POZ Interview: Ryan Phillips (Who Killed (Or Saved!) The Music Industry)

by Zack Zarrillo - Nov 13, 2012


Ryan Phillips and Adam Russell from Story Of The Year and making a documentary called Who Killed (Or Saved!) The Music Industry and are attempting to fund it via Kickstarter. PropertyOfZack had the chance to do an interview with Ryan to discuss the idea behind the documentary, how it’s coming together, using Kickstater, and much more. Pledge to make the Kickstarter a reality here and check out the interview below!

On the Kickstarter page, you mention that it’s a project that the two of you have wanted to do together for a long time. When exactly did you get the itch to explore your question?
You’re exactly right, we’ve wanted to do this for a fairly long time. I think for me it was just a culmination of the 10 years we’ve spent on the road, sharing the stage with so many amazing bands. Every so often we would wind up staying up late into the night talking with these bands about the music business; the struggle, the incredible changes we’ve witnessed, the good times, the bad times. One day it just hit me that it would be really awesome to film all of these amazing people sharing their thoughts, opinions, and perspective, and to some degree their lives.  

Story Of The Year came at a time just before the bubble negatively burst in terms of the industry quickly taking a turn for the worst - and the band certainly went through its tail end during that time. Was part of wanting to create this documentary showing Story Of The Year’s story, and band’s that you grew up playing with as well?
I would say that factored into it a little bit, because you’re right, we’ve seen how amazing things can be and we’ve also seen how tough it can be. Now, whether those tough times are because we made bad creative decisions or whether it was the “business” crumbling around us is open for debate. Regardless, one thing is for sure, we have witnessed firsthand a whirlwind of change in the music business and culture in general. All of the bands we came up with have a similar story, and the new bands are writing their own stories as we speak. 

I’m not sure that many people knew the two of you were so interested in video work. What’s it like working together in a new medium separate from music?
It’s awesome. I love my guitar more than almost anything. I love creating, and I love the feeling of being a part of something bigger than myself. I feel that same way about my camera and my Mac. It is another extension of myself as a creative individual. Adam might even like his Mac more than his bass guitar, so it’s a partnership built on a mutual passion and a sense of mission. 

The project will hopefully be funded via Kickstarter, which is obviously also a new tool that is trying to help fuel the music industry in many ways. Was it important to use a new technology to help this come to fruition?
In many regards, yes. Call it micro lending, call it micro investment, call it a new tool, call it whatever. It’s awesome. The idea that an army of people can unite and independently fund a project they believe in is amazing for everyone. We felt this was a very poetic way to fund this film. 

The project isn’t funded yet, but there’s certainly been a large amount of support so far. Has that been enough to spur on your work while waiting for the funding period to end?
I never stop working. That’s the blessing and curse of the creative individual- your brain never clocks out.

The two of you have already done work on this with a slew of bands. Is the documentary already taking shape?
Definitely. Even though we have barely scratched the surface in terms of people we want to interview for this film, we have already talked with so many fantastic bands and artists. I catch my self editing in my head during interviews because i am starting to feel the film take on a life of it’s own and to find it’s shape. And we’ve only just begun. 

I’m sure your ideas going into the start of filming have shifted somewhat once you began to actually speak with bands and others in the industry. Has the film changed course at all?
Not really. I do however think we underestimated how much people have to say. It has been fascinating to say the least; once people open up about this subject it just pours out. It’s hard to get them to stop sometimes because it’s such an immediate and personal subject. To an artist, their band or art is like their child. 

What happens if this doesn’t get funded? Will you be giving up there, or will you pursue other options?
This film will be made one way or another. But more than anything, for personal and philosophical reasons we would much rather see the movie funded through kickstarter. 

Is the end game to tell a story of what’s happened or to share a wealth of knowledge with those eager to learn?
Both. All. Our ultimate goal is to stay out of the way and let the bands, artists, producers, record labels, and managers be the voice. We are going to build a rugged, beautiful but honest ship with integrity and a bit of grime, but they are going to steer it. 

If funded, when would you like to ideally release the documentary? 
Ideally, summer 2013. But you never know in this crazy business. 

Putting the input from other bands and individuals aside, what are your abridged thoughts on whether the industry has been killed or saved?
I don’t know, and I’m not scared or embarrassed in the least to say that. I just don’t know. Ask me again after we finish filming and I might have an answer.

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