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

A Day In The Life – Leaks and Sales with Dream Theater, Avenged Sevenfold, Coheed and Cambria, Five Finger Death Punch, Black Sabbath, Trivium, Stryper and Protest The Hero

In the lead up to the release of any widely sought after album there is one certainty. The album will leak ahead of its official release date.

So in order to circumvent this problem, artists (in conjunction with their backers/labels) are organising early stream deals of their new music (a legal way to say “album leak”).

Dream Theater and Roadrunner went all nuclear with their corporate deals for their self-titled album, which had sales on the board for the first 5 weeks and for the last 2 weeks – nothing. Since Roadrunner was cashed up due to the departure of Machine Head and Megadeth, they placed those extra dollars into Dream Theater. Was it a good investment?

Five Finger Death Punch on the other hand are doing it a touch different. They are doing all their pre-release streams, in conjunction with YouTube track by track stories of each song, along with promotional video clips plus live performances.

Avenged Sevenfold added a full live show of the “Hail To The King” album to their pre-album stream promotional campaign.

Trivium’s new album leaked a whole week before the actual pre-release stream of the album (and a full two weeks before their album came out). They kept on dropping songs in their set list’s and they also released full version streams of certain songs.

There is no sure-fire way to prevent leaks, however how an artist reacts is important.

The new Protest The Hero album leaked on Torrent Sites a week before it’s actual release date. So what did Protest The Hero do? They set up a fan connection, that allowed the fans that contributed to the making of the album to download it from a secure site. They made sure that the real fans had music in a high quality rip, along with a 50 page plus digital PDF and artwork. Then when they realised that ending of the song “Mist” was cut short in the download that they offered, they rectified it, by offering the song as a stand alone download.

Anyone who tries to stop a record from leaking is going against the way of the world.

The focus for the artist is to give the fans that legally pre-order an album access to it as soon as they are aware of the leak. This is hard when artists put all of this into the hands of the record label and the record label puts it all in the hands of brick and mortar stores, iTunes or Amazon.

Artists like Coheed and Cambria (via their http://modlife.com/coheedandcambria) website have a huge advantage over bands that continue to be ignorant as to who their fans are and in what cities their fans reside.

Protest The Hero now has a list of 8000 plus devotees that they can use to further their cause. They have their addresses, so they have an idea as to what cities and markets to hit. Other successful fan funded campaigners also have this advantage. You see the most important currency in 2013 is data.

As a band you would want to know which fans always order the Super Deluxe packs, which fans download your music, which fans stream your music and which fans purchase CD versions of the album. This is where the bands should be pushing the fans to purchase from their own web stores.

So looking at sales of music today how relevant are they. So many different metrics exist. Streaming, YouTube views, mp3 downloads and physical sales

Let’s look at the sales in the U.S of Dream Theater (by the way all sales figures are quoted from the excellent http://www.metalinsider.net website.

Week 1 – 2nd October 2013 – 33,950 sold
Week 2 – 9th October 2013 – 8,300 sold
Week 3 – 16th October 2013 – 4,275 sold
Week 4 – 23rd October 2013 – 2,950 sold
Week 5 – 30th October 2013 – 2,350 sold
Week 6 – 6th November 2013 – nothing reported
Week 7 – 13th November 2013 – nothing reported
Week 8 – 21st November 2013 – nothing reported

The above is a familiar cycle for Dream Theater with each album cycle. The numbers you could say have been pretty close with each album release since “Systematic Chaos.”

So is the new album a dud. From a record label point of view, I believe so. Roadrunner invested heavily in Dream Theater after they lost Machine Head and Megadeth. Has it paid off for them? I don’t believe so.

From a fan perspective, I don’t mind it, however it wasn’t good enough to take up room on my iPhone. The bizarre part in all of this is the gap between the album release and the tour beginning.

By January 2014, the album is old news. Whoever thought it was a good idea to leave a three-month gap between the album release date and the tour start date should be fired immediately.

Three months in the current music business is an eternity. It looks like Dream Theater is getting some bad advice and to be honest they are shooting themselves in the foot.

Dream Theater need to hit the studio again for December 2013 and release a few more songs as free digital downloads. Maybe even get in some outside assistance in editing the musical pieces into actual songs.

What about Avenged Sevenfold? How are they tracking at the moment?

Week 1 – 4th September 2013 – 159,375 sold
Week 2 – 12th September 2013 – 42,000 sold
Week 3 – 18th September 2013 – 22,900 sold
Week 4 – 25th September 2013 – 17,800 sold
Week 5 – 2nd October 2013 – 15,200 sold
Week 6 – 9th October 2013 – 13,700 sold
Week 7 – 16th October 2013 – 13,700 sold
Week 8 – 23rd October 2013 – 9,634 sold
Week 9 – 30th October 2013 – 8,750 sold
Week 10 – 6th November 2013 – 7,600 sold
Week 11 – 13th November 2013 – 7,325 sold
Week 12 – 21st November 2013 – 6,900 sold

Looks like Avenged Sevenfold are going to ensure their legacy. Call this album what we will, what is clear is that it is successful. It has high stream counts, high YouTube views and decent sales on the board. They are on the road at the moment supporting it.

