REPOST: THE DEVIL YOU KNOW: INTERNET, SOCIAL MEDIA AND THE INDEPENDENT

This Article was originall posted on The Gauntlet and I really appreciate them for giving me the platform for this article. If you would like you can go here: http://www.thegauntlet.com/article/1225/27523/The-Devil-You-Know-Internet-Social-Media-and-The-Independent and give it a look or read below. If nothing else go give The Gauntlet a look abnd support their site! http://www.thegauntlet.com/

THE DEVIL YOU KNOW: INTERNET, SOCIAL MEDIA AND THE INDEPENDENT:

If I were in a band, I would be madly in love with the Internet and everything that it could do for me and my band and the endless possibilities that lie within it. Or would I? The Internet is a fascinating and intriguing place for all things music and it is a bastion of big hopes and big dreams for the up and coming music star. It allows for the talented and the not so talented to have a stage that can reach the masses and allow for their music to be heard throughout the world, whether we like it or not. The aspiring musician can showcase themselves with just a few clicks of the mouse and have an audience wider than anything that we have ever before imagined.

The use of MySpace and now Facebook has allowed musicians to bring their music to a much wider audience and allow people who have never been able to sample their music the opportunity to do so. According to Dean Tompkins, the bass player for the unsigned band Mammoth Thunderpower from Costa Mesa , CA, “We have a Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Bandcamp, MySpace, Soundcloud, Reverb Nation, basically everything.  Look, we all know that monkey’s like bananas, but I want to make that monkey get that banana in the easiest way possible, if you Google Mammoth Thunderpower, you’re going to find us.”

The World Wide Web has given a global voice and audience to the aspiring musician and if you can make it you will have the ability to reach across borders, shores, and even oceans, but is it too much? Can the independent musician or band or distributor handle the demand of being popular or mainstream? Is the cost worth the hassle in the long run? Is it better for the independent to stay close to home and not try to keep up with the big dogs? Dave Hall the owner of Handshake Inc., a boutique film and video production company and music label and co-runner of music label Mutants of the Monster, states “The Internet is a great tool and can be super fun and that is how I approach it.  I cannot think of one instance in which being online hinders what I want to accomplish artistically or commercially.” This sentiment was echoed by Ryan Crossthread (aka Ryan Blasphemour) the owner/CEO of Blasphemour Records an independent record label, Crossthread explains “I have noticed [customers] will get more involved.  Some people really love music and what we are doing.  They will go out of their way to buy everything you put out, spread the word, and tell you they appreciate what you are doing.  I love that aspect of social media.  It gives you that extra drive to keep on doing what you are doing.”

Sure, we all know that any exposure is good exposure, but for the sake of the life of a band is this really true? Was it easier before there was 24/7 access to your favorite band or is that just part of one’s rise to success and excess? Crossthread warns “There are so many ways to promote through the internet such as webzines, forums, Facebook, etc, but there are so many people doing this, it comes off as over-saturated and pushy.”

With the rising postal costs is a band or distributor willing to take a hit to move merchandise and where is the line? Crossthread’s take on the postal increase is “Unfortunately when rates go up, we have to pass that expense on to the customer.  I like to think that for a metal label, we have a hardcore mentality and try to keep our rates extremely affordable.  So typically our pricing is affordable even with shipping increases.” For an independent band like Mammoth Thunderpower, “prices just go up that’s all.” Tompkins explains “We don’t charge for shipping a shirt in the US. $15 bucks and that’s it, we charge the minimum for shipping international, we aren’t big enough for it to matter. [Plus] if someone is buying from out of the country then they usually understand what the rates are going to be.”  

It is hard enough as a band to write music, record, and tour, let alone try and keep up with the merchandising demands of one’s fan base. But it goes with the territory.  If you want to be big then you have to work for it.

