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MaxFaust

Lies & Statistics

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For reasons not important here I got involved in a "do you remember 1980" type of discussion, somewhere else on the Wonky Wonder Web.

As it happens, I do in fact remember 1980. Long story. Never mind.

My point here ... and the question I wish to raise ... is, does anyone know anything about "relative release frequency" throughout the years? As in, how many acknowledged (non controversial on genre) metal releases have there been per year since 1980? Is this something somebody has bothered to research? And, if so, are the data available to the general public, somehow, somewhere? You would think this was a typical "Martin Popoff" problem ... but I simply have no idea. No clue where to look. 

The afore mentioned discussion stranded in pointless speculation about how many more releases of metal albums there are today than in the legendary year 1980. My feeling -- which may not be worth shit when it comes down to it -- is that more new stuff is being released per week these days than per year in and around 1980. It's simply no longer humanly possible to listen to "everything metal" any longer, because the day doesn't have enough hours. Sacrifices have to be made.

Anyway, anyone in the know?

 

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Figures would obviously be hard to come by in this day and age of self-released bedroom projects, and a plethora of small labels releasing obscure material. There is no doubt in my mind that there are more releases in the metal genre than probably ever before, and certainly many multiples more than in 1980 when you fundamentally required a budget, studio and label support to create anything material. 

Martin Popoff would indeed be the guy to ask, and probably the only person on earth loony enough to try to figure it out. 

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If you do a year-by-year search on Metallum, there's a clear trend. They list 129 releases for 1980; by 1990 the number is closer to 1,000; by the mid 90s it's half again that much. Fast forward to 2010 and they list somewhere just under 10,000. The numbers for the middle of the decade and onward range from around 16,000 to over 18,000.

MA's idiosyncratic standards for what constitutes "metal" are a problem for those numbers, especially their weirdly purist stance against hardcore influences. They also aren't entirely clear on what constitutes a "release", although I know they try to be. I guess it's impossible to talk about this without splitting hairs but they split the wrong ones IMO. Another issue is the possibility of under-reporting for the years before the site existed, as opposed to more complete data or even over-reporting now. But I doubt that the overall trend would look very different if it was possible to correct for any of those potential issues. 

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Splendid. It would seem I was somewhere around the right track.

9 hours ago, FatherAlabaster said:

idiosyncratic standards for what constitutes "metal"

This is why I added that "non controversial on genre" bit. It gets tedious very fast when, say, the discussion turns to whether Limp Bizkit (sp?) is a real metal band. I don't care what they are ... nor do I worry much about "new people getting the wrong idea". People should pick whatever they like, and try to enjoy their time. 

So ... 18,000 new releases last year? Damn.

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5 minutes ago, MaxFaust said:

This is why I added that "non controversial on genre" bit. It gets tedious very fast when, say, the discussion turns to whether Limp Bizkit (sp?) is a real metal band. I don't care what they are ... nor do I worry much about "new people getting the wrong idea". People should pick whatever they like, and try to enjoy their time.

I tend to agree, even if I go into the weeds on specifics sometimes. The reason I bring it up is that there's likely a bunch of stuff they exclude that you, or some other reasonable observer, might call "metal". Last year was something above 16,000, and I'm sure there will be more added as people catch up on posting it.

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Specialization is inevitable at this point in time. 

I have the feeling that I've heard pretty much "everything" that was released in 1980 ... but only a few years after, I'd definitely lost control and started looking for narrower genre-oriented material ... in the general direction of Motorhead, Venom, Exciter, Tank ... as the eternal problem with this sort of thing is money. You just can't afford to buy it all. And even if you could, when are you going to have time to listen to everything? 

Also, there's a new problem in town.

What exactly constitues an "album" these days? That was a spinoff question that came up during one of those inevitable "record of the year" conversations. It would seem like the music market is back at that point in the 50s and 60s when people would buy singles rather than albums. I have friends my own age who have completely stopped buying music in hardcopy. Instead, they have a godzillion tunes on their fucking phone. Who saw that one coming? Also, people cherrypick one or two songe from albums released by various bands, rather than buying the entire product. I'm uncertain what this "means" (if anything).

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