Shows are being added into next year. It is obvious that Avenged Sevenfold are getting better advice than Dream Theater is.

With every successful act, the haters come out. A lot of the online news sites are trying to portray this imaginary war between Robb Flynn and Avenged Sevenfold. It is all a load of crap. Online news sites are there to sell advertising. They sell advertising by getting people to bite to the stories. To make up a feud between two different bands is an advertisers dreams.

The Avenged Sevenfold album sold more in week one than Dream Theater’s self-titled album will sell in total. In week 6, the Avenged Sevenfold album sold more than Dream Theater’s self-titled album which was in week 2 of its sale cycle.

What about Five Finger Death Punch? They just released the second part of “The Wrong Side Of Heaven and The Righteous Side Of Hell.” So how is Volume 1 going at the moment.

Week 1 – 7th August 2013 – 112,500 sold
Week 2 – 14th August 2013 – 35,275 sold
Week 3 – 21st August 2013 – 22,050 sold
Week 4 – 28th August 2013 – 17,250 sold
Week 5 – 4th September 2013 – 22,450 sold
Week 6 – 11th September 2013 – 13,375 sold
Week 7 – 18th September 2013 – 9,250 sold
Week 8 – 25th September 2013 – 8,200 sold
Week 9 – 2nd October 2013 – 6,975 sold
Week 10 – 9th October 2013 – 6,625 sold
Week 11 – 16th October 2013 – 5,900 sold
Week 12 – 23rd October 2013 – 5,575 sold
Week 13 – 30th October 2013 – 5,200 sold
Week 14 – 6th November 2013 – 4,675 sold
Week 15 – 13th November 2013 – 4,200 sold
Week 16 – 21st November 2013 – 4,950 sold

What can you say about Five Finger Death Punch. All of their releases so far have achieved Gold status in the U.S. They basically have been selling albums since 2007. “American Capitalist” was certified GOLD almost two years after its release and just a few months before the release of “The Wrong Side of Heaven” duology.

The albums have some great songs on there that will make the casual metal fan commit to a purchase and they will be in an enviable position of having two albums selling at the same time.

A recent Revolver cover is showing Black Sabbath along with the comment, “Band Of The Year.” Are they serious? The beauty of mainstream rags. They kiss the butt of the PR company. Five Finger Death Punch is the band of the year. Avenged Sevenfold is the band of the year. Coheed and Cambria is the band of the year. These three bands have done way more than what Black Sabbath have achieved this year. So how did they go with the sales?

Week 1 – 19th June 2013 – 154,900 sold
Week 2 – 26th June 2013 – 45,525 sold
Week 3 – 3rd July 2013 – 25,300 sold
Week 4 – 8th July 2013 – 7,875 sold
Week 5 – 17th July 2013 – 11,950 sold
Week 6 – 24th July 2013 – 9,950 sold
Week 7 – 31st July 2013 – 8,500 sold
Week 8 – 7th August 2013 – 7,875 sold
Week 9 – 14th August 2013 – 6,550 sold
Week 10 – 21st August 2013 – 5,500 sold
Week 11 – 28th August 2013 – 4,675 sold
Week 12 – 4th September 2013 – 4,600 sold
Week 13 – 11th September 2013 – 4,100 sold
Week 14 – 18th September 2013 – 3,100 sold
Week 15 – 25th September 2013 – 2,400 sold
Week 16 – 2nd October 2013 – 2,025 sold
Week 17 – 9th October 2013 – 2,100 sold
Week 18 – 16th October 2013 – 1,900 sold
Week 19 – 23 October 2013 – no sales recorded
Week 20 – 30th October 2013 – 1,900 sold
Week 21 – 6th November 2013 – no sales recorded
Week 22 – 13th November 2013 – no sales recorded
Week 23 – 21st November 2013 – no sales recorded

A 20 week run of sales is a good thing in today’s terms. Even on Spotify, the following songs have gotten some traction;
End Of The Beginning – 959,385 streams
God Is Dead? – 1,252,767 streams
Loner – 669,762 streams
Zeitgeist – 590,057 streams
Age of Reason – 540,630 streams

What about Trivium? How is another Roadrunner act doing? This is album number six for Trivium and it’s a similar cycle to their previous album “In Waves” and a very similar trend to Dream Theater’s.

Week 1 – 23rd October 2013 – 17,225 sold
Week 2 – 30th October 2013 – 4,400 sold
Week 3 – 6th November 2013 – 2,575 sold
Week 4 – 13th November 2013 – 2,100 sold
Week 5 – 21st November 2013 – no sales recorded

Wow, that was a quick spiral out of the public consciousness. Reading the reviews of the album, a lot of people are blasting the Draiman influence on it. But hey people blasted the Bob Rock influence on certain bands as well. The bottom line is that Trivium delivered a great album that no one has really heard.

Protest the Hero was recorded as having a debut week ending 6th November of 8,775 sold and it was the guys best debut of all their albums. Amazing what a little fan funding does. If the guys hold it together, bigger things will come to fruition.

What about Stryper? 2013 has been a huge year for them, with the release of their re-recorded greatest hits album earlier on in the year, along with a new album in November.

Week 1 – 13th November 2013 – 9,575 sold
Week 2 – 21st November 2013 – 4,300 sold

Listening to the album, Dave Mustaine was right. Sympathy is the best track on the album.

It’s a tough music market and the aim of each artist is to remain in the public eye. The modern paradigm is here today and gone tomorrow. Robb Flynn gets this. That is why his weekly Journals are important. It is keeping Machine Head in the public eye while they write and record their new album.

Sales are still relevant, however they are not the only metric in which an artist should measure success.

From all of the above, Five Finger Death Punch are doing great numbers however after listening to both Volumes, I easily could have come up with a song list for one album. The remainder of the songs could have been offered as free downloads on a monthly basis, which would always bring attention to the main product, the album. Think about that, they recorded 26 songs for the album. Just say they released 12 songs on an album. The leaves 14 months worth of songs to release and bring further attention to the album and the tour.

“A Day In The Life” is a great song from Volume 2 by the way. It’s melodic, heavy and it has a great vibe happening.

But wait, piracy exists. All of the above music can be downloaded for free. So why are people paying for it. They can even stream it for free. However for some reason people are paying for it. That is what the record labels and the RIAA will never understand. People will do what they want to do.

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Music

Double Threats

There is an article doing the rounds at Noisecreep about rockers who branch out into some other venture (like another successful band) or something that is beyond the musical medium.

So of course the lists focuses on the “SuperStar”. First here is the list from Noisecreep.

10. Mike Shinoda from Linkin Park / Fort Minor

9. Chris Jericho from Fozzy and Professional Wrestling

8. Henry Rollins from Black Flag / Rollins Band (I am adding acting to this)

7. Marilyn Manson

6. Maynard James Keenan from Tool / A Perfect Circle / Puscifer

5. Jared Leto from Thirty Seconds to Mars and acting

4. Dave Grohl from Foo Fighters / Them Crooked Vultures / Nirvana / Scream

3. Corey Taylor from Slipknot / Stone Sour / Author

2. Rob Zombie from Rob Zombie / White Zombie / Directing

1. Nikki Sixx from Motley Crue / Sixx: A.M. + Radio DJ, Book Author and Photographer

What about the artists that are not superstars?

The artists below are doing an unbelievable job or have done an unbelievable job to remain a double threat in the music business.

1. Claudio Sanchez from Coheed and Cambra / Prized Fighter Inferno + Comic / Book Author

2. Adam Dutkiewicz from Killswitch Engage / Times of Grace + Producing

3. Digital Summer (the whole band) – They hold down normal day jobs and they are also a successful modern rock band.

4. Randy Blythe from Lamb of God + successful photographer

5. Robb Flynn from Machine Head + successful blogger

6. John Sykes from Whitesnake / Blue Murder / Solo Artist / Thin Lizzy tribute

7. Joe Satriani – Solo Artist / Chickenfoot / guitar teacher

8. Slash from Guns N Roses / Slash’s Snakepit / Velvet Revolver / Solo Artist + Motion Pictures

9. Doug Aldrich at one stage was playing guitar for Whitesnake and Dio at the same time. Also involved with Burning Rain.

10. David Draiman from Disturbed / Device + Producer

11. Protest The Hero (the band) – successful fan funded band and campaigners.

12. Kevin Churko – Successful Producer / Songwriter and Studio Owner

Original Noisecreep Article: http://noisecreep.com/best-double-threat-rockers/

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Uncategorized

The Stealing Argument Again & How Copyright Infringement Leads To Renewed Interest

Bon Jovi’s “Livin On A Prayer” has had a revival of sorts thanks to a viral clip doing the rounds from a Boston Celtics fan dancing to “Livin On A Prayer” during a stoppage in play. This happened in 2009 and the actual YouTube clip from back then has been blocked in Australia on copyright grounds by Universal Music. That clip was sitting at 3.6 million views before Universal killed it. Isn’t it typical of the labels to kill something that could make them money in the long run?

However a fresh upload of the dance routine to the Utrend.tv website on Oct. 17 has gone viral with over 11 million worldwide views.

In turn this viral interest in the dance routine has led to a renewed interest in Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On a Prayer.” But wait, copyright infringement is bad for the artist. Isn’t that the catch cry of the record labels, their lobby group and other misguided artists/organisations.

For example, there is the “Save the Music America” organisation (backed by Nashville Songwriters Association International and led by Mark Dreyer) that just doesn’t get it. They compare illegal downloading of a song with walking into a coffee shop and stealing a cup of coffee.

Remember the MPAA commercials from the early two thousands that equated copying movies the same as stealing a car. Seriously, are people still thinking like this in 2013.

For the hundredth time stealing means that Person A has taken a song that Mark Dreyer has written and Dreyer does not have that song anymore. It’s gone, stolen forever.

Copyright infringement means that Person A has taken a copy of a song that Mark Dreyer has written.

