Do Keep of Kalessin Have the Answer for Your Band’s Financial Woes?

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It’s no secret that it’s hard to make a living as a metal musician in a small-to-medium-sized band. Although the effects of piracy and streaming services on record sales are widely debated, what is generally agreed upon is that there is just less money to be made in making music today than there was 15 years ago. Thankfully, Keep of Kalessin‘s Arnt “Obsidian C.” Grønbech has a plan to save musicians who just want to keep doing what they love: writing music and playing it live.

Record sales just aren’t what they used to be. Despite digital purchases increasing substantially over the last decade, record sale data seem to indicate that the halcyon days are long over.

A helpful data visualization VIA The Current.

On February 26th, Obsidian C. published a frank discussion on his personal blog of the financial landscape for touring metal bands.

In the 80’s and 90’s bands for the most part had 3 sources of income:

 

  1. Album sales
  2. Merchandise sales
  3. Concerts / Live performances

 

As merchandise is mostly sold on shows, it’s important to understand that the only residual income of these three was in fact the album sales. You recorded the album once, and had royalty checks for those albums two to four times a year….every year for as long as the label was able to sell albums.

 

This meant that when you took time off touring to enter the studio, you still had something generating money. This is the beauty of residual income. Residual income is the only type of income that can generate some kind of freedom in life as it is not determined by the time you put into it, but it’s a job that you do once and get paid for over and over again.

 

And this is what makes it so damn hard for artists nowadays. It’s because the residual income is gone.

The data shown above would seem to verify Obsidian’s opinions. Thankfully, rather than blaming the industry or the fans, Obsidian proposes a novel idea that can still allow artists to do what they love while also benefiting the fans. His solution: customized band cashback credit cards.

The proposed Keep of Kalessin Cashback Card, VIA Obsidian C.’s blog

According to Obsidian, the card would work for both bands and fans.

We give you this card for free. All holders of this membership will recieve 20% off on any item in our webshop, concert tickets and merch as well as a free song when you sign up to our fanclub which is powered by Lyoness, the world’s biggest shopping community.

 

In addition to this, you can use this membership on about 400 000 shops worldwide. Especially in Poland, Austria, Italy and Estonia, the network of shops is beginning to be in great number. You can use this card on all Carrefour in Poland and get 5% cashback + shopping points on all your daily groceries which should be enough incentive on it’s own. But more than that, you know that every time you save money on shopping your daily needs of gas, groceries, clothes, music, web shopping and more…..you support the band!

 

At the time of writing this post there are almost 400 000 shops worldwide where you can use this membership to save money. We’re talking about big chains like Carrefour, Lidl, Sears, iHop, Applebee’s, Red Lobster, Statoil, Shell, McDonalds and more. Many of them are still on giftcard solution, but more and more are moving over to the cashback card in the months to come. In addition to this there are more than 50 000 small and medium sized enterprises and the community is growing with a new SME every 10 minutes! As if this was not enough, you can save money on more than 5000 online shops worldwide incl. Nelly.com, Boozt,com, Rock.com,Platekompaniet.no, AliExpress.com, Zalando.com, Hotels.com and many, many more.

 

So, the fans gets a whole bunch of benefits like mentioned above and the bands start making residual money on their fans saving money! It’s brilliant! Instead of being stuck with making money only on music and merchandise, we can now tap into the whole household economy of our fans. But not by adding to their household, but by helping them SAVE money on their household!

 

This also means that when you have a good fanbase that is supportive of the band by choosing to save money, the band will start to have a very solid income stream because people need to shop their daily groceries every day, every week, every year, no matter if we release a new album, a shirt or go on tour.

You buy things you need everyday for a discounted price, and your favorite band gets a slight kickback from your purchases. On paper, the idea seems sound. But will it work? For financially savvy consumers, cashback plans are typically preferred to other credit cards because they offer tangible rewards. As long as you can use a credit card responsibly and remember to pay off your debt at the end of the month, you can build a sound credit score and get a little bonus on the side. I certainly wouldn’t mind rolling those extra $25 I generate from my cashback card every few months to a band of my choosing to help them out (and, let’s be honest, I was probably going to spend that money on music anyway). Seems like a win-win, right?

