Editorial: The Year in Reviews for 2009
It’s amazing to me when I realize that not only is 2009 over, but that we are officially off and running into 2010 at this point. So let me ask you all a question – Is it just me or did you view 2009 as being one of those years that absolutely blasted by in terms of things to do and how fast it seemed to go away? I sure hope that I am not wrong in that assumption because it feels like only yesterday that I was compiling some thoughts about 2008 and the website for those who have been reading our work. Anyway, I digress. So while we felt that 2008 was a pretty cool year as far as being a Music Media Guy, it seemed as though 2009 blew it out of the water in terms of things to adventure into and report upon to raise your music and entertainment awareness about the Metal and Hard Rock scene of our fair city and its outskirts whenever possible. As 2009 closed out we finalized the coding on what appeared to be the 1850th review on PiercingMetal.com and that was pretty cool because 350 or so of these came to be in 2009 alone. That’s something like a review every day if you factor it out. Of course in the larger scheme of things we felt that it was not enough for our liking and will look to knock that number out of the park with 2010 as much as possible. I am of course speaking of trying to surpass those 350 articles and not the full on 1850. A number of factors kept the “conventional” reviewing process a little slower than we would have liked despite the relatively solid content productivity and we will touch up them as the various sections of our Editorial recap go by. Needless to say this was a VERY busy year and as a website we felt that we were fortunate enough to take part in a number of super cool things that will not only continually provide entertainment to you readers; but also be memories that we will keep close to our Metal heart for years to come. Let’s rewind.
In April of 2009 PiercingMetal.com completed four years as a website and began its fifth and this was pretty cool when I sat and reflected upon it because today there are so many websites out there that one is often hard pressed to choose which ones they like or do not based on the staggering number. We feel fortunate that you readers are still interested in what we have to say and how we present our own views about the Metal scene and its ever-changing geography. In that, we look forward to continuing the process and bringing information to your minds that you might not find anywhere else. 2009 also had a strange beginning to it as the economic factors of the world really began to impact the music industry and the all too familiar cry of “budget cuts” where heard again and again when we attempted to keep the sword sharpened and be on point for the Metal faithful. The cuts came via changes in the ways that the providers of product which you see as the content were dealt out and where once the stuff came to us via physical format, it primarily morphed into online links to streams or marked downloads. The first one would be something only accessible for a window of time while the latter meant that once we were done with the item, we would need to destroy it or lock it up into the vaults of PM.com to make sure the music was not compromised. Some of the cuts impacted mediums like ours by finding them being abandoned entirely and hence this would be the reason that some items would not find coverage. The print medium for our music really took a bang as long time industry mainstays simply went away which was the case found on both Metal Edge and Metal Maniacs magazine. They would be ended without so much as a goodbye and considering that we often placed images and words in both of these fine mags we had to say that we would miss them very much. Blender Magazine went away as well, and BW&BK or Brave Words and Bloody Knuckles ceased its physical release and became a strict online and this continued along as a regular occurrence in other genres as well. There was an upside in this as cuts and deductions in one area found us paying more attention to other areas and so it goes. It is safe to say that we shall always have something to bring to your attention and keep you passionate about the Metal scene. Now its time to talk about the various parts of the site which I always make sure to do for you so fasten your seat belt my dear readers – the ride is about to begin.
CD’s: Among the dramatic changes that we found happening in 2009 was not only the closure of the Virgin Megastores but also the bankruptcy and dissolution of Circuit City. While Virgin sold far more music than Circuit City, or at least seemed to in our opinion, the loss of two major retailers for music purchasing was a very bad thing. As the year progressed, I would also take notice of the fact that stores like Best Buy were making less and less shelf space available for physical music and one had to wonder how much longer we would even be finding CD’s in the traditional brick and mortar outlets. I-Tunes and the various other online marketplaces were looking like the way to go but at least we still had Amazon.com and CD Universe for those that enjoyed owning the full on real CD. Being somewhat “Old School” or “Traditional” in terms of the purchasing dollar, I still prefer having something that I can put on a shelf and eventually be yelled at by a significant other for having too many of them around. As readers are well aware, every CD review and DVD as well offer an embedded purchase code so they can quickly order what they are reading about on CD or in MP3 format.
