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

Frequency

Frequency. It’s a bad word for rock and metal artists. Release music frequently. 

It’s still a concept artists are struggling with. It’s even more troublesome for bands. The singer/songwriter can make it happen, but for bands it’s a different story.

Do you think Netflix would get 5.2 million new subscribers in the last quarter, if they released one tv show every two years?

Of course not. 

And their programming rocks. Don’t like this show, don’t worry we have another new show coming in two weeks.

While HBO might have “Game of Thrones”, its old school business model of releasing an episode each week will prove its downfall. 

While content is what brings people in, distribution is king! 

The oldsters did a great job selling the story of platinum records and chart placement = success. While rock gods lapped it up, hip-hop and grunge came to to fill the void and the danger that rock occupied. 

The new world demands more, while the rock and metal heads are still worrying about the chart placements and that build up to the one time release date, where money is supposed to rain down. 

The day of release is when the hard work really starts. You want a story that lasts and if you release a new song, wait for the reaction. 

If you get none, be smart and create more music. Forget the album, you’re looking for a reaction, and if you get none, it’s back to the drawing board. 

It’s an online streaming world. 

And to be in a band, it’s not about the payday so much as access and attention. Metal and rock needs to realize it’s best to have a continuous stream of new tunes being released and making news.

The money will come. But you need to control your copyrights so you get maximum royalties. 

It’s a new world and if you play metal/rock you’ve got to be in the streaming game and releasing frequently. 

The youngsters, the ones who replenish the music base are signed up to streaming. And artists who don’t want to be part of the streaming group are still debating the payouts.

Publishers and labels bitch about YouTube payments however those organizations are purely responsible for YouTube’s growth.

Because of greed, the labels and publishers negotiated with Spotify for over 3 years before it entered the US market. During this time, people turned to YouTube for their music fix. And it’s still number one when it comes to streaming.

The paradigm is different. Your musical output lives online and the money is in what lasts. Success is based upon cumulative streams, not sales of albums, and the streams go on forever.

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Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

In The End Nothing Really Matters

Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington, I guess we’ll never know the why and maybe those lyrics you guys wrote are very close to home than we believed. 
Adored by your fans but it wasn’t enough. Somewhere in the far reaches of your minds, a dark sliver of a thought was growing with such ferocity that both felt it was better to leave their world than live in it. 

Does it get to a stage where the people who make money from these artists need to be held responsible? 

Ivan Moody is battling addiction. He’s in and out of rehab, quitting the band on stage when intoxicated and apologizing the next day when he’s sober. It’s very public. 

So does FFDP stop everything, so Ivan Moody recovers properly or do they still roll forward with their schedule. And when Moody comes back from rehab, it’s back on tour like nothing happened. 

And then the new album release cycle starts again and another tour. 

Managers and all the artist hangers on make their money when the artist is on the road and earning. If things are not doing well, its the managers that set the tone of the conversations. If those millions become thousands, it means the manager cut is reduced. Managers used to care. It was personal. Most managers are now corporations. It’s all about schedules and percentages. It’s borderline negligence. 

The show must go on but there is no show when there is no artist. 

All death is tragic. 

David Z is a bass player and not a household name like Cornell and Bennington. For a lot of people, they’ve never heard of him. To me, he was one hell of a worker and an inspiration to all musicians, that you can have a career in music. 

He never made millions, but he recorded and toured. And when you strip it all away, music is basically that. Write a song, record it and play it live. 

And he had a career because of his never say die work ethic and all round good guy attitude. From his many different gigs, he built up a network of musician friends. And it’s because of that network, he got so many different gigs. 

So when a truck lost control on a Florida highway and slammed into the Adrenaline Mob RV parked on the side last week, David Z lost his life. 

All death is tragic.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Jungle Giants

In an era that’s so far removed from the monoculture I grew up in, there are artists popping up everywhere. 

The Jungle Giants is a band I’ve never heard off but they are an unsigned band that’s racked up 36 million streams on Spotify. Those stats are impressive and way more than band stats on label deals. 

