Ex-BLACK SABBATH Singer TONY MARTIN: How Artists Can ‘Reclaim’ Record Industry

Metal As Fuck recently conducted an interview with former BLACK SABBATH singer Tony Martin. When asked about the current state of the record industry, Martin said, “Everything needs to change, absolutely everything. I’ve studied this in the past few years with lawyers and union people. I’m not a big union guy but they were really impressed with what I was thinking and had to say.”

He continued, “If you go back to what is traditionally the music business — sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll; OK, that’s not really it anymore… I mean, we lost control when everything started to go digital, really. Before that, people were copying stuff and putting things out, but when it became digital, we just lost control of that — not in the same way that the games industry or the film industry [did]. They kind of held onto their thing a bit more than we did, but also the business side of it, we lost control of that, and it turns out from the lawyers and the union people that I speak to that traditionally we handed control over to the record companies to speak on our behalf and act on our behalf. They didn’t do that to protect the stuff that we make now.

He added, “We are, whichever way you look at it, we are manufacturers. OK, so we make songs. Some people make fridges, some people make cars, but we still manufacture something. However, we can’t put a recommended retail price on our product like other people can because we handed over the job to the recording industry. Now we can’t really get it back, we kind of stuffed it. So now I think it’s time for the artist to reclaim the industry.”

On the topic of how artists can go about “reclaiming the industry,” Martin said, “Well, for a start we have to stop giving stuff away for free. I mean, there was some myths going around in recent years about how you boost your profile by giving stuff away for free. It doesn’t work. Basically, all the people that like you get your stuff for free and then there’s nobody else to sell it to, so all you’ve done is given it away working for free. That doesn’t work, because once you work for free, then people expect you to work for free, so that doesn’t work. It’s a whole clawing back of what is right. What is right is that we should be able to earn a living out of it and don’t. What they should understand is that music isn’t for free; it costs people time, money, effort. And we do have a manufacturing right; we have made those things, so the intellectual rights should belong to us and they don’t. So everything has to change. I think we should be doing more of our own thing and missing out the record labels completely. In some ways, I think their day is done.”

He continued, “The other thing that’s killed it really is the single-download thing, where bands are still making albums and yet people go online and download one track. So you put all that effort and that work in to making a whole album and then one song is taken out of it. It may be time for us to start doing a single-track release rather than album release. Release the songs one at a time, for example, so that people get a chance to enjoy each track as they come along and not just diss the whole album and just take one track out of the whole bunch of work you’ve done. It would save you time and effort making the whole album. You’d get money off each track, for example, and maybe later on you could release them all again with, you know, four extra tracks and make it into a CD at that point.”

He concluded, “I think it just needs a new business model and a new thought process from artists and we really need to get on it because it’s become a worthless art and that’s just so not fair. It’s just not fair… If everybody gets on it and changes it, then we’ll be in a much better shape, I think.”

BLACK SABBATH released six albums with Tony Martin on vocals: “The Eternal Idol” (1987), “Headless Cross” (1989), “Tyr” (1990), “Cross Purposes” (1994), “Cross Purposes Live” (1995) and “Forbidden” (1995).

TONY MARTIN’S HEADLESS CROSS, the touring project led by Tony Martin, will make its live debut on Friday, July 27 at The Asylum in Birmingham, England. Tickets are £10 in advance and £12 at the door.

HEADLESS CROSS, whose live set celebrates the SABBATH album “Headless Cross”, consists of the following musicians:

* Tony Martin (BLACK SABBATH, THE CAGE) – Vocals
* Danny “Danté” Needham (VENOM) – Drums
* Geoff Nicholls (ex-BLACK SABBATH) – Keyboards
* Dario Mollo (VOODOO HILL, THE CAGE) – Guitar
* Magnus Rosén (ex-HAMMERFALL) – Bass

A slightly different lineup of HEADLESS CROSS — with Martin, Nicholls and Needham as the only holdovers — was scheduled to tour the U.S. in 2009 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the release of “Headless Cross”, but was forced to cancel the trek at the last minute, reportedly due to promoter issues.

Martin‘s last solo album, “Scream”, was released in November 2005 via MTM Music. The CD featured legendary drummer Cozy Powell (BLACK SABBATH, RAINBOW, WHITESNAKE) on the track “Raising Hell” as well as songwriting contributions by another SABBATH member, Geoff Nicholls.


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