Jens F. Ryland
Today I’m giving a presentation at the Norwegian Academy of Music talking about the same issues I covered with my Bachelor paper.
Because of this I choose to publish the summary of my paper here;
Whenever I tell people about the highlights of my 15 years in Borknagar I’m often asked how much money I’ve earned. I tell them that while I label myself as a musician, I need to make a living from a regular job. This is sometimes hard to make people understand, as Borknagar has achieved a great deal of musical success over the years, which to most people imply income.
As I started studying Entrepreneurship, I found some interesting new ways of seeing the historical development of Borknagar and how the musical success didn’t match the economic success. This had me intrigued and I decided to use this paper and the research involved to figure out if I could find any explanation to that. I was never looking for scapegoats, only explanations. I have also found some.
The first thing that backfired was bringing entrepreneurial theory into the metal scene. Artistic integrity and credibility doesn’t go well with commercial thinking. I found out that I had to take a step back and start this research by pointing out exactly how artistic venture is so closely linked to entrepreneurial theory. I believe I have succeeded.
The next step was to narrow the research down from explaining the music industry as it’s own universe, to search for key factors in the development of Borknagar. I eventually found that motivation seemed to be important. Motivation is the key to the persistence needed to keep working with your band through all the hard time, what entrepreneurial theory calls «The valley of death». I could see how Borknagar had been in this valley for too many years without breaking the surface, and how that had made the band give up and search for alternative careers. The motivation had depleted.
I also found indications that entrepreneurial research had neglected the motivation factor for some time and that it is seen as sort of a missing link between recognicing the opportunity and taking action. Exactly the staduim where I could put Borknagar. To explain this I had to point out how Borknagars KSA (knowledge, skills and abilities) are not what’s in question here. The band is undoubtedly able to make music and to make the music accessible to the marked and with that enabeling the action part of this equation. So why didn’t we? The easy answer is; because the motivation failed.
The next phase was explaining exactly how motivation influences a band in the same way as an employee or a firm. Justice is an important part of motivation and it’s not hard to establish that Borknagar felt their lack of reward was unjust. Where had the money gone? Through this process I became more and more aware that we had indeed not been scammed, if there’s anyone to blame it’s ourselves. Our ability to make the right decisions and react the right way in the crucial moments was not the same as for Dimmu Borgir which I used as a comparison. If I should make any complaint it’s that we lacked the awareness of this and we didn’t get any help from the outside like Dimmu Borgir did.
This phenomenon is in entrepreneurial theory called «product-focused» and can be explained like how a football-player is too focused on the ball and misses the situation. If an Entrepreneur is too focused on the product he’s making and not taking care of the other factors needed to be successful, he’s not going to be successful. In 2001 Borknagar released the Empiricism album, a very strong product. It seems like we were a bit too product focused.
With this research and my findings I have tried to suggest some helpful advice for bands being in the fase of establishing or looking for an audience. Motivation is a factor that’s important both inside a band and for the entire organization you end up building, including managers, labels, crew and agents. This advice will not give anyone a record contract, but give some points to how you should manage your band from the beginning to avoid conflict later on.
The 2012 version of Borknagar is much better suited to handle the different aspects of being in a band then the 2001 version. The release of the album «Urd» has also shown Borknagar at the peak of music production. The only drawback is that by now we’re all involved with families and careers and for everyone to give up this to act on the opportunity is a longshot. We have become «Weekend- artists»!
It’s time I made an update here and let you know what’s been going on.
This web/ blog was created in a period of my life where it looked like I was getting more and more busy with music. Borknagar was signing a new contract with Century Media and we were actually talking about being more active with concerts. We had been working on Urd for some time and was about to start recording. I also later joined ICS Vortex and I made a band out of Artisan creating the “Road to Khitai” video.
