Erik & Mikko - Teeth of the Divine
1. What is your name/publication/title?
Erik: I'm Erik and I'm one of the owners of TeethoftheDivine.com
Mikko: My name is Mikko and I'm the other guy responsible.
2. When did you start up? What was your intent in starting a webzine?
Mikko: If we count Digital Metal dot com from which Teeth evolved, that began in 1999 or 2000. I was asked to write some reviews for the site after I had been posting to the site's message board for a few years. The call to the majors came up in 2002 I think. Throughout the years I found myself being involved more and more with Digital Metal's daily business. After the site was hacked years later, put back up and hacked again, without much input from the site's original owners, we were forced to run the site as a message board for a while. At some point the three of us [Erik, Chris (the guy in charge) and me] decided to create a new site on our own and have the free reign that we were lacking. It was discussed for a year or so until I finally committed to the idea and built the website's backbone in five days back in early 2008.
Erik: Like Mikko said, I joined the fray back in 2000 when it was digitalmetal.com, and when things went to shit with a site hack, we just tried to keep things running as a forum/message board until Mikko rebuilt the site, and we sort of put an end to Digital Metal and carried on our own. Within the last year, Chris resigned due to being busy with everything and handed the name and the domain over to Mikko and I. To sum it all up, Teeth opened its business around May 2008.
Mikko: As for the intent... I don't know what it was originally. It isn't money, that's for sure.
Mikko: That's an educated guess.
3. In the time you've been publishing, what do you feel has been the biggest change in the music scene/industry? How has this impacted your reporting of it?
Mikko: I'd say that there's a hell of a lot more bands these days, pouring in through doors and windows, and they're all bombarding your senses with new releases. It can get a bit overwhelming at times. Ten years ago I still had the will to actively search for new bands, listen to most of the promos and so forth, but not so today. I think it's great that people are playing and making music but at the same time, not all of it has to be made public from the get-go.
Erik: The Internet, Facebook, Myspace, bandcamp etc. All those have changed how bands get their music to the fans and also to the critics. Music can be released digitally now with no hard copies at all. There was a time when I would get BOXES of physical CDs to review, now my email inbox is full of digital music to review. I bet the Teeth of the Divine email gets 5-10 review requests a day via email/bandcamp etc. There’s no way we can cover all of it.
Mikko: I'm not even sure if we would want to cover all of it, even if we could.
4. Do you think the decline in sales of print-based music magazines is partly due to the rise of webzines? Do you think webzines themselves are now dropping off in favour of something newer?
Mikko: There's definitely something going on but luckily our livelihood isn't dependent on our website, so in the end, it's not something we lose our sleep over. I think social media and other forms of entertainment in general are making it a lot of harder for people to visit more “traditional” websites nowadays. They want an instant fix rather than commit their valuable time to browse some website more in-depth and connect with the material in some meaningful way. Going back 10 years, I followed a dozen different message boards. Now I think it's down to four and it's solely because I already made the effort to follow them actively years ago. And sometimes I struggle to visit those too. Same goes for general sites I suppose. Sure part of it's due to becoming older and whatnot, but I'd say Facebook has shielded us like some gated suburban community -- if it's not pushed through our walls, it's not worth reading.
Erik: Yeah I think that’s pretty obvious that’s the case. I used to write for Metal Maniacs and Unrestrained Magazines, and they both no longer exist. And even then I frequented just a handful of respected webzines, but now, any Tom, Dick or Harry can start a blog and be a credible journalist.
Mikko: Hey! At least I don't call myself a journalist.
5. In terms of your readers, do they show any preference for any specific types of content? Do they favour multimedia features (mp3s, podcasts, videos, etc) or more traditional content types?
Erik: I think reviews are our bread and butter. We’ve developed such stable and consistent relationship with our regular readers that if we went too far away from that, with podcast, videos and such, we’d lose them.
Mikko: I think variety in content is always worth at least a thought or two, so long as it doesn't fuck up the original reason (reviews, interviews) why people come to your site in the first place. I think people expect certain things from us and if we were able to cater to those expectations with some new stuff, I don't think our regulars would mind.
6. How have online commenting systems developed since you've been publishing? Have you taken any steps to “manage” the community of fans posting on your site?
Erik: We were late in the commenting arena as we only introduced commenting a while after the site launched. We try to moderate the comments mainly for spam bots or the occasional trolls, but I like seeing feedback to the articles. I wish bands and label folks would chime in a little more often, though. I spent 2-3 hours for that piece, so a little “hey thanks for the review” wouldn’t hurt.
Mikko: Or “fuck you.” I think our site has attracted a pretty decent readership from a quality stand point. The active ones seem well versed in all sorts of music, so while people have opinions---sometimes extreme ones---they don't seem close minded at all. That's a plus. Unless Erik's talking about Christian metalcore, of course. So instead of having a bunch of people in a circlejerk shouting "That shit suuuuucks, MEEEHTUL, brah" we get to hear a bit more balanced and level-headed points of view. In similar vein, I'd like to thank our lovable staff members who grace the site with plenty of perspective on their own too.
7. What do you think the future is for web publishing? Do you have any plans to cater for users on different platforms (mobile devices, social networks, apps like Spotify)? Would you ever consider experimenting with print?
Mikko: I've been meaning to do a redesign for ages now but unfortunately my efforts to just sit down and do it have been in vain. I suck. But yeah, the goal is to make the experience as painless as possible to the reader, so that they have to put minimal effort in checking us out and finding the content they want. No matter what device they are using. In the best case scenario, the site would be constantly changing and evolving, absorbing new things as they become relevant and losing those that are not. I think we toyed doing a print magazine at one point and as a materialistic bastard, I don't think that's a bad idea at all. Sure, it would only sell ten copies but it's not like we're running the operation to get rich (or die trying) anyway.
Erik: I'll let Mikko's answer stand here as far as the tech side of things go. But I've always been interested in doing a print version of Teeth of the Divine at some point, you know with a free CD of staff picked music and regular features. We’ll see...
8. Anything you’d like to add?
Erik: Teeth of the Divine is a labor of love for metal. There’s no pay, no glory and often no thanks. But we do it because we love metal and we want others to love metal. Come check us out at www.teethofthedivine.com