Monday, March 1, 2010

IT'S ALL ABOUT THE MONEY

While not directly hardcore related, there is a lot of truth to what Pixies frontman Frank Black had to say about reunion shows.

"We're interested in anything that's going to earn us a fair wage. It's not to say it's not about art, but we made that art fucking 20 years ago. So forget the fucking goddamn art. This ain't about the art anymore. I did the arty farty part. Now it's time to talk about the money. How much do you think we should sell the tickets for? Where do you think we should play? How many shows do you think we should play?"

There have been so many reunion shows over the past few years and the bands always have a tendency to side-step the question about why they decided to get back together. No one wants to admit that they're only doing it to earn a few extra bucks—especially if it's a hardcore band.

The bottom line is that—and this is kind of the sad part—for most of these old hardcore guys, this is all they know. That Slapshot documentary (Chip On My Shoulder) kind of opened up a whole new perspective on this because it showed that a lot of these guys spent so much of their formative years touring the world and playing hardcore shows that they never developed any skills to fall back on. Since you can't be in a mid-level hardcore band forever and expect to live comfortably, you need to figure out another way to earn a living. A lot of older hardcore guys never did and had to learn the hard way. Now they're stuck in crappy clubs playing the same songs they wrote in 1989 so they can pay their bills. Granted, there are a lot of people that went on to have successful careers in music or other fields and avoided this, but at the same time, there are a lot that didn't.

What do you think? Am I way off base here or is there a lot of truth to what Frank Black has to say?

13 comments:

Megatron said...

i personally have mixed feelings about this.
first of all, since i've never been in a touring band i can't speak on the money issue more than this: regardless of what WE may think, touring bands STILL have bills to pay while they are on tour, unless of course it's a band full of younger people (and even some older people) that don't have financial obligations (bills, children etc.) like most people do.

that being said, i don't think there is anything wrong with bands like, Gorilla Biscuits or Cro-Mags (for example)doing "reunion" shows or tours, even if the sole reason may be for making a gazillion dollars.

because let's be real, these are THEIR songs, they wrote the music, the put the work in and paid the money to record and make those songs available, and in 2010 there are a lot of people involved with "hardcore" that were too young to see some of these if not all of these bands play live, unless they were to play reunion shows or get back together as full-time bands.

there are bigger problems within the "hardcore" community, these days for example, downloading music as opposed to giving a few dollars to the people who wrote, PAID to record, and PAID to put the record out in the first place.

there's a lot of talk on GCA about not supporting this venue or that venue because of the people who run them, but then passing along download links to records that are still available. which is something i'm not personally down with.

My opinion, and you can take it for what it's worth, which is about as much as the free downloads, is that telling kids that they shouldn't support a venue that is run by people that "don't care about hardcore" even though the bands that are playing said venues may be sincere as fuck, and by boycotting these shows, you're essentially boycotting the bands that are playing the shows, have bills to pay and didn't get as much money as they are entitled to when stopping in SLC. and then kids wonder why bands skip over SLC.
it's no secret that most if not all bands on tour will go to the highest bidder, why? because they got bills to pay. and they are entitled to more money.

don't get it twisted, if bands are all for making less money and either charging less at the door or even free shows to make money off of their merch, then awesome! more power to them, and that rules. but what it comes down to is booking agents that don't give a fuck about whether or not there are hardcore kids willing to put on shows, because the underlying factor is that there will be a lower guarantee (if any at all), which means less money......even though they may actually make more on merch....which is a risk they have to be willing to take.

times have changed, you can't really book touring bands for a $5.00 door price anymore.
with the economy they way it is now, you're lucky you get bands to go on tour, the sincere thing to do, would be to support these bands. i'm not saying everybody should say "fuck it" i'll go to kollective shows, but at least pay for the songs, buy merch and quit fucking stealing from the bands you claim to care so much about.

bottom line, fuck downloading every single piece of music, GO TO RAUNCH BUY THEIR SHIT, and if Brad doesn't have it, then ASK HIM TO ORDER IT!!!

at the very least, if you're not going to support all of the venues, all of the bands at least support one of the most important aspects of the history of SLC punk/hardcore/straightedge - Raunch Records.

sorry, i kind of switched gears a little, and it's probably not very coherent, and hard to follow. but i had some things to say, and what better time and place!

i wish there were a better way for dialog on here, that's what i don't like about blogs.

just my 2 cents.

