Dave Grohl: “I Want People to Hear Our Music. I Don’t Care If You Pay $1 or Fucking $20 for It”

grohllive

…from a recent interview with Digital Spy:

Digital Spy: What do you think of Taylor Swift’s decision to pull her music from Spotify?

Dave Grohl: “Me personally? I don’t fucking care. That’s just me, because I’m playing two nights at Wembley next summer.

I want people to hear our music, I don’t care if you pay $1 or fucking $20 for it, just listen to the fucking song.

But I can understand how other people would object to that.”

DS: What’s the best way to get people to listen to your music?

Grohl: You want people to fucking listen to your music?  Give them your music.  And then go play a show.  They like hearing your music?  They’ll go see a show.  To me it’s that simple, and I think it used to work that way.

When we were young and in really noisy, crappy punk rock bands there was no career opportunity and we loved doing it and people loved f**king watching it and the delivery was completely face to face personal.  That’s what got people really excited about s**t.  Nowadays there’s so much focus on technology that it doesn’t really matter.”

 

Image of Grohl playing San Diego in 2011 by Senia L., licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0).

26 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    “go play a show”

    Because that works so well for the songwriters who write most of the songs people love…

    But yeah, we all want people to hear our music — it just takes a lot of money to make the kind of music they actually want.

    Reply
  2. Chris H

    Easy to say when you have 200 mil in the bank and HBO is PAYING you to write crappy tunes about your summer vacation.

    Reply
  3. Harv

    The Foo Fighters new album and the companion HBO series is TOP NOTCH rock. Haters gonna hate when they have no brain to appreciate.

    Reply
  4. ja

    “if you play it, they will come”

    this didn’t even work in the late 90’s. his band nirvana began when people would actually go to shows to discover bands.

    Reply
  5. Cord Pereira

    Dave Grohl should know better. Terrible leadership for the future generations of musicians. Come on Dave, respect intellectual property.

    Reply
    • Paul Resnikoff
      Paul Resnikoff

      Hmm. Grohl is either completely misguided, or intentionally making statements that ignore giant realities of being a newer musician these days (and, potentially damaging to up-and-coming artists in the process). Grohl’s a really talented person and an American classic, but his gigantic fame emerged in a totally different era — and, let’s all be honest, probably wouldn’t have happened without the assistance of a pre-internet major label.

      Reply
      • Jeff Robinson

        And let’s face it, Kurt Cobain WAS Nirvana, not Grohl. Damn drummers, always the ‘hangers-on’ in a band…

        Reply
      • JTVDigital

        Well, I think he makes a valid point. Sure that’s a simplistic statement, but to be fair it echoes the (almost daily) simplistic statements of other artists/managers who suddenly woke up and start bitching about the hand that fed them for years (it’s been quite a while since records sales are sinking and that a significant portion of their income is digital).
        If you stop here “I Want People to Hear Our Music”, he’s right.
        What matters the most is exposure, at least for newcomers. If there is money, it will come afterwards, when there is a fanbase, people ready to buy/stream your music, attend your shows, buy merchandise, when your music will be synch’ed…etc.
        The more artists/labels put restrictions and prevent people to listen to their music, the more they create frustration and indirectly send potential listeners / clients to illegal services.
        When billionaire superstars stand up against Spotify or others, never forget it is just (extremely hypocrite) PR stunts.

        Reply
    • DNog

      I read this the other day myself. Good read and some interesting points. I just don’t see it ever happening with the current streaming companies. Major labels are already dealt in and set for what they need. I could see if a new system came in with this model and enough artist went for it, maybe someday. Definitely the simple and fair way of a streaming breakdown I’ve seen so far.

      Reply
  6. Kevin Coral

    Says another person who was a rich and famous BEFORE the Internet music implosion. STFU!

    Reply
  7. agraham999

    I wonder which of his million dollar homes he gave this interview from…although since he might be on the road it might be on his million dollar tour bus or a private jet. Listen songwriters and upcoming artists…you need to book yourself on a first class flight this very moment and get out there playing gigs. Take it from Dave, you don’t need record sales if you can gross over $20M on tour.

    Fuck album sales!

    Reply
  8. jw

    I think Grohl is actually hitting on something really, really, really important here.

