Alternate Reality, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Is Nikki Sixx A Revisionist?

When I was studying a subject called Science and Technology at Uni, one of the topics dealt with a term called “Whig history.” For the uninitiated, this term in pop culture means, looking back at the past, with the mindset and views that you have now, and rewriting the history to suit your view points at this point in time. Of course the meaning of Whig history is more detailed, however unpacking the full history behind it, in this blog, is for another day.

Anyway here is an example of a Whig history (especially made up by me for this blog post);
“Motley Crue changed the way bands would record music videos with the release of Smokin In the Boys Room in 1985. Their fearless leader, Nikki Sixx turned the clichéd video clip into a mini movie format. The rest of the music world needed to follow suit or they would be left behind. Video clips by Twisted Sister, Van Halen, Michael Jackson would all follow the new mini movie format made popular by Nikki Sixx.”

The above is factually incorrect. In addition, the time line of events are incorrect. Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” came first, in December 1983. Then in April 1984, Twisted Sister unleashed “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and not soon after “I Wanna Rock.” Also in the same year came “Hot For Teacher” from Van Halen. “Smokin In The Boys Room” didn’t come until 1985.

The above example is to illustrate a revisionist view on history, that takes the view point of a “super hero” and how that super hero changed the course of the music industry.

First, let me say that I am a fan of Motley Crue. Growing up in the Eighties, Motley Crue and the attitude they exhibited was something that I could relate too. I have read “The Heroin Diaries”, “This Is Gonna Hurt” and “The Dirt”. I have also read “Tommyland” and “Tattoos & Tequila: To Hell and Back with One of Rock’s Most Notorious Frontmen.”

Since Motley Crue was the top band in the Eighties for me, I devoured as much information as I could on the band. This included taping interviews from all the various music shows, buying the expensive U.S magazines and trading with other hard rock fans in my local area. For example, I would give them a Poison poster and they would give me stuff on Motley Crue that I didn’t have.

So after reading the books above, especially the solo books, I was confused with some of the information that was put out there. Vince Neil’s is the worst one and his book was a very painful one to read. For the casual fan they wouldn’t notice these changes to the mythology of Motley Crue, however for the hard core, some things just didn’t sit right.

Doing the rounds at the moment are comments by Sebastian Bach. To recap, Bach claims that he was asked to join Motley Crue, before they fired Vince Neil. Nikki Sixx said that was not true. Bach took offence to that, you know that whole “don’t call me a liar” argument. In his rebuttal, Bach makes a reference to Nikki Sixx’s “The Heroin Diaries” book as being inaccurate and he also mentions that a jam session took placed between Nikki, Tommy, Mick and Sebastian. Nikki Sixx has yet to respond to this. This isn’t the first time that Nikki Sixx’s version of events has been questioned.

John Corabi, the vocalist that ended up replacing Vince Neil has also disputed certain sections of “The Dirt.” In addition, Phil Lewis from L.A Guns has called “The Heroin Diaries” a fraud. The most famous of all rebuttals is Tom Werman’s which calls Nikki Sixx a “revisionist.” Even Dee Snider, in his opening forewarning of “Shut Up And Give Me The Mic” alludes to a book written by a junkie as not being factually correct.

So how much of the truth did Nikki Sixx tweak and re-envision for the sake of a story line?

At least the soundtrack to “The Heroin Diaries” was mind blowing.

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

Blabbermouth The Sequel – Music Is Melody and Improvisation Is A Genesis Of Composition

The website Classic Rock Revisited conducted an interview with Yngwie Malmsteen recently. The interview was aimed at promoting Malmsteen’s new biography. Malmsteen is one musician who is not afraid to share his opinions. His recent opinions on the state of the music industry has polarised the internet. The mere mention of the word “piracy, and music” a reaction is always forthcoming.

“When I started out, it was very much like the guy with the big cigar in a big office saying, “I’ll give you a record deal, boy.” You had tour support, tour buses, local A&R people, the whole nine yards. I did that, but it’s all gone now. It can be for better or worse, because if you don’t have name recognition now.”

This is what used to happen. Any musician that wanted to write songs and have those songs released to an audience, had to meet that “guy with the big cigar.” In no way did a recording contract guarantee an artist success. Yngwie Malmsteen seems to forget that between the period of 1983 to 1988, he released an album each year in order to get name recognition. The reason why he got name recognition is because he had the songs and two great vocalists in Jeff Scott Soto and Joe Lynn Turner. In the end, as good as Malmsteen is on the guitar, if the song sucked and if the vocals sucked, he would have remained in the underground.

“If you want to start out now, how the f!&k do you do it?”

The same way you always have done it. Create great songs. In the end, it is the songs that will sell you. Regardless of how good you play your instrument, if the songs are not making a connection with people, then nothing will happen. The only difference is that bands these days, don’t need to play 2000 shows to get traction.

Look at bands like Heartist and Digital Summer. Heartist is signed to Roadrunner and Digital Summer is all DIY. Both bands have decent traction. Heartist built their following online. Digital Summer did it in a hybrid way. Starting out before the MySpace craze, they did it with feet on the ground, handing out flyers and playing shows. When technology started playing a part in promoting and marketing a band, these new opportunities got filtered in to their workload.

“Back in the day, DEF LEPPARD said if they could get a few singles on MTV, they’d be able to make it, and they did. That happened with a lot of bands who did that back then. Now we have YouTube, but there are billions of videos and musicians on there and if nobody knows your name, nobody’s going to look you up. It’s a little bit weird, but in that sense, the music industry situation is really bad for whoever wants to start out now.”

FACT – MTV used Heavy Metal music as a means to get traction. Look at the clips produced by hard rock / metal bands. Twisted Sister, had “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock”. Motley Crue had “Smokin In The Boys Room”. Van Halen had “Hot For Teacher.” All of those clips were game changers in the video format. As soon as MTV got traction, they booted metal music and put it back to a monthly/weekly segment that would become Headbangers Ball.

FACT – Music is getting released on a grand scale today. With so much new music out there fighting for listeners attention, artists need to give fans a reason to listen to their music. By saying that they put their heart and soul into it, just doesn’t cut in this day and age. You need to have great songs.

Look at the band Periphery. The band got traction via message boards. Has piracy stopped the band? I saw them live in Australia this year at the Annandale Hotel in Sydney.

Look at the band Shinedown. They came out in 2005, when piracy was rampant. Has piracy stopped the band from becoming a giant in the hard rock scene? They have two albums that have sold over a million units and two albums that have sold over 500,000 units. Singles on the other had have moved in the multi-millions.

Look at the band Digital Summer. They came out in 2005, when piracy was rampant. Has piracy stopped the band from touring and releasing new music? They are all DIY and have total control over their affairs. Even bands that had major deals have asked the band to represent them.

Look at the band One Less Reason. Another DIY band. One of their albums has gone GOLD. Has piracy stopped the band from touring and releasing new music?

Look at the band Protest The Hero. While they were signed to a label, they were told that never made any money. Finally they broke free from the label and started an Indiegogo campaign, raising over $300K (with the goal being $120K). Has piracy stopped the band from touring and releasing new music?

“The good part is that there is no longer this slavery to a certain format going on, where in the ’80s, if you didn’t follow format, they wouldn’t give you the time of day. You had to conform to get a shot at a record deal. That’s gone now, and it’s bizarre.”

I love Malmsteen however he is a confused albeit funny individual. He is putting a lot of information out there without any thought. If anyone was treated like dirt by record labels, it was Yngwie Malmsteen. Elektra chased him, signed him to a large deal and then dropped him cold after one album. During the Nineties, no label in the U.S would touch him. If it wasn’t for the Japanese market, Yngwie would be broke and destitute and without a career in 2013.

As much as Malmsteen is seen as a musical dictator, he knows it deep down, that if he didn’t conform and write more accessible songs, then his career would have been over. That is the power that the labels held over the artists.

