A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Say Hello To Lemmy From Motorhead

Lemmy Kilmister has been in the news again for ill-health and for some reason Ozzy Osbourne’s “No More Tears” album came to mind. Great album and if you want a great review of it, look no further than the one that Bob Lefsetz did.

You see, while Ozzy Osbourne went onto another victory lap with the “No More Tears” album, selling millions, Lemmy continued his niche career, putting out “1916”, “March Or Die” and “Bastards” within a year of each other.

History will show that if it wasn’t for good old Lemmy writing some killer lyrics, the album would have been a different beast as two of his tracks proved cross-over hits.

Several of the tracks “I Dont Want To Change The World”, “Mama, I’m Coming Home”, “Desire” and “Hellraiser” were all co-written with Lemmy from Motorhead. In a Hot Metal interview from October 1991, this is what Ozzy said about the Lemmy Kilmister connection;

“The reason I got Lemmy to help out with some of the lyrics is that I like his tongue in cheek attitude. He’s cynical, but he can say fuck you in four sentences. One the greatest lines he wrote was “Tell me I’m a sinner, I got news for you, I spoke to God this morning and he don’t like you.” I’d hum a melody and sing “Mama I’m coming home” and he would take it from there. It’s really weird coz I listen to that song and it’s as if i wrote it. It’s as he’s read my mind.”

Lemmy further recalls the arrangement in his autobiography “White Line Fever”.

“That was one of the easiest gigs I ever had – Sharon rang me up and said, ‘I’ll give you X amount of money to write some songs for Ozzy’, and I said, ‘All right – you got a pen?’ I wrote six or seven sets of words, and he ended up using four of them…I made more money out of writing those four songs than I made out of fifteen years of Motörhead – ludicrous, isn’t it?!”

Ludicrous alright.

The “No More Tears” album was meant to be called “Say Hello To Heaven”. At the last-minute, it got changed. Ozzy said in a Hot Metal interview from November 1991, that the album was originally scheduled to be released at the beginning of 1991, however it took a significantly longer time to see the light of day. It finally came out in September 1991.

First there was the change of producers from “Thompson/Barbiero” to “Rick Rubin” to “Duane Baron/John Purdell”. The shift from Thompson/Barbiero to Rick Rubin involved the scrapping of all the work on the grounds that it was too much like Black Sabbath.

 

As with previous Ozzy projects, a certain bass player from the past was also involved up to a certain point.

Bob Daisley got another SOS call from Ozzy’s camp after all of the songs were written and played on the whole album. Daisley was also the original lyrical writer for the songs, however according to Daisley, Sharon Osbourne didn’t want to pay him and that is where Lemmy came into the picture.

However, Lemmy would also experience some of the pain that Bob Daisley and Jake E.Lee experienced about not been credited for their work. In an interview on Banger.com, this is how Lemmy put it.

“I wrote two songs on that album (Ozzmosis)-one they didn’t fucking credit me for! And I did four on “No More Tears”. So that’s six. Ozzy and I are old friends and he asked me to give him some songs for the new album-I gave him ten, he used two. It’s not a very inspiring album, I didn’t think, especially after “No More Tears”

History will show that Ozzy Osbourne wrote every song on the “Bark At The Moon” album and history will also show Lemmy as having one songwriting credit on Ozzmosis.

That’s show business, where the people with the money get to do what they want and the ones that actually contribute something worthwhile get shafted.

And Lemmy is a true superhero. For him it was all about the music. His output is massive.

Live long Lemmy.

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

It’s Always Been About The Songs

“The biggest thing that surprised me about fame was that it was fleeting. You work so hard to get there and you just assume that it’s some sort of finish line, or you take a victory lap and maybe spike the ball, run around the field screaming ‘Goal,” I don’t know.”
Dee Snider 

It is pretty well-known how long and hard Twisted Sister worked at getting their sound and image out to the masses. It is also pretty well-known how short their fame was in the Eighties and how quickly they faded from the conversation.

