The idea for doing an Editorial for PiercingMetal.com came to me based on a number of different things and I think the first one of them had to be from my corporate side of life where endless meeting after meeting would eventually culminate in the end of the year “how we doing” session. Those involved the Grand Poobah in charge to sit down with everyone under their sage wisdom and we would all recap the year to better understand what we did be it good or bad. I also was a fan of the editorial page in some of the magazines that I was reading where the editor lined out a number of key points about the work of the previous year when it came to either video releases, technology or musical equipment. It dawned on me that perhaps it would be a good idea to think aloud about the previous years adventures on the website and after careful consideration, we figured out how best to make it something tangible that any readers of PiercingMetal.com could learn a little about us from. We set it up based on site review criteria and not only would we speak on the strengths of the business (if any was to be found), but we would also line out and explain key or significant changes to the website and how we felt they would impact the reader. Given our role as site administrators, we felt that you might as well hear about this stuff from us and hopefully like where we were coming from with it.
Editorial: The Year in Reviews for 2008
That’s normally the way that I would close out on this little piece of commentary after it has completed its task of recapping the undertakings and thoughts I had about this years Metal adventures, but this time around I felt that it would be better to start off this way because it has truly been a memorable year in terms of site life and musical activity. One of the biggest accomplishments in my eyes was the fact that PiercingMetal.com was beginning its fourth year in April of 2008 and it’s very simply said that this is something that we are very proud of. The site now offers the readers a little over 1500 product and concert reviews which are all searchable and there are some 25,000 photos of the world’s greatest artists presented in the Concert pieces and our new Gallery section. Unlike some sites that recycle older content away, we have made sure to keep all of our older content in place as an archive so the fans of these bands can always do some searching on their favorite acts and learn what we had thought of them when we did the piece. This mindset has helped make PiercingMetal.com a consistently referred to resource by Metal fans and with the older stuff still in place, the newer readers never feel as though they missed something that might have interested them. All they need to do is type their interests in the search area and whatever they seek will be presented to them, provided we have done something on the band that they are researching. There will be many more product pieces hitting the pages as 2009 begins and while we have a mental number of what we want to achieve by its end, we shall keep that to ourselves and see how it progresses. In 2008 we also chose to expand the way that some of our menus feature things and by doing this you will see things just a little bit differently from the way you might have noticed when the year began. I’ll go over these changes and sections individually so we can offer up a better scope on them. Fasten your seat belt readers, for the ride is about to begin.
CD’s: When 2008 began I remember being convinced that 2007 was surely going to be a hard year to beat in terms of musical releases and yet it was only a couple of months inside the new year that made me realize that my days as a betting man would have been incredibly short based on the almost uncountable amounts of cool releases that were making themselves visible to the public. It seemed to be the year of the comeback release as bands like Whitesnake, Dokken, Def Leppard and Motley Crue put any experimentation behind them and instead delivered albums that brought their fans back to times they remembered fondly. It was also the year that not only found the return of Metallica and ACDC with recordings that did them justice but it was also the long anticipated release of the forever in the making “Chinese Democracy” by Guns ‘N Roses that made a lot of news. In the end I felt that it was great to see all of the super powers of Metal’s biggest years proving that they still had the stuff to go against the greatness of today. It was a year in music that found all of the labels who deal in the Metal dishing out some great stuff and upping their personal game. It showed that what while this music that we love so much that while not a part of the “popular” culture eye, that it hardly needs that to remain strong, innovative and growing with new surprises at each and every turn. There were also a number of reissues this year as bands like Motley Crue re-delivered their entire back catalog with extra tracks and labels like Metal Mind Productions continued to deliver classic Metal that had long been out of print on special edition remasters. I felt that those who enjoyed buying CD’s with their allotted portion of the entertainment budget certainly had a lot to choose from this year. We had a number of favorites and many of them were lined out in our “2008 Best Of” article on the main site. The music CD has really had a lot going against it this year as the brick and mortar stores are putting less emphasis on them in terms of shelf space and in NYC we found places like Virgin Megastore being phased out entirely as their eventual closure date moves closer. It’s unfortunate of course but lucky for us we always have the benefits of online purchasing to serve these needs. It’s important that the fans strive to buy the music that they love via the conventional means like Amazon.com or CD Universe in order to keep these artists funded and busy.
