Sunday, June 28, 2009
Darkthrone, Burzum - bands who made it without touring.
Question: Dig, good day. Would you sign a band that does NOT tour or play at all? Just for their music. Has Peaceville done right to sign Darkthrone? And Burzum/Mysantrhope? Surely these bands are already down in the books as two of the most important bands in the history of metal. Maybe not best sellers, but surely they created important music that will last. From:
Answer: Short answer is no, we'd totally ignore a band these days, if they were vehemently against touring, for personal reasons or even for wanting to be mysterious reasons or for any reason, we've heard them all. We would deem them rank amateurs and basically not ambitious enough for a music career, so its one of the most important questions we put to bands in the negotiations for signings.The more you tour, the more records you sell, its a proven fact, with few exceptions. In this era of Youtube, MySpace etc, we hear from many bands who wish that the internet could be their touring circuit, so they can achieve that highly sought-after fame & fortune, but without the hassle of actually having to leave the house and perform "live".
There is an interesting book by Malcolm Gadwell called Outliers which examines the secrets of the highly successful, be it in business or in science or the arts.His theory is that folks who practice and hone their skills for at least 10,000 hours (which is 20 hrs a week for 10 years) become acknowledged experts in their field through this immense hot-housing of their original talent.He explains how The Beatles played a staggering 1200 shows performing in the tiny clubs of Hamburg between 1960-64, then on their return to England quickly became the biggest selling act of all time, which they remain to this day.
Its a real slog in the early days for brand new bands, playing to uninterested audiences at the bottom of the bill, in many cases the venue itself hardly cares that you have turned up.Headline bands and venues can often act like its an inconvenience that you are there. Touring rewards the ambitious serious bands who thrive upon the scant opportunities on offer, and also weeds out the non-serious bands who find the slog to be too tiring and opt to quit. The touring circuit is pretty much a metaphor for the music business as a whole - ambitious bands who can handle the rigours quickly rise to the top, the rest wonder why they are bothering with all hassle. The large costs of hiring vans, travelling hundreds of miles on the road to play to a handful of people- those bands soon get the message that they have no fans to speak of, they become downcast about their chances, and so quickly fall to the wayside, blaming everybody for their woes on the way. Its incredibly tough and it can be seriously soul destroying for the unwary.
In the past we did indeed sign bands who turned out to never do any shows, but this became apparent after releasing an album or two, so those bands were duly dropped.
You mention Burzum and Darkthrone- dude, they are hardly proper examples of 'bands who made it without touring'.Varg was in prison for 16 years and so touring was not possible anyway.His act of murder meant he has received national newspaper coverage for a decade or more, this sensationalism, plus fans' macabre interest to delve inside the mind of a murderer is what has driven Burzum record sales, not the music.
Darkthrone have also been caught up in the sensationalism of the Black Metal scene- even without committing any murders or arson.Darkthrone have acheived a level of fame and notoriety which is remarkable, and yes it's been achieved without any serious touring stints. Though I thought they at least did a handful of Uk shows early on?