Sumerian Records Founder Comments on ‘MetalSucks vs. Century Media’ Internet War

by | Aug 25, 2011

Sumerian Records founder Ash Avildsen issued a statement today criticizing co-founder Vince Neilstein for publishing a series of posts directed at Century Media for pulling its repetoire off Spotify. Avildsen’s statement follows:

“After far too long of ignoring many requests for me to do this, I will now write a bi-monthly blog about my thoughts on music and the biz.

Episode One:

(Now playing: Radiohead ‘Karma Police’)

A lot of people have been asking me about my thoughts on the recent MetalSucks vs Century Media drama in regards to Spotify, the modern day way to run a record label and the livelihood of artists.

First off – I believe all music should be able to be heard for free. This is why every song on Sumerian can be streamed on our YouTube channel, for free. However  I don’t agree with the popular modern trend of  just conditioning humans to always go for the most convenient, quick and lazy way possible to do anything and everything. This happens regardless of the consequences on our culture, the consequences on the quality of the activity, the experience or the product, or the consequences on community and the negative impacts made on the equanimity of society.

I don’t mean just music specifically. You can text your best friend to congratulate him on something incredible happening in his life, or you can call him on the phone and express your feelings with pitch, tone, inflection and human emotion. You can microwave your pizza (i.e. prepare food by means of radiation)  or you can cook it in a conventional oven. I prefer my crust crisp and crunchy. I like a little golden brown goodness on my mozzarella. I have to wait a little longer for a better outcome? No problem. Other people will send the text while eating a nuked, soggy pizza. I recently had an intern send me a hand-written thank you letter in the mail to give his appreciation for his enjoyment of his summer internship. He purposely hand-wrote it and mailed it to make it special and  magnify his gratitude. I was beyond stoked with his approach. It definitely worked.
So… about this Century Media vs MetalSucks beef…
I get really tired of people who hide behind aliases on the internet. I get even more fed up with these characters when they attempt to write articles about why their uneducated opinion and perspective on the music business is accurate, factual information. I want to thank  Ben Umanov, aka Vince Neilstein for being so exceptionally ignorant in his latest ramblings towards Oliver Withöft, the owner of Century Media. It has inspired me to throw in my two cents.
Three or four years ago, Ben and his other buddies who also hide behind internet aliases began posting pretentious, overly opinionated blogs on a website called and started to get a bunch of people to read them. After awhile, he got enough hits to where he started selling ad space on the site to a lot of metal record labels… record labels who are advertising albums to buy. He got so many labels to write him checks, he then quit his day-job and just ran his mouth as a blogger on full-time, earning a nice living.
Recently he has been telling Century Media, along with everyone else who looks at his site, that record labels shouldn’t bother to sell recorded music, that the concept of paying to have albums recorded and people buying these albums is a dead thing of the past and that the only real way to survive is for record labels to become management companies for bands. He also said that almost none of these bands can actually live off their music anyway. Hmm, that’s an interesting business model. The bands can’t live off their music but maybe other people can? Like Ben ‘Vince Neilstein’ Umanov?
The fact that he is arguing selling recorded music is no longer a way of life for anyone to live but yet he pays his bills by selling album ads to record labels is just the most painful case of irony since Alanis Morisette circa 1996.  All the labels who spend money on Ben’s site (the ad rates on MetalSucks are expensive)  need to stop and instead use all that money to shoot music videos for their bands and give them financial support to stay on the road. Touring bands who have a great live show and their own distinct identity are who will have careers and who will survive.  There are more artists on Sumerian Records that live off their music than those that do not.  This is because they work hard and have both fans and a label that are there to support them. Talented musicians shouldn’t have to be broke because guys like Vince Neilstein say so.
