If you’re at all interested in the music industry, you’ll want to read Billboard’s two-part interview with Q Prime founders Cliff Burnstein and Peter Mensch. The two, who formed the management company 33 years ago, don’t often give interviews, but as the management firm of Metallica, Baroness, The Black Keys, Muse and Volbeat among others, they have a lot to say about the industry and where it’s going. They also had the foresight to do more than just manage bands, hiring a radio promotion and digital media staff and having bands form their own labels, which Metallica and Baroness have done. And like many, they’re wondering who the next Metallica will be, and are surprised that nobody’s taken the band’s crown yet:
CB: There is no reason why Metallica should still be, by far, the biggest metal band. That kind of goes against the pop-culture grain, which is that you have a few years of your peak and then somebody else knocks you off. That’s the way it ought to be. We’ve lived through that [syndrome] for many, many years. So for Metallica to have been at the top of this mountain for so long, it’s like, what does that mean?
I used to marvel at the loyalty of metal fans but now I realize it’s mostly the same people as 10, 20 years ago.
PM: Yeah, and they all go to Metallica shows. And some of them will go to Avenged Sevenfold shows. And they will be really happy to go to a Metallica show that has Avenged Sevenfold as a support act.
CB: And we have a feeling that if we had Metallica, Avenged Sevenfold and Five Finger Death Punch on the same bill it would draw exactly the same number of people if we just had Metallica.
PM: The better and interesting question is where is the next Guns N’ Roses? Where is the kid from Indiana with something to say, with a bunch of other kids that he picks up in L.A. and makes a band out of?
And while they’re not saying that Volbeat is that band just yet, Burnstein is excited about adding them to Q Prime’s roster in the past year:
There’s another act we’ve signed in the last year: Volbeat. If you’re talking about a hard rock band that could please a large group of people, it would be Volbeat — where the melodies matter and the songs are about something and there is a sense of fun in their presentation. He’s on his sixth album or something like that, but he’s bigger in Europe, where metal still means something and you can still sell a few hundred thousand hard rock records in Germany.
Asked what the biggest issue is facing the industry, Burnstein says that the payouts for streaming need to increase:
If, in five years, the business is going to be mostly streaming and most of the revenue will come through that, we would feel shitty if our acts were getting 20 percent or less of the streaming money that comes out of Spotify and the other streaming companies. It’s just hard for us to accept that. I don’t think it’s fair.
And finally, when asked if there would be a new Metallica album this year, and both managers said it would most likely be happening later this year, with Burnstein saying “probably” and Mensch saying “Probably later in the year or something like that.” So there you have it – new Metallica (probably) this year! Both segments of the interview are a great read, so check out part one here as well.