Exclusive Interview Series: The internet and the music industry – Comeback Kid

As part of a new series of interviews EspyRock commander-in-chief Michael Hughes, who is currently writing a dissertation on the effect of the internet on the music industry for the University Of The West Of Scotland, will be getting the views of artists on the internet’s effect on the music industry. The interview series will cover what is currently going on with the band at the moment but will also feature a questionnaire ranging from topics as to illegal downloading, social networking, technology and the future of the industry.

Comeback Kid guitarist Jeremy Hiebert was next to give us some time to answer some questions. As only a few months ago we questioned drummer Kyle Profeta in Glasgow regarding the bands latest release ‘Symptoms + Cures’, I took the chance to talk about the bands upcoming UK tour as well as his view on the internet’s effect on the industry.

Be sure to read on to read his responses and also follow Comeback Kid on Facebook for all the updates regarding the band. Check out some of their songs in the player below and support the band by purchasing a CD or some merchandise from their store.


You’re back in the UK this month after your spot on the Never Say Die Tour in November, glad to be back?

We always are stoked to come back. Over the years of touring the UK we’ve made some great friends as well as playing some awesome shows so it’s always fun to come back and visit people you like as well as play for people that appreciate what we do. Can’t wait!

How does the band prepare a tour? Is there anything different you have to take into consideration when you are leaving Canada and coming across to the UK or Europe?

We are lucky to have a great booking agency called Avocado Booking, we have been working with them since 2003 or 2004, and they have always put together solid tours that flow easily and make sure we have everything we need as far as working with backline companies to making sure all of our accommodations are taken care of. It’s really great to work with people that take care of their bands and don’t just treat us like their ATM machine to extract as much money as they can from us doing a half-assed job like some do.

Do you do a lot of rehearsing still or are the songs driven into you now that it is easy to just take the stage and perform in the manner that you do?

As a band we are now spread all across Canada and the United States so it’s hard to get together to practice but with the amount of touring that we do in a year it’s all second nature now. With a quick sound check before a first show of a tour we are always good to go and seems like we were never even apart before.

Comeback Kid - Jeremy HiebertThe upcoming dates are being highly pushed throughout the UK because everyone is praising the choice of bands on the line-up. Have you heard all the bands you are playing with? Anyone you are looking forward to seeing?

I’m really stoked on the package that got put together as well. We are friends with GraveMaker and The Ghost Inside and are stoked to have them with us but are somewhat unfamiliar with Kvelertak and Social Suicide. These were recommendations made to us by our European booking agent and after checking some of their stuff out on MySpace and YouTube I’m happy they will both be with us. I have a feeling Kvelertak may be my new favourite European band.

I spoke to Kyle last time you were in Glasgow on the Never Say Die Tour and we were talking about the balance of albums on the set list. As ‘Symptoms + Cures’ has been out for a while now and fans are accustomed to the songs, do you think you will play more from that album on this tour in order to have those songs heard in the live setting or still try balance it out over all the albums?

As a band we feel it is important to play songs from every record. We have a wide range of fans. Some have been with us since day one and prefer to hear the older songs that impacted their life back then but we’ve also made a lot of newer younger fans that are more familiar with the more recent records so our focus will always be to have as balanced a set list as we can. We will be introducing more new songs from the new record though.

Has Kyle been able to get any closer to his dream of touring with Lagwagon yet?

At this point no. As long as we are both active bands there will always be the possibility but at this point it just hasn’t become a reality yet.

What’s the craziest thing that has happened to the band on the road to date, any stories for your fans?

I think one of our crazier experiences was touring in South East Asia back in 2008. Getting into Indonesia was going to be a bit tricky because of Visa and passport issues but my understanding is that there was some bribery going on with the help of the promoter to let us into the country and do our thing. It’s rather hard to explain in print but it will always be one of the more nerve wracking experiences of my life just not knowing what would be happening next.

When the band is having some downtime what sort of interests do you have to keep you busy?

Me personally I like to do a lot of cooking at home and try to stay in shape by running, biking and going to the gym. I like to have a focus on health and fitness but there is another side of me that also likes to go out and party with my friends when I’m at home. I am a man of extremes.

Still some time to go in 2011, what are the goals for the rest of the year?

We are still putting tours together for later in the year so with the stuff that we already have booked as well as the upcoming tours we have we will be keeping very busy on the road.

Internet and the music industry

The biggest issue with the internet for artists is of course illegal downloading and there has been a rapid decline in value of the industry as the internet expands throughout the world. Several artists I have spoken to have stated that it has become part of life and that now selling albums is no longer a profitable business; money is solely earned from touring. What are your views on the matter of illegal downloading?

I think that there are pros and cons to it. Unfortunately it makes recording records much more difficult as record labels do not want to spend the money they used to on recording records when they don’t think they’ll be making their money back. The upside for bands like us is that more people will now take the chance to check our band out before buying the record or coming to the shows and buying some merchandise from the bands.