You see, the biggest untold story in music is that when an artist hits a high with one album/song, it doesn’t mean that the next album/song will also hit that same high.

“Stay Hungry” sold over 2 million copies when “Come Out And Play” was released in 1985. At that point in time, “Under The Blade” was still selling, “You Can’t Stop Rock ‘N’ Roll” was still selling and so was “Stay Hungry”. Because when an album crosses over into the mainstream, the back catalogue of the artists suddenly become popular.

Then a new album drops and suddenly the sales are not as high as the previous album. It doesn’t mean the band is not famous or popular anymore, it just meant that a re-adjustment was going on with the fans.

A lot of fans were still digesting the back catalogue and a lot of fans moved on to the next flavour of the year.

So instead of Twisted Sister’s management team booking a normal theatre and shed tour, they booked an arena tour for “Come Out And Play”. And when the arena shows failed to sell out, the tour got canned which cost the band money. The merchandise agreement for the tour became null and void which cost the band money.

“The reality is that rock and roll, in the mainstream, it’s in a difficult place right now. People don’t buy music, and they certainly don’t buy rock bands’ music in the way that they used to. And so, for our genre, it’s kind of… We’re limping along when it comes to public appeal. I believe that rock and roll is alive and well. I just think that people need to show their support and let the genre keep thriving.”
Andy Biersack – Black Veil Brides

People never wanted to buy music. I know I never did. I wanted to listen to music. However, corporations got involved with music, and a big business was born from it. Guess how many records Kiss sold from their first album, before they started to record their second album.

If you answered 70,000 units, then you are correct. If you don’t believe me, read Paul Stanley’s “Face The Music”. Metallica’s “Kill Em All” didn’t set any sales records when it came out either. Nine months after the album’s release, Metallica went back into the studio to record “Ride The Lightning”.

But today, bands want instant success. They want their first album to sell like Metallica’s “Black” album or Bon Jovi’s “Slippery When Wet”.

“Metal was really strong in the 80s and kind of had hard times in the 90s. I think we treaded water and kept alive and kept focused on being Testament, and writing songs that we wrote without thinking or trying to change and play with what’s current at the time. It really hurt a lot of bands trying to do that. Fortunately, we didn’t do that. We went opposite. We went a little darker and heavier at that time. Then the metal got healthy again, and coming out the other end, we were in the right spot with the direction we were going, and the history we had, it just carried through. Metal has been real strong since the early 2000s. It’s been gradually picking up. I see the generation changing with a lot more younger fans coming to shows now over the last ten years.”
CHUCK BILLY – Testament

The crux of longevity is the replenishing of your fan base, year after year. And you do that by being in the game. Each album release will do some of the following;

  • Pick up new fans and keep all of the old fans
  • Pick up new fans and lose some of the old fans
  • Pick up new fans and lose all of the old fans
  • Keep all of the old fans
  • Lose some of the old fans

It’s just the way it is. You see for me, I lost interest in Testament after Alex Skolnick left. My cousin Mega, still purchased their albums, I heard them and forgot them. It was just part of getting older. Musical tastes changed for a while. That is why in 2015, my music collection has everything from folk, blues, classic rock, metal, hard rock, glam rock, thrash metal, death metal, metalcore, progressive rock, etc…

So in 2015, the album is just not as important as it was once was. With streaming it is all about the songs. For all the artists that complain about sales, the truth is if you’re popular, people want to listen to your music and they want more of it, if it is good. My kids don’t even care if the songs all came from the same album.

Today, the artists get paid every time we listen.

Elektra sold Metallica’s self-titled album and the band only got paid once for the sale. Today, Metallica is cleaning up, as fans are streaming their tracks over and over again. They are getting paid continuously. And right now payments are low, but they will grow as more people subscribe. And if we are listening to our favourites music, they will get paid forever.

So it all comes down to listens and good songs have a long listening life, a long time to make money.