It goes to show if you are invested and operating in the modern world, well the skies are the limits. Ask any artist on a label deal to tell you what percentage of profits they’re making and they won’t be able to tell you. Ask any independent artists and they know. 

The band is confident for the future of digital music and they know economies of scale. The bigger Spotify gets, the bigger the pool of money grows to start paying artists. As long as the record labels and publishers don’t kill it off with high licensing fees. Because it’s artists like these the labels hate. 

“It’s not a perfect world for them (majors) any more… People can do it on their own.”Sam Hales – Jungle Giants Frontman

The labels don’t want artists to do it on their own. The labels don’t want artists controlling their own catalogues. The labels want to control it all. It’s because of this past control, the labels hold the power seat in negotiations. And they can put up roadblocks. If they take over the streaming companies, then bands like Jungle Giants will need to play by the record label rules.

“Every now and then we get something like eight grand, we get cash, and all our streaming revenue goes straight back into the band.”
Sam Hales – Jungle Giants Frontman

It’s hard work controlling your own destiny. With so much freedom, you are free to decide what path to take. 

And for those that think Jungle Giants just wrote one song and racked up millions of streams. Think again. Album number 3 just came out. They have skin in the game and momentum. 

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Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

A Life’s Shadow Hangs

When is inspiration/influence just that and when is inspiration/influence copying? 

“Hallowed Be Thy Name” has six lines similar to “Life’s Shadow” from Beckett. 

Mark my words my soul lives on 
Please don’t worry cause I’ve have gone 
I’ve gone beyond to see the truth
When your time is close at hand
Maybe then you’ll understand
Life down there is just a strange illusion

– Beckett, “Life’s Shadow” (1974)

Mark my words, believe my soul lives on
Don’t worry now that I have gone
I’ve gone beyond to seek the truth
When you know that your time is close at hand
Maybe then you’ll begin to understand
Life down here is just a strange illusion

– Iron Maiden, “Hallowed Be Thy Name” (1982)

In a song that has many verses, is six similar lines copying or influence?

The fact both songs have similar themes about a person dying is irrelevant. There are thousands of songs that have that same theme.

In every case of copying, I am sure people could find hundreds of other songs that have something similar. Everything, in any artform, are ALL inspired by something or someone who touched on the same matter, subject or concept.

It is possible and part of music history to borrow without “stealing”. When ideas appear in ones mind, quite often they are unconsciously inspired by a piece of music the artist has heard. And it’s perfectly okay and very common to take an existing idea and turn it into something new. 

In the liner notes for Miles Davis “Star People” album, he mentions how the bass line in “Come And Get It” is taken from an old Otis Redding lick. And he even mentions how the chord sequence from “It Gets Better” was taken from a Lightning Hopkins song. Miles Davis basically took ideas from early blues recordings and turned them into something modern. What a brilliant concept.

Metallica took a progression and a feel from “Tom Sawyer” and used it for the Bridge section of “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)”. Plus they took the whole intro/verse section from a Bleak House song called “Rainbow Warrior”. And the Metallica song sounds nothing like Rush or Bleak House in the end.

In the outro solo of “Runaround”, Eddie Van Halen quotes a piece of Paul Kossof’s classic solo from Free’s “All Right Now”. No biggie. This is seen as paying homage to his influence.

Michael Schenker took a David Gilmour lick from “Hey You” and used it in “Lost Horizons”. But the song and lead break sound totally different to what Gilmour did, and it’s the same notes and same phrasing. Exactly the same.

Black Crowes Rich Robinson took his Keith Richards influence “Twice As Hard”. The song is in Open G tuning, a staple of the Keith Richards rhythm guitar sound. The opening riff in the song is generic Keith and the end of the phrase is lifted right off “Can’t You Hear Me Knockin” from the “Sticky Fingers” album. I can just predict people bringing lawsuits against artists for using a certain tuning in the future.

Artists should be free to use their imaginations to recreate a song to suit their own vision.

Like Miles Davis, Steve Harris used his influences to create something new and modern and perfect for the era his band was in.

And here is a mash up of the two songs lyrics from me? 

