In an recent interview with A New Level podcast, Metal Blade founder and CEO Brian Slagel talked about the future of the music business. You can read an excerpt from the interview below.
When asked what is his prediction for the future of the music business, he responded: “It’s tough to say now because it’s all kind of happening now. But it’s really interesting. So what we see going on now with all of the streaming stuff… What I find really interesting is, obviously, the music business had a really tough time over the last 10 years. And now everyone is kind of figuring it out. And the streaming is becoming a big thing, every streaming is becoming real money.
“So we’ve really seen this whole thing with the music business where it’s really becoming a whole different animal in a very good way. Everybody’s getting access to music. And it’s interesting because the entertainment business now – the movies are kind of having a tough time figuring out what to do. Certainly network TV and TV are having a tough time. Music business kinda figured it out how to make it work. And we’re seeing now the streaming numbers are becoming astronomical.
“For example, Spotify now has a deal with Hulu. So those two are partnering up together to get more people to listen to music. So I think we’re up this precipice now of a really phenomenal business model for this industry where you’ve got all this access to music. It’s really simple and easy, people can listen to it. And the other thing – the dynamics of how bands received money have changed.
“And that’s what I try to explain to bands all the time. Because people are still like ‘Are you really gonna make money on this?’ No, no, no. You’re gonna make money, and they’re making money now. But you have to look at it this way: the model before these years was you make a product, whether it’s a cassette tape or a vinyl album or a compact disc or whatever. You sell it for a certain price, somebody buys it, and that’s the end of the story. Whatever they paid for they paid for. They can listen to it one time or a million times.
“Now, every time when somebody listens to your song, you get paid. And that’s just the way it’s gonna move on from here on out. So it’s really kind of limitless how you can make money.
“And that’s become really interesting to me. And I also think that the way us as labels are acting now… We don’t have to deal with as much the whole pushing out records and CDs and spending a lot of money on manufacturing CDs and putting it in the stores and hoping they sell and all this sort of stuff. Now we can concentrate on more important things, like marketing and promotion and how to build a brand of a band.
“So with all this stuff changing – and we’ve already seen it now in the last three years – every major album we’ve put out in the last three years of a band that has had a couple of records before, the new album has been their biggest selling album today. And that’s where’s CANNIBAL CORPSE, AMON AMARTH, PRIMORDIAL recently… So it’s really a super exciting time. And I think because the bands are really getting into it as well.
“And for some reason, you’re also seeing almost every band make phenomenal records. I mean, look at the band like Judas Priest who are one of the forerunners of heavy metal – they haven’t made a good record for a long period of time and they’re so excited about what’s happening with music and the industry and everything else. They just made their best record in probably 26 to 27 years.”
Slagel then mentioned some bands that he thinks are going to take over after the old ones retire: “I think the prediction for the future is that it’s gonna get better and bigger and hopefully move up from there. And I also think we’re starting to see the other aspects of this. We need to have the next set of headliners.
“Ozzy‘s on his last tour, SLAYER‘s on their last tour… So you need bands that kind of get to that next level. Seeing a band like GHOST for example, they’re gonna play The Forum in LA and Barclays Center in New York. And they’re trying to make that leap up to being the next level arena band. And I know bands like AMON AMARTH and MASTODON and LAMB OF GOD are doing the same thing. So I’m excited about that.
“As a lot of people worry about who are gonna be the next headliners, I think they’re coming up in the ranks. And once there’s room, they’ll come up as well.”