A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, My Stories

Creativity

HAVE ALOT OF SONGS IN THE BANK

It’s always been told that all the artists who had a few classic albums in a row had a lot of songs in the bank. So when album number 1 comes out, the first inclination is to release the songs the artists views as the best. But they didn’t. They withheld some for the next album and the album after that while they kept on creating even more classics.

COPY AND BE INFLUENCED BY YOUR INFLUENCES

Because being creative is all about taking your influences, your lifestyle, your experiences and putting them together.

“What does this remind you of” should be the conversation. And by creating something that reminds a person of something that came before, it is still original. However, if you are too original then the audience will have no idea what you’re doing.

BE IN THE GAME FOR THE RIGHT REASONS

You will make it on creativity, credibility and by not selling out. Because if a musician has some public acceptance today, they’re eager to make a deal with a corporation or what not.

But artists are not motivated by money when they create music. They are intrinsically motivated. The joy of creating a new song is what motivates them. If the song gets public acceptance, and it brings in money, great. As long as they are still motivated by the joy of creating a new song, they will be fine. As soon as they are motivated by the need to match or better the popularity of the “hit” song, then they are in trouble.

STREAMING PAYS

And music is entering a good era. There’s a lot of people who are using streaming services and as these services grow, more people will feel they would need to join, so they become part of the club. And as long as you control your copyrights, Spotify will pay you every month.

And it might sound scary to artists to go it alone. Especially legacy artists who had the labels in their corner and all the beggars and hangers on attached to them. But you need to go it alone. You need to have control over your copyrights. The artists like Motley Crue and Metallica will be cashing in millions while the rest cash in thousands.

SOCIAL MEDIA FOLLOWERS

Social media is there to give you instant feedback. After the show is over, people are commenting. After a song is released, people are commenting. It gives you the ability to connect and know your fans, to interact with them and to get a feel for what they like and want from you.

In the 60’s the youth questioned the norms and the authorities and changed everything. The clothes people wore changed, the hairstyles changed and the music changed. And it kept happening, with every decade. And at the forefront of each cultural change was music.

So as an artist, the question should be what is it, you hope to accomplish, and not the clicks, views and likes you hope to measure on your social media account. Because we have been conditioned to compare ourselves against metrics. It’s easy, but irrelevant. Hell, if the techies accepted the standard metrics they wouldn’t have made a difference. If the earlier musicians accepted that all guitars need to have clean sounds, then we wouldn’t have had distortion.

Remember music is forever, and it needs people to like it. If you don’t have any, you still have your music. Be creative and never stop.

Advertisements
Standard
Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Girls, Girls, Girls

There is a scene in the “Uncensored” video with Vince Neil cruising down Sunset in a limo with a spa pool and he’s talking about the name of the next album, called “Girls, Girls, Girls”.

On May 15, 1987, “Girls Girls Girls” comes out and the world was treated to two video clips. The censored “Girls” clip and the “Uncensored” one. MTV has a ball with it.

While it looks like the guys are having a ball, attending strip clubs and dropping bills into knickers, Nikki Sixx was in the spiralling grip of a heroin addiction, Mick Mars was blacking out from alcoholism, Tommy Lee was coking it up, screwing anything that moved and somehow he got married, while Vince Neil was still on probation and pretending to be sober. In other words, it’s chaos with a capital MC and they still managed to get together and crack out a decent album.

The best track on the album is the opener, Nikki’s religious sermon to the street life of L.A. “Wild Side” is perfect, from the riffs, the drum groove, the vocal melodies and of course, the lyrics.

Kneel down ya sinners to streetwise religion
Greed has been crowned the new king

Greed has become the new king. Not just in the streets, but in all walks of life. There is so much betrayal and broken dreams in our quest for millions.

Take a ride on the wild side

Only if you dare. You might not come out of it alive. For some it’s the thrill. It’s the metal lifestyle. All aboard. Hahahaha…

I carry my crucifix under my death list

Every single dealer believes in God, wears crucifixes and then breaks God’s rules in killing someone. Every single wronged person, while a good citizen with family values, carries a revenge list of people who wronged them. Humans are born aggressive.

