Last week we caused a stir in the heavy music scene when writer/interviewer Gareth Williams (@notgareth) asked Amon Amarth frontman Johan Hegg during an interview for his thoughts on music streaming sites and where his opinions laid about the services compared to physical sales, to which he stated:
“I think one of the issues with streaming today is that the companies who operate to people, unfortunately are not paying the bands [and] the artists nearly enough. Frankly, that’s the way it is. But the problem [for us] is there’s literally no real alternative because if you don’t have streaming, people will download it illegally, so then that’s going to hurt even more…”
Had also added:
“I think one of the dangers though if these services don’t start paying the artists a fair amount of money is that it’s going to be difficult for new artists to have the opportunity to do this full time. If you can’t make enough money from doing it, how are you going to be able to do it?”
The statement was picked up by other publications across the globe who joined in on the conversation and shared their opinions on the matter too, but it also caught the attention of former Amon Amarth drummer Fredrik Andersson who had his own piece to say about his former bandmate/band revealing on a Facebook post:
“While I feel it’s quite hypocritical of the man, who recently basically said I do not deserve to get paid as much as the other members, complaining about not getting enough money I think what he fails to realize is that it’s an enormous privilege to even get paid for the music, not a right. And historically, these few decades of musicians getting wealthy are quite unique.”
For those not in the know, Fred was the band’s drummer between 1998 and 2015 before they parted ways after 17 years together. It wasn’t really spoken about how or why he left, so upon seeing his post, we hit him up to gauge more of his thoughts on the matter and his now public ousting from the band…
Hey Fredrik, first of all, it sucks to hear what you’re saying about your time in the band and what’s been said about you. I wanted to discuss that further, is there anything you can tell us about the financial situation you mentioned or what lead to you no longer being in Amon Amarth?
Cheers man, yeah that outrage was based on an interview he [Johan] did in Sweden Rock Magazine last year where he stated some lies about me and also basically said that I should be thankful that I was being paid as much as the other members when I was part of the band. Even though this was the deal we had, that everyone should get equal shares, but when I was fired they backed away from that deal and said I shouldn’t get my full share and I should be thankful what they had “given” me throughout the years. As if the money I got was not for the work I put in. Also implying that my work was worth nothing which is another backstabbing comment about me. They’ve sure made a few about me since I was fired. And my bitterness comes from that, not from not being in the band anymore.
Getting kicked out from the band is the best that has happened to me even if I didn’t think so at first. As a member, it was years of struggles for me. Years where I felt I was never treated as an equal member. When I pointed it out they only ridiculed me and said I was being silly. The irony is that now I’m proven right, they do not consider me an equal member, only now they say I never should’ve been either. That’s what I’m bitter about.
Oh man, that sucks, sorry to hear it. On the topic of finances though, during our interview with Johan, he said it is hard for bands to actually make a living out of being a musician and not getting paid much from music streaming sites is a problem. Do you agree there or was your statement regarding something else?
No I agree on that, but I don’t think it’s a right to make a living off of your music, it’s a privilege. Even during the heydays of record sales not everyone was granted economical success. You still have to have either talent or luck. Or hard work and dedication, as is the case with Amon in my opinion. But I guess they have come to a point where they see it as obvious that they should make a living from the music, and when you start to see that as a right I think it’s dangerously close to consider yourself a better person than someone else.
Right, so you still need to do the hard yards even after you’ve “made it” so to say. What do you think about the claims though, do you think an increase in payment from music streaming sites would help more bands be better off or do you think it comes down something else e.g. their popularity, record/physical sales and live shows attended etc
Obviously more is more. But an increase would mostly benefit those who already have big sales/streams. If an underground band that have say 500-50,000 streams had an increase in the pay it would hardly be noticable, but if you have millions of streams it would. And yeah, you still have to somehow reach a bigger fan base to make a living off of it, but I also think that shouldn’t be the goal when you’re making music.
On the back of that, do you think Amon Amarth are a band that need to worry about an increased fee or payment from these services or do you think his statement should only reflect upcoming/unsigned bands that aren’t as big as they are?
They definitely don’t need to worry about sales and streams at this point. Money is coming in. I hope somehow the statement is a genuine concern for smaller bands, but I think he’s out of touch and like I said in my original post I find it hypocritical cause it sounds like he’s complaining about not getting enough paid.
That’s definitely some food for thought to take with you… what do you think?
Words/Interview by Browny @brownypaul
Amon Amarth‘s new album Berserker is out now. Revisit our review right here