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The "Sell-Out" Record Label Debate

by Christian Renner

What is the deal with people bashing record labels for their choice in what type of band they sign? I have seen this on numerous message boards and the main target always seems to be Century Media. It is not the only target but they are the ones mentioned most often as a label that wouldn’t know what metal music was even if it happened to bite them in the ass. I really don’t understand this idea. They still to this day have some of the best metal bands out there on their label including Nevermore, Arch Enemy, Blind Guardian, Dark Tranquility to name but a few. Now if some of their latest signings aren’t widely regarded as metal does that make them any less of a good metal label? I really don’t think so.

You have to remember first and foremost what a record label is. It is a BUSINESS, people! They offer record deals to bands they think they will be able to sell some albums from and not strictly for the love of the music. The love of the music is where you and I as consumers come in. Think about putting yourself in the position as a business owner. You have your very own CD shop and you stock only underground kvlt black metal. How long do you think it will be before you file for bankruptcy? Trust me when I say it won't be very long at all. The main way a business stays above that level is by diversification. You may not like a certain style of music be it rap, country or the latest pop boy band out there but you damn well better stock it if you plan on staying out of a bankruptcy court.

Quite a few people were bemoaning the fact that Century Media were selling some nu metal albums on their websites. Well why the hell not? For the most part the general masses get all their information on music from the radio or MTV so if one person does a search for their favorite nu metal artist on the web trying to find a better price for their CD than they have to pay at Sam Goody and they happen to stumble across Century Media’s mailorder and the huge list of bands they sell albums from it is possible that person may stick around to check out some of these other bands that happen to be what you and I consider real metal. This stocking of nu metal band albums is simply a case of marketing to get people to come to their website and hopefully get into some their signed bands. Is this a tactic of a money grubbing company? Of course it is. That's why it is a business and not a salvation army store for poor metal heads. You can't blame a company for trying to make money since that is their whole goal. Forget about these idealized notions of a label being trOO to the scene and wake up. Think about it in another way. Why do you go to work? Is it for the love of the job? Is it for that sense of personal satisfaction you get for a job well done? FUCK NO IT’S NOT!!! It's for the damn money so why should a record label be any different than you or I? Plain and simple they shouldn’t.

The fact remains these labels do some shit that most of us all disagree with but their choice of signings is their own personal decisions and should not make them any better or any worse than any other label. If it wasn’t for these labels "selling out" then some of the music you and I enjoy today may just be gone tomorrow or at the very least be a lot more difficult to find.

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