Headbangers’ Brawl is a weekly column where Metal Insider’s contributors take a moment to debate and analyze opposing sides of a topical issue occurring in the world of metal and/or the music industry
Queensryche announced a few weeks back that they’re offering fans (with $50,000 to spend) the chance purchase an equity ownership stake giving them a fixed percentage of the band’s future revenue. Many would argue that such an investment in a band like Queensryche would be financially risky. Although, you could argue that such an investment in ANY band nowadays is a risk. With that in mind, though, the Metal Insider staff contemplates which hard rock/metal band (if any) would possibly be the best to own a stake in.
Zach: Metallica was the first band that came into mind regarding who I’d want to own equity in. Then after of few minutes of thinking it over, I realized that now isn’t the time to invest in Metallica. Forget about the band’s recent questionable artistic choices (I’m looking at you, Lulu). While still one of the best selling rock bands (not just metal mind you) of all time, the past few years found Metallica making a lot of financial risks that didn’t pay off. The biggest offender is Metallica’s 3D film Through The Never, which cost a shit load of money to make and was (to put it kindly) a massive flop in theaters. And despite how awesome Metallica’s Orion Music + More festivals were, even James Hetfield admitted the festival was a “disaster financially” (hence why its return is unlikely). Granted, the return you’d get from Metallica’s back catalog and touring would still earn you a pretty hefty return. And when Metallica finally releases its long awaited new album in a few years, the band’s stock will once again skyrocket. But at this very second, Metallica’s stock is not the best or most “sure-thing” investment.
So who would I be interested in owning a small stake in right now? Iron Maiden. There’s a certain consistency that comes with Iron Maiden’s success that makes them a somewhat safe investment (for the time being, at least). Sure, they may not tour or release an album every year, but when they do people go ape shit and flock to them in droves. And even while they’re not touring or releasing new music, the Iron Maiden camp issues some sort of special release (most recently the vinyl reissues of the band’s first eight albums) that select fans are guaranteed to shell out cash for. And let’s not forget arguably the biggest selling point: merchandising. With Eddie becoming a staple in metal culture, merchandising alone could offer a nice return on your investment.
Ok, so Metallica might offer you a bigger return, but the way I see it, Iron Maiden offer less risk and more consistency. Metallica have proven that even being the biggest rock band in the world doesn’t guarantee success with ventures like film and festivals. Iron Maiden, though, proves that staying the course and continuing to do what you do best will ultimately pay off for the long run.
Chris: As was mentioned in the introduction, owning equity in any metal band is risky business at this point, if for no other reason than the fact that we’re on the cusp of major changes to the entire music sales market in general. With the popularity of streaming services and the slow crawl towards the extinction of CD’s (which I will mourn forever), music sales could change forever sooner than we think. Having said that, though, if I had to pick any band to put equity in, right now it would be Five Finger Death Punch. Put aside the whole debate of whether they’re “metal” or not, and you’re left with a band that consistently delivers high-sales albums, packs arena shows with little to no effort, and has an entire brand of their own with merchandising. The 5FDP brass knuckles logo and skull logo are quickly becoming just as commonplace as Eddie, Snaggletooth, and Vic Rattlehead on T-shirts, and pictures of those logos as tattoos show up on social media with increasing frequency every day. Add in the fact that Death Punch is one of the most popular bands with American military personnel, and you have the perfect recipe for a band that will be around for a long time with a good return on your investment. The fact that they release albums with regularity and take almost no time off from touring adds further value to the band and makes Five Finger Death Punch a fairly safe investment.
Another band that might be a riskier investment, but also worth considering, is Volbeat. The Danish rockers have gotten plenty of notice in the American market, and they’re climbing the ladder in terms of recognition. They’re not selling as much as Five Finger Death Punch or Avenged Sevenfold in the US, but their multi-platinum sales in Europe indicate that the band will provide a solid return on investment for at least the next few years. My sole concern with investing in Volbeat is with how quickly they’ve risen to popularity in countries outside of their homeland of Denmark. In the span of three albums, Volbeat has gone from charting in the top 10 in two countries, to charting in the top 10 in ten countries. While I don’t deny that their meteoric rise to fame is impressive, I also worry that the bubble might burst on them just as quickly as it formed. Only time will tell if Volbeat maintains their popularity for the next decade, or if they drop off quickly and never recover.
Bram: I’d look at this like the stock market. There are some brands and/or bands that you’ll want to invest in for a quick buck and others you’d want to hold on to and let them appreciate over time. If you were looking for something quick fix, Babymetal would probably be that band. With them likely just starting to tap the potential of their entire US audience, it’s safe to say that they’ll be back next year. They’re already playing arenas in Japan, and every show they’ve played in America has been mobbed as well. The problem is that it’s almost impossible to imagine them sticking around.
I think Metallica would be a no-lose situation. Just the Black Album alone is continuing to sell about 2,000.week, not to mention the fact that they own their own masters (MASTERS!), and have their own label. They’re also a band that keeps touring, and if I had a dollar for every time I saw a Metallica shirt… Slayer would be another sure bet. Even without two original members, they’re continuing to get out there and tour and are also merchandising machines. And although Iron Maiden isn’t putting out as many albums as they used to, their worldwide appeal and getting stock with Eddie on it would be enough to make me want to invest in them.
Chip: My immediate reaction was: Iron Maiden. How many times have I bought those first seven albums because they either had bonus tracks added to them or came in a light-up Eddie head, or some other whatnot. You could argue that no metal band in history has ever marketed themselves the way Iron Maiden has. Yes, Metallica has sold more records and other bands like Judas Priest, Slayer and Megadeth have had worldwide appeal for decades as well. But for my money, literally and figuratively, I’d go with Maiden. They still tour with great success and even if they never record another album they still sell merch hand over fist. I can’t imagine a scenario that wouldn’t yield some return on your investment when it came to Maiden.