There are people out there who love Nickelback.
September 25, 2013 4:53 PM   Subscribe

Genius: The Nickelback Story. "In addition to masterminding Nickelback's ascent, Chad Kroeger, 37, has found ways for his band to make money onstage and off, through licensing, merchandising, and product-placement agreements. He's also helped groom many other acts, including some that the haters might even like."
posted by paleyellowwithorange (36 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm not a fan of Nickelback, but I thought this was an interesting article about the business side of things - in a similar vein to the recent Wilco FPP.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 4:53 PM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like quite a bit of Nickelback's stuff. I don't like every song (particularly not the first played-to-death-twice-over single), but for the most part I think they're just fine.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 5:02 PM on September 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


BloombergBusinessWeek: web formatting FAIL

edit: oh, it's the printer version. OK, here's the regular version (with ads and other detritus) which will format better to your browser's window.

What is happening to me? Not only have I now chosen to read an article about Nickelback, I've commented on it. What's next, following Eric Bolling on Twitter?
posted by intermod at 5:05 PM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


NOPE. Nope. Nothing I just read made me like Nickelback, or even grudgingly accept them as human.

Nice try though, paleyellowwithorange - or should I say, Chad Kroeger?
posted by naju at 5:13 PM on September 25, 2013 [19 favorites]


"A Nickelback show costs around $230,000 to produce, according to UEG, about average for a touring group. A seat goes for about $61, a fraction of Gaga’s prices. At that price, venues usually sell out. The group averages about 11,000 fans a stop: That’s $671,000 a show. According to UEG, ticket sales for about 80 shows in North America and Europe should gross about $53 million in 2012."

That's a tremendous amount of money to earn for rocking out for 2 hours 80 days a year. Good for them.

DataPoint: I saw NB open for Bon Jovi at the Meadowlands in...2006? They BROUGHT it. They knew they were playing to a hostile crown and left absolutely nothing behind on stage. I always admired their ethic after that show (their music.....not so much).
posted by BlerpityBloop at 5:16 PM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


You say you hate Nickleback, but would it change your opinion to know that they're more business than band?
posted by Navelgazer at 5:21 PM on September 25, 2013 [13 favorites]


I got to wondering, did Metallica finally read this article? Seems like it, with them selling out to play at Yankees stadium for Mariano Rivera, then on the Colbert Report...
posted by Metro Gnome at 5:25 PM on September 25, 2013


Ugh, his comments about Kurt Cobain seemed needlessly dismissive and thoughtless. Really, it hadn't occurred to him that there might be people who would want their music to be heard by a ton of people but who aren't psychologically equipped to deal with the fame?
posted by Jon Mitchell at 5:36 PM on September 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


Looks like Creed could have used this guy as a manager.
posted by Max Power at 5:39 PM on September 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Nickelback, whatever.

Matchbox Twenty was far more hateworthy because in 1996, there was still hope.
posted by Sauce Trough at 5:49 PM on September 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yeah, I was all ready to be like "whatever, do your thing" until he started talking about Kurt Cobain. Like, uh, maybe some people have mental illnesses?
posted by threeants at 6:01 PM on September 25, 2013


“They have applied 100 percent corporate efficiency to rock ’n’ roll. It’s so cool to see.”

That one sentence illustrates a depressing truth better than the thousands of long form articles that have tried to make the same point: Rock is dead.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:02 PM on September 25, 2013 [17 favorites]


Matchbox Twenty was far more hateworthy

I don't know much about Matchbox Twenty, but the two (very nicely minimalistic) guitar solos in 'Real World' are so good.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 6:02 PM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's 4PM, and my Starbucks Latte cools in my hand, steam rising from the mouth hole to reach the chilly morning air. I look around the abandoned parking lot that Kroeger told me to meet him in, confused as I don't see a car in any direction. The boarded up K-Mart (I can tell because the absent sign has left a ghost of itself in dirt caked on the plain gray concrete) sits sullenly in the distance - but no Chad.

Suddenly he is behind me,

"Hey bro-seph! How's it hanging?"

Startled, I turn around. Kroeger has appeared from nowhere, seemingly. His hair is shining blonde in the late afternoon sunlight, he's trim and aggressively fit. There is a Coors original in his left hand. Overhead I can hear the delirious cawing of a flock of crackles.