-Troy.

Dan Fletcher said...

I definitely feel what you're saying about the downloads. I do prefer to post records that are hard-to-find/out-of-print.

I have downloaded records from younger bands -- Pulling Teeth for example -- that led me to see them live and purchase their vinyl, shirts, etc.

There are a ton of young, hardworking bands that promote the downloading of their music for this very reason. (Love to hear your point of view, Reviver.)

Supporting worthy bands and not supporting big-money promoters is part of the same ethic for me: hardcore should be a protest, not a product.

JesusPresley said...
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JesusPresley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JesusPresley said...

I have no qualms with bands trying to make a living off touring and I have benefited from attending several reunion tours seeing bands I never thought I would. Like stated above there were several bands I never had the opportunity to see in their prime- whether I was too young, they never came to Salt Lake or I did not have the funds to travel at the time. I don’t think it is fair to say making money is the catalyst for all reunion shows. It may not always be about art, but it is not always about money. I think some bands simply just miss it or like in the Slapshot documentary it is all they really know.

A trend I have noticed at reunion shows that I absolutely do not care for is the extreme price mark up on merch. I feel certain bands exploit the fact that their merch has become a nostalgic commodity. After taking time off work and paying for travel expenses- charging over 20 dollars for a one color, mass printed shirt that isn’t anything special is a slap in the face. I guess that is up to the bands discretion, but it is my opinion that they are straying from the ideals that got them where they are. But what do I know, perhaps they have invested and sacrificed a lot to be on the road and 20 dollars a shirt just gets them to even.

I don’t think every time a band reunites they should have to defend their motives or rationalize why they are doing it; I don’t believe they owe anyone an explanation. I would never want to discourage reunion shows strictly on the grounds that I really enjoy music that was made 10 – 20 years ago. The Burning Fight show rekindled my passion for hardcore music and passion for music in general and it was a feeling that had been absent in the many shows I had attended several years prior. It is hard to find the line; even as thorough as someone like Ian Mackaye is about not capitalizing off their craft, under a microscope anyone can find some kind of contradiction or flaw.
Scrutinizing hardcore to that degree just isn’t constructive.

trevor said...

The money aspect and needing to pay bills is a point that I touched on in the last paragraph. Some people were able to get over that hump and have careers in other fields, but some weren't. The ones that weren't are usually the ones pushing hardest for reunion shows.

It's no slight to them, but after watching Chip on My Shoulder it just seemed like no one in Slapshot really wanted to still be playing in that band, but they didn't know what else to do. That's the part that bummed me out. It seems like they're not doing it because they like it or have a passion for it anymore. They're doing it because they know they're getting a paycheck at the end of it. Now it's just my opinion, but I don't think anyone should be doing something they don't like just to pay bills. That goes for someone in any profession. That may be wishful thinking and I know the world doesn't work like that, but it's just the way I feel.

And bands like Integrity spring to mind sometimes, too. Integrity now is Dwid and four other random guys that just learned the songs so they could play big shows. Unbroken says they'll never play another show every time they've played lately then book another show six months later and give the same speech.

But again, I don't know the motivation behind anyone from any of these bands. I'm just relating something that Frank Black said about Pixies reunion shows to the recent resurgence of hardcore bands getting back together.

On the boycotting venues or promoter aspect, I don't do it because it's the "hardcore" thing to do. As Brook posted earlier, and I agree with him, I don't go to those shows because I have a genuine dislike for the people that run them.

Everyone can sit back and say, "fuck those guys" all they want, but we really have no one to blame but ourselves. And I'm just as much at fault on that.

As for the downloading thing, I'm strictly going from what I learned in the last year or so I toured with Cherem. Lots of people now download music from the internet to determine whether or not they like it. If they like it, and decide they want to support that band, then they'll buy something else.