But is there a point at which an independent can say: Enough! We need time for ourselves!? Or is that never an option? Dean’s perspective is “like it or don’t, this is how it is. The internet is magic. You don’t have to play the game this way, but then you just need to be content playing music in your garage and not getting new fans. It’s just how it is!” This statement was reiterated by Dave Hall, “You have to make the internet your bitch, cuz if not, it’s going to make a bitch out of you.  You can’t be afraid or resentful or brush it off: it’s here to stay, it can be used for some great stuff, and it’s only as bad or as good as you make it…”

 Social media websites like Facebook and Twitter have given us fans an almost instant access to our favorite performers. In most cases the performers are more than happy to have this type of social relationship with their fans and it shows on how they interact on these social websites. The social media is a place where a band or musician can pimp their own music and merchandise without the exorbitant advertising cost while also being able to take advantage of the sites “share” or “retweet” functions that their supporters can use to spread the word to all of their friends and fellow “tweeps”.  

According to Hall,  “Having a Facebook page is essential I think, in terms of staying in touch with and communicating to your fans, customers, friends, enemies – anyone you may want to engage with.” Hall continued, “I tweet and post to Facebook all day long.  Sometimes twice or three times regarding the same item.   I use it to announce new products, news, anecdotes, anything and everything I can think of I say on social media” However; Crossthread cautions about Facebook from an independent perspective, “They want to charge you for every little thing they can.  Even if you have 1000 people that have liked your page, maybe 150 of those people will be exposed to your post, unless you pay to promote it.  Want more likes?  Pay us. Want more people that like you to know what you are doing?  Pay us more.”

But with this instant exposure comes the need for instant gratification and if a fan buys something from you they expect to get it within a reasonable time frame. What is considered reasonable is a question for another day but how do these independents handle the demand that this type of medium presents to them? According to Hall “The fans have easier access to you so it forces greater accountability.  If I get an order and don’t send it out right away I get emails from people- that’s good for someone like me”

The normal person like me uses the Internet everyday for fun, information and shopping, downloading music while the independent musician, label, and distributor are using it to survive; says Hall “The internet allows a small business owner to engage directly with the people he or she wants to sell to and I think that is a great thing.  I try my best to spread the launch of various releases across all forms of social media because it does in fact lead to sales and you can’t argue with the results.   It has to be done tastefully and if possible in tandem with publicity through various media outlets and sources.”

The struggle to create ones identity and presence on the Internet is just as important and one of the biggest challenges facing an independent as resources have to be spread out to survive. Sure there are reasons why the Internet can be a hassle; some of them stated above but as Dean Tompkins, Dave Hall, and Ryan Crossthread have told us it is a much greater benefit than any issue it could ever cause. Hall summarizes this subject of Internet presence astutely: “It doesn’t mean the internet and social media defines your existence, or that if you do create an online presence it will magically make you successful…like all things ‘virtual’ you have to have the real life skills and abilities, drive, passion and ambition to succeed…if you are succeeding or trying to succeed in real life, your internet presence will reflect that.”  

So I think, in essence, we have the answers to the questions asked above. While it is not the end all be all for the independent artist/distributor/label, the Internet is probably the most important weapon in their arsenal. The small hindrances that 24/7 access adds to an independent is miniscule compared to the benefits they receive from the World Wide Web especially in the realm of social media. With the instant access to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and all of the other platforms independents now have a better chance to make a name for themselves and stay independent if that is what they choose, but with these tools it gives them more of a chance to survive.

 

Writer’s Note: Ryan, Dave and Dale where gracious enough to take part in this article via email correspondence and I want to thank them all for their support. Links to their social media pages and websites are below:

Dave Hall-Handshake Inc: Twitter: @Handshake_Inc  Facebook: www.facebook.com/handshakeinc Website: www.handshakeinc.com/  Bandcamp: http://handshakeinc.bandcamp.com/

Dean Tompkins-Mammoth Thunderpower: Twitter: @MThunderpower  Facebook: www.facebook.com/mammoththunderpower Website: http://mammoththunderpower.com/ Bandcamp: http://mammoththunderpower.bandcamp.com/ Reverb Nation: http://www.reverbnation.com/mammoththunderpower

Ryan Crossthread- Blasphemour Records: Twitter: @blasrecs Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/blasphemour Website: http://blasphemourrecords.com/ Reverb Nation: http://www.reverbnation.com/label/blasphemourrecords

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Friday Finds, Features, and Foibles

Good day all,

Alliteration is my friend!