Classic Rock Revisited: The Internet changed a lot for the industry; piracy has certainly had a hand in changing the game. Do you think that piracy can be beneficial to some of those bands starting out? How has it affected you?

Yngwie: How could it possibly be positive? If you go into a store and you see a car that you like, you can’t just drive off with it. The cost and the blood and sweat and tears that go into making music is the same thing, it’s not free. Try telling the engineer and the producer that they have to work for free. It’s utterly bizarre. It’s like just going into a store and taking things off the shelves. It’s stealing. The reason there are no bands coming out now is that the money that was once there is not there anymore. So what happened was, in essence, by pirating music, you kill the music industry. The music industry died because of the piracy, and now all the fans will have no new music. Isn’t that wonderful? It’s a direct consequence of that.

Again, Malmsteen is confusing the recording industry with the music industry. The recording industry is not dying. It has changed. The labels made the most money from selling the LP and then the CD. So when fans could pick and choose what tracks they wanted to buy, the biggest cash cow for the labels became obsolete. Licensed streaming is gaining traction. Unlicensed streaming on YouTube is bigger than ever. If the recording industry listened to advice back in 1998, maybe it would still be as powerful as it was back then. However, they ignored the advice.

The whole stealing analogy has been shot down a billion times. Maybe Scott Ian, Duff McKagan and Yngwie Malmsteen should form a band called “Steeler.” Oh wait, Malmsteen was already in a band called Steeler.

It’s simply economics. Digitised music equals less CD’s. The MP3 made music easy to share and distribute just by the click of a mouse button. Chart success and sales of actual music is not as relevant today as it was back in the Eighties and Nineties. What is relevant today is what music of the band are fans listening too.

Look at the band Shinedown. Call Me is their most streamed track, however they do not play the song live.

Finally, the best part of the interview, the quotes.

“Improvisation is a genesis of composition”
Malmsteen

“Music is melody and melody is music”
Mozart

“One must feel strongly to make others feel strongly”
Paganini

“When you’re a writer, you write the whole book, when you’re a painter like De Vinci you don’t say to someone, hey come over here and help me with my painting. There are a few reasons why I work this way. First of all, I’m so full of creativity that I don’t need any other input. The other is that I feel so strongly about my work, it’s like a burning passion to create something that is uniquely me.”
Malmsteen on song writing.

“Back in the day the record label was putting up all this money and you had to record whether you were inspired or not. I like to capture the moment.”
Malmsteen on recording now.

“ I don’t live in the past. The best show I’ve ever done is the one I’m going to do next. The best album will be the next one I do. I don’t look back, I look forward. It’s dangerous too, because if an album does well you might get stuck in that one sound for the next couple albums instead of having this evolution of your sound. I like to have the classical stuff on my records, and some blues. An album to me is supposed to be a snapshot of who you are at that time.”
Malmsteen on progress

http://www.blabbermouth.net/news/yngwie-malmsteen-the-music-industry-died-because-of-the-piracy/

http://classicrockrevisited.com/show_interview.php?id=995

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Complacency Kills – Music Is A Battlefield

I am listening to the Avenged Sevenfold discography again today. Yep that is five days in row. What can I say, the new album, “Hail To The King” connected with me. I admit that the connection comes from the similarities of the songs on the new album to the bands that I grew up on.

As I have said many times, progress is derivative. One of the rules on success, is that you need to know how to be a member of the club. This is what Avenged Sevenfold is reaching for here on “Hail To The King.” They want to be a member of the classic rock club.  With 200,000 in U.S sales in two weeks they are well on their way. Spotify streams for the song “Hail To The King” are at 1,884,995 and YouTube plays are at 3,904,022 for the same song. Other songs on the album on Spotify have the following numbers;

Shepherd Of Fire – 495,889 streams
Doing Time – 372,238 streams
This Means War – 394,868 streams
Requiem – 333,633 streams
Crimson Day – 310,412 streams
Heretic – 277,498 streams
Coming Home – 288,336 streams
Planets – no data as yet
Acid Raid – no data as yet 

If you’re not spending money, then you are not investing in your future. That is why a DIY independent band like Digital Summer is still ticking over. All the money they make from music is invested back into the band. To supplement themselves, they hold down normal day jobs.