Papa won’t be home tonight
Found dead with his best friends wife

There was a time when crimes of passion dominated. Now, crimes of insanity dominate.

A baby cries, a cop dies
A day’s pay on the wild side

Doing the beat, could mean a gun fight and death. I guess, it is really all in a day’s pay on the wild side.

The sounds of a Harley, a G5 power chord and one of the grooviest riffs ever. That my friends is “Girls, Girls, Girls”. And it’s part of MTV lore with its two video clips.

“Dancing On Glass” has a riff from Mick Mars, which is sleazy and dangerous and Nikki fires out some of the best lines about being an addict.  “Valentines in London, found me in the trash” covers his first overdose. “One extra push, last trip to the top” covers the addict need to get high. “Silver Spoon and needle, witchy tombstone smile” covers the process and when you are user, “I’m no puppet, I engrave my veins in style” sums up the toll on the body.

As far as I’m concerned the first three tracks are a triple knockout, but “Wild Side” and “Girls” survive to this day.

“Bad Boy Boogie” is exactly that, a 12 bar blues boogie that compared to some of the other tracks on the album is considered a decent cut, plus it’s got the iconic line, “you better lock up your daughter when the Motley’s hit the road.”

“Five Years Dead” has some wicked riffs and a lyrical theme from a book Nikki picked up in a second hand shop.  “All In the Name Of ….” is another song with killer riffs and a lyrical theme about “legal never being their scene”.

“Your All I Need” was more popular for its controversial film clip, but then again, whoever said the six o-clock news was pretty.

“Rodeo” was a bonus track on the re-released edition of the album. I guess they already had the ultimate road song in “Home Sweet Home”. Regardless, “Rodeo” is one hell of a song and you can hear that Mick Mars is all over this one.

Laughing like gypsies, from show to show, living my life like a rolling stone
Travelling man, never at home, can’t find love so I sleep alone, this whisky river has a long way to flow

It sure sums up the excess of the 80’s.

From a commercial perspective, “Girls” was competing against “Slippery When Wet” from Bon Jovi, “The Final Countdown” from Europe and Whitesnake’s 1987 self-titled album for listeners attention. “Look What the Cat Dragged In” from Poison was also rising. But it not only competed, it went toe to toe with all of those releases and Motley came out on top in the live box office. Hell, even Whitesnake was opening up for them.

And who can forget the words from management, that if the band went to Europe to tour, they will come home in body bags. “Girls” would be the end of the Motley band as we knew it. A snapshot of how a band can take alcohol and drugs to the limits.

If you end up alive, there is always a change. “Dr Feelgood” would be the result of the change, and the pinnacle for a briefly sober band. Of course with sobriety, an artist gets clarity and with clarity people start to realise the dysfunction within. And with more years under their belt, their life choices start to become different. And Motley was different.

Standard
Copyright, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Copyright For The Corporation

The standards of the recording industry and culture were set a long time ago. It was so long ago, people forget why it was brought in and as time goes on, we fail to preserve its original intent.

Copyright was designed to protect the artist and to enhance culture. The artist had a monopoly on their works, so they could make money and have an incentive to create further works. This was for a period of short period with the option to renew. Once the expiry date passed, the works became part of the public domain for future generations to build on and use.

But corporations started to rise because of these monopolies and what we have now is a copyright standard so far removed from what copyright was meant to be.

Hell, if a monkey uses a camera put in his enclosure and snaps a selfie, does he own the copyright?

This even went to trial and then to appeals and finally a judge ordered that the monkey has no right to the photos he took as the Copyright Office will not register a copyright claim if a human being didn’t create the work. This also means machine created art is not covered.

The actual text is works “produced by a machine or mere mechanical process that operates randomly or automatically without any creative input or intervention from a human author.” But a poem written by an AI was accepted by editors for publishing in a literary journal because they believed it was written by a human.

As the WSJ article states;

The question isn’t whether computers can own copyrights, but whether humans (or corporations) should be able to claim ownership of works created by computers. Copyright laws already provide that in the case of “works for hire,” the employer owns the copyright, even if an employee actually created the work. Shouldn’t similar reasoning allow copyright protection for humans who employ computers to create valuable works?

