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

…And Streaming For All

“I judge (the current state of heavy metal) it more by people coming to shows rather than on people buying music. It’s very different to what it was 20 years ago, but the live environment is unchanged, and that’s when you see if you are doing well. The tour that’s coming up is almost sold out already which is great news. It does seem to be a good time for metal.”
KERRY KING – Slayer

Damn right. The live environment is unchanged, however one important fact to add to that is that with more people than ever having access to music, guess what is happening. Shows are selling out quicker than ever.

Suddenly that Metallica fan or Venom fan or Iron Maiden fan that didn’t have the cash to purchase a Slayer album as we did have to choose once upon a time what albums to purchase based on the cash in our pockets, now has Slayer’s whole catalogue in front of them and at their fingertips. And it’s not just Slayer benefiting from this. All of the bands that have deep catalogues are benefiting from this, provided they are still together in some shape and form and roadworthy.

And of course, there is a lot of P2P illegal downloading going on, along with legal streaming options both paid and free.

In Australia, we are labelled a land of pirates, however, in the last year, these pirate fans of music have added 15.7 billion to the live music industry, which is a record for Australia.

Also, if you think that streaming is priced too high, then it is. The average music listener spends on average $22.80 a year on music. Set the yearly streaming fee of $25 and watch the user base grow exponentially. Hard core fans will always pay top dollar, but for music to grow exponentially, it is the casual music fan that needs to be monetized consistently.

What would the artists want, 20 million paying listeners at $100 a year or 100 million paying listeners at $25 a year?

Also if you read the ABC story, China, India, Mexico, Brazil, South Korea, Canada and Spain are markets that bands are consistently monetizing through live performances and they are also markets that spend the least amount of money on legal music options. High rate of P2P leads to high returns at the box office, if you are able to tour there.

Megadeth played China recently, to sold out crowds and even had their set censored. Metallica played China a few years ago to sold out audiences. Bon Jovi booked shows and the Chinese Government cancelled them. Avenged Sevenfold also played a censored set in China. Meanwhile, India, Mexico, Brazil, South Korea and Canada are consistent stops for Metallica, Bon Jovi, Avenged Sevenfold and Iron Maiden.

You see, when more people have access to music, there are rewards in other areas.

Let me talk about some artists for a moment that are not hard rock or metal.

Glass Animals is a four piece UK indie rock band. They have over 100 million streams, generating $700,000 in royalties for the rights holders. But the reason why I am mentioning this band is that their debut album came out in June 2014, and after 64 weeks, it is still selling units and it is still being streamed. It is getting more and more popular as time progresses.

“Without the word-of-mouth excitement that came via the streaming platforms – first Spotify and now apple music – we would never have managed to sustain a campaign that took the band from unknowns to headlining sold out shows.”
Amy Morgan, Manager 

Ed Sheeran (yes I know he is not metal or hard rock) is one of the biggest acts in the world. He has always gone on record about the benefits of Spotify and streaming services in general. He’s winning on the live circuit while those who are complaining about streaming are losing. He is two albums deep in his career and is selling out stadiums and arenas.

“The audience grew as people shared the album and play listed tracks thanks to the platform and support Spotify gave us. Tickets sold to shows sold globally and the world around “Zaba” (their debut album) and Glass Animals began to grow. Without that initial connection between band and audience and the word of mouth excitement that came via the streaming platforms – first Spotify and now Apple Music as well – we would never have managed to sustain a campaign that took the band from unknowns at SXSW 2014 to headlining sold out shows at The Wiltern in LA, T5 in NYC, Shepherds Bush in London and gathering huge crowds at major international festivals all round the world just over 15 months later.”
Emma Greengrass, Caroline International 

Streaming is not the enemy. It is the artists best friend. Read this article on Troy Carter’s (artist manager) views on streaming.

If you don’t click on the link, here it is…

Musicians, it’s time to stop hating streaming services, and here’s why. Troy Carter, one of the world’s most powerful artist managers (John Legend, Meghan Trainor, and previously Lady Gaga) just busted some myths with four reasons streaming is the future of music, not the end.

Streaming Will Earn Artists A Lot With Enough Users – Royalty payouts from streaming might seem small now, but that’s because it’s very new. Eventually as more listeners sign-up, the payouts could match the amount artists made at the height of the $16 CD era.
The Alternative Is Piracy – If music isn’t easily accessible for free with ads or through a subscription, people will just steal it and then artists earn nothing.
Labels Are Hoarding The Royalties – Services like Spotify and Apple Music pay more than 70% of what they earn to the labels, and most of the rest covers expenses of running the apps. The problem is that the labels push artists into exploitative record deals where they only get a tiny share of the royalties, and the labels keep the rest.
The Big Money’s Always Been In Touring And Merchandise – Labels have always screwed artists out of recorded music dollars. Artists should think of streaming as a way to get more famous, and sell more concert tickets and t-shirts.

Basically artists who are mad about streaming should demand better deals from their labels, remember the alternative is getting their work stolen, be patient, and tour. CD sales didn’t get huge overnight either. Once more people realize how amazing it is to be able listen to any song they want, the money will come.