Chad Kroeger is the leader of Nickelback, they are involved in music production. Chad is quite rich, as I offer my hand to shake he takes his own out of his pocket and $300 dollars falls out in crisp new 20s.

"Help yourself dog, that's just my throwing money."

I do help myself. I raise the money to my nose and inhale deeply. It has a noxious scent, like gasoline mixed with burnt hair.

Along with Kroeger a white limousine has also appeared.

"How did yo-" I start to ask.
"Old trick I learned from some roadies, dude. Gotta keep it a secret tho', all that union shit or whatever the fuck."

I nod, and take a sip of my Latte.

"So you're writing this for a magazine or some shit?" he asks, opening the door and beckoning me enter.

I nod my head, and comply.

"Magazines are like whatever. Good for you though. Here, have another 20."

I take the 20, and also a seat inside of the Limousine. As I sit down the strange fabric of the seats lets out a small desperate sigh. It is a pinkish hue of white, or perhaps a whitish hue of red. The interior smells of jasmine, and a television monitor plays still footage of Kroeger half naked, lounging on a marble dias.

"Like the leather, my dog-bro? That shit is straight child-"

A man I hadn't seen before coughs, emerging from the shadows. He wears an immaculate black tuxedo, the color of night, and his eyes seem unusually wide.

"What Chadwick meant to say was "that shit is straight chy-laean llama leather. Right, Chadwick?"

Kroeger offers a nervous laugh, and scratches his head.

"Yeah home slice, chilean whatever... dope, huh?"

I take another sip of my latte, which as acquired an odd metallic taste, and say that it's all very nice. I inquire as to the identity of the man in the shadow.

"This here is Basil. Basil Baub. Dude's my-"
"I manage Mister Kroeger's accounts!"
"Uh, yeah, Basil's my accountant."

On the television the footage has switched to Chad scratching feverishly at a large rash on his forearm. I ask if this is test footage for a new video he's shooting. Before he can answer Basil supplies,

"Yes! That's right! Here, have 20 dollars!"

I take the 20. I examine the fine film of grease that it's left on my thumb and forefinger as I slip it into my pocket.

"Now, I believe you had some questions for my client," the man says. His smile is very white. Even in the dimming light of the limousine. I am aware that we are moving.

"Ask away bud-a-saurus."

PRESENTED BY ESQUIRE.COM, PAGES 1, 2, 3, 4... END
posted by codacorolla at 6:03 PM on September 25, 2013 [46 favorites]


Hurry up, Avril! Save us from Nickelback like you saved us from Sum 41!
posted by Sys Rq at 6:24 PM on September 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


You say you hate Nickleback, but would it change your opinion to know that they're moLOOK AT THIS PHOTOGRAPH
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:34 PM on September 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


Now look back at me.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 6:36 PM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Aggressively marketing mediocrity can be hugely remunerative? You don't say!
posted by BitterOldPunk at 6:50 PM on September 25, 2013 [9 favorites]


Aggressively marketing mediocrity can be hugely remunerative? You don't say!

The Kiss thread's that-a-way.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:53 PM on September 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


I suppose it's heartening to hear stories of bands that don't end in addiction and penury. On the other hand, I have the same opinion as with the Kiss thread: What's the point of having a well-managed business if the product is terrible? And it's not like it's an either/or proposition: listen to the recent conversation Tegan and Sara had on the Nerdist and see how thoroughly they've thought about making their music both artistically and commercially viable.

On preview: exactly, Sys Rq.
posted by Cash4Lead at 6:55 PM on September 25, 2013


Mayor Curley: "“They have applied 100 percent corporate efficiency to rock ’n’ roll. It’s so cool to see.”

That one sentence illustrates a depressing truth better than the thousands of long form articles that have tried to make the same point: Rock is dead.
"
Tin-eared
Graph-paper brained accountants
Instead of music fans
Call all the shots at giant record companies now

The lowest common denominator rules
Forget honesty
Forget creativity
The dumbest buy the mostest
That's the name of the game

But sales are slumping
And no one will say why
Could it be they put out one too many lousy records?!?
MTV Get off the Air!
posted by symbioid at 6:55 PM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Kiss thread's that-a-way.

