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Jake E. Lee and The Red Dragon Cartel. They Are Doing It All Wrong

Did you also hear that Jake E Lee is making a comeback with a new project titled Red Dragon Cartel?

As a fan of Jake E. Lee and the work he did with Ozzy and Badlands, I am glad that he is made the decision to record music again. Man, those two Badlands albums rocked hard. Tried to find them on Spotify and no dice. Even the new Red Dragon Cartel song is nowhere to be found. Lucky YouTube has the Badlands albums streaming in full.

He is doing it all wrong. He is doing it the same way he did in 1986. This is 2013 and the music business model that worked when Jake E. Lee was at the peak of his fame does not work today.

Frontiers Records signed the project. Are there any Classic Eighties metal/rock bands or stars that Frontiers haven’t signed?

Of course the new slab of songs will move a couple of thousand in sales due to hard-core Jake E. Lee fans from the Ozzy and Badlands days and then what. Go on a small club tour, do a few festivals and then what.

Jake E. Lee needs a presence online at the minimum. Release a couple of songs and get people talking about them. See how the songs connect. Having only a Facebook account today just doesn’t cut it. If no one is biting it’s because they are not interested and that the songs are not good enough.

The lyric video for Feeder has over 48,000 views. The song is nothing really earth shattering. There is no classic riff that will stick around forever and a day to haunt my eardrums. The comments on YouTube are varied. People dig Robin Zander on vocals, but don’t like the guitars on the song. Then the comments started on the other song, Deceived. That song has the touring vocalist, Darren Smith singing. And the comments are not pretty. Maybe Jake needs a re-think on the vocalist. Maybe the fans are used to the pipes on Ray Gillen. Whatever the case is, Jake E. Lee needs to communicate with his fans if he wants to make an impact.

Sales are a one to one relationship. It starts and ends with a single transaction. The band/label gets the money and the fan gets the music.

What is the streaming policy? That is a one to many relationship that can be tracked. Data is the new currency in the music business. More so than the record sales. As an artist, you need to know who your fans are? Are they listening to your music.

If they sell less than 10,000 units, does that make the project a dud?

If anything, Jake E. Lee is basically an independent artist again. Frontiers Records doesn’t go out of its way to market any of their releases. Trust me, I am on their mailing list and all I get is the obligatory press release email saying a new release is coming out for so and so band. That’s it.

The reality that escapes Frontiers Records and the acts they sign is that music consumption and marketing have changed dramatically.

Try telling that to musicians. All musicians place a certain value on what they do. It is the usual “we poured our heart and soul” cliché. The funny thing is that worked once upon a time, when the Record Labels acted as Gatekeepers. It doesn’t work today and that is where the problems begin for musicians. They have no idea how to properly market themselves and they fail to understand the simply economics of supply and demand.

Marketing is difficult. Look at the musicians that make up Red Dragon Cartel. On vocals you have Darren Smith from Harem Scarem and Warmachine. In July he was involved in another project called Heavens Fire. How is he going to market himself? He is the lead vocalist and he has no presence. Jonas Fairley is doing his Twitter thing which is cool to see and Ronnie Mancuso is part of the same Eighties brigade as Jake E.Lee, expecting their names and the label to push the band.

You see each musician needs to market themselves in their own way. Look at Five Finger Death Punch. Each member markets themselves. The same for Motley Crue, Metallica, Avenged Sevenfold, Machine Head and so on.

The 2013 music world is littered with new releases. This is a far cry from the gatekeeper controlled release windows of the record labels. With so much supply of hard rock, blues rock and heavy metal music, the demand to listen to it all is just not there. That is why we gravitate to what people talk about. We feel like someone has done the homework for us.

The expectation that most artists have is that since they have talent, can write a song and love what they do, they should be able to charge people to listen. The reality is that there are thousands of bands trying to reach the same fans that are very careful with the money they spend on music.

Music was never a sure thing. The music world is grown bigger and way more competitive.

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Alternate Reality, Copyright, Derivative Works, Music, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Imagine A World With Copyright Terms Reduced To 40 Years..

Should songs still be under Copyright forty years after they have been released?

In Australia (as well as a lot of other countries) a copyright for a sound recording or a film lasts for the life of the creator + 70 years.

In my opinion this is ridiculous.

