Are you sitting comfortably? Ok, let Harry begin… Harry’s back and this time with a tale of bullying tactics and over-zealous management… Is Peter Grant still alive?
By Harry Paterson
So last week, then, we looked at how an act turned a blisteringly negative review in to a seriously positive outcome. By virtue of humility, dignity and a seriously well-developed sense of humour, Dirty Diamonds endeared themselves to many. Eventually even ‘Harry the Bastard’ himself (their words, not mine). So far, so very good.
This week, however, I’m going to tell you about an act (well, their management, to be strictly accurate) who react in a frankly extraordinary fashion to criticism. For legal reasons, the fear of libel suits and promises to contacts to preserve their anonymity, some names will not be featured and some have been changed. Ok, then; let’s roll…
Picture the scene; Bloodstock this year. Glorious weather and a good time being had by all. Into this idyllic picture of metal contentment comes an intrepid metal journalist. We’ll call him ‘Dave.’ So Dave checks out an act and is unimpressed. His, admittedly well-written and amusing, review for his website, we’ll call it metalfeckingmetal.com, is, though, pretty fierce. He sticks it in a bit but, to be fair, does not descend to ad hominem nastiness and all his remarks are well-supported by his line of reasoning.
Dave’s feelings, however, are most assuredly not shared by the artist’s management who, in a quite remarkable email, vent their spleen in uninhabited style. Among the darts of venom fired in Dave’s direction were the following choice cuts…
“…your review is nothing but pure harassment combined with pure lies” and “Your review is so badly written and full of shit that it is obvious that you did not review [the artist] based on [the artist’s] skills.” This bit tickled me, too “Sadly for you, you will go into history as a total jerk with that review.”
The closing paragraph was the killer, though. Check this out…
“Do not worry. I WILL tell the world about you and sadly for YOU, WE have the bigger audience, with the attention of Major press and thousands or fans. It is a shame that someone like you can write and publish things online. You have no clue how to write a review. And you have NO clue about music. You are probably just another failed musician who totally lost your balls when you saw * ***** who was way better than you can ever be. Any, and I mean ANY, reply from you, will be considered harassment from your side, also in the legal sense of it.” [sic]
Seriously; how mad is that? It gets better, though. The same set was also reviewed by one of Red Imp and Owen Sd’s guys for their site, Roar Rock. Now in this instance the review was overwhelmingly favourable with the Roar Rock writer (we’ll call this one ‘Gladys’) clearly impressed and mentioning only that the crowd was a little ‘static.’ Well, this just wasn’t good enough, was it? A flurry of emails were exchanged between the artist’s camp and Red and her people culminating in Red’s final email, which was as follows…
“Rather appalled to have these emails forwarded onto me from the Roar Rock team and it disappoints me to have to deal with this.
I’m afraid our reviewer was indeed in the tent for the full set, the owner of our site was in the crowd for the middle part of the set and I was present at the beginning of the set, we all think exactly the same thing. Having further looked at videos found randomly via google of the set it does prove that the crowds were indeed static, very much as I have come to expect from the first band of the day on stage. It saddens me that our reviewer is being questioned, no accused in this manner when he has actually given you a very favourable review.
As much as possible we work with bands to help promote them but what we will not do is to lie, change nor enter into arguments over the parts that people do not like in the review. I’m sorry that you are not happy with that, this is a shame as we would have enjoyed working further with you but this seems to be an impossibility.
I wish you and [the artist] well in the future but I am not prepared to place my reviewers in this position with you again.”
The response from the artist’s manager appeared to be quite a bit more reasonable than that sent to the unfortunate recipients at metalfeckingmetal.com.
“All I did was point out what our position was. [someone from the artist’s camp] said the same. I did not ask anyone to lie or alter anything at all. The entire gig was filmed by 6 cameras anyway so that will show how the audience was. I am also quite surprised to see that you react this way, to be honest. I said we think the review was great but based on what all of us saw, and many who was there said as well, we strongly disagree on that one issue. If you chose to not support my artist by not reviewing [the artist] any more that is your decision. [the artist] did an interview with you before BOA and at BOA after the gig. [the artist] has been very professional and nice all the way. So have I. We do disagree on this issue and I am sorry that you take it that way. As manager it is my duty to question something that is written about [the artist] that so strongly differs from what we saw and from what others also commented on.”
To be fair, that doesn’t seem too unreasonable, does it? A bit precious, perhaps. A bit unnecessary, maybe but not the most outrageous response. The best was yet to come, though…
As most of you will know, Red Imp is a key member of the Powerplay magazine staff. Powerplay is the baby of its proprietor, Mark Hoaksey, and is entirely separate and not in any way connected to Red’s personal project, Roar Rock. How extraordinary, then, for this crazed individual to telephone Mark Hoaksey, ranting and raving, demanding he sack Red!
The band’s PR guy has wrapped it up, too, and refused to work with them anymore due to the manager’s attitude, describing the individual as “evil.”
Dakesis have also suffered the tender mercies of our anonymous egomaniac when on topping a bill with the act in question, they were ejected from their own greenroom and then had to intervene to prevent their gear being tampered with and there’s more; much more but you get the message. The point then is this; it’s bollocks that nice guys finish last – especially in such an incestuous business as the music industry. Networking, contacts, building relationships etc, all these things are, perhaps sadly, sometimes as important, sometimes even more important, than the music.
So all you baby bands and novice artists, take the Dirty Diamonds route and not the one trodden by this megalomaniacal manager. All that will earn you is distaste, hostility and closed doors when you need ‘em most.
You know what Al Capone said, right? You get more with a kind word and a gun than you do with just a gun ;-)