I can see a few problems with this: 1. Not everyone in the U.S. uses credit cards responsibly. The average American household has about $15,000 of credit card debt, and giving people new ways to accrue that debt may not be the best for the economy in the long term. 2. What would happen if every band issued one of these cards? Hypothetically, let’s say each of your top ten favorite bands offered a free cashback card. You’re realistically only going to use one or two of those cards, so the demand gets spread far too thin. More popular bands would likely benefit more, and ultimately the lowest tier of bands would remain broke, generating music as a labor of love rather than a labor of revenue. 3. Financial regulations in many countries may be prohibitively complicated to allow this plan to work for many bands.

I’m interested to see how the band’s 100 card pilot program works out. I think as a stopgap measure, it’s a decent idea. However, I think the best bands can hope for is a paradigm change that rewards musicians for their art.

If you’re interested in taking part in the band’s pilot program (and ideally live in Europe), you can sign up here. While you’re there, you should sign up for Keep of Kalessin’s fan club because you’ll be given free access to the upcoming EP Heaven of Sin, the followup to one of my favorite albums of 2015.

So what do you think? Is this is a viable plan? What band’s cashback card would you use? Let me know in the comments below.

  • COAL ROLL

    I’m on board

  • This is a really, really cool idea for European bands. I’m not quite sure how regulations work with credit institutions in Europe, but in the United States it is INCREDIBLY difficult to navigate all of the financial regulations in place without a ton of money, paperwork, and lawyers. It’s likely well out of reach of your average mid-level metal band, but hopefully Keep of Kalessin can blaze a trail here.

    • Or they could just release a terrible video game.

    • COAL ROLL

      I was thinking about this too. Prepaid cards have less regulations. That might be the way to start.

      • That’s a great idea!

        • YourLogicIsFlushed

          How sweet would having custom album-art credit cards be? I would have like 20 prepaid cards with $5 each on them.

          • Dubs

            I actually tried to make one of the cover image of this post, but the site wouldn’t let me save the jpeg. I print-screened, but the resolution was too low.

          • Owlswald

            That’s a very cool idea. Even better if you are able to pick a credit card of your choice and then simply have the card look like the album cover of your choosing. The band then gets a small kicker and you get to use the card and bank of choice. A lot could be gained by establishing partnerships that are mutually beneficial and this would already satisfy the credit card regulations in the states.

    • more beer

      It is hard for many small business to get financing through banks and credit institutions. So I really don’t see them to ever be willing to take a risk on any metal band.

  • I would love a KOK credit card.

    Also, I would love to tell people how much they need a KOK credit card.

    I guess I am just really excited to say the phrase, “KOK Card”.

    Killer write up!

    GL

    • Vault Dweller

      Oh, you wanted to sign up for the KOK? You shoulda said so, bro-han, I got it for you!

      • “Damn bro, what kind of rate you get on your KOK card?”
        “Oh, like 5.5, say 6%. The cash back really helps it grow!”
        “Really? now that I can handle.”
        “Totally, they never shaft you with their rates!”

  • Don’t have a credit card. I do however have a Ralphs card.

    https://cavnews.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/911-big-lebowski.jpg

  • YourLogicIsFlushed

    This is some super friggin weird out-of-the-box thinking. 100 creativity points for KoK. I hope they can find a way for me to trade some of my student loan debt for their upcoming album?

    • we should pool all of our student loan debits. I can surely donate to the cause!

      • YourLogicIsFlushed
      • Dave Vincent’s Perm

        Hopefully I won’t have to pay a student loan if I get a job at rolls-royce

        • Boss the Ross

          Auto or aero?

          • Dave Vincent’s Perm

            Uuuh, Aero. They aren’t an exclusively aero company now anyway, but still.

          • Boss the Ross

            Solid man, best of luck.

    • Janitor Jim Duggan

      I wish. I still have owe a bit of my student loans.

