Headbanger’s Brawl: Doyle vs. Spotify

Posted by on February 19, 2019

Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein was recently interviewed by The Liquid Conversations as he expressed his frustration with the music industry during today’s digital age. The Misfits guitarist went into detail by explaining he has $50 Meet and Greets to “make up for” the industry’s changed direction. We decided to have a headbanger’s brawl on this subject as we raised the question: Do you think Doyle has a point or was he out of line?

Jeff Podoshen:  So, here we are, Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein is blaming “the internet” because he’s not making enough money with his music.  But not only that, he claims a hardship because [shudders] he has to do a meet and greet for his fans after the show and he doesn’t want to do that.  First, anyone who pays $50 for a meet and greet with Doyle needs to think long and hard about how they spend their money. Second, Doyle holds the lead for the most irritating member of the Misfits when it comes to fan relationships.  Doyle is famous for being a no-show at events and I’ve personally witnessed him, uh… punk out of events leaving his former wife Gorgeous George and Jerry Only holding the bag. Jerry Only, Doyle’s brother, is amazing in terms of his fan engagement.  Even Glenn Danzig, who often seems to have issues with literally everything in the music business, still makes significant time for his fans and is more than willing to sit and sign autographs after he’s clearly given his all at a show.

Doyle’s primary problem isn’t that internet file sharing services are stealing money from him.  His primary problem is that his music is just not that good. In fact, it’s really quite bad. I’ve seen Doyle perform with The Misfits, Danzig, Gorgeous Frankenstein and Doyle, and while his stage presence is a true spectacle, his live talent doesn’t translate over into the studio.  His 2017 release, Doyle II: As We Die, is not a record I can really listen through. The production is terrible – and if Doyle really spent $100k on recording it, he’s due a massive refund. All one can hear is his guitar, which is littered with pinch harmonics and little else. Alex Story – who sounds a bit like Michale Graves, but not nearly as good as Graves, can barely be heard.  This is all over drums that weren’t given a first thought, let alone a second one. 2013’s Abominator was an abomination. I mean, those songs… “Cemeterysexxx,” “Dreamingdeadgirls”… stop with that. At least that record had Dr. Chud on drums.

If Doyle wants to really know why he’s not making money in the music industry, he needs to take a look in the mirror.  People just aren’t interested in paying to see Doyle play his solo stuff and they sure as hell aren’t going to pay for any after show meet and greets now.  

Zenae Zukowski: I don’t think it was right for Doyle to call his fans “scumbags.” However, I see where he’s coming from considering there are many who continue to steal music. It’s not easy making a decent profit in this industry these days nor booking a full tour selling out venues the size of Playstation Theater or Hammerstein Ballroom. As you can see in our weekly column, Metal By Numbers, sales have plummeted as there have been bands that have only sold 500 albums in its first week. The digital system has been flawed, and sadly, I do not know what the solution is. I was there when cassettes became obsolete, which was soon followed by CDs as music stores had to resort to selling essentially just about anything aside from music to remain in business. Walking into a music store used to be a similar experience as a five-year-old kid going to Disney World and now, it’s one of the most depressing places to visit. Despite streaming services such as Spotify being profitable, it still doesn’t seem to match what numbers used to be in terms of sales for the artist.

While streaming platforms and the digital age has caused a significant dent in the industry, we also wouldn’t know who x, y, z band is if it wasn’t for the digital market. Therefore, it’s a toss-up as the solution remains a mystery.

As far as not wanting to do a Meet & Greet, that’s on Doyle. I can relate with Doyle’s frustration on stealing as he should explain to his girlfriend a thing or two on theft. Doyle’s phrasing may have come from exhaustion or bottled up anger but, his insults towards fans and deliberately stating how he has no real desire to meet them was out of line.

