Interview – Henning Metzmacher

Maastricht’s Henning Metzmacher is a local indie rock musician, who has recently finished off his first EP. M3 asked Henning about the effectiveness of copyright, the relevancy of the album format and the plans to close down Maastricht’s premier live venue, the Muziekgieterij…

M3 – First of all, could you tell us a bit about yourself, and what it is that you do? 
Henning – My name is Henning Metzmacher and I’m musician and designer.

What inspired you to start making music? What is your own musical background? 
I learned to play piano when I was seven and I used to play classical pieces. I started playing guitar when I was fourteen, mostly inspired by groups like The Offspring, Blink 182 or Lagwagon. About half a year later me and three friends formed a band very much focused on this style of music and since then writing songs and playing music has been part of my life.

What would be your preferred medium to listen to music (eg. Vinyl, CD, tape, MP3 etc.), and why?
I would love to say I prefer something precious like Vinyl but I usually listen to music on my notebook or on my MP3 player out of convenience but also because I get the latest music from blogs or from friends. Also with increased bandwidth there is no problem in sharing lossless formats like FLAC so quality is not an issue anymore.

Do you feel the idea of an album, as a piece of art that people will listen to from start to finish, has been undermined or forgotten about in the digital age?
In my opinion, we have to think about whether the album concept still makes sense in the digital age or if it is merely a relic from the pre-MP3 era. I think every artist has to decide for himself if he wants to spend months on creating an entire album or simply promoting song by song. The latter can definitely reduce the damage of a flop but it could also introduce some unwanted routine. I definitely think the idea of an album is in decline and there is less and less awareness of whether a single is followed by an album or just more singles.

Many people have claimed that there is no longer any money in record sales, and that touring is the most efficient way to earn an income as a band. How much truth do you think there is in this sentiment?
I think this statement is true. There might be innovations in the future that could improve record sales but the current way to go is to promote your music over all possible channels and then earn your income by playing live shows.

Do you think that the abundance of easily available record music online has led many people to view the live experience as the ‘authentic’ way to experience music?
There is definitely some truth in this but I wouldn’t generally agree. I think it also depends a lot on the environment and the kind of music you are listening to. Most songs describe situations in life, things the artist went through and if you can relate to that, that’s an authentic way to listen to music. I don’t believe that availability takes away the authenticity of a song but much more how we listen to music. In my opinion, discovering a new artist and listening to his songs over and over again is a very genuine experience wheres aggregating gigabytes of audio files on your computer is not.

What is your opinion on the recent proposals to close down Maastricht’s Muziekgieterij?
I didn’t know about these proposals but I think it would be a real shame. The Muziekgieterij is a great creative place. I practiced and recorded there before and I would hate to miss this place. So I really hope the Muziekgieterij will still be a part of Maastricht for a long time.

Do you think traditional copyright laws are still enforceable in the digital age, or do you think we will have to rethink the concept of copyright itself?
I think copyright laws are very important as they make sure that artists can make a living by their skills and that their work is protected. However, traditional copyright laws need to be adjusted with the tremendous possibilities of modern technology in mind. There is no use in taking down a video using a proprietary piece of music that might even show a fan’s identification with the lifestyle the band or artists represents. In my opinion, the most important thing is to develop and improve tools that enable people to interactively share (and maybe even remix) music so that copyrights are respected and profits are returned to the copyright holder.

What do you personally believe the future of music distribution will look like?
I think that in the future direct music distribution like selling CDs or downloads will only be a very small part of the business. Artists will probably rely on innovations like Spotify where listening to music becomes part of the social capabilities of the internet or on platforms like YouTube where the number of clicks determines if a music video becomes viable for advertisers. People will still buy a CD or a Vinyl from a band or artist they feel very supportive for but the choice will be very individual.

Finally, what does the future hold for Henning Metzmacher?
I definitely want to work together with other artists of different styles and genres. So my goal for the near future is to meet inspiring people and hopefully produce some awesome tracks.

For more information about Henning Metzmacher, you can visit his official website and find him on Facebook.

About M3 Event

The music industry is rapidly changing. The internet has enabled widespread piracy, as well as a variety of new business and distribution models. We want to offer an engaged audience in and around the Euregion an opportunity to develop a coherent and detailed picture of the future of music distribution. On the 31st of May 2012 a music conference in Maastricht, consisting of oppositional debates, creative workshops and lectures, will provoke opportunities for intellectual stimulation, debate, as well as networking. We hope to utilise the skills and ideas of some of most forward thinking minds and operators in the industry in order to highlight some promising new ideas and areas which can be improved upon.

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