2009 was a tremendous year in the realm of re-issues and we saw the stunning catalog of The Beatles remastered and released for a pretty decent price considering what we were getting and of course the loss of artists like Michael Jackson found his entire back catalog being a big seller once again. Bands like Motorhead, Def Leppard, Whitesnake and many more found their classic albums being re-presented by the labels in 2009 and this made our long existing premise of offering up views on legacy CD’s all the more relevant. One of the plans in 2010 for the website is to continue doing this and hopefully also complete some full release catalogs of some of our own favorite artists like KISS, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Rush. Let’s see what time allows us to do in addition to all of the other reviews we undertake. As we mentioned in our opening, a number of the review materials are now digital downloads only and while some felt this made the work to do easier, there were many who were put off by it and they would bypass doing anything on the release. In one sense I can understand based on this being the physical “thank you” for the time spent on our artist. I am still on the fence about it myself but have been trying to run with the pack since this is unlikely to change. We did not do as many of the CD releases as we wanted to in 2009 based on a very heavy concert itinerary and look to get back to business in this region across the course of 2010.
DVD’s: While the aforementioned lack of shelf space allotted to the physical music medium was lowered, we were happy to see that the video side was increased almost exponentially and now that Blu-Ray is the dominant “high end” video medium there seems to be even more of them when you hit the stores. We’ve always reviewed a lot of DVD’s on PiercingMetal.com and we shall continue to do so because we just love seeing how the live shows are presented for the home viewing audience. Folks like Eagle Rock Entertainment have been a great provider of this stuff based on their re-releasing legacy concert films from either Montreux or even Rockpalast (from Germany) along with a host of newer things. Kudos are also to be given to the fine folks at Music Video Distributors because they keep the surprises coming and a lot of things that we might have missed out on had we not seen their announcements about what they were working on. It’s also been very common to find the touring bands to release a full live format DVD of the tour they just did in its entirety and I am good with that very much. The KISS fan in me can always use a new video of them, and well since I love the classic Metal years the most, I always lean positive when Maiden and Priest dish out the goods. I don’t expect this to change much going forward but I would like to see the often separate live audio portion of these videos be included in the package once and for all. If physical music is having such a tough time getting proper shelf space, then why not just put them together with these DVD’s and leave the price reasonable. My opinion is that it will end up selling more of the films than less and by including the audio in as well will give the buyer more incentive to own it. It can be done because this making the audience choose between one or the other is not a wise thing in the economy where this is considered a luxury expense.
Book Section: The absolutely insane roster of shows prevented me from the luxury of sitting down and enjoying a good book and that bothered me a bit since I love to read so much. We did a handful of these kind of reviews and directed readers to the ones that we had skimmed and found interesting and worthy of their purchasing dollar. I have already made my spring reading list and look forward to presenting some thoughts on the tomes that I get through. Stay tuned.
Concerts: I’ll be the first to admit that the over packed schedule of live shows that I took on in the last quarter of 2008 had kept me very busy into the first couple of months of 2009 despite my best efforts. It wasn’t so much procrastination as it was the mass amount of photos we took and commentary that needed to be sorted out for your enjoyment. We felt that when we walked into 2009 that we would take it a little easier as far as shows were concerned but as many of the readers who see me “in action” are aware, the fates had a different idea of how I would be using my time. That being said, PiercingMetal.com adventured into no less than 95 shows during 2009 and it is a personal record because when added up from beginning to end we photographed and offered up commentary on over 300 bands for the year. We have always been happy to include words about the amazing openers and sometimes inspiring local talent that we get to enjoy at these shows and are happy that our readers enjoy the larger level of commentary that we present to them. There are far too many journalists who arrive just in time for the headliner and ignore the talented bands before them and despite having less to report on will only give you a slight paragraph and two or three photos. We feel that this makes our own concert reports a little more worth doing even if they take a little more time to prepare. The Concert section of PiercingMetal.com also utilizes the Gallery section very much and is its “brother” in the larger scheme of things and allows you the quick ability to see all the bands that performed at show X with a simple click. 2010 started off with a concert bang and we have been hard at work on them for you so thanks for your patronage.