Matt Brown: I don’t listen to much of Doyle or the Misfits so I can’t speak to the quality of his music or showmanship, but his comments here come off as just plain pissy. The correlation between streaming services like Spotify and the payout to artists is a long storied debate with many different facets to it, but that doesn’t sound like what Doyle is talking about. Instead, he just sounds like he hates what he does, that his fans annoy him, and that he wants more money. Now, no one is saying it isn’t hard for bands both old and new to make money in the industry nowadays; everyone already knows that. But there’s a big difference between a band just shrugging and saying “Yeah, we don’t make a lot of money” versus bitching about meet and greets. Actual quote from Doyle: “You think I wanna meet all these fucking people? I don’t.” I mean, how is that supposed to help your case? There was a possibility here for Doyle to actually add his own two cents on the issue, but now people are just going to be mad at him.

Also, for those interested, Doyle’s latest release in June 2017 charted at #139 on Top Current Albums and sold 1,325 copies.

Chris Annunziata: When I first read the headline about Spotify and then about him not wanting to meet fans, I thought to myself, “Why would you add that Doyle? You’re just making yourself look bad.” I understand that he is frustrated with people stealing music and the extremely low payouts of Spotify. However, to say that he doesn’t want to meet his fans who are willing to spend $50 to see him is, in my opinion, not smart and does not help the argument. The people who are shelling out $50 to meet Doyle are probably the few who are actually buying his music. You think someone who won’t spend $10 on an album is willing to spend $50 on a brief meet and greet? I doubt it. By openly admitting that you don’t want to meet your fans, do you think they’ll want to meet you? Chances are they’ll probably think twice before buying that meet and greet now. Doyle really shot himself in the foot with this one.

Zenae Zukowski: Maybe this is an example of sleep deprivation? Everyone gets Jaded. But should he get a pass or will his fans think twice before they pay for anything Doyle related?

Joe Koza: Maybe we should, in his words, turn the internet off for a day and turn it back on again. That should fix the issue of piracy.

Elise Yablon: The difference between Napster and Spotify is that Spotify pays royalties to artists for streaming their music. If Doyle doesn’t agree with how much, he (like many other artists) can refuse to put his music on the platform. The fact is that streaming is where the money is in the music industry right now. If you look at Nielson’s year-end breakdown of how people are spending money on music, streaming had a 49% increase in 2018 over 2017, having also seen a more than 50% increase between 2017 and 2016. There are artists that are forgoing traditional, physical album releases all together (mostly rappers), and are just streaming and releasing digitally (though digital sales, like physical, are down too).  And people aren’t just using Spotify for free, more people actually pay for the service than don’t.

Often times though, live shows, touring and merch are how artists make the most money. I know artists that are more concerned with people becoming fans and buying tickets to a show than how they obtained that artist’s music. With live shows being so important and social media making fan interaction necessary, to not want to meet your fans sounds short-sighted, especially if you’re getting paid for it. I find Doyle’s disinterest in his fans more disheartening than his views on streaming.

Bram Teitelman: This is just another unfortunate case of “old man yells at cloud,” or cloud computing in this case. Mr. Frankenstein has had the fortune of being in an iconic band. However, considering that he’s not Glenn or Jerry and said band put their last iconic album out only one year after the first commercially available CD was released, he probably hasn’t been making a mint from the Misfits for a while now. How out of touch is he? Well bringing up Napster doesn’t particularly help. People stealing music pretty much sucked, but Napster was shut down 18 years ago, and the subsequent launch of streaming services means that at least bands are getting modestly subsidized for their music. Instead of bitching about it, he should get a Spotify premium subscription, pick one of his or the Misfits’ shortest songs and put it on repeat. He’d make roughly $1 every 100 spins and it’d pay for itself. That genie’s out of the bottle, and the more people sign up and listen to music on a streaming service, the more they’ll get subsidized.

As far as his fans, that’s a great way to insult them for their patronage. 1,300 copies of an album sold, even in 2017, is nothing to sneeze at, and if fans were willing to part with another $50 for a meet and greet, Doyle should be absolutely grateful. I’d be thinking twice about giving him any money now if I was a fan. Either adjust to the new landscape or don’t, but telling them you’re basically just grabbing their cash because everyone there doesn’t want to spend $10 on your album will probably make them want to cut his devil lock off.


Categorised in: Headbanger's Brawl