It has been a while since I have been able to post anything on here, the main reason being that my real job is taking up a majority of my time with a pretty significant project and that has left me little time for myself. As the line from The Shining goes “All work and no play make Justin a dull boy!”. Regardless I have a little time today to add to my posts and have decided to do so. It has been so long though that I almost forget what we were talking about…

Recent music finds:

Here is what I have been listening to over the last few weeks:

Inter Arma: Sky Burial – This is a fantastic Doom/Sludge/Progressive/Psych album from this Richmond VA band. It is an album that I have had a tough time turning off as every time I listen to it there is a new layer that is peeled off in the music. I also suggest that you read Phil Johnson’s (@PJSLUDGE) interview of Inter Arma’s Trey Dalton over at Echoes and Dust (@echoesanddust) here is the link: http://echoesanddust.com/2013/03/interview-trey-dalton-from-inter-arma-3/

You can find Inter Arma’s album here: http://metalbandcamp.com/2013/03/inter-arma-sky-burial.html

Suicidal Tendencies: 13 – This is a great album harkening back to the old-school days of thrash. Mike Muir and company comeback after 13 years and put out a fantastic album that is worthy of the Suicidal moniker. As I said via Twitter a little while back, all I need is a skateboard and my Vans and I am set! Buy this album, you won’t be disappointed!

Victor Griffin’s In-Graved: Here is a solid EP from the former (current? can anybody really know) member of Pentagram that is long on the Sludge/Doom sound that I have recently come to embrace more and more. This is a solid group of songs and the musicianship and song writing is spectacular. I just wonder how many kids know that the song “Teacher” is a Jethro Tull cover? Would be an interesting study in demographics!

Warbeast: Destroy – This is the second album from this band (which I did not know, thought it was their debut…so I had to do some research), anyway I had heard their split with Phil Anselmo and really wasn’t that impressed but found that this album is really worth a listen. I feel that there is a really strong Pantera feel to this album both in the music and the song structure and that is OK! In fact it is really great to have a band that can capture the aggression and feel of Pantera that Pantera’s former members have yet to re-capture. I have to assume that Phil has something to do with this, no matter what though this is an album worth your time.

Kongh: Soul Creation: Another spectacular sludge/doom/psych album. This album was released earlier this year but I have just recently been able to give it a proper listen. Needless to say but it is phenomenal and should be purchased by you immediately if you are even remotely interested in this genre of heavy metal.

Don’t forget to also check-out my Bandcamp collection at http://bandcamp.com/justinpetrick You will be able to find some really cool stuff on there that I have found via Metal Bandcamp or from the folks that I follow via this site.

Also remember to check me out on Twitter @ICHeavy I am always looking for new friends!

Finally don’t forget to check out my article over on The Gauntlet http://www.thegauntlet.com/article/1225/27523/The-Devil-You-Know-Internet-Social-Media-and-The-Independent They were kind enough to post it and I am kind enough to pimp it…I will eventually post it here on the blog but for now go visit The Gauntlet and check out everything else they have to offer.

I think that is it for today, remember to say Hi in the comments…

Until Later, Peace!

Lurch

 

Friday Four…No More!

Good day all,

Another Friday and another Friday Four Pack? NOPE! I have decided that I will no longer be doing the Friday Four Packs as I have found that trying to find and review albums everyday has become more of a chore for me than fun. Plus there are plenty of places to go and find great metal music reviews that I don’t have to add my two cents to it every week. What I have noticed is that trying to do these reviews every week has made me miss out on the actual entertainment value of the music and forced me to make listening to music seem like work. I would try to dissect the nuances of an album or a song and not really listen to it for enjoyment purposes and I feel I have missed a bit. I still plan on having an end of year list and there is still a review or two I am working on but overall I think I am going to leave the reviewing to the guys and gals that excel at it and I am going to stick to more of my opinion and article writing.

