Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

We Don’t Live In A Happy World

One of the reasons why I got into bands like Metallica, Machine Head, Evergrey, Judas Priest, Megadeth, Twisted Sister and Queensryche (and there are many more bands) is because their lyrics reflect/reflected what was going on in the wider world at that time.

You see we are not living in a Pharell Williams’ “Happy” world.

We are living in a world that is besieged by economic problems. We are living in a world that has democratic governments undertaking surveillance on their citizens like the totalitarian regimes that our grandfathers died fighting against. We are living in a world where the majority of politicians are on the payroll of the corporations. We are living in a world that has a digital divide to go along with a class divide. We are living in a world where privacy is eroded a little bit at a time.

Some of my favourite artists had songs that just spoke to me.

They questioned the system and pointed the finger at the wrongdoers. When our governments lost their way, our heroes always told us so. When society went to hell, our heroes told us so. When epidemics happened, our heroes told us so.

We believed that music could change our lives, if not the world.

“What do you mean I don’t support your system, why do you think I’m broke”.

Dave Mustaine wrote that back in the mid-Eighties. Fast forward almost thirty years, and we are still broke supporting the system. The rich and the powerful caused a global recession and guess what, they got bailed out by the governments while we lost our jobs and homes.

Inequality exists in music as it does in economics. You’re either a winner or a loser and if you cross over, you become a global phenomenon. Think Metallica. There crossover was the “Black” album. That is their victory lap album.

“But now the holy dollar rules everybody’s lives, gotta make a million, doesn’t matter who dies.”

The above line is from “Revolution Calling” from Queensryche. Spotify cares about Spotify and they want to make millions. Taylor Swift cares about Taylor Swift and she wants to make millions.

Remember all of the suicides post GFC, especially in the Asian countries.

“Words are the bullets to this revolution”

Robb Flynn spits out the line in “Clenching the Fists of Dissent”.

We live in an information age. Everything is at our fingertips so we should put those tools to use to do our own investigations because our media reporting outlets are all owned by large corporations. They report news items that will push their agenda. They report news items that have been paid for by a marketing PR firm. Impartiality is over.

However, there are people out there that look at events and issues critically. WordPress gives us a tool to voice these opinions.

Yes they’re making lists of people interested in this
And anyone who speaks their mind is labelled anarchist

Barcodes and fingerprints, obedience identikit
It’s time to read the warning signs

COG’s “Are You Listening” released in 2009.

The tragedy of 9/11 brought about a new reality. The erosion of our rights and the erosion of our privacy. Suddenly, the Governments of democracy started to spy on its citizens much like regimes our grandfathers went to war against.

England has cameras on every street corner. This need of protection and surveillance arose due to the IRA terrorist bombings. And they still got bombed in the subways.

The NSA spies on all Americans and their answer is “IT’S OKAY, WE ARE THE GOOD GUYS.”

This was once the land of dreams
Now these dreams have turned to greed
In the midst of all this wealth
The poor are left to help themselves

A capitalist’s democracy
Why no one said that freedom’s free
Lady liberty rots away
No truth, no justice, the American way

Sacred Reich and “The American Way” released in 1990.

The problems of today existed before. However, the it is the people of today that had to bail out the rich. If the POOR or the WORKING CLASS did something fraudulent and corrupt, they would be doing time in a cell. When the RICH do something fraudulent and corrupt they end up screaming to the Government for a bail out and escape without punishment.

“We’re Not Gonna Take It” was the catch cry once upon a time. In time it will be the catch cry of a new generation.

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

The B-Sides For Engaging With Fans

Remember how cool it was to discover new bands or songs from the B-sides of singles.

Like when I purchased the “Creeping Death” single and I first heard “Am I Evil” from Diamond Head and “Blitzkrieg” from Blitzkrieg. Or picking up the Whitesnake singles to “Here I Go Again” (and hearing “Guilty Of Love), “Give Me All Your Love” (and hearing “Fool For Your Loving and Don’t Break My Heart Again”), “Is This Love” (and hearing “Bad Boys” and “Standing in the Shadow”) and “Still Of The Night” (and hearing “You’re Gonna Break My Heart Again”).

