Moldova, a country situated in Eastern Europe bordering Romania has a long, secretive and unknown history, but as you read through this article there is some hope for it's flickering metal and rock scene. In 1991, Moldova gained independence from the USSR and as a result left it free to roam and trade willingly, furthermore it's glistening capital Chisinau reflects the relics of the post Soviet Union era and the remnants of the intense cold war.
So in regards to the Moldovan music scene, I spoke to one musician, Mr. Alex Glavnenco of the Melodic / Alternative Metal band Alive about how the music scene in Moldova is facing issues regarding selling CD's, it would seem that the digital age is causing this trend to happen and yet most would agree this is happening on a global scale. But for a country that once was under control by the USSR and for just over 20 years independence has much changed in the wake of the digital age onset?
Alex acknowledges that his band only prints a couple of physical copes for each release usually just to have it in it's physical presence, so naturally you would instantly slap 'rare' on each release as it would obviously seem that each copy was numbered. He goes on to say that even though they release a certain number of physical copies, no one in Moldova buys them and so reverting back to the statement of printing a certain number of copies.
Furthermore the claim that the music scene is dogged by pop and folk songs and that metal in particular rarely gets a look in. Given that there are only a handful of bands that play decent music, even still certain bands usually just play covers at weddings and in advertising to generate income. So this is quite interesting in that bands look for other innovative ways to generate income due to the lack of CD sales, yet in the West we're always harping on about people should buy CD's to support the bands but in Moldova it seems to be the complete opposite!
With such a small scene and what seems to be a completely deflated level of support, there seems to be bleak hope for the Moldovan metal scene, what with around five or so metal bands in current existence and who are limited to play at small clubs from which Alex states that they have at maximum between 50-100 capacity (even this turn out he says is very rare), yet our average venue in the UK as around 2 to 4 times that! So there seems to be a massive contrast to what Western Europe experiences to what Eastern Europe dreams of. Regarding the metal bands, they usually end up going to play in nearby nations like Russia, Romania and The Ukraine and it's all down to the band's persistent enthusiasm that gets the Moldovan metal music out there.
The saddening fact is that there is such a weak rock and metal scene out in Moldova, according to Alex "average people listen to schlager and folk music. Nobody pays for CD's and doesn't need them as they will download the music, as I said previously, metal and rock is all enthusiastic. We invest money and don't even think to get anything back. If we play some shows and get a hundreds dollars or so its great, but these shows are really rare", here again it seems that here in the UK we take most things for granted yet over in Moldova it's harder to get anything out of something.
After the USSR dissolved, Alex comments that "the situation got better just because Moldova became more open and free of Soviet propaganda. Everybody plays what they want, there are many bands, but they are all garage. Talented musicians have day-to-day jobs because they just cant earn money by their music. It sucks, so the situation in rock music is FAR from anything you would experience in other parts of Europe or the USA. Nobody says you can become a rock-star in a week in the USA, but there are possibilities at least. There is completely no way here for this to happen yet".
As for the more international bands, they do come to play but on a rare basis and that is mainly rock and metal music, as for pop music and DJ's (especially Russian) they are more common in playing here, however on a better note the old guard of rock bands which were popular amongst civilians back in the day were expensive to get to play in the country but now they are decreasingly becoming more and more cheaper as Alex stated and he feels that this is good for the Moldova music scene.
He goes on to say that in spring 2013 he had the utmost pleasure in working with Boney-M and in the year gone he worked with DJ Tiesto and Nazareth of whom altogether Alex admits was pleasurable working with and in one year he is ecstatic at the outcome.
Referring back to the Moldovan music scene itself, bands like Infected Rain, Alive, Abnormyndeffect, Aeon of Death, The Ward, Advent Fog, Sepsys, Caligo, Lethal Outcome and Neuromist are all worth checking out and there is a plethora of genres there ranging from Death Metal to Alternative Metal and from Black Metal to Nu Metal. It certainly seems a small scene, but Global Metal Apocalypse supports this scene in it's entirety.
Currently one of the leading Moldovan Metal bands is Infected Rain whose aggressive style of Nu Metal features both clean melodic-like and gritty screams by Lena, hard and cutting edge riffs with a Teutonic dose of emphatic drums and samples, creating something you could say wafts in influences from bands like Exilia, Korn and bands under the modern metal tagline. Mixing musical elements from prog metal, industrial metal, nu metal, melodic metal, symphonic metal and alternative metal, Infected Rain are a band hard to pigeon hole in one genre.
For more info on the history of rock 'n' roll in Moldova, visit:
For Moldovan bands check out:
Musicians will always want to strive to create a release that they are proud of, however at times that much beloved work may in fact turn out to be the worst piece of music heard ever since man first learned what music is, that does not mean to say the band is bad, just they might have lacked that extra oomph to release a piece of music that's credible enough as being good.