But corporations do claim ownership of works created by humans, so claiming ownership of works created by AI is just a matter of time and a few million to their Senate buddies on lobbying dollars.

And for over a century the record label has built up a history of owning songs it shouldn’t be owning. It’s ridiculous. An artist signs a deal, pays off all the costs associated with the album and somehow, the label still owns the copyright. The battle is happening. Check out the article over at Billboard.

“Why would a label be insisting on keeping a property that has stopped selling, that they don’t have any plans to re-promote except when the artist dies?”
Todd Rundgren

For those that don’t know, the 1976 Copyright Revision Act in the US allows the artists after 35 years to take back their copyrights after so many years, by serving the company that holds their copyrights with a termination notice. And even though artists are filing termination notices, so few are succeeding. For example, Duran Duran failed while Tom Scholz of Boston didn’t.

“Of all the creative work produced by humans anywhere, a tiny fraction has continuing commercial value. For that tiny fraction, the copyright is a crucially important legal device”
Lawrence Lessig

And it’s funny how the 1976 Act on purposely ignored all the different state laws for the pre72 recording, because those copyrights didn’t need any extra enforcement at that point in time. But for some reason, the pre-72 copyrights needs some extra beefing up in the digital era.

The Music Modernization Act will come into law in the US. And don’t kid yourself here. The songwriters and the actual artists will still not get what they are due. The Publishing Corporations will take their slice and the Label Corporations who still hold the copyrights will take their slice and the greatest generation of songwriters will still NOT be paid what they deserve.

There is poor record keeping from the record labels and the publishing organisations, but the blame is on the technology companies for not doing enough to seek out the songwriters.

Are they fucking serious?

I guess they are, because with this new bill, a new database will be created, paid for by the technology companies that will store all the information for the songwriters. But with every piece of government legislation, a monopoly is waiting to happen and in this instance, the publishing corporations will have a lot more influence.

And of course, the real purpose of this bill was to delay the copyright expiration of the pre-72 recordings, which based on the law in force at the time, should have been out of copyright a long time ago.

One thing the Act preaches is fair payment for songwriters from streaming services based on the database the streaming services create. And if artists and songwriters get what they are due, it’s good news, but if the past tells us one thing, the corporations standing in between like the labels and publishing houses, will not allow their billions to disappear.

Streaming services in every country are injecting hundreds of millions into the recording industry. Innovation is the key and getting more people to use these services will increase the pool of monies on offer.

But the publishing companies still preach the same rubbish. Something along the lines of “without strong copyright law which enables songwriters, performers and recording artists to control how their music is used and how they make a living from their creativity, the local industry will suffer and go backwards.”

Yeah right.

And at the moment the monthly price to use Spotify has remained the same for a few years. But we all know the recording industry is pushing for higher monthly prices as they demand more in their licensing arrangements with the service. So while streaming is injecting a lot of money to the recording industry, the recording industry is also doing its best to kill it.

All because a profit driven corporation owns the copyrights. In other words, corporations own culture. Maybe George Orwell was right all along.

Standard
Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Mirror – Tygers of Pan Tang

It’s a forgotten Sykes cut, released in 1981 on the “Spellbound” album from Tygers Of Pan Tang. Even though I’ve listened to the song for a long time, I’ve never sat down to learn it so, I thought it was time to get this little Sykes gem down.

With all the guitar tabs and YouTube videos available online, it’s very easy to go straight to Google, but no-one has transcribed it.

Funny that.

With all of the advancements made in technology, there still is no AI application which can transcribe all the instruments in a song just by listening to it. But AI can create music, can recognise our faces, plot our journeys and a million other things.

So I had to rely on the good old trusty ear. I haven’t practiced learning a song by ear for a long time. But it’s a forgotten art form. And the saying goes, if you don’t practice using your ear, you will forget how to use it.

I swear that my ear is better at figuring out songs now, then what it was in the 80’s/90’s. Maybe it’s because of the knowledge I have accumulated over the years which makes it easy. Maybe my brain has finally put some super highways between the cells to make learning a song by ear, easier. The faster stuff I still need to slow down to hear each note.