Is this what Copyright has become? A pension fund for the creator and their family members. Also with large Corporations technically owning a lot of the copyrights of creators, it is safe to say that Copyright has become a weapon to stifle creativity.

It is common for people to see that the purpose of Copyright as a means to compensate the creator of the content. Hell, that is what Wikipedia states as well, along with the large labels and movie studios . In fact, Copyright was never designed solely for this purpose.

In Australia it was stated that the purpose of Copyright law was;
…to give to the author of a creative work his just reward for the benefit he has bestowed on the community and also to encourage the making of further creative works. On the other hand, as copyright in the nature of a monopoly, the law should ensure, as far as possible, that the rights conferred are not abused and that study, research and education are not unduly hampered.”

In the U.S, the Constitution’s clause on Copyright and patents states:
“To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries” (Article I, Section 8, Clause 8)

In today’s terms, both countries are saying that the purpose is to reward the creator and to ensure that maximum creativity is happening.

John Lennon didn’t sing imagine a world with reduced copyright terms however he should have.

Let’s just say that the copyright of a song is 40 years from when it was first released. To make the law even simpler, let’s just say that the 40 years starts from when the song is first released. So if the song is remastered 10 years later or released as a live version, it doesn’t matter. The 40 years starts from when the song is released.

That would mean that all songs from 1972 and before would have been in the public domain at the start of 2013.

That would mean albums from Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Eric Clapton, Cream, Rolling Stones, Yes, Pink Floyd and many others would be in the Public Domain.

Would that affect those bands in any way?

Would it affect the people who wrote the songs?

Lets look at Led Zeppelin. If copyright is 40 years from when the song was first released that would mean that Led Zeppelin I to Led Zeppelin IV would be copyright free. That means all of those songs are available to use.

Imagine all the music that would be created by building on the material. Image all the music that would be created by remixing, sampling and re-using the songs. All of those songs would available for people to re-record without any restrictions. It will not diminish the original songs in any way. It would give them a second life and a new audience.

Why should any creator in 2013 be stifled by over-reaching copyright laws when it comes to creating art?

The acts from the Sixties and Seventies, brazenly borrowed and built upon songs that already existed. Keith Richards even said that you can’t copyright the blues. All of those bands infringed heavily on other people’s copyright. However back then the Copyright monopolies didn’t exist, so it was okay.

Surely the 40 year monopoly that artists from the Sixties and Seventies have on the music they created is sufficient compensation for their creations. However copyright is still seen as a major profit line in the business model of artists. Since the Government and the large players have focused almost exclusively on monetizing via copyright, they will argue until they are black and blue any attempt to change copyright as they see change as an attack on their incomes.

Seriously, who do you think will be holding the copyright to the Led Zeppelin songs, 10 years after Jimmy Page and Robert Plant have passed. Trust me, it will not be the family members. It will be the corporations and the record labels. They will hold the monopoly on these songs. You can see it happening now with Disney and how they are stopping Mickey Mouse from entering the public domain by lobbying for longer copyright terms.

So what new songs would these corporations be creating by holding a monopoly on the copyright. The answer is simple. NOTHING.

Remember that Copyright was also designed so people are inspired to create more. So what has Jimmy Page created in the last 15 years. The answer is nothing. There is nothing wrong with that either, because he can rely on his copyright monopoly and issue box sets every 2 to 3 years. Since 1990, Jimmy Page has issued 13 box sets of Led Zeppelin’s seventies output. In 23 years, Jimmy Page has released the same music, over and over again 13 times.

Remember, copyright is to give to the author of a creative work his just reward for the benefit he has bestowed on the community and also to encourage the making of further creative works. So what happened to the further creative works.

I love Jimmy Page and he is a huge influence on me. However, apart from the excellent Coverdale/Page project and his reunion with Robert Plant, his creative output has been poor since the start of the Nineties. Even in the Eighties, Jimmy Page’s output pales in comparison to Robert Plant’s recorded output and work ethic.

By the way did you see that BitTorrent traffic is down in the U.S? How can that be, especially when the labels and the movie studios are still screaming piracy and copyright infringement.

It’s funny what some innovation can do. That is how you compete today. You innovate, not stagnate. NetFlix and YouTube account for 50% of all net traffic.

However in Europe and other parts of the world, access to the latest films and TV shows is not as instant so unauthorised BitTorrent users continue to grow there.

The labels and their back-handed politicians will argue that their six strike policy is the reason why BitTorrent traffic is down. I would argue back that all that has done is increase the use of Dark Nets.

This is what the article said on that;
“The use of “dark nets” such as Tor and encrypted digital lockers is growing in popularity. These can be harder to track.”

So get ready for the next round of b.s from the labels and their lobby groups. We need Google to do more to stop copyright infringement, we need dark nets to be busted to save our children, we need cloud services stopped because they encourage racketeering and copyright infringement on a grand scale.

They will complain about everything, except innovate. Spotify wasn’t created by the music industry. Pandora wasn’t created by the music industry. iTunes wasn’t created by the music industry. The iPod wasn’t created by the music industry. NetFlix wasn’t created by the movie industry. Napster wasn’t created by the music industry. YouTube wasn’t created by the music business.

But the entertainment industries spin it like it was them that created these legal alternatives. The truth is they where dragged kicking and screaming into these new technologies.

BitTorrent traffic down: http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-24911187

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Music Isn’t Just About Record Sales

Change is hard and in the end it is always worthwhile. There is a cliché that goes that after being fired or rejected or dumped one door closes and a million other doors open that will lead to a better place. It is true, however the main part that nobody talks about is how long it’s going to take to get to that better place.

The highs of success and fame are brief. It begins to fade and then what are you going to do next?

Vince Neil

On July 6, 2013, Vince Neil played a solo show in Mexico City. The venue was Jose Cuervo Salon. The capacity of the venue is 1,500. The attendance was 64 people. That’s right, less than 5% of the total venue size. Total Gross sales for the night was $2,286. There was only one ticket price at $35.72. So does anyone really care about Vince Neil outside of Motley Crue? Based on the ticket sales, Mexico sure don’t.

What a hard truth that is? Music is a tough business and this is what happens when you go out every night with Motley Crue and sing out of tune. Also why is he touring. He hasn’t released anything new recently. Also when he does tour, all he does is play Motley Crue songs. No one wants to hear Vince Neil do Motley again. I don’t know why, as there are some great songs in the Vince Neil catalogue that fans would love to hear live.

His debut album “Exposed” celebrated 20 years this year. He should have commemorated that release? It is a great album and there is an audience for it. It might mean he plays smaller venues that fit a couple of hundred. However he needs to sing in tune to get people to come back time and time again.

It is a good thing he is getting into the restaurant business and the Tequila/Wine business.

Classic Rock and Southern Rock Rule in Gilford, New Hampshire

On July 3, 2013, the Gigantour tour hit Gilford, New Hampshire. The venue was Meadowbrook. The capacity of the venue is 6,657. The attendance was 1,308. That’s right, 1,308 people turned up to watch Megadeth, Black Label Society, Device and Hellyeah. Total Gross sales for the night was $49,860. There was three tiers of ticket prices ranging from $42, $33 and $23.75.

My first opinion was that the low attendance is due to the poor recent albums put out by the bands involved. Don’t get me wrong, all of those albums are worthy of a listen, but there is nothing really engaging to go back for seconds.

This show should have been a sell-out. The Gigantour tour has never hit Gilford, New Hampshire before. So it is not a market that has seen the Gigantour tour before. However, if you take just the town of Gilford and its population of 7000, then you see it is a small market and the attendance of 1,308 people is not a bad result. Add to the mix that other rock shows are playing the same venue in the weeks leading up to the Gigantour show and in the weeks after, you start to form a different viewpoint.

With most shows a lot of people come from surrounding towns as well. I know in Australia that Sydney is the place that most bands play, however the audience is derived from places in NSW that are a decent hour or three or five away from Sydney.

On July 9, 2013, Daughtry, 3 Doors Down, Halestorm and Bad Seed Rising also played the Meadowbrook at Gilford, New Hampshire. The attendance was 2,718 in a venue that fits 6,219 (for this shows the capacity was reduced due to the stage size). Total Gross sales for the night was $142,431. There was four tiers of ticket prices ranging from $59.50, $49.50, $39.50 and $29.50.

Again not even half full. Daughtry is a platinum selling major label backed super star. 3 Doors Down are also in the same league, although they haven’t reached the same heights as the early two thousands and Halestorm are Grammy award winners. So what’s gone wrong. Lynyrd Skynyrd and Bad Company is what went wrong.

On July 26, 2013, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Bad Company also played the Meadowbrook at Gilford, New Hampshire. The attendance was 6,671 in a venue that fits 6,671 (that’s right people, classic rock and southern rock sold out the venue). Total Gross sales for the night was $407,641. There was three tiers of ticket prices ranging from $79, $59 and $33.25.

Classic rock and southern rock trumped everyone. Lynyrd Skynyrd released “Last of a Dyin’ Breed” in August 2012 however that album was dead and buried by the July 2013. Bad Company on the other hand haven’t released anything worthwhile for a long time. However when you combine the two acts, put a 40th Anniversary name to the tour and you have people from that era interested. Lynyrd Skynyrd’s first album release and Bad Company’s formation happened 40 years ago. To prove my point, I am going to watch Bon Jovi in Sydney, because I want my kids to experience it.

Classic Rock Rules Part II

On July 19, 2013, Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band played a show in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The venue was the MTS Centre. The capacity of the venue is 8,397. The attendance was 8,397. Total Gross sales for the night was $724,948. There was two tiers of ticket prices ranging from $107.15 and $63.31.

Talk about turning the page. What a comeback from the man with the golden voice? Thank Metallica for their cover of “Turn The Page” in 1998. The Metallica version made Bob Seger cool with the metal community and who can forget the Metallica clip with Ginger Lynn.

Another turning point for Bob Seger’s comeback was 3 Doors Down and heir song “Landing In London” that Bob Seger sang on.

Once “Landing In London” came out in 2005, interest in Bob Seger was renewed. It was followed by a new album in 2006 and a few Greatest Hits / Live packages in between.

Guess what else is happening in the world of Bob Seger? A new album is on its way. Isn’t that like the old guard. He is hot at the moment so let’s release a new album. Why don’t the people that advise Seger release a new song first and see how it resonates with the public before dropping a slab of them.

Classic Rock III

On July 2, 2013, Alice Cooper played a show at South Bend, Indiana. The venue was Morris Performing Arts Center. The capacity of the venue is 2,552. The attendance was 1,662. Total Gross sales for the night was $77,967. There was two tiers of ticket prices ranging from $69.50 and $39.50.

This is Alice Cooper fresh from his run with Marilyn Manson that ended in June. This show was billed as “An Evening With Alice Cooper” and it was his first show in South Bend in 4 years. There is still juice in the tank of a cultural icon.

On July 28, 2013, Ted Nugent and Laura Wilde played a show in Nashville, Tennessee. The venue was the Ryman Auditorium. The capacity of the venue is 2,037. The attendance was 1,254. Total Gross sales for the night was $67,893. There was two tiers of ticket prices ranging from $59.50 and $39.50.

Just like Alice Cooper, Ted was coming off a Classic Rock run with REO Speedwagon and Styx. As with Alice, there is still life left in our favourite gun toting / wildlife hunter.

Wish they would take a leaf out of the Black Star Riders playbook? Their album, “All Hell Breaks Loose” is a great slab of classic rock songs. I was always a fan of Rick Warwick from The Almighty days so it was great to hear him rocking out again with a Phil Lynott swagger this time around, instead of a Brian Johnson swagger.

What Does A Grammy Award or Nomination Mean in 2013?

Halestorm (along with Age Of Days) played a show on June 26, 2013 at Edmonton, Alberta. The venue was the Starlite Room. The capacity of the venue was 700. The attendance was 492 and the total gross sales for the night was $12,778. There was two tiers of ticket prices ranging from $27.61 and $24.76.

Halestorm are still paying their dues. The Grammy win means nothing to today’s music public. The record labels that pay the entry fee are the ones that can compete. It’s got nothing to do with public opinion.

Hell, Dream Theater and Megadeth were nominated for Grammies last year and their current albums can’t move past the 100,000 mark in sales. If the music is great it will sell itself.

Both Dream Theater and Megadeth should look up the Wikipedia entry of “Instant Karma” from John Lennon.
“It ranks as one of the fastest-released songs in pop music history, recorded at London’s Abbey Road Studios the same day it was written, and arriving in stores only ten days later. Lennon remarked to the press, he “wrote it for breakfast, recorded it for lunch, and we’re putting it out for dinner.”

This is what both bands need to be doing. Writing some new material ASAP. Forgot about the next album or the tour coming up and go back into the studio and churn a couple of songs out. Surprise us for Christmas.

Alice In Chains is still powerful

On July 11, 2013, Alice In Chains played a show in London, Ontario, Canada. The venue was Budweiser Gardens. The capacity of the venue is 5,248. The attendance was 4,801. Total Gross sales for the night was $237,558. There was two tiers of ticket prices ranging from $56.57 and $30.90.

I can’t say I am a fan of the new Alice In Chains album. It’s pedestrian. However the fans are there. If they are there because of the old or the new or both, it doesn’t matter. The band is a quarter of a million per show band.

Power Metal Rules In Europe

On April 18, 2013, Helloween, Gamma Ray and Shadowside played a Power Metal feast in Hamburg, Germany. The venue was the Docks. The capacity of the venue is 1,500. The attendance was 1,171. Total Gross sales for the night was $51,299. There was two tiers of ticket prices ranging from $52.52 and $43.33.

You have German bands playing in Germany. Enough said. The thing with power metal bands is that they know the size of their audience. You won’t see them playing venues larger than the above size. Maybe 3000 max. it is a niche and it has a hard core and devoted fan base. They even have power metal outdoor festivals where fans even get dressed up in medieval clothing and enact sword fights and so forth.

This is a good indication of bands still carving out a living in a time where they have no promotion in the large US market. This is a good indication of bands still carving out a living in a time where people download music illegally or stream it legally.

The Black Crowes still do good business

On July 19, 2013, The Black Crowes, Tedeschi Trucks Band and The London Souls played a show in Nashville, Tennesse. The venue was the Woods Amphitheater at Fontanel. The capacity of the venue is 4,056. The attendance was 3,273. Total Gross sales for the night was $215,641. There was two tiers of ticket prices ranging from $115 and $49.50.

I watched The Black Crowes at the Wollongong Entertainment Centre on April 1, 2008. The venue had less than a thousand people in attendance in a venue that has a capacity of around 10,000, so the stage was moved heaps forward to accommodate for the smaller audience.

It was the best show I saw. They jammed, they extended songs and just had fun. Rich Robinson was the sheriff. He was the one they all looked too for when the jam starts and when the jam ends.

That is a sign of a true champion. The night before, they played to a sold out Sydney audience 70 minutes away. They could have chucked a hissy fit at the small turn out for the Wollongong show, however they didn’t. They came out and they rocked.

There is plenty of money available in music and the more people that have access to your recorded music means more fans that could turn into customers.

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The Development Of Zoltan Bathory – Grit and Determination

Raw talent has to mature. So what we have is the artists that stick with music and mature themselves. All the other wannabes got out when they realised that there sole purpose of being involved in music was driven by money and fame. So when those artists that do stick around break through, guess what happens. The majors come knocking with big money.

It is interesting to hear or read about an artist’s development and the things they did to get to where they are today.

If you look at the Wikipedia page for Zoltan Bathory, the earliest musical output you get is from 2004, where he played bass in the band “U.P.O”. However his story begins a long time, in communist Hungary.

So he grows up in a country where the average person is making pennies. In dollars speak it was like a hundred dollars a month. It doesn’t leave a lot of money lying around for guitars, amplifiers and record purchases. He wants to be a heavy metal guitarist, however that music is censored. He wants to be a heavy metal guitarist but he doesn’t speak English. He is basically trying to succeed in a genre that doesn’t technically have a voice in communist Hungary.

You can see already the grit and determination exhibited by Zoltan just to even get to America. Compared that with people who are cruising on sub-standard effort and constantly told that everything they do is great. You can see that an edge exists in Zoltan’s corner.

Determination has been part of Zoltan’s mindset since childhood. I remember reading an interview that his parents enrolled him in judo classes in an attempt to temper his schoolyard aggression and how that discipline has served him well as he got older.

So he puts together a band that would become Five Finger Death Punch. The band is his first thought in the morning and his last thought at night. He lived and breathed the band. Even the style of music that Five Finger Death Punch produce wasn’t very popular at the time. It was Hard Rock, merged with Thrash Metal, merged with Death Metal and classic Euro Heavy Metal.

I have heard bands like Accept, W.A.S.P., Slayer, Cannibal Corpse, Death, Possessed and Annihilator mentioned as early influences.

It was all underground. They had no label but they had people connecting with them on MySpace in the thousands. The record labels started to take notice as this underground band where getting more views and plays than their major label artists.

The first album was recorded on their own. They produced it and paid for it. The version that we all got to hear was the Five Finger Death Punch version. The label at the time just picked it up and released it.

If you look at Five Finger Death Punch in 2013, every single member came from bands that had some level of recognition before. Jason Hook goes back to the late Eighties and early Nineties, with ties to hard rock bands, plus various session work and backing bands for pop stars.

Ivan Moody goes back to the mid Nineties before achieving some recognition with Motograter and his side project Ghost Machine.

Drummer Jeremy Spencer has a similar story to Jason Hook. Hard Rock bands are attached to their stories.

Bassist Chris Kael was doing the Las Vegas circuit with various bands and had made enough contacts to vouch for him when the Five Finger Death Punch bass auditions happened.

They took a risk on their music. They gambled. They didn’t know it would resonate and connect with people the way it did. If the music is good, there’s a ton of money to be made. Not all of that money would be on recorded music.

Five Finger Death Punch are winning because they DID THE WORK…
Five Finger Death Punch are winning because they kick ass…
Five Finger Death Punch are winning because they rock each place they visit…

That’s the way rock and roll works.

Life is tough and no one is owed nothing.

People want bands to make a living because we all want to be involved in some way. It makes us feel good on helping artists by going to a show, buying some merchandise or by purchasing their recorded product.

Remember that all of the music that Five Finger Death Punch has released is available on line for free to either stream, view or illegally download. Yet, they still sell. Funny that.

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

The Winners In Music are always the Gamblers

REFORMS and CHANGES present challenges for every business. So why should it be any different for the Music and Entertainment Business?

AMC is a large power player in TV at the moment. So if they employ the Record Label business model, AMC should now scream piracy and get different laws passed to help protect their past incomes.

However they are not doing that? AMC recently announced that two new pilots have been ordered in Galyntine (which looks like a competitor for Revolution) and Knifeman (set in 18th century London and telling a story about a genius who challenges the normality of society in his quest to discover.) On top of that they already have ordered pilots for Line of Sight, Preacher, Raiders, The Terror, an Untitled The Walking Dead Spin-off and White City. Add to this list shows that passed the pilot stage and are in the scripted stage, with debuts set for 2014 like Better Call Saul, Halt & Catch Fire, Turn and King Of Arms.

That is a lot of gambles they are taking in order to remain relevant. Are the record labels doing that? Are artists doing that?

Then you have Netflix. Netflix is an innovator when it comes to movies. They provide a service to fans that the actual movie studios refused to provide.

Recently they branched out in original programming. House Of Cards was a success. Not just the show, but the way Netflix released it. This is the “all at once/binge viewing” model. This is what fans want today instead of the old school weekly episodes model.

So it was only a matter of time before other players came knocking on Netflix’s door. And that was Marvel.

Marvel will produce five shows for the platform, one each about heroes Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage (formerly known as Power Man) and Iron Fist. The four individual superhero shows will then merge into a fifth show called The Defenders where the four heroes work together as a team. If these shows prove to be popular, no one knows, however it is a risk that a lot of people are taking.

The above demonstrates that entertainment is all about the new. If artists are not investing in their future, they might as well scream piracy or move into another career.

In business, you need to adjust your way of doing things to suit the reforms, otherwise you will go out of business. So why is it that in the Entertainment business, the major players need laws to be re-written, they need people prosecuted, they need websites taken down, they need the police to act on evidence provided by the Lobby Groups and they just scream and complain about everything else.

Music was always a risk game. The great success stories in the music business always came from left field. Even now, if you look at the great mainstream success stories recently, no one predicted Adele to sell over 10 million albums of her “21” album and she did that with her album available for free on all the illegal downloading sites.

No one expected an unknown New Zealand singer Lorde to out sell “the superstars – backed by a huge marketing budget” like Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus. Of course, she got a big boost by Sean Parker, who added her song “Royals” to his Hipster Spotify list, which has over 800,000 followers.

Money spent building up and marketing an artist doesn’t always make money. What the label or the A&R rep believes in doesn’t always equate to what the fans of music believe in.

No one predicted that the self-produced and financed Five Finger Death Punch debut album would be certified GOLD in the US, three years after its release. “The Way Of The Fist” was released and distributed via Finnish record label Spinefarm in Europe and in America it was distributed via artist and talent management company The Firm. They didn’t even have a major label behind them.

The album came out on July 31, 2007 in the U.S, selling only 5,400 copies in its first week and debuting at No. 199 on the Billboard 200 chart. In relation to charting, its highest position was No. 107 on the Billboard 200 chart. However, the album just kept on selling on a weekly basis and it was certified gold by the R.I.A.A for selling in excess of 500,000 copies as of April 1, 2010. Don’t be surprised if the album is certified platinum by 2015.

There is plenty of money to be made if the artist is good and if the artist is in a position to take it. If the music is poor, then it is no one’s fault except the artist.

No one has a guarantee that they will make it in the music business. No one is entitled to make it in the music business.

That is what art is all about. Entertainment is not a safety net. It is always about the new. If artists can get by in music, good luck. If they can’t, then they need to write better songs. No one cares if family and friends like the song.

In Australia, we have a shortfall of skilled fitters and machinists. We are even importing them from overseas. However to be musicians, the queues stretch across city blocks when X Factor, Voice, Idol and Got Talent shows hit town.

Today there is a new generation of artist that have grown up with the “everyone gets a trophy” paradigm regardless of how good they are. So you have a new generation cruising on sub-standard effort. It is those artists that didn’t play in the local soccer team that end up succeeding.

In my opinion, the music business began to decline when the label executives tried to become as famous as the artists. That is when the labels stopped caring about music and started caring about the Forbes Top 100 and profits. That was when reforms, innovation and changes went out the window, to be replaced by maintaining the profits that came.

In relation to profits, if artists are not making any money from music, what that means is that they are basically not good enough at the moment to capitalise. This applies to artists starting off, to artists paying their dues and to artists who were once successful. Artists need to realise that they are not entitled to people’s attention today based on past victories.

Look at your local sporting franchise. When they start losing, they struggle to fill stadiums, however when they are winning, no one can get a ticket.

In relation to music, I love Metallica, however everything they have done since the Black album has been worth a listen, but that’s it. There is no desire to go back and give it multiple spins. To prove my point, go and name the full track list of Reload without Googling it. However, they have taken gambles. St Anger was a gamble, the symphony concert was a gamble, the LULU project was a gamble and the 3D movie was a gamble. Some pay off and some don’t.

YouTube and Spotify allow us to sample and move on. If it is great, we stick around. But the music industry complains.

The truck drivers that transport CD’s are out of work, the people who work at the CD manufacturing warehouses are out of a job, the $2000 a day recording studios are out of business because people can record at home. Finally, you have the recording industry propping up the large record stores like HMV.

It’s not like anyone wants to go back to the days when we paid twenty dollars to buy an album, just to get home and find out it’s terrible. It’s not like we want to go back to the days of not being able to afford the great records that we couldn’t hear because we outlaid our money on duds the week before.

If the music is that good, the fans will come out to seek it and when we do, the artist needs to be in a position that they can capitalise on it as there’s plenty of money to be made.

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

It’s all MIRRORS and MISDIRECTION: Tilting Against Windmills with Protest The Hero

That vocal section in “Tilting Against Windmills” from about 2.28 with the lyric “Father Forgive me for I have sinned” sounds huge. It’s epic and it just comes out of nowhere. Isn’t it funny how a small section totally makes the song. The whole “Volition” album is full of great sections.

“Without Prejudice” has the base line that comes out at about 3:10 which just builds to a mad climax. It also has an awesome lyric line. “Jump from the nearest tallest building and reach new heights.” What a brilliant way to say the clichéd and overused Reach For The Sky term.

“Clarity” has the excellent lyric line of ‘This drought is relieved with acid rain”. Love the lyrical statement.

“Yellow Teeth” has a mad chorus guitar melody.

“Plato’s Tripartite” has a tough progressive bit from about 2:54 to 3:32.

“A Life Embossed” has an awesome progressive guitar lead that starts at 3:44.

“Mist” has the major key ending with the dark lyric line of “You’re as deep as the grave, marching to the heartbeat of the land.” It just comes out of nowhere and after a chaotic math metal interlude.

The last song “Skies” is the perfect closer. It feels like it’s got some subliminal message that says, “play me again… play me again… play play play….”

Every song on “Volition” has something that just stands up and slaps you in the face with awesomeness. I am starting to sound like Bill and Ted. And what about the drumming. It is a tragedy that Chris Adler isn’t touring on the back of this release. Everything just sounds more powerful. From the double kick to the hitting of the skins.

I decided to do some Google searches on Protest The Hero because that is what we do these days. I was at first interested to see what kind of gear they use which is a pretty basic set up. Then in my searches I came across some YouTube clips of them giving tutorials for some of their songs.

All I can say is Whoaaa….

First off, I wanted to break my guitar, just because they make what they are playing look so easy. What I am finding out is that by “trying” to take on some of their stuff it is opening myself to a whole new world of composition and it is breaking me out of my rut.

I also watched some interviews with the guys as well and they talked about their influences especially Paul Gilbert and John Petrucci. What was funny to me is that they actually aren’t major Rush fans at all, which I thought was bizarre as they are Canadian and Rush is Canadian. Rhythm guitarist Tim Millar said something like “I have like a Greatest Hits album but that’s about it”.

Even before the Ron Jarzombek connection on “Drumhead Trial” I was always saying to anyone who listened to me that Protest The Hero remind me of Watchtower, a technical thrash band from the Eighties. Watchtower released a brilliant album called “Control and Resistance”. I remember picking it up for $2 in a second hard record store around 1989. What a bargain?

In relation to Watchtower and their album “Control And Resistance” this is what Guitar World said about it in a list of Top Ten Shred Albums of the 80’s.

“Sounding like the twisted scion of Metallica and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, WatchTower was the most brilliant weird band of its time. Guitarist Ron Jarzombek, with his complex harmony solos, strange scales and furious staccato lead bursts, performs tricks on his guitar that will leave you more than sufficiently breathless.”

Their 2nd singer Jason McMaster was tapped to join Pantera before Phil Anselmo joined. Then he left and formed a hard rock band called Dangerous Toys and had some mainstream success. The original guitarist Billy White also went all hard rock and joined Don Dokken for his solo project (and was also the main songwriter on it). Remember the album “Up From The Ashes.” The bass player Doug Keyser was asked to audition for Metallica after Cliff Burton died. Watchtower has a history man with so many different MIRRORS and MISDIRECTION.

Also another band that Protest The Hero always reminded me off is Leviathan, another progressive technical metal/rock band. Their album “Deepest Secrets Beneath” is essential listening.

I’ve cranked “Volition” to death already, so yesterday I decided to go through some other progressive bands. I played the new Dream Theater, played Periphery II and played Tesseract “Altered State” and then went back to “Volition”.

Progressive music is in a good place as far as I’m concerned.

All four bands mentioned above have different and unique sounds but yet are undeniably progressive. Protest The Hero is by far the most intense, and I think that’s why they stand out above the rest.

Listening to the new Dream Theater and then going back to “Volition” was a real eye opener. I hold Dream Theater in high regard from a technical point of view, however the stuff that Protest The Hero do is technical to the max and it’s the tempo they do it in that gives this overwhelming impression.

It just made listening to Dream Theater sound so slow and old. Speaking of old bands, the new Fates Warning album is better than Dream Theater’s self-titled album. I really dig what Fates Warning is all about, merging hard rock, with Tool/Porcupine Tree/atmospheric Pink Floyd like movements and Iron Maiden style lead breaks. Plus as a Dream Theater fan, Fates Warning get Kevin Moore to contribute with each album.

When I was going through the booklet I noticed that their producer Cameron McLellan was involved a lot in the song writing process. It’s no surprise that he is filling in for bassist Arif Mirabdolbaghi. Like how un-metal is that. He pulled out of the U.S tour because he is involved in a stage play and because the recording ran over the tour dates conflict with the dates of the stage play. So of course for the US tour Cameron McLellan is filling in for him.

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