It might seem like I overestimated the situation a bit. We have played one concert with Borknagar since then, I also played one with ICS Vortex before I let that go. And the Artisan video didn’t get me anywhere either. This might sound like a flop, but I see it different. In this period I was also studying and I was able to turn my experiences and actions into school papers. This blog became a paper, the video-project also. And to finish it I wrote my Bachelor paper about the Entrepreneurial ventures of Borknagar. A process that both opened up my eyes to how music business works and also made me proud of what we have actually achieved with Borknagar. Being this active with blogging and Social Media was no drawback either, giving me some valuable insight into the new means of marketing and branding.
It came to a point in November 2011 where I realized that I didn’t have the activity needed to keep posting every day, and I simply quit. I made a few more after that and the last one that announced the new Borknagar drummer has been the last one for almost a year. I put all my writing into the final school-paper at that point, and I’m glad I did as the Bachelor paper turned out good.
After this I have thought a lot about what to do with this project, and I have to admit there is no clear plan just yet. But I have decided to change this into my own newsroom and use it to blurb about the stuff that interests me.
And bandlife interests me. One of the issues I have stuck with after my studies is how building a band is so closely related to building business. It’s more or less the same! As long as you have people involved who can actually play instruments and create music you have a band, but to make the band go anywhere you need to handle organizing, marketing, sales, booking and absolutely everything that it involves having a business.
Obviously the biggest reason this is neglected by so many bands and artists is lack of knowledge, but there’s also an obvious conflict of interest here. Being in a rebellious rockband isn’t something you do because you have an interest in economy or marketing, is it? And the same time we know that people like Gene Simmons isn’t exactly unskilled with business. And Mick Jagger was in his second year of business school when he signed the first contract for Rolling Stones. Coincidences?
Let’s look at it from another angle then. Anyone know any bands with incredibly skilled musicians who can’t get neither a contract or a gig? I know about quite a few. If all you know is how to shred that guitar you’ll need some serious luck to get anywhere. Luck as in someone else doing the job for you.
This is the sort of things I want to talk about. I have already started doing lectures and counselling about these issues, I want to continue my writing process here and make artists and musicians more aware of these things.
And the Artisan band?
The musical part of this media project is not dead, but it’s put on ice. The band that created Road to Khitai was a one-off anyway. Asgeir has also departed from the entire Artisan project and is busy with his own “baby”; God of Atheist.
In fact, I have more or less decided that at some point I want to record more music under the Artisan banner, but there are some other stuff I need to do first. I’ll get back to that later.
Anyway, good to be back.
Yes, the rumours are true, the new Borknagar drummer is Baard Kolstad.
Baard was also presented as the new ICS Vortex drummer just last week and I already saw some speculations drawing the correct lines in here.
Baard is a bit younger then the rest of us geezers, but his entry into the music scene is quite amazing. Baard was “discovered” by Mr Vortex himself in the spring 2011 while recording in Toproom Studio with a band. Just after this both Borknagar and ICS Vortex were asked to participate in the anniversary recording of Metallica’s Black Album, and as Asgeir Mickelson was unavailable, Vortex called up Baard and asked him to play on the song.
Baard has a very well visited Youtube channel which I don’t think needs any explanation, just enter and have a look for yourself; Baard Kolstad Youtube
The last achievement Baard did was to win the World Championship in v-drums arranged by Roland in January 2012, have a look at this video:
And you can watch his winning performance here:
Pictures from the weekend in Helsinki- Finland with ICS Vortex:
Baard in his drum solo.
Chaos picture, us arriving at the venue Friday afternoon
Signing session before the concert.
Steinar warming up, this is just minutes before we entered stage.
I pulled out the camera while Simen was playing the opening on Stormseeker, good crowd!
After the concert Baard found this lounge in the VIP area.
We can now announce a concert at the Volt Club in Lørenskog as part of Club Inferno, the exact date is 4th of April 2012. The date for our Inferno gig will be presented at the kickoff on John Dee in Oslo 28th of January. I’ve previously explained what Volt is in the post named “The Volt Chapter“. We will have support from some of the local bands, “Tuesday Forgets” and “We built this Ocean”.