Anyway, the guitar is tuned to standard, EADGBE. The Intro from up to 0.44 is made up from a simple Emadd9 to Cadd9 chord progression arpeggiated on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th strings.

The first verse kicks in from 0.27 to 0.45. The arpeggios outline the chords, Em, C, D and back to Em.

From 0.46 to 1.06, the Chorus kicks in and the chords are C, D, C, Am, C, D, Em, Em.

Mirror, mirror on the wall
You stare at me and share my thoughts
Mirror, mirror I hear your call,
You have my soul and body caught

The fairy tale familiarity. In “The Crimson Idol” from WASP, Jonathon spoke to the mirror and the mirror spoke back to him.

There are so many magic moments in “Mirror”, but what seals the deal is when the Bridge section comes in from 2.30 to 2.54 and it then transitions into another lead break. The unique style of Sykes is here, in it’s embryonic stages.

Deception you have learnt

Deception is what our social media world thrives on.

What is fake, what is real, no one knows anymore?

Everyone has a responsibility to research far and wide and make up their own views. The mainstream press outlets are all beholden to their corporate employers who have their own agendas to push.

No wonder so many are dissatisfied. But we pretend the situation doesn’t exist. So how can we improve things tomorrow.

There is a saying in marketing that if companies frequently run last-minute sales, customers would stop buying things in advance because the company is training the customer to wait. And the way organisations should engage with people is drip by drip. Keep releasing.

It’s been a long time since John Sykes released any new music.

Has the well gone dry?

There is no more drip. The recording business has changed, there is no doubt about that. However if the artist is chained to their past ways, then they will never survive in the new world.

How Grammy Nominee Brent Faiyaz Built His Music Career Off Streaming (HBO) – YouTube

Check out the video. If you don’t here it is a nutshell. You have an independent artist using streaming data to decide which cities to hit. The data gives him the number of monthly/weekly listens in a city and the number of super fans in each city.

And for those who say streaming doesn’t pay, it does, if your fan base is using the platform to access music.

Sykes should get a team together to work in the new music world instead of the old.

Standard
A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Labels

Every industry has rules and the recording industry has a lot of them. And there was a saying once that if you followed enough of the rules, you would get a recording contact, millions of dollars and the red carpet. Perhaps one in a 1,000,000 pull this off. Actually you have a higher probability of being hit by a comet than making a lot of money in music.

So, the record labels wanted to maintain the sales model but they  got dragged kicking and screaming to downloads. Credit Apple for pushing it and credit Warner Music for being the first major to sign. Suddenly their revenues went up. But they still complained. They screamed to their friends in politics for laws to be passed. Then streaming came out and they got dragged kicking and screaming to streaming. They even got a percentage of the company and surprise, surprise, the revenues went up again.

Times are changing. Nothing will look the same in relation to labels and streaming companies in the next ten years.

Spotify is connecting tours to the Super Fans to sell tickets. The data tells Spotify who the super fans are, they share that information with the artists and they all come after us. Meanwhile, the labels owned and controlled the recording industry for a hundred years and they had no idea who the super fans were for their artists.

Seriously, the good times are just starting. There is a lot of people to reach with music and Spotify is connecting people to artists and along the way, they are paying artists every month providing an organisation (who might hold the copyrights for the artist) doesn’t get in the way and take the monies first.

For a fan, how good is it. Instead of playing the same album, over and over again, because we had so little product, we can now play the whole history of music. The only thing stopping us is time and distractions. On some days, I’m even confused to what I should listen to, as there is so much to select from.

As for the labels, they are not going away. Morphing more into marketing companies, who could help with your world domination ideals, but do you need them.

Remember that one of the biggest hurdles for any artist pre-internet was getting your music into a record store. It’s a much different today as every artist can get their music on streaming services for a small yearly fee and they can get paid direct from the streaming services and on a monthly regular basis. This is much different to the record label machine who used to do their accounting twice a year and be very creative with it at the same time.

And for over a century the record label has built up a history of owning songs it shouldn’t be owning. It’s ridiculous. An artist signs a deal, pays off all the costs associated with the album and somehow, the label still owns the copyright. The battle is happening. Check out the article over at Billboard.