DVD’s: It’s pretty safe to say that the music DVD is proving to be a continually dominating force and in many instances is beating the purchase of CD’s by leaps and bounds. Companies like Eagle Vision and MVD Entertainment have been raising the bar in their getting legendary archive concerts and videos into the hands of the interested public while the record companies make sure to deliver live concert films of their current artist roster not long after their current tours had ended. This is a great thing to see, as it draws those who attended the show to the purchase point and makes those who wanted to be there feel less left out. A lot of these DVD’s are comprehensive packages that feature two or three live shows, a number of videos along with bonus content that lets the viewer examine the bands world and history a little more. I do admit some frustration with the tandem release of some of the DVD and CD packages which often feature the video part of a show and the other having an audio of the same show. I feel that at this point these need to be sold together and for a reasonable price. Dividing the audience by offering one or the other is seldom a smart move and the economics we found in 2008 has forced the buyer to choose between them. If you want to guarantee a sale, put out the DVD and include the CD as a nice bonus incentive. Or better still, allows the buyer to be able to play the DVD in their computer and offer an option to load the audio music onto their respective music player. I am sure that the technology exists to allow this to happen. There are many who might disagree with my view on this but it’s my personal opinion that selling both separately and then eventually putting them together is going to start making the public unhappy with the practice or maybe even force them to wait on the possibility of the releases being put together at some future point. Despite this reservation on the mechanics of it, we saw a number of amazing DVD releases come out this year along with some long hoped for footage that many never thought they would see. The rapid growth in home entertainment systems these days has made the advancements in DVD releases follow suit in some fashion and now with Blu-ray being the dominant high definition format, the standard releases are being made available at prices that are an essential steal. This year we reviewed quite the number of DVD releases and with the medium growing and growing we don’t see this slowing down any time soon.
Book Section: When we initially launched PiercingMetal.com, we had our Reviews set up under three different criteria headings that lined it out as “CD”, “DVD” and “Other”. Yes, the Concerts were also being reviewed but we felt that since this was such a large focus of our time that the subject is best left to its own section on the sites menu. The “Other” section ended up becoming the storage space for the Book reviews, Events coverage and any of the Editorial commentary or Features that we doled out. I had to say that during the earlier years of the site this worked out really well based on the limited number of such reviews being done and loaded in for public consumption. and in the beginning this worked out well since each of those items were still rather limited in terms of the number of overall pieces. As time and the site grew in content there were more Book and Event pieces being loaded in and they soon demanded a section of their own. As standalone sections now, those who are interested in reading up on their favorite artists can now easily see if there is something reviewed about an artist they have some interest in. We prefer to have this separate at this point because there are a number of quality tomes out there which we are still working through and wanted to call wider attention to. Book reviews are not as easy to complete as the CD and DVD pieces based on the sit down time they require but with a number of great photography journals being released we can still present what we get done with for the readers maximum enjoyment.
Events: As noted in the above topic about our Book section, we have now moved any of the Event coverage previously resident in “Other” and placed it here in a section of its own. Granted events are not something we always find ourselves partaking in and outside of band meet and greet signings there is not a whole lot to be able to feature here for the readers. Sometimes we are privy to those listening events that only a select few get to attend and if photography is allowed or music is being performed live in some fashion then we will do our best to bring you the inside scoop.
Concerts: When I looked back on it, it seemed as though we covered about 53 shows in 2006 and thought that we could never beat that number. In 2007 we tallied it up and realized that we adventured into about 65 shows and with that being a good twelve more than we ever expected to reach we knew that logistically this was going to be even tougher to surpass – and then 2008 happened. When it was all tallied up the PiercingMetal.com team clocked in a grand total of “82” shows and we feel that this number was something to be very proud of. It was an arduous task to be on point for all of these things and as readers of the site already know we are not that kind of site that only speaks about the headliners and delivers a handful of photos. We instead make sure to cover and shoot as many of the openers as we can find the time to and by doing this we help more bands out with one article. There were truly a great number of amazing big shows as well as some really cool small ones and while some bands were major players in the scene there was also more than a handful of up and comers that the world would do right to pay attention to. So loaded was the day to day schedule for the PiercingMetal Players that we are finding ourselves in the first weeks of the new year and still processing the last quarter of 2008’s stuff. It was never the intent to be this backlogged but an almost every other day show for three months time is bound to do that to anyone who braves the media realm and for those who are waiting with baited breath on our concert reports, just keep checking the proper section as you will have some really cool treats as 2009 develops into its own. As concert reporters we hit a lot of the regions most popular venues and in 2008 for the most part felt as though we had taken up residence in B.B. King Blues Club in Times Square. Contrary to popular opinion I do not live at the venue despite my feeling that I should just start bringing my laptop and gear with me and turning one of the side booths into a telecommuting desk for PiercingMetal.com work. The venue has treated