Ex-Black Sabbath Singer Tony Martin: How Artists Can 'Reclaim' Record Industry

An interview with former Black Sabbath singer Tony Martin.

Ex-Black Sabbath Singer Tony Martin: How Artists Can 'Reclaim' Record Industry
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"Metal As F**k" recently conducted an interview with former Black Sabbath singer Tony Martin. When asked about the current state of the record industry, Martin said, "Everything needs to change, absolutely everything. I've studied this in the past few years with lawyers and union people. I'm not a big union guy but they were really impressed with what I was thinking and had to say." He continued, "If you go back to what is traditionally the music business sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll; OK, that's not really it anymore... I mean, we lost control when everything started to go digital, really. Before that, people were copying stuff and putting things out, but when it became digital, we just lost control of that not in the same way that the games industry or the film industry [did]. They kind of held onto their thing a bit more than we did, but also the business side of it, we lost control of that, and it turns out from the lawyers and the union people that I speak to that traditionally we handed control over to the record companies to speak on our behalf and act on our behalf. They didn't do that to protect the stuff that we make now." He added, "We are, whichever way you look at it, we are manufacturers. OK, so we make songs. Some people make fridges, some people make cars, but we still manufacture something. However, we can't put a recommended retail price on our product like other people can because we handed over the job to the recording industry. Now we can't really get it back, we kind of stuffed it. So now I think it's time for the artist to reclaim the industry." On the topic of how artists can go about "reclaiming the industry," Martin said, "Well, for a start we have to stop giving stuff away for free. I mean, there was some myths going around in recent years about how you boost your profile by giving stuff away for free. It doesn't work. Basically, all the people that like you get your stuff for free and then there's nobody else to sell it to, so all you've done is given it away working for free. That doesn't work, because once you work for free, then people expect you to work for free, so that doesn't work. It's a whole clawing back of what is right. What is right is that we should be able to earn a living out of it and don't. What they should understand is that music isn't for free; it costs people time, money, effort. And we do have a manufacturing right; we have made those things, so the intellectual rights should belong to us and they don't. So everything has to change. I think we should be doing more of our own thing and missing out the record labels completely. In some ways, I think their day is done." He continued, "The other thing that's killed it really is the single-download thing, where bands are still making albums and yet people go online and download one track. So you put all that effort and that work in to making a whole album and then one song is taken out of it. It may be time for us to start doing a single-track release rather than album release. Release the songs one at a time, for example, so that people get a chance to enjoy each track as they come along and not just diss the whole album and just take one track out of the whole bunch of work you've done. It would save you time and effort making the whole album. You'd get money off each track, for example, and maybe later on you could release them all again with, you know, four extra tracks and make it into a CD at that point." He concluded, "I think it just needs a new business model and a new thought process from artists and we really need to get on it because it's become a worthless art and that's just so not fair. It's just not fair... If everybody gets on it and changes it, then we'll be in a much better shape, I think." Black Sabbath released six albums with Tony Martin on vocals: "The Eternal Idol" (1987), "Headless Cross" (1989), "Tyr" (1990), "Cross Purposes" (1994), "Cross Purposes Live" (1995) And "Forbidden" (1995). Tony Martin's "Headless Cross", the touring project led by Tony Martin, will make its live debut on Friday, July 27 at The Asylum in Birmingham, England. Tickets are £10 in advance and £12 at the door. Headless Cross, whose live set celebrates the Sabbath album "Headless Cross", consists of the following musicians:
  • Tony Martin (Black Sabbath, The Cage) - Vocals
  • Danny "Danté" Needham (Venom) - Drums
  • Geoff Nicholls (ex-Black Sabbath) - Keyboards
  • Dario Mollo (Voodoo Hill, The Cage) - Guitar
  • Magnus Rosén (ex-Hammerfall) - Bass A slightly different lineup of Headless Cross with Martin, Nicholls and Needham as the only holdovers was scheduled to tour the U.S. in 2009 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the release of "Headless Cross", but was forced to cancel the trek at the last minute, reportedly due to promoter issues. Martin's last solo album, "Scream", was released in November 2005 via MTM Music. The CD featured legendary drummer Cozy Powell (Black Sabbath, Rainbow, Whitesnake) on the track "Raising Hell" as well as songwriting contributions by another Sabbath member, Geoff Nicholls. Thanks to BlabberMouth for the report.
