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Fake metal sites are screwing fans

OPINION

Brandon Long, editor-in-chief

The music industry as a whole is incestous and you would be naive to think metal is any different. Photographers are PR execs, drummers are promoters, guitarists are album reviewers and A&R reps are videographers. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, because in the creative arts especially, it’s hard to make a buck. Many creatives need to have multiple gigs on the go to pay the bills. It becomes problematic, however, when a cog in the machine like a website presents itself as independent but these relationships are not disclosed and there’s money involved.

I’ve worked in communications on both sides of the fence for over a decade, so I know what I’m talking about.

The bottom line is this: Metal fans are getting screwed over when they visit a fake metal site. What do I mean by ‘fake metal site?’ It’s one that appears like a legitimate news, interviews and reviews site but is run by a record label. Or one that takes payment from bands to review their shows and albums. These sites will brand themselves as ‘one of the guys’ with their shiny logo, giveaways, and high profile interviews, but how do you think they line up all of these things? It’s not because they’re good at what they do. It’s because they have access to infinite resources.

For example, label x runs website y. They post news and interviews mostly about bands signed to label x. Occasionally they’ll post something about bands with label z. It is in their financial interest to appear legitimate and focus mostly on x to push sales, because if fans knew what they were doing, they probably wouldn’t buy into it.

I can name a handful off the top of my head. Unfortunately, I cannot list them here for legal reasons. That said, it would be remiss of me not to bring this to the attention of fans.

So how can you tell these ‘front sites’ apart from the legitimate, independent ones? Their ‘about us’ section never has any giveaways or hints. You need to do a bit of digging. Click on their privacy policy or their cookie policy and you’ll find the truth.

While some might think this is coming from a place of jealousy, it’s actually anger. Anger that the fans are getting lied to. I’m still of the belief that metal is the most honest and freedom-loving music genre. You can say what you want, offend who you please and people will either buy it or they won’t. You can have neck and hand tattoos and no one bats an eyelid. I get such a kick out of interviewing artists who say what pops into their head instead of carefully sanitising every response. Which other genre can cover depression, anxiety, suicide, bullying, serial killers and drugs and still make artists a living? Maybe some hip-hop sub genres at a stretch? And I think it’s all of our jobs to try to keep it as honest and free as possible. That means telling your fucking fans if you’re not independent.

If you believe in honesty and freedom in metal, consider sharing this with your friends. Make them aware of what’s going on. If you want to expose yourself to the widest variety of metal (bands, labels, countries, sub genres) and unbiased news and reviews, avoid the fake sites pushing their own agenda. At Grater, in addition to doing our own research and stories, we get a hundreds of emails a week from various industry people and we sort them into what is newsworthy. We don’t give a fuck about what subgenre or country or label it’s from: if it’s metal and we think you’ll like it, we post it. While we do have a slight preference for Australian and medium – small bands, we don’t play favourites with bands, labels or anybody else. We provide the unbiased information to fans and they can make up their own minds. And that’s the way it should be.

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