Heh. Kiss yesterday, Nickelback today. I may as well post about Metallica tomorrow.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 6:56 PM on September 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


“I’ve always called him a song scientist. He’s got it down, and I respect that,” says Chris Daughtry...

See the EDM thread for another version of this attitude.
posted by symbioid at 6:59 PM on September 25, 2013


I got to wondering, did Metallica finally read this article? Seems like it, with them selling out to play at Yankees stadium for Mariano Rivera, then on the Colbert Report...

It feels more like Nickelback cribbed heavily from Metallica's business-rock handbook, but NB added the genius twist of not starting out with a bunch of credibility so it can't get destroyed along the way.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:07 PM on September 25, 2013 [8 favorites]


According to one particularly disgruntled member of the Chicago Teachers Union, Rahm Emanuel likes Nickelback, though the mayor denies the charges.
posted by deliciae at 8:13 PM on September 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


You know who else  found ways for his band to make money onstage and off, through licensing, merchandising, and product-placement agreements?

Gene Simmons. All I'm sayin'.
posted by Joey Michaels at 9:44 PM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Honestly it's all about sparseness in the field.
There are, believe it or not, still a ton of people out there that want to rock without "rock" being in ironic finger quotes. It's the same reason that bands like Kings of Leon and Black Keys have blown up in the absence of real competition.
Does Nickelback (or those other bands) rock me personally? Fuck no. But they embrace it. And in an era where tons of bands seem to be apologizing for being on stage WHILE being on stage (at a music festival just a few weeks ago I was amazed at how many bands looked like they were non-commitally dicking around onstage -what with the idea of being a showman so distasteful amongst indie types) , what they do has a power. And no one else is really bothering to try right now.
Just like when popular alt music was at its shitty nadir in the early aughts and you had watery acts like The Shins and Death Cab becoming huge when in any other era they'd have been also-rans, people will make do with what's around. And these are the dudes that are bothering.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 9:50 PM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nickelback are not as bad as Hitler.
posted by philip-random at 11:28 PM on September 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Nickleback is what you got when you played the slots as nine new casino hotels opened in Reno in summer 1978.
posted by telstar at 1:03 AM on September 26, 2013


Genius = capitalist never fails to depress me.
posted by ninebelow at 2:57 AM on September 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


I've re-listened to a few of their tracks and I think Nickelback have pioneered a new type of song form. Nearly every pop song unfolds as verse/pre-chorus/chorus etc., but Nickelback go for a structure which sounds to my ears like:

chorus, quiet/
new different chorus, louder/
another new different chorus, really loud/
solo/
some more choruses

They do an amazing amount with a few chords, and because economy is one of the key aspects of a good song, I've got a bit of time for the songwriting techniques displayed.

The autotune on the preposterous vocals is what makes them truly unbearable however.
posted by colie at 3:01 AM on September 26, 2013


Bizcore.
posted by Ham Snadwich at 5:24 AM on September 26, 2013


Bless their hearts.
posted by tommasz at 7:59 AM on September 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was amazed at how many bands looked like they were non-commitally dicking around onstage -what with the idea of being a showman so distasteful amongst indie types) , what they do has a power. And no one else is really bothering to try right now.

I will take music l like over a false sense of emotional power any day. The idea that the only way "of trying" is to act the way these guys act on stage is exactly what's wrong with giant festival/stadium rock these days. Its as if the music is secondary to the performance.

Live Nation and the rest of the corporate rock structure is selling experiences, not music.

How I wait for the coming wave of DIY bands and the internet to sweep this away. The music money machine is now unnecessary--anyone can start a label and record their own music. All of the old advertising channels are being rendered moot. So the majors and Live Nation add little value to the product these days. Its only a matter of time before death by a thousand cuts.

I'm hoping for many more less popular bands splitting $150k a year amongst themselves off of barely-shared royalties and smaller tours, rather than superstars.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:01 AM on September 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't particularly like Nickelback - well, Burn It To The Ground is kinda fun - but I've always had a begrudging respect for Chad Kroeger, whose M.O. is basically "Hey, you like what I do? Then the party's over here. If not, no sweat, I'll be frolicking through piles of cash in my Scrooge McDuck vault..."
posted by tantrumthecat at 11:38 AM on September 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


-ickle Get More Fans Than Nickleback?” All-told the pickle gained about 1.5 million virtual fans in the month that the page existed. I ask Kroeger about this. He doesn’t reply. He is screaming. Blood streams down his face as the ruins of the church pour smoke in the background. All-told it's a very compelling composition. I snap a picture with my Instagram app.