And it’s always been about good songs.

Metallica did not break big until “Enter Sandman” crossed over. Twisted Sister did not break big until “We’re Not Gonna Take It” crossed over.

We all want more if the artists are great and the hard truth is that very few are.

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

Guess What: Not A Lot Has Changed

“In 1981, there was a crackdown after the big payola scandal of the late 70s. Right at the beginning of the 80s, the record companies were being safe. They were not handing out advances. They would advance your recording budget, but that was it.”
Brian Forsythe – Kix

So what has changed in 2015.

The record labels are still being safe and with recording costs so low, the recording budget is even lower.

Yeah, of course, we all know that the record labels had a massive boom that started with “Thriller” in 1984 and that allowed them to take more risks. And for some reason it looks like musicians and the labels are only looking at the boom when they compare now vs then. Typical revisionist history.

“None of us knew what we were doing. We were just so excited to have a record deal. There are writer’s royalties, and the mechanical royalties that go to the band. The record company gets paid back through the mechanical until the bill (advancement) is paid off. Donnie was the main songwriter, so he was still getting his (writers) money. By the time we got to “Blow My Fuse” – our biggest selling record – we were two million dollars in debt.” 
Brian Forsythe – Kix

Even in the era of information, with everything is at our fingertips, artists are still unaware of their entitlements. And when they do find out, it is the crux of every argument. Especially between band members because every band has a person that just writes better songs than the others at certain points of time, or in some cases always. Kix’s bass player Donnie Purdell, was another Nikki Sixx. He was crucial to Kix.

It should act as no surprise to anyone that bands in the Seventies, Eighties or Nineties, ended up with such large debts to the label. That is the label creative accounting machine at its best. And the shameful part of it all is that current musicians still look at the past to gauge what success means in 2015.

“Go pull up the sales for 1985, 1986 for heavy metal bands. I guarantee you it’s ten times what it is now. That doesn’t mean there’s ten times less fans — in fact, I think there’s more heavy metal fans now than possibly there ever was. But the bottom line is the numbers show that metal bands are not selling what they did back in the day, and that’s because of Internet piracy. I don’t wanna get on that subject, because it always turns into a depressing, negative subject, but it is a fact. So the answer to the question, ‘Would that record sell more in 1985?’ I would say the answer would be yes.”
Shawn Drover – Act of Defiance

Shawn Drover, wishes it was 1985 and 1986 because for some reason, he believes that he will have more money in his pocket and if his new band “Act Of Defiance” sold a million copies of an album, they would be mega rich and popular. Brian Forsythe from Kix, lived that period and ended up with a $2 million debt, even though they had albums that sold in excess of a million.

And guess what venues they are playing right now?

Clubs and theaters.

Dokken albums achieved Platinum awards and the band today plays clubs and theaters. Stryper and Ratt albums achieved Platinum awards and the bands today play clubs and theaters.

A sale of a record never equaled a fan. It’s the usual comparison between;

  • a person that purchased a record, heard it once and hated it
    vs
  • a person that purchased a record, heard it, loved it and listened to it every day
    vs
  • a person that purchased a record, heard the popular songs and then moved on to whatever else was popular

So why do artists still see sales as important today?

Metal and rock artists still sell. There is no doubt about that. Especially the ones that connect with audiences. But sales is not the only stat that artists should be basing their careers on.

With all of the streaming services out there, the most important stat is how many listens an artist is getting and in which cities they are getting those listens.

The second most important stat is how many illegal P2P downloads an artist is getting and in which cities they are getting these illegal downloads. These listeners/downloaders need to be monetized in different ways.

Otherwise if you are an artist and you are waiting for profits to come in from recorded music sales, then you need to change your business model.

