UG’s columnist Dave89zemun wrote an interesting article about the future of Heavy Metal. However with a lot of common sense and prejudice, the article has really some points that heavy metallers should at least consider. Though we have to strongly point out that For instance the downfall on records sales and how hard it is for new bands to establish themselves and to make a living from their efforts. But, nevermind, a response is on the way. Read here the article:
Just look at the average age of big metal headliners
And none of them are really getting any younger. Looking at the mind-blowing lineup for Hellfest in France, all of the headliners are not exactly young. Even if we exclude old and obviously not metal ZZ Top, that leaves us with guys like Manowar, Slayer, Tool, Whitesnake, Dream Theater, Gojira, King Diamond, Phil Anselmo… These are all some legendary names, but I’m actually afraid to calculate the average age here since I’ll become aware of how old I am, and I’m not exactly keen on feeling like shit right now.
Sure, we have younger bands like Avenged Sevenfold, with a modern guitar hero like Synyster Gates. However, he’s 37 years old at the moment, so he’s not exactly young either.
The main point here – bands that will replace the legends like Iron Maiden, Metallica, or Black Sabbath are not exactly young themselves. And even if Metallica somehow manages to play for the next 20 years as Lars Ulrich said, what will happen after that? Who will be there to carry the torch?
Let’s face it – metal fans don’t accept new trends
And whenever a new trend appears, those trve metallers get really pissed. Maybe we could say that what kept metal alive for all these decades may be what it will eventually kill it. Sure, keeping the genre unique by not letting it get too much influenced by mainstream pop music is all nice, but if you want to keep it always the same, non-inclusive, and exclusively underground – there’s hardly any chance it will survive. Just look at how much shit Metallica got over the years, even when they released “Ride the Lightning.” Not to mention how some fans were pissed at them for making a simple music video back in the late 1980s. And yet, here they are, still being one of the biggest bands in the world.
There are always changes happening in mainstream music, and whenever a metal band adopts even a tiny portion of it, you’ll get an army of angered fans. Making a single and not releasing an album? Not good. Doing a collaboration with a pop star? Not metal! Being a guitar-based solo YouTube star that makes a living from playing music they like? Blasphemy!
And god forbid if some mainstream pop stars record music with heavy distorted guitars, metal sounding riffs, or samples from metal classics. Although this kind of exposure may bring in some new fans, metalheads seem to lose their minds even thinking about it.
Also, what motivation would musicians have in order to keep on going if there wasn’t at least some “selling out” involved? I don’t know for you guys, but I’d rather adopt some mainstream elements and make a good living for me and my family instead of playing at underground clubs around Europe and barely having enough for gasoline and bubblegums but still keep patting myself on the back for staying trve and playing old school grindcore and death metal.
Metal is kind of getting the status of classical music
Well, maybe not exactly classical music, but it does start to fall into the category of old vintage retro music. On one hand, this is kind of a good thing, since it’s going down in history as one of the genres that had a huge cultural impact. On other hand, it could mean that it won’t ever be as widespread as it was back in its heyday.
A huge portion of listeners expect music to be free
Lars was right about Napster but you wouldn’t listen. “Oh, how much money does Metallica have? Do they REALLY need more?” The answer is – yes. Wanting more is what keeps things going in pretty much anything. Yeah, maybe Lars’ decision to turn in all the people who downloaded the music was too much, but his initiative to put a stop to free music sharing may have saved many musicians from their demise.
Nothing is free and it has to be paid one way or another. Either directly by those who consume the music or through ads. Yet we all pirate music and use ad blockers.
No one can accept that the album format is getting old
I’m sure that most of you fine folks around here like to sit back and listen to an entire prog metal concept album from start to finish while completely immersing yourself in the experience. What a lovely thing to do. But the cold hard truth is that the attention span of listeners… Well, we can use the word “consumers” at this point. So the consumers of the products made by the music industry do not exactly have a very wide attention span these days. And, like it or not, that’s just the way it is. Therefore, the album format is kind of becoming a thing of the past.
Having one of your favorite metal bands releasing singles instead of albums? It might give them more attention and spread the good word of metal to wider audiences and bring in more revenue. However, most of the older metal fans seem to be against it.
Not being acceptive of young YouTubers
Kind of a continuation of the previous point. As our Lord and Savior Ola Englund explained in one of this years’ public appearances, having a record deal and releasing an album rarely means anything these days. He stressed out how important it is to be “like a virus” and be all over the place. In order not to get buried below the pile of albums that almost no one will ever listen to, one of the ways to get your stuff out there is having a YouTube channel with interesting content.
And yet a lot of older metal fans seem to be really negative towards YouTubers. Sure, Stevie T and Jared Dines might be annoying with their constant annoying derp faces and lame jokes flooding the videos, but guess what? They earn a living making their own original content that’s pretty much filled with metal. Looking at their views and social media activity, new young metal fans seem to love it. Besides, this is a great way to attract early teens and get a new generation of metal fans.
Talking about YouTubers, many non-metal fans recently started doing reaction videos for various classic metal songs. Although this gives some serious exposure to potential new listeners, some are still pretty dismissive of it.
Streaming services making it harder for young bands to make a living
Not to be all negative towards the elitist fans, a huge problem also lies in the streaming services who refuse to give artists anything more than pocket change, even to those who gather millions of streams. Sure, bigger bands that already established themselves in the previous decades might not care about it that much as they already have loyal fanbases that visit their live shows and buy their merch. However, the younger artists are discouraged since it’s quite harder these days to get any reward for your investment. Hopefully, the Music Modernization Act will help with that although we don’t yet know how that will turn out. We’ve discussed this in another article that you can check out at this location.
Is there anything that can be done about it? Is the future grim?
Being open to new things is never a bad thing. Technology changes, people change, everything changes, so doing the same old thing over and over again rarely gives any significant results aside from some occasional nostalgia trip trends that happen every few years or so.
Long story short – do not automatically dismiss anything new and trendy. After all, metal was once a new genre and we all know how silly some people were for not accepting this new music.
And do not make it into a toxic environment where anyone new who comes in has to prove themselves that they’re metal enough or whatever. Well, unless you want metal look like that weirdo group of kids from high school who won’t let anyone in their geeky little club.