AVENGED SEVENFOLD's M. SHADOWS Says SPOTIFY 'Has A Great System For The User' But Not Necessarily So For The Artist

March 27, 2024

During an appearance on the latest episode of the "Locales Only" podcast, AVENGED SEVENFOLD frontman M. Shadows said that he tries to stay on top of technology where the band is concerned, embracing innovative forms of marketing, fan involvement, stage production and ways of selling music that few rock bands employ. He said in part (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I get up in the morning and I get annoyed at putting all this time into our art, which is uncompromised; we don't have anyone in there. We're just doing this sort of artistic expression or this kind of artistic explosion, which would be our albums and the way we wanna present ourselves live. But the confines of commerce and the way that the music industry has sort of evolved has taken all the power away from the musicians and sort of given it to the people that are building technology or own the companies or own the venues or own all the sort of drivers that allow people to get music into their hands. And basically all the power gets stripped from the artists. And my big thing is being able to see some of these trends before they happen or kind of get on these things, you can hopefully, in the future, write a better sort of roadmap for artists, if an artist can be on the forefront kind of writing the rules as these things happen. So, for me, that's protocol network stuff, which is blockchain. It is actually sitting in the meetings with people that make decisions in this industry. It's things like VR."

He continued: "There was a time when music videos were looked down upon for the artists that did them; they were called sellouts for doing 'em. Then DVDs came out, Blu-rays, and now it's like commonplace to go watch a live show on YouTube, where that would have been called something completely sellout-ish back in the day. Now, we have things like VR concerts, and we're starting to see the same backlash, when the reality is, when these headsets become sunglasses or, even further down the line, some sort of Neuralink, straight to the mainframe, people are gonna be enjoying these concerts and doing these sorts of things the same way they're enjoying Blu-rays or this or that, but they're gonna be enjoying them through their headsets. And right now it'd be the Apple Vision Pro or the Oculus 3. But as time goes on, you need artists to be in the space so that they can navigate what is right for the artists and not necessarily the tech bro that made the technology and the guy that's going to hire the band and tell you what to do and then own all the data. You wanna be the one that sits there and kind of makes those decisions."

M. Shadows, whose real name is Matt Sanders, also talked about the importance of putting artists in control and rewarding fans for their loyalty. He went on to cite Spotify, whose analytics offers no way to disaggregate data by age, location or gender, especially when looking at each song individually, making it very hard to understand why songs perform differently, how to predict future behaviors, and how to market individual songs effectively.

"Spotify has a great system for the user," M. Shadows said. "They pay $9.99 a month or $14.99, whatever it is at this point, and they get all the music that's ever been created for virtually nothing. Now, on the other end, the artist has nowhere else to have their music listened to. You're not gonna go on a road trip and go to every individual artist's web site to pull up their latest record and stream it from there. It's just not gonna happen. It's kind of like when you put a AAA movie out, but it's not on Netflix and it's not in the theaters. Who actually goes and sees it? The way the consumerism is in America, we want ease of use. So they have ease of use for the consumer, but what they don't do is — I don't know the last time I saw someone wear a Spotify shirt around. I've seen METALLICA shirts and AVENGED SEVENFOLD shirts and Taylor Swift shirts, but what they don't do is they don't tell you who's listening to your music. They don't let you reach out to them. They don't let you perhaps upsell them things… And they've basically sold the company in return for catalog to the labels. And so now you have all these old record label deals that most people are locked into, getting a royalty on that percentage that Spotify pays you. So, say, Spotify, for purposes of easy discussion, 0.003 cents a play. Most bands are getting about 24 cents on the dollar. So it's not Spotify, really, the payment; it's more of the labels and having bad deals."

AVENGED SEVENFOLD's latest album, "Life Is But A Dream…", came out in June 2023 via Warner. The LP sold 36,000 equivalent album units in the U.S. in its first week of release to land at position No. 13 on the Billboard 200 chart.

AVENGED SEVENFOLD made its first festival appearance in five years on May 19, 2023 at Welcome To Rockville at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida.

AVENGED SEVENFOLD's first concert since June 2018 took place on May 12, 2023 at AREA15 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

To date, AVENGED SEVENFOLD has sold over 10 million albums worldwide and earned two consecutive No. 1 albums on Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart (2010's "Nightmare" and 2013's "Hail To The King") to go along with over a billion video views and a billion-plus Spotify streams, as well as multiple No. 1 singles on rock radio.

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