There’s already a new spring in the step of rock and metal in 2015, a flexing of muscles, a sense of expansion and triumph. First came the news that rock is the most popular music genre in the US, dominating the market with 33% of album sales and 29% of overall music consumption, according to data collected by Nielsen Music (a warning, however: their definition of ‘rock’ includes Coldplay). Then Iron Maiden this week announced their new venture, Maiden Audio – a collaboration with Japanese technology firm Onkyo – to produce a range of audio equipment to the band’s exacting standards. The website www.maidenaudio.com has launched with a gallery depicting a giant Somewhere In Time Eddie wearing a pair of headphones, so expect to see heavy-duty Maiden cans on the market soon. Perhaps this deal with a Japanese firm explains the presence of ninjas on the band’s recent cryptic Christmas card illustration – and the pair of headphones around Santa Eddie’s neck.
As this story proves, Iron Maiden are British metal’s most astonishing economic success story, but nurturing the successes of the future is at the heart of recent pronouncements by Tim Ingham, editor of Music Business Worldwide. Reacting to the government’s latest figures on the value of the UK’s creative industries – worth £76.9 billion a year according to a report by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport – Ingham calls for the music industry to get the sort of tax breaks commonly enjoyed by the movie, video game, TV and animation industries, stressing the importance of good A&R “to give more new acts more investment to develop their sound and songwriting,” an area the DCMS report is very vague about. “They don’t give any specific detail on the music industry,” Tim told TeamRock. “They openly admit their data fails to properly account for A&R’s value and employee figures. That information would be extremely valuable for the music business to argue the case for tax breaks. Instead, the government is basically saying to the music industry, ‘You’re a bit too complicated for us.’”
Rock and metal have been unusually assertive in political circles this week, with bands like Iron Maiden, Bullet For My Valentine, Arctic Monkeys, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, While She Sleeps and Cancer Bats putting their names to an open letter calling on the UK government to crack down on “secondary ticket marketing,” where large numbers of gig tickets are immediately bought up for resale at inflated prices on sites like Viagogo, StubHub, Get Me In and Seatwave. “We are committed to ensuring that event-goers have the best experience possible at a fair price,” the letter states. “The way that the secondary ticketing market is allowed to operate at present can seriously undermine that effort. It’s high time the government stopped sticking up for secondary platforms, and decided to put fans first.” The letter was designed to influence MPs to vote in favour of a new clause to the Consumer Rights Bill, requiring online touts to give more information about the tickets they are selling. Unfortunately this clause was later rejected by Parliament. So, the touts still won’t need to advertise the ticket’s face value, the seller’s name, or even whether or not the sale of the ticket contravenes its terms and conditions.
If all this sounds a bit Financial Times, it’s because the rest of the news this early in the year consists largely of gathering excitement about the forthcoming comebacks of some of metal’s mightiest titans, set to run indefinitely throughout 2015. We won’t mention Iron Maiden again (oops), but Metallica this week posted a (pretty bloody unexciting) photo from the studio, seemingly to prove they’re actually recording something at last, Gary Holt has been enthusing about the upcoming Slayer album (“It’s crushingly heavy and dark and sinister, and it’s everything you’d hope a Slayer album should be”), while Frank Bello has declared of the new Anthrax material: “The word is energy. The best thing I an do with this thing is not overhype it, and just have that quiet confidence, but I’m so stoked. The three of us got together in the studio last week and it was, like, old-time jamming. It just built this momentum. It’s gonna be fun to play these songs.”