Monday, February 22, 2010
The Thing That Should Not Be: “For Fans Of…” Stickers On Metal Records! Written by Ryan at ZIA RECORDS Speedway
Marketing is a vital tool to get the word out on your product or service, but sometimes it’s just plain deceptive, especially in the music business. When it comes to these stickers that say “For Fans of…” that adorn the face of many a Metal record, there’s something awry. Many record labels put these large and obnoxious stickers on their releases to grab your attention and attempt to convince you that the contents of said record are worthy. The truth it, most of them are very misleading and a bunch of empty hype. Through the last few years, I have kept my eye on the evolution of this kind of marketing and have discovered several things.
First, what the stickers tell you generally correlates to the prevailing trend of the day in Metal. If thrash is in revival, then some of these stickers will say “For Fans of Testament and Kreator”, if death Metal is ascendant, than you might get the “For Fans of Morbid Angel and Nile” line. The problem here is that two records, by two different bands can have these two different stickers on the packaging, but BOTH play the same tired melodic death chugga breakdown core. How do they get away with this? Well, one band might play a little faster than the other, so automatically, I guess that means Morbid Angel and Nile fans might like it. It’s just very deceptive to put these divergent recommendations on two records that sound pretty much the same.
Another truth I have discovered on this quest is that sometimes the recommendations on those stickers are telling you “For Fans of Dillinger Escape Plan” or “For Fans of Pantera”, because the bands’ records are BLATANT rip offs of the artist they name drop. A good example of a recent, shameful copycat is a band called Sign Of The Southern Cross, and I think you begin to see my point just with the band name, before I even get to their music. Unoriginality is king! Anyway, this band’s album comes with a sticker stating “For Fans of Down and Pantera”. They sound exactly like those two bands, even going so far as having vocals imitating to the tee Phil Anselmo (singer of both Down and Pantera). If I was a member of either of these two groups, I would be calling up this band to tell them cease and desist. It goes on and on. I have sat online for hours listening to audio samples of bands whose physical albums come with these recommendation stickers. Most just don’t add up to being a good recommendation.
Now, in the end, this is all my opinion, but trying to be objective as possible, I just can’t see why these comparisons are made 90% of the time. There isn’t a happy medium, just extremes. Either they get it wrong or the band is a rip off. There is generally one exception to my findings though, and that is the recommendations you find on Relapse Records releases.
First of all, they don’t have gigantic stickers screaming this at you. Most Relapse releases come with a little cardboard cutout that runs along the top of their CDs that sometimes come with recommendations. This label ends up pretty well rounded and I can totally see why they make the recommendations that they do. I also believe that Relapse cares a bit more for how their releases appear and they definitely have been a leader in putting out some of the best heavy music on earth over the years, regardless of trends. At least they don’t make ridiculous statements like a little label known as Victory. They take album stickers to a new low. There is a sticker on one of their recent releases stating that it’s from “The World’s Heaviest Band.” Okay, so where did you get this formula for calculating heavy? Its utter rubbish and you should take it back. Stop embarrassing your label! Seriously, I can probably take that CD to one hundred Metal fans and almost all of them will laugh at the claim, and I would probably get almost one hundred different responses about who really is the heaviest band. Once again, it comes down to opinion. We can go around in circles until the sun explodes.
So, what’s the moral of the story? Be careful and do your research about Metal records that come with these recommendation stickers. Almost every artist has at least a MySpace page with audio samples, and failing that, you can go to any of the online retailers to check out samples. There’s something better than either of the above though: Talk to your local record store worker who knows their Metal, they are exposed to a lot of this music and aren’t some label just trying to sell you something. They can give you some good recommendations and form a better relationship of trust than a sticker. Besides, why spend $10 on a MP3 download that sounds like crap, when your local store might have a used copy of the record with it’s artwork that you can hold in your hand for only $8? Plus you get to interact with someone who genuinely cares about this music and wants to share that knowledge with you, fan to fan. I don’t want to see someone buy a CD based on a recommendation sticker and feel cheated when it doesn’t live up to the hype. I want to see someone discover a band or style they haven’t heard that they can rock out to.
We, the Metal head record store employees of the world, are out here, waiting to help you shred.
Posted by Zia Records Blogs at 10:00 AM