Smaller bands generally don't make money off CD sales. The record company takes anywhere from $4 to $7 from each CD that's sold (and that's just on tour). Since CD's usually go for $10 a pop, that's not a lot of profit. When I was in that situation, I preferred that they bought a shirt which we would make ourselves thus giving us more money for gas. Because no matter how hard you try to control it or how you may feel about it, every album is going to end up on the internet no matter what.

I can justify it just as much as someone else can argue against it, though.

More to a personal point, I hate CD's. It's another thing I have to move and store. I already have too many god damn comic books and I don't want to keep adding CD's. Or records for that matter.

The last couple of shows I've been to I've just given the band money and not taken anything. I'm all about supporting them, I just don't want any more stuff taking up space in my house.

Now, I wholeheartedly agree with supporting local shops like Slowtrain and especially Raunch. That's why when we do the download link, it's usually for albums that are at least old or hard to come by.

Anything newer we don't post (even if it is out there) because I'd rather people buy it from the band directly (if they happen to come through on tour) or from a local shop.

But that goes back to the mindset that I had while in any touring band I was ever in: "I don't care how you got it just as long as you're into it."

No one is ever going to agree on the downloading thing across the board because everyone has different opinions on the matter.

That's my two cents.

Matthew Mascarenas said...

I'm glad this got brought up. This is a topic that I feel won't ever a right or wrong answer, especially from a band's perspective. this is how we view the situation and the best route for us:

Our motivation to give away our record for free on the internet came from two sources. The first one was because of Exigent Records.

When we first shopped around our demo to labels we were very blunt with what were looking for. All we wanted was someone to release the record and attempt to push it as hard as we planned to. That was it. When we started talking to Exigent, he expressed interest and followed by saying if we put out a full length instead of the original ep we had recorded, they'd push it with national distro, reviews, publicity, etc. We were stoked about it just as any band would be, so we agreed to scrap the ep and record a full length. We paid for recording and artwork and turned it over to him, meaning we followed up on our side of the deal. He then got us our cds the day before we left for tour and we hardly heard back from after. The only time he contacted us was for payment and to slowly start telling us that he was giving up. "fired publicist". "turned down distro deal". Normally we'd have the attitude, ah well, we'll just do it. We'll put our record on itunes. He would then remind us that we were under contract and if we did he'd sew. (we were idiots and signed a contract that entitled him to the rights of the songs) when we start getting that "employer : employee" vibe from as he still did nothing on his end, we started throwing it out on the internet for free. We weren't going to sit around waiting on him anymore. It ended up taking him 10 months to put our CD on itunes (usually a 3 week process). It was never that we were expecting a whole lot out of him, but were extremely frustrated when it prevented us from doing it ourselves. Not only that, we didn't want him profiting off of his laziness, which was holding is back. (since then we have bought our rights back from Exigent and have no ties with the label whatsoever.)

2nd reason was one that Trevor shined light on; we just wanted people to listen to us. I can name a millions reasons why I would hope and expect people to buy cds from bands, but things have changed so we've done our best to keep up. We decided it was worth taking a chance on giving it away for free in hopes that it would bring kids out to shows and also help merch sales. There have also been kids that have told us they downloaded our record and still came to the merch table and bought a physical copy. Its hard to say if its worked in our benefit or not, but in the end i'd like to have as many people to have our music as possible.

Dan Fletcher said...

[I was cleaning up those deleted comment things and accidentally axed Troy's post. Luckily, I could go back and copy it. Here it is. From March 2, 11:04 p.m.]

From Troy (Megatron):

i guess for me, i would never support stealing from any locally owned small business, so why is it ok to steal from small diy bands?
i'm saying this because i'm confident to say that people involved with GCA share my concern with stealing from locally owned small businesses and instead, supporting them. please, correct me if i'm wrong.

however, if somebody were to download a record, and then later paid for a physical copy or even showed up at a show and bought a t-shirt or gave a few dollars to get into the show, then that would be completely different.

fuck it what the hell do i know?
-Troy.

