After Extinction is proving to be our most popular album yet, breaking streaming records for the band. Since releasing our album in September, it has been streamed 171,499 times. YouTube has been by far the most popular place to stream the album, with Spotify in a distant second and Bandcamp in third. You can see the full store breakdown below:
All Others: 77,173
Apple Music: 503
Streaming income: £55.02
As you can see, while the numbers of streams across all platforms are relatively high, the actual income associated with the streaming amounts to less than four CD sales. You can order the Super Jewel cased CD from here.
Our new music video for Green to Grey from the album After Extinction has broken over 43 thousand views since its launch on Friday. This has been achieved through a number of Google Ads (which make up 91.6% of the views) and a Facebook advert campaign, both being run simultaneously which we will be doing and adjusting on an ongoing basis. So far, while the campaign has generated a lot of views, with over 500 people checking out the Bandcamp from the video, a 159 people subscribing to the channel however this is yet to transfer to a single sale of the album.
There was once a time prior to every Slipknot release we would get Corey Taylors’ view on every matter from every available media outlet, presently we are getting inundated with things about Ghost since they found TikTok success with Mary on A Cross, apparently Sleep Token is the next big thing and we know Dave Mustaine was fired from Metallica 40 odd years ago, but for some reason, this story is repeated daily. This morning we learned about what Bruce Dickinson did when Blaze Bayley replaced him in Iron Maiden in slightly more recent times, 1994…
I have noticed these articles are getting two types of engagement. One group of responders are those who read the headline and not the detail and will comment on the headline only, without understanding the context of the headline or the quote in question.
One recent piece I read was about the challenges Dave Mustaine had replacing Dave Ellefson, organising the re-recording of the parts for the new Megadeth album, and then preparing a new line-up for a major tour, all of which anyone who’s been in bands will understand will know will be a stressful and difficult period. This was a small part of a recent interview where Mustaine talked about his success on his recent tour. In this, he spoke about how well the band had done, and he showed a great level of appreciation for the bands he had toured with.
It was an interesting piece, however the headline however simply said, “I know what it is like to have people gunning for me” in reference to how the music press had gone after Dave Ellefson immediately following the controversy, showing some empathy for his former bandmate. The headline let down the article, which was actually a good one, a positive one. Because a large number of those who engaged with the article only read the headline, the response was overwhelmingly negative, assuming that this was again about Dave Mustaine and Metallica, which it absolutely wasn’t.
The other group who comments are those who are sick to death with seeing the same stories recycled by all the major outlets, the attempts to reignite a feud that finished decades ago and people’s opinions on stuff that frankly nobody cares about, just to get certain groups angry.
On the flipside the media outlets will argue, they post and write about this stuff because that’s what people engage with, but it’s almost all negative, whether it is people arguing over whether Sleep Token is the next big thing, how much they hate the latest Ghost single, or a falling out between the members of Journey. But this negative content is pretty much all they write about, and it’s to win at algorithms and not contribute anything substantial to heavy music, or even the debate. They pander to the angry, not the interested. Surely there is something else, something better than just this to write about?
The whole Rock and Metal online environment has been turned toxic, and the music seems secondary to the online arguments and the drama. In the U.K. we call these “Sun” “Mirror” or “Daily Mail” headlines used to get readers angry, and make a cheap political point but have very little substance. While it might generate engagement and a few clicks, it’s not going to be generating album streams, sales, or selling tickets to anyone’s gigs. We know that, as everything is declining.
I do think the silent majority are sick to death of the way things are presently, and do want something new. The media has the power to flip this on its head and to contribute towards growing streams, album sales, and ticket sales but instead, it’s choosing to go for cheap clicks instead. Is it any wonder so many of these outlets can no longer afford to print their magazines?
As I have stated, frankly, the silent majority want something new, the legacy bands are established, and they will always have a growing fanbase, they are not gaining anything from feuds from 40 years ago. People are getting fed up with this style of journalism which is doing a ton of damage to the Rock and Metal scene by encouraging its ugliest elements to continually engage with negative and angry content rather than celebrating the quality of the music, the live performances or the excitement at a potentially good new band. All the good going on is being lost behind the anger aimed at these clickbait articles, and the average music fan just wants something good to listen to, they don’t care about other stuff. These are the people we are turning away in droves by the media continuing to create this environment.
Do we see the same negativity ever being written about what say Ed Sheeran does by the “pop” media? No. Because they promote his music, and the qualities he has as a person, not whether he fell out with a mate when he was 19 while recording a demo. They are making big money with the positive approach. A lot could be learned from that.