Don’t focus on the money aspect. Desperation can been seen a mile away and it is a turn off. Just try to be friends. Remember that the system is rigged against you. The deck is stacked against you. There are so many people that want to be in the music business, they are willing to work for free. There is no safety net. There is no fat cat with a cigar as mentioned by Yngwie Malmsteen saying that they will fund the record, they will fund the video, they will fund the tour and that they will promote you. This is what Chris Clancy from Mutiny Within doesn’t get. Piracy is not his enemy. His enemy is the millions of other wannabes that are trying to make it and are doing everything for free. Look at Netflix, their policy is to sign up shows that are pirated heavily.

The only way to make money in the music business is to be in the game a very long time. That way, you will be in a position to renegotiate and make better deals. That is why Metallica are huge and getting bigger. Spotify wanted them on their service and they came knocking with a deal that Metallica couldn’t refuse. That is why Motley Crue are still around and making more money than ever. That is why the battle over Queensryche’s name is huge. Even though the band is more or less over and the new music that is created is below Queensryche quality, the name of the band, and the legacy that comes with it carries a lot of weight in dollars. It is a full blown corporate dispute. That is why Geoff Tate has asked for the trial date to be delayed until January 2014. He is hoping that something can be sorted privately, otherwise if it goes to court and he loses, he loses a lot.

Make sure your music is good enough. If you believe that your music is good enough and you are still stuck in the same situation, then the problem is you. You have to figure out what it is about you that is not working and change it. It could be your look, your personality, your interactions with people or your lack of building proper relationships. I like the band Mutiny Within, however I hate the viewpoints that their singer Chris Clancy puts forward. He has been totally misled by others and focused totally on the money side of things.

Take Hold of the Flame from Queensryche sums it up with the lyric, “We see the line of those who find the world has passed them by / Too late to save a dream that’s gone cold.” Don’t be the one with a chip on your shoulder because of missed opportunities. John Sykes is one such talent that didn’t really get the respect and recognition he deserved outside of the core metal/rock community.

Remember that marketing isn’t the 4P’s model of Product, Price, Place and Promotion anymore. Trying to extend the 4Ps model to a world of social media doesn’t cut it anymore. This is what Roadrunner is doing right now with Dream Theater. Here is the product, here is the price, we are placing it here for sale and we are cross promoting the streams of the new songs with the USA Today website and the Grammy Awards website.

Marketing is a one to many relationship. Spotify, Pandora and YouTube are three tools that fit this ideal of marketing. You see, record labels used to charge bands for marketing back in the Eighties and the bands didn’t complain about the marketing budget. In 2013, bands are now marketed on Spotify, YouTube and Pandora and they are complaining at the royalty rates and advertising rates these services pay. It doesn’t make sense to me. Dream Theater has not officially released the two new songs on Spotify. Avenged Sevenfold released the “Hail To The King” single on Spotify and it had 700,000 streams before the album even came out.

Sales is a one to one relationship. This is what iTunes, Amazon, Google Store, CDBaby and Brick and Mortar stores facilitate. Guess what, “Hail To The King” is out and it has moved 200,000 physical units in two weeks as well.

Notice a difference between the services that are used for marketing and services that are used for sales. Musicians fail to notice the difference, always linking marketing services to sales services and complaining about the lack of compensation from a marketing service, however when the Record Labels robbed them blind with $100,000 marketing bills, they didn’t complain.

You need to have skills, you need to know the rules, you need to know the game. You need to keep adjusting your game. On a battlefield, “Complacency Kills”. To stay on top of the music heap, you need to be on the leading edge. You need to remain motivated to succeed. Remember there is no safety net in music. You need to exceed the status quo in every way. You need to excel everyday 24/7. You need that outside perspective. If you surround yourself with enablers who have a vested interest in you making them as much money as possible, you will not get that perspective.

