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

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 metal releases?

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 without them.



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 something 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!!

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This page last updated on:
Wednesday, November 21, 2001