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      AcidParadox
      Skarson wrote: "a worthless art" yeah, ok dude. if you're making music for the money, you're screwed from the start. black sabbath is a good example for me--they've immensely influenced the music i make, and i haven't spent any money to acquire their music. my only interest is paying it forward through my own art. sustainability be damned--if that's not good enough for you, you're artistically bankrupt.
      He's not saying that you should be making music for the money. What he's saying is, if an artist is going to put all of their time, money, and resources into making music, they should be able to expect -some- sort of compensation for it. It has become a worthless art. Writers get paid, actors get paid, artists (painters) get paid. All these people in show business that are involved in making an artistic product, they get paid. Why shouldn't musicians get some kind of recognition for their work, too? It is about the music, but people are eventually going to get discouraged and stop once they realize that there is no pay-off for their efforts. What will happen then? The struggling genres (rock music, to an extent) will eventually die off. And as this is a guitar website, I'm assuming we all like rock music, right? (Metal, Indie, whatever your poison.) Well, what will happen when people stop making it? We'll be left with nothing but 'pop' music that requires no actual creativity and is basically manufactured for the lowest common denominator. Like processed food. Do you want the music industry to become the processed food industry, Skarson? Hmmmm? Anyways, I agree with everything he is saying. Record companies need to realize that they are seen as the bad guys. When the 'bad guys' fight back, everyone is going to try to be Robin Hood. Pirates don't see jobs and livelihoods at stake, they see some faceless corporation, trying to keep the things they want away from them. We need the artists to fight back. Not the big name ones like Metallica either. We need real, relatable people out there. When pirates see that these are real people that they are affecting, some may back off. Not the overly-entitled ***** ones, mind you, but the ones who only download music because it is free and accessible. That's why I stopped pirating music. One of my favorite bands, they had to quit their jobs and stuff to make enough time to tour and promote their album. These artists out there are risking everything for their dreams. Who are we to be overly-indulgent *****s and keep that from them? A record isn't that expensive, especially when most up and coming bands have albums up on their Bandcamps for only 5 bucks a pop. Some for less, some just run on donations. We need to help them. Sorry, for the novel, guys. Just had to state my feelings. YMMV
      iommi600
      Kriggs wrote: Just bloody tour more and make it up... Thats what Metallica is doing.. I remember when it took forever for a Metallica tour. Now Im skipping some of them cause they tour so often. I'll bet you if you couldnt download Metallica albums then you would hardly see them live anymore. To me thats a fair deal, considering the amount of times Ive been ripped off by crap album purchases in the 80's and 90's.
      It's easy for a band as big and successful as Metallica to do that. But what about the smaller acts trying to make a living out of music? Many of them don't even make money enough to tour without album sales. Besides, I'm pretty sure Metallica would not be where they are today without big album sales like Master of Puppets and Black Album...
      Eclectic Lizard
      People bitch about how there's no Zeppelins or Metallicas anymore, but if people would BUY the music of a great band, they would be able to grow more and do stadium tours or have higher budgets for recording etc etc.
      PBiddy
      Is it a case of people not placing any real "value" on music? Would you expect a painting for free? Just saying..
      iommi600
      Oh, nevermind me, I'm just here to watch the incoming shitstorm regarding copyright issues.
      Minivirus2
      That doesn't work, because once you work for free, then people expect you to work for free. What they should understand is that music isn't for free; it costs people time, money, effort.
