Treasuring the artists we admire and love is extremely important, and yet it’s an issue that is often taken for granted. I sit here listening to the new Mutiny Within album prepping for the first album review I’ve done in several months. But before I get into the album, I’m thinking about the band’s history and the kind of sacrifice required in reaching the release of this second album.
If there has ever been a clearer example of a band that deserves success, but has struggled to obtain it, it’s Mutiny Within. I recall several years ago receiving a press request by Roadrunner Records to preview and write a review about this new band. Always eager to hear to new music, especially from the bands supported by Roadrunner Records (except Nickelback), I agreed.
After listening to the first track or so while at work, I knew I had found something different. Excited about what I was hearing, I eagerly shared the news with partner in crime, and she was equally interested…and she’s pickier than me in many ways. In fact, she ended up doing the album review.
Fast forward several months later, we were given the opportunity to interview Andrew Jacobs from the band and do a concert review. That year, we thought Mutiny Within had produced one of the best albums of the year. Shortly thereafter, it all came crumbling down…
Mutiny Within soon found itself without a label. After being booted from Roadrunner, everything started to crumble around the band and eventually the band was forced to disband. Why?
The answer was unfortunately due to pirating their album. Thousands of illegal downloads couldn’t compete with minimal album sales. In other words, Mutiny Within, like so many other bands, had a business problem. Members had to make a living and they couldn’t.
Frustrated, singer Chris Clancy left the band and returned to England, his home country. Then the band decided to reconnect and write music, but it wasn’t a full reunion, just some new tunes. This eventually led to the band’s new album release, Synchronicity, in January.
The Cost of being a Musician
I’m always amazed when I hear people think it’s OK to illegally download music because you’re “hurting labels.” Here’s the thing: it’s all bullshit. Plain and simple.
Here are the facts… labels front cash to musicians in exchange for recording and distributing the band’s music. Before the band’s artists receive a dime, the label must recoup cost. Once that happens, then musicians might see a cut after lawyers, managers, etc. get their cut. And then, and only then, will band members receive anything, which is all split between band members.
In other words, musicians are the ones that end up hurting the most as a direct result of pirating music. It’s what happened to Mutiny Within, and they are only one example amongst numerous others.
Over the years I’ve struggled with this idea of giving music away. As a marketer, part of me agreed with giving some away at no cost in exchange for discovery. However, the product of music is a very costly process. It’s not strictly getting a group together in studio and recording music. It costs…a lot of cash… to produce an album. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, music labels are the bankers and angel investors of the the music industry.
It took me working in and around technology to recognize this fact. Musical labels have a tarnished history, and with good reason, but they are a necessary evil in many ways.
All I can hope for is music fans will one day recognize this fact.