During the day of the 2017 Loudwire Music Awards, we completely took over Los Angeles to spread the rock and metal gospel. The Grammy Museum was kind enough to open its doors for us, so we recruited Pantera legend Rex Brown, Anthrax’s Frank Bello, former Killswitch Engage vocalist Howard Jones, Testament’s Alex Skolnick and Metal Blade Records’ Brian Slagel for a "Surviving the Music Industry" panel.

Slagel was our gracious moderator for the panel, engaging the musicians onstage about their decades in the business. That business has changed drastically in the 21st century, shrinking the industry and cutting off traditional income sources like album sales.

“It’s a different business now, but when you get down, I think, ‘What started you?’ Picking up that guitar and writing that riff. Your head has to stay there,” Frank Bello states. “I want to write a good song and I want to go out there and play it … For the younger bands, that’s what it’s about. Don’t lose that. Stay true to that and good things will happen.”

A fan in the crowd asked the panel if they pay attention to critics, which triggered a plethora of responses. “Sometimes reviewers get it wrong, but you can’t close yourself off to it,” says Alex Skolnick. “It’s good to have people around you that you trust, that will give you an honest opinion and say, ’No, this isn’t as strong as your last album.’”

Bello chimed in with why he doesn’t read online criticism, “Fuck that and your little computer getting big man fucking balls. Fuck you … Somebody could just literally be in their room and want to take down somebody for the day and be in a shit mood from their life and ruin my day. C’mon man, I’m trying hard here.”

Rex Brown adds, “It’s not the end-all. If it’s good constructive criticism? Great. But at the end of the day, I don’t give a shit.”

As for Howard Jones, the current Light the Torch singer spoke about why he has no social media accounts of any kind. “I pretty much go on the assumption [that] they’re just gonna hate what I’m doing, because I like what I’m doing too much, so there must be something wrong with it," said Jones. "If you write something that’s not good, you know it’s not good. If it doesn’t give you that little spark inside, you know you need to crumple it up and throw it over your shoulder.”

Watch the entire "Surviving the Music Industry" panel in the video above. To grab a copy of Rex Brown’s new Smoke on This... album, click here. If you haven’t already, get your hands on Anthrax’s newest full-length, For All Kings. Light the Torch recently changed their name from Devil You Know, so keep your eyes open for new material from them. Testament’s 11th studio album, Brotherhood of the Snake, can be bought here. Finally, Brian Slagel’s new book, For the Sake of Heaviness, goes in-depth about Metal Blade Records’ 35-year history, so grab a copy here.

Thanks again to the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles for hosting our panel. For more info on the museum and the exhibits inside, click here.

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