“He was just a man, bro! He was just doing his job, bro” Chad, screaming.

“Oh, tut-tut, this is the rockstar life you always wanted, Chadwick! You even wrote that song about it.” Basil, calm and collected.

Basil runs a finger down Chad’s face, leaving a finger-width line of clean on the canvas of congealing gore. He raises the finger to his mouth, places it in up to the knuckle, and closes his eyes in ecstasy as he sucks noisily.

“You’re a dirty boy Chadwick, let’s get you back to the mansion and clean you up.”

Nickelback was formed in Canada in the past. It used to be called the Village Idiots and was met with middling success. I looked up Mike Kroeger, Chad’s half-brother to ask about “the early days”.

Mike’s mansion is much smaller than Kroeger’s, although as houses go it’s comparatively large. It’s a matter of perspective, really. As Mike opened the door I noted the scent of many-day’s old sweat, laced with the acute nostril stinging fragrance of spilt whiskey. Mike’s usually short-cropped blonde hair had grown out considerably, as had his beard. Both looked in sharp need of a trimming.

“You the reporter?” he asked.

I confirmed that I was, indeed, the reporter. As Mike moved to let me into the house the belt of his bathrobe came loose exposing a great deal more than I cared to see of Nickelback’s bassist. That particular area was also in sharp need of trimming.

The interior of Mike’s house was strangely empty, matching the expression on his face. I asked him if he was in the middle of moving. After a prolonged silence his gaze snapped to me and he said,

“We’re all in the middle of moving, friend. This world spins and we move with it, watched by powers that we cannot, and never should comprehend. And then we die. What do you think happens to us when we die?”

I admitted that I was unsure of what happened when we died.

“We burn,” he said, grabbing a conveniently placed half-empty bottle of Jack Daniels, blowing a house-fly off of its mouth, and taking a professionally measured and dispassionate gulp from it.

“Ask your fucking questions.”

My first fucking question was regarding the band’s start. How had a Metallica cover band gone from small-town also-rans to one of the predominate Rock properties in our modern era. Mike was silent for a few minutes, punctuated with several more professional whiskey gulps, and then said.

“Let me show you something.”

Mike lead me through his nearly abandoned house. I noticed that some doors had been boarded up. Large holes had been punched through some stretches of wall-board. He lead me to a fire-place, above which a blood red bass guitar hung in an almost shrine-like configuration. On the mantel underneath was a worn and faded Vans shoe-box. Mike took the top off the box and rifled through it.

“Look at this photograph.”

I recognized the members of the band, wearing ill fitting rural Canadian approximations of late 80s metal haute couture. I noticed that Chad’s photo (a Polaroid) had been damaged in processing – Chad’s face was blurry beyond recognition.

“And this one…”

Slightly newer. The band playing on the stage of a dive bar. Chad’s face blurry once again. Wordlessly Mike continues to hand me picture after picture, even baby pictures, Chad’s features unrecognizable in each.

“Don’t you see? Chad always wanted to be a rockstar. One day he tells me about a man he met, and about a deal he made. We laughed about it at the time.”

As if to demonstrate Mike begins to laugh. He laughs and laughs, until he is nearly screaming. I notice that amid the screeching laughter there is a steady buzzing of flies. There are flies all around, crawling into Mike’s distended mouth.
I take this opportunity to show myself out. It takes me nearly 30 minutes to find the front door again.

Making an Empire
We are back in Kroeger’s mansion. Chad is showing me his collection of Transformers figurines. Each one is approximately 20 feet tall, and Kroeger claims that they transform into miniature cars.

“Michael Bay gave these to me as a gift, dude-aham. He’s one of Basil’s clients too.”

PRESENTED BY ESQUIRE.COM, PAGES 4, 5, 6, 7 ... END
posted by codacorolla at 7:58 PM on September 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


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