Sunday 18 November 2018

Smashing Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlin on U2's album drop: 'They moved the ball forward for everybody'

Caitlin McBride

Caitlin McBride

Former Smashing Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlin said he supports U2's decision to drop their newest album free on iTunes

Mr Chamberlin, who's retired from music for his tech career as CEO of Live Group, is in town for the Dublin Web Summit.

Musicians Jimmy Chamberlin and Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins arrive at SPIKE TV's Scream 2008 Awards held at the Greek Theatre
Musicians Jimmy Chamberlin and Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins arrive at SPIKE TV's Scream 2008 Awards held at the Greek Theatre

And after more than 25 years touring the world with one of modern music's most iconic bands, the Smashing Pumpkins, he said that he understands the double edged characteristics of the pedestal global superstars are put on.

U2's 13th album 'Songs of Innocence' was made available free-of-charge to 500 million users of Apple's digital music application last month - but it was reported that just 5pc of these users downloaded it.

Drummer Jimmy Chamberlin and singer Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins pose for a photo during their induction into Hollywood's Rockwalk on April 23, 2008
Drummer Jimmy Chamberlin and singer Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins pose for a photo during their induction into Hollywood's Rockwalk on April 23, 2008

"I get asked a lot about my opinion on that, as a co elder statesmen of the music business," Chamberlin laughed.

"I think what people often forget about is that we have to be in the business of our own brand. U2 needs to be in the U2 business. They need to make decision that will be bet for U2.

"It was a similar situation in the 90s with the Pumpkins. When the Pumpkins were on the top, you somehow become responsible for the whole of recorded music and everyone looks to you to define the rule.

"Really, it's hard enough to preserve a business and a brand, certainly with a visibility like U2. They looked at the market, they made a decision and they moved the ball forward for everybody."

Meanwhile, the father-of-two, who is now based outside Chicago and prides himself on his 'normal' post-Pumpkins life, said there's a parallel between the passion for technology in comparison to the fandenomium of rock stars in the '90s.

"I've been in Dublin many times before, but it's my first time as a tech CEO," he explained.

"The tech space, certainly in the US, has taken n a life of its own. It's become very much a cultural movement, much like rock n' roll was in the '90s. There's a kind of parallel in the demographics."

"The people that are attracted to tech are the people attracted to rock music in the 90s."

And while cynics may credit his qualifications to lead a thriving business, Chamberlin was at the forefront of the Pumpkins' business model for mroe than two decades.

"It's interesting, because  people say you're leading Live One as a CEO and they ask what qualifies me. But really, leading the Smashing Pumpkins for 25 years, as a concept - it was a band and music organisation, yes, but from an economic standpoint, we looked at cultural movements and learned how to monetise them.

"It's a lot like what we do at Live One. We create a social ecosystem called crowd surfing in a digital arena where people can socialise in and around live stream video; much like people do in the physical space. There's a lot of similarities."

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