Metal Blade CEO Brian Slagel Talks About The Music Business

Brian Slagel

Lately, it seems like every one in metal has been speaking out about the music industry, and how broken it is. Whether its bloggers bashing labels for not jumping on the Spotify train or metal frontmen going on blast, it seems like everyone’s got an opinion.

So does Metal Blade CEO and founder Brian Slagel. He took to Twitter this weekend to offer his thoughts.

First, he addressed the question of “360 deals,” which is “when a label signs a band and they take money from every form of income the band gets. Touring, Merch, Music sales, etc… So they want their fingers in all the money a band makes. Not cool if you ask me.”

“Bottom line,” says Brian, “this is a business and I always say first thing a band should do is learn about the business as it is easy to get ripped off. Also artists need to know that management, record labels, etc…we all work for you! It is ultimately your business and don’t entrust running it to everyone else, always make sure at least one guy in the band understands and knows business. The successful bands always have this.”

Good insight. But Slagel didn’t stop there.

“Labels get a lot of bad press and some deservedly so, but also watch out for shady merch companies too,” he said. “Merch is so important to bands these days, you have to be with a good company there as well. With a good deal too. Ultimately to be a successful band you need the whole team around you. Good label, booking agent, manager, lawyer and merch company. All need to be on the same page and working TOGETHER! It is like [a] car, you have 4 wheels and if they do not all go in the same direction at the same speed, your not going to get anywhere.”

He also addressed the issue of health insurance for bands.

“Remember a record company is just a part of a band’s income and deals. They have deals with publishers, merch companies, booking agents, etc… So a band is it’s own entity; merch companies do not provide health insurance for bands. Once a band is big enough, they themselves need to be a corporation. Then they can get their own health insurance. That is how the system works. If bands were employees of the record company, we would also have to take out taxes on all the money given to the artist. That would really limit what they would get as we would have to hold up to 42% of all the money for the government. So in the end it does kind of work and we try to help out the bands get insurance etc., also managers are supposed to help with that as well. As we have all said, this is a business and can get pretty complicated. I knew NOTHING when I first started out and learned mostly by mistakes. Knowing about business is really, really important for all! I know it kinda sucks, but better prepared than sorry.”

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