Megatron said...

let me just clear up that i know you guys are saying you don't post new shit, or records that are super easy to find. so not ALL of this is targeted at GCA. and realistically who cares if you were to post new shit.

i'm talking more about kids who download EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF MUSIC in their entire collection, and then don't buy shit from bands or are "unable" to go to shows because it's a kollective show, and they'll lose scene points or whatever.

another issue i have is passing along downloads while simultaneously complaining about promoters making money. that shit is weird. and comes across as pretty hypocritical. regardless of how the bands feel about it.... but that's just me.

or from what trevor said, and i guess brook as well (i didn't see brooks post) but if you don't support touring bands because you just dislike the promoters, then whatever. who am i to tell anybody they should go to a show.
especially if you dislike the promoters. but is that supporting touring HARDCORE bands? or is it supporting your pride and ego?
not saying that's what you're doing and i'm not judging you guys just a simple question.

we didn't like it when straightedge bands like Earth Crisis played the bar n grill, back in the 90's because the promoters and the venue owners could give a shit about hardcore kids and especially straightedge kids. but we all went anyway, even kids who are in on the kollective boycott. and that's weird.

now, maybe there is more to the whole kollective thing, that i don't know about. i've kind of avoided the whole thing, up until fairly recently when i've asked a few people their opinions on it.
however, every single person has had different reasons for why the "boycott" is in place. now for me, this is another inconsistency that makes for a difficult time to get on board. if there is a valid reason, then i would say fuck the kollective too, but i've yet to hear anything that matters.

maybe now is the perfect chance to clue me in.
i know i don't go to as many shows as you guys, so maybe it's not something that really will effect me in any long term way, but who cares. let me in on what's up.

because from where i'm standing, and this may not be a proper observation, based on fact but it's how it looks tome. you guys have basically made it so you can only have shows in Ogden, boycott bands you like because you dislike the promoter and a few people might email a "worthy" band that is set up to play a kollective show and try to coerce them into skipping out on more money because of your dislike for the OTHER guys......

when Ignite came through, it was a "kollective" show. i'm not sure if it was called kollective at the time, but i'm pretty sure those dudes put it on. and back then, everybody had a "genuine dislike" for the dudes involved because they were "stealing hardcore shows" now, i don't know what that means. i understand the concept, but it isn't the promoter doing the stealing, it's either the band themselves or the touring agents saying "fuck it, these guys will give us a bigger guarantee let's go with them." so how is that a promoter stealing a show? it's more like a touring agent or the bands themselves putting themselves on an auction block....and for good reason, as stated before, people have bills to pay even when they are on tour.
when Reviver goes on tour, i hope they make a million dollars. if Tamerlane or any of the other slc bands were to tour, i would hope they would make a shit load of money too. why? because i know the people in the band deserve it, they put alot of work into that band and they have obligations at home, bills to pay families etc.

Megatron said...

if they (the kollective) have more resources, more money, then fuck it right? DIY venues usually lose money.
we used to go to shows because we loved the bands and the music, and we were fucking hardcore kids.
did we protest? fuck yes, we did more protesting in big shows then we did by boycotting them. we were in your face with everything from animal liberation/rights to Mumia Abu-Jamal and everything in between. i feel like there were a handful of kids back then that had a mission to change shit and that's what we took advantage of, big shows to get our points across. maybe it wasn't the best thing to do, but to say that "hardcore is a protest and not a product" is funny to me, because what the fuck are you protesting? touring bands? how is that hardcore?

to say that hardcore is something that can NOT be bought or sold, sounds good on paper, but it definitely is NOT true. in fact, didn't you guys try and capitalize on the name "grudge city" and make t-shirts for sale? you made a commodity and a product out of something that people used to be proud of, and sold the product to kids that had nothing to do with it.... or at least made it available for kids that had nothing to do with it. i can't say for certain if kids bought the shirts.

i'm sure you'll say that the shirts were printed and sold to raise money for shows or whatever, and that's fine. but the point is that you still made a product.