    These days SO MANY artists approach music as a career. “How can I monetize this? What is the value of this? What do I *DESERVE* for this?” The truth is that most music can’t be monetized, & it’s not technology’s fault, & a lot of hard working, well intentioned artists don’t deserve anything. You really must *have* something before monetization is even on the table, & so many artists are using technology & arguments about monetization & media fragmentation in order to escape the reality of their mediocrity. This is in part because the internet breeds entitlement, & there’s is a generation who expects instant gratification. It’s easy to sit in front of a screen & believe that the internet is your oyster & that you are exceptional, but the rubber really hits the road when you’re onstage & people are either responding or not. This is also how you earn empathy from your fans.

    Obviously this isn’t the whole argument, & at a certain point monetization does become an issue. But it’s not the primary issue, & it’s not an issue for every single person (or even the majority of people) involved in the conversation. It’s important that we don’t totally ignore what Grohl is talking about, & mistake hypotheticals for realities.

    The truth is that there are tons of success stories playing out exactly as Grohl is describing, it’s just that they aren’t the beneficiary of multi-million dollar marketing campaigns or radio airplay, & so they’re not household names. But that doesn’t mean they’re not making a living, & for some, they’re living quite comfortably. IMO, if you want to be anyone in the modern music industry, you want to be someone like Corey Smith, flying under the radar, retaining creative control, & raking in cash on the road.

    Reply
    • Chris H

      But I think there is a point being missed here to. The “Success Stories”, forget money for second, have very little influence compared to the pre-internet stars who still make the most bucks.

      So if all of these new methods of promotion and distribution were so good, wouldn’t there be a star you could point to and see “this person is a superstar on the level of the rest of the icons”? Realistically, I can’t and I’m waiting for someone to show me an artist from this era who will have the level of success and longevity that the record era guys have had.

      I think that is the true test of all of this.

      Reply
      • jw

        I’m not sure this is really about making the most bucks, it’s about building a comfortable career making your art with as few barriers between yourself & the audience as possible. Clearly, Grohl is not advocating a get-rich-quick scheme. But, then again, this is also the Macklemore method, isn’t it?

        But maybe Macklemore is an exception. And maybe a guy like Cory Smith will never reach Bono level fame. I mean hopefully not, his songs aren’t very good & he looks pretty funny. Plus one Bono is more than we needed to start with. But I seriously doubt that he cares. He’s making very serious dough, working consistently, & probably having a really great time. And he doesn’t have to deal with label debt, arduous press tours, etc. He just does what he does & it resonates.

        Re: longevity, I have little doubt that Corey Smith’s career will outlast many of the current here-today-gone-tomorrow pop stars. He can ride out exactly what he’s doing & retire on it. And isn’t that what it’s about? Having culture respond to you, rather than the other way around?

        I mean, let’s be frank here. Corey Smith is worth many times more than the average major label artist. He’s not worth (anywhere near) what Nicki Minaj is, but she’s not just selling her art… she’s selling her body & her brand & her influence. That’s celebrity, which is distinct from music.

        So maybe this organic growth doesn’t always produce celebrity, & maybe the level of income granted by cashing in on celebrity is conventionally out of reach of this type of artist, but that just means that organic career growth opens up opportunities for different types of artists. I think Macklemore is proof that reaching that next level is possible if 1) you’re a specific type of artist & 2) you have a desire to enter that machine.

        Truth be told, I think, as far as talent/appeal to success ratios go, Corey Smith might be the very bottom of the barrel, in my less than humble opinion. But I love the fact that he can find an audience & be successful on his own terms. We need more of that, & less of like… a new song about booty every 3 weeks. Less of the same same same, TMZ-approved head cases, etc.

        So these artists who are building a career on their own terms, they might not be household names, but who cares? 9/10 people probably haven’t heard of Shovels & Rope, but I’ll be going to see them when they’re John Prine or Willie Nelson’s age. And I don’t think I’m the only person who feels that way. You don’t need celebrity to have a long, sustainable, relatively comfortable career.