my teammates and I very well since we launched this site and we are proud to call them allies in media and music. Many of the shows were absolute sellout affairs that people were clamoring to get in to enjoy and yet there were a number of others were you felt as though you should be standing out on the street to get more people to join in on the fun with you. While I know that the typical fan cannot attend every single show that happens I must implore that if it is one of those bands who is making their first trek to your region that you rally the support and make them feel as welcome as possible. It’s often hard enough to get to the states when you are a band from across the ocean and to play a club that holds 1000 and find just over 100 people in attendance, I have to say that it really doesn’t make the band want to return all that quickly for another go at it. I will not mention any particular show names or venues that this happened at as we documented enough about that aspect in our concert reviews, but if you are from our region and attended some gigs like this then you know exactly whom I am referring to. Another thing I have often noticed is the folks who only get there for band A or for band B and then scatter. Metal music needs the troops there for everyone so get in the room on time to see who else is playing because you never know what will become of one of those openers or their guitarist or drummer if such a player is of amazing talents. You can be among those who “saw them first” and claim the proper bragging rights. Also, you are spending the cash so you might as well get the most value for your money. Doing this also gives you the chance to possibly meet the headliners who are often milling about the various clubs watching the openers from the sidelines. Having seen this in the past, I have also noticed that all of the bands seem eager and interested in meeting their fans for the most part. Make every concert an event with your friends, it makes for better memories. With the barrage of shows that we have seen in 2008 it was really hard to lock down the absolute favorite one and yet we managed to line out the ones we liked the most in our “Best Of 2008” commentary. We didn’t really hit any festival shows this year based on conflicts in scheduling of them or inability to work out the proper credentials to do this right by you readers but that was ok for we did have more than enough to keep us occupied and you entertained with the commentary and photos. We look forward to an exciting year in live music in 2009 but really doubt that it can achieve the levels of intensity that 2008 did. Of course, I do love being proven wrong on stuff like this so keep watching to see how it plays out.
Gallery: As many of our readers know, when we hit one of the concerts that rumble through town, we have always made sure to aim the lens of the PiercingCamera in the direction of more than just the headlining act. Let’s face it, there are so many talented groups out there and some of them eventually become headliners at their own shows if they are lucky enough. Since launching the site we have made sure to feature a photo gallery for every band we caught and these galleries can be viewed on the concert report for the headlining band. We felt that this was a great thing to offer the readers but then as time moved on we had realized that many of the photos were going unseen because unless you remembered that Ratt or Cinderella opened for Poison you might never be able to enjoy the photos of those iconic rockers ever again. With this in mind, we formulated a new table that delivers for the readers every single gallery of every band that has ever been shot since the site began running. These entries are featured under their own menu heading and are presented to the readers in date order. Essentially, the first show shot, is the first gallery that you can see all the way down on the list. Since we were building this from oldest to most recent, and had over 500 such galleries to deliver to the Metal legions, we have only made it as far as the middle of 2007 at the time of this Editorial. We do not update this section every day, but instead load several new archives into the table every week. It is our hope that by the Spring of 2009 that we will be closing out on the 2008 galleries and closer to being right on top of everything else as it happens. The section is something that we are very proud of and features the photographic excellence of all who helped bring the stories to larger life on PiercingMetal.com – We hope that you fans of concert photos will spend a lot of time browsing through them and more importantly enjoying what we have delivered to you.
Interviews: As much as we enjoy presenting the innermost thoughts of the artist to the readers we did not focus on this section much in 2008 because we were tied up being the live presence, the photography madman and Metal music carnival barker whenever possible. Our plan in 2009 is to get a few more of these done and also to complete any of the thought long lost ones that we dug up audio files for.
The Piercing Calendar: I am proud to report that the area events calendar on PiercingMetal.com still remains one of the most popular places to visit on the site and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Many people have told us that this is the “go to” place for all of their Metal adventures if they are from the New York and NJ regions and it’s something that helps them plan out the use of their paychecks. We have observed that while some of the venues that we used to list shows for have gone away and in their place a score of others have been set up in their place. It seems that you can tear down the building but you cannot tear down the desire to see live music somewhere. As readers know, we don’t feature every single place that has performances in the city, as that would be an insane amount of updating for the team but instead we maintain listings for the high profile and consistently reliable places to see shows. Readers also know that this calendar is often updated months in advance and based on this we have learned that out of town visitors have been using our listings when they are planning visits to the city. We feel this is great and smile at our transformation into a Heavy Metal Travel Ambassador. Representatives in the media are encouraged to keep us posted on their artists events and fan happenings so we might list them, and venue publicists can easily reach out as well to find out how more of their shows can be listed for more people to see. In the end, the goal of this tool to remain useful has truly been something we see working for Metal’s behalf every single day.