Europe also promoted their back catalog with the release of “The Final Countdown” single. On the B-side there was the excellent “On Broken Wings”. Def Leppard also went into the archives when they put non album tracks “Ride Into The Sun” and “I Wanna Be Your Hero” as the b-sides to “Hysteria” and “Pour Some Sugar On Me” respectively.

Throughout music history, the b-side has often thrown up an extra, unexpected treat. And with technology advancing, the vinyl b-side is a thing of the past, and when CD singles started coming out, the B-side was relegated to a four song EP while the MP3 introduced the era of cherry-picking and the b-side was dead forever.

One of my favourite rock acts from Australia “Candy Harlots” had real good single releases. I still have the original 7 inch single of the Leeno Dee penned “Danger” that was with Ron Barrett (RIP), Mark Easton, Leeno Dee, Tony Cardinal and Marc DeHagar. On the B-side was the Ron Barrett penned “Wrap 2 Arms”.

Then a few years later came the “Danger” CD Single. However this time the B-side was another Ron Barrett penned song called “Hot Love Child”.

The intention of the single was for artists to double up with releasing two great songs at a time.

“The Beatles” single releases came to be known as the “Double A-sides”. In the Seventies, the second cut was even seen to overtake its a-side: “Beth” from Kiss comes to mind. It was their biggest hit and it was a b-side to “Detroit Rock City”. By the Eighties, the B-side started to become a method for releasing versions of songs that were not officially released. Some bands used demos of unreleased songs, while others used live recordings of released songs or demos of released songs. Other bands used the B-side as a way to record cover songs.

Bon Jovi took the “unreleased demos of songs plus liver versions of released songs” route initially with each single, while Metallica took the “demos of released songs plus cover songs route”. Both formats worked and fostered a connection with fans that ended up with both bands releasing  albums that celebrated their own paradigm.

Bon Jovi came out with the boxed set” 100,000,000 Fans Cant Be Wrong” which focused on the unreleased songs. They did it again with the 2014 re-issue of “New Jersey”.

Metallica brought out “Garage Inc” which further built of the culture that both bands created.

Motley Crue tried to get in on the act with their “Supersonic And Demonic Relics” release.

Just recently Machine Head did a similar concept with “Killers and Kings” and their cover of Ignite’s “Our Darkest Days”/Bleeding”. It was a creative release that had four different covers based on Tarot Cards. As a fan, I purchased all four of the covers and they are still wrapped in plastic.

Coheed and Cambria released all the demos plus a few unreleased songs as part of the Super Deluxe release for “The Afterman” releases.  We, (the fans) lapped it all up.

Those albums that I purchased, I played them over and over (especially the demo/unreleased songs). However, all that time and devotion from all the fans was not counted by any metric so the artist had no idea the engagement the fans had with those releases.

All that mattered was the flawed business model of the initial purchase.

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

Piracy, Lost Sales and Profits

I am sure that everyone has come across the “Minecraft” game in some form or way. My exposure to this game was when my kids asked me last year if they are allowed to download the free version of the game, which I agreed. After playing it for months and unable to save their progress, they kept on asking me to download the full version, which cost $6.99AU.

I said NO.

They kept on playing the game and as they did new features kept on getting added to the game that made it better. However they still couldn’t save their progress and they kept on asking me to allow them to download the full version.

Eventually after a stellar week of good behaviour I couldn’t say NO to them and they got the full version at the beginning of the year.

For the uninitiated, Minecraft is one of the biggest games in the world right now. It debuted on Mac and Windows PC in May 2009. By February, 2014, it had sold 15 million copies of the PC version. Also in the same month, Mojang (the makers of Minecraft) had sold more than 21 million copies of Minecraft: Pocket Edition on Android and iOS; more than 12 million copies of the Xbox 360 Edition; and more than 1.5 million copies of the PlayStation 3 Edition — making for a sum very close to the 50 million mark. They have over 100 million registered users.

Just imagine if a streaming service had those numbers. However, the argument would still be the same. Artists are not getting paid. We all know why this is so. Talk to your record label.

And they did all of this with piracy being rampant on the game. However, Minecraft’s developer Notch (Markus Persson) has been on record in saying that worrying about piracy was a waste of time, and it was much more important to focus on giving people a reason to buy.