  • Dubs

    It was a little ambiguous, but I think the 100-card trial run is limited to four countries in Europe.

  • Spear

    It’s a cool idea, but problem #2 is almost assuredly going to kill it if it catches on.

    • YourLogicIsFlushed

      Reminds me of the problem that Protest the Hero did on their new weird album idea. Great idea for them, but I can’t afford a subscription for every individual band I like.

      • I am still pissed about that stupid idea.

      • Spear

        Exactly. Certainly a cool idea and not unreasonable given that it was only like $1/month, but that would definitely add up fast if you did it for a number of bands.

        Granted, I don’t foresee a whole lot of groups doing either the cashback card or the subscription model, so either of those things might actually work out in the end.

        • Dubs

          I definitely think the system, if it works, will work best for mid-tier bands that have decent exposure but still a loyal underground following.

  • Janitor Jim Duggan

    This is an interesting concept. I do not trust credit cards though. Prepaid cards are fine though.

    • Dubs

      Like I said in the post, there are a lot of folks who can’t use credit cards responsibly.

      • Janitor Jim Duggan

        Exactly. I don’t use them because I don’t spend responsibly.

      • you think that 15k number is for realz?

        If so, holy shit.

        • I believe it. I got up to $10K during especially dire straits as a young man.

        • Janitor Jim Duggan

          My dad got his up to 20k. I don’t know if he has finished paying it off yet.

        • Dubs

          Oh yah, I definitely believe it. I think a lot of the people who accrue that much credit card debt are young.

          • If the number is comprised over all age levels, I am not sure the number could be skewed that much due a number of young’ing. Regardless, damn.

  • Scrimm

    Interested to see how this works out

    • Scrimm!

      So what you are saying is you want to Hear About It Later? <3

      I am so sorry.

      GL

      • Scrimm

        Ahhhh Jeez

    • Dubs

      Would you get a Demilich card?

      • Scrimm

        Be hard to choose. Not like I could get any kind of credit card anyway

      • Dave Vincent’s Perm

        Demilich >>>>>>>>>>

  • Angelcorpse sounding tight as hell at Netherlands Deathfest. You MDF goers are in for a treat.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3bttuwGPTs

    • Dave Vincent’s Perm

      Where’s Bill?

      • Not there.

        • Dave Vincent’s Perm

          Well duh

  • To actually answer W’s question, I would consider using a card like this for Gojira, Unearth, and potentially Devin Townsend.

    Yep.

    • Dubs

      I’d get a GL one.

      • <3

        I think you mean GL™.

        • Dubs

          Quite

      • Janitor Jim Duggan

        I’d also get a GL one. I’d be unable to decide on Dokken or Lynch Mob though.

    • Guacamole Jim

      I’d probably want to use it for a couple of my favourite bands as well, to be honest. It’s a pretty cool and creative idea.

      • The Gojira cash back rewards card between having a fluckin Whale on it or else. Ammirite???

        • Every time you swipe it you would hear “Whaaaaalessss”

        • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

        • Boogers Moshing In A Crouton

          And every time you swipe your card, it lets out a loud as fuck pick scrape in the middle of the check out lane.

  • Eliza

    Is the fact that a band is signed or not relevant? I think record labels would want to get something out of this as well if it eventually catches on.

    • Dubs

      I’m certain that adds another wrinkle to this, but it seems to me that the record label grip on metal is loosening.

      • Eliza

        Do you think that’s a good thing or not?

        • Dubs

          It has its ups and downs. Often less cash up front and less promotional weight, but also less pressure to conform to a certain sound.

          • Eliza

            I think that if a band is free of label constraints, they can truly create the music they want. There are higher chances of a band coming out with some extraordinary music, that maybe a record company would not want to produce. That music could stand the test of time and turn out to be a success in the long run.

          • Dubs

            Interesting recent example: Ketzer’s transformation into sort of a bland Tribulation clone.

          • Eliza

            That’s a good example. I’m also thinking that there is no need for someone to buy an album from a Tribulation sound-a-like if they could just buy Tribulation. Label executives probably would disagree, but originality pays off.

      • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

        @george_lynch:disqus too, it seems metal bands only release an album or two per label these days, or stay with one for their entire existence. While labels, those scumbags of the multiverse, would certainly try to get in on this, metal is at a point where the less popular bands have little reason to cave in to label demands.

        And if this works, they have even less reason to do so.

    • From what I think I understand, don’t labels try to get in on Merch sales? You bring a good point. I am sure the labels would want their fingers in on the deal.

      • Eliza

        Then the whole thing would become meaningless.

  • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

    This is a cool idea. Also super-outside-the-box, for which extra props.
    This isn’t going to work in The States, probably, but I could see myself using this, given I’ve never had one cent of credit card debt, nor do I know many people who have.
    So, Europe as a testing grounds maybe?

    I know there’s a band or two I might use this for, for a certain time.

    • Dubs

      Yes, it seems the focus is in Norway, with maybe Sweden, Poland, and Finland as the other test states. Don’t quote me on that, though.

      • Vault Dweller

        “Testing will begin soon in Sweden, Poland and Finland for the KOK Kard!”

        Former US President George W. Bush, 2-29-16

  • Dubs

    Also, if y’all are interested in the effects of Spotify, one of the links I provided basically said it’s revenue-neutral for the industry rather than harmless. I think the difficulty that the industry is facing is that people just don’t purchase and consume music the old way anymore. Digital singles are far more important than whole albums for the listening majority, even if that’s not true for metalheads.

    • COAL ROLL

      I would be thrilled if digital music formats died

      • Guacamole Jim

        Not me – digital is so much easier, especially in a place that doesn’t have access to physical media. I’m so glad the internet exists, because without it my musical vocabulary would be greatly limited. I’m all for enjoying physical mediums, but the digital revolution has spread music like nothing else.

        • Owlswald

          Totally agree. I do not want to go back to spending my time at the listening stations in F.Y.E, or on the couch at CD world, to try and find new music. I get the demand for certain physical media though.

          • Boss the Ross

            Yep, that sucks. I check out music digitally and try to buy physically when I can.

        • brokensnow

          its a good and bad thing

        • COAL ROLL

          It certainly has, at the expense of the musician’s reward for producing music for us.

          • Guacamole Jim

            *financial reward – it’s important to make that distinction. There is most certainly a reward from your art gaining greater exposure, it’s just not a monetary one any more.

          • Owlswald

            Beat me to the punch again G.J.

          • Guacamole Jim
          • COAL ROLL

            C.R.E.A.M.

          • Boss the Ross

            Get the money, dolla dolla bill yall

          • Musician here

            I want to provide the most convenient possible way for people to access my music. People are more fickle than ever in an over-saturated market.

            If I want them to even listen to me, let alone follow and support me, I need that first listen to be as easy and convenient for them as posssible.

          • Boogers Moshing In A Crouton

            Yeah, but chances are many of them wouldn’t be heard of in the first place. Hence people not buying their stuff anyway. It’s a very dual edged sword.

        • Boogers Moshing In A Crouton

          I’m old enough to remember, in ancient times of yore, having to either go with word of mouth, or putting down the money for a magazine and then taking a crap shoot when buying a CD for whatever reason. Radio wasn’t exactly a road map (except back in Cincinnati, which had awesome underground stations), and good underground video shows were far and few between.

      • ;_;) y u do dis

        • COAL ROLL

          my bad…except for Link’s tunes

          • Dad, quit masquerading as my friend Coal Roll

          • COAL ROLL

            but I am a dad. Has anyone seen my son? He’s about 7 years old…..

      • Boogers Moshing In A Crouton

        *gets off of your lawn*

  • King Shit of Fuck Mountain
  • Dubs

    Joe, cashback cards may be the thing that prevents the blog from ruining you financially.

    • Joe is making bank what are you talking about

      • Count_Breznak

        Literally.
        Joe, apprentice joiner, and somehow father of six.