Speaking of article writing please check out my latest article now on The Gauntlet:The Devil You Know: Internet, Social Media, and The Independent http://www.thegauntlet.com/article/1225/27523/The-Devil-You-Know-Internet-Social-Media-and-The-Independent  I really enjoyed working on this and am going to get ready to work on a follow-up if I can find the interview subjects and time.

Since I won’t be doing  the Friday Four Pack anymore I think I will just list the bands I have found that I am currently into and maybe a quick blurb about each. Whether they have been released this week or earlier I will try to leave something for everyone every Friday. Here is this weeks music choices

Thrawsunblat: Wanderer on the Continent of Saplings http://metalbandcamp.com/2013/03/thrawsunblat-wanderer-on-the-continent-of-saplings.html

Zed: The Invitation http://zedisded.bandcamp.com/

Cojones: Sunrise http://cojones.bandcamp.com/album/sunrise-2009

Hatchet: Dawn of the End https://www.facebook.com/hatchetofficial#!/hatchetofficial

Also go and check out my bandcamp site at http://bandcamp.com/justinpetrick I have a lot of great music on there and don’t forget to check out my wishlist as well.

Like I said earlier there are a lot of great reviewers out there and I will link to some each week so that you can still get your fix of new music and maybe get a taste of something new. For instance look at this weeks new releases courtesy of MSN Headbang http://social.entertainment.msn.com/music/blogs/headbang-blogpost.aspx?post=1681f842-a1ee-4fdb-8659-55f29a16cada  As well as About.com Heavy Metal Crew http://heavymetal.about.com/od/cdreviews/tp/New-Heavy-Metal-Album-Reviews-March-12-2013.htm These guys really know how to give you the most out of a music review. I would also make sure you check out their Twitter pages as their writers tweet out a lot of great stuff throughout the week and most work for multiple outlets which will give you a wider variety of music to choose from. Additionally, if you are a metal fan you should be checking out Metal Bandcamp http://metalbandcamp.com/ on a regular basis as they have both the music and the reviews, also follow them on twitter to keep up with everything they have going on.

CHeck out this post I wrote back in September about these websites and these reviewers: https://culturemisnomer.wordpress.com/?s=metal+ed

I hope I have not disappointed anybody but I am pretty sure you don’t come to my blog for the reviews…and I don’t blame you!

Until Later, Peace!

Lurch

 

 

 

 

Randy is still in jail!!!!!

Good day all,

I was perusing the major news websites today, as I do everyday and here are some of the top headlines I would like to share with you: CNN- “Ex-Scientologist: Cruise Split Harmful”, FOX News-  “Twilight fan dies at Comic-Con in traffic accident”, MSNBC- “Racoons attack Washington state jogger”. interesting huh? You know what I did not see on any of these websites even when I searched and clicked as far as I could? A headline that read something similar to “American musician still being held by Prague authorities after posting bail and yet to be charged for a crime” At this point the Randy Blythe saga has become ridiculous and as I have tweeted and stated previously it is time for the US government to get involved. Not only that but where is the media in this, why haven’t CNN, FOX, MSNBC, The Huffington Post, The Drudge Report, The New York Times, The Washington Post, any of the media taken this story and reported on it? Why is Mr. Blythe being ignored? Because he is in a heavy metal band? Who cares? He is an American citizen who is being held by a foreign government after he upheld the stipulations they applied to him. The US State Department should be all over this and supplying support in any way possible for Mr. Blythe to be removed from prison and given the support of his home country.

If Mr. Blythe were a cute US college student accused of murder (see Amanda Knox), not only would the US government have intervened but the news media would have made this front page news over anything else that was happening around the world and in the United States. Had Mr. Blythe been a backpacker/hiker who accidentally crossed the Iranian border and was detained (see Shourd, Bauer, and Fattal), or a journalist in South Korea (see Laura Ling),  Al Gore would be flying his personal jet to the ends of the Earth to secure their freedom, but unfortunately for Mr. Blythe he is just a lowly heavy metal musician who decided to take part in a tour in a foreign country where there was no fore-warning that he may be wanted for a crime. There wasn’t a phone call to the United States from Prague saying “hey, one of your citizens is being accused of a crime here in Prague and we would like the US to facilitate his appearance here in our courts”, no instead they ambushed him with speculative, at best, evidence and have him in a prison against his will after posting a bail that the courts set. He may not be technically considered a “political prisoner” but he sure as hell is being held as one.