So with that in mind, I have placed down ten top tips on not only how to make that beloved record go the extra mile but also at the same time allow your band to reap the justified rewards, after all a platinum record sale is what you dream of no?
1. Originality of the release
By far the most important aspect of any record and band, it does not take a musical genius to create music that is 100% original, look at Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Tchaikovsky, Elgar, the list goes on - none of these classical composers borrowed or stole musical compositions or sections from each other, the result being they became masters in their own field. So for bands and artists, by all means be influenced by certain music but for goodness sake do not copy a riff or attempt to copy any song part, simply because it's not original and it's too easily done, plus would you rather be seen as a musician or group of musicians with their own material and not copied from music already out there? Remember counterfeit goods are not as good as the real thing, same principle.
2. Originality of the music
Consider this as a disjointed add-on to point number one, a paradoxical section if you like. Whilst most bands set the trend, this does not mean others should follow like sheep. For example, Metalcore, the music genre that gulfs the world and in particular the USA and UK, sure it's a credibel genre that spawned off highly successful bands like Bullet For My Valentine, Bring Me The Horizon, Hatebreed and more, but come on just playing metalcore because it's there is as bad as dressing the same way as your father or mother, remember it pays to be different, but that difference is what sells also, paradox number two. Take Motionless In White, a Metalcore band lashed with gothic and industrial elements, Asking Alexandria, mixes Metalcore with trance elements, Bleeding Through, utilizes Metalcore and incorporates a plethora of elements such as symphonic black metal and melodic death metal. The point remains the same, these bands have stepped out of the supply chain of Metalcore and found a little niche, trendsetting - leading the line. Remember, a musical style that deviates from the mass generated is a deviation that leads to newer slants.
3. Production level
Whilst it is understandable that not all bands can afford luxuries such as studios, professional mixers, mastering or producers, this does not therefore mean that bands cannot try to compensate. If you want a release to sell or get noticed, keep the production level up - having one song that blasts the speakers apart and then the next one so badly done it would fail to qualify for the local pub gig, is an issue, of course that example is an anomaly; but it still is a vital issue. A clever and sneaky way to go around this if your strapped for cash, look for a local producer - ideally a friend of the band or of whom is in a band, try to network in this case. Prior to that do your home recordings, then send the home recordings to the studio or producer, let him / her mix it and finalize it. Result? Home studio recordings done on a budget. Those who have limited resources, it is harder for them to achieve this and so best advice? Group record. Get a group of local bands to come together to record in a whole day and before you know it, you would have four releases done in a quarter of the time it would take to do separately.
4. Guest appearances.
We all know the game tag, if not it's basically you're it and you have to run and 'tag' people, place that in a music context and what you end up with is guests appearing on your release. For example, the Dead Lay Waiting are tomorrow (15th May 2013) releasing their 'Ascent of the Murder' EP which features musicians like Katy Jackson of The Hype Theory on it, getting other musicians to guest is a unique way to not only network but give that release another dimension, it elevates certain songs that could prove to be worthy of release as a single. Think Apocalyptica, how many guests they've had and then think the successes they've had, this also relates to point two where a new style is potentially going to be followed, in this instance Cello Metal was a risky move but it paid off.
5. Cover Songs
OK I didn't say you had to be 100% original, OK maybe I did, thing is if you can pull off a decent cover and note it does not need to be metal or rock; Children of Bodom - 'Oops I Did It Again', then do it, but it might be worth it to release the cover prior to the release and in fact if the cover is poor, don't go there. There are too many occasions where an artists does a song cover and ruins the original, so if you're going to try to attempt a seminal hit, make sure you're 85%-90% pitch perfect, otherwise don't think about it. Remember established artists are hard to do, so make sure you can get it nearly spot on, otherwise alternatively cover a lesser known song. The likelihood of a music fan buying a release with a cheeky cover on it is more than likely to happen than if the cover was worse than the original (and that can happen).
As Humans we're attracted to attention-grabbing images or font, so aye when a release has a title that is longer than a biblical passage or is harder to read than Arabic backwards, don't bother. Make the artwork also fit the style of music you are going for, a Death Metal album with a pink fairy as the cover is hardly likely to be appealing and will mislead, although I'm adamant that Peter Pan and Tinkerbell would be apt for a Folk Metal release, nay Lord of The Rings as the latter is sure to get Pagan Metal bands wooing. Simply having pretty graphics is not good enough, the music has to be better than the graphics, on the other hand having a simple picture can be effective too - an example of an artwork befitting the music style is Eluveitie's 'Slania' as the band play Celtic / Melodic Death Metal and so a picture of a girl dressed in traditional Celtic dress in front of the Swiss mountains is apt. So think does the artwork reflect the music genre being played? Remember you want to lead fans, not mislead them.