Is it copying, stealing or unique enough to be original or original enough to show inspiration?

A Hallowed Shadow Of Life

See the people walking past
While I wait in my cell
And the bells begin to chime
On a life that doesn’t have much time

As I look in the mirror
A fallen angel is getting clearer

As the sands of time run low
One by one, people pass me by
Strangers of a world that has gone very wrong for me

Some breakdown and start to cry
When the priest comes to read me my last rites

Somebody please tell me I’m dreaming
As I walk, my life drifts before me
I’m trying to be strong
After all I’m not afraid of dying

Hear these words
For I have seen
My soul lives on
In your dreams
And even though I’m gone
I live beyond
For the truth is easy to see
When I am free

And I finally understand
The invisible hand
Turning life
Into a strange illusion

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

In The Courts Of The Streaming King

Legal streaming music is hurting. 

Streaming companies need to license music from the legacy players for a substantial fee and then pay royalties to these organizations when the songs are listened/viewed. And these organizations keep the bulk of these payments and pay cents to the artists they represent. 

Netflix has no problem growing its subscriber base and making profits, however it has its own content, which earned it over 90 Emmy nominations. And it’s monthly fees are identical to music subscription services, even though it costs a lot more to create a TV show or a movie than a song/album.

I don’t know what Spotify, YouTube and even Apple are waiting for. They need to get into finding their own artists and get them creating some kick ass tunes. While that will take years to come to fruition, investors of these companies want results now. There is no room in the investor mindset about profits 10 years from now. 

Recently Spotify has been hit with two more lawsuits about unpaid royalties. For a company that has licensing agreements in place with the record labels and performance rights organizations, they are still blamed for not doing enough in ensuring they have all the correct details of who wrote what song. The fact that the labels licensed songs to Spotify and didn’t have the song writer details properly recorded is totally okay to the song writer. Because to them, it’s Spotify’s fault. 

Spotify should just remove the music from latest complainers from the service and seek compensation from the label, because in the end, it was the label who took the licensing money and gave Spotify access to the songs in question. 

Or Spotify should seriously consider shutting up shop in the U.S. 

And the labels/publisher’s believe people will just return to purchasing physical music. 

They won’t. 

There was a reason why Napster was popular and close to 20 years later, the mega corporations who get rich off government granted monopolies still haven’t figured it out. 

And speaking of music not on services, here are a few more albums I tried to listen to recently that I couldn’t find on Spotify. Is it Spotify’s fault or the labels fault or the artists fault? 

David Coverdale

His three solo albums “White Snake”, “Northwinds” and “Into The Light” are not on Spotify Australia. 

Beckett

The band that Maiden borrowed from is not on Spotify, albeit two songs on a British prog album collection.

Adrenaline Mob

After listening to their new album, “We The People”, I wanted to listen to the debut album “Omerta” and found it’s not on Spotify Australia. Another great decision by record labels from denying paying customers music.

Kansas

Their albums with Steve Morse on guitar are not on Spotify, Australia. I have “Power” and “In The Spirt Of Things” on LP, however I was at work and I wanted to listen to the albums.

Scorpions

There is a lot of Scorpions music missing from Spotify Australia. “In Trance”, “Take By Force”, “Tokyo Tapes”, “Lovedrive”, “Animal Magnetism”, “Blackout”, “Love At First Sting” and “Savage Amusement” are all missing. Their 90’s output looks a bit hit and miss as well, however I don’t know all of those albums enough to comment if they are all there.

Frankie Miller

His 1982 album “Standing On The Edge” is not on Spotify and it’s one of my favourites. A few songs appeared in Thunder Alley, the movie about a farm boy who wanted to be a rock star but needed to work on the farm. So he goes to watch his ex-bands gig and their guitarist is passed out, so he grabs the guitar and plays.