“Piracy is not theft. If you steal a car, the original is lost. If you copy a game, there are simply more of them in the world. If you just make your game and keep adding to it, the people who copyright infringed would buy it the next week.”

Persson adds features to the game based on conversations he has on Twitter with random people and he fixes bugs based on the Minecraft community voting on the priorities. He is engaging with the users and a majority of those users are people who said that they copied the game initially, but then bought a copy for both themselves and a friend. Or they are people who didn’t ever buy a copy, but had friends who learned about it through them who then went on to buy copies.

There is a clear indicator here for any artist.

Make sure that everyone has access to your music.

I remember a time when I went to Utopia Records and I purchased four CD’s. They were “Subhuman Race” from Skid Row, “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” from Slash’s Snakepit, “Balance” from Van Halen and “Waiting For The Punchline” from Extreme. I hand over my cash and a sale goes onto their chart record.

The fact that “Subhuman Race” and “Waiting For The Punchline” gathered dust on the shelves, while I played the hell out of “Balance” and “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” didn’t even come into the equation. All of those bands got a “SALE” or a “COUNT” from me. The fact that two albums connected with me more than the other didn’t even come into the equation. Probably the reason why SLASH is still such a force to be reckoned with in the music business, while Skid Row and Extreme, not so much.

That is why a lot of the Eighties bands couldn’t understand or get a handle on their decline in popularity. Everything under the sun got blamed, however the real reason was ignored.

WHAT DOES A SALE OF A PIECE OF PLASTIC/VINYL REALLY MEAN?

Everyone saw a sale as a fan number, a unit to add up, however the fact that the real fans listened to the music non stop and due to playing it to death they had to re-purchase the album.

In my music collection, anyone will see that for bands like Motley Crue, Dokken, Megadeth, Van Halen, Ozzy Osbourne, Metallica, Twisted Sister, Bon Jovi, Whitesnake, Stryper, Ratt and many more, that I would have an LP, plus a CD, plus for a select few, remastered releases and remastered releases with bonus tracks. That means that I have re-purchased the bands whole catalogue over 4 times. And I am sure I am not alone in that.

In other words, a sale of an album never reflected what we (the fans of music) did with the albums after we purchased them. The second-hand music market thrived for a reason as music consumers got rid of those albums that gathered dust. However, was this stat shown.

But what about all the tons of money, lawsuits, lobbying, education campaigns, advertising, threats, news reports and the like from the recording industry, all telling people who unauthorized downloading was unquestionably morally wrong and that each download is a lost sale.

The developers of Minecraft (who struck even bigger when they got acquired by Microsoft in 2014) showed that you can compete with free and that you can get people to commit if you focus on the art. Making money was always a byproduct and in the end they made a bunch of it.

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

The Entrepreneurial Spirit

Look at any band that is successful and you will see a band member with an entrepreneurial spirit. There is always that person in the band that just has that extra drive. They would go ahead and start their own label as a way to get their music out there.

Some do it out of necessity.

Twisted Sister kept on getting rejected by all the labels so Jay Jay French went and formed their own independent label to release their early singles.

Metallica couldn’t get a record deal. Then came Jon Zazula, otherwise known as Jonny Z onto the scene. He ended up hearing the demo tape “No Life ‘Til Leather” which then led to him founding Megaforce Records so that he could release their work. However, Lars Ulrich was always on the lookout for a better deal and eventually that persistence would lead to a deal with Elektra Records. Jonny Z gave them their break however it was the entrepreneurial spirit from Lars Ulrich that took them to the stratosphere.

Motley Crue had a real estate agent called Alan Coffman. He helped finance the “Too Fast For Love” album and assisted them with obtaining gear and going out on the road. Then once Motley Crue got picked up by Elektra, Coffman ran off with their advance money which led to a song called “Bastard” on “Shout At The Devil”. The band  also had Vicki Hamilton on board, who managed to get their self-financed debut album into record stores through her position as music purchaser for a chain of record stores.

Throughout it all, it was Nikki Sixx who had the entrepreneurial spirit and when Allen Kovac came on board in 1994, Sixx was given a tie-breaking vote in collective decisions of the Operations that Kovac’s was setting up. All of these changes led Motley Crue to operate independently and by the late Nineties, they gained ownership of their masters and publishing rights back from Elektra.

