Peter Mensch, a co-owner of Q Prime, a talent management company that has handled the careers of such artists as METALLICA, RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS, AC/DC and LED ZEPPELIN's Jimmy Page, spoke about the current state of the music business on the latest edition of BBC Radio 4's "Today" program. You can now listen to the chat at BBC.co.uk. A couple of excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the record industry has changed in the last thirty years:
Mensch: "Well, the business model was, obviously, great back then. You invested a certain amount of time and energy, even though you didn't get paid for a couple of years. As you put out increasingly successful albums, there were hundreds of people out promoting your records and selling them. Now the record business is contracting. Fewer and fewer records get sold or streamed. Less money is there. So what we've had to do is, basically, expand our management company to almost duplicate a record company. We're making deals with individual record companies in various countries, so they can work our records individually. The global business is fragmenting."
On diminishing record sales and the need for bands to stay out on the road for longer periods of time:
Mensch: "What used to happen, obviously, you used to sell enough records either to not go on tour, but you had enough money to go make another record, or do both. And it used to be, up until probably the '90s, that you'd make as much money on tour as you'd make selling records. Now you make one tenth of that money on record sales or streaming. The biggest problem with the new record business is I don't know who the fans are. Fans are the people who will actually pay for something. [Like] pay for a ticket. I don't really care so much if you won't pay for an album anymore — I've kind of understood that that horse has bolted — but if I don't get you to pay for a ticket, then you're not really a fan of mine. And so, therefore my band won't make any money, and they may, at the age of 33, have to look around and go, 'It's time to join Uncle Simon's car dealership down the street.'"
On where the heavy metal fans have gone:
Mensch: "The golden age of music could be the '60s or the '70s or '80s or '90s. More and more, what people are doing is they're holding on to the acts that they love. Basically, I happen to know there are various members of [the British] parliament who still go to heavy metal shows in their forties and fifties. I've seen the PM [Prime Minister] at a Gillian Welch show, because he likes the record. So if you like music, you'll still indulge. What you won't do is you won't buy new records."
On whether it's easier or harder for new artists to break into the business nowadays:
Mensch: "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."
On the appeal of hard rock and where it is now:
Mensch: "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."
On whether some of the parody of the music business that is portrayed in the "This Is Spinal Tap" movie (1984) is justified:
Mensch: "Of course it's justified, but it doesn't just reside with hard rock bands. Trust me, alternative bands could be just as… interesting to deal with… equally funny at times, but in a different way."