While I appreciate that music is subjective, and not everyone will like every band, at the same time we have an absolutely thriving underground Rock and Metal scene here in the U.K. with hundreds of amazing bands which cover every heavy genre, from Hard Rock to Extreme Metal. We have bands with great songs, we have tons of great young bands who really can play their stuff live, they have great attitudes, and their own growing fan bases. There is something for everyone, every generation and every taste. This should be covered, but it is being completely ignored. For me, it’s a shame this is being ignored in favour of promoting negative headlines and feuds from half a century ago, or the latest TikTok success. I think that something needs to change in Metal/Rock journalism that helps promote the good that is happening, and not just focus on the negativity algorithm or trying to benefit from a social media flash in the pan.
That may upset a few influential people, or make me unpopular as a result, but this is how I feel.
Our streams for the new album continue to grow as we have now broken over 33 thousand streams. We still do not have the full data from DistroKid, which covers many other stored but with what we do know it has been performing well so far.
After Bandcamp Friday we now have 88 pre-orders for the CD and 65 album downloads. We would very much like to improve this number in the coming weeks. The artwork is being finalised with the printers ready for printing this month.
The challenges we face as bands, musicians, venues, and promoters are numerous right now, but as proven in recent weeks, many are still doing well. The question is, how?
Before we can get to that, we need to understand how the climate has changed and adapt.
What we have to remember is that for the underground Rock and Metal scene in the UK to continue to thrive and grow is that we have to create a culture of encouraging people to come out to live music events on Friday and Saturday nights again.
That means we as bands have to not only promote ourselves effectively, both online and offline but also be good enough live, and engaging enough to draw people out and continue to draw people out. The challenge for venues/promoters is to adequately communicate to their natural audience what type of events they are running and to be engaged and understanding to their audience and to tailor their bookings to meet their taste.
So what are we competing with in 2022?
Up until the early 2000’s, there was a culture in this country of going out Friday and Saturday nights, which meant many venues didn’t have to work as hard to draw people out, especially for live music, as they had a natural audience who came out of habit to their venue or events because that was what they did in their leisure time. A bit like how football fans will watch their team’s home games every other Saturday. It’s a habit, they turn out, and thus the games have a natural audience. We in Rock/Metal have failed to achieve that same mentality with our core audience.
Since the old days, the world has changed, and now we are competing with Netflix, YouTube, PlayStation, and cheap store-bought alcohol. The natural behavior for people, especially in the under 30’s demographic, is to stay inside rather than go out to a venue for a drink, let alone live music. People don’t go out to meet a potential partner in the same way as before either, most dating is done online rather than out in bars and pubs like generations past. The current audience habit is many who do love Rock and Metal will prefer to save up for say a Bloodstock/Download style event once or twice a year and see a handful of bigger bands when they play their hometown. It’s more cost-effective to do it that way, especially with major festivals, because you get a lot of bang for your buck and can see a ton of bands over 3 days.
The question you need to ask is, why would people come out to see my band/event over what they can do at home for free?
Some certain promoters and venues are presently unable to understand these challenges and frankly have fallen so far behind the times it is damaging the efforts of those trying to buck the trend. They don’t even use a mailing list to communicate the events to their audience.
The scene needs to move away from using Facebook events and poorly designed, and often pixelated gig posters as a cover photo-only style promotion. We need to invest in the promotion, using mediums such as Google Ads, Meta (Facebook/Instagram), TikTok promotion, and so on as well as posters in the venue and flyers if you are able. We need to target our campaigns to those people who actually will most likely attend the events and continue to remind them the event is happening. We need to use tools like Bandcamp, and Postcodes to target those people who have already bought from us as bands to alter them of the events happening in their area.
We can not rely on any free promotion on social media as the algorithms are designed to hide the posts and push forward those who are paying for them. Posting events in a 1000 Facebook groups with no paid promotion will result in poor attendance as nobody will see it.
Moving away from Facebook is important, most people under 40 aren’t using Facebook and have moved over to TikTok and Instagram, even for messages, they use WhatsApp and not Facebook. By all means, keep up with Facebook but use the other tools as well. If people aren’t responding, do some research, learn how to use the new tools, it’s simple enough and be ready to spend some money to push your events.
We as a scene need to have professionally designed posters, and promotion that communicates the event in simple terms, and to survive we have to engage with the younger audience by matching the level of quality they are used to from their favorite bands, YouTubers, podcasters and so on. If you fail to do that, and your promotion looks cheap, dated, and lazy by comparison you will not get this group out. If the promotional material looks poor quality, people will assume the event will be of low quality also.
