Back in 2010 I was a bright-eyed undergrad, by bright I mean hung-over of course, but I was writing a dissertation about something that was then and is now even more of a highly discussed topic amongst panicked industry folk and fans alike…“Will New Rock & Heavy Metal Artists Be As Successful As Their Predecessors”. Urgghhhh I hear you sigh, it's cool I get it, but stay with me.
The dissertation was marked with a 2:1 and in my final summary I concluded that new rock and heavy metal artists will not be as successful as their predecessors. Rather than individual artists becoming very successful, the research indicates that there will be a greater number of artists being successful but not at levels previously seen.
With the recent sad passing’s of Lemmy, David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Dale Griffin and Jimmy Bain this question is now coming into very sharp focus and whilst I made those conclusions six years ago (that’s terrifying) I still feel as a whole the industry is sticking it’s head in the sand, whilst hoping a new carbon copy of Guns N’ Roses is going to save rock music. Well it won’t, and don’t even think this reunited lineup will do it either…
I love all the Black Sabbath and AC/DC’s of the world but the reluctance to shift the primary focus towards new artists instead of consistent rehashed click bait “Dave Mustaine talks about Metallica…again” is now just annoying. Unless there is a drastic change in the amount of revenue that flows through the rock & metal industry, we for the foreseeable future will not get bands as big as that again… but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It just means things are different now and we have to accept the culture of digital in that any of us can get access to millions of bands at our fingertips whenever we want. It is more difficult to keep the attention of an audience, the Internet is like white noise on steroids and it takes a lot to cut through.
But whilst the following bands may not reach those “golden age heights” we are missing out so much by collectively not celebrating enough the successes of Bring Me The Horizon, A Day To Remember, Avenged Sevenfold, Five Finger Death Punch, You Me At Six, Nightwish, Alter Bridge, Black Stone Cherry… all of whom have played arenas either at home or abroad. Will any of these bands dominate the world the way Metallica did on the Black Album? Probably not, but you know what? I was two years old when that album dropped and whilst I enjoy the music and appreciate its significance for the time, I frankly just don’t care about the “glory days”. I’m in my twenties and cannot connect to that era, I’m not saying we should forget the past, rock has a great rich history, but if the primary focus continues to be on the past, rock music will find that it’s stage will be in a museum, rather than an arena.
So what can be done? Well something I did at TeamRock when I became head of music was double the amount of new music that gets played each hour and expand the A,B,C play-list to feature 34 new tracks each week, so at any given time you listen to the station you will likely hear a new song and yes some of these will be from the old guard but it’s about balance and exposure, the primary focus has to be continually shining the spotlight on the new and exciting bands that are breaking through but doing so in a way that respects the past and not focus on it. So whatever it is you can do, whether it's writing an article, booking a band, playing them on radio, buying a gig ticket... just consider what difference you would be able to make by continually giving newer bands the focus of your attention.
"It's no longer about a big behemoth beaming something at a mass audience, it's about a mass of niche audiences picking and selecting what they want at any given time." – Tim Quirk
In just four years time, Linkin Park’s “Hybrid Theory” album is going to be TWENTY YEARS OLD and yet here the industry is still obsessed with the 80’s, it’s akin to the media in the 80’s refusing to not play/cover anyone except Elvis and Chuck Berry… can you imagine? Well you don’t need to, because that’s the state of play for things today and we’ve got to move away from this never ending nostalgia trip. I truly hope I won’t be writing this again in another six years but if you’re reading this as a DJ, journalist, promoter, blogger, podcaster or more importantly just a fan of the music, then please join me in trying to shift the focus towards the newer bands in the hope that we can finally stop talking about whether or not rock is dead. It’s time to change the recor…. I mean playlist ;)