Before my ramblings begin, if you haven’t yet: please take a moment to check out the fundraising page set up by Ben Ward (Orange Goblin), the link and details are below:

“On Monday the 19th of December, 2016, 73 members of the Team Rock staff were told that the company is going into liquidation and that they are being made redundant with immediate effect with ZERO pay. These are good, hard-working, committed people that through Metal Hammer, Classic Rock, Prog Rock, TeamRock Radio and more, have supported the rock and heavy metal scene in this country for decades and now we, the rock community, need to pull together to help give something back.

Please spare what you can so that everyone may enjoy the festive spirit.”

(N.B. Just to emphasise, as I’ve seen a few comments asking where the monies raised will end up, the proceeds from this fundraiser are going to the 73 Team Rock members of staff whose jobs were unexpectedly made redundant and told they would not be getting paid).

I’m writing this blog, as I do with any blog I’ve published to date, because I care enough to want to say something. I care because established, legacy magazines that I’ve grown up with, as of right now, are no longer in existence. Worse still, a lot of good, hard working people are currently unemployed. Hopefully this situation will change shortly.

Regardless of opinions and previous disagreements people may have had with these media outlets, now is the time to unify and steel ourselves in preparation for what’s yet to come. Times have changed, we all know this, but I firmly believe we cannot let our flagships die and we need to retain the good, knowledgeable people that exist in our community. From a media perspective, whether it’s magazines, webzines, radio etc…all the GREAT people that make things happen for bands, they’re not in it for the money…they’re in it because they love music and want to work in the industry to make a difference.

We need to nurture and treat all these people right…even when we don’t always get what we want. Too often I see great webzines fall to the wayside, because not enough people care and it’s left to one or two people to manage, on top of full time job commitments. It’s another subject matter that I’m passionate about, the smaller outlets like webzines, internet radio etc are the backbone of our community when it comes to creating exposure for artists, and we should all be supporting them.

So why do I care so much?

Long before I established Stampede Press UK, both Metal Hammer and Classic Rock Magazine’s supported the bands I played in as a fledgeling musician. The bands were fortunate enough to crossover into both magazines, receiving very solid editorial and promotion. Ok, it didn’t always smell of roses (that’s the way it goes) but it all undoubtedly played a very important part in raising the bands profiles and I’m so grateful we had these opportunities given to us. At the time, little did I know just how much of an impact it would have on my life (all elements combined, I’ve been able to successfully set up my own business, which is now my full time career).

I’m just as, if not more, grateful for the support the Team Rock stable has given my company, Stampede Press UK. Since forming Stampede in 2012, Metal Hammer, Classic Rock, Prog, AOR and Blues Magazines have all supported Stampede and our clients. From reviews, to editorial, to competitively priced advertising to promote our clients, plus interviews and more on Team Rock Radio. They have all been an integral part of promoting our roster and helping raise our bands profiles to enable them to play big festivals, support slots at prolific shows/tours and much more.

Ask any of our bands that’s been fortunate enough to receive editorial like “Hot New Band” and “High Hopes” features, cd covermount spots, positive reviews and more within these magazines, and you’ll see the sparkle light up in their eyes. It means a lot.

When advising our clients, Stampede does it’s best to lay solid foundations from the start, with one aspect being “be realistic”. With the internet seemingly offering opportunities that are easily within our reach, it’s too easy to forget that there are human beings, with emotions, involved in all this.

The staff at outlets like Metal Hammer, Classic Rock Magazine, Prog, Team Rock Radio, Golden Gods Awards and Classic Rock Awards…they’re all like you and me. They’re human beings. They need to pay bills, and regardless of opinions on journalism, they do give a sh*t.

The bitter pill to swallow in all this, and will continue to be, is getting your head around the fact that when you take something that’s emotional as music, and combine it with something that’s clinical as business…the pairings for a lot of the time, shouldn’t mix. Especially when we need to consider third party aspects and well-meaning outsiders, who don’t understand the constraints business situations regulary present. It’s a potent cocktail, one that when it works, it’s amazing. When it doesn’t….meh…you can’t win ’em all.

Business factors aside (now’s not the time or place), I truly hope this situation is resolved. In my opinion, we need these magazines (the debate for print vs digital rages on) in place. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, there is no denying they have elevated bands and supported the rock/metal scene at many levels, and whether you agree with it or not, we do need filters in this business.

We’re at saturation point (we have been for a while now, for various reasons) and if we’re not careful, we are going to become a community that 100% relies on FREE social media that’s blurred between real and fake news, to give us content. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a firm supporter of equal opportunites and freedom of speech (when appropriate and rational)….but we do need ‘gatekeepers’ at certain times and places in business.

I say, bring back Metal Hammer, Classic Rock, and Prog Magazine and all the good people involved, as they are the core of all this. Focus on the quality, pull back the quantity, and look to the future. Make right what may have been wrong. The fundraiser has shown there is support in our community, because we do care. And right there, is one way to make a business work. Once people care, once they fall in love with something and buy into the product, it’s a game-changer. Maintaining the demand, especially at a time where content is so fast, furious and free, that’s the tricky part. Yet if we retain the passion and pull together, anything is possible. Believe, and never stop dreaming.

“Make your music matter.”

Rob Town – Stampede Press UK (December 2016)

This post was published on 21st December 2016 and filed in these categories; Blog.

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