This saga has dragged on for to long and the United States government and news media are turning a blind eye to this travesty. The fine work of the Gauntlet has been the only real source for information concerning Mr. Blythe and his detention, and that is just wrong. Where is the public outcry from the citizens of the United States? I know that there have been some online campaigns and Twitter accounts and trends for Mr. Blythe’s plight but more needs to be done. If you care about this injustice you should be emailing, tweeting, calling your government representatives, the US Department of State and anyone else you can think of to help bring this situation to light and get some help for Mr. Blythe.

I don’t usually get that involved in this type of thing but the lack of attention by the US government and media is just astounding to me and I think at this point something has to be done and we as the heavy metal community are going to have to do it. Be smart about bringing attention to this story, use email ,social media, telephones but be smart so that you may be taken seriously by the person you are trying to take notice. After seeing the evidence that has circulated there is no doubt in my mind that Mr. Blythe is being held unfairly and that something needs to be done. I am not saying he is completely innocent, just that he has complied with the stipulations the court has given him yet he still remains imprisoned. I can’t say this enough, IT IS TIME FOR THE US GOVERNMENT TO ACT, and the US MEDIA TO FOLLOW SUIT!

The Gauntlet has provided the contact information for the US Embassy in Prague here: http://www.thegauntlet.com/article/525/25734/U.S.-Embassy-In-Prague-Comments-On-Randy-Blythe Use it as you see fit!

Until later, Peace,

Lurch

 

Metal Musings

Good day all,

Just back from vacation and actually have power in my house after the storms last week that those of us in the DC Metro area had to deal with. A lot has gone on in the past week or so and I am still trying to catch up on some of it but thought I would throw something out there in the meantime. I haven’t yet decided if this post will be a combination of ramblings or about one particular subject, I guess we will see as I continue to write.

On Saturday June 30, 2012, four of my buddies and I journeyed to the Jiffy Lube Live Pavillion in Bristow, VA for the Alice Cooper/Iron Maiden concert. This concert signified a couple of firsts for me, one I had never been to the Jiffy Lube Live Pavillion (worst name for a venue ever!) and two, I have never seen Iron Maiden live. I will say this upfront, it was worth the time, travel, money, and 100 degree temperatures. But before I get into the concert I have to say that I am a bit disappointed in the venue. On their website they give their guidelines for tailgating and while they cite Virginia law in regards to drinking in public as well as public intoxication, it never says anything about not being able to consume alcohol on the premises or in the parking lot. However, when you arrive at the parking lot before the show the signs are out that say no alcohol consumption in the parking lot. What is that all about? I understand that there are laws against public drunkenness and drinking but last time I checked the parking lot wasn’t public property it is private property. How do I know this you ask? Because Live Nation charged me $6.00 a ticket for parking! If that money was going to the state for use of a parking lot that is fine, but as a taxpaying citizen I want to see that in writing. In the long run it is no big deal, we showed up at the venue with only about a half hour to spare before the show started, but it is the principal.

Now on to the show! Alice Cooper opened the show and started right on time at 7:30 that evening. I have seen Alice in concert probably about 10 times or so, he is one of my all time favorite artists and it is very rare that I will miss an opportunity to see him. However, for as great as he and his band sounded I just don’t like seeing Alice as an opener for another band. Co-headliners? Sure, but not as an opening act. Alice’s set and performance is way to intricate and flamboyant to be stripped down to seven songs and quick gags. Sure, he had the guillotine, the Frankenstein, and other props, but it just wasn’t an Alice Cooper show. As I said earlier, he and his band sounded great and they had a mixed bag of songs that I thought was a great mix of staples (I’m Eighteen, Schools Out, No More Mr. Nice Guy, etc… ) as well as songs he doesn’t normally play on tour (Wicked Young Man, Feed My Frankenstein, Brutal Planet). But my suggestion would be, if you get the chance, see Alice Cooper on a headlining tour as he puts on one of the most outrageous and stimulating shows you will ever see.