“I’ve never seen a check. Donnie probably still gets writer’s royalty checks. The rest of the money is going back to the record company. Donnie was such a better songwriter. For every 20 songs he would write, I would write one. We were working on his songs all the time and we never even had time to write our own stuff. Back in the early days I may have gotten a couple checks. The biggest one was maybe $350. One time I remember getting one for $1.99. I could count the amount of checks I’ve received on one hand.”
Brian Forsythe – Kix

Remember all of the stories that have come out over the last five years from artists complaining about their low royalty payouts from streaming services. Guess that in 30 years nothing much has really changed. For the small amount of 1% artists that have broken through to mega status, it’s all good.

For the rest, it is still the same story.

“The standard stat given is that 90% of major label deals “fail.” That does not mean they are not profitable for the label. The way RIAA accounting works, the labels can make out like a bandit on many of those record deals, while the artist gets hung out to dry.”
Mike Masnick, Techdirt

Nothing has changed on that front, even with the rise of the internet, Napster, P2P illegal downloading and so forth. The 90% stat was relevant even in the golden years of recorded music sales and it is still relevant now.

“We never expected to get rich, but we certainly didn’t expect to be millions of dollars in debt.”
Jared Leto – Thirty Seconds To Mars

No artist expects to get rich. The need to create is the calling card. However, when they start making money and they see the recording executives living it up while the actual creators are not, then money becomes an important conversation point.

The recording industry has always been known for its creative accounting.

Remember when Tom Petty declared himself bankrupt to get out of a recording contract because he had no money to show after two very successful albums in the seventies.

It all goes against what Gene Simmons said about rock music in general being murdered due to internet piracy. It’s a very narrow-minded and hostile view to have to all of the change that has happened in music. It also mimics, the view that the record labels have held.

A hostile one.

However as Tim Westergren, the Chief Strategy Officer – Pandora (until last year) states;

“I think we’re moving out of an era where the music industry is looking for enemies and into one where it’s now looking for allies.”

The record labels have been dragged kicking and screaming into cassettes, mp3’s and then streaming. Guess what happened. It increased their bottom line on all occassions. Guess that not much has changed in the era of change when it comes to record label abuses.

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

Keep On Selling In A Free World

Five Finger Death Punch moved 119,000 units of their new album “Got Your Six”. 114,000 of those units are pure album sales and it a time of free, it even surpassed the 112,000 opening sales week of 2013’s “The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell: Volume 1”.

In the U.S, Iron Maiden moved 75,000 of their “The Book Of Souls” album and in a time of free, it is Iron Maiden’s best sales week since Nielsen Music began measuring sales in 1991. It even surpassed 2010’s “The Final Frontier” sales by 12,000 units. Again in a time of free, you would expect a sales decline to happen.

In the U.K, Iron Maiden moved over 60,000 units and Five Finger Death Punch also landed in the Top 10.

In Australia, we know that Iron Maiden came in a Number 2 and Five Finger Death Punch at Number 3.

Both of the above bands have had their BEST SALES week for these latest releases. Especially in the U.S market. For Iron Maiden, it is their best sales week since 1991. Consider that. Piracy was at an all-time low in 1991 however in 2015, when piracy is meant to be at an all time high, bands sell more than before in opening weeks.

But it’s not always like that.

Disturbed’s “Immortalized” sold 98,000 total copies. If you compare these sales with 2002, when their second album “Believe” sold 284,000 copies you can see a steep decline in first week sales.

2005’s “Ten Thousand Fists” sold 239,000 copies, 2008’s “Indestructible” sold 253,000 copies and 2010’s “Asylum” sold 179,000 copies. On the same week that Disturbed made their comeback, Swedish metal act Ghost had opening week sales of 29,000 units of their second album “Meliora”

So what does all of the above tell us?

Has anyone seen the latest MTV Video Music Awards?

How many metal and hard rock bands got mentioned

If you are an artist in 2015, there is no use comparing 2015 to 1985.

Shawn Drover can complain all he wants.

The truth is, no one really cares about his new act “Act Of Defiance” first album at this point in time.

