repave their driveway in gold.

When the art and entertainment industry runs solely off of what will generate the highest profit, what it produces will be tasteless, empty, shallow shells of what music, art, and film should truly be.

When it is run based off of what ideas are the grandest, the most creative, and has the most heart behind it in the form of its makers and its fans, then we will see masterpieces arise like nothing we've ever known. Music will be thoughtful, powerful, and invoke emotions like only music written with passion can invoke. Movies will be truly moving, lifelike art as exquisite as anything hanging in the Louvre.

Crowd funding can get us closer that reality. Unfortunately, since the record labels don't like the idea of giving up the almost total control they had once possessed (despite the fact that it is now slipping away from them), they are (I'm sure) unwilling to even discuss the possibility of adopting the crowd fund approach and adapting their practices to accommodating it.

If they would, it would almost certainly result in a more cost-effective way to run their business, with bands and musicians actually getting the share of the profits they deserve and have worked hard for. It would also result in some of the power being taken out of their hands and placing it in the hands of the ones who buy the music and supports the band.

Seriously, what is not to like about that arrangement?

Why are labels so against having an open conversation about this?

It just points to what has always been the case - even though they write dotingly of the musicians and fans, they never really have the best interests of either one at heart. It is what profits and benefits the label that matters most to the label.
They can try and slather over all the friendly-sounding phrases and well-meaning bullshit they want over it, but the fact remains that this is a big issue we are all having across every genre of music right now - and something this controversial that affects so many of us deserves to be brought up in a public forum where the voices of the smaller cogs in the machine can be heard.

Here's hoping Wintersun founder Jari Mäenpää and others like you and me keep the fire lit under the big name labels. We need better treatment of both fans and musicians, and we need it now.

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