When Music Is Just ‘Business’

slayerI was never a big fan of Slayer, but when I saw this letter by their (presumably now former) drummer Dave Lombardo, I had to post. Not because he had some concerns that there may be some shenanigans going on with the band’s finances, but rather to pose this question:

When did the music take a back seat to this nonsense?

Whether you’re into this kind of music or not yourself, take a minute to read Dave’s note and let me know what you think. For those not aware, Dave is a founding member of Slayer, a Grammy award-winning band with sales estimates in excess of twenty million records and also credited as being one of the “Big Four” thrash metal acts, along with Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax.

Statement From Dave Lombardo Regarding Slayer Australian Tour 2013

I want to personally apologize to all of our fans in Australia who have bought tickets for the tour expecting to see me in my usual place on the drums.

So that you all know the truth, as of the end of the business day on February 14th, I was notified that I would not be drumming for the tour in Australia. I’m saddened, and to be honest I am shocked by the situation.

Last year, I discovered 90% of Slayer’s tour income was being deducted as expenses including the professional fees paid to management, costing the band millions of dollars and leaving 10% or less to split amongst the four of us. In my opinion, this is not the way a band’s business should operate. I tried rectifying it by letting my band mates know, and Tom and I hired auditors to figure out what happened, but I was denied access to detailed information and the necessary back up documents.

I spent the Christmas and New Year holidays realizing I had toured all over the world in 2012, but yet, had not been paid (except a small advance) or provided a proper accounting for a full year’s sweat and blood. On top of this, I was told that I would not be paid until I signed a long form contract which gave me no written assurance of how much or on what basis management would deduct commissions, nor did it provide me access to the financial budgets or records for review. It also forbade me to do interviews or make statements having to do with the band, in effect a gagging order.

Last Monday, I sat down with Kerry and Tom to rehearse for Australia and to propose a new business model that I felt was the best way forward for Slayer to confidently protect itself so we could do what we do best . . . play for the fans. Kerry made it clear he wasn’t interested in making changes and said if I wanted to argue the point, he would find another drummer. On Thursday, I arrived at rehearsals at 1 pm as scheduled, but Kerry did not show. Rather, at 6:24 pm I received an email from the lawyers saying I was being replaced for the Australian dates.

I remain hopeful that we can resolve our issues. But once again, I sincerely apologize to all of our fans in Australia who spent their money expecting to see the 3 of us original Slayer members.

I look forward to seeing you in the future.

Dave Lombardo

3 thoughts on “When Music Is Just ‘Business’”

  1. There’s a line in a Peterik song for Jamison’s Crossroad Moments which goes “everything old is new again.” How many bands from the 50s on have dealt with the shady finance thing. I think it’s one reason why a lot of singers go solo and just hire musicians rather than having a “band.” as such. It’s much easier to keep track of your own income than for a band. It’s very sad and something that young bands should be aware of.


  2. The music “business” has been horrible for years. I read an article that said Cheap Trick is suing their record label for continuing to take money from their bottom line for “breakage”. Meaning, back in the day if a record/cd was broken when being delivered to the store, that cost was deducted from the artists’ revenue. That alone doesn’t sound right to me and leaves plenty of room for shenanigans. Why should an artist be responsible for that?

    But the reason they are suing though is because that record company is still charging them breakage fees for downloads. How the hell do you “break” a download?

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