An Open Letter To Earache Records
We need to talk about Blackberry Smoke.
Dear Earache Records,
I hope this letter finds you well. How is the family? I write to you today because I have noticed a recent trend in your social media presence. I know when a label is trying to push a new band or record, it feels like an all-out blitz is necessary to get the word out. You need videos, samples, press photos, interviews, and all sorts of material to get the word out. You need positive press and good word-of-mouth to sell records because at the end of the day, you’re in the record business.
Earache pioneered extreme death metal and grindcore. You say so yourself on your website (once you get past the landing page advertising Blackberry Smoke, of course). Still, diversity isn’t something new to Earache. You’ve had Dub War, Ewigkeit, and Scorn on your roster, three very different bands from your usual artists. Heck, you even had Adema at one point. All record labels have a few signings that don’t fit in with the main focus of the label. Just look at Roadrunner Records.
For many metal fans, Blackberry Smoke is almost entirely unknown and for good reason. They’re not a metal band. They’re a Southern rock/country band who has opened up for ZZ Top and Lynyrd Skynyrd. My problem doesn’t lie with the band or the fact they’re you’re releasing their album in Europe (by the way, you should probably mention that BBS is actually on Rounder Records in the United States). It lies in how you’re going about promoting them.
In the past few weeks prior to the release of their album, your social media has been a verifiable Old Faithful of Blackberry Smoke, gushing out news, videos, and pictures. The avatars and headers for your Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and Youtube area all advertising BBS. Your last 4 uploads on Youtube in the past week and a half are BBS. Before that there were even more, sandwiched in between stuff from Oceano and other non-metal bands you’re pushing heavily, Rival Sons and Massive.
The same can be said for Twitter, which up until very recently, looked like a BBS fan-fiction page. Earache uses Twitter heavily, but at one point, out of 100 tweets and retweets, 56 were about Blackberry Smoke. I know because I sat there and counted.
Your Facebook has only been slightly better. Slightly.
iTunes is also in on the Blackberry Smoke game, tweeting this out to their 6.7 million(!) followers:
There’s even a commercial for the band airing on Sky TV in the UK.
It’s safe to say that Blackberry Smoke isn’t hurting for outreach and press. So why, Earache, are you going all in with this band? My guess would be that you either think that they can make you money or you really like them. Either reason is acceptable. As I said previously, you’re a record company and your job, ultimately, is to make money. Part of owning and running a label is to push your bands, and you think that Blackberry Smoke can make you a good chunk of change if you push them to the moon. I know nothing about the American southern rock scene, seeing as how I thought it pretty much died with the 70’s. I haven’t listened to the band much, but I can see how they would appeal to a larger audience than a metal band. I can practically hear BBS being blasted out of an old Ford pickup while waiting for the Sonic waitress to bring the limeade, tater tots, and chili dogs.
Maybe you ‘re just on a Southern dad-rock kick. Perhaps you tripped, winged your head on a coffee table while “Slow Ride” was playing, and woke up loving the genre. Maybe you heard BBS and just knew that you had to have them. And Rival Sons. And Massive. I know your relationship with Napalm Death is this side of Jotunheim in terms of frostiness, but does that apply to the rest of your metal bands? You’re still promoting Oceano, so that can’t be it. Could it be that Earache Records, one of the biggest metal labels of the past 30 years, just doesn’t like metal anymore? That’s not for me to decide, but looking at their self-description on Tumblr, Earache Records has already made that decision.
Ultimately, you can do whatever you want Earache, but the constant barrage is annoying and upsetting your longtime fans. Please don’t forget what got you to this point. I only wish you, Blackberry Smoke and just about every band you represent the best of luck. Just take it easy on the social media postings. Speak to you soon.