What the above data shows me, is that the music business is not all about the first album. It is about what comes after the first album. Remember, “Kill Em All” from Metallica had a life span of about nine months, before Metallica was back in the studio recording “Ride The Lightning”. That album also had a nine month life span before Metallica was back in the studio to record “Master of Puppets”.

There is no doubt that internet piracy has affected every genre, especially the metal and hard rock genre.

Does that mean that there is no money in music?

Of course not.

Publishing agency, BMI raked in $1.013 billion dollars for the financial year. ASCAP, also raked in $1.001 billion. This is money, earned by agencies for licensing out artists songs to radio, TV, streaming services and other platforms. And the reason for this big boom is;

  • Music streaming

But with everything corporate, the payouts to artists comes after both BMI and ASCAP subtract their operating expenses and other creative expenses from the revenue. This is what happens when you have a monopoly on music licensing. You abuse it.

BMI actually paid $877 million to its thousands of members, including songwriters like Dave Grohl, Linkin Park, Nickelback and Evanescence. ASCAP on the other hand paid its members $883 million.

What about that?

ASCAP had less revenue than BMI but paid out more. Regardless, when you add the expenses that both organisations kept, that is another $600 million kept away from artists.

But BMI blamed their legal fight against Pandora for the reduced payouts?

And certain artists have jumped on the bandwagon to criticise Pandora. But so many are clueless to the work that Pandora has done to help the recording industry and the music industry at large. They have 80 million listeners.

But did you know that Five Finger Death Punch partnered with Pandora to launch their album “Got Your Six”. Mumford and Sons, partnered with Pandora for a live stream of a concert. Jack White did the same. All of these partnerships led to Pandora increasing their fan base and the artists increasing their exposure and sales.

Pandora put on 79 live events last year and this year it’s expected to rise to 120.

This is on top of Pandora paying out half its revenue to SoundExchange in licensing fees, which in turn has ensured that the company is in a loss position. Other countries are not that quick to embrace Pandora, because to date, the service only operates in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand.

Which is silly.

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

Recovering with The Eagles, Thirty Seconds To Mars, AC/DC and Iron Maiden

I had my ACL Reconstruction on my left leg on Tuesday 1 September. So I have been at home recovering since then. And I am thinking about what the surgeon said before the operation.

The surgeon said that I would walk out of the hospital the next day after the surgery. Well that was complete bullshit.

On day one I was so drugged up on morphine and other painkillers that my head was spinning every time I tried get up. Plus the fact that I probably won’t shit for a month due to all of the painkillers. So how the fuck would I be able to walk out the hospital if the Earth can’t stop spinning.

So I was wheeled out on a wheelchair.

But not before the Physio girls tried to make me walk with crutches on a straight line and up and down stairs. With my head spinning. Some would say I have managed to walk up stairs before with a spinning head.

So I’ve been watching a lot of Netflix and other TV shows. And the following documentaries are still stuck in my head.

  • The History of the Eagles Part 1.
  • Artifact – The Thirty Seconds To Mars documentary about the label lawsuit against them for $30 million dollars.
  • Blood and Thunder Documentary about Ted Albert’s search for the Australian sound with a focus on “The Easybeats”, “AC/DC”, “Rose Tattoo”, “The Angels” and the songwriting/production of “Young/Vanda”.

All three documentaries have four common threads.

  • The path to stardom isn’t overnight.

Let’s not kid around when we talk about “The Eagles”. The main drivers and creative forces of the band are Don Henley and Glenn Frey. Their journey started in different parts of America. It took some time paying their dues with different acts, until they ended up as backing musicians to Linda Ronstandt and then finally into their own act.

And when “The Eagles” formed, the band was rounded out by seasoned and well rehearsed musicians.

Success is dependent upon education and hard work. Henley and Frey educated themselves by working with different artists, learning different traits and building on their skills.