Stealing and copyright infringement are two very different things. Now if Dreyer is not getting paid for the success of his songs, then that is something that he needs to work out with the artist, publishing or label that is getting paid. Music piracy is a result of the record labels inability to innovate. Case closed. Of course, due to the one-sided contracts that artists and songwriters signed, they are the ones that are doing it tough.

Has Universal Music CEO Lucian Grange taken a pay cut recently? Of course not, as there is still a lot of money doing the rounds in music.

The whole clip of the dance routine infringes on the copyright that Universal Music holds on “Livin On The Prayer”. However is that such a bad thing.

According to Nielsen data, “Livin’ On a Prayer” has accumulated 5.1 million streams in the U.S. last week. That is an increase of 390%. But wait, streaming is bad for the artist.

The song also had up to 4,000 paid digital downloads.

But wait, piracy still exists. The song is available on all the pirate sites for free, however people still decided to pay for a legitimate version of the song. People still went and streamed a legitimate version of the song. People went on YouTube and watched the clip of the song on the various channels that host it. People still went and downloaded the song illegally. Basically, people will do what they want to do.

Even Tim Millar the guitarist from Protest the Hero is a recorded music pirate. This is what he had to say in a recent interview on the topic;
“I can’t say don’t download music. I think people should get to hear music before they buy it. Even if they just download it and come out to a show, that’s going to help the band more than it hurts them… What we were worried about was the Indiegogo campaign. We didn’t want the record to leak and then the [Indiegogo supporters] have to wait two weeks to get their copy. So as soon as the record leaked, we sent everyone a digital download code that night.”

Millar gets it. Doc Coyle gets it. Piracy is not that bad. There is an opinion piece called “GOD FORBID’S DOC COYLE: THE TIMES, THEY ARE A CHANGIN’”,

“…people that seem to hate this change are, obviously, the people who sell records, such musicians, record label people, managers, etc. Also, notice that the people most bothered are ones to tend to make the most money from music. No one ever cares about giving their demo away for free when they are unknown, but when you start make a living from music solely and record sales suddenly have an impact on your lifestyle and well-being, that stance changes. This is not a knock on those individuals — just the way it is.

At this point, you may be thinking, “Wait, isn’t Doc a musician? Shouldn’t he be pissed off that people download God Forbid records for free?”

I am not pissed off by illegal downloaders, even though I probably should be. If illegal downloading didn’t begin crushing the music industry in the early 2000’s, I would probably have made a much more lucrative living from making music. It’s affected all of us: Me, huge artists, basement bands, and even every other facets of the industry that used to see the rewards of more funding via the sales of actual physical albums, from photographers that did press shots, to the guy that directs your music video, to all of the writers for rock and metal magazines. The contraction of this industry has been devastating to the economy of music.

The only problem is, you can’t stop these changes from happening. Getting mad about it, or even worse, making someone feel bad for doing it, doesn’t really make a profound impact. Do I want people to buy my albums? Hell yeah! But I can’t stop those who download it, and the thing is, those people still may support the band in other ways, such as coming to a show or buying a t-shirt. The truth is, I buy some albums, but I also I do download some from torrents sites. The real question is, how does that affect me morally? Is it stealing in the traditional sense of the word?”

The internet changed the way people saw the world. Throughout history, industries and trades become obsolete or they evolve. I guarantee you that any musician that has tried to make it has pirated music. From taping music on cassettes to downloading mp3’s for their mp3 player. Show me one musician that says that they never pirated or infringed and I will show you a liar.

Basically the record labels, the RIAA, the book publishers and the movie studios seemed to think that people wanted the physical products to own and keep, however what the people wanted was the content. Streaming is on the scene, however it is 14 years too late. It should have been there from day one, before Napster. Now it needs to play catch up.

Going back to Protest The Hero and the interview with Tim Millar.

“I think if you (fans) can find avenues where you’re paying for music directly and you know where the money is going, you should do that. I know Bandcamp takes 10 percent, so you know that 90 percent of that money is going to the band. I’ve never bought anything on iTunes because I know artists aren’t making most of that money… But if it’s a matter of you spending $10 on the album or not hearing it at all, I’d rather you get to hear it, then come to the show and buy a T-shirt.”

The last line is the cold hard truth. As an artist, you want fans to hear your music and then to come to a show and buy some merchandise.

If that means a fan buys the album, then buys a concert ticket and then buys a T Shirt. Great.
If that means a fan streams the album, then buys a concert ticket and then buys a T Shirt. Great.
If that means a fan downloads the album for free, then buys a concert ticket and then buys a T shirt. Great as well.
If that means a fan hears the album for free and doesn’t buy a concert ticket or a T shirt, then that has to be great as well. Maybe they will commit on the next one. There are just so many variables out there, however the main variable that artists should be focusing on is getting the music heard.

In relation to the songwriters (the ones who write songs for other artists), then they should organise/negotiate a better payment deal for their contribution to the song and move on. Music was never designed to be a pension fund. But hey, people hate change and songwriters are still clueless.

Living On A Prayer renewed interest article; http://m.billboard.com/entry/view/id/73336

Misguided Artist article; http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2013/11/18/save-the-music-america-fights-digital-theft/3625845/

Protest The Hero interview: http://music.cbc.ca/blogs/2013/11/Protest-the-Hero-on-new-drummers-and-piracy

Doc Coyle Opinion Piece; http://www.metalsucks.net/2011/10/05/god-forbids-doc-coyle-the-times-they-are-a-changin/

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

What does Protest The Hero’s – Volition album teach us about life?

After the success of their debut album “Kezia” back in 2005, Protest The Hero was expected to go into a more commercially viable and poppy influence. So what did the band do? They released “Fortress” in 2008, which was less poppy and more technical. As lead sing Rody Walker put it, “a natural progression into further obscurity.” Basically they wrote what they wanted to write and in the process created something so far removed from a commercial album than expected.

Let’s start with the song “Underbite” as the hilarious puppet clip is doing the rounds on YouTube right now. If you have seen the clip, you will note how the song focuses on artists that fake it. It is focusing on artists that don’t care about the fan experience. They are focusing on artists who see themselves as gods and their fans as stupid kids, who are expected to consume every piece of music they produce regardless if it’s good or not. It is focusing on the merchandise rip off.

In other words don’t rip off your fans. Work with them. Connect with them. Also from an artistic point of view, you need to write what you want to write NOT what you think people will like. Watch the clip and be humoured by their scathing satire of the rockstar mentality.

My favourite song on the album is “Mist.” The song is basically talking about Newfoundland and Rody Walker’s love for it and how once it is all over in music for him it is the place that he wants to settle down in. The lyrics about the “India” showing up back stage before the gig are hilarious and when they hit the stage after pulling a few beeries, it was the like the best show ever. Life throws up all these different paths. Try as many paths as you can, because in the end we are all as deep as the grave, marching to the heartbeat of the land.

“Skies” is what progressive music should be. It is a perfect amalgamation of so many different progressive styles. It’s about uncertainty and the only thing we know is that the “descent is all there truly ever is.”

Then you have the message in “Drumhead Trial.” The drumhead trial is noted for its lack of impartiality. Basically, you are judged by someone who likely hates you. A recent military trial from the US comes to mind.

“Tilting Against Windmills” is basically about the Catholic Church and how it deals with sexuality.

“Without Prejudice” deals with the fixation that people have on wealth. To extend the message to music bands existed once upon a time to create music and for people to hear that music. Then came the corporations and turned music into a monopolistic business. Then bands became fixated with wealth. Fast forward to the now and it’s back to what it was. Bands need to get people to listen again. Hence the reason why Spotify is a big player.

“Yellow Teeth” deals with people judging other people and basically bullying them, either verbally or on line or on blogs.

“Animal Bones” focuses on how Protest The Hero are proud of their past albums like “Kezia” and “Fortress” and while they are proud of those albums, they don’t want to be defined by them forever.

“A Life Embossed” covers new legislation against pitbulls.

Finally the album title. “Volition,” means “the power to make your own choices.” The band made the choice to not lock themselves in for another three album record deal. The band made a choice to use Indiegogo as a fundraiser campaign to record their album. They reached their target instantly. Eight thousand fans made the choice and dedicated their money to make sure another album happened without even hearing a single note of new music.

Then drummer, Moe Carlson, made the choice to leave the band and pursue a different career. Then the band made the choice to get Chris Adler of Lamb of God to track the drums for Volition.

Then the album cover has a message of how the media seems to glorify horrible situations. The media has the power to make choices and it seems they make the choice that involves making profits. The song “Plato’s Tripartite” covers this topic as it looks like it deals with how rape victims are turned into the villains and the monsters that commit the rape aren’t held responsible for their actions.

As an artist you have the power to make your own choices. Make them and live by them. Protest The Hero have. They are a special band. Support them.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

The Gremlin Day, Generic Metal & Protest The Hero’s “Underbite”

You ever had a gremlin day. I have. You know one of those days when conventional wisdom falls over. One of those days when things that always worked ceased working the same as they always have for no real reason.

It makes you question everything. It makes you feel paranoid and you start to believe that everything you have done up until that point is rubbish.

From my perspective, I work in IT and I have been working on a project since August. We implemented successfully over the weekend, however on Thursday before the weekend implementation I questioned everything and I was about to pull the plug on it.

This is what normally begins to happen when you spend so much time on the one piece of work. This is why Top 40 sounds so bland and processed. Using I.T. speak “the Top 40 has been tested to death.”

The songs go through so many rewrites it’s not funny. That is why you have as many names as “The Last Supper” listed as songwriters of the generic and lifeless Top 40.

However Heavy Metal and Hard Rock music is generally written “in-house”, meaning that most of the material is written within the band. So why are we getting a similar generic output as the Top 40. Why are we getting lifeless and soulless songs that mean nothing and say nothing and to be honest if I heard them live I would probably yawn. The artists that created something great always lived on the edges, merging various influences and styles. However, when one artist sees another artist strike a pot of gold, they follow suit, believing that the same pot of gold would come to them if they replicated what the other artist did.

For example, every band wanted to be like Bon Jovi in 1987 and by 1988 every band wanted to be like Guns N Roses and by 1989 every band wanted to be sober like Motley Crue and by 1991 every band wanted to be Metallica and by 1992 every band started to incorporate grunge influences.

I started thinking about the above, after listening to the song “Underbite” from Protest The Hero and after watching the hilarious puppet clip. The Protest The Hero channel is showing that the clip has had 112,436 views. Not bad for a fan funded band that was told by their record label that are washed up.

Underbite means the projection of the lower teeth beyond the upper teeth. Protest The Hero have taken that term and twisted it up to include the rock n roll show. They are focusing on the generic mediocrity of artists who go out there and fake it. They are focusing on artists and labels that couldn’t care less about the fan experience. They are focusing on artists and labels that care about maintaining the status quo and the profits that came with that.

Jon Bon Jovi is one such artist that comes to mind. Eventually the shows sell out on this tour however for the first time ever, Bon Jovi concert tickets got the reduced treatment on Living Social and other web outlets. If he tours again next year and charges the same high prices, he will be in for a shock.

The Rolling Stones is another.

Motley Crue have gone back to the same marketplace again and again since 2008’s “Saints Of Los Angeles” and with each re-iteration they are getting less and less to the show.

Metallica needs new music to come out. It has been a 5 year victory lap for Death Magnetic and with 2014 approaching, that will make it 6 years.

Black Sabbath is another. Watching Ozzy sing live was a joke and he had the balls to say in interviews that Bill Ward couldn’t perform live because he was old, overweight and he had to use post it notes to remember his drum tracks. Well Ozzy is old, out of key and he never strayed too far from the prompts as he struggled to remember the lyrics.

The song Underbite also focuses on artists who see themselves as gods and their fans as stupid kids who are expected to consume every piece of music they produce regardless if it’s good or not. It has lyrics like “An understanding between you and I that the ground that you stand on is somehow less than mine” and “Now you comprehend our complex relationship—consumer/consumed, You’re just some stupid kid and I’m a megalomaniac.”

The part in the film clip where the fan goes to purchase the merchandise is so spot on. I could relate as it happens to me all the time.

First, the merchandise stand rarely has the size that a person wants. Good luck to all the ones that rush in and get it early and bad luck to the fans who get their later or the fans who just want to purchase merchandise later.

Then the prices are ridiculous. So as the clip shows, you end up forking out a decent amount of cash for a band t-shirt that doesn’t fit or is too large.

I really like the lyrics about “You’re disgracing your effort by conforming to textbook performance of music to fill in the gaps.” This is about going through the same motions and the same dialogue and the same songs day in and day out.

“Let’s not repackage the same old performance, Original content is so much more rewarding.”

While I love Twisted Sister, I don’t agree with the viewpoints put out by them, that there is no need for them to create new music. Dee Snider has mentioned that there is no motivation to write any new songs while Jay Jay French and Mark Mendoza have talked about giving the fans what they want in the live show and how if a new song is played these days from the classic rock bands, the fans see it as a toilet break. While each performance is unique due to Dee Snider’s banter, the songs however don’t stray too far from the first three albums era.

How many times can Iron Maiden revisit their past and repackage past tours as current ones. “Caught Somewhere Back In Time” and “Maiden England” are two that come to mind in the last 4 years. While the “Caught Somewhere Back In Time” tour broke box office records, the “Maiden England” tour not so much.

Their show at the San Manuel Amphitheater, Devore, California on September 13, Iron Maiden got 27,000 fans in a venue that fits 41,000. Megadeth, Anthrax, Testament and Sabaton also appeared on the bill. Of course 27,000 is a massive attendance however the venue is just over 50% full. Iron Maiden needs new content and great content at that.

Listen to the song. There are some hard truths in there and Protest The Hero try to cover them all.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

The Unexpected Slow Metal Hit

We live in a world that is all about the NOW. Music quickly comes and it quickly goes. Look at all the Top 10 Lists or the Charts for each week and you will see that it is a different list each week. There is just so much new music coming out at the moment and people are just churning it up.

For example, I didn’t get a chance to get into the new Trivium album because a week later, I had the new Protest The Hero album and that has taken all of my attention.

However, there are always songs that sit on the outside. Songs that the artist or the band didn’t believe could be a “hit” (I use that term lightly) or a song that should be used as a promotion tool.

But they didn’t count on the fan choices. The fan that today has the power. The fan that could pick and choose what track they could listen too.

Killswitch Engage released “As Daylight Dies” in 2006 and it is there cover of “Holy Diver” that proved to be the sleeper hit. Don’t believe me, check out Spotify. it has 6,136,523 streams. Still don’t believe me, go on YouTube and you will see it has 9,013,222 views.

Alter Bridge released “One Day Remains” in 2004. “Open Your Eyes”, “Find the Real” and “Broken Wings” followed as promotional singles. However it was the metal heavy “Metalingus” and the moving ballad “In Loving Memory” that the fans selected as the hits. Don’t believe me, check out Spotify. “Metalingus” has 3,362,193 streams and “In Loving Memory” has 2,690,909 streams. Still don’t believe me, go on YouTube and you will see that “Metalingus” has over 5,500,000 views from all the combined channels and “In Loving Memory” has over 6,000,000 combined views.

In 2011 Trivium got blasted for the “In Waves” album, however the title track is their biggest so far. On Spotify “In Waves” the song has 3,038,061 streams. On YouTube, the Official Video on the Roadrunner Records channel has 3,423,215 views and a live version of the song on the Trivium Official channel has 2,767,455 views.

Volbeat broke through in the U.S on the back of “Still Counting”. The song was released in 2008 on the “Guitar Gangsters and Cadillac Blood” album and on 21 July 2012 “Still Counting” was the number-one song on the Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks US chart. Go on Spotify and it has been streamed 19,779,202 times. Go on YouTube and count the views from all the various channels. They add up.

Bullet For My Valentine led the promotional campaign for their “Temper Temper” album with the song “Riot”, however the fans didn’t care about that song as much as they cared about “Breaking Point” and “Tears Don’t Fall (Part 2)”.

As much as Dream Theater is trying to promote the current version of the band, they can’t escape their past. The Spotify Top 10 of Dream Theater has the 9 songs from the new self titled album (that proved to be a dud), plus “On The Backs Of Angels” from the previous album. However if you go on YouTube the fans don’t care about the new album currently. “Wither”, “Pull Me Under” and “Another Day” still get the attention.

This is very different to Avenged Sevenfold, who have people very interested in their new album. In addition, all the other media outlets and bands that are talking about the album, all they are doing is adding to the legend of it. Hail To The King I say. “Shepherd Of Fire” is doing the rounds on my iPod.

Protest The Hero have led the promotional campaign of their new album “Volition” with “Clarity”, “Drumhead Trail” and “Underbite” however, it is “Mist” and “Skies” that is getting the conversation.

The market place today isn’t about the hit song now. It is about new songs vs old songs. Metal and rock songs are always late bloomers. There is no formula as to why certain songs resonate more than others with fans.

I like the story about how Dave Mustaine assisted Stryper in selecting their lead off single from the “No More Hell To Pay” album. They had a different song choice for the lead single and changed their minds after they had a chat with the Megadeth front man. Dave told them that his favourite track is “Sympathy”. This made Michael Sweet change his mind for the lead off single. That track is listed as Number 11 on the album and to be honest it is a kick arse song.

Sure, back in the day when the record labels ruled, they would employ a scorched earth policy to market a band and the lead off single and naturally we would bite as we had the time to invest and there was nothing really else out there.

YouTube and Spotify play a big part today in transforming a song into a phenomenon. Television also plays it’s part. Look at all the hit shows and they all have a section where a certain song plays and it conveys the emotion of the scene that no other music can.

Sons Of Anarchy comes to mind here, especially at the end of Season 2, when the song “Hands In The Sky (Big Shot)” from Straylight Run played in the epic last 5 minutes of the final episode.

Look at what Breaking Bad did for “Baby Blue” by Badfinger.

My wife was a fan of Grey’s Anatomy and because of that show she got into Snow Patrol (“Chasing Cars”) and The Fray (“How to Save a Life”).

In the end all artists need to do is create great music. The fans will latch onto it eventually.

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Uncategorized

The State Of Heavy Metal

There it is again. Heavy metal. It doesn’t matter how many times the labels tried to kill it, mainstream it or commercialize it, Heavy Metal has remained consistent from when it began. Whenever pop music becomes pretentious, heavy metal rises up as an alternative answer.

What does the term “heavy metal” mean?

Black Sabbath started something in 1969 in the UK. Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin started something on the hard rock front. In the U.S you had Kiss, Styx, Ted Nugent, Journey. In Australia, you had a pub rock band called AC/DC. Progressive Rock became a force to be reckoned with on the backs of Pink Floyd, ELP, Genesis and Yes.

By the mid Seventies, disco, punk and new wave became the darlings of the scene and heavy metal and all forms of rock went underground again, waiting for the day to rise again.

Then came the New Wave of British Heavy Metal between 1979 and 1983. At the same time, hard rock, glam metal and speed metal roared out of the Los Angeles and San Francisco scene. Think Motley Crue, Ratt, Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer.

When heavy metal and hard rock drops off the mainstream scene, it is never gone for long. Heavy Metal is the answer to all things corrupt. It is the soundtrack.

Typically most metal fans come from working-class homes or changed family dynamics. According to a recent study, all us metal heads must have low self-esteem, because that is why we listen to metal music.

The mainstream always ignored metal music, seeing it as too dumb. Of course, when a band breaks through, the mainstream are the first group of media outlets to jump on the wagon. Remember Metallica. Ignored by the mainstream completely. The only mainstream press they got was the sad and tragic death of Cliff Burton. Then the Black album comes out and it is undeniable. It’s a juggernaut and everyone wanted to be a part of it.

So here is the list of the current state of heavy metal.

CLASSIC EVERYTHING

Rush – enough said. Move on.

AC/DC – enough said times two.

CLASSIC METAL

Iron Maiden – they need another great album like “Brave New World” soon or they will be playing to smaller and smaller audiences with each tour.