According to Ben, record labels need to wake up tomorrow and just shift to management companies. Maybe nurses should show up to hospitals tomorrow as surgeons. Until then, let’s talk about Ben’s management career. He has one band on his roster, who happens to be on one of my tours in September. They are a great band and are from Europe. They are coming to the US for the first time and cannot currently yet afford to live off of being in their band. I wonder what he will do to pay for their immigration costs/visas, international flight tickets, van and gear rental. His first phone call will be to their record label. Hopefully they are willing to invest the money in bringing the band over. Hopefully they didn’t blow all the money on banner ads. In a perfect world, Ben would front the money out of his own pocket to his band as a real deal manager and make sure the show gets on the road. Let’s see what happens. Speaking of seeing things, I see Century Media ads all the time on MetalSucks.. I bet that’ll end quick. I work with bands on CM and they are a label that still spends money on music videos and tour support. Let’s keep it that way.
This guy Ben tried to start his own label a while back. It was called Wrong Records. No, I’m serious. It really was and he couldn’t have picked a more suiting name. I found a quote from him upon the launch of his label.. Ben Umanov, of Wrong Records, said, ‘Wrong Records is founded on the principal that we put out quality music that we like, and we have the experience and resources to make it happen.’ This guy is like a living, breathing, oxymoron. Well maybe they had the experience and resources to make it happen, but they lost them all.. Or maybe the experience and resources he was talking about never really existed? Kinda like the Tooth Fairy.. Or maybe they just streamed them and couldn’t find them afterwards?  Regardless, I couldn’t seem to find any albums he has ever released.  Ben is just a guy who runs a blog site that sells advertisements to record labels who haven’t yet realized they are wasting their money. But it’s OK.. I have been guilty of it too. I’ve bought his overpriced ads for new albums before and I’ve even allowed them to sponsor some of my tours like Summer Slaughter in exchange for some free ads to promote the tour. You won’t see that happening anymore. Every company/label with a logo on the SS Tour Poster paid to be there to support and promote the tour and for the marketing of their bands and brand. MetalSucks got there for free, because that’s what they do: figure out ways to make a living off other people’s ignorance.
As my boys in Karnivool say.. ‘It’s a Newwwwwwww Daayyyyyy!’ See ya Ben. You better start soliciting some ad proposals to Spotify and Grooveshark. After all, that’s the future according to you, our favorite industry fortune teller.  Oh and by the way, I heard that Axl Rose (not to be confused with Vince Neilstein’s co-founder Axl Rosenberg) is going to be sending you a cease and desist for your Appetite For Destruction MetalSucks shirt you’re selling. You might want to take it off your site right away.
So to end this first episode… When I listen to music on my computer, I do it with headphones or external speakers. I like to listen to my favorite songs on CD or with ripped WAV files.  Why?  WAV Files and CDs sound better than MP3s and sound significantly better than streaming music on the internet. I refuse to sacrifice the quality of my music experience for the sake of convenience and laziness. I stream music all the time if I’m checking out a new band or a song I haven’t heard before, or casually listening to different artists. I love streaming when I want to listen to the radio, whether it’s Pandora, KROQ,  or my own personal Spotify playlist.  If I don’t really like something I won’t buy it. Obviously if I can’t afford to purchase it then I won’t buy it either… but if it’s something I really enjoy? I want to own it. I want to own the best version of it and I want to know my support mattered.
The last guy I want to be is the kid who just got his new cell phone plan setup  with AT&T or Verizon without  realizing  they both stopped offering unlimited data plans but decided to just stream all of his music via the internet on Spotify every day from his iPhone for a month straight…. and then checked his bill.
Today, there’s too many 21st century digital boys who don’t know how to live but  got a lot of toys.
P.S. I think buying physical books to read is way cooler than staring at an LCD kindle and increasing the already abundant amount of electromagnetic frequencies around your body. I like to turn pages and highlight sentences that make an impact to me, not scroll down a glowing screen. I get enough of that from my computer. Now go cook your pizza in the oven and call someone you love on the phone.
Added: MetalSucks has plenty of cool content, reviews, interviews and fun articles. They just need to stop preaching and pretending like they know how to run record labels. Ben ‘Vince Neilstein’ Umanov actually stayed at my house once. I respect the guy, just not his argument on this particular topic.”