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Streaming and Distribution 

I believe that it’s an excellent time (on the current state of the music scene). I feel that there’s so much out there for people to pick from and choose from its phenomenal. I mean and guitar playing is at such a high level right now. I mean these younger generations are just taking it to a point where you know it’s beginning to explore places that people have never gone before, it’s just fascinating. And the music itself too, you can pick a genre and find so much great music in every genre. People are just pushing the envelope in all directions, so I think it’s very gratifying and satisfying. It’s a little challenging to pick through I mean from this thing back in the day when I was growing up there’s like a half a dozen or 10 big giant great bands that are super groups you know. Now it’s like there are thousands of bands. Picking through everything is hard. It’s stressful trying to find all the right music you know.
George Lynch 

Today, noise reigns supreme. For the ones who have financial backing, they surround us with their nuclear blast marketing. And in most cases people ignore them.

But it’s still a good time for an artist to get their product out. Actually it’s the best time.

For the record labels, they are still trying to get control over the distribution chain after losing it to Napster and other peer to peer file sharing programs. At the moment, technology companies have it and if the labels kill the streaming grape vine, they hope to bring the distribution chain under the record labels. 

Streaming has three main players. Spotify, Google and Apple.

Spotify is losing money each year and relies on investments. The record labels owe a piece of it but they are not investing in it. YouTube is owned by Google (well their parent company) and the record labels hate Google, blaming it for all of their ills. The “take it or leave it” deal with YouTube is not what the labels want, so they lobby hard to get laws passed which can cripple Google. Apple uses music to push sales of wares. However, even Apple is going to the table to get a lower payment rate back to the labels.

Going back to Spotify.

Since it has money woes and it cannot make a profit, it’s offering payola terms back to the record labels to have their music chucked into playlists for a fee. Because taking in money from users and advertisers is not enough to make money in music if you don’t have your own popular content bringing in money. And the labels are getting paid handsomely twice from each streaming provider.

  • Spotify pays them for licensing their music catalogues and then pays them again as royalty payments based on listens.
  • YouTube pays them for licensing their music catalogues and then pays them again as royalty payments based on listens.
  • Pandora pays them for licensing their music catalogues and then pays them again as royalty payments based on listens.
  • Apple pays them for licensing their music catalogues and then pays them again as royalty payments based on listens.
  • Tidal pays them for licensing their music catalogues and then pays them again as royalty payments based on listens.

I think you get the drift. Maybe that’s why Spotify is paying producers to be fake artists and play popular songs on piano for people to listen to.

And to top it off, the record labels are still using the 100 year old rule of geo restrictions when it comes to streaming. So music available in the U.S doesn’t necessarily equate to being available in Australia. Here is a quick list of albums I tried to call up in the last two weeks on Spotify Australia which are not available;

  • Heaven And Hell – The Devil You Know, released in 2009
  • Stryper – Murder By Pride, released in 2009
  • Three Days Grace – Life Starts Now, released in 2009
  • Night Ranger – Midnight Madness, released in 1983
  • Europe – Europe, released in 1983
  • Helix – No Rest For The Wicked, released in 1983

Isn’t it nice how record labels treat legitimate paying customers?

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A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Michael Poulsen

We all come from different bands, mainly death metal bands and punk bands. So we’ve been in the scene for many years since the ’90s. I released my first demo with my first death metal band in 1991 or something. I also released four albums for a death metal band called Dominus back in the day. My song writing was kind of changing. It turned into be a little bit more rock songs. It seemed like all the inspiration that I had from my parents when they were playing their records from the ’50s got to me in a way that when I was writing, I wanted to include that ’50s feeling in my song writing. That came very naturally. But I just wanted to keep a distorted sound from the guitars and the pounding drums.
Michael Poulsen 

Volbeat started to break into the U.S market in 2010 on the back of their “Death Magnetic” opening slot. But the journey to fame/success or world-wide recognition started a long time ago. Almost 20 years before their U.S breakthrough. It started in a totally different scene and in a different continent.

A million bands will start-up today, however a very small amount will stick it out and become lifers in the game of music. And from the lifers who stick it out, an even smaller amount will end up rising above the noise and get some recognition. And even a smaller amount will make some serious money from it.

