FeaturesDecember 22, 201515,712 views

you play in a successful deathcore band, but you're not earning a living

Your metal band has 500,000 Facebook followers? You're still a pauper.

Thy Art Is Murder

Yesterday, Thy Art Is Murder frontman CJ McMahon announced his departure from the band. While McMahon had several reasons for leaving, chief among his concerns were ongoing financial woes. In his exit statement, he had this to say:

"To put the finances into perspective for you, I/we have earned between $16k-$18k each over 6-7 years, I feel there is something massively wrong with this, I will not live like this anymore."

It's unclear whether he means $16k-$18k total over the course of his time in the band, or $16k-$18k each and every year. Because the former seems unfathomable, we'll assume he meant $16k-$18k per year. That's still a pretty paltry figure though.

In case you weren't aware, McMahon and his deathcore bandmates hail from Australia, which doesn't use the U.S. dollar. Factor in the exchange rates, and he was earning somewhere around $13,000 per year, less than $7/hour at a full-time job. This isn't even minimum wage (which in the U.S. is $7-$10/hour depending upon one's state), and it's certainly not what you would expect from a full-time musician touring the world in a moderately successful band.

I'm sure there's no 401k, paid time off, or health insurance with that gig either.

No, Thy Art Is Murder isn't Metallica, or Lamb Of God, or even Suicide Silence, but as metal bands go, they're sizeable. They've toured the U.S., Europe, and Australia many times, have played Mayhem Fest and Summer Slaughter, among others, and are signed to Nuclear Blast Entertainment (UNFD in Australia). Their last album debuted in the Top 10 in their native country, and the Top 100 in the United States. True, your father won't know who they are, but your cousin might.

The shitty state of the music industry for anybody but its biggest stars is well-documented.

It's one of the reasons many bands have turned to crowdfunding. Cut out the middle-man and put more money in your own pockets. Protest The Hero reaped quite a windfall three years ago. But you have to have the right fanbase to pull that off, and you must obviously be free of a recording contract (i.e. the middle-men).

Crowdfunding exceptions aside, if you play in a decent-sized band full-time and are older than say 25, you're likely better off stocking UPS trucks, working in a shoe factory, or posting YouTube parody videos.

If you're 32 years old and ready to start a family, like McMahon, you have little choice but to abandon your dreams and move on.

Sad, but true.


Post Comment
anonymous 12/22/2015 7:39:10 AM

Get a real job

anonymous 12/22/2015 7:40:30 AM

You got the exchange rate the wrong way around, his $18k australian is actually only about $13k american. He's making way less than a full time minimum wage job.

webmaster 12/22/2015 7:44:55 AM

Yeah, i just fixed that a few minutes ago. Thanks.

anonymous 12/22/2015 8:40:26 AM

Here's the thing... The guy isn't giving up his dream. He attained his dream. He toured full time for a long time. That IS the goal. If the guy's dream was to make a good living, he picked the wrong genre of music, and really the wrong career. If the guy's dream was to tour the world playing heavy music, he f*cking did it. He lived it. Time to move on. Happens to the best of us.

anonymous 12/22/2015 8:54:13 AM

You can try actually making music that does not sound like 3,000 other shitty, unoriginal, uninspiring, bands.

anonymous 12/22/2015 10:08:17 AM

Another Sonik Garcia lol at lease they lived the dream. Best wishes to CJ.

anonymous 12/22/2015 10:29:45 AM

there is nothing "massively wrong" with this, and thats just about what i would expect a guy in a band like that to make. music is art, and a f*cking hobby, not inherently a career or something you deserve to make a living off of. only a handful of people can actually maintain and pull off a sustainable living. its fine if he doesnt want to live that way anymore, but to act like some great injustice is happening to him, f*ck off.

ThetowerofroMe 12/22/2015 10:56:45 AM

Boo f*cking hoo

anonymous 12/22/2015 11:39:40 AM

$13K is still a lot per year for a guy with no job

anonymous 12/22/2015 12:36:23 PM

90 percent of bands make unsustainable livings. were not all "born hustlers" like Butt Chin Chris Fronzak

ineedmoresalt 12/22/2015 12:37:21 PM

That haircut + jean shorts + ill-fitting shirt = thy taste is screwy

anonymous 12/22/2015 3:10:07 PM

And women are busy wanting to slob the knobs of these type of guys. You should be slobbing the knobs of the people dropping the real money on the bands merch, etc.

anonymous 12/22/2015 4:06:52 PM

Staying overnight in your van in the middle of winter in St. Louis really doesn't fit the "traveling" the world. Gets old quick.

anonymous 12/22/2015 4:16:48 PM

thy art is bitching out. lot of bands keep going who make less.

anonymous 12/22/2015 6:28:00 PM

Dude, be thankful you got to a tour in a band. playing music is not a way to get to rich, it is a hobby of expression. It's very rare to turn it into a well paying career. You were living the dream for many years, be humble about it. Now to go get a real career that can support you and your family.

hey_yoo 12/22/2015 8:27:56 PM

what the f*ck did this dumb shit expect playing shitty "deathcore" full time? a f*cking mansion with 6 cars? what a dumb f*ck.

anonymous 12/22/2015 8:50:30 PM

In this thread - Bunch of kids who never had to start a "career" in their 30's.

anonymous 12/23/2015 2:13:12 AM

^^ shut up CJ you've had you're bitch, bitch

anonymous 12/23/2015 6:31:07 AM

i assume everyone posting here doesn't remember what it was like, when middling bands sold 100,000+ records every couple years. album sales alone could pay the rent. nobody buys records anymore, and kids will still bitch about ticket prices. ($10 in 2015 is f*cking bullshit.) don't you want your favorite bands to be able to keep putting out records? don't you think they deserve a decent living?

anonymous 12/23/2015 10:13:55 AM

$13K is still a lot per year for a guy with no job lol

anonymous 12/23/2015 1:04:01 PM

he got that shirt with the camo breast pocket from a Brooks Brother's Outlet Mall lol...how do I know? Because I've got the same shirt from the same place. VERY Metal. And dude forgot to size up.

anonymous 12/23/2015 9:47:01 PM

I can't wait for the day where the biggest bad is the biggest band in your area code playing free shows.

anonymous 12/27/2015 7:25:48 AM

Stop wasting your money on bad tattoos and scene clothes.

anonymous 4/29/2016 12:37:09 PM

You guys are freaking stupid. If the band doesn't make money they can't afford to make music and tour. Especially if you have a family like CJ. CD sales used to pay the bills but nobody wants to even pay $15 for a concert anymore. Calling CJ a bitch for not being able to do it is f*cking stupid. He is a really nice guy and clearly cares about his family enough to give up on the dream because he has to put the family first and can't support them touring. Idiots. - Shelby