i understand that hardcore is organic. it's different to me, then it is to all of you. we all come from different times, half of the shit you guys do and talk about is beyond me and i can't usually wrap my head around it, from free downloads to 99% of the polls. to most of the records you guys call "essential". but that's just me, it's not saying "you're wrong i'm right" or anything, i just don't get it.

a tamerlane show is completely different from a lumberjack show. obviously 2010 is different from 1990. we used to support bands before getting all political on venues, now kids are more concerned about venues or who is promoting the show then supporting touring bands. and that's counter productive. why? because the kollective is NOT going anywhere because you guys boycott them. they have more money, more connections and more resources. i understand that they are the walmart of salt lake hardcore. but that doesn't mean that the bands should be boycotted, because if more actual HARDCORE kids went to HARDCORE bands shows, then MORE hardcore bands would come through, and that would pave the road for DIY venues and promoters and more bands. NOT boycotting touring bands.

but like i said, times are different, hardcore kids are different, and of course, touring is different. so maybe i don't know what the fuck i'm talking about, but i think if you guys want to have a scene in SLC and not have to go to ogden to see every show, which isn't a bad thing. but there have been some good shows i wanted to go see, but i couldn't because i have obligations that keep me from driving an hour and a half round trip for a show.


again, what the fuck do i know.
-Troy

Megatron said...

i think it's important to point out that Matt has brought up the fact that by putting a record online for free download, it also takes money away from labels.

i understand that they (reviver) did it because dude was dicking them around. and that's their right, it's their music, but he said they basically did it to keep him from "profiting off of his laziness" so essentially, taking money out of his pocket. especially if he put money into the recording, layout, cover etc? i don't know if he did or not, but you see where i'm going with this.

of course, i'm not saying what they did was fucked, because it sounds like the dude was a shitty person. but not all labels are like that, i know people who have labels that are sincere as fuck, good people, very well respected and veterans of the hardcore scenes they grew up in. the thought of people taking money out of their pockets is absurd to me.

not to mention people like Brad (Raunch Records) who put alot of work into finding out bands to sell out of his store, but if everybody is getting the shit for free, he will be wasting HIS time and money, so you're taking money out of his pocket as well. he has Rent to pay EVERY month to ensure kids have a place to put fliers for shows, sell their records, and buy hard to find records, tapes, cd's, shirts, skateboards, books, zines etc. if kids that care as much about hardcore as they say they do by "boycotting" certain promoters and venues aren't supporting places like Raunch, then what's the point of the boycott?

welcome to modern day hardcore!

Matthew Mascarenas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matthew Mascarenas said...

Troy, I agree with you. I never intended to make it sound like every label is out to screw bands over. Most indie labels that aren't on top of the independent scene don't have much of a fair chance to even make their money back, let alone make a profit.

The difference with Exigent is that we paid for recording, art, layout, etc. What he did pay for was mastering and duplication. He spent around $1200 at best.

The problem we had was that he was wanting to charge us $5 a cd. By the time we bought the inventory from him, 500 cds, at $5 a copy, he's up $2500 just by selling us back our own songs. It was a shitty situation. He was a great business man, I'll give him that, but really we had ourselves to blame by not looking into the contract in depth and taking it more seriously. We didn't know any better at the time. Learning experience. In the end, with our buy out, he at least broke even with us, if not made a profit.

Back to the main point, I agree as well that to say every label out there is looking to screw bands over is a blanket statement that isn't true in all cases. If people were looking to make a killing financially, they wouldn't be marketing punk rock and hardcore. There are bands that are able to pay their bills and labels that are well off, but its not a common in most cases. Most bands that I meet are stoked just to get enough to get to the next city. It's easy to see it like bands are putting money as first priority, however, to stay on the road and continue writing/playing music at a touring level while putting their home lives aside, it will take kids, well, the punk rock / hardcore community's support. From there, individuals can decide what bands they decide to support for their own reasons. Even at that, for the band to reach enough support to where the money will go as far paying band bills plus personal bills is a long shot.