Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Story With Wintersun

Jari Mäenpää, the god in human form, descended from the heavens recently to try and explain why there's been so little from the Wintersun camp since it was formed ten years ago. It was a very lengthy three-part explanation that requires a bit of reading. However, I wanted to say first that I'm glad Jari put in the effort to try and tell us everything that's been happening behind the scenes. The band as a whole has never really opened up like this and in fact very few musicians do. So props to Jari for caring about his fans. For reference the original posts follow.

Here's what I make of the posts. Jari wants a studio, that much is clear. He wants to be able to craft his own sound using his own instruments in his own space. He's unsatisfied with using third party studios and doesn't really have an alternative besides his small apartment and crappy computer. It's hard to make music using just a computer, believe me I've tried. And Jari is one hell of a perfectionist. Now, some people think he's being selfish or self-absorbed. I see absolutely no merit to these arguments. How is wanting to use your own equipment being selfish? I know that most bands record in these studios and that they work perfectly fine, but Jari wanting to use his own doesn't make him selfish. Other people say that he has a huge ego and that there won't be any notable benefit to using his own studio sound-wise. And do that I say who cares? Jari has never called himself a "master musician", only the fans have (and rightfully so). But ignoring that, even if the sound isn't any better quality at least it will be released at a more consistent rate. "If you don't like it, don't buy it" has never applied more strongly.

Wintersun is currently stuck in a contract with Nuclear Blast, mostly because they've hardly released any music. The way that the contract works is that the record label gives the band some money in advance to record and produce the album, then takes a cut of the sales. I don't think it's wild thinking to assume that Wintersun is a bit more of an investment than most bands. The band has already had a few cash advances for the Time albums and only one of them has actually been released. I don't remember the specifics of the decision, but I'm guessing the idea to split the album into two came from higher up the food chain. The label just wanted to get the record out and actually make some money back from it. It's well within the world of possibility that Nuclear Blast can put forward some money to help Jari build his own studio, they certainly have enough in the bank for it. Knowing the Wintersun fanbase, the label would almost certainly make the money back easily. Though record labels tend to play favourites with bands that have been around for a while and sold tons of records. The problem is that Wintersun isn't that big of a band unfortunately. Nuclear Blast isn't about to give them any special privileges.

That also feeds into the problem of crowdfunding that Jari explained. He'd see very little of the money because the label owns the band and all of its music. I'm sure there are ways around this. Many people have suggested creating a "new" band under the guise of Winterson in order to escape the record deal. It's also probably possible to have a Kickstarter solely for the studio, with rewards unrelated to Time II or future albums. Jari's feelings towards theses options were left out of his updates, but I'm guessing it's because he doesn't want to step on anyone's toes. He may just be a bit of a goody two-shoes and want to play by the rules. There's the very real possibility of Nuclear Blast suing the pants off of him as well so it's understandable why he wants to follow the rules.

The whole situation just seems like being stuck between a rock and a hard place. There does seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel though. At the end of his final update, Jari mentioned saving up every extra penny until he can afford a studio. Even if he doesn't want to break any rules, this man is dedicated. Music is his life and he will never stop making it until he dies. It may take a while but I fully believe that Jari Mäenpää will eventually have his own studio. There's only one thing that we can do as fans and that is to support the hell out of the band. Go see them when they come to your town. Buy a shirt or two. And I don't know how much goes to the band or the label, but buy the albums. If you actually want more Wintersun music, support the band! Don't just bother them asking when Time II is going to be released. It'll come out eventually.

-Zombie Viking

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