The downside of the economy has found us realizing that the mass number of audience participants is not always good at the shows and that the fans are picking and choosing a little more carefully as opposed to going to everything that happens. We’ve also observed that not every band should be doing a headlining spot because with the limited audience numbers hitting certain shows that we attended we felt that some of these spotlight gigs would have been better served by being packaged together. Kudos to those who do attend a wide number of gigs over the year, you are helping to keep the scene alive and since touring is so expensive on a band as well, one never knows if it will be a long time before we see them again.
Gallery: We have really been enjoying the chance to add content to this no longer new Gallery section for the readers because it’s been serving the purpose that we intended it to have immensely. For those who are joining us in the middle of the movie, here is a quick recap to what the Gallery section is all about. When PiercingMetal.com covers a concert appearance we have always tried our best to document and visually present to the readers a little something from the many talented acts that lead us into the killer show being done by the headlining act. That being said there are sometimes shows that find between three to five openers and unless the reader remembered that X Band opened up for Y Band they might not find the gallery for that band. Thanks to the way the gallery is presented, every single individual gallery is searchable by artist, record label, and venue. They are stockpiled into the section in the date order that they happened in. At the time of this writing we have surpassed 850 galleries and as long as we keep doing our concert reporting in this fashion you will have a lot to enjoy going forward. At this rate we might just pass 900 by the time the website hits the completion of five years and actually becomes a five year old Metal online medium.
Interviews: Similar to the book section, the massive amount of doing 95 shows in 2009 also held us a little back on our interviewing process. Mind you we do love speaking to the bands and getting some of their deepest thoughts out onto the coded page for you to enjoy so we will try to get to more of those in 2010 if we can come up with some interesting things to ask them for you.
The Piercing Calendar: I am proud to report that the area events calendar on PiercingMetal.com has remained 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 think that is an awesome thing if we help you know far in advance about the events that are worth attending. The calendar has been live since the day we launched and while originally only populating with three or four venues of note we have expanded over the years to include something like twenty of the main providers of entertainment. We list all Metal, Hard Rock, Punk and Progressive gigs from the most visited establishments and sometimes work hand in hand with the venue publicists to make sure we can bring you the best report of the show should it be one that we are also planning on attending. We’ve also felt that this calendar helps to make us a Heavy Metal Travel Ambassador as many visitors to our region from afar have mentioned looking at what is going on over here when they are planning their visits. It’s also helped visiting bands know what’s brewing in town should they have some off days. The larger focus of the calendar remains on NYC events and some of the outside regions. Clearly there are some we do not feature based on our never getting to the places or the distance being too far off the radar of what we are generally supporting. There are always exceptions to the rule so representatives in the media are encouraged to keep us posted on their artist’s events and fan happenings so we might list them as well should they not be presented. We are also very interested in continuing to spearhead the calendar’s overall success by working with more venue publicity teams so we can get more bodies into the room and make the shows a bigger and better success. In the end, the goal of this tool is that it remains useful and it truly has been something that we see working for Metal’s behalf every single day.
Events: The dismal economics that bled out from the gaping wound of 2008 and continued to make a mess in 2009 found everyone cutting back, but despite this there were still some special events being held that fans and media alike were able to take part in. Plenty of artists did album signings and performances at retailers like Best Buy and J&R Music World and we were happy to bring a number of these to the readers via the website. We’ve also begun to feature these kinds of things on the Piercing Calendar if the general public is permitted to partake in them. There were some specialty events that while covered were media only and things like the Ace Frehley Hard Rock Café event and the Woodstock Gala were awesome to be invited to. Since the public was not able to join in, we did our best to present the readers with both commentary and images that made them feel as though they were a part of the action.