Thirty Seconds To Mars main driver is Jared Leto. AC/DC’s main driver in the early days was Malcolm Young. Jared would go and do movies, educating himself a little bit more. Malcolm Young and Angus Young would do session work for songs his older brother wrote for other artists.

The difference between successful artists and not successful artists is recognition always came LAST! The music and the show came first.

Since the rise of MTV, a certain belief came over the mindsets of musicians that if they are not famous on their first track, cut moments after they picked up an instrument, then someone else is to blame. It wasn’t always that way.

  • Keeping that stardom is not easy.

You’ve got to want it. And you’ve got to be willing to do the work.

How many bands have failed to reach the lofty heights of a previous album again?

Metallica will never top the “Black” album. AC/DC will never top the “Back In Black” album. Twisted Sister will never top the “Stay Hungry” album.

And the successful never stop working. Those classics on other albums didn’t come by accident.

  • The middlemen who make more than the acts.

All of the bands mentioned in the documentaries built their audience with a dependence on middlemen. The labels had it rigged that whatever they produced from their studios would get radio airplay and in stores. They would put the band on tour. All of this label love to the acts would mean that all monies received from the sales of recorded music would end up on the labels profit and loss, with very little given back to the artists.

There is a conversation in the “Artifact” documentary between Jared Leto and Irving Azoff, which Azoff abruptly ends. Leto questions how much that call is going to cost him. He questions how he could be millions in debt to his label when the “A Beautiful Lie” album moved over 3.5 million units in the U.S.

And the guys in Thirty Seconds To Mars, they are financing the recording of the album that would become “This Is War”. If you think this is common, it’s not. Again, due to some creative propaganda by the labels, musicians believe they need someone else to pay. Independent artists normally finance their own recordings.

Are you willing to do this?

Now, more than ever in the modern era, no one else is gonna pay.

 

  • Belief

The Eagles wanted to be a rock band. Their producer of choice “Glyn Johns” who worked with Led Zeppelin and Cream, didn’t think so. This is why people hate The Eagles. Their desire to do it their way. They didn’t allow other people to drag them down into a hole.

The Eagles didn’t want to be pigeonholed as a folk rock act, the same way Led Zeppelin didn’t want to be pigeonholed as a blues rock act.

To truly be king you have to believe in yourself and play by your own rules. You’ve got to stick it out.

Sort of like Iron Maiden. They just kept at it and believed in what they did. A massive corporate empire has been formed around that belief.

So I am getting into “The Book Of Souls” album. It is my bedtime music. At the moment I last to track five before I dose off to sleep.

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

The New Music Labels

There are a lot of discussions happening around the film industry.

For example, would the new Star Wars movie be better served as a HBO/AMC/NETFLIX/etc TV Series?

Instead of a two-hour movie for Episode 7, would it serve the Star Wars story line better if it followed the Game Of Thrones formula and produced ten 1 hour episodes.

Two hours vs Ten Hours.

What would the customers want?

In relation to music, Napster pretty much showed the recording industry what customers want. More single songs than a slab of songs.

It’s pretty obvious that CD’s are not making a comeback. Yes, they are still selling, however so is vinyl. Both niche markets for the time being. The majority of the listeners have moved to streaming services, digital downloads, YouTube or P2P downloading. Whatever the method used to consume music, access is the key word.

Do we want to watch a movie in our home theatres or do we want to put up with dirty Cinema’s, people talking and deciding that the movie experience was the perfect time for them to have a Subway Roll, Satay Chicken from the Thai restaurant next door or some other kind of lunch/dinner.

What people want is instant access. But the content providers would rather sell 5 movie tickets ONCE to my family than get a percentage cut from a monthly license fee from a streaming service over and over and over and over again.

The content providers would rather sell my family ONE Blu-Ray/DVD than get a percentage cut from a monthly license fee from a streaming service over and over and over and over again.

I was talking to me kids about a movie called “Who’s Harry Crumb?” a few days ago. It got them excited to watch it. So i pulled up Netflix, searched for it and it is not there.

