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OPETH's Mikael Åkerfeldt Talks About Never Wanting To Sell Out, Not Working And More

"I make millions of Heritage because I sold out, bitch."

"I make millions of Heritage because I sold out, bitch."

Opeth's Mikael Åkerfeldt seems like he's a really interesting guy. At the very least, he seems like he's brutally honest in every interview he gives and always seems to have a sense of humor about things. He recently spoke to Music Business Facts about the business side of the band and had a few interesting tidbits of information to spill about the band from a financial perspective.

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He talks about not having to have a day job because Opeth pays the bills, but the difficulties and possible downfalls of having that be his "job."

"It's so hard being an artist and a creative person. You put out a product and people easily throw the whole 'sellout' thing at you, because you depend on some type of income for doing this. It's, like, 'Oh, you're lucky to be in this position. You shouldn't complain. Get a proper job, just like the rest of us.' Which, I guess, is fair enough, but I think people underestimate how much they need music, and once it's gone… I mean, it's really difficult for new bands starting out today to get their names out there. I think the filter that was provided by a record label back in the day was ultimately good… I mean, it sounds crass, but I think, to a certain extent, somebody had the good taste of signing Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple and Kiss, and whatever have you. So I think it was, like I said, a good filter. And today, you don't really… Bands today, they put something out… They start their own YouTube channel and put out their record on YouTube, but they're fighting, they're rubbing elbows with millions of bands, and, quite frankly, many of them [are] shit. Not everybody is cut out to write great music. I'm not saying I'm the greatest at all, but, I mean, we have something, obviously, that people like. And for a starting band who also have something, starting out today, it would be very difficult to make themselves heard, because they would be caught in that stream of just shitloads of bands."

Then there's the bit where he talks about never wanting to sell out. I know, some of you right now are crying that the band sold out with whatever record you think they sold out with because you don't like it or whatever, but that's just artistic decision making for you- Opeth doesn't want to do the same thing over and over again.

"Yeah, that's a very valid question, because I'm not yet in that position. I can say, like, we do whatever we want and fuck you — we put out the records that we wanna hear — but if the sales would go down completely and if we wouldn't have an income, maybe I would actually sell out — who knows?! But I'm hoping that's never gonna happen. I think that people will see right through me anyway, if I try to cater to the needs and the wishes of the fans, which we don't really do now — we just do music that we wanna hear, and we're fortunate enough to have people around who are also interested in our music. But if we would end up in that position, I think I would have to reconsider my life and maybe change it around completely. I would not want something that I love so much, as I love music, I wouldn't want that to become a way for me to put food on the table without having the passion and love in the music that I put out. That would be disastrous for me. So I would probably move away from music if that happened. I'd still write music, of course, but I wouldn't want Opeth to end up in that position where we just put out music to pay the bills."

Then there's an interesting answer on how the band gets paid, which I've always wondered myself given I've never been in the position of "artist."

"Yes, we have a limited company in England, we have a partnership in England, and we also have a merchandise company in England. We have an Inc. in the U.S., but that's purely for tax reasons there on tour, and then we have our own companies in Sweden, which we take out a wage from the partnership, basically — a monthly wage. But that's not really… I had to change, because I got a massive tax bill, so I had to change, and I'm starting the equivalent of a limited company in Sweden now as well. We call it 'AB,' so I'm just in the process of starting that now. And I'm hoping it's gonna be better for me, purely on a tax level."

Interesting! I like that he initially claims not to know much about business and then gives these answers… like he knows about business. Oh Mikael Åkerfeldt, what can't you do?

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[via Blabbermouth]

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