Something I see a lot of bands complaining about is how a lot of the energies of industry people tend to go into legacy acts and reunions. Now I totally get that, its a hard thing to be a band grinding it out on the road and then see some group of old dudes reunite and find that they are suddenly playing in front of thousands of people. That’s a weird position to be in and it’s one that obviously leads to a lot of financial gain for those bands and the people who handle them. Similarly a lot of people I think feel the frustration that comes with not getting those opportunities. There’s not a lot of ways to fight so that you can have them. Now I’ve also seen the argument that this philosophy means there will be no crop of new bands to profit off of, another concept I wanted to tackle in this article. While again – I’m pretty damn sympathetic to the plight of smaller bands I think it’s important to figure out how to balance these things and why it happens this way.
Now first let’s state the obvious – legacy bands are a sure buck and in an industry where there aren’t a lot of guarantees it’s always nice to have some acts on your roster who fully acknowledge that and will help your company develop. Legacy acts and reunions are relatively easy to put together too because with a little bit of dough to grease the wheels it’s suddenly a lot more feasible to book limos, hotels and all that other good stuff. Furthermore, most of the time the bands are pretty clear that what they are doing is a cash grab, which means that a lot of the time they are willing to actually focus on what makes them special and drive forward in a much more effective way. I know that sounds bitter hearted but when it comes down to it, managers and other industry people want to minimize drama and anything working in their favor is going to have to be considered at the end of the day when trying to figure out what actually matters.
Beyond that I would go so far as to say that when implement properly legacy acts and reunions can be good for the scene. It’s an opportunity for these guys to take some of their favorite young bands out and introduce them to major audiences. The issue of course is that a lot of these major audiences don’t care about young bands and furthermore a lot of the older bands coming back to reunite haven’t exactly kept up with the scene so they don’t know whats happening. It means that a lot of these bands end up just taking the biggest buy on they can find. The other way that these bands can help the scene is by drawing attention back to a certain genre of music or an era. It’s a way to make people realize there’s all this great stuff to dig through both old and new and it ends up making for a powerful and exciting look into a world forgot. Sure it doesn’t always happen this way, but gateway bands are never a bad thing in my eyes.
Of course the issue is that there’s a very limited number of bands who can reunite successfully and have it mean something. Then as I outlined earlier there’s also a limited number of bands who are reuniting and try to help smaller bands actually do something of substance. This is where we start to reach an impasse and realize how fucked this whole thing. Perhaps nowhere is the industry maxim of “You need to be somebody to do something, to do something you need to be somebody” more true than in the world of reunion tours. It shows that even if the ‘something’ happened ten or twenty years ago (Or even more!) you can still have a lot more instant recognition and success than a band who has been touring their asses off for years on small package bills. This is the brutal reality and trying to leverage even major opportunities into larger future successes frequently just doesn’t work out and leads to even more frustration.
Now when this issue gets brought up you see a lot of people talking about how ‘there won’t be a next generation of stars’ and I guess that brigs up two questions – first, aren’t you trying to avoid having to deal with these superstars fucking bands over and not giving them the attention they deserve? Furthermore – if you’re paying attention you will see that legends are made routinely, maybe they aren’t the bands you’re listening too because you simply don’t like them, but they are there. Sure the process takes longer these days, but don’t you think that a band like Lamb Of God sort of makes sense as a legacy act now that they are twenty years deep in their career and play small arenas? These bands come up every now and then and it takes a while to become one of these bands but they certainly are out there and it’s certainly something that you can work your way towards. Is it easy? No? Is it even remotely feasible? Probably not. But such was the case with those dudes doing reunion tours right now.
What it comes down to I think is simply that there is so much visibility on legacy acts and reunion tours in particular that it becomes easy to feel like everything else is drowned in the noise. I feel like a lot of people out there though realize that there is a lot more going on than that you simply have to reach out to them. After all – if your music is so derivative that you can only play with the massive bands in your genre then you’re not going to really wind up anywhere or doing anything. You need to reflect what’s hip and happening, we already have legacy acts, so why ape them when there are so many other ways to grow artistically?