After a short intermission and set change, Iron Maiden hit the stage with a bang. The set being an ode to the anniversary of the Seventh Son of a Seventh Son album and tour we were transported to a frozen wasteland and Bruce Dickinson’s trademark vocals. Again, as I said before this is my first time seeing Iron Maiden live and I had very high expectations going into this concert. Spoiler Alert: I was not disappointed! The band was perfect and hit all the marks I would expect a band like Iron Maiden to hit. Let’s face it they are a seasoned band who tours a lot, they should have their stuff together, but beyond that their ability to be so powerful and entertaining after all of these years is just amazing. The one thing I will say about the whole concert, and I have read some other reviews that have mentioned the same thing, is that at times it seems as though Bruce was struggling to keep up with the speed of the music and that of course affected his vocals. It wasn’t a major distraction, but it was there and you could hear him struggling just a bit in some of the songs. Going into the concert I knew that the band was going to be playing some of the songs that haven’t been on their playlists for quite some time and some of them I was looking forward to, others not so much. I was really happy that they played the songs off of the Seventh Son album that they did, but I personally could have gone without “Afraid to Shoot Strangers”, but hey, it gave me a chance to hit the bathroom.

All in all though I have to say that I am extremely happy that I was finally able to see Iron Maiden in concert and look forward to seeing them again in the future. If this tour is coming to a venue near you and you have not planned to see it yet, you should. Iron Maiden and Alice Cooper put on a show that was worthy of the trip out to Bristow, VA as well as the price of the ticket. We paid $40.00 for seats in the pavilion and we really got our money’s worth. I would have personally paid twice that much to see these two bands together but luckily I didn’t have to.

A couple other notes about the concert: I have to give the crew at Jiffy Lube Live props for their professionalism and knowledge. The heat was crazy that day with temperatures in the triple digits and I saw a few people fall out because of the heat, and the staff was there and attending to the people quickly and appropriately and security did a fine job of keeping order throughout the day. I also want to send a big shout out to all of my fellow metalheads that were at the concert with us, again with the heat and the alcohol I only saw one real idiot being arrested and that was after the concert in the parking lot, it seems he wouldn’t listen to the real police, so he got what he deserved. But inside, with the long bathroom lines, and crowds all I saw was a lot of people respecting their fellow metalheads and that was really cool to see. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, especially because of the median age of the concert goers, I felt young! So to reiterate, GO SEE THIS SHOW!

THE RANDY BLYTHE SAGA CONTINUES:

Reading via The Gauntlet http://www.thegauntlet.com/article/525/25709/Prosecutor-Files-Complaint-To-Reject-Bail-In-Randy-Blythe-Case this morning that the prosecutor in  Prague is trying to get Randy’s bail revoked. Now I don’t know what kind of evidence they have for this and the Guantlet article doesn’t specify, but this is really getting ridiculous. As I said on a previous post the United States government really needs to step in and make the officials in Prague show what they have to hold Randy for this long. First it was because the banks weren’t opened, but now they have the bail money and he is still sitting in a jail cell. Something has to be done and I urge all of you metal fans to start calling your congress representatives and senators and introduce them to the name Randy Blythe. Additionally, I urge you to contact your local television and radio stations and do the same. Let your voices be heard that an American citizen is being held by a foreign government after following the process in which they created. #FREErandyblythe

One last thing, besides following my buddy at http://metalbuzz.net/site/ The Gauntlet has really done a fantastic job following the Randy Blythe story, take a look back at their story archives and you will see what I mean.

Please feel free to follow me on Twitter at @ICHeavy, also follow Metalbuzz at @Metalbuzz .

Song of the Day in solidarity to our incarcerated metal brother: http://youtu.be/QWkhCxCcWSE

Until later, Peace,

Lurch