Megadeth: How Dave Mustaine & David Ellefson Revolutionized The Internet

The Story of Megadeth, Arizona

Today on Rock N’ Roll True Stories, they take a look at the time Megadeth became one of the first big bands to start a website in 1994

It’s one of the most interesting stories I’ve come across since doing my channel. We’ve all heard the stories about how the record labels and some bands were very dismissive of technology with the advent of the internet and napster. This technology would disrupt and destroyed the traditional sales model record labels had. But today I want to talk about the band Megadeth and how they embraced technology to the point that it heavily worked in their favor and in doing so, they made internet history. Stay tuned for the full story. The year was 1994, and heavy metal band Megadeth was coming off the success of their biggest record of their career with 1992’s Countdown to Extinction. The album peaked at the number 2 spot on the album charts and went double platinum led in part by the radio friendly singles Symphony of Destruction and Sweating Bullets. The touring cycle behind the record was a little bumpy as Mustaine dealt with substance abuse issues and then the band was fired from tour with Aerosmith. I’ve done a video on that ill-fated tour. The link is below.

The band would then turn their attention to releasing their follow up to Countdown to Extinction in 1994. Robin Sloan Bechtel who worked with the marketing group at Megadeth’s label Capitol Records published a pretty detailed article about her time at the label. She detailed how she came up with an out of the box idea to promote Megadeth’s new album at the time. And Capitol Records initially wanted to promote the record using the tried and true formula that asked the simple questions “Who will shoot the album cover? How many radio stations will play the single? How many posters should we print for the record stores?”

But with the advent of the internet, Robin had an idea that this new technology could be instrumental in promoting the album and the label’s other artists. But megadeth wasn’t the first band she used technology and computers to promote. Prior to working on the marketing plan for Megadeth’s new album, she was tasked with working on the marketing for two other artists Capitol Records was putting out albums for including Frank Sinatra and Bonnie Raitt.

It would be a coworker of hers that introduced her to the Macromedia Director software—which was an authoring tool that could be used to make simple yet effective video games. She quickly created a video game for Frank Sinatra’s new album that quickly won over the people at Capitol Records. It wasn’t too long after this, she worked on the marketing plan for the Beastie Boys record ill communication that she would come up with the idea of releasing a screen saver of the band on various gaming and software forums and on floppy disc.

The screen saver proved to be a huge hit, but during this time she learned about something else known as the world wide web. It just so happened to coincide with her being assigned to the marketing team at Capitol Records for the new Megadeth album. As she sat in the meeting to discuss promotion for the next Megadeth record, the same old tired questions were being asked she had heard previously. It wasn’t long after she wrote a proposal for what she envisioned would be a website to promote the album. In her mind the website could serve as a “virtual cybertown in cyberspace.” the Cybertown would be a fictional town named Megadeth, Arizona, the state where the band lived and recorded their latest album at the time. Her boss, Lou Mann, was the senior vice president of the label ended up giving her $30,000 to pursue the idea. She would admit on her article He had no idea what it was for, and I can guarantee you… neither did I.

Funny enough Robin would enlist two co-workers, a copywriter and graphics artist to provide the content for the website. She would reveal “They did not know what the Internet was either. The inspiration for the website would be the Roadside America tourist guide and a postcard her coworker found from Arizona. The website would consist of the following features: News About the Band Which Was Called Megabyte News Music and video clips from their upcoming album and a digital postcard which you could send via email,. It was prove to be one of the first instances on the internet where you could email video clips along with a customizable greeting card to other people. There was also a chatroom where you