    • Idk what you’re talking about, Joe sends me $1k a week

    • Boogers Moshing In A Crouton

      The check from his dead rich Nigerian uncle hasn’t arrived yet?

  • BobLoblaw

    Not even gonna give me a mention for the assist three days ago (maybe you saw it too but i posted it chump)? My understanding is that this is nothing like a credit card, its a discount card where they get a percentage (think of a kroger/foodlion/target/whatever card not sure what youd think of outside the states) if you have their card scanned or the equivalent at the time of purchase.

    • Dubs

      You did? I saw this Saturday morning while scrolling through FB at a coffee shop. I didn’t read the comments much from Thursday to today. Sorry, dude.

      • BobLoblaw

        It was on Guac’s Re-animation write up. You may have missed it due to my love of Bjork or me being dicky that day. No reason to be sorry, it wasn’t worth submission. Just a link and “pretty interesting”.

        • Dubs

          Ah, gotcha. Also, this sentence makes me think it is a credit card: You can use this card on all Carrefour in Poland and get 5% cashback + shopping points on all your daily groceries which should be enough incentive on it’s own.

          • BobLoblaw

            The whole thing seemed like a discount card accepted at multiple locations to me. Anything else would be predatory and would certainly ruin the bands reputation. Id be wary of a Metallica or Dream Theater card though.

          • Dubs

            Hmmmm. You could be right. I guess I’ve never heard of a discount card being called a “cashback” card. Membership card would be more accurate.

          • BobLoblaw

            True but then wouldnt the membership fee go to the band? If not then whats the point? Maybe my idea of what they are doing is better. Haha.

          • BobLoblaw

            Maybe 5% cash back in their merch store?

          • Dubs

            Well, you do get a discount at their merch store. I’m just not sure why they would say you can use it to book a hotel unless it’s a credit card. I see how you’re reading it the way you are, though. It’s worded ambiguously.

          • BobLoblaw

            Very ambigous from what i gathered. Someone brought up a good point as well that people into metal like supporting multiple bands. Maybe switching your “fealty” would be a good idea if it was set up as a fluid network. Benefits musicians solely.

          • BobLoblaw

            YES!

        • Guacamole Jim

          Bjork >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

      • COAL ROLL

        you must have been distracted by that non-blog reading poser in the FB group who was asking what Nightcore was.

        • Dubs

          Lol. Was actually traveling this weekend.

  • Wow! Keep of Kalessin might fail in this endeavour, but I must grant them the benefit of doubt and congratulations for thinking this innovation.

    It would only probably work for North Europe. Also, [insert condescendent borderline racist third world country joke here].

  • RepostedAvengedSevenfoldFan2

    Ive just buyd your album its really owns!i hate every one that downloads it n i wont leven let my best friend copy it he must buy it self! because u deserve every single money!

    – Posted by xRedZeR0, 2010-09-20 11:06

    • brokensnow

      lol

      • WELCOME TO THE TOILET

        GL

  • M Shadows!

    Ohhhhh this is a good idea! We can make an Avenged Sevenfold credit card that people can use to buy all of our overkill merchandise and stolen riffs! ALSO FUCK YOU DREAM THEATER WE HAD A GAME FIRST!!!

  • If they did this for actors/actresses, I know I would love to get a Robert De Niro card.

    That way I could save lots of… *wait for it*… deniro!

    • COAL ROLL

      how about a prepaid of your favorite adult star that you could deposit into?

      • If there was ever a line to be crossed, you just crossed it. lolz

        • COAL ROLL

          TYVM GL

      • Boogers Moshing In A Crouton

        That gives the term ‘money shot’ a whole new meaning indeed!

    • I’d get a Christoph Waltz one. That way every time I do an impulse buy it would say “I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist”

  • K we need a Cattle Decap one that plays one of Travis’s high pitched wails like the one that starts prophets of loss every time you swipe it.

  • i’d totes do this. (and thanks for the reminder of how excellent that first track is)

  • Waynecro

    I have alerted one of the analysts I work with about this concept. Thanks for unintentionally helping me with my job, W.