The PiercingMetal Musings Blog: In 2007 we set up a blog as a means to offer our readers a more personal look into the over active mind that I sometimes have because there are often tales and scenarios that go along with the articles that you read but for the sake of keeping those as educational or resources, we leave a lot of the personal stuff behind. The rapidly rising popularity of blogging across the board found this working for us as well as a side section to what was happening over on PiercingMetal.com – some folks know this was originally on Blogger but has since been moved over to WordPress since we felt this worked a lot better for our initiatives. As a blog this has also morphed a bit and while at first presenting thoughts about our photo pit adventuring and what led us to this path it now also features what we refer to as “lead ins” to our concert reports and interviews. All of this content still lives on the main website, but by introducing our readers to a blog feed they are permitted to leave us their own comments on the shows and tours that they might have seen at the same time. Thanks to those who have taken the time to do that kind of thing. Since its own debut the PiercingMetal Musings blog has also given me the place to talk about movie releases and some music that falls a little outside of the conventional realm and still is interesting enough for us to inform you about it. I will do my best to keep this an interesting area of the site.
PiercingMetal Forums: We disabled these a couple of years ago and have decided to rebuild from the ground up and hopefully inspire some great Metal exchanges across the readership. Forums are not always easy to make a success with so many people having Facebook and MySpace pages nowadays but we like to think that by offering our readers the chance to talk about what makes them excited in the genre that it will work to the Metal advantage.
Using Other Online Outlets: Since launching the site in early 2005 we have aimed to maintain some level of visibility by frequently noting about key items on outlets like MySpace (which no longer seems to be chic to do) and Facebook which has both a PiercingMetal.com Fan Page and a PiercingMetal.com Friends and Fans Group. In Facebook for our own endeavors the Group page seems to be most effective in promoting larger items and now there is something called Twitter. With the Twitter account we do our best to report “from the field of Metal battle” in terms of the shows, activities we are partaking in and other things along those lines. Google tossed their hat into the mix by giving us “Buzz” and we like that since it posts our Twitter notations. Whew. Outlets such as Woozyfly.com and Multiply.com died quiet deaths and just went to show that having your own site or Blog to present your ideas is something that is much better than relying on an any external outlet that could go away at any time or be purchased and morphed into something far different than what you wanted it to be. In our opinion it also shows more initiative and zeal for the task at hand. Having a MySpace or Facebook page alone and commenting on shows and music releases on them doesn’t necessarily put you in the same league as those who are taking a stand on an established domain or well-trafficked blog site. We feel it’s a cool way to generate extra interest in what you are doing but recommend making the stand by taking the hard road is more rewarding.
The Coolness Of 2009: I just wanted to pause here and reflect on some of the things we felt were super cool to us over the course of 2009 and the first would be our completion of four years as a website and beginning of our fifth as quite possibly the most important. Another highlight or two which tie into those “media only” events was the grand opening of the Hard Rock Café in the brand new Yankees Stadium because the shindig found none other than former KISS guitarist Ace Frehley present and smashing guitars with Scott Ian from Anthrax. The Hard Rock café kept us busy again as we were on point to help celebrate the 40th Anniversary of “Woodstock” the movie. This event found us getting the chance to meet and mingle with the founders and organizers of the historic festival and let us bring some of its magic to your own living rooms with our words. There was also the fashion show held by Semi Precious Weapon’s Justin Tranter who closed out the event with a rousing performance by his band. All memorable coolness when it comes down to it. We’ve also continued to receive positive praise for our thirty seconds of airtime on the sadly never renewed “Talking Metal on Fuse” show. We loved being a part of that program and continually thank Mark Strigl and Jon Ostronomy for letting us appear on it. Folks might remember this show aired in early 2008 and was not renewed by the network even though it continues to run in repeats and draw in amazing numbers. We always felt that this program connected best with the current state of Metal affairs and will definitely work with Mark and Jon again if the future directs us to do so.