Asgeir and myself flanked by members of Tuesday Forgets and We Built This Ocean.
Recent news from the Borknagar camp is release dates;
GERMANY / AUSTRIA / SWITZERLAND / NORWAY: Friday, March 23, 2012.
UK / BENELUX / FRANCE / GREECE / DENMARK / PORTUGAL / REST OF EUROPE: Monday, March 26, 2012.
SPAIN / ITALY: Tuesday, March 27, 2012.
SWEDEN / FINLAND / HUNGARY: Wednesday, March 28, 2012.
AUSTRALIA / NEW ZEALAND: Friday, March 30, 2012.
And I also want to add the full pressrelease sent out by Century Media naming the title of the album ;
BORKNAGAR – Complete work on new studio album; Announce title and release dates!
Norwegian Avantgarde Metallers BORKNAGAR have finalized mixing duties for their upcoming studio album with Jens Bogren at acclaimed Fascination Street Studios (Opeth, Paradise Lost, Katatonia, etc.) in Sweden and have now checked in to announce that the long awaited new effort will be titled “Urd” and is to be released on March 26th, 2012 in Europe as well as March 27th, 2012 in North America via Century Media Records.
BORKNAGAR’s mastermind Øystein G. Brun has checked in with the following message:
“Well, our new album “Urd” was finished in mid December and all in all we spent about 6 months to record, produce and mix it. In the “Bork-World” this isn’t really long, but I can assure you that we have never before invested so much time, energy and effort into one single production. It has been a tough, yet inspiring ride. Since June 2011 I have constantly been working with this album, recording, editing and so forth – day and night. The same goes for my comrades, never before have we made an album where everybody in the band has been so heavily involved and dedicated as this time around. “Urd” is surely the peak of our musical journey so far and we are extremely proud to have made this giant of an album! It’s massive, it’s emotional, it’s fast, it’s slow, it’s epic, and it’s progressive…all the ingredients that we have crafted our musical world on! And not to mention the “golden threesome” on vocals (Vintersorg, Mr. Vortex and Lazare) really shines on this album…Do I need to say more?!”
Furthermore he explains the album title within the band’s historical context as follows:
“Our previous album was called “Universal” and where should we go after an album title with such a magnitude? Well, we decided to head back home to earth. We really wanted to get back to the core of the band, where it all started – the admiration and pondering about nature and mankind’s place therein. “Urd” is the name of one of the norns that according to northern mythology stands under Yggdrasill and weaves the lifeline of mankind. “Urd” is representing the past, while “Verdande” is representing the present and “Skuld” is representing the future. You might very well say that this is an ancient expression of what we today know as DNA. And I have always been very fascinated by the fact that parts and bits of our DNA actually derive from the very beginning of time. All living creatures are somewhat connected to the very first organic cell. That is some of the story behind the album title…”
Øystein G. Brun – Clean & Electric Guitars (Cronian, ex Molested)
Vintersorg – Grim Vocals, Clean Vocals & Choirs (Vintersorg, Fission)
Lars A. Nedland – Keys, Clean Vocals & Choirs (Solefald, ex Carpathian Forest)
Jens F. Ryland – Lead Guitars (ICS Vortex)
ICS Vortex – Bass, Clean Vocals & Choirs (ex Dimmu Borgir, Arcturus, ICS Vortex)
Drums and percussion on “Urd” were performed by David Kinkade (Soulfly, ex Malevolent Creation).
BORKNAGAR Live 2012:
04.-07.04. Oslo (Norway) – Inferno Festival / www.infernofestival.net
13.-14.04. Lichtenfels (Germany) – Ragnarök Festival / www.ragnaroek-festival.com
More dates will be announced soon…
More details and information about the upcoming BORKNAGAR release will be issued soon…
Official BORKNAGAR sites:
Century Media Records online:
Century Media webshop: