Metal: “Best Job In the World”…For Some.

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“The best job in the world” when you’re not working your other job.

If anyone has the right to speak, it’s Iron Maiden’s daddy.

“Personally I’m enjoying it more than ever, I’d say,” Steve Harris said in a recent feature by Stef Lach for Metal Hammer  magazine. “We all are…we’ll definitely make more albums and we’re having a great time.

This is still the best job in the world.”

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Absolutely it’s the “best job” in the world…especially once you’ve conquered the world.

And indeed it would be for a multi-millionaire who worked his way from street sweeper to legend, who had the right chops with the right talent, managed by the right staff with the right resources at the right time. No doubt he remembers what it was like to sleep in the back of a station wagon with his bandmate’s foot up his nose before he and his dominion’s minions started travelling the world, twice over, first class.

But, he is in the minority. Not just because he is among the crème de la crème of the entire industry, but because he has the luxury to be able to do his one and only job and make a living from his one and only job.

Iron Maiden, as well as the other father and mothers of Metal, started in a time when an artist’s presence was exclusive and you couldn’t buy just one song without a b-side or an entire album.

Record labels could afford to front a band for studio time and publicity. It was easier to make that money back, once the band was invested in. Getting signed was essential.

Video was the format of the ’80’s that changed the game forever.

However, once MTV came along, (when the “M” still stood for “Music”), the video destroyed the radio star. Suddenly, the novelty of being in the same room with your musical heroes was satiated with a moving picture in the comfort of your own home, raising the prices on concert tickets and personal appearances.

Now that the digital age has arrived, the game is changed again in ways which overfeeds the audience and starves the artist. It may be easier to be discovered, but it’s harder to remain relevant.

Nearly every musician in Metal today has a day job or even two. It has even become much more commonplace for a musician to be a member of more than one band, as well, whereas twenty years ago, it would have been considered rude or ridiculous. They have very little choice because 20 or 50 little cents of royalty, if that, cannot cover the hundreds of big dollars that it costs to write and record a single song.

Touring, if not budgeted correctly, can easily put a band in the hole as easily it could pull it out.

There was also a special role for management and admin during Metal and Maiden’s prime time. The “Rod Smallwoods” are an endangered species and the artist is now usually forced to double as their own gatekeepers.

The one thing we can learn from the Rap and Hip-Hop culture is the power of the posse. Metal bands don’t move in packs.

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Rappers, like any other successful artist, get the gold because they have a whole team that helps them earn it so they can focus on their art. Metal bands are usually on their own.

If the Rap artist can show their flow, they attract and draw people who support, promote, and pump them up. Those people aren’t just fluff; they know that if the artist is elevated, so will they. It is like a presidential campaign every day, with the clubs treating the fans and the artists as royalty. They understand that without either, they have nothing.

But, in Metal, we don’t. If a brand new Metal band can manage to get a gig — providing that the venue doesn’t prefer the safety of a tribute band and they can sell their own tickets — they’ll get some pats on the back and more demands. With that, they will have to work that much harder and dish out more money to make sure that their work is promoted, the music is heard, the fans get what they want, and the downloads are paid for.

It has officially come to the point where to accuse a Metal musician for doing it for the money is laughable.

Even the “selling out” doesn’t sell enough. Unless you were fortunate to be a golden child of the golden age to strike gold before downloads, “the best job in the world” is one of the hardest.

The only reason why anyone would be crazy enough to do it today is because it is in their bloodstream to do so. No other genre has that power — and that is what really proves Harry right.

T. Ray Verteramo
September 14, 2016

 

 

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Iron Maiden: The Tour of Souls

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IRON MAIDEN – “The Book of Souls” World Tour 2016
Las Vegas, NV – Mandalay Bay Event Center, February 28

On February 24th, the Jedi masters of Metal kicked off a world tour to shame all others.

Iron Maiden’s latest release not only surpassed fan expectations, but sales as well, performing “50 percent better than any other previous release,” according to Bruce Dickinson. That is 50 percent better than their staple classic, The Number of the Beast, which features their first footprint on the Billboard charts, “Run to the Hills.” Fifty percent better than “Piece of Mind,” which features not one, but two MTV video darlings, “Flight of Icarus” and “The Trooper.”

Deep into their 50’s, over thirty years later, these six modest and magnificent men have raised the stratospheric bar that they, themselves, have set. That is a tremendous feat and image to wrap one’s head around.

Blood brothers A 22816No band in the history of music since the Beatles and the Rolling Stones has had more influence on generations of music, community, or economy than these men. As musicians, each of them are the creme-de-la-crème of their craft; Nicko’s consummate attention to detail, Murray’s elegance, Smith’s undefeatable craftsmanship on song and string, Janick’s presence, Bruce’s iconic vocals and showmanship, and the unarguably attested greatest bass player in the world, Steve Harris. Together, along with a formidable management and artistic team, and a beloved larger-than-life mascot, have been able to create a universal empire that continues to transcend color, race, religion, gender, age, or time.

Iron Maiden is a big deal.

A Maiden show is not just a concert, it is a privilege. It is an event. It is a pilgrimage to the Metal Mecca. And “The Book of Souls” Mayan theme is a perfect fit for this experience; beautiful, brutal, mysterious, and tribal.

This year, their set consists of glorious lighting rigs of stars, suns, and beams; stones and swamp vines; and the grandest Eddie entrance to date. The use of the Minotaur in lieu of the traditional Baphomet-esque imagery for the “Beast” is ultra-classy, even for Maiden standards. Though the set list beholds a few surprises, such as the inclusion of “Children of the Damned” and the exclusion of “Aces High” and “Run to the Hills,” the choices they dished from a 130 plus song buffet were no less delicious and fulfilling.

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Bigger plane, bigger sets, bigger lights, bigger sounds, and bigger tour would have much less impact or meaning in the hands of any other band. Maiden is the only entity in existence that can pull this off and keep their impeccable integrity as artists and professionals. They keep it real and they keep it strong making “The Book of Souls” tour quite possibly – and never to be said lightly — the greatest show on Earth.