by: Robert Pasbani
Late last week, Magrudergrind announced they are releasing a new EP, Grind Crusher for absolutely nothing, ZERO! They were able to do this through a partnership with Scion A/V, a marketing initative that in my opinion has been nothing but good things for metal. Scion A/V has paid for free festivals with Neurosis and Mastodon as headliners, paid for countless music videos for small bands who probably couldn't afford them and now they are even releasing music for free. I was pleasantly surprised by the idea, but turns out a lot of people on the internet are butt-hurt about the situation calling the band sell-outs among other things. There has been such a hoopla that Magrudergrind released a statement explaining their actions. Let's take a look at it and then I'll chime in with my thoughts afterwards, so we are all up to speed:
We have a new EP titled "CRUSHER" coming out on 10" wax and CD. The EP has 6 tracks with guest appearances by Richard Johnson (Agoraphobic Nosebleed/Ex-Enemy Soil) and Dom Romeo (Pulling Teeth).
The record will be released on Nov. 22, 2010 through Scion A/V.This record is completely FREE for anyone in the U.S. and will …be streamed and available for download for anyone, anywhere. For people outside the U.S., it will be available in the coming months.
Many of you are probably wondering "why would Magrudergrind put out a record with Scion"?
– We decided to take up this offer in order to give out a 100% FREE, high quality record to everyone, at the expense of a Scion. Scion have covered all the costs for studio, manufacturing, etc.
– Over the years, Scion has dished out tons of money to support this scene. They have made it possible, so that we can all attend and play shows, for FREE, that we otherwise wouldn't be able to attend and play.
– What have we got out of this deal that we would have otherwise have worked with a standard label and the standard record label business model? Scion covers all recording and record manufacturing expenses. They have provided YOU with the platform to have a high quality Magrudergrind record for FREE.
– We did not receive any free car, any fat paycheck, but the ability to give every a free record at the expense solely on a big company that may not see any return on their investment. Who really wins here?
– If Scion covers the expenses of this record and say no one buys their product, who really gains? Us and every single person who got a Magrudergrind record for free.
– In the United States, we do not have wide scaled financial support from the government and industry players as they do elsewhere, for music and arts. We rather a company support music and arts, rather then spend their marketing campaign money on a stupid illuminated eyesore billboard. Everyone, especially in the hc/punk scene has a mind of their own and the agency to make their own consumption decisions. We are not going to, nor do we have the ability to force some kid to decide their purchase decisions. We all are exposed to advertisements and purchase decisions everyday. Even when we decide to buy some band t-shirt or a vinyl record (which has used energy and resources in the manufacturing process), it is up to the individual to make that choice.
– Regarding DIY and our ethical standpoint. We have always been, always will be and currently are very deeply involved in the band processes and the scene we are involved with. This includes our hand-on approach to our music, records, artwork, booking, merchandise, mail-order, etc. We have booked countless tours ourselves with the band, since we we're 17 years old, in the US, Europe and Asia. We have brought over and booked the tours, completely DIY, spending endless hours of work, to bring over many grindcore bands from Europe and Japan. We still take care of all the day-to-day tasks of this band and would not have it any other way. If anyone is questioning our involvement in the DIY scene, look at our hands on approach to everything involved with the band.
If someone has an issue or questions about why we did this or that, simply email us at: magrudergrind AT hotmail DOT com
Before I go on with my arguments for why this is not a big deal, I would like to mention, in the interest of full disclosure, that we have had dealings with Scion in the past. They have bought advertisements on this website, and we were a part of the No Label Needed contest which they sponsored (but never made their presence felt other than their emblem on the NLN logo).
Now that we have that out of the way, let's talk about some of the issues here. One thing that blows my mind about how blind all these anti-corporate elitists are is if music is being put out on a label, it's corporate! Had Magrudergrind decided not to take Scion's offer, they would only have two options:
- Pay for the record themselves and release it themselves, with money they probably don't have and then risk never making it back.