      First, brilliantly said. Second, this is exactly what I say every time the issue comes up, but the problem is, to many people now feel that music should be free and readily available for the taking whenever they feel like it. You won't change this mindset, it's how people think these days, or at least the vast majority do. Be it strait up or hidden behind some laughable excuse, a fair amount of people will defend taking music for nothing. In terms of albums not being a viable platform anymore... What would you expect. The world today, and media in turn, is focused on gettting the point across as quickly as possible. People move fast and have very short attention spans, so again, most people won't take the time to sit down and listen to an entire album. They'll download the one song they know they like and that's good enough for them.
      kinslayerSOA
      That doesn't work, because once you work for free, then people expect you to work for free. What they should understand is that music isn't for free; it costs people time, money, effort.
      This. In 'Download This Song' by MC Lars, he states "Music was a product, now it is a service." Quite sad when you think about it.
      iommi600
      Still, I don't disagree with him that the "digital-era" screwed things up for the music industry, but trying to fight the internet fiercely like the record companies are doing nowadays isn't gonna work, either. Many people have in their minds that downloading their favorite songs is just simple and easy and nobody gets hurt for that, so they'll keep sharing. While I think the record companies are a "necessary evil", they also need to understand that people won't pay for something very expensive when they can just click and get it for free. I bet that if they lower the prices of original stuff in many countries, things will start to change.
      RiffsanBridges
      1916 wrote: There is a reason people buy the Dio and Ozzy Sabbath albums. Fuck this guy.
      You're a dick. But since we're the musicians of the future, shouldn't we take responsibility of this "revolution" we're demanding? If we all(UG members, respectively) come up with an idea of how we can fight this feral business, we might change music history. I know it sounds unrealistic, nave and somewhat cheesy but who wouldn't want to change todays music? People who're interested in taking responsibility of this could message me on here, 'cause I know for sure that I would wanna be a part of it.
      Mathedes
      Skarson wrote: "a worthless art" yeah, ok dude. if you're making music for the money, you're screwed from the start. black sabbath is a good example for me--they've immensely influenced the music i make, and i haven't spent any money to acquire their music. my only interest is paying it forward through my own art. sustainability be damned--if that's not good enough for you, you're artistically bankrupt.
      Your way of paying it forward is awfully selfish and skewered. If you expect to make a living off your music, you're gonna have to focus on how to sell your music alongside creating it. Until then, enjoy your hobby.
      Crimson Ghost
      Skarson wrote: "a worthless art" yeah, ok dude. if you're making music for the money, you're screwed from the start. black sabbath is a good example for me--they've immensely influenced the music i make, and i haven't spent any money to acquire their music. my only interest is paying it forward through my own art. sustainability be damned--if that's not good enough for you, you're artistically bankrupt.
      For a lot of people, music is their job. You can be passionate about something and still make money off it. How can you expect someone to make a living without money? The only way most bands can tour is if the label funds it. If a band isn't getting album sales, the label isn't willing to put them on tour. A majority of bands who fund their own tours end up thousands of dollars in debt, if they haven't already dropped the tour already. It takes a lot of time and effort to make music and promote it properly. No one wants to work for free. My current band's EP cost $2000 to make. We give it away for free. As passionate as we are about music, it's very difficult to not have money coming in. We worked extremely hard to come up with the funds and to perfect our songs. Then we go on stage and perform and act like being in a band is amazing. Being a band in Los Angeles, we rarely make money from shows. We love playing music, we get along great, we played a gig last night to a pretty packed house with everybody singing along. We were given a $50 bar tab and we were thrilled because that's more than bands here get for most shows. Not making money from music sucks
      TheExterminator
      Eclectic Lizard wrote: People bitch about how there's no Zeppelins or Metallicas anymore, but if people would BUY the music of a great band, they would be able to grow more and do stadium tours or have higher budgets for recording etc etc.
      What's more likely.. Good bands not existing because people don't buy their albums, or because the music industry has a habit of mass-producing piles of shit that cover up most good bands? I buy as many albums as I can, and I actually provide some REAL support by seeing bands when they play shows, that doesn't stop them from being completely ignored in favour of dumbed-down, mainstream trash. The only thing that will stop that from happening is to get rid of dumbed-down, mainstream trash. Only way to do that is to stop the thing that makes it: the music industry. The only time the music industry has ever favoured good music is when it sells, and legitimate and good music hasn't sold on a large scale in decades.
