Detroit post-hardcore band I Prevail have gone from, in the span of just 3 years, total unknowns to headlining above some of their peers that have been established for well over 5 or more years. Regardless of how you feel about the band’s radio-friendly approach to post-hardcore/metalcore (comparisons to A Day To Remember abound), it’s clear that I Prevail are a very popular band at this point. They literally went from being unknown to debuting (with an EP and a popular cover of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space”) on the Billboard Top 200 at #88. To date, the debut EP has sold over 60,000 copies, which is basically unprecedented in today’s market. And yet, people are legimately angry that I Prevail is, on their recently announced headlining tour, headlining over bands like The Word Alive, We Came As Romans, and Escape The Fate – bands that recently were charting high themselves and headlining their own popular tours.
We need to examine why people are getting mad at this, because how tours actually work are far different than an uninformed fan likely thinks they do.
Let’s examine this tour from a business standpoint.
The Word Alive have been around just under a decade at this point, having released 4 albums on Fearless Records and an EP. The metalcore band’s most recent album, 2016’s Dark Matter, only debuted on the Billboard charts at #74. That is nothing to sneeze at, but keep in mind that their previous two records hit #50 and #33 on their debuts, according to Billboard. They are still a very popular draw, to be sure.
We Came As Romans, a popular metalcore/post-hardcore band on Sharptone Records, have been laying low a bit – their most recent, self-titled album came out 2 years ago this month. It did debut at #11 on the Billboard Top 200, which is impressive – but the change in sound appeared to alienate some of their fanbase. This is a band that routinely headlined their own tours and was a top draw on Warped multiple times. 2 of their other albums came in first week at #21 and #8 (Understanding… and Tracing Back Roots).
Escape The Fate have been around for over a decade now, having experienced a lot of initial success, as well as more recently experiencing the same. Their 4 most recent albums have all debuted at #58 or higher, with slots on Uproar Festival and high slots on other major festivals and tours as well. In fact, 3 of their albums (This War Is Ours, Ungrateful, and their self-titled album) all came in at #35 or higher, which is once again impressive for a music scene that just doesn’t purchase a lot of music.
Finally, you have headliners I Prevail, who just garnered some massive crowds at both festival dates and on the Vans Warped Tour. Their debut full-length, 2016’s Lifelines, debuted at #15 on the Billboard Top 200 – and right away they were selling out big-time venues on their subsequent headlining tour. In fact earlier this year, they headlined above active rock standouts Starset, who are already garnering some serious accolades themselves. And while many detractors of the band cite their cover of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” as the impetus for supposed “instant” fame, the fact also remains that their debut full-length Lifelines could have easily proved the band as bad songwriters, and essentially unable to recreate that initial wave of success. Vocalist Eric V even saved money for the recording of their debut EP, which was discussed in interviews with both TheNewFury and Soundlink Magazine.
Granted, there is still plenty of time for I Prevail to hit a wall, have a disappointing sophomore record, and not have the kind of success they are right now. They could also keep going the other way and reach A Day To Remember levels of stardom. In the music industry, it’s all about what you are doing right now. And what I Prevail are doing right now is selling out big venues, selling records every single week, and getting all over rock radio – this is essentially a band that crosses over into what a lot of people are into. Do you think TWA, WCAR, and ETF are complaining because they’re not headlining? Doubtful – it’s a chance to gain a new audience who may not be familiar with them.
Essentially, the issue to discuss is this. If your brand new band charts on the Billboard Top 200 and is getting talked about everywhere, you’ll see some success day one. If that same album still sells copies every single week months after release, that will sustain success and get you on big tours. Do that over time, and your band will likely play arenas and high-profile festivals everywhere.
What are your thoughts on I Prevail headlining over established, veteran acts? Sound off in the comments.