Machine Head’s Robb Flynn: “We’re In The Best Place We Have Ever Been In Terms Of The Music Business”


Machine Head‘s latest album “Bloodstone & Diamonds” had its first birthday on November 06th and frontman/guitarist Robb Flynn has dedicated his latest entry of the ‘The General Journals‘ to the milestone and the success they’ve experienced on the back of it. An excerpt of that can be read below:

“From a business stand point we’re currently in the best place we have ever been in terms of the “music business.” I mean this creatively, financially, and in terms of just overall fairness to an artist we’ve never been better. Nuclear Blast Entertainment let us do our thing. Sure they offer advice and often it is (welcomed) sound advice and really? That is what we WANT from a label, but ultimately, they let us make choices. With the worldwide sales from’ Bloodstone & Diamonds’ we have recouped the substantial advance we took from NBE (no small feat in this day and age), which makes it the 4th record in a row for us where we recouped our advance and were basically “debt free” to our given record label.

I can’t even tell you how AWESOME it is to write the words “debt free” and “record label” in the same sentence!

It wasn’t always the case…

Now if I could just figure out how to do that in my real life!!

Sales-wise it gave us our highest chart positions around the world in our history. And it wasn’t just chart positions either it was chart and sales positions.
Bloodstone & Diamonds” came in on the main Pop Charts at:

#21 USA (over 19,000 in sales)
#6 in Germany
#5 in Austria
#10 in Australia (over 3,000 in sales)
#17 in the UK

And in its first week “B&D” came in #12 on the World Chart, which is the chart that compiles ALL of the countries sales and rank it’s place on Planet Earth.

Read that again… we had the #12 record on PLANET EARTH that week!!

At 65,000 records moved this is even more astounding considering our competition that week was Foo Fighters, Pink Floyd and the 3rd week of Taylor Swift’s monster album “1989” selling 300,000 copies its THIRD week.

To date it’s ended up doing over 180,000 in sales worldwide with the majority of sales coming from the UK and Europe. Those familiar with the Machine Head story know that this has always been the case for over two decades now… Why? Truthfully we have no idea why the UK, Europe, and Australia took so strongly to Machine Head and simply never let go. It’s a little frustrating at times to know that so few people in the U.S. even gave “B&D” a chance. But… such is life. We remain a cult band in the US. And you know what…? It’s better than the alternative. I’ll take being a 20+ year cult band that still draws some of the most die-hard motherfuckers in our home country over obscurity any day of the week!

I’m grateful for that.

It could be way, WAY worse.

We discuss the above scenario from time to time, and have some theories, but it’s not the most important thing in the World.

From a hard numbers stand point here is the breakdown; And for the record, I have no qualms about putting these numbers out there, the days of not knowing what a band sold are coming to an end. Data rules in this day and age and very-soon everyone will know what everyone is moving, or not moving. Just look at Spotify if you want real-world numbers? They have the numbers for the top 10 songs streamed right there on the artist page. It’s better than the Billboard charts! Because it’s by song rather than album, and unlike Billboard, it is always available!

And the reason this is, is because Spotify was created by a tech company that is all about data and hard facts rather than by a record company (who, for better or worse) occasionally employs smoke & mirrors. You’d be amazed how few records your favorite band has sold, especially in Rock/Metal. Rock is a niche; it’s not a dominant format and hasn’t been for years. All the biggest Rock records of the last few years have done 300,000 to 400,000. A tiny handful barely cracked Gold, none went platinum.

That needs to change. Rock/Metal won’t be taken serious again until its artists start selling real records again. Hell, The Grammy’s don’t even broadcast the Rock winners, it’s in the online broadcast that happens in the other building!!

‘B&D’ is at 53,000 in the US, and still selling anywhere from 100-150 pieces a week. Which by “Supercharger”-era numbers (2001) is about 250,000 in sales. By just hard number comparisons ‘B&D’ is still about 20,000 shy of reaching the ‘Supercharger’ total 72,000.

And while it can be argued that CD sales have plummeted (where can you even buy CD’s now?) …yeah… it stings a little to write that down.

No artist of any kind wants to remain obscure.

And all modesty aside, we hear constantly that “Machine Head deserve to be FAR bigger in the US than we are.” I don’t have an issue writing this because no matter how you look at it, we are one of the best there is and one of the best that’s ever been, period. We have the chops, the catalog, the longevity, the diehard fan base and most importantly, the SONGS!

Music is best when played to a large group, and face it, we all want to be part of a large group, we’re a tribal species. Even now, this far removed from being cave-people we want that feeling of communion. I know I do. So we gravitate towards that which is biggest. Because now more than ever, trying to sift through it all is fucking mind-boggling. There is so much chatter in the world these days it seems almost impossible to break through it all, and I’m talking about to fans who already like Machine Head!

So how we do reach you in 2015?

Tell me. Help us, get to YOU.

I just read a story about Facebook and how the number of shares and interaction has plummeted. And that jives with what we have been seeing too. Yes, we can see you Facebookers! Yes, we can see that, of the 500,000 who were “reached” by last video journal, less than 90% of you watched even 3 SECONDS OF IT! That the average viewing time was 1:19 of a 20 minute video? 1 MINUTE of a twenty minute video! For whatever reason you couldn’t even give us 20 minutes of your time, but you know what? Fuck it, we’re STILL going to try and crack that shell. I don’t see a lot of bands giving such content away with no ulterior motive, as in our eyes the only “payoff” is an attempt to keep better in touch with YOU.

Social media wise, Instagram seems A LOT more engaged with actual Head Cases. Twitter is a dead zone unless your tweeting 50 times a day, so unless you’re a politician, or love to tweet about “The Voice” and who sang best, who the fuck has time for that? And message boards are like walking into a typewriter store, cool to see, but wow, don’t want to use that anymore.

So again tell us, how do we reach you? An email list seems so 1998, but if that means having direct contact with you, then we’ll fucking do it! This is important to us. There’s a connection between us and our people. We see and hear it every night and it motivates us beyond belief! But as with anything in life it can be better and we’re going to do our part to make it so.

But I’ll end this on a positive, we’re currently on tour here in the US and I have to say…us celebrating the one year anniversary of ‘Bloodstone & Diamonds’ in the USA is even more special as we’ve basically taken our ‘An Evening With Machine Head’ show around the World!

Doing “An Evening with Machine Head” has been one of the most liberating decisions we have ever made. If the tour that we were supposed to do with Bodom last year, before the record dropped, had gone off as planned we would’ve never been able to make this decision. We would have gotten sucked into the “package deal” tour vacuum and probably still ensconced in it today. But that tour fell apart because ticket sales were abysmal and it’s turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

Going out and playing a 55 minute set there’s no way we’d be able to bust out “From This Day‘s” or “Crashing Around You’s” again. But because things have happened for a reason we’re able to see the frankly-jaw-dropping reaction those songs night after night! It’s been a wonderful eye-opening experience and that is the beauty of life.

Sometimes a total clusterfuck of a situation comes along and forces you to re-imagine your life. It sets you on a different path and more often than not that path leads to a much greater future.

Obviously there’s a lot more to this than a few sentences, but we want to thank everyone that’s come out to the shows so far that helped solidify our belief in a different (especially for us) way of doing things. Every night is the affirmation of “our people and us” and we couldn’t thank you all enough.

Happy birthday “Bloodstone & Diamonds”!!”

The full entry can be found here.

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