      Kriggs
      Just bloody tour more and make it up... Thats what Metallica is doing.. I remember when it took forever for a Metallica tour. Now Im skipping some of them cause they tour so often. I'll bet you if you couldnt download Metallica albums then you would hardly see them live anymore. To me thats a fair deal, considering the amount of times Ive been ripped off by crap album purchases in the 80's and 90's.
      1916
      There is a reason people buy the Dio and Ozzy Sabbath albums. Fuck this guy.
      DaniArrow
      I figure he's not all wrong, there's a point. I agree with not making music for the money only, but I think buying records is good. Musicians need money to live as well. Besides, when I was a kid I used to get excited about a great band releasing a new album, I'd try to get to the record store before school and get the thing, read the booklet and everything. It was magic. Now it's lost, there's a new release, you get an online leak a week or two beforehand, skip through the songs and think "oh well tracks 2, 5 and 7 will make it on my iPod"... sad, really. The releasing singles theory might be good.
      1916
      RiffsanBridges wrote: 1916 wrote: There is a reason people buy the Dio and Ozzy Sabbath albums. Fuck this guy. You're a dick. But since we're the musicians of the future, shouldn't we take responsibility of this "revolution" we're demanding? If we all(UG members, respectively) come up with an idea of how we can fight this feral business, we might change music history. I know it sounds unrealistic, nave and somewhat cheesy but who wouldn't want to change todays music? People who're interested in taking responsibility of this could message me on here, 'cause I know for sure that I would wanna be a part of it.
      Tony Martin is one of those people in the music industry (I'll grant him that) whho think they know how everything works and where the music industry is broken. There obviously is a mentality of "Fuck buying stuff, I can get it for free" that a lot of people are responsible for, myself included, as I have downloaded, but where else can you find music on the Internet? iTunes among many other places, sure, Stairway to Heaven costs the same as Justin Bieber's Baby. In what world does that make sense? Before you bitch and complain, I have Led Zeppelin IV and have not and will never download any Justi Bieber song, so Jimmy Page et al have their very insignificant royalty from me, not that they really need it. And I'm not sure what you mean by change today's music. Change how the music industry works? That's how this argument started. People joined bands, made music and played in front of people, got a following and started releasing stuff. Fans started tape trading, tape trading turned into CD burning and CD burning turned to file sharing. Face it, downloading is no different from the tape trading scene in the 80's except more people have access. And seeming these trends started off with the fans, aren't the fans the ones to blame for ruining it in the first place? And don't say true fans don't steal music. If true fans didn't steal music there wouldn't be such a big debate about how it's killing the industry.
      gypsyblues7373
      "The other thing that's killed it really is the single-download thing, where bands are still making albums and yet people go online and download one track. So you put all that effort and that work in to making a whole album and then one song is taken out of it. It may be time for us to start doing a single-track release rather than album release. Release the songs one at a time, for example, so that people get a chance to enjoy each track as they come along and not just diss the whole album and just take one track out of the whole bunch of work you've done. It would save you time and effort making the whole album. You'd get money off each track, for example, and maybe later on you could release them all again with, you know, four extra tracks and make it into a CD at that point."
      This guy makes some good points, but his logic is totally faulty on this. It sounds like he has the '80's hair-band mentality of making 2 or 3 good songs and then filling the rest of the album up with crap. Hey man, if you make every song on the album good, then people will download every song. Do yourself a favor and forget the "filler" mentality.
      Skarson
      "a worthless art" yeah, ok dude. if you're making music for the money, you're screwed from the start. black sabbath is a good example for me--they've immensely influenced the music i make, and i haven't spent any money to acquire their music. my only interest is paying it forward through my own art. sustainability be damned--if that's not good enough for you, you're artistically bankrupt.
      j_link13
      why should i remotely care what this guy says about the industry? he was in sabbath? everybody including the homeless guy under the bridge sang for sabbath when they were pissed at ozzy