A to Z of Making It, Alternate Reality, Music, My Stories, Piracy

Dreams of Machine Head’s new album, Great Fear Metaphor and the views of Mr Sixx

Machine Head’s trajectory in the 2000’s is comparable to Metallica’s trajectory in the Eighties. Yep, I know that Machine Head began in the Nineties and that their first album came out in 1994. However, after “Supercharger” in 2001, Machine Head pressed the reset switch on their career and due to certain circumstances, they started writing songs that they were producing as well.

In 2003, Machine Head released “Through The Ashes Of Empires”. To me this is comparable to “Ride The Lightning” from Metallica released in 1984.

In 2007, Machine Head released “The Blackening”. To me this is comparable to “Master Of Puppets” from Metallica released in 1986.

In 2011, Machine Head released “Unto The Locust.” To me this is comparable to “…And Justice For All” from Metallica released in 1988.

It looks like the new Machine Head album will have a street date sometime in 2014. The question is, will the new Machine Head album be comparable to the spectacular Black album from Metallica released in 1991.

Robb Flynn has put out some thoughts around the consumption of music and the way it is released and marketed. He was asking fans, what do they want Machine Head in respect to the new album. I agree with his mindset and his view point. So the question is, how will Machine Head release their new music?

Will they focus on just the existing CD format and packaging that the record labels have done since day dot?

Will they focus on the idea, that if you purchase the CD, you also get a digital rip of the album at the same time? (Amazon does this for participating bands and Coheed and Cambria did this for The Afterman releases).

Will they have a super deluxe packaging option for their hard core fans?

I actually had a dream that I purchased a super deluxe pack from Machine Head for their new album. In my dream, my subconscious mind gave the album the title of “Great Fear Metaphor”.

The pack included the following items (I still can’t believe I dreamt this stuff);

*A unique T Shirt, with band art on the front and on the back of the T-Shirt, the fans surname with a number like 00001 for the first person to purchase it, 00002 for the next and so forth. Each premium package focused on it being unique  and personalised.  I was allowed to purchase extra multiple T-Shirts in different sizes for a decent price so that I had the same shirts for my wife and my kids.

* Different album art for each Premium box.

* A 30 page booklet, that talks about the songs, their meanings, the musical inspirations behind the riffs with each page littered with tab like musical drawings/excerpts of some of the riffs and their leads.

* The usual CD plus DVD plus access to a digital download area, where I could download the mp3’s of the songs, plus early demo drafts of the songs.

In my opinion, the super deluxe packaging is for the super fan market and if bands are not satisfying this market, they are leaving money on the table.

I remember reading some of the negative comments in relation to Robb’s views on the CD format, and a lot of them said the same thing, like how can Robb Flynn be talking about abandoning the CD format when he is in the business of selling CD’s.  

Umm, no. Machine Head and Robb Flynn are in the music business. First and foremost, they create music. They are not in the business to sell CD’s. That was the role of the record label. In the past, for a fan to hear that music, it needed to be placed onto a format that could be distributed. These formats involved, LP’s, Cassettes and CD’s. This in turn gave control to the Record Labels. The record labels made money by exploiting the work of the artists it signed.  

Read this article about the introduction of certain formats and the resistance to those formats initially.

Two main things stood out to me in the article. The first is when cassettes came out in the seventies. People started to copy music onto these cassettes. So what do the music business do? They scream piracy and demand government action. In 1971, the music business had a Piracy convention in Geneva, to put into force an agreement to stamp out piracy. This is the comment from the article;

“Twenty-three countries have signed the agreement, which is expected to be widely ratified to provide an effective international protection against the pirating menace predicted as formidable enough to disrupt the whole of the world music industry if allowed to continue unchecked.”

Sound familiar to 2013. It looks like the music business didn’t get the hint back in 1971. People want to copy and share their music.

The next thing that stood out is the following comment;

“Unless you find another way of making money besides controlling copying, you will not last in the digital age.”

A person by the name of Ram Samudrala made that comment in Billboard Magazine issue that was dated July 18, 1998. That is 15 years ago. The Record Labels and the RIAA ignored the advice and as such, they failed their artists on their roster.

Fast forward to 2013, and you have the real artists trying to find other ways of making money besides record sales, while the record labels are still ignoring this advice and are trying to get back the control they had over copying and distribution by litigating against ISP’s, sharers, downloaders and trying to get legislation passed to benefit them.

Does it all sound familiar? A failure to innovate leads to a piracy unchecked problem. A failure to service the customer base leads to a piracy unchecked problem.

On the topic of innovation I want to comment on a favourite artists of mine, Nikki Sixx. He posted the below comments recently and I was very surprised at his stance, as I always viewed him as an innovator and someone that was always trying to find other ways to make money besides selling recorded music;

When I was scrounging through record shops as a kid you usually (unless you just shopped for single’s) bought the whole album. I always fell deeper in love with the band because “ALL” their songs spoke to me. Of course some jumped out at you right away while others grew on you but you didn’t skip any songs, you would listen from top to bottom over and over again.

When I started making albums I always believed the WHOLE album was the adventure. Of course there is the lead single for radio but when did THAT become the whole experience?

I talk to more and more people every day who tell me they only buy singles now. iTunes hasn’t helped for that of course. We have asked them many times to bundle our album as one download so fans wouldn’t cherry pick the hits and miss the hidden gems but it’s not part of their business model. I love iTunes and buy music almost daily from it but it still frustrates me. I just wish more people clicked “BUY ALBUM”. Maybe I am old fashioned in how I believe music should be listened to but I refuse to ever buy just a band’s single. I always buy the WHOLE album. I encourage you to do the same. Technology may have changed but the fact that a band makes a WHOLE album for you hasn’t.  Dig deep and I promise you, you will fall deeper in love with the artist than you ever could only listening to one song.

In relation to his first paragraph and the comment “you usually (unless you just shopped for single’s) bought the whole album”.

Yes, that is correct, we usually purchased the whole album because that was the only way we could hear the music. In a lot of independent record shops during the mid to late eighties, you couldn’t even find a single. The only option we had to buy was the album.

Remember the comments from Brad Paisley, it is always about the songs. That is why the fans stick around with the artists. As soon as the quality of the songs disappears, the fan becomes burned on the artist and they turn away. For any artist these days, if you want people to purchase the whole album, you need to create greatness. If you have 8 great songs, put 8 great songs on it. Don’t put 8 great songs and 4 fillers.

I have always purchased the albums from Motley Crue (as well as their box sets Music To Crash Your Car Vol. 1 and 2, Loud as F… and so on), Brides Of Destruction, Sixx A.M., 58, Tommy Lee, Methods of Mayhem and Vince Neil’s solo albums.

I always skip tracks from each Motley Crue album, because they are just not great.

One thing that Motley Crue has been very poor at is releasing super deluxe packaging for their super fans. They are dead set not satisfying this market.

I really like what Nikki Sixx has done with Sixx A.M so far, in the way that they have a book and a body of music with each release. However, as a fan you still needed to buy them separately. There was no super deluxe pack that was unique.  

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