Bummer.

Did I got out and buy a copy of it?

Of course not. We just moved on to another movie, which in this case was “The Replacements”.

Same deal with music.

The best emails I get are the ones from Spotify when they tell me a certain album from the bands I follow is available for streaming;

In the last week, those emails have covered the following releases;

  • Survival by TesseracT
  • The Book Of Souls by Iron Maiden
  • Got Your Six by Five Finger Death Punch
  • Life, Love, Loss by Degreed
  • Here To Mars by Coheed and Cambria
  • Love, Fear and the Time Machine by Riverside

I remember the old days when we all rushed to the record store or to the cinema so we could purchase the latest music or watch the latest movie just to be part of the conversation. Why would I want those days back again.

Change is happening quicker than ever before.

We went from Napster to iTunes to YouTube to Spotify. We went from MySpace to Facebook to Twitter and back to Facebook. The major labels have withered down to three. The movie studios are doing the same.

Watch out for television to do the same. Funny thing to note, is that the channels leading the way, are channels that originally started off licensing movies from the Hollywood studios. HBO, AMC, Showtime and Netflix found out that original programming is where it’s at. Create a show that connects and watch it become part of the cultural conversation. Amazon is now involved and Apple is due to enter this market.

So what does this have to do with music and artists?

Expect Spotify to lead the way and start signing up artists because even though artists can cut a record without a major label or corporation behind them, they cannot be heard without the help of the label machine. There is a lot of money in music if you control the copyrights of artists you break through. Spotify can break an artist, they just need to start signing them and developing them.

It’s just a shame that the power players in music would rather spend their resources and monies to shut down illegal music websites through the Courts while websites controlled by terrorist like ISIS are allowed to operate. It’s a shame that the power players in music have had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the new digital world post Napster.

Especially when illegal music websites have allowed fans of certain styles of music to access bands they never could before. Metallica and Iron Maiden are two examples of illegal music websites growing their fan bases in countries where they sold no physical product.

So what did these bands do with that high rate of P2P piracy?

They toured those countries.

Being an artist is a business and making money in a business is hard.

The good thing for musicians today, is that all of the craziness that happened since Napster is all over. Musicians now know what the recording industry looks like and how it all hangs together within the music industry. In my view, the current ecosystem would remain stable for the next 50 years or so.

The big change that would happen is when technology companies like Spotify, Apple, Pandora, Google and Samsung get into signing and developing new artists. When these techies become like labels they will be powerful. Because of the data which they will have and control. Will the record labels then start to litigate against these techies.

Once these companies become like labels, expect them to enter the live arena as promoters. Apple and Spotify are both involved in the festivals scene.

Times they are a changing.

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

It’s “2015 Chaos AD” and People Are Seeking Filters

A common question today is “How do musicians make money?”

Depending on which side of the argument you are, you either focus on the positives of today’s music market or on the negatives of today’s music market. Artists like Paul Stanley, Yngwie Malmsteen, Joe Perry, Scott Ian, Gene Simmons and Kirk Hammett focus on the headlines that read;

  • Album sales are down
  • iTunes single downloads are down
  • Streaming services are decimating artists incomes
  • Technology and the internet has killed the rock star

But it’s not gloom and doom. The old ways are not coming back. You don’t see people going back to dial up internet, three TV channels and landline telephones. So why do you expect them to start buying albums again on vinyl and plastic.

So what do artists do?

Well you can complain like others for the old ways to come back or you can look at new ways and models to increase your brand and exposure.

In the link, there is a story about Linkin Park. In 2013, they decided that they needed to change their business model to accommodate the changing recorded music market. They restructured their organisation to run like a tech start-up. They parted ways with outside management and brought everything in-house

Prior to that they released music consistently, did video games, art and they licensed their grassroots marketing service to other bands, film studios, TV stations and brands.

