Some people live with their head in the sand and don’t truly appreciate how much hard work and dedication goes into making the music that we love.

To be frank, I used to suck; I was an ignorant at how things worked and took for granted the existence of my favourite bands.  But through seeing several of them crumble under the weight of financial need, I began to piece together a collection of simple rules for myself, that if I followed, would ensure that if any band I loved ceased to be, it wouldn’t be in any way my fault. 

This may be motivated by my selfish desire to avoid a sense of personal blame.  But fans and bands have a symbiotic relationship one into which they both need to feed.  Fans as consumers may think that they fulfil their part of the bargain by listening to the music and cheering from the side-lines.  But they can become a much more integral part of the system that nurtures and sustains bands; encouraging them to reach greater and greater heights of spectacle and brutality.

1)      When at a show, have 2 less drinks and buy a band shirt. 

Did you ever see bar-staff at a venue under-employed, searching for some-one to serve? Rarely, if ever.  How many times have you seen a member of a hard-working touring band standing behind his merch table, a despondent look on his face, as drunken people busily turn over-priced booze into pee all around him?  I certainly have. 

Most touring bands survive off the revenue generated by t-shirt sales.  It can even make the difference between being able to make it to the next gig and not.  A t-shirt is a permanent memory of the good time you had at a show, so go and make the Singer or Bass player (as it invariably is ) smile and buy a shirt, because let’s face it, we’re both drunk enough.

2)      When given the opportunity to “Name Your Price” on BandCamp, it should never be Zero

Even if The Circle Pit has a kickass “Free Music” campaign to help spread deep underground bands… Music is expensive to produce, both in time and money. Studio time, rehearsal space, equipment, engineers, mixing, mastering.  It all costs and costs and costs again.  So if you like someone’s music enough to download it, chuck them a Pound, or a Buck, or a Euro, or some Yen. 

3)      Don’t Steal Music

Metal-Heads have a rapacious desire for new music and finances are naturally limited.  But theft is theft. Besides, nearly every album you could want to hear is available to listen to on a variety of websites.  YouTube, Spotify and the promos right here at can all be used to sate your desire for listening to the latest tracks.  Find the albums you love and then save up to own them. 

4)       Turn Up Early

Going to a show?  Fan of the headliner? If you can, go along and check out all the support Bands.  They will love you for it and you never know who you will discover.  I went to see Nile late last year and they had 4 support acts. The first 2, Pestifer and Svart Crown, are now among my favourite artists.

5)       Do Your Best To Spread The Word

Even your non-Metal friends’ need to Thrash Out! Because of this requirement they can be easily manipulated into becoming one of us.  You just need to choose their gateway band wisely.

6)      Support Your Local Scene

I was guilty of moaning, at what I perceived a lack of Bands playing shows local to me.  But what I had failed to grasp is that I was surrounded by literally hundreds of bands striving to make their mark. 

Supporting local Bands is simple. Their shows will often be free and they will be mightily grateful to anyone who shows up; they sell cheap merch, which means the 2 drinks you sacrificed following point 1 can easily be regained.

7)      Just Say No To Bootlegs

I’m prepared to look the other way if you want to buy an unreleased live recording of Maiden playing in Tokyo in 1983 which will never be available otherwise, but your counterfeit Gorgoroth Long-sleeve isn’t helping anybody.

8)      Attend Small Festivals

Ok, so you won’t see Emperor play at Beermageddon, but you will have a great time and get to meet and know the bands that play at these grass-roots events, because they’ll probably be camping next to you.

They are vital opportunities for bands to reach a wider audience and without our support these festivals won’t survive and we’ll all be going to Download.

The Metal community is unique within the world of Music.  It is a self-sustaining collective that we are all in some small way responsible for.  It is made by fans for fans; there is a singular beauty in this circularity.  Let’s all work together to keep the wheels spinning.

– John Whitmore

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