        Reply
        • Chris H

          I agree with most of what you say, but the point I’m trying to make is that these mechanisms were always sold as “breaking down the barriers” between artist and fan, so that “real talent” will shine through. So wouldn’t that end result, using that math (more artists having more chances to be seen unfettered by industry, on their own terms) result in MORE U2’s, not less? I’m not really seeing career artists coming out of the chute anymore.

          If not in terms of money, but in terms of influence to our culture? I’m seeing the opposite of that. More talent being less recognized overall and severely undermonetized, whatever position you take on that issue. They may be making a comfortable living, but maybe they should be doing really well.

          Reply
          • jw

            Re: More U2s… not really, because fans don’t make celebrities, marketers do. And without that component, we’re going to see a different type of success for these types of artists.

            Re: Cultural influence, that doesn’t mean the same thing it did in the ’90s. There was a mass awareness of Nirvana… they changed Tommy Hilfiger’s approach to fashion. A lot of posers came on board. Back then you had to reach everybody to reach anybody, essentially. These days, because of the Social Graph, Nirvana could conceivably reach all of their “true” fans without Tommy Hilfiger ever knowing they existed. Practically, is the social spread more effective than radio airplay? That’s hard to say because it’s so much more targeted. Nirvana would therefore, perceivably, have less overall cultural impact, & consequently, the band would probably make less money. Would less cultural influence be a bad thing, & would they be under monetized? Personally, I think that less cultural influence would’ve lengthened the shelf life of the pacific northwest music scene of the time, &, to me, it would be easier to make the case that they were, under the old system, over-monetized.

            You don’t have to be U2 to be a career band, you just have to connect with enough fans directly. Tommy Hilfiger doesn’t need to have heard of a band for them to have a career. I mean, I bring up Corey Smith because I think he is really squeezing every dime out of his music, & he’s not doing it by taking his albums off of Spotify or cracking down on piracy or going on Dancing With the Stars or whatever. The guy has always given away his music, connected with fans, & now he’s selling his new record for $300 with a branded acoustic guitar (which can’t be downloaded). Because you haven’t heard of these artists doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re under monetized. Especially certain acts that, like Corey, probably wouldn’t have gotten the time of day from a label under the old system.

            I have friends who were chewed up & spit out by major labels (indefinitely shelved debut albums… how often does that happen?) who are now doing it on their own & touring in busses & selling out very decent venues & totally killing it. And they’re not working their way out of a recording advance, they’re just taking it straight to the bank.

            It’s too early to say that some of these acts aren’t going to grow into a Phish type of career. Just because they weren’t shot out of a cannon & plastered all over busses doesn’t mean that bigger success might not be down the road. I’m not saying Shovels & Rope are going to have Phish-level success, but they’re gaining momentum with every album & every tour, & they’re not buying their momentum (or their songs), so it’s real, genuine momentum, & I, personally, will never pass on a Shovels & Rope show as long as I live. And I don’t think Shovels & Rope is an exception. To contrast that, do you think people are going to be buying tickets to see Ariana Grande’s ass ten years from now? Is Ke$ha going to be able to transcend her party girl image? Can she make it without Dr. Luke? You don’t have to ask these questions about artists who grow more organically, the way that Dave Grohl is advocating. The artists who aren’t marketing-first, technology-first, TMZ drama-first, seem to be better career candidates to me.

            Another thing to consider is whether a band is under monetized because the opportunities aren’t there, or because they’re simply forgoing those opportunities. Maybe a band is happy turning down a performance on Ellen because they think it’s lame? Maybe a band doesn’t want to jump through the hoops. Perhaps the bottom line isn’t always the driving force behind a band’s career decisions. When you are your own benefactor, you have the freedom to make those choices.

  9. Willis

    Easy to say this when you already have a successful career and a big bank account.

    Reply
    • FarePlay

      Growl is a very savvy guy pandering to people like JW. Obviously, It’s working. Talk about a mismatch, the punk ‘rebel’ Grohl trashing the newly minted pop star.

      Reply
  10. jj

    and it doesn’t matter if you fill stadiums and have sponsors up the ying yang… AND WERE PROMOTED UNDER THE OLD SYSTEM WHERE A LABEL SPENT MILLIONS OF DOLLARS PROMOTING YOUR ACT..

    tell that to the blues or jazz artist..or ANY artist starting out today…

    Reply

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