Four band logos on a black background with a date and time doesn’t tell the audience anything. 99% of people won’t know who the bands are, so won’t turn out, however, if you are running a Black Metal night, you can promote that first and foremost and target Black Metal fans in the local area and that is the draw, rather than the bands who won’t be known to the audience. Bands themselves are also naïve in thinking that people know who they are. Sticking your name and a date/time on a Facebook event is not enough information.
Speaking of bands, many are just as guilty of failing to adapt to the times and sometimes fall into the trap of repeating the same mistakes and then complaining it’s not working when nobody attends. The question bands need to ask when a gig fails is, did you do enough to let everyone who might be interested in that area that the gig was on?
It’s hard work being a band in 2022, you not only have to write the music, rehearse, pay for the recording, self-release, and so on, you have to be a promoter as well and you have to keep up with the times. You may feel that you don’t want to do the promotional side of things, and that’s fair enough, but understand if you leave it to others, the results could well be poor.
Bands have to understand that a gig isn’t just a place to perform, it’s a market, it’s your market stall, your performance is an advertisement to encourage people to buy your CDs, vinyl, shirts, and so on from the merch stand. If you are going to quibble about spending a few quid on promotion then why are you printing merch? Would you rather lose a little money on the promotion in the short term and play to a packed venue and potentially sell a ton of merch, or keep that £20 and play to a handful and sell next to nothing? If you are aiming to “go-pro” then you should treat all of this as a business anyway. Advertising is essential for any business and it costs money and takes time to do.
The price of gigs is important as well, especially with a cost of living/fuel crisis squeezing UK residents harder than ever post-pandemic. People’s money for living is not going as far, and thus if you charge over a fiver for events you may restrict your audience further. If you are a bit more established you may get away with charging a bit more, but that depends where you are a lot of the time too. Especially when staying home is free, and people have so many other options now. As stated previously, many people’s habit is to save and go to a bigger festival, so you need to figure out how to draw that audience to your event as well.
Think of it this way, if you were to pay to download a game, would you pay over a fiver for something you had never heard of? Would you pay upwards of £10 to go see a film when you didn’t know what it was or even who the cast was? Would you pay over £20 to see a football match where you didn’t know which either team was or who was even playing? You probably wouldn’t. You need to apply this logic to promoting your music and events.
As well as advertising and pricing, the timing of the event is also important. If you are an unknown band (or are promoting unknown bands) then you need to choose a night of the week the most natural audience will be available to see it, you need to communicate and stick to the start time and it needs to be days/times most people are comfortable coming out. If you have a more popular band on, you can get away with a different day of the week as they will naturally draw people out. If not Friday/Saturday nights are your safest bet.
The quality of the sound is another big issue. Venues need to pay for a good PA and maintain it with a sound person who knows how to operate it. If you do all the work to promote the show, get a good turnout and people pay a fiver to get in and it sounds awful, that audience will not come back and you will have lost all that hard work. That also goes for the quality of bands you book, if they aren’t up to the audience’s taste or expected standard those people you worked so hard to get out won’t likely come back.
Consistently poor sound will result in a dwindling audience. People are used to a higher standard of audio quality these days, and your sound/stage setup needs to meet their expectations if they are going to continue to pay to get into your venue and thus continue to buy drinks. Gigs that have no audible vocals, too much bass, and a ton of feedback are all too common and it drives people away. Also, offer earplugs for loud events, it is cheap, and your audience will appreciate it! Also, hire a good soundperson, not just rely on a mate.
A clean venue also helps, if your toilets look terrible, are broken, and stink that will put people off going. A messy, dirty, old venue won’t encourage a new audience out, keep it clean looking, keep it modern, if it’s a music venue, make it the focus of the venue, not a side attraction, especially if you are booking originals bands.
Also understand while there is some crossover, original bands and covers/tributes have different audiences and tastes. Covers bands can be quite happy to be paid to be just the live music for that night in the pub or venue, however original bands want an engaging audience, potential new fans, and people who will buy the merch. While being paid is good, to be background music for a nights drinking with a disengaged and disinterested audience in a pub isn’t worth it for the originals band. Of course originals bands can avoid this by trying to draw that audience out themselves, but it is something to bear in mind.
So what can be done to improve event turnouts?
You need to target the correct demographics for the events you are running. Use keywords and targets that relate to the bands/events you have booked. Target the local area, don’t be so broad brush, keep it as defined as possible. Use Google Ads, Meta Business Suite, and TikTok promotions to target your audience on social media. Be as clear as day with the communication. Tell people EXACTLY what the event is and what the bands may sound like. You can target an audience’s taste right down to the genre and the bands they like, and even directly to the postcode areas where the venue is.
