Whereas we can argue for hours on the merits of Metallica's music, their business acumen is inarguable (save for a few failed risks including a failed festival and a bombed film). So when Metallica co-manager Peter Mensh talks shop, it's a good idea to listen to get an idea of what the management behind the biggest act in metal and hard rock is thinking.
Mensch, who in addition to managing Metallica, also works with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jimmy Page and Muse, was interviewed as part of the BBC Radio 4's "Today" program and Blabbermouth extracted some excerpts.
When asked about the next big hard rock band, Mensch didn't have an answer.
"The appeal of hard rock was simple, and I still think it exists, except there aren't quality new hard rock bands to keep it up. Hard rock used to appeal, essentially, to your average 15-year-old male: he had bad skin, he didn't like his parents, girls didn't like him, and he was an angry kid; he was frustrated. And, lo and behold, there were ten thousand other people like yourself. The problem is, and interestingly in hard rock, and we ask this all the time, where is the new METALLICA? Please, anybody out there that's in a hard rock band under the age of 25, call me. We need you."
It's hard to think of a hard rock/metal band that broke big this last decade. Maybe Volbeat? But they've been around and they might be selling out large clubs but they are not selling out arenas. The only band to come to mind is Avenged Sevenfold. They can easily sell out arenas but where have the big acts gone since them? I guess Five Finger Death Punch can be thrown in there as well, but last I checked, they do not play arenas.
Mensch also discussed how hard it is for a band to break out nowadays.
"It's way more difficult. Nowadays you may not care about going to a concert or mucking around in the rain at Glastonbury [festival] to see them due to one song that you now own, because you can buy each album individually. So my job is to convince you that the band that I'm interested in promoting is an album band, a band of your life."
Ultimately, I can't see any metal band, or even hard rock band reaching the status of Metallica. There is no infrastructure on the media end to support it. Metallica had 20 years of radio and video airplay that is still paying dividends today. The Black Album sells at least 2,000 copies a week, what other band has that sort of longevity?
The other problem is that fans have too many choices now. The reason Metallica broke is because they were only competing with whatever 10 or 20 other songs were on the radio at the time. Now, as a band, you have to compete with the entire internet for attention. Music consumption is easier than ever, but it's also littered with a lot of competition.
Anyway, there is a lot of good stuff in here. If you have an hour, here's the entire chat: