I recently came across a rather interesting piece of news – the University of Nottingham (College for you American folk ) are now offering a degree in heavy metal. You can get the low down and the facts here.
100% of the comments I have read on this matter are very strongly opinionated, most of which are strongly against this idea. I think this is a knee jerk reaction. In this post, I try to present the idea of a degree in heavy metal in a slightly different light. Will you have a change in heart after reading this?
To begin, let me ask you: What does one seek to achieve with a degree? I am sure different people have different reasons, but I believe that one common (and wrong) reason ranks above them all. Sadly, in this day and age, kids are encouraged to go to University/College to get a job. The end goal is to always find employment to make a living.
Now ask what one seeks to achieve by playing heavy metal. Invariably, the answer is never to “achieve” anything – the answers range from “because I love it” to “because I love it”. The end goal of playing heavy metal is not to get a job. The end goal is to have fun and to do what they love doing – play heavy ass metal. No one plays heavy metal to make a living – there is no money in the metal genre. If you want to make a living in the music industry – metal is not the route to be taking.
For the minority who put in the hard work (and also have a good dose of luck), then it becomes a way to make a living. But at the end of the day, it is still not a “job”. They are still playing to have fun – the money is just a bonus.
Hopefully this degree in heavy metal offered by the University of Nottingham will inspire this way of thinking again. Because, lets face it, this degree is not going to give participants any form of employment. In fact, I think people with this degree may even be discriminated against in the job market due to stereotypes in society…. “you went to University/College to do what?”.
The target market for this degree are people who possess the passion for the heavy metal genre. I am not saying you need to be “taught” heavy metal – in fact many of the best/most successful metal musicians out there are self taught.
But at the same time, many of the best musicians in the heavy metal genre do in fact have a strong musical education background – think Chris Broderick of Megadeth/ex Jag Panzer and Nevermore, Emil Werstler of Daath/Chimaira, John Petrucci of Dream Theatre or Christopher Amott ex Arch Enemy. No they did not study heavy metal music per se, but their education in music at a University would have no doubt significantly influenced their iconic sound and helped in their success to date.
What am I saying? Don’t write off the degree upon your first glance. Of course you don’t need this to play heavy metal or to be successful in the music industry – all metal bands which are successful today haven’t had the need to have a degree in heavy metal music. All you really need are the requisite instruments, a few others who share the same passion and a garage.
Having said that, maybe there is potential that this is an untapped market out there? The University is a business – they would not offer a course which they didn’t think would prove profitable. Yeah, it might not get you a job, but is that why you would pursue a degree in heavy metal in the first place?
As always, let me know your thoughts below!