Affiliations & Advertising: Extra money was not something that a lot of people had in 2009 and perhaps it was not the most optimal time to begin offering advertising space up on PiercingMetal.com. Yet with the slow extinction of the mighty print magazines of the genre perhaps it was. We’ve primarily kept the site alive for you all via our affiliate programs and while we had found that some didn’t work at all, we chose to focus the most attention on the ones that did. As result we have loved being one of the Amazon.com affiliates since our launch as we are devout customers of the site ourselves and want to remind readers that should they be inclined to purchase anything at all via an amazon.com link on PiercingMetal.com, they purchase works in our favor and the company thanks us in credits which we apply to the sites upkeep and content. Many readers have accessed the retailer via our site and then saved it as a favorite or bookmark so they would not forget to do it. We thank you for your initiative in this area, and for those who are in command of their companies advertising budget, we welcome your inquiries into possibly doing business together. We have a great number of sections to offer you.
Statistically Speaking: Survey Says…. A few editorials ago I lined out how when it was researched, that there were something like 156 million websites actively online across the board. Since that time there have probably been a few million more added to the mix and maybe that number is even higher but I could not find out the exact quantification for this narrative. Let’s now add blogs to that number because in middle 2008, Technorati.com said how it was tracking about 112 million blogs – YIKES!!!!. The popularity of blogging and the fact that many of the social networking sites are offering their members the chance to have a blog of some kind as well probably has pushed that number well past 150 million since that tally but again there does not seem to be anything that gives you the sum total of what it out there. I am sure that there is some gauge but its nothing that I can access with my humble Metal Maestro credentials. So where does PiercingMetal.com fit into the mix of this? Well, many moons ago one of my publicity reps asked me what my Alexa.com ranking was, and I had no idea until I looked into it after their inquiry. It seemed to be the tool of choice of said reps who wanted to see if sending you that $14 CD or DVD was something worthy of their time and with this being the case we began to monitor our progress on the medium. We’ve presented a link to our page for reference and while we feel that our numbers and criteria are good we also believe this is not the be all and end all since some things are not monitored.
As an IT professional I always love when the numbers come up in discussion because the internet is a weird thing when it comes to gauging overall traffic. Most websites are not paid for or subscribed to mediums like their print counterparts are and we often get folks who don’t fully understand what they are asking us about pose these questions. We always stress to let the overall quality and professional feel of the content be your guide when reviewing the myriad of web providers of words that are available to you. If you like the way we do something then let’s keep the process going. If not, thanks for playing but please excuse us as we have a lot of work to do.
Statistically Speaking Part Two: Where Are They Coming From: As we are a US based site, the largest portion of our visitor attention does come from the states but with that in mind I would like to share with our readers the ten countries who visited PiercingMetal.com the most. In 2009 they were Russian Federation, Germany, Canada, Brazil, Great Britain, Mexico, European country, Netherlands, Italy and France.