The PiercingMetal Musings Blog: In 2007 we had set this up under a Blogger account and it was a handy little place for me to think aloud about some of the goings on and happenings that occur for me as a writer and photographer who is active in today’s Metal music scene. Labeling it “PiercingMetal Musings”, I found myself doing just that, and musing upon what it is really like being in the photography pit as band and fan propel themselves over your head or how incredibly difficult it can be to do the very simplest of things. We also wrote about a couple of band meet and greets and when the response for more activity here became great, we moved the entire thing to the actual site. Readers can access this on our links page and now it features many more topics than was its original plan. Here is where I offer up thoughts about items I had been asked to review that might fall just outside of PiercingMetal.com’s main scope or plan and where I can discuss the tools used to do the job better. Like most blog things, it is a purely personal look into the over active mind and while we love for you to be entertained by it, we ask that you don’t overanalyze what you read there and just follow along. Comments and thoughts back on any of this stuff are highly encouraged and more will be presented here as time allows me to do it. It’s also now a WordPress blog as opposed to a Blogger one.
The Coolness Of 2008: In addition to the writing of the product reviews and attending some amazing concerts, the past year was one that also held a couple of new and cool things for me to do in order to present PiercingMetal.com to an even larger audience. As long time site readers know, most of 2006 and 2007 were spent submitting reviews for the “Hear Us Out” section of Metal Edge magazine along with regularly handling their DVD review section. When I tallied it all up, it seemed as though over the course of 13 plus issues, my thoughts made up some 150 product reviews. This ended shortly before 2008 came upon us but in its place began the chance to contribute photography work under the watchful eye of the magazines new editorial command. We enjoyed this as we had an already existing and fruitful relationship with the fine folks over at Metal Maniacs magazine. Thanks to Metal Liz Ciaravella and Phil Freeman for putting the PiercingCamera to even better use. We hope to continue this in 2009 so keep reading those magazines and checking the photos since you never know when my stuff will pop up. The other major boon was the appearance that I was able to make on the “Talking Metal on Fuse” program. The show was hosted by the creators of the popular podcast that bears the same name and it aired on the Fuse cable network. While it was largely modeled after the podcast, the format was expanded to make it even more interesting. I was one of the couch guests for an episode and was able to toss a couple of thoughts into the general conversation that was being held by the show hosts. My brief appearance aside, I felt that this was a fantastic program that blended musical discussion, interviews and actual music footage about the relevant Metal scene of today into one handy dandy thirty minutes. There was slight comedy involved but it was wisely downplayed in order to deliver more Metal content. Happenstance also allowed me to be present while the guys were doing a podcast with another guest and while my appearance or ideas were not a part of the plan I made sure to be as topical as I could when the guys asked me a question about something. The Fuse show seems to have run its course but you never know what can come back in cable television land – I will remain hopeful for them, since it was a lot of fun. Perhaps the future will hold another podcast where I am present and will be able to offer up a far more in depth view about the lay of the Metal landscape as I have observed it. Thanks to Jon and Mark for making PiercingMetal.com a part of their world, it’s good to have like minds working towards the same goals.
Reflecting Upon The Musical Losses of 2008: While the love of music is clearly a celebration of life it is a sad fact that there are often times when it is used to counter the sadness of the losses that touch our lives. In 2008 there were several losses of note that we wanted to make mention of and raise both the horns and the ales in honor of. The music world would lose Mel Galley (guitarist of Whitesnake) to cancer, Munetaka Higuchi (drummer for Loudness) to cancer, Bo Diddley (legendary Blues guitarist), Isaac Hayes (legendary Soul man), Richard Wright (genius keyboardist for Pink Floyd) to cancer, Mike Baker (singer of Shadow Gallery), Jimmy Carl Black (drummer for Frank Zappa’s Mothers Of Invention), and Steve Isham (keyboardist for Autograph). On a more personal note, the Metal community would also lose one of its staunchest allies in Adrian Bromley, a publicist whom I had dealt with since the beginning of my writing life and a man who was respected by industry powers that be and bands from many different Metal genre scopes. He believed in this scene and his loss impacted many of us. I was happy to have known him and was proud to call him a friend in this ever crazy business.
Affiliations & Advertising: Since launching, PiercingMetal.com has offered the readers the means to purchase the item being reviewed on Amazon.com via their affiliation program and this has been met with incredible response and enthusiasm. Reader interest increased when they realized that any purchase they made via our Amazon.com comprehensive back catalog was actually helping the site earn credits which are used for more review items. We have continued to bring you these major affiliations as well in order to help you earn the always needed discount to get more for your money. At present we have set up programs with Sirius, Rhapsody, Hot Topic, and Musicians Exchange. Remember that all purchases help PiercingMetal.com out as well and we will continue to offer you ones that we feel cater best to our audience base. We have also set up the means for advertising space to be purchased and based on the region of choice there is a chance that your company or releases can be presented to our ever growing readership. Interested parties need only reach out to discuss these opportunities.