It turned into a very unique thing where we combined a lot of different styles. We kept the distorted sound, but you could definitely hear inspiration from a lot of the rock music of the ’50s, as well heavier music from the ’70s and ’80s. When you mix all that together, it becomes Volbeat. We never really branded the band in a certain style or direction. It was all about just playing. I think that led us to being who we are today. For us, it’s not important to be 100% metal or 100% rock ‘n’ roll or anything. It’s music, and we’re inspired by so many different styles and bands. You can hear that in the Volbeat music.
Michael Poulsen 

What an awesome concept!!

To take what came before as influence and use it to create something that is different. And the borrowing from different eras and cultural appropriation is what music is all about.

I also like how it’s seen as “Volbeat’s music” and not some term that came from a record label rep or a magazine editor. For those that don’t know, record companies (in most cases) came up with the terms that bands got labelled with. For example, Nikki Sixx is very vocal on Twitter about how “a record company came up with the derogatory term “hair metal” so they could sell new metal rock to a new generation.

A lot of metal histories try to track back the movement of heavy metal to a single artist. In most cases they pick the artist who had the most success. However like any popular invention, it is a combination of many little things. The first Apple Mac didn’t just come from nowhere without any influences. It was an amalgamation of products from other companies with some new additions and interface tweaks courtesy of Wozniack and Jobs. And music is no different. Music is a combination of influences with a few little tweaks here and there.

When you look at metal history, you don’t see a lot of black musicians listed there as influences, yet the whole metal movement was heavily reliant on the blues in those early formative days. Black Sabbath, the band seen as the first metal band, covered blues songs as Earth. But when you look at the written history of Black Sabbath, the writers talk about the blues of white musicians as influences to Sabbath. They talk about the influence of classical music to Black Sabbath which again is mainly written by white people.

The Beatles played Blues, Soul, Motown and Rock and Roll covers in their early days, made up predominantly of black artists. So did Black Sabbath. Hell, the Beatles even took a Chuck Berry song and called it “Come Together”.

Robert Johnson is cited as a large influence to Keith Richards who was introduced to his music by Brian Jones. Eric Clapton worshipped at the altar of Johnson and many years later, re-recorded all of Johnson’s classics. Howlin Wolf had a lot of songs covered by many white artists across many different genres.

We were sacrificing a lot of stuff in the beginning like jobs, education, girlfriends. Being away from family. And it was just to dedicate ourselves to the road and all the hard work there is to be an active band, to survive. We’re from that generation where we built everything up. There was no internet, no mobiles. It was old-school and I’m very proud of that. That could be part of why we’re still around. We earned our stripes.
Michael Poulsen 
Paying your dues and building up experiences matter. Esepcially when it comes to creativity. The pain of loss manifests itself into art. The happiness of life ends up as a song and so forth.

Today, bands are so eager to get the attention, to get the success, before the work. I’m not a fan of that. I think there are too many youngsters who concentrate too much on the success before they actually concentrate on the music. The music is what it’s all about, and it has to come straight from the heart. We started playing in small bars and it was never because we wanted to be a successful band. We just wanted to do something. We wanted to belong somewhere. Friendship, brotherhood. And it just escalated. Somehow we got bigger and bigger, and the success came. So success was never the important thing for us. It came along and of course it feels good now and we do embrace it. But there’s a lot of stuff we don’t do because we still want it to be about the music. There are lot of TV programs in Denmark where we were getting offers to be on every f—–g day. All the commercials. But we turned it all down because it’s not the reason why we started a band. We’re very aware of not overdoing anything that is Volbeat. We want to be on the road, we want to make records and we want to earn the right to be successful. And we did that from the very beginning. So I can only say that too many young bands concentrate on success before they concentrate on the music. They will fail because that’s not what music is all about.
Michael Poulsen 

We’re living in the social media connection revolution. With so many people connected to each other and everyone building monuments of their lives online, young artists believe success is around the corner. Music is seen as a way to become successful. But if you get in the game with the mindset to be successful over creative, you will not last. Your success is based on your creations. Your success is based on your experiences and your community. It’s easy to license your music to TV shows and Commercials. It’s seen as a way to make easy money for a lot of artists. But then your music turns into a jingle. At least you got paid, right.

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