Unleash the Archers

Exclusive Interview Series: The internet and the music industry – Unleash The Archers

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.

Brittney Hayes (vocals) and Scott Buchanan (drums) of Canadian metal band Unleash The Archers where next to take some time to talk to us about the effect of the internet on the music industry. We had the chance to also talk about the bands upcoming album, concepts, their new single and how many bloopers Zahk (bass) might cause during their video for their new single.

Be sure to follow the band on Facebook and check out their music on MySpace. If you like what you hear then pick up their 2009 album ‘Behold The Devastation’ at their store and keep an eye out for ‘Demons Of The Astrowaste’.

Interview

You’re in the middle of tracking new material for ‘Demons Of The Astrowaste’ with guitar and bass complete. How has the process been going so far, any issues or plain sailing?

Brittney Hayes: Well the studio is not exactly the easiest place to perform, there’s a lot of pressure to get it perfect. However we have been working incredibly hard on this album and every one of us pre-produced to the point where the studio sessions would be a breeze. Knowing each song from beginning to end, and recognizing the parts you’ll have trouble with and working on them; that alleviates a lot of stress when it comes time to record.

What can fans expect from this album compared to ‘Behold The Devastation’?

Brittney Hayes: Well, it’s certainly different. The writing style was altered in that we sat down and wrote a cohesive whole, instead of random songs written over a year and a half. We definitely added more melody, something you can really sing along to. Yet, we also have some wicked tough screaming parts, and great synchronization between the screams and the clean vocal. We all really pushed ourselves for this album, learning new techniques and testing our own limits.

Unleash The Archers Behold The Devastation ArtworkHow did you come up with the concept for this album?

Brittney Hayes: It sort of happened over time really… We decided to do a concept album; we decided that it would be set in the future, in space. Brayden and I bounced thoughts for the storyline off each other, eventually coming up with the idea of the sword taking over the mercenary’s soul and using him to control the universe. Scott came up with the name and that was it!

Do you think having a concept helps when writing as sometimes you can become trapped or lost for ideas but the concept helps to free up your imagination and push it?

Brittney Hayes: If anything I think it was the opposite. Having the strict guideline of where the story had to move was quite difficult at times whereas without it I could write about anything, anyone, any place or time. Being a history buff is actually quite useful, the abundance of amazing stories that can be found is a songwriters dream!

The band’s sound is a mix between power and death metal. When we focus on the power metal aspect, the genre has generally been ruled by male vocalists so does Brittney feel any pressure that she could be leading a charge for other unheard power metal female vocalists?

Brittney Hayes: There are many women in metal doing their own thing, whether it is power or melodic or rock influenced, so I don’t feel like I’m really a leader in anything. Lee Aaron was slaying face long before I was ;) But I push myself everyday to be a better singer, and I don’t strive to satisfy anyone else’s expectations but my own.

You have two preview tracks for the new album, ‘Dawn Of Ages’ and ‘City Of Iron’, what can you tell us about those songs?

Brittney Hayes: Dawn of Ages will be the first track on the album, and it describes the creation of the sword. It wasn’t written first, not by a long shot, but we wrote it with a particular goal in mind. This one is a raise your fists in the air and sing along type of track, really simple song structure with lot’s of repeaters. City of Iron is track eight, and it is the part of the story where our mercenary is deep in the sword’s clutches. He’s just murdered everyone and destroyed an entire planet, and he shuts himself away in hopes of preventing it from happening again. However, the sword has other plans, and instead of building a prison for himself, he builds a battle station. This one was a bit harder for me to write to, some difficult riffage in there… But what developed has become one of my favourite songs, and I know I’ll be running around like a crazy person on stage with this one ;)

There was the mention that you will be filming a music video for the first single and hope to have it out before you start touring. What single have you chosen and why did you pick this one?

Scott Buchanan: The video is going to be for the song Dawn of Ages. We picked this one as the single/first video for a couple of reasons. Conceptually, it’s the first chapter in the story of the album so it makes sense to start any videos we do with this one. Musically, we wrote this song with the idea of “single” in mind so the track has a very classic intro-verse-chorus-repeat structure to it. On the whole, the song is a really good sampler of various new stylistic elements we are incorporating on this record.

Have you had any thoughts as to how the video will be yet, any storyboarding or scripting yet?

Scott Buchanan: We have sat down with the guy who will be shooting the video and gone over the idea in a loose sense so we have a pretty accurate rundown of how the video is going to be, but its not storyboarded or anything like that. We really wanted the video to be West coast Canadian and have a sort of original story to it which I think we will nail pretty well. Basically we just didn’t want to do the “stand around in a big room playing our instruments” video… at least not for the first one ;)

With the “making of the new album video four” outtakes, do you think it will be possible to get a video made quickly without too many bloopers from Zahk?

Scott Buchanan: Hahahahaha well we definitely wont be giving him any speaking parts, that’s for sure! Yeah, Zahk’s roll will be restricted to the bare minimum and hopefully we’ll get out of there with only a few dozen outtakes.

What are the bands goals for 2011 after the album is released?

Scott Buchanan: The day after the album release we are heading off on a two month Canadian tour, so I guess getting through that without the van exploding on us again would be the first major goal. After that we`ll have our eye on the USA. We’ve been batting around the idea of a tour south of the border and I think we’ve come to the point where it can feasibly happen. Such a large untapped market down there!