Joan Jett had 23 labels pass on releasing her first solo album. Out of a need to get her music out, she founded Blackheart Records with producer Kenny Laguna. This was 34 years ago. By 2014, her label is now a force to be reckoned with, via its music, clothing and film divisions.

In 2014, NO artist can afford to sit back and expect someone else to make them a star. Read any story on successful artists and you will see just how extraordinary that person has to be to overcome the odds stacked against them. If you want a real day example, look no further than Pomplamoose.  Read the article about the financial realities of an independent band. And the take away;

“We, the creative class, are finding ways to make a living making music, drawing webcomics, writing articles, coding games, recording podcasts. Most people don’t know our names or faces. We are not on magazine covers at the grocery store. We are not rich, and we are not famous.

We are the mom and pop corner store version of “the dream.” If Lady Gaga is McDonald’s, we’re Betty’s Diner. And we’re open 24/7.

We have not “made it.” We’re making it.”

Write your own story and defy the dominant culture.

Pomplamoose is the definition of being in a band today. The faces might not be as recognizable as the bands of old, however that doesn’t mean that they are nobodies. They are writing their own story.

Motley Crue didn’t go on VH1 and throw trash at each other. They did that via “THE DIRT” which ended up launching their comeback in 2004.

And never give in to impulses.

Motley Crue could have licensed their music to the “Rock Of Ages” movie and made millions, but they didn’t.

Lars Ulrich rushed in with Napster without looking at events critically and analyse both sides. Metallica is a bigger band today because of piracy. Get the statisticians to explain how Metallica can play sold out shows in China without selling any music.

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Music, My Stories

Life Is OK

My ADSL went down on Thursday night.

The internet today is like the lights in the house. When we click on that switch we expect the lights to work. And we have the same expectations with the Internet. And when it doesn’t work we don’t like it. My wife and kids were going to lynch me, like it was my fault that it was down. I called my ISP and I was told that the ADSL channels are being upgraded and that service will resume by 5pm, Monday, 24 November.

“How can you go to a concert, when the Internet is down?” was thrown at me on Friday afternoon as I was preparing to leave to go and watch Trivium and In Flames in concert at the UNSW Roundhouse.

I told them that there is nothing I can do about it. Upgrades are upgrades and they need to happen as I departed to go to the show.

A very sunburnt “In Flames” appeared on stage (guess they must have underestimated the Australian sun) and opened up their set with “The Quiet Place” from “Soundtrack to Your Escape” released in 2004. There was nothing quiet with that opener. We then got treated to a super tight grooving set from the Swedesters. It was also good to see that every album from 2000’s “Clayman” was represented in their sixteen song set.

Then came Trivium.

The first 7 songs, “Strife”, “Black”, “Throes Of Perdition”, “Through Blood And Dirt And Bone”, “Brave This Storm”, “Watch The World Burn” and “Down From The Sky” set the knock out punches, however “Like Light To The Flies” and “Villainy Thrives” really let the set down in intensity. In my view they have way better songs that could have replaced these two songs.

Then it just got weirder. “Into The Mouth Of Hell” was played so fast, that the person standing next to me came up with the quote of the night “it’s like mash potato, no definition whatsoever”.

“Dying In Your Arms” was another song that didn’t belong in the set list while they finished strong with “Built To Fall”.

The encore was “Anthem (We Are Fire)” and “In Waves”. Both songs are favourites of mine and I was saddened when Trivium kicked off these songs on Turbo and they sounded really messy.

Like Mash Potato, there was no definition in the riffs.

After the gig I spoke about the set list with others and we all came to the conclusion that it was a safe set. There was no “Shogun”, no “Shattering The Skies Above”, no “Vengeance Falls” and no “Pulling Harder” or “A Gunshot To The Head”.

We all saw it as a trade-off to accommodate a new drummer and Matt’s throat problems. Kudos to Corey for doing a stellar job on the growling vocals for each song. He dead set killed it. And while the new Trivium drummer Mat Madiro is very competent, he should take a leaf out from the experienced Daniel Svensson from “In Flames” about keeping a tight time and groove.

