Now, don't get me wrong, from a logical and humane standpoint, respect has nothing to do with money. However, the world we live in today is almost completely void of logic, let alone humanity. In this world, you and I have to pay for our food. We need money to buy or rent a roof over our heads. We need cash in order to buy clothes so we don't run around naked. Running around naked is illegal too, so we need money to be legal, to be accepted as human beings. Is that logical? No, it is not. But it is the world we live in and we have to either overthrow that or accept it and I don't see many attempts to overthrow the money-driven society...
So we live in a "Moneyarchy", one where we are governed by numbers on a computer screen and by metal coins or sheets of paper that determine what we will eat tonight. I'm not calling that good or bad (that is your decision to make). I'm just stating the fact. Artists live in the same world, but for some reason people treat them differently. Many music fans have absolutely zero respect for the artists. In this article, I would like to go over a few of these so-called "fans". I will write down some cringe worthy quotes and conversations I've heard and I will expose them all for what they are: hypocrites, liars and opportunists.
"Play For Exposure"
1. The band's manager or agency who wants to set up a festival in order to promote the artists he is working with.
2. The members of the band when they want to organise a gig.
If you do not belong to any of these two categories, you have no right to demand this, let alone that dreadful 'pay-to-play' thing. Yes, that is true. Apparently, there are venues, bookers and other numbtwats who ask bands to pay an amount of money so they can appear on stage. It should be the other way around, I know. But then again, some people are opportunistic hypocrites. So if you ask bands either to pay or to play for expose, you are not a music fan and you have no right to call yourself one.
If you are in a band, and some asshole lured you into one of those "exposure gigs", here is what you should do: go on stage, tell the audience that all drinks are free because the venue-owner wants "exposure" for his delicious beverages. Then take a step back and watch the entire event turn into chaos while you load your equipment into the van with a massive grin on your face. Believe me, people will remember you ànd the venue, proving that mutual "exposure" really works.
The coffeeshop incident
The other day, Jeff was visiting me and I let him listen to a new album, one I had just reviewed. He liked it. He was shaking his head, drumming on his knees and even singing along with one of the choruses. "This is awesome," he said "who is this?'. I showed him the CD. He looked at it carefully, memorizing the band name and title. I also sent him the link to my review, so he could click on the bandcamp or Amazon link and purchase the thing.
A few days later, I needed coffee so I stepped on the bus that took me towards the city centre. In Jeff's coffeeshop, I heard one of the songs from that album. "Oh, cool, you bought it," I said. "Well, no, I torrented it," Jeff answered me. "The artist will not like that", I replied. Jeff looked me right in the eyes, bended towards me and said, "But you are listening to it right now, aren't you? I'm playing this band for all my customers to listen to. So some of them may buy that album".
I sighed and ordered a kilo of coffee. Jeff filled a bag, gave it to me and said "that will be six euros". I looked him right in the eyes, bended towards him and said "But people at my place will drink this coffee tonight and I will tell them where it comes from. Some of them might come over and buy coffee from you". I turned around and started walking away when Jeff yelled "Hey, it doesn't work that way", on which I replied, "You roast for exposure!"
I walked out of the coffeeshop and into a record store across the street. There, I bought that album Jeff was so crazy about. Just for the joke of it, I asked the man behind the counter to gift-wrap the thing. He did. I paid. He thanked me. I thanked him. It was so damn easy. I crossed the street again, went back into Jeff's shop and handed him his little present.
"You're an asshole", he said.
'So are you", I replied.
"I never buy cds but for your band I might make an exception"
1. "I never buy cds".
Ok, maybe you are an mp3 man, a Bandcamp fan. Bandcamp is good. I'm not tearing that down. Bandcamp is the best thing that has ever happened to the world of digital music. Compared to Bandcamp, Spotify is like paying your taxes and believing you solved world-hunger that way.
But to be brutally honest, I don't really trust people who don't buy cds, vinyl or merchandise. I'm not saying you have to purchase every single thing a band has ever made but come on. No cds? No vinyl? No shirt? That is like saying, "I really like girls but I don't want to do anything for them". Oh wait, there are a lot of guys like that too.
Besides, why would you say such a thing to an artist? To boost his ego? When an artist hears you say "I never buy cd's", he starts wondering why he's even engaged in the conversation. You are a non-customer, someone who walks into Jeffs's coffeeshop just to the smell the coffee.
2. For your band I might make an exception.
Please god, kill it with fire. Who does this kid think he is? Maybe he should rephrase his sentence to make it more suited to his ego: "So, peasant, if thy kneel to me, perhaps I shall grant thy the majestic joy of being able to make me thy customer. Now kiss that turd I just layeth".
Buying a cd is not 'making an exception'. I'm not saying that it should be an obsession either. Collecting albums and shirts can be an expensive hobby. I know several people who could have bought a house with the money they spent on merchandise (or a small appartment in my case). But if you're not into buying stuff, shut up about it. There is no need to have that conversation. Just say, "good show, well done" and go your own way.
Can we please stop the "Metallica-effect"?
1. Kill 'Em All
Fans: "wow, yeah, what an album. A genre is born."
2. Ride The Lightning
Fans: "Wooow, Metallica are back with a groundbreaking album, but is that a ballad?"
3. Master Of Puppets
Fans: "Yes, a masterpiece, absolutely brilliant."
4. And Justice For All
Fans: "That's great but where is the bass?"
Fans: "They have gotten soft"
6. Load, Reload
Fans: "Metallica? Oh, I don't listen to them anymore since they sold out. I like the old albums but now they are just rich assholes."
7. St. Anger
Fans: "They're a completely insane shitband now. They should make Master Of Puppets again."
8. Death Magnetic
Fans: "Why doesn't Metallica listen to me? Why don't those assholes make the music I have been telling them about on my facebook page?"
Meanwhile, Metallica has pretty much always been doing what they wanted to. They grew a little older. They lost people in their lives. They became fathers. They had their problems, their influences, their good times and bad times and they simply threw that into their music. Why? Because that is what they have always been doing. That is what made them form a band in the first place.
Fans have a tendency to take dislike to extremes and I don't know why. I mean, I don't like Justin Bieber but I'm not sending his messages saying "I hope you die with a cock in your mouth". Do you know how I show my dislike for Justin Bieber? I don't listen to Justin Bieber. I don't care about Justin Bieber and Justin Bieber does not care about me. It is that easy. You don't have to do anything.
There was a time when I made that mistake, when I uselessly hated on bands I didn't like. Limp Bizkit was one of them. Oh how we yelled, booed and laughed at Limp Bizkit, but oh how we secretly wanted what they had: money, fame, fans and girls. But was it just jealousy? Or was there a part of me that took elitism a bit too serious? Now, I am older and I understand the senselessness of that hatred.
See, a band is not owned by the fans. Metallica are not your property. Music doesn't work that way. But people get so enraged when something they hear is not to their liking, it almost scares me. Bands and artists can do whatever they want and if we don't like it, we are absolutely free to walk away and ignore the whole damn thing. But no, fans want to make a fuzz. They want their voices to be heard.
A piece of advice: want something better than that band that disappointed you? Form a band that is better than that one. If you don't like Jeff's coffee, don't go barging into his coffeeshop, telling him he sold out. That makes no sense. Find your coffee elsewhere, find your favorite music elsewhere. Save that negative energy to protest against the things that really matter, I am damn sure you can find a few things that are far worse than the sound of Lars' snare drum.