Industry Profile - Metal Blade's Brian Slagel
Interviewed by Keith McDonald
Metal Blade Records has been a mainstay in the metal community for
some time now. The label, started by Brian Slagel, several years ago,
had helped start the careers of many metal artists and still continues
to do so today. The label, home to artists that include King's X, Lizzy
Borden, The Crown, Gwar and Flotsam & Jetsam, continues to pump out
great metal as they roll with the ever-changing metal scene. I had the
opportunity to speak with Brian who filled me in on the label's
happenings. You can check out their website at www.metalblade.com.
How did you get started in the music business?
I was a huge music fan. I started working at a record store, then
booking shows in Los Angeles, started the first US heavy metal fanzine
(New Heavy Metal Revue) and helped program the local metal radio show.
How did Metal Blade Records start?
There were lots of great bands playing in LA in 1981 and no one outside
of that really cared. So I was very influenced by the NWOBHM (New Wave
of British Heavy Metal) so I thought it would be a good idea to do a
compilation album of local heavy metal bands.
Does Metal Blade sign only metal artists or other genres as well? Who
has been the most successful artist to date?
Well we mostly sign metal. We also do punk, alternative, progressive.
The Goo Goo Dolls, Slayer, and Metallica (started on Metal Massacre 1)
are the most successful to date.
How extensive of a back catalog does Metal Blade have? How important
is it to have one?
Since we have been around for almost 20 years we have quite a huge back
catalog. It is important that it helps the label continue to grow.
Who distributes the label? Is it getting easier or harder to get your
records into stores?
In the USA we are distributed by RED. We have different distributors
around the world. In the USA it is getting much harder to get our
records in the stores. Fewer people are buying CD's now than ever and
music retail is suffering very badly right now.
Do you have any difficulty getting royalties on records sold?
No that is not a problem.
How important are the "mom & pop" record stores for
Extremely important. They are the ones who start all the trends and have
always been great to all the indie labels and us. We could not exist
What are your day-to-day events?
If I am in the office it is all the aspects of running a company. From
dealing with financial issues to marketing to dealing with the bands. I
travel often to see the bands and look for new bands. Also to meet with
our partners around the world.
How do you find new artists? Do you accept unsolicited material?
Yes we listen to every tape that comes in and we also get back to people
too. That is one way we find artists. The bands on the label also bring
in bands as do magazines, radio stations, record stores, the Internet
are all ways we hear about bands.
Is there a big difference between European and U.S. metal artists?
Yes and no. Bands do have success who are from both. It depends on the
style and what is happening. Right now the melodic death metal and true
power metal are big in Europe. Much bigger than the USA right now.
What advise do you have for an unsigned artist?
Learn as much as you can about the music business. It is a business and
bands need to know about it. That is one thing I have seen hurt so many
bands is they just want to concentrate on the music, but the business
part is so important. And you have to have someone in the band who knows
about it to protect yourself.
What's the future for Metal Blade?
We want to continue to bring cutting edge metal to the world. 2002 is
our 20th anniversary and we have lots planned. There will be a huge box
set and some great shows etc. coming your way!
©2001 Metal Rules!!