They studied other successful artists who diversified. They studied other brands from different markets. They formed a new strategy where creating and selling music plays a supporting role instead of being the main role.

So what about someone just starting off?

A lot of people would say “Linkin Park is huge so they have the power to do things differently.” Read the article. Everything that they have going for them started with the team that was assembled to pack and send CD’s before they made it big.

For anyone starting off, the product is first. If you have no product, you have no publicity. And publicity comes from word of mouth. It’s 2015 Chaos AD and people are seeking filters. And the cold hard truth is that in order to be heard above the noise, you still need someone to promote you and your product.

I remember reading an article about word of mouth and it stated that Google, Facebook and Amazon grew because of word of mouth. Motley Crue and even Metallica had people spreading the word for them. And people will always listen to their friends.

Look at “Phish”. Their business thrives without any media attention and their career is decades deep.

And for the ones whinging about streaming profits, the goal is to get people to stream for years. Instant payola is gone.

There is another story over at the Times called “The Creative Apocalypse That Wasn’t”.

The article states, creative artists are thriving “in complicated and unexpected ways.”

Remember the words of Lars Ulrich on July 11, 2000, in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee,

‘‘We typically employ a record producer, recording engineers, programmers, assistants and, occasionally, other musicians. We rent time for months at recording studios, which are owned by small-­business men who have risked their own capital to buy, maintain and constantly upgrade very expensive equipment and facilities. Our record releases are supported by hundreds of record companies’ employees and provide programming for numerous radio and television stations. … It’s clear, then, that if music is free for downloading, the music industry is not viable. All the jobs I just talked about will be lost, and the diverse voices of the artists will disappear.’’

So 15 years have passed.

Have artists disappeared? NO

Has the music industry died? NO

But what we have are artists using a business model from the 1950’s. Spend time in a studio, record an albums worth of songs and release it. Hope that it penetrates the market and you go on a continuous victory lap celebrating the fact.

Look at any band in the history of music and they all have the definitive crossover album.

Bon Jovi has “Slippery When Wet”, Led Zeppelin has “IV”, Metallica has the “Black” album, Motley Crue has “Dr Feelgood”, Judas Priest has “Screaming For Vengeance”, Eagles have “Hotel California”, AC/DC has “Back In Black”, Kiss has “Destroyer”, Poison has “Open Up and Say Ahh..” and so on. You get the hint.

What we do know is that any record that gains traction will last longer than ever before in the current climate.

Metallica spent close to 18 months on the “Black” album and over a million dollars on it. Depending on which side of the debate you are on, it was either totally worth it or not worth it. From a band perspective, it was totally worth it. The “Black” album explosion also increased awareness in their back catalogue, which if you read my posts, you will note that even in 2015, “Master Of Puppets” is outselling the “Black” album.

But do the fans of 205 want their favourite artists to spend so much time out of the market?

While artists complain about technology changing their income streams from sales of recorded music, they seem to forget that technology has also changed the cost of recording an album/song?

If your main gig is to write songs for others, then we will be hearing your depressing stories in the press, unless you’re a Max Martin. However, if you like to play live, then the new world is for you. It’s simply economics. Recorded music is a product and performing live is also a product. Once upon a time both products were limited. Now recorded music is in infinite supply and live music is still limited. So when one product experiences a price decline, the other product which is limited, experiences an increase.

We don’t care about the corporations when it comes to music. We care about the music and the artist?

And it is unfortunate that the corporations attached the sales metric of record music as f fans caring for artists. So of course, if sales are reduced and music is illegally obtained, the same corporations with some dumb artists toe the line that fans don’t care. However, the fans do care, they just show it in different ways. But the same corporations don’t know how to make sense of the data and the artists are too poor or too far down the chain to obtain any substantial data.

Maybe that is why the direct to fan relationship has become such a focus lately. It means a leaner artist with less handlers. As the Times article states, more people are involved in music today than the glory years of the Nineties.

They are just doing it very different to what artists of yesteryear did.

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