7. Song structure and is it catchy?
Whilst some may despise Carla Rae Jepsen's 'call me maybe' song, it befits everything warranted in a catchy song structure, with the eloquent use of synths and a bouncy beat, the Canadian unleashed a song that took the world by storm, the same can be unmistakably said for Psy's 'Gangnam Style' from which holds the record as the most viewed video on YouTube, 1 BILLION!. Remember a song that is easily remember has a sound that triggers your memory (think 'i got a song in a my head'), for a song to be essentially good it must follow a set song structure, just adding a breakdown every 30 seconds or so does not cut it, drive that riff into the breakdown and keep on tabs on showing off the guitar skills, for instance listen to God Dethroned's 'Nihilism', the solo features whammy bar movement but in a way that it falls back onto the main song structure, so does the song flow like a stream or is it a flash flood that is ghastly and displeasing? Remember a catchy song is one that you can easily sing along to and gets you moving, moshing, dancing, raving, etc - break it in!
8. Extra features
Anyone can release music, it's been done since around the 1920's in the form of the tape, this shifted to vinyl, then CD and now digital download, but the old formats are still selling and increasing at that. But don't you find it annoying when it's just music, sure sometimes that is all it takes, but to go that extra mile and feature acoustic songs, remixes, music videos, online content, anything else that is a bonus is a clever way to get those sales going, remember if you release a standard and limited edition, you are giving people the opportunity by targeting two markets, it works - if you like make a few limited editions, the die hard fans will be crawling all over you to get a copy. In fact, it gives a more personal and generous feel, you want to satisfy old fans and new fans, so treat them to something new, something not everyone has seen - take a look at those box-sets, now who would not say no?
9. Release the music on international platforms.
This may seem obvious, but some bands fail to capitalize on this simple and basic option. ABBA, unknown outside Sweden until Eurovision were lucky to experience a slant of this, same principle. However for those not into Eurovision, try contacting distributors outside your country, some will be willing to sell your release and so knowing your release is being sold in other nations is as good as creating a home sales market. Kaine for example sold albums in Japan, even so some labels will link up with others and distribute. But also put your music on Amazon, Spotify, iTunes, etc and get it out there. Remember your release isn't going to sprout legs and walk over to other places by itself, so get it out on the international market!
10. Put your heart, soul and emotions into the release
Finally point ten, if you are going to release something make sure you have put all your heart, soul and emotions into it, anyone as said can release music and if there is nothing felt on the receiving end, then you'll end up with a nothing release. Remember going with your gut feeling and following your heart will guarantee you a credible release, it may seem obvious but some releases I've heard I failed to connect with because the music failed to connect with the musicians, think of it as a football team, if the players' morale is down, the output is dire, if they are happy then the output is likely to be good, same principle. This is a personal piece of work no? Then be personal with it, dedicate yourself to the job and enjoy it, put your feelings into it and the listener will relate.
Follow these ten points and your release will be credible for acceptance as an excellent piece of music.
Whilst music fans love to listen to records and go to live concerts to see their favorite bands, a vast majority of these bands are either nationally or internationally known and are highly likely to be signed, whilst it is good to support those breed of bands, fans seemingly are being lead astray from the salient fact behind each one of those bands. They came from the underground and started off as unsigned local artists.
With the massive influx of rock, metal and various other genres that are cropping up every so often, (if not every day) the choice for what bands to see is dramatically increasing, not to mention the band numbers that fluctuate everyday due to bands forming or splitting at every point on the globe. When in the UK music fans are probably eating late morning breakfast at say around 10 AM, on the other side of the globe, Australian bands are already sound-checking and American musicians would be sleeping off the gig they have just played. Funny isn't it that music is constantly played 24/7 and yet genres like Heavy Metal per se rarely get noticed as a globally represented sound, regardless of political, cultural or religious constraints that oppresses certain musicians.
On the note of global music, sure the internet has offered a gateway for the torrential flooding of accessible download sites and freedom of information at the click of the mouse button, the harsh reality is that whilst a band may gain sensational popularity via the digital world, in reality their fan base is fractionally smaller (especially when Facebook allows clicks to be purchased - who said vanity hasn't died?), with that there has been a greater recognition for bands from far away countries such as India where Demonic Resurrection were duly signed to UK label Candlelight Records, Egypt spawning off Scarab who are signed to French label Osmose Productions, Taiwan delivering their most popular metal band Chthonic who are signed to Finnish label Spinefarm Records and so on and so forth, so this begs the question, is Heavy Metal going to end up as the most globalized music genre? Given that Africa has 57 nations and out of that only 19 have at least one recognized metal band, that equates to 33% of the continent, so African Metal may well be in it's infancy as far as continental domination is concerned. However the major point in this article is simply why fans should be more supportive of local unsigned artists than they seem to be doing.