Todd Rundgren wants his masters back.

“Why would a label be insisting on keeping a property that has stopped selling, that they don’t have any plans to re-promote except when the artist dies?”
Todd Rundgren

According to Nielsen Music, almost 70% of the monies received by the labels is because of older catalogue items. So giving back the artist their copyrights as dictated by law is bad business for the labels. As the article states, around 20 artists have reclaimed their rights from the thousands who are entitled to.

And the labels pull out all the tricks, like telling the artist they will pay them a higher royalty rate (which is useless if the label does nothing to re-promote the tunes) or paying the artist a large advance to hold on to profitable masters.

And as soon as Spotify goes public expect the majors to check out their ownership of the service.

Why.

All of their employees are focussed on the now, not for the long haul. And that is the label business.

Standard
A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Free Will

Remember in “The Social Network”, the final scene, Zuckerberg is alone in his house, surrounded by darkness except from the light coming from his computer and he is still sending friend requests to his ex-girlfriend who told him she doesn’t want to see him or hear from him again because he is a sociopath. It sure seems a very social way to communicate with someone.

But he was a misfit in his circle. He didn’t fit in with those Winklevoss brothers (or whatever their surname is). And a lot of people identify with the misfits. It’s a big reason why rock music became a commercial force. Today, those metal and rock T-shirts are available everywhere as designer clothing, but once upon a time, they were patches earned from a lifestyle lived. Because it was all about the group. All of our different backgrounds didn’t matter when it came to the rock and roll show. We were one big group. Divided we lived, but united we stood.

Then we grew up, started to earn money, started to borrow money and suddenly we became part of the rat race. And no one forced us to enter the rat race. Hell, we even bought into it with loans and credit cards and once we were in, we tried to climb a greasy pole, believing if we worked hard enough, we would get to the top. And this pledge to dollars, changed the way we behaved around those who had it, because we believed they knew better.

How can you be free if you are living to please others in a reward and recognition vertical relationship?

I had a job, I had a girl
I had something going, mister, in this world
I got laid off down at the lumber yard
Our love went bad, times got hard
Downbound Train by Bruce Springsteen

You might live in a country that is a democracy, however as long as you are living to please others and to build other people’s dreams then you are not free. Without realising it, your whole life is tied to a job.

Sentenced to work a dead end 9 to 5
Trapped in a dingy corporate cubicle hell
Then go to work in the darkness on the midnight shift
Any chance you get, selling gas at the corner Shell
Dance In The Rain by Megadeth

Everyone has a story and the less you have in possessions and dollars, the more you have struggled, the better the story is. So the story of this generation should be about standing up against injustice. When pushed to the wall, how do you react?

In Australia, our Liberal Government vetoed any Royal Commission into the banking sector for years. They protected their friends and sponsors. Hell, the current Liberal leader and Australian PM is from the banking sector. And now that we have the Royal Commission, the banking sector is being exposed for the thieves they really are. But it’s in the news today and forgotten tomorrow. Longevity is a problem in today’s society. Nothing has staying power. People are outraged at the banking industry but by next week, it’s in the rear view.

And the facts are trying to be covered up with misdirection from the government and the rich. Well the people are not taking it anymore. Because we have the right to choose our paths. Our privacy and freedoms we will not lose. Our ancestors went to war in foreign lands, well now the war is right here at home.

Something doesn’t read right, something smells.

A culture made of cover-ups
Will leprosy touch their flesh?
For backroom meetings and rendezvous
The vultures have come home to nest
The Threat Is Real from Megadeth

It sure reads like the banking system to me. People are “resigning” or “stepping down” from their positions. It’s funny how the newspapers don’t have the guts to say, “fired” or “pushed to leave”. It’s because the news outlets chiefs are all friends with the banking sector chiefs. And if Australia’s banking system is this bad, I am sure the other banking systems around the world are in the same state.

Life is a process, with ups and downs. We fall in and out of love. We make money, lose money. We have children, watch them grow up and then we are alone. And somehow through it all we survive almost anything thrown at us and come out of it for the better. As long as we made a choice.