Metallica – they need to start making better decisions and they need to release new music. Look at their decision-making process. A project with Lou Reed (RIP) that just didn’t connect with the fan bases of each party involved and an $18 million dud of a movie. In relation to new music, they can only go back to the same market place year after year before the fans get burned on it.

Megadeth – Dave Mustaine said on “The Metal Show” that his top five Megadeth albums are “Countdown To Extinction”, “Rust In Peace”, “Peace Sells”, “So Far So Good So What” and “Killing Is My Business”. He needs to have a current album in that Top 5.

Slayer – are finished in relation to new music without Jeff Hanneman. He was the main songwriter in Slayer, full stop. To hear Kerry King saying that if the Jeff Hanneman music in the archives is not good, it will be not used is a load of B.S. Who made Kerry King the gatekeeper?

Judas Priest – is not Judas Priest anymore. It’s all about the dollars.

Black Sabbath – is all about the last paycheck. Anyone remember the recent album? Name me the whole track list without Googling it. I bet if i asked you to name me the whole track list on “Paranoid” or “Heaven And Hell” I would get an answer.

Pantera – lets hope that no one is stupid enough to reform Pantera with a “guitarist” paying tribute to Dimebag. Stick to your guns Vinnie. Pantera died completely when Dimebag died.

CLASSIC ROCK

Led Zeppelin is still big business in the market place. That is what the mighty Zep has become. A Corporate entity.

Pink Floyd are on hiatus however Roger Waters is still doing the rounds. He is the real deal anyway.

Motley Crue have gone back to the same market places year after year since 2008. The fans are getting burnt on this grab for cash as no new music has been forthcoming expect for the song “Sex”. The movie and the farewell tour are constantly dropped to the public.

Deep Purple should call it a day. They are out of ideas and inspiration.

Styx, Journey, Toto and Night Ranger are shadows of their former selves, doing enough to make a living in the current music business, but out of touch of what the music business fans want from their artists today. Which is a direct line, a connection.

THRASH/GROOVE METAL

Machine Head is the leader in this group. In Robb Flynn, they have a work horse of epic proportions who has the grit to see things through.

Trivium are real contenders. Say what you will about them, one thing is clear; they are not afraid to try new shit out and take risks.

METAL (all styles)

Avenged Sevenfold and Five Finger Death Punch lead this group. They are ticking all the boxes. They have the sales on the board and both are part of the public conversation.

Bullet For My Valentine – have a great album in them. Can they write it?

Stone Sour – should have released one album instead of two.

Sevendust – I love them and the new album was a welcomed return to form.

Disturbed – The Device album had the same impact as the last Disturbed album. Do they still have a place in the Metal world?

Heartist – could be the next big thing or they could crash and burn with their next album as now they have a record label A&R department in their house.

ROCK (all styles)

Shinedown are the new ROCK GODS. Volbeat are not that far behind with Black Veil Brides and Skillet as decent contenders.

Eve To Adam – released a great rock album but no one has heard it.

Buckcherry – veterans of the scene and play to a niche.

Thirty Seconds To Mars – took too long to release a good album. If you are going to take 4 years between releases, you need to release a great album.

Airbourne – fill the AC/DC void when AC/DC is on hiatus.

Alter Bridge – are an experienced team that deliver consistently.

One Less Reason – great music, great songs however if people buy a physical product from them, they need to deliver.

10 Years – a great fan funded release in 2012. Now they need to make some hard decisions. Do they go the fan funded route again or do they seek to get a deal or something entirely different.

DO IT YOURSELF ROCK

Digital Summer – they run their band as a company that puts money back into the band and they still hold down jobs that gives them money for living.

Burnside – released a great album that no one has heard.

Vaudeville – another band that released a great album.

SUPER GROUP

The Night Flight Orchestra – If you haven’t heard “Internal Affairs” from 2012 you need to. TNFO is made up of melodic death metal bands playing classic rock and metal.

PROGRESSIVE METAL/ROCK

Tool – it’s going to be an event when the new Tool album comes out. Is it too late? Time will tell.

Coheed and Cambria – can’t do nothing wrong currently. Excellent double releases, plus great fan perks.

Dream Theater – are doing their best to maintain the success they achieved 10 years ago. Need a great album otherwise it’s bye bye.

TesseracT, Protest The Hero and Periphery are the new leaders of Progressive Music.

Today I Caught The Plague, Sound of Contact, Op Shop, Scale The Summit and Lizzard are rookies to take notice off.

METALCORE (MELODIC DEATH METAL)

Killswitch Engage are firing on all guns.

In Flames need to bring out new music.

All That Remains needs to head back to the studio.

The rest of the bands in this movement need a re-think.

SYMPHONIC METAL/ROCK

Within Temptation – enough said

DEATH METAL

Lamb of God – they are angry and they are pissed off. A bullshit murder trial and banned in a South East Asian country by ignorant pricks.

SHOCK

One final mention; “Du, Du Hast, Du Hast mish a fraud.” Rammstein has a dicka, so let’s get together, what is the problem?

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