I won’t beat around the bush here. I was told by a marketing executive of a very big label in metal – which had on its roster more than one of the biggest symphonic metal bands – that symphonic metal is a dying genre. For context, they were pushing us to change our sound to female-fronted death metal – think Arch Enemy – on condition that they would sign us if we did. For that reason I can’t name them because I’m still under a non-disclosure agreement.
According to this guy, labels are investing less and less money into symphonic metal because they see it as being on its way out. Which is absolutely tragic, right? I don’t know about you, but to me, there’s nothing better than symphonic metal.
But here’s the thing – I don’t believe for a second that the labels have the whole picture. So allow me to tell you what they told me, and then I’ll preset my counter-argument.
The Music Industry’s Perspective
First off, let me be clear that this is not my opinion – it’s strictly what i was told the industry believes.
After Forever – and its successor, ReVamp – are defunct, with Floor Jansen joining Nightwish. Nightwish themselves allegedly aren’t hanging on to as many fans as they once did, with their listener base dwindling significantly. Delain and Within Temptation have both migrated to a bit more of a straight-up rock sound, leaving some of the symphonic metal motifs in the past over a decade ago. Xandria and Sirenia are acquiring a bad reputation for burning through singers every couple albums – with some fairly radical former fans even going as far as to call the band “misogynists” for how they treat their female singers.
To be clear, these bands are still obviously huge acts that tour worldwide, but labels and bands operate on deceptively small profit margins.
Anyway – really, the only symphonic metal band that doesn’t seem to be slowing down in some way is Epica. And don’t me wrong, Epica’s an incredible band, but as far as the industry’s concerned, the numbers that one single band can generate don’t justify the downward trends they’re seeing everywhere else.
What the Industry Is Missing…
To be fair, I obviously can’t be 100% sure what’s going to happen to symphonic metal’s top tier. With things like Spotify and record labels’ abysmal understanding of their own business models, artist profits are at an all-time low. But even in that profoundly unlikely worst-case scenario, even the death of a legend like Nightwish would NOT mean the death of symphonic metal as a genre.
There are bands rising up to carry on the mantle of symphonic metal. These bands aren’t bound by the whims of record labels, because there’s a new way that bands are able to reach out to listeners. You’ve probably noticed by now that we aren’t exactly doing things the normal way. And we’re not the only ones!
Our friends in After Time, Neverlight, New Jacobin Club, Salvation’s End, Imperial Age, and the incredibly successful LEAH, are all leveraging things like Facebook ads and email to bypass the gatekeeping and number-crunching of the record labels. Social media gives artists a voice, for the first time in the history of the music industry!
I could easily see Neverlight coming to be regarded as the successor to ReVamp, and After Time, similarly, becoming the successor to Epica. And of course, Mute Prophet has received its share of comparison to classic symphonic metal bands as well:
The future of symphonic metal…
So while the industry might be right – maybe the big bands ARE starting to lose their mastery of the sound they created – the genre itself won’t die. Not as long as there are bands like our friends, and like us, who love these classic sounds to death and will NEVER give up carrying it on. We LIVE to share what we’ve created, and we’re so grateful to you for being one of those people who decided to take a chance on a random Facebook ad and see what we’re about.
If you enjoy what we’re doing and want to help us grow and reinvest into advertising to bigger and bigger audiences, please do consider clicking here to pick up our music. It honestly does make an absolutely tremendous difference.
Whatever you decide though, thanks so much for reading! Hopefully you enjoyed my musings on the future of this amazing genre – and please leave a comment below with your thoughts! We absolutely love hearing from you.