MARTY FRIEDMAN: Fans Understand That Paid Meet-And-Greets Are 'An Important Part Of The Music Business Nowadays'
November 9, 2023
During an appearance on a recent episode of the "Life In The Stocks" podcast, former MEGADETH guitarist Marty Friedman spoke about the need for musicians can tap into a new market and possibly earn more money than they would through traditional methods such as streaming or physical sales.
"Some people say we're a t-shirt company that makes music, because it is definitely a thing that you have to make money outside of the publishing and royalties and those types of monies," Marty said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET). "If you're a band, you have to rely on doing things like merchandising yourself well. And the whole VIP meet-and-greet thing, that's what's keeping a lot of bands alive. And back in the real old days, KISS was doing this stuff a million years ago and they mastered it a million years ago. And everybody said, 'You guys are terrible. You guys are just awful. It's not music. It's a business. It's a business.' Who knew that 30, 40 years later, that's what everybody was having to do just to survive enough to make their music? So they created this template, with selling your guitars after the shows and all of these things that, as an actual musician or artist, you kind of cringe when you're doing it because you just wanna play music, make money and go home. But the reality is you've gotta have cool merch. You've gotta have cool bonus things, like the VIP meet-and-greet, special seating for people, people coming to your soundchecks — all kinds of special bonuses. You've gotta give backrubs to your fans. It's like really crazy nowadays. It's everything but the music, but all of those things are what allow you to make your own music your own way, because the business model of making music is such that if you are not a mainstream pop act, you're probably gonna make more money from things that are outside of the actual sales of your music than with the actual sales."
Friedman, who moved from America to Japan in 2003 at the age of 40, continued: "I've just been very, very fortunate that I locked into a lot of things in Japan where I'm doing so many different things that allow me to stay afloat to do my music any way that I possibly wanna do it. But when I go out on the road, like I was on tour in March and April in America and doing festivals in Japan and playing, touring around the world and stuff, I can see that touring requires all of those non-musical things. And some people are cut out for it and some people are not. I personally wish I didn't have to do it, but in the course of doing it, there's a lot of wonderful things to gain, because you do get to meet fans and actually meet them in a nice controlled environment, whereas I remember in the old days, sometimes you'd meet fans and they'd come up to you and they'd… I remember one dude was smoking a cigarette when he was talking to me and his cigarette was burning me on my hand. I'm, like, 'Dude, what the fuck?' So it's a lot different than the way it was. You'd stand out in front of the bus to sign for fans and things like that, and now that kind of thing is a little bit more organized. And I really kind of hate receiving money for that, but I think nowadays people, fans also understand that this is an important part of the music business nowadays. It's not the bands trying to fleece their fans at all. It's the bands just trying to stay out on the road. So, those are the main differences that I see. And I don't look at them as a negative. It's just businesses evolve, music evolves, things evolved, and to stay in the business a long time, you have to absolutely reinvent yourself all the time. And I don't think it's a negative. It's not a negative for me. And I don't think it's hindered anybody 'cause you've just gotta keep being creative."
Friedman played his first U.S. show in four years on March 3 at The Plaza Live in Orlando, Florida as support act for QUEENSRŸCHE. Marty performed on more than two dozen dates with QUEENSRŸCHE, running through April 16, where the tour wrapped up in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Marty's "Tokyo Jukebox 3" album received a North American release in April 2021 via The Players Club/Mascot Label Group. The record, which was made available in Japan in October 2020, was the third in a series that began with "Tokyo Jukebox" in 2009, and then "Tokyo Jukebox 2" following in 2011. The trilogy presents Friedman's inspired performances to Japanese repertoire he's chosen to cover.
Marty's presence in the world of music, the world of guitar and Japanese pop culture is mystifying, bizarre, and nothing short of inspiring. His first major impact in music was in the game-changing guitar duo CACOPHONY, which he founded with equally enigmatic and now-legendary guitarist Jason Becker. He then spent 10 years as lead guitarist in the genre-defining thrash metal act MEGADETH before moving to Tokyo due to his love for Japanese music, language, and culture.
Following his move, he landed a starring role for a new TV comedy "Hebimeta-san" ("Mr. Heavy Metal") and its spinoff, "Rock Fujiyama", which ran for six seasons and propelled him into the living rooms of Japan's mainstream. He has since appeared in over 800 TV shows, movies and commercials, including a two-year campaign with Coca-Cola for Fanta, authored two best-selling novels and was the first-ever foreigner to be appointed as an ambassador of Japan heritage and perform at the opening ceremony for the Tokyo Marathon in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2022. At the same time, Marty has continued his career in music with several solo albums in addition to writing and performing with the top artists in Japanese music, racking up countless chart hits, including a No. 1 with SMAP, two No. 2 songs with MOMOIRO CLOVER, a No. 2 with SOUND HORIZON — just to name a few.
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