Statistically Speaking: Survey Says…. Curiosity found me looking up just how many websites there were currently online and while I am not sure of the exact truth to it, the answer was “over 156 million” and I am sure that this includes a little bit of everything. Somewhere in these numbers are the amount of Heavy Metal websites and Blogs and online communities and forums that are dedicated to the genre and its fans and yet even though there are countless hundreds of thousands of this type, I am proud to inform you that PiercingMetal.com traffic has only increased since the last year. Our presence is dominant in the United States it seems according to our own web statistics tally, but we have noticed an increasing presence in regions of the world such as Brazil, Sweden, Finland and many more South American and European nations. Many people are using traffic monitors such as Alexa.com to check any given sites “standings’ and while such things do not affect the work we are doing, we are proud to notice that we are doing rather well in this monitors eyes. Should such a thing interest you, feel free to click this bolded Alexa.com to see the current PiercingMetal.com traffic ranking.
Using Other Online Outlets: PiercingMetal.com was only a few months old when MySpace was becoming the thing to do and now it seems as though Facebook is the place to be. We created profiles on each of them in order to help deliver the Metal message that we had and hopefully reach more fans of the bands that we are writing about. While these mediums have helped out somewhat we find that the sites that are linking to our articles or photo galleries are providing the most good. It’s flattering to find our words being referred to on discussion boards and shared with fan sites all around the world. It allows us to share the work with those who might have never seen it otherwise. There are times where we find an exact word for word copy of our articles being delivered on a fan site as opposed to having the item being directly linked to and we hope that in the future such entities opt for the link because this allows the person reading the piece to enjoy our whole presentation in the fashion that it was meant to be seen in the first place. It also gives those readers the chance to perhaps enjoy something else we have written about and in the end that helps more bands. That’s always a good thing in my humble opinion. We also joined up with several interesting online communities this year as well and are counted among the number of Trig.com users and SkullsNBones.com – our goal is as expected, to make friends that are made on these entities aware of the stuff we are doing on the main site.
Special Thanks To: Thanks of course to the continued assistance and support of my team players Joe Kaufman, Steve Bunche and Peter Parrella who periodically offered up text, photos or design as needed. My hope is that time allows for more review content from them comes in 2009. Thanks to the security folks in the photo pits who keep the bodies of the crowd surfers from landing on me while I take photos and thanks to those label and media representatives who have been believers in the way that we do things for all these past few years. We look forward to bringing the news about your artist roster to our readership as often as possible. Of course the most important thanks goes out to you readers of the site who are enjoying what we do and finding the time to tell more people about it. As you know, this stuff does no good by being a secret and we are pleased that you have been our personal champions of interest. There are many of you who have kept us as top MySpace friends and those who have made sure to link to us whenever possible and all we can say is that you are making me want to work harder at it. Keep it up and I will do the same to keep you entertained. We also appreciate those legions that let us know when a show we might be interested in is missing from the calendar and are happy that folks like this are on the lookout. Your kind support motivates harder work is all I can say.
And Now We Adventure Into 2009: The big question I hear now after running the site for a few years is what is coming next and well to be honest that angle has not yet come to me but I do plan on expanding the reach of what we are doing in the hopes that we awaken more sleepers and have them join in to the Metal Legions. Video stuff would be nice, but the need to do something different from the stuff that is already on would be paramount before such an endeavor is even entertained. Let’s face it, not everything that has video attached to it is good and for every great idea there more than 100 crappy ones. A podcast would be nice if we could figure out what we would want to podcast about and also when the hell to find time to do it. I often hear that more audio should be instituted on the site and that risks RIAA stuff so no thanks there. With the bevy of Internet Radio stations facing extinction from the rules and regulations of that entity, we would rather not even wander down that road. Others had wondered if we would ever be redesigning the site and since it works for your needs I would have to say not right now. For such an implementation to be even thought of, we would have to be presented with a killer visual and superb user interaction. At present the readers can find every review they want with the search tools and we are working on making the same thing happen with the Gallery section. For now the main plan is to keep getting the reviews delivered to you as well as some interesting photography. There is a lot on our plate with that stuff already and we felt that the year was off to a great start. The website begins its fifth year in April, and I can hardly believe it. So to sum it all up……
Ken Pierce – Editor In Chief