Exclusive – Steel Panther’s Stix Zadinia Launches Consulting, Drum For Hire + Merch Business
Although his promo video and slogan of "Let's Kick Today's Ass in the Balls" may come off as slapstick and another one of Panther's hilarious gimmicks, he's completely serious about the launch of this company, so we jumped on Zoom and caught up with him to learn more, or at least that's the excuse we tell ourselves.
The truth is, as you all know, Stix is irresistibly good looking and we just wanted to stare at this god-like specimen under the guise of talking business. Let's count this as a win-win.
Introduction to Stix Zadindustries
Where did this idea for Stix Zadindustries start? Was this planned before the pandemic or was this a byproduct of all that downtime?
This came about partially because of the pandemic because I wasn’t distracted by all the things I regularly do. I wanted to grow while Steel Panther are on this forced hiatus.
I know what it feels like to be confused about why certain people are being paid certain amounts and when the dust settles I get a percentage of the crumbs that are left over. I’m in the band that people are excited to come see — it’s so backwards.
For the last three years, we've been self-managed and I run point on all that stuff. We looked under the hood and saw how everything is connected and works in the music industry ecosystem. I knew I didn’t have all the answers, but I knew people who did. I knew if I can be the hub and have the right people on the team, we could grow our business as Steel Panther. It’s been fantastic.
I encourage young bands to get a hold of me. I’ve made mistakes and we’ve blown it in the same way you potentially may. There’s so many things you don’t even know to look out for. I’m about empowering the artist because they get taken advantage of in this business. What are you getting in exchange for giving?
Will you be consulting with unsigned bands at the local levels who are really just starting off or bands who already have some sort of career?
There’s no prerequisite to chat. If you are mid-level and you want to scale back your payroll, I’m into it.
I just want to help people who want to be in this business. There’s not a lot of incentive in the traditional business model for a 15-year-old guitar player who wants to rock.
You’ll get put on tour with this great bus, but you’re paying for it. The same with catering. Young bands especially don’t realize where all that money is being distributed and whose money it is.
Some mid-level or bigger bands don’t know what the alternative is. There’s benefits to managers — they have relationships and can knock doors down for you, but you have to have the songs first.
If you’re a mid-level band on the back side of your career mountain and you have a manager taking 10-15 percent for fielding phone calls and you’re not going to be doing anything groundbreaking (making new music and playing your hits on tour), you can save so much money by taking some responsibilities yourself.
I have that blueprint, and I know what all of that entails. As a consultant, let’s set a goal and trail back and figure out how to get there.
You're also offering up your services as a studio drummer for hire at a per song rate. In what ways will bands be able to use your name in subsequent promotion of their new track?
One of my skills is playing the drums — I’ve been known to play a rock song. Am I Neil Peart? Hell no. That’s not what I do.
When I hear demos, I hear the drum loops. It’s easy to tell and it really can make a difference between hearing a song come to life or be monotonous. How the drums and bass work with the melody is part of the songwriting element. You need to have the right kick pattern and hit in the right spots.
I can’t stress songwriting enough. People may write off Steel Panther as the band that wears Spandex and sings about dicks, but the reason we’ve been around as long as we have — first, we’re really good looking — is because the songs are enjoyable and well-written.
Getting the right drums can make a good song great, but won’t make a bad song good no matter what.
Regarding promotion, you can say “drums performed by Stix Zadinia.” I would prefer people not trade on the Steel Panther name, but if I’m hired to play the drums, by all means use my name.
The third aspect of Stixadindustries is merchandise, so let's talk about that ridiculous slogan. It's perfect.
When people see “Let's Kick Today’s Ass in the Balls” they do a double take. It’s so funny. Then their brain goes, “Wait, what?” It’s a full conundrum — how am I understanding that I’m not understanding what I’m understanding?
It’s motivational — let’s go get it! It implies today has an ass and on top of that, it implies that today’s ass has balls — it’s like an M.C. Escher phrase or like Inception or something.
I’m going to do posters and I have golf towels — I’m a golf junkie. I think I’m gonna go down the motivational and inspirational route. There’s so many people bummed out right now, and if I can bring a little bit of joy with my merch line, then that’s what I want to do.
I’m going to create content for the website too, and I’m starting a new religion called ‘Awesomeism.’ There’s two rules: No. 1 is 'Be Awesome' and No. 2 is 'Refer to Rule No. 1.' There’s so much angry stuff out there and I want to be the antithesis of that.
Everyone always complains that the industry isn’t the way it used to be — albums don’t sell, etc. What are the positive changes you’ve seen in the last 10 to 20 years?
The internet is a double-edged sword. People can share music without paying for it, which sucks for artists regarding album sales. But the ability to expose your music to countless people is there. If you’re good — you need kick ass music people want to listen to — then it can be awesome.
If you have a shitty deal, then you’re not going to see the financial gain. If you do it yourself, get a distribution deal and record the album yourself, then you own it if you’re able to pay for it and that can be great.
Another change that’s fantastic is home recording. What you can achieve sonically for a very little amount of money is amazing where before you used to have a $250,000 recording budget for a studio.
However, one of the things that was cool with the old music business is you couldn’t just create something and send it out to the world on YouTube. It’s great, but to a degree — a lot of stuff out there just sucks. There’s no checkpoints along the way that songs need to go through to get out there.
It sucks as the songwriter to have to get through it all, but per capita there were better songs at the top then than there are now. I wish there was more quality control.
But I can help with that and consult on your songwriting!
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