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

Blabbermouth reports on another Blabbermouth – The Yngwie Malmsteen Streisand Effect

Wow. Where should I start with this. First of all, Blabbermouth does a poor job of conveying the tone of the whole interview that took place on the Classic Rock Revisited Website. By pulling out the questions that relate to piracy, Blabbermouth knew that they would get a reaction. All Blabbermouth cares about is the page views. As long as the page views are ticking over in the thousands, they can keep selling advertisements.

By 1992, Yngwie Malmsteen was riding high after five well received albums on the smaller Polydor label. He was ready to release his sixth studio album called “Fire and Ice”, which was his first release on a new major label deal with Elektra Records. The 1988 “Odyssey” album with Joe Lynn Turner on vocals is the album that got Elektra interested. However by 1989, Joe Lynn Turner was not the vocalist. Still Elektra took a punt on him after the album “Eclipse” did reasonably well in 1990, with a new band and a new singer.

The “Odyssey” album was a success because all the lyrics were written by Joe Lynn Turner, while all the music was written by Yngwie Malmsteen. Turner knew how to write in a pop format and that made Yngwie crossover. “Odyssey” was also produced by Yngwie Malmsteen, Jeff Glixman and Jim Lewis. On “Fire and Ice”, all the music and lyrics are written by Yngwie Malmsteen. The album is also produced by Yngwie Malmsteen. So when the album failed to make any impact, guess what happened to Yngwie?

By 1994, Malmsteen was releasing his seventh album “The Seventh Sign” on a British Independent label called Music For Nations. Music for Nations started signing all the Eighties bands that the major labels discarded. He had no distribution in the U.S., while Music for Nations distributed the album in Europe and Pony Canyon distributed the album in Japan. If any other Malmsteen fans wanted to buy the album in Australia or the US/Canada, they had to purchase it as an import, which meant double the price of what it would normally retail for. Nice way to treat the fans.

Fast forward to 2013. There are 12 questions asked before the piracy question that Blabbermouth leads off with. To sum up, the 12 questions relate to the release of Malmsteen’s autobiography, why Malmsteen wrote it himself instead of using a ghost writer and his love for his family, Paganini and guitar playing in general. So we come up to the question that Blabbermouth leads off with.

Classic Rock Revisited: Do you ever get caught up in thinking about commercial appeal of what you’re writing or composing?
Yngwie: I did at one point, when that actually existed. The radio format doesn’t exist, the singles don’t exist. The record label doesn’t exist. The record stores don’t exist. That whole entire thing is gone.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion. Malmsteen has put his out there. Malmsteen knew exactly that what he would say in relation to piracy would get a reaction. As an artist, he has products to promote that no one really cares about in 2013 except for his core audience. He is hoping that the “Streisand Effect” will work for him as well.

Look at what it has done for Lady Gaga. Seriously, if people reckon she got hacked and a snippet of her new song was the only thing that was taken, then those people need to get checked out for some sort of denial illness. It was all orchestrated to bring attention to the single. It was all orchestrated to engage her fan base in finding the offending snippets and to report the websites. It was all orchestrated so that all the media outlets can pick up the story and report on it. The same thing is happening with Yngwie Malmsteen’s comments. Blabbermouth has run with it, I am pretty sure, Noisecreep, Ultimate Guitar, Ultimate Classic Rock, Loudwire and a thousand other blogs like me will run with it.

In relation to Yngwie’s comments, the terrestrial radio format that Yngwie alludes to, ceased to be relevant for metal music when Yngwie was still at his peak in the Eighties. No radio station played Yngwie after the “Odyssey” album with Joe Lynn Turner on vocals. As soon as Radio stations became beholden to the advertisers and needed to make profits for shareholders, metal music was taken out of the playlist.