You can choose a ready guide
In some celestial voice.
If you choose not to decide
You still have made a choice
You can choose from phantom fears
And kindness that can kill;
I will choose a path that’s clear-
I will choose free will
Free Will by Rush

So many people have grown up in countries where free speech was respected. But today, people are scared to speak freely, scared to be attacked by the bots, the trolls, the politically correct hipsters, the angry left, the angry right and whatever else the internet social media predators can throw at you.

Maybe it’s time to say we’re not gonna take it anymore.

Standard
A to Z of Making It, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Musical Conversations

Sykes first official band was an outfit called “Streetfighter”. They played mainly cover songs and an original song called “She’s No Angel” appeared on a compilation album called “New Electric Warrior”.

In 1980, Sykes saw an ad for a lead guitar position. He auditioned and ended up joining Tygers Of Pan Tang for two albums, “Spellbound” and “Crazy Nights”. Although good albums, they didn’t sell like the record label wanted them to sell.

Meanwhile, Sykes was getting some recognition and was even asked to audition for Ozzy Osbourne’s band.

In the book “Thin Lizzy” by Alan Byrne, its mentioned how Sykes was brought into Thin Lizzy on the suggestion of producer Chris Tsangarides.

“It was on my suggestion that Sykes was brought in. I was after sorting out some stuff for Sykes and eventually I secured a deal with MCA to release a song that he had written. We were in Dublin when he asked me if Phil might be interested in recording and contributing to it. So I got in touch and Phil decided he was up for it and we recorded the track with Brian Downey on drums and I think Darren Wharton played keyboards on it.”

It wasn’t long after, that Sykes was offered the Thin Lizzy gig.

This is the way Scott Gorham recalls Sykes impact on the band in the same book.

“After Snowy left, John came on board for the “Thunder and Lightning” album. To me, John was great because he had a real hard rock edge to him, he had a great attitude and was a very funny guy, though most importantly, he was a great player.”

“Thunder and Lightning” comes out and it started to re-establish Thin Lizzy in the 80’s. At the same time, David Coverdale tried to hire Adrian Vandenberg and Mama’s Boys Pat McManus on guitar however they both rejected the offer. John Sykes was then offered a million dollars advance payment to join Whitesnake.

Sykes introduced a new technical level to Whitesnake, fresh ideas and a polished image.

For the US version of “Slide It In”, Sykes and bassist Neil Murray re-recorded the guitar and bass parts. I have both versions, the Moody/Hodgkinson European release and the Sykes/Murray release.

Of course, having producer Keith Olsen remixing the album, gave it a more radio friendly sound for the US market.

Mel Galley eventually left the band during the tour and Sykes went on to handle the guitar parts himself. Jon Lord also left to reunite with Deep Purple, thus making Whitesnake a four-piece of Coverdale, Sykes, Murray and Powell.

Money plays a part in every band and Whitesnake was no different. Cozy Powell didn’t like what he was offered to continue with the band and left. Aynsley Dunbar got his chance and ended up being the drummer for Whitesnake’s most successful album.

The 1987 Whitesnake sessions had delays, illnesses and personality issues. Murray didn’t know if he was in the band or out of the band, however he kept on turning up to the studio and completing his bass parts.

Sykes heard stories that he was out, but until Coverdale told him personally he was still in. Meanwhile, Coverdale did tell them all to pick up or explore other projects if they got a chance as the money from Geffen was running out, so Coverdale couldn’t keep them on the payroll.

In the end, the Whitesnake album was reported via “Chinese Whispers” to have cost 3 million dollars to write and record. It also cost the song writing partnership called Coverdale/Sykes. It could have been one of the best song writing partnerships in hard rock music for many years after, but we’ll never know. David Coverdale called it a “musical conversation” between themselves. Well the conversation ended as quickly as it began because Whitesnake is David Coverdale and David Coverdale is Whitesnake. It was David Coverdale that John Kalodner signed to Geffen, not John Sykes. It was David Coverdale that John Kalodner supported all the way through.

And from David Coverdale, the world got to hear John Sykes.

Standard