Making metal work
Working lives of metal musicians in Aotearoa/New Zealand
Keywords:heavy metal, new zealand, professional lives, music career, local scene, professional life
This article explores lived experiences of heavy metal careers in Aotearoa/New Zealand as bands navigate shifting metal markets, and rapidly expanding digital landscapes for the music industry more generally. Drawing from interviews conducted with four established metal bands in Aotearoa—Blindfolded and Led to the Woods (Otautahi/Christchurch), Shepherds Reign (Tamaki Makaurau/Auckland), Stälker and Bulletbelt (both from Te Whanganui-a-Tara/Wellington)—we explore whether metal musicians are able to make music into a viable career, and furthermore how the changing commercial and technological landscapes for metal might have also brought about differing ideas of the mainstream versus the underground, commerciality versus authenticity, and amateurism versus professionalism. Such binaries, these interviews show, continue to play a complex role in how musicians experience, or reject, metal as an entrepreneurial activity, where the coincidence of genre with geography, and metal’s long-held anti-commercial and anti-establishment discourses, influence career expectations and opportunities.
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