In terms of free promotion, have a well-designed professional poster/s to be sent to the venues ahead of the gig, design flyers for handing out in that town, or use a mailing list to send them to those in that area who you know might like the event. You need good branding and good image quality. Do not ever use jpegs for images as the quality is atrocious, and if you are doing anything with audio, NEVER use mp3’s as they sound terrible.
Use an emailing tool like MailChimp to send email reminders promoting the show and encourage as many pre-sales as possible. Bandcamp allows bands to export all their sales and Excel can separate the sales right down to the postcode area. Be good at data management and it will pay off.
As for Facebook, you can still run Facebook events, but remember to invite the people who might actually attend the event, sometimes people either invite no one, or blanket invite people 100’s of miles away from the venue which is just lazy.
It takes a combination of tools to make an event a success.
Understanding your audience is also important. Trying to promote an NWOBHM event to the under 40’s that isn’t say Iron Maiden won’t be as successful, in the same way promoting a Metalcore gig to people over 40 isn’t likely to be successful. Know your audience, know who might like the music, and work to get those people out. Don’t waste your time and money on people who will never attend the show. Don’t believe everyone is going to like your music/event just because you do. Some people do like everything, but they are a minority.
Ultimately if you are not spending to advertise, aren’t communicating to anyone directly what your event is when it is, and doing the bare minimum promotional wise then you will not get a good turnout. The scene isn’t dead, many are doing very well right now, but they have adapted to the times, they know their audience and they working hard to get a good turnout.
I realise I have written a lot of thoughts down here, so I will stop but I hope my blog post has been useful to you!
Today the band will continue working on the new album at Unit One studios. Kaine is now making good progress and should be on track to begin recording the new album soon. In last weeks sessions the band began to work on the vocals and backing vocals for “Train” as well as the new song “Green to Grey”, and more work was done to the lyrics plus vocal melodies in the week. They also finished the full structure for “Green to Grey” in the session and the album is starting to take shape.
In other news, previous “likes” have been encouraged to follow the bands Facebook page following Facebook’s platform alterations meaning all likes were deleted last week from the band page.
Finally, the first mix from the Matt Jones (of Twisted Illusion fame) version of the forthcoming EP was reviewed and further revisions are being worked on ready for the release. The EP will be a two CD release featuring two versions of the EP.
As reported on the bands Facebook page this weekend, Facebook has removed over 13,000 likes from Kaine’s Facebook page as it begins it’s process of removing “likes” from it’s platform in favour of the new Instagram style follower system. Those who have not followed the page will no longer be able to see content posted there. To follow the page on Facebook please click here and then on the “follow” tab.
In May the band released a special digital compilation for the sale called “Reforged in Faith”. The results of that sale were the following:
Compilation announcement – Seen post 702 – clicked on article – 95 Facebook Event invites sent out 833 Those who said “going” 37 Those who said “interested” 67 Those who did not respond to invites 739
Day before sale reminder Facebook post – Seen post: 834 Engaged: 47
Reminder Facebook post – Seen post: 593 Engaged: 49 Final Facebook post – Seen post: 109 – Engaged: 5 Bandcamp Totals: 339 Track plays from 155 Unique listeners
Final Sales: 12 (from the 155 who clicked through)
We tried a different approach this time focusing more on engaging through email and instead of running a Facebook event we ran an advert for the day. The results are:
Event announcement – Seen post 3,245 (Promoted Post) E-Mails sent out: 1,884 (two different emails via MailChimp, and via GMail)
Reminder Facebook post – Seen post: 110 Engaged: 9 Bandcamp Totals: 267 Track plays Sales: 50 (from those 267)
This time we offered a package of two CD’s (Reforge The Steel and Reforge The Steel Live) along with a free download of the album.
As you can see the sale this month was considerably more successful although we had to use pay for services such as Facebook Adverts (targeting those who already “like” the page) and Mail Chimp to achieve better results. The end result was even thought there we less click through and plays on the tracks and less engagement then the previous campaign we had 38 more sales as a result of paying for the advertisement and MailChimp then using Facebook for free. In fact it highlights the difference in worth to bands of a free Facebook like over paid advertising.
We spent roughly £50 on both Facebook/MailChimp and our income for the day was £587.90.
We’ve recently experienced a spike in people being able to see and interact with our posts across social media so we thought it would be a good time to remind people about our new album Reforge The Steel and where you can by the CD and listen to the new album.
After yesterdays post asking who saw our social media posts, the result is only 0.8% of our page’s likes are actually seeing our posts, with some users admitting to having to make the effort to look up the page to see the updates as it’s no longer shown on their timeline.
It was an interesting experiment for us to run, as we’re currently evaluating the true worth of social media to the band and how people see and interact with us online.