Confronting the mortality of rock music
No matter how successful someone becomes, no matter how beloved they are, we each face the same certain departure from this life. Our corner of the music world is widely dominated by artists who are closer (or already are) to collecting social security benefits than they are to their college days.
This doesn't mean that the artists we love aren't capable of still making great music. It just means we look different than other genres and need to think about what happens next.
Just look at the touring landscape this summer: Some outstanding shows are happening, but I can only find one or two big tours that feature younger bands. Five Finger Death Punch has done a great job over the last few years giving younger artists opportunities like Bad Wolves, I Prevail and Fire From The Gods.
The current rock touring landscape is dominated by bands like KISS, Motley Crue, Ozzy Osbourne's since canceled "No More Tours 2", Sammy Hagar, Megadeth, Def Leppard, Nickelback, (playing an album 15 years old) and so many more.
This is coupled with the fact that important taste makers like the Vans Warped Tour have exited the industry, traditional radio stations are desperately clinging to songs twenty years old, and many rock fans haven't openly embraced streaming in the way that other genres have.
You have influential radio personalities like Eddie Trunk spending his time decrying bands using backing tracks that are wildly common in every other concert space.
Apparently, Shinedown guitarist Zach Myers took exception to Trunk's comments about his band and called him on the carpet for it.
While I am sure Eddie's heart is in the right place, we should make an effort to be more open about bands wishing to incorporate technology in their shows if the end goal is to entertain the fans.
By the way, Shinedown puts on a really good live show if you haven't gotten to see them.
It's time to have an honest conversation about where rock music is headed. While I don't think the genre is dead, we are wounded. There is a multifaceted approach that I think could help artists reach more people in this space.
We should support festival companies like Danny Wimmer Presents who have been making big strides to draw hundreds of thousands of fans to their giant festivals (Epicenter, Sonic Temple, Louder Than Life, etc.) while booking numerous younger bands you have never seen before. I saw Knocked Loose for the first time at one of their festivals and there were so many people who were blown away by their performance.
Rock radio [not Sirius XM, who I think does a great job] should take more risks and quit playing the same fifteen or twenty rock mega-hits from twenty years ago. They're hurting themselves and the rock music genre by letting their own influence deplete. People don't view them as a place to discover new music anymore.
Bands should make an effort to use social media to directly interact with their fans. Stop hiding behind your Twitter account with 987,000 followers that get 22 likes on every post and start responding to the few people who aren't bots.
To the fans, please be more open-minded. [myself included] I challenge myself to get excited about new bands. One of the bands I have recently been geeking out over is a group called Solence. They are extremely melodic and write some very epic tunes. I wish they got more recognition.
Lastly, Streaming is not the enemy. There are a lot of great people who really give a shit about this music we love. Setting aside the discussion on music royalties for another day, I think Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube have made it easier than ever to engage with new bands if you make an effort.
People like Allison Hagendorf [Global Head of Rock at Spotify] really care about making sure younger bands are heard and their playlists have exposed me to numerous new acts.
So, let's hope the next decade is much kinder to rock music than the last one was. Time is limited and we should cherish the rock gods while they are with us, but also look to those that will carry the torch in the future. We can do both.