The trip home took in two beef yeeros’s from “The Souvlaki Bar” at Brighton Le-Sands. For the uninitiated think of real beef (not processed meat like the normal Doner Kebabs), fried a bit extra on the hot plate after it was cut from the roasting roller. They also put the pita bread on the hot plate to soften and when it is all put together with shredded cheese, lettuce, tzatziki, tomatoes and red onion it is just delicious.

And suddenly it was Saturday, and the harassment from my family about the internet started again.

“How can you be playing your guitar when the Internet is down?” was thrown at me over a hundred times over the weekend. Even when I explained to them that there is nothing I can do until the upgrade is fixed. A lynch mob was forming in my household.

Swimming for my almost three-year old came and went, then Summer Soccer for the elder two kids came and went.

And the internet was still down.

We packed a truck full of rubbish  and the internet was still down.

I called my ISP again and was told the same story.

I played the guitar for over 2 hours and when I checked, the internet was still down.

I had a shower, walked past my study room and the red flashing ADSL light was now GREEN.

The internet was back up.

Happy family equals happy life. And the weekend finished with my kids helping me blow out the candles on my birthday cake.

Life is okay again that the internet is back up.

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

Music Is Art, However The Price Point For That Art Ranges from $0 to ????? For Each Fan

The tech industry is excited about the music industry in the current day while others see it as a bad time for artists.

Which side is right or wrong is for another post. What I am getting out of it all are two very different arguments and experiences.

The techies see opportunities on a grand scale. They have introduced new revenue streams into the recording industry that did not exist previously due to the way fans started to accessed/get their music online.

The techies celebrate that they have created a direct to fan connection for the artists. People can now participate in the recording industry that previously couldn’t. Artists don’t need a record label however it can be argued that without the record label machine the artist more or less remains part of a niche. Their music can be up on all digital outlets without the need of a record label.

However, the artists, see a decline in revenue. I am sure everyone has heard the following comments;

“We made good money selling CD’s” or “Our music is worth nothing because of streaming” or “Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for.” The last one is from Taylor Swift in her Wall Street Journal Op-Ed.

Spotify is talking about competing and killing off piracy. Spotify is talking about adding a monetary value to the recording industry that was not there before. At no point do they state that Spotify is a substitute for selling CDs.

“Piracy doesn’t pay artists a penny – nothing, zilch, zero. Spotify has paid more than two billion dollars to labels, publishers and collecting societies for distribution to songwriters and recording artists.” Yep, that is what Daniel Ek said in his blog post response to Taylor Swift.

So what we have is the recording industry and misguided artists thinking about the “loss” and they keep doing what they did before which in the long run would end up hurting them more. What they forget is that without the public and the fans, they have no industry. So, yes I agree that music is art, however the price of that art differs from person to person and if an artist cannot cover all different price points then they are failing to service their customers/fans.

Seriously we are 15 years after Napster changed the rules of the game and we are still having the same conversation. The recording industry and misguided artists want us all to buy CDs again.

FAN: “But we only like one track.”
MISGUIDED ARTIST: “I’m sorry, but music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for, so hand over your one of payment of $10.”
FAN: “But I don’t want the whole album.”
MISGUIDED ARTIST: “How do you expect me to make a living if you don’t buy my CD’s. You fans are killing the music industry and the artists by not supporting us.”
FAN: “But I don’t want to own music, I want access to it. And all I am trying to change is the recording industry viewpoints. ”
MISGUIDED ARTIST: “I put my blood, sweat and tears into making this music and its important and rare and since rare things are valuable, you WILL pay for it.”
FAN: “No thanks, I will go elsewhere.”
MISGUIDED ARTIST: “But, wait a minute, I have my own download store available where I am selling MP3’s”.
FAN: “Are you serious, Apple stopped making the iPod and you are still pushing MP3’s.”
MISGUIDED ARTIST: “But”
FAN: “What stuns me is that you have failed to see that the game has changed. The past is gone, it is never coming back. You want me to buy CD’s and Apple doesn’t even have a CD/DVD/BluRay Drive on any of their computers. You want me to buy MP3’s when all I want to do is listen. No one wakes up in the morning and goes to themselves, gee, I wish I bought an MP3 or a CD today. We wake up in the morning thinking, gee, I would love to hear “King Of Errors” from Evergrey.”
MISGUIDED ARTIST: “But music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for.”
FAN: “Your job as a musician is to make music.”

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