Comeback Kid - Jeremy HiebertDo you feel that any of the current methods such as watermarking or streaming based models which have users paying a fee to stream music will take off and help stop the illegal sharing of music files? Or do you see any strength with the idea of giving away your music for free, having it shared around the world and again relying on touring to make money?

I guess the industry is in transition mode right now as people are frantically trying to think of new ways to make the industry financially viable but for bands like us, we never really counted on the royalties as a reliable source of income as we’ve hardly been paid anything in that regard in the past or present.

The global recorded music industry saw a 31% decline in value from the years of 2004 to 2010 but the digital music market has seen a 1000% increase in value over the same period. Do you see the internet’s influence on the industry as the sole cause of this decline or do you believe there are any other factors which you consider an issue?

I would think that it can mostly be attributed to the internet. Not sure what other factors would be involve as it seems there are more people going to shows than ever before.

With such a growth in the digital music market, many artists have already stopped creating physical albums; the most notable is Rob Zombie who stated his most recent release would be his last physical album as the growing popularity of iTunes and Amazon is now controlling album sales. The IFPI recently published findings that 16.5% of internet users in the United States purchase their music digitally than physically.
Firstly as an artist and music fan, do you still buy physical albums or do you download from digital music stores? Secondly, do see the digital music markets as something positive for the industry and your career as a new and cheaper distribution method?

I haven’t bought a CD in some time but I get a lot from record labels and bands we tour with. I am 35 and still like to have the physical copy with the artwork, lyrics etc. I grew up in a time where I would buy a CD, lie on my bed and listen to it over and over reading along to the lyrics. I think if money can be made from digital sales it is totally a positive thing. Bottom line is that a good quality record that the listener, fans and critics want cost thousands of dollars so having the digital option as well as having a hard copy would theoretically be the best of both worlds for fans and musicians alike.

As the digital music stores assist in distribution, other factors that come into releasing an album are marketing and promotion of any sort. What are your views on the ability to use the internet to promote and market yourself?

I think for bands like us that have not made it into mainstream airplay and whatnot the internet it a great tool to get the word out. I’m sure that’s how most bands get the word out now.

Social networking has naturally become a massive asset in the industry for labels and artists to be able to interact with fans on an everyday basis from anywhere in the world. Do you feel that if the social networking boom hadn’t taken place that it would effectively hinder careers as there would have been no direct route to communicate with fans?

It probably just wouldn’t be as fast. Back in the day people actually wrote letters to bands and a lot of times the bands would write back. Sure it took a lot longer but that was all we had or knew back then. Now everything can be done in real time on twitter, Facebook and whatever else is out there.

A big development in recent years has been the hardware and software that has been created for anyone and everyone to purchase. We now find aspiring artists building their own home studios at their computer by purchasing top of line software, sound cards, microphones and such. What are your views on the technology advancements in recent years from software, hardware and even to the MP3 itself? What positives or negatives if any do you see?

There are a lot of tech savvy people out there who know what they are doing and can save themselves a lot of money. I think it’s great when bands take the full on hands on approach if they have the means to do so.

Comeback Kid - Jeremy HiebertWhile purchasing hardware/software and recording in your own home studio is a method of removing big studio costs and staff costs, recently fan funding in return for incentives has become a new way forward. Recently in the UK bands such as Madina Lake, Funeral For A Friend and The Blackout have used Pledge Music (Kickstarter in the US) in which fans contribute towards the cost of the studio in return for signed albums, special gifts and more. Do you think this method of involving fans more intimately in the creation of an album and offering them incentives to do so could be a way forward to combat the losses through piracy?

I really like this approach and would like to explore it for ourselves one day. I think it’s really cool to see fans show their appreciation for their favourite bands in this kind of way when things have been made a lot more difficult. It makes the whole experience of recording a record a lot more intimate i think.

In the United States from 1999 to 2009 there was a 17% fall in the number of people hired as a musician and in Europe, while not directly musicians, the estimated number of jobs likely to be lost due to piracy in the creative industries will reach 1.2 million by 2015. Do you worry as an artist that you will ever be swept by this wave and be forced to leave the industry you love in order to provide a better living for yourself?

It may come to that point but I also think that we are in a good enough position that as long as we are a full time touring band we can make ends meet and continue to do what we love until we think the band has run its course. Live music is huge right now but may not be forever so all of us know that things can change but we will just have to adapt accordingly to keep the dream alive.

When you consider the industry previously to the time before the internet and to now with the internet in full swing, what do you see for the future of the industry?

It’s basically going to come down to the survival of the fittest. Those that are willing to change with the industry and take an innovative approach to carrying on doing what they do in the industry will survive.


About ??

Michael is the owner and creator of EspyRock. He is your general all round geek; sports fan; TV show fanatic. You can find him sharing his thoughts on his personal Twitter account. Contact Michael on Twitter or via Email.

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