Thank you for taking time to answer some questions, please feel free to add anything you wish.

Thanks so much to everyone for listening and taking an interest in our music. Also, all of our tour dates are on the MySpace (http://www.myspace.com/unleashthearchers) and Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/UnleashTheArchers) so make sure you come to a show and say hi when we’re in your town!

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?

Scott Buchanan: At our level, we support it. We don’t make money from album sales or touring so it is just one more way to reach new fans. If someone were to download our album illegally, but then add themselves to our Facebook page and start coming out to shows then that’s a win for us. In a sense, making money off of music just doesn’t really exist anymore; the band is the product, not the CD.

Unleash The Archers - bandDo 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?

Scott Buchanan: I don’t think any sort of monitoring will really stop determined people unless “music fees” were built into your ISP bill or something a little more unavoidable like that. I don’t know how much strength there is in giving away your music, I think its just one more theory being tested right now in an effort to curb the whole downfall of the record industry. Honestly, I don’t know that I’ve really heard the right answer to properly controlling and monetizing music sharing, but for the time being I think creative and unique solutions are what is going to get bands through this and giving away music is definitely something worth looking into.

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?

Scott Buchanan: I’m sure the rise of internet based music retail and sharing had a very large hand in it but the whole record industry was built on a pretty shaky foundation to start with. My guess would be that if iTunes and torrents hadn’t come along something else would have upset the situation to the same extent, eventually.

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?

Scott Buchanan: It’s a bit of a mix, all of the label released music I buy is digital, however, I buy physical albums from local bands or bands we play with on tour. In those cases though it is directly from the band not in a music store and it’s more of support thing than anything else. I usually end up just ripping the album onto iTunes and then never look at the CD case again. Regarding digital music markets, for sure it’s a positive. Like every kind of shop on the net, it cuts out the middle man and the hassle and just makes it that much easier for your fans to get a hold of your material.

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?

Brittney Hayes and Scott Buchanan: Well it goes both ways, I love that we can post our music on different websites and reach out to so many more people than playing a few local shows would ever do. However, on the other hand there are thousands upon thousands of other bands doing the same; it’s very easy to get lost in the shuffle. It’s important to work hard at it, give the fans something to watch, read or listen to as often as possible… Keeping in touch with your fans is a big part of marketing. But most importantly, do everything you can to stand out!

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?

Brittney Hayes: I can tell you right now there probably wouldn’t be half as many crappy bands polluting the airwaves if it weren’t for social networking, but you have to take the good with the bad. I can not imagine what the world would be like if I couldn’t find a band from Toronto on FB, message them, and have a show booked all within a few days. Yet, musicians are a resilient breed, without the internet we would have gotten to some city somehow; it just would have been a little more difficult.

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 from these advancements?

Brittney Hayes: Positives include top notch recordings available at a fraction of the price, negatives include the fact that every band, good or bad, will have one of these. It really comes down to your live performance, if you can sound just like your recording when you’re up on stage that will set you apart from the others. With all of the technology these days, every stroke, every note can be moved until perfection is accomplished; you never truly know a band until you have seen them yourself! As for the MP3, I think it is one of the greatest things ever invented… Music is my life, and now I can take it with me everywhere I go, no matter what I do, the soundtrack of my life is always there.

While 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?

Brittney Hayes: I think it’s a great idea, and a wicked way to keep an intimate relationship with your fans. However, a band should be prepared to spend the money; depending solely on the support of your fans might be a bit too much pressure, and you’re album will never see the light of day! Not that I’m saying that your fans won’t step up, I know they will I’ve seen it, but a band is an investment and a business, sometimes you have to be willing to front the capital.

Unleash The Archers - Brittney HayesIn 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?

Brittney Hayes: Not to be a pessimist, but I will always have a plan B. I went to university for four years so I could have a plan B, because as much as I love music it just doesn’t provide any sort of financial stability. Unless you’re Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber, keep your day job… And I hope even they are planning for the day when they are yesterday’s news, because trends are fleeting, and music can definitely be a ‘so hot right now’ type of commodity. However, I have noticed that metal seems to surpass all others when it comes to the dedication of its fans and the longevity of its bands. Metal does not target tweens that will grow out of it, it does not rely on the support of the media or mainstream fanbase, and it is much loved by people of every culture, on every continent. If there was any genre to strive for success in, it’s metal.

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?

Brittney Hayes: In my opinion? Complete digitalization. There will no longer be stores that sell CD’s or DVD’s, maybe kiosks that you can throw a USB into and purchase new release MP3’s and MP4’s, but mostly it will be computer sales and stuff like Netflix or Apple TV. I’m watching video stores all over my hometown shut down, and the huge record stores are all being bought out by the monsters big enough to afford stocking more diverse merchandise, like HMV. However even they will topple sooner or later, or at least adapt to the changing markets and specialize in something else. The role of the record label will change as well; they will no longer be the major financial force behind successful bands. I think they will become an amalgamation of booking agencies, publicists and distributors of the records the artist will pay to produce. Manager versus manufacturer. Not that that would be a bad thing, there will always be a use for the connections and networks that large labels have acquired, and bands will never give up the chance to focus on the music and let someone else take care of the grunt work

     

About Michael

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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