As more and more groups have t-shirts, back-drops and instruments decorated with corporate logos, when will we see the first metal band that only exists to market products?
(Article restored after some downtime as loads more stuff about endorsements is now up too. See below.)
Last month, as I drunkenly staggered away from Sylosis’ triumphant set at the Sonisphere Festival, and was probably about to indulge in about half of the things I’ve warned against doing at festivals, I decided to buy the band’s good-looking new t-shirt.
I say that it was good-looking, but really this was only true of the front of the t-shirt, the back being emblazoned with the logo of popular spirit Jagermeister (making the wearer look like a barman from behind).
In just a few years, Jagermeister has gone from being a relatively rare drink in the UK to being a brand that you can’t escape anywhere, thanks in large part to it’s sponsorship of music events, especially of those to do with metal.
In the past couple of months I’ve seen Jagermeister stages at Download and Sonisphere, the aforementioned Sylosis t-shirt, Skindred’s back-drop on the main stage at Soni featuring its logo, and Panic Cell giving away Jager shots on stage (although I understand this isn’t a new thing).
It seems to me like it is one thing for festivals to sponsor the hell out of everything they possibly can, but quite another for bands to do the same of themselves. And this isn’t anything to do with Jagermeister per se, as I’m sure other drinks brands are getting in on the act too.
But when watching Scuzz recently, and seeing the Hovercraft Pirates’ new video Shut the Hell Up, it really dawned on me how entrenched the corporate sponsorship of bands is becoming.
The video features both a guitar and bass drum skin painted with the drink brand’s stag and cross logo.
Now, this brings up a few issues – one being that I’m pretty sure product placement in TV shows is still currently illegal within the EU, and Scuzz doesn’t seem to have realised this. Another is the stealth-marketing of a 35%-ABV drink at 10am while children will be watching. But the one that I thought about most is just how readily bands are willing to hand over part of their image to a corporate sponsor.
Is this trend simply an indication of the lengths to which bands now have to go just to earn a living from making music nowadays?
Endorsements from instrument manufacturers have been around for an age and seem to make logical sense. But then came clothing endorsements, one step removed from the actual music, but still to do with the image. Then came alcohol, nothing to do with music or what the band looks like. What will the next product be?
Call me naive, but I don’t want my favourite rock stars to become walking billboards for every single corporation out there. But I suspect that they will at some point.
How long will it be until up-and-coming metal bands start mentioning brands in their songs to make some extra money?
Will punters ever get fed up with the blurring lines between music and corporate sponsorship? Because that is the only reason it will ever stop.
(While checking some facts for this article, I came across information about Fightstar and Lethal Bizzle’s one-off collaboration for the Jager company.)
UPDATES: Niklas Sundin from metal veterans Dark Tranquillity comments here.
Carl Parnell from Sylosis gives his view here.
Paul Blue from Hovercraft Pirates comments more on this here (and in the comment below).
Tom Carson from Jagermeister speaks here.