Thursday, November 8th 2012
Soda Bar, San Diego, CA.
Eighteen Individual Eyes
If you want to see how Metz broke, just check out their Last Fm profile. The profile shows you that the week before their Best New Music dubbed LP came out on Sub Pop, 600 people listened to their music. Two weeks later, they had 6500 listeners. So we're talking about a demonstrated jump in Audience size of 10x. If you go back a couple months, Metz was rocking 100 listeners a week, which would be a jump in Audience size of 60x.
From my perspective, the key fact to understand about Metz is that they brought a completed LP to Sub Pop. The first announcement about the Sub Pop/Metz relationship was that Sub Pop was releasing a Metz LP the next month.
|Metz City Map|
The lessons that any local rock band can learn from the case study of Metz is that the best route to viability and a professional career as a touring musician is to combine a well received live act with a finished LP. Having the live show in your pocket without the LP or vice versa is not going to do it unless you are very, very special and talented. If you take a finished LP to a label, and you don't have a live show, any serious label will say, "show me the live show." If you have a killer live show, and want a label to bankroll your recording process, the label will say, "Hey great live show, but we've got half a dozen bands who have the live show AND their own LP."
Metz didn't come "from nowhere"- they came from Toronto, and people liked their live show, and they finished an LP themselves. Also, it should be perfectly clear that artists from Canada have an advantage because of the strong government and corporate support for the popular arts. For example, Artists who sell a certain number of LPs can be reimbursed for touring expenses. If an Artist does particularly well, the Government will front recording costs, marketing costs- all the costs associated with the distribution of a record by an indie artist.
The proper way for any local musician to look at the success of a band like Metz is to look at what Metz did and to ask themselves if they are doing the same things, and if not, why not. The answer to why a specific band doesn't A) have a good live show and B) hasn't recorded a full album is usually because they aren't serious enough about their art. Weekend warriors, day trippers- not lifers.
So when someone looks at Metz and dismisses them as a "Pitchfork band" and ascribes their BNM status as the result of some kind of fortuitous alignment of the stars, that person is really missing what Metz did before anyone cared about them.