Chad Kroger, Corey Taylor, and the Possible State of PR in Music in 2017

Hey, if it’s good enough for and other online outlets to promote this fight then it’s good enough for Medium, dammit.

It’s pretty safe to say that the press — especially the music press — loves a good beef. Juicy stories of backbiting and public sniping bring the hits, as they say. Any time there’s even a hint of a public squabble — such as the theory behind Taylor Swift re-releasing her music on Spotify to spite Katy Perry just as Perry was releasing a new album — music media is all over it.

So you can imagine the reaction from outlets salivating at the thought of increased increased hit counts when punching bag and Nickelback frontman Chad Kroger recently unleashed on both of Corey Taylor’s bands, Slipknot and Stone Sour. Hell, much of the press even went and dug up 15 year-old comments from Taylor to pour some gasoline on the whole affair and have to be ecstatic that Stone Sour guitarist Josh Rand and even Smashmouth have gotten involved. Just to prove how much everyone loves to watch a good fight.

As far as digging into the “feud” itself (in quotes for reasons to be explored later), that’s not why we’re here. If you feel like slinging mud and taking sides, that’s what the links above are for. Have fun with that. The music press certainly is.

There are other facts to take a look at surrounding this “story.” One of those is that Chad Kroger knows people don’t like him or his band. He even recently admitted as such, saying he didn’t critics were “supposed” to like them. He even went as far as calling his own band a “guilty pleasure.”

In the interview that got the ball rolling on this story, Kroger sounded very confident in his band’s abilities as he was taking two other bands to task as he challenged Taylor and company to write a hit song. Calling yourself a “guilty pleasure” seems to fly right in the face of that confidence.

Another angle to consider — a big one here — is that both Nickelback and Stone Sour have new albums out this month. Nickelback’s “Feed the Machine” was released back on June 15, while Stone Sour’s new effort, “Hydrograd,” is due out on June 30. Awfully convenient timing to start (rekindle?) a “feud.”

Other than the fact that Chad Kroger has snapped and gotten tired of being a whipping — the popular theory of the music press — there are a couple possibilities as to why this “feud” is happening. Looking under the surface of this, either possibility points to how the public relations game is played in music in 2017.

The first possibility is that this is all tensions boiling to the surface. Nickelback, Stone Sour and Slipknot were all label mates at one point as all three bands were signed to Roadrunner Records (Nickelback is now with BMG). In the comments made 15 years ago by Taylor referenced earlier, he alluded to — and be rather irked by — the fact that Roadrunner took the money made from the sales of Slipknot records to sign Nickelback and put their marketing power behind them instead of the masked band that brought them notoriety during that time. It’s possible that Kroger got tired of being America’s whipping boy and lashed out.

While the real animosity between them is very viable, the facts may get in the way of a good story. If that animosity had been building that long, why are we hearing about it again just now when both bands just happen to have new records coming out?

I changed the Google images search criteria to “labeled for reuse” looking for “chad kroger corey taylor” and found this image of an orchestrated conflict about to go down at Progress Wrestling over in the UK. It seemed appropriate.

Another possibility behind this “feud” is a very likely scenario — that Kroger, to use pro wrestling terminology (since that’s how the media wants to portray this), “went into business for himself” and is playing the “heel.”

Translation: Kroger knows people hate him, so what if he made the call to play into that on the fly? Who’s to say Kroger didn’t decide to chase publicity for his new record by playing to that very public and well-documented hatred of all things Nickelback, specifically target a band he knows people like to get people talking and turn that attention toward himself? As the old adage goes, “any publicity is good publicity.” Kroger may not care if people hate him or not. He’s sold enough records to not only possibly prove otherwise, but also to prove that, in his worldview, it doesn’t matter.

Yet another scenario is less likely but just as feasible. With both bands having records to promote (and sales and streams hanging in the balance), it is certainly within the realm of possibility that the whole damn thing is orchestrated on both sides. The bands are on different labels now — Roadrunner is owned by Warner Music Group, while BMG is a division of Sony Records. Both also have different press representation, with Nickelback being represented by UTA and Stone Sour’s PR currently handled through Ashton-Magnuson Media.

Who’s to say, though, that both Taylor and Kroger didn’t decide to get their names out there to help boost some sales? Or that, once the publicity fire was rekindled by Kroger, that Taylor didn’t decide to play along, seeing where this might be headed?

It should be noted that this is all theory, conjecture, and plain old, tried-and-true speculation. You know, like the rest of the online press likes to do to get some hits when they have nothing else going on. In this case, however, they do — and they’re more than happy to not only play along with it but to poke the hornet’s nest. It’ll be interesting to watch the sales/streams of both records and time that with when this thing dies down to see how in line any of these theories may be. At the end of the day, the Nickelback vs. Stone Sour “feud” may be a fascinating public relations case study waiting to happen.

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