There are ten major reasons why fans should support local unsigned bands more:
As a band or artist gains greater recognition and an increasing fan base, entities in the music industry tend to raise their ears to the hype generated and invariably a representative will go to a concert that band is playing at, this is called scouting and applies to predominantly management, PR, record labels, booking agencies and the like, however for the media or press it is a different kettle of fish, it is practically providing an analysis of the concert itself - ironically hype fed through the press can lead to previously mentioned entities to pay attention to that specific band or artist. Note: Facebook likes do not totally constitute the band's true fan base, it can only provide a snapshot image; even that can be manipulated.
Local unsigned bands or artists work through one method, DIY. Simply put these are the hardest working breed of musicians, they do not enjoy the same help as signed bands get and so have to put their own hard work to the mettle as to make sure what they do runs smoothly, that involves tour booking, one off show booking, transportation organizing, liaising with other bands scheduled to play on the night (or day) in order to arrange potential kit sharing. Signed bands / artists will go around with their manager (or tour manager), this may be a family member or a representative of a management group such as Transcend Music (who are also a record label). It is down to work ethic that makes unsigned bands and artists the most hard working musicians, that's no to say signed bands / artists don't work their socks off, it's just that unsigned bands as said do not have the privileges signed bands enjoy. The Dead Lay Waiting from Swindon is a notable example, they booked their own shows, toured endlessly across the UK and into Europe and thus landed them a deal with the now defunct Rising Records, but it was down to sheer work ethic that got them there (and now they have played Download and Bloodstock Festival)
Signed bands enjoy a greater flexibility of funding their venture including studio time, their budget has less restriction and is directed into many alleys such as record recording, video shooting, photo shooting etc. On the other hand unsigned bands and artists have to pay out of their own wages to get booked or so it would seem as some venues allow bands to play for free, but the catch is that the tickets bought are subsequently scaled down to each entity, for example: Band A plays at Venue A, they are signed to Label A, touring with Manager A and entourage A, all those need paying and so this reflects in the merchandise and ticket pricing owing also to the band's popularity (see point 1). Therefore as the popularity scales down, so do the prices generally (excluding second hand purchases - note AVOID TICKET TOUTS AT ALL COSTS), this is why usually local gigs are priced at between £3-£5 entry, the higher end of the scale such as concerts at Wembley Arena can reach into £100's of pounds. Sheer punt but it would seem the average ticket price would saddle around the £20 mark.
4. Time availability
Being in an unsigned band means you have to allocate time on a greater scale, meaning working around your commitments and getting time off work can be a little tricky at times, hence why when unsigned bands tour they take time to plan ahead the tour off their own back, signed bands on the other hand do go through the same process but one would think that getting time off work is a whole lot easier owing to the awareness of what musicians do. Unsigned bands however do need finances (refer to point 3) to afford to play concerts and purchase music equipment and therefore as a direct result bands availability may be constricted owing to jobs or education.
5. Fan to band relationship
We all know music fans want to meet their favorite musicians, their idols, their gods and so how great is it to meet them, if only it was as simple, sure hanging behind after a concert gives a good chance of achieving that, but if a band is rushed i.e. need to get to another location for another gig the next day then that poses a threat. Not the same for unsigned local bands / artists, they have a greater time flexibility (refer to point 4) in that they will chat to fans after the show (of course signed bands do too - it depends on how popular the band is and other variable factors), plus some venues have no barriers as such and so become an intimate gig and thus allowing practicality for fans to get closer (refer to point 2). Also on a side note bands on lesser known labels or who are unsigned will usually hang behind the merchandise stall and so thus offering another opportunity to chat to your favorite musicians.
6. Musical freedom
Covers, we all love and hate them, but at times they are fun to watch and hear and so when your local unsigned bands ask the attending crowd to give cover suggestions or shout outs, or jokes to that matter; see where this is going? Signed bands tend to stick to the set list and utilize less time for non-music related things or anything not pertaining to their music. However, signed bands do seem to get the crowd to sing along more to songs than unsigned bands do, they may seem obvious but if a fan attended a gig and some well known bands are playing that the fan does not know, there you go, a problem has arose and so that fan may be inclined to want to meet the musicians and so this develops a fan to band relationship (refer to point 5).
7. Press and outside entities
Local press usually promotes gigs in their newspapers or websites or on radio shows, this enabled platforms like BBC Essex introducing to step into the limelight and give unsigned bands a chance to be heard, this also echoes in the Kerrang! Magazine where their 'local heroes' feature is designed to highlight local unsigned talent, this is done via the bands themselves writing in with their music and the magazine team choosing a band for that weekly issue. Festivals that are locally done also offer an opportunity for unsigned bands and artists to gain attention, especially the all day ones, these usually are low price and are often in aid of charity or the like. Endorsements are also another way for unsigned bands to get more attention, but this comes with popularity (refer to point 1).
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