The single format comments are totally wrong. It is the “single” that is killing the album format. Fans are now able to pick and choose what songs they want to listen to. Even Nikki Sixx has asked fans to stop buying single songs and to invest in the whole album experience. In relation to the record label comments, the record label does exist, albeit in a much different way. The record labels have no one to blame except themselves for the state they are in.

The record stores don’t exist on a large scale because the days of selling plastic for almost thirty dollars are long gone. The public got burnt on this rip off. Fans of bands didn’t wake up in the morning thinking “I need to go to a record store to buy a record”. We woke up thinking, I want to hear this song. The only way to hear the song that we were thinking about was to buy a piece of plastic that had the song on it. So when the history of music is at your fingertips, why would you make the trip to a record store.

I stopped buying Malmsteen CD’s around 1994, when they started to become import CD’s. I wasn’t that keen on spending $50 plus. In 2003, all of his Nineties output came out on SPV in a remastered format, and the pricing was $30. Within 4 weeks, the prices dropped to $3 for $10 and I purchased the music then.

http://www.blabbermouth.net/news/yngwie-malmsteen-the-music-industry-died-because-of-the-piracy/

http://classicrockrevisited.com/show_interview.php?id=995

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

Living In The Creativity Years – Otherwise You Will Be Here Today and Gone Tomorrow

So it has been almost 20 months since MegaUpload was shutdown. All of its servers and assets were also seized by the US Department of Justice on evidence provided to it by the MPAA.

So what did this shutdown prove? In the immortal words of Dark Helmet, “Absolutely Nothing”.

What the entertainment industries fail to understand is that we live in a global economy. I am not an expert on economics, however in order to compete in this global economy, people need to know how to operate computers and use certain pieces of software. It is expected. Piracy is the leveller between the “advanced” economies and the “developing” economies. Big deal, what does this have to do with music.

Sale of albums in South and Central American countries are normally low for metal bands, however, those bands play to tens of thousands of people when they tour there. How can that be if they have no sales in those areas? I always come back to the Iron Maiden “Flight 666: The Movie” that was filmed during the “Caught Somewhere Back In Time” tour. They played some places on this tour like Costa Rica and India where sales of Iron Maiden recorded music has been low, however they still got tens of thousands of people to attend the shows.

We live in a global pop culture world. This global pop culture spreads via the web.

Artists these days need to forget about the record deals and the hits. We are living in the era that is all about creativity. Artists need to be creating all the time and releasing all the time, otherwise they are here today and gone tomorrow. Metal bands have weathered the storm so far, as fans of these genre’s still tend to purchase albums, however the writing is on the wall. Go on Spotify and you will see the streaming counts of certain songs. Only the great songs get streamed over and over again. The rest, will be forgotten.

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Music, My Stories

The Three Amigos – Roadrunner, Dream Theater and Recouping The Advance

When Dream Theater broke through in 1992, it seemed that they just burgeoned overnight. Information and back stories of the band was scarce at that time. However Dream Theater didn’t just come out of nowhere. Dream Theater had been at it for nearly a decade prior to that. First as kids learning their instruments and from 1985 as a three piece outfit. In the end, the band has built a career of 20 plus years.

Breaking through for Dream Theater still meant “obscurity from the mainstream” however with a “cult audience” that appreciated them. Remember in 1992, the Seattle scene became the Mainstream darlings. So when the band broke through again on the back of the “Metropolis II” album in 1999 and again on the “Train of Thought” album in 2004, the hard core audience who’d been there from the beginning was now pissed that everybody else is now attached to the band. In the end no one could deny the greatness?

In this day and age, when the relevance of the record labels is being questioned, Dream Theater had a pile of money thrown at them by Roadrunner and they went and resigned a new deal. Each new deal means a larger advance paid up front by Roadrunner that needs to be recouped in some way.

That is why Dream Theater has partnered up with the US Today website and the Grammy Awards websites as the first point of call to stream the two new songs. It is actually the record label that is partnering up with these organisations. In the end, Dream Theater can veto any such partnering’s however no one has the balls to do so anymore because of this “money” problem.

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