How Do Death Metal Bands Make Money?

Most metal bands make a decent living from playing music but rarely make enough to support themselves financially without working full time as part of a day job as well. Even highly popular groups such as As I Lay Dying or Hate Eternal may need a day job alongside their performing careers.

Becoming a successful metal band can be extremely challenging. Those that succeed often achieve success by selling out concerts and cultivating an enthusiastic fan base.

1. Touring

Metal music has grown increasingly popular with younger listeners, drawing in an audience less concerned with merchandise and CD sales and more willing to pay for live experiences like watching bands perform live. Still, their income remains limited by ticket sales or fees charged from clubs and promoters for performances; any profits soon disappear into bottom-line costs like touring bus and crew fees, hotels accommodations and food, plus replacing gear between shows.

As such, bands at this level often struggle to break even, paying for tours out of pocket in many cases. Only large acts like Iron Maiden and Metallica can generate enough touring revenue to make touring a viable career option; otherwise touring is usually limited to when funds become available and should only occur occasionally.

Decibel 2022’s lineup provides an example, featuring death metal legends Cannibal Corpse and Whitechapel alongside brutal deathcore band Oceano, thrash pioneers Muncipal Waste and Enforced and up-and-comers Shadow of Intent – none are likely to earn as much as Adele or Bieber anytime soon; for most metal musicians transitioning successfully into another field is not optional but required in order to remain musicians full time; successful examples such as Opeth’s Peter Lindgren from progressive metal group Morbid Angel as well as Hate Eternal’s Randy from Hate Eternal prove this point; success can occur though rare cases like these ones;

2. Recording

Metal bands rely heavily on recording industry earnings for their livelihood. Most popular death metal acts have historically been recorded under major record labels like Earache Records, Roadrunner Records and Nuclear Blast; these labels released albums by Carcass, Napalm Death, Morbid Angel and Entombed as examples of notable death metal acts.

Modern death metal typically features complex guitar melodies, sudden tempo and count changes, extremely fast drumming, dark, morbid lyrics with growling vocal delivery, as well as quick drumming tempos. Furthermore, this genre contains many subgenres including black metal, technical brutal death metal, grindcore and slam metal among many others.

Death metal music has had incredible success over the past several decades despite its niche nature. Bands such as Cannibal Corpse and Morbid Angel have found global fame and sold millions of albums; however, these bands often face considerable financial strain due to spending most of their lives touring.

Death metal musicians tend to live in poverty, living in one-bedroom apartments in dangerous cities or rural locations with just enough income from music to cover essentials and fund their next tour. Some musicians are content with such conditions while others crave fame and riches.

No matter their financial goals, most death metal musicians are passionately committed to their craft. They spend hours upon hours learning their instruments and practicing, often going unnoticed by mainstream media and considered incomprehensible by most members of society – yet their fandom remains strong and loyal.

3. Merch

Merchandise sales generate revenue for death metal bands through merchandise sales at shows. While merchandise doesn’t make death metal bands rich, it does help cover expenses such as touring and recording costs while creating an emotional tie between fans and band that increases attendance at future shows.

Death metal bands usually rely heavily on merchandise sales to generate revenue. This is particularly true for bands that don’t command as high of an audience as Adele or Bieber; their album sales alone may not generate millions in earnings.

But some bands do manage to earn a middle-class living from music; Entombed’s 1987 album Scream Bloody Gore sold over one million copies, and was even featured in Beavis and Butthead episode “The Philosopher”, where Chuck Schuldiner’s vocals were mocked up into an order at McDonalds drive-thru window.

Even some of the biggest metal acts still make money by working other jobs when not touring, like bassist Steve Musgrave from Tomb Mold who serves as vice president for Rightsleeve merchandise company and claims it provides him with a good living compared to some of the alternative employment options he could have pursued.

At present, it can be challenging for metal bands to make a full-time living from music in today’s competitive global environment. Most will rely on merchandise sales, touring income and other sources of income in order to survive financially. Though new metal bands can become successful over time, it takes dedication and hard work. A good strategy would be starting small within your local region first before expanding further outward.

4. Licensing

Sometimes bands can secure licensing deals that enable them to make a substantial sum from their music, particularly if their reputation in the metal scene has led to people wanting to use it commercially. This source of income doesn’t take too much of their time either – and can help metal bands increase income without significantly adding time-intensive paperwork processes into their schedules.

As metal bands can rarely make enough through licensing to support themselves financially, many musicians must rely on day jobs as their main source of support.

Some bands such as MC Hammer and Kid Rock achieved financial independence through self-management of their business ventures and independent business dealings, including distribution, merchandising and promotion themselves. By doing this they were able to generate massive record sales without major label involvement, generate profits through merchandise sales and attract large audiences at shows without major label involvement, thus becoming financially independent as well as having the knowledge and knowhow needed to say no to bad deals/contracts that came their way.

Other bands such as Thy Art Is Murder’s CJ McMahon has pointed to financial issues as one of the primary drivers behind their departure, although details have yet to be provided regarding what this meant in terms of earnings (i.e. monthly or cumulatively over 6-8 years). Either way it doesn’t amount to much when considering what pop singers can bring in per year.

Even popular modern death metal bands cannot rely on music alone to support themselves; Paul Ryan from Origin works at GC in San Fransisco and most other members have day jobs as well. So if you want to become a metal musician it might be worthwhile taking into consideration how much money can realistically be earned and whether you can live comfortably off it.

5. Sponsorship

Metal bands struggle to make a living from playing music alone, with most living in one bedroom apartments in dangerous cities or rural areas where car insurance payments are too high to afford. Touring and selling merchandise, such as T-shirts, is often their only means of consistent revenue generation – this requires either having sponsors or very loyal fans who support them regularly.

However, there are still bands out there who make a living off of their musical skills and making a living from it. Some are pioneering new ideas, expanding on what death metal pioneers like Obituary and Entombed have pioneered with innovative new takes. Others revive old styles to keep music current.

Metal bands can earn extra income by entering sponsored competitions and giveaways. These contests often involve competing for recording studio time or even tour bus passes as prizes; to qualify, bands must submit their entry via website before sharing it on social media channels; proceeds from each entry are then split among both the band and company that sponsored it.

So long as hardcore metal bands produce quality material, they should find sponsors willing to assist them. This is especially true if their name spreads around and draws interest from larger corporations who may see value in sponsoring some hardcore metal acts and offer some extra funding in return.