Reflecting Upon the Music & Entertainment Losses of 2009:
When I first chose to add this section to our yearly overview it only featured a handful of musicians that were exclusively centered in the Hard Rock & Metal scene, but over time it became more of a necessity to tip the hat to those that had inspired us in other genres of music as well. This year we decided to also offer some homage and humble thanks to the many actors and actresses that left us and wow were there a bunch in that realm. I’m sure that we have missed a few names but we did have to stop somewhere and in the end I think that we should let these names not only be remembered for leaving us during the year of 2009, but more for the fact of the music and film work that they all left us with which can be remembered forever. My recommendations are to play their songs if you own them or research their videos online so you can do just that. And now let’s bow our heads for the Valhalla Class of 2009:
Corey James (former Lizzy Borden guitarist), Lux Interior (legendary Punk front man – The Cramps), Miika Tenkula (guitarist for Sentenced), Kelly Groucutt (bassist for Electric Light Orchestra), Louie Bellson (legendary drummer and founder of double bass drums), Billy Powell (keyboards for Lynryd Skynrd), Ron Asheton (guitarist for Iggy Pop & The Stooges), Marilyn Chambers (legendary adult actress), Wayne “Ean” Evans (bassist for Lynryd Skynryd), Michael Jackson (The King Of Pop), John McDonald Jr. aka Midnight (former singer of Crimson Glory). Dickie Peterson (bassist for Blue Cheer), Mike Alexander (bassist for Evile), Captain Lou Albano (WWE Wrestling Legend), Brittany Murphy (actress), James “The Rev” Sullivan (drummer, Avenged Sevenfold), Troy Young (former drummer, Splyacopa), Marcel Jacob (bassist, Talisman), Farrah Fawcett (actress), Karl Malden (actor), Dom DeLuise (actor), Patrick Swayze (actor), Kerri Lee Tucker (actress, That Metal Show), Natasha Richardson (actress), Mary Travers (singer, Peter Paul & Mary), Les Paul (Electric Guitar’s Godfather), Bea Arthur (actress), Ed McMahon (actor), Ricardo Montalban (actor), Soupy Sales (comedian), Ellie Greenich (songwriter), Paul Harvey (radio great), Walter Cronkite (legendary anchorman).
Special Thanks To: Wow, lots to say in this section so let’s have at it…
To the readers of the site who make this all worthwhile; thank you for your constant and kind attention to our words, images, and in how you keep the engine rolling by telling your friends about what you are enjoying on the website. Without you, it would not be as much of a mission to accomplish and with you we hold the sharpened sword of Metal even higher in battle. Sorry for such drama, I am listening to Ensiferum while I am writing this.
To the Media Illuminati in the music industry whether they are publicists, managers or just someone with their own finger on the pulse of what is happening and are an advocate of the PiercingMetal.com way. Thanks to your efforts this is not only possible to do, but also much easier to do. I look forward to working with you going forward and am happy to bring your own bands happenings to the larger public and my dedicated readers. If we don’t work together at this moment, then perhaps we need to discuss how to change that.
To the Barricade Brigade aka the various security teams that guard the realms of the photo pit. Damn have we shared some interesting times this year as the bodies came flying over the gates and onto the sometimes unsuspecting journalists and photographers. I appreciate your quick thinking actions that have kept me safe time and time again this past year and those many times before it. Concussions were never on my shopping list, so thanks for helping me keep to that credo. Let’s all be safe in 2010.
To the bands we have been fortunate enough to document in words and images on the site. You folks are the core of the game and its awesome to be able to help present your activities to the world. Thanks to the many bands who I have come to call allies in the realm and to those who were kind enough to review me as one of their own favorite resources when it came to documenting their adventures. Simply put, it has been a pleasure to serve in this fashion.
And Now We Adventure Into 2010: On 4/4/2010, PiercingMetal.com will complete five years online and begin adventuring into our sixth – I can hardly believe it since time seems to have moved so quickly. Since our inception as an online provider of entertainment there have been a number of changes in the industry and the scene as a whole. Outside of the continual plan for PiercingMetal HQ to herald the cause for the music that we all enjoy so much, one of our private goals is to get many more archive releases in audio and video products reviewed on the site. The long time readers of the site know full well how we would add a classic album or video of this kind to the mix whenever we felt like doing it or when said release was given a remastering. We’ve discussed offering up our views as a “Man On The Scene” commentator to a couple of the more known podcasts in order to give their listeners a vibe of what is happening out there but this is still in the negotiation stages.
Thank you and let’s keep the Forces of Metal strong in 2010.
Ken Pierce – Editor In Chief