- Work out a deal with a record label to advance them money and cover the costs of recoding/producing the record, all of which would have to be paid back to the label before the band would see a dime.
Scion was offering them something far better… FREE MONEY! They didn't advance them money to pay for the record, they just footed the bill for the recording, printing and (probably) promotion. The band paid nothing! They just had to stick the Scion logo on the CD. How is this different than signing with a label? Labels stick their logos on CDs all the time. Granted, the Scion logo is a little more prominent, but they aren't exactly asking for their money back like a label is, so where is the issue?
Additionally, all those butthurts who are screaming "corporate scum" need to take a step back and take a look at how the record industry really works. If you are a serious record label, looking to get into actual stores like Best Buy and FYE, the only way to do that is to get in bed with a distributor. Who are distributors? Why, the 4 major labels of course: Sony, EMI, Warner and Universal.
To prove my point, let's take a look at Magrudergrind's previous label, Willow Tip. Doing a quick search I found that Willow Tip is distributed by EMI, a very major label, that holds bands like The Beatles and Smashing Pumpkins amongst it's ranks. Labels like Relapse and Metal Blade are distributed by RED (a division of SONY), and labels like Vagrant, Ipecac and Trustkill are distributed by Fontana, which is owned by Universal.
To prove my point even further, Dischord Records, owned by Ian MacKaye, founder of Fugazi and Minor Threat and the last person anybody would ever call a sell out, is distributed through Fontana, which is owned by Universal, which is owned by GE, who can very much be considered an "evil corporation".
Where is the walk out on Dischord? There is none! Because this is how the world works. This is how music works. Magruder got the best deal to put out their music and they went for it. There is no money in grind music, so any help matters!
People are so annoyed that Toyota (the parent company of Scion) is funding this operation. Do you think ANYBODY over at Toyota even know who Magrudergrind is or they funded an EP? No, they don't! Scion has a marketing company that they hired exclusively to run the Scion A/V initiative and they make all of these decisions. They have backed very legitimate bands with very little return.
The Scion Rock Fest was one of the best concert experiences I have ever had, and it was FREE. Scion could've plastered their logos all over the place, but they chose not to. In fact, they were very respectful with their marketing. There were a few logos and some free swag, and that's it. I have seen far more intrusive advertising from energy drink companies who sponsor tours and yet nobody really complains. And last time I checked, there haven't been many other free shows headlined by Mastodon and Neurosis have there?
And, if these critics stopped and actually paid attention, they can see how much good Scion has actually done. Take for example this great piece that Trap Them frontman Ryan McKenney wrote about being endorsed by the car company:
We opened a tour for one of the most legendary grind bands of all time (THE best, in my opinion) and were payed a pretty small amount. We were first on a five band package… there was never a doubt we’d make peanuts. It didn’t matter… we were on the road for six weeks watching the band play songs I used to listen to while delivering newspapers in seventh grade. But, with the amount of 10+ hour drives in our beautiful fartbox of a van (lovingly referred to as “Big Ben”) that that tour entailed, it was almost monetarily impossible for us to come close to breaking even, let alone make money that would take care of a home life.
We NEEDED this tour. Luckily, this corporation stepped in and made us a small offer. We did something small for them and, in turn, they made the tour attainable for us. What they asked us to do did not, for one second, make me feel like I am compromising any of my integrity. In fact, they told us to go out of our way to not advertise, or even SAY their name.
If Scion was this big evil company looking to take advantage of everybody, WHY WOULD THEY DO THIS? What other evil corporation has done this? None!
Magrudergrind did nothing wrong and should not be singled out and chastised. Scion basically acted like a label, except even better than a label, because labels want any money they give bands back. Scion didn't want the money back. They just wanted a logo on the album. Do you really think there will be a surge in Scion sales now? I highly doubt it. Ultimately, Magrudergrind came out the winner here, and so did the fans, because they get a free EP out of the ordeal. Everybody wins, except for butthurt internet writers. Get over yourselves and join the real world!
Feel free to tell me how wrong I am in the comments and I'll gladly do my best to respond.