You don’t see Metallica complaining about streaming payouts. They control their music and negotiated with Spotify on their own terms. And as Kerry King from Slayer puts it, Metallica is living on the first five records.

Bands in the Eighties had more freedom. It was just the times. The labels didn’t know how to handle the hard rock and metal bands in the beginning. As far as the labels were concerned the music was too abrasive for radio and crossover appeal, however the albums just kept on selling. The tours kept on selling. So the bands had free reign to do what they want initially.

And each time a band put an album out, it sold.

So the labels continued to stay out of the writing process and the bands produced works that are considered classics or monumental game changers for the genres the bands got classed in.

What we do know is that change is constant in music and the artists that manage to hold it all together end up winning in the long run. But it all starts with the song and giving people access to that song.

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

Thoughts on Streaming, Longevity and Access to Music

“Rock bands were only supposed to last around 5 years. The Beatles, as far as Americans knew them, were only around for 7 years and that seemed like an eternity to the millions of musicians that they inspired, many of which became famous rock stars themselves.”
Jay Jay French 

Once upon a time, that was the case. All of the good Seventies band had more or less finished up or turned into bad imitations of themselves by the early Eighties. Some of the musicians went onto successful or not so successful solo careers.

  • Eagles
  • Deep Purple
  • ELP
  • Yes
  • Bad Company
  • Led Zeppelin
  • UFO
  • Aerosmith
  • Kiss
  • Pink Floyd
  • Kansas
  • Alice Cooper

Throughout it all, the world was changing.

People suddenly had access to more credit than ever before. Their wages increased at an astronomical rate. Ownership of music became a big thing as MTV put our heroes into our lounge rooms.  On the heels of this new cultural phenomenon, suddenly there was more money to spend on entertainment products.

So what do all of these bands do?

They reformed. It didn’t matter if it was with the original band members (if that was possible at all) or with different musicians. The labels would bring in extra songwriters.

Aerosmith cashed in. So did Alice Cooper. So did Kiss. Desmond Child and Jim Vallance proved to be songwriters most hard rock bands started to use.

Suddenly we had rock bands lasting 20 years, then 30 years and in 2015 we have rock bands that have lasted 40 years.

But, it is the fans of music that made it all happen.

The fans of music made the record labels rich and the fans of music are the ones that ruined the record labels business models that relied on physical sales.

It is the fans of music that turned Spotify and streaming into a billion dollar industry. That’s the power of the people.

We will play the same song over and over again for decades and under the new model we are generating cash for the streaming service who then pass 70% of it on to the rights holders, which in all cases are the record labels and the publishing companies (who are also owned by the record labels). $4.5 billion dollars have been paid by Spotify and Pandora in royalties. All of that has gone to the record labels or to entities controlled by the record labels. You can see why songwriters are frustrated. Where’s all that money going?

Regardless, when it comes to consuming music and what price should be charged, the people have spoken.

The people decide what is of value and what it wants to pay for something. And artists’ should do everything they can to hook them into a new system or their system.

Look at Coheed and Cambria. I am hooked into the way they release their albums with the Super Deluxe Editions, instant digital downloads and VIP membership.

Remember when the book publishers said that e-books are undervalued and people must pay more. Did they ever think that the people don’t want to pay more?

Amazon finally relented and gave the publishers a chance to set their own prices. So what do the publishers do, they set the e-book price the same as a hardcover price. So the people screamed “Rip off” and E-book sales tanked.

Apple Music launches and it has no free tier after the three months sweetener. By default Apple along with the record labels are excluding people and to really succeed, streaming services like the artists need to hook in the casual users. Fans will always pay top dollar. But casual listeners are important as well. Spotify, Pandora and YouTube are at least servicing these listeners.

In the end the recording industry, along with the artists need to get more people paying for streaming. The bigger the streaming pool, the bigger the payouts, as long as the record labels are honest.

But that works by first exposing people to the service. It could take 3 months, 6 months, 12 months or years before people lay out cash. Instead, the labels put a high fee on licensing and then they want streaming services to raise the price immediately.

Did everyone miss the memo?

Music has completely changed. Once upon a time, songs would be sent out to radio or a video would be sent to MTV, with the hope that people would be hooked in enough to go to the record store and buy the album. It was all about monetizing up front. Today, songs are available instantly and monetization comes last. First comes attention. If people are checking something out, and if it sticks…it will grow.

“I think this is the new millennium Number of the Beast. That was one of our best albums and the follow-up to that (Piece of Mind) was probably the best of the lot of them. It has something for everybody. Take Speed of Light, for instance. It is the old Maiden. That intro is a testimony to Deep Purple.”
Nicko McBrain – Iron Maiden drummer

I purchased the album, however I didn’t hear it on CD. As a collector, the CD went straight on the shelf. Through the magic of the internet and Spotify, I can hear the album without paying for it. Isn’t that a better outcome than keeping the music locked up behind paywalls?

If people like it, they will spread the word.

If people like it, they will pay for the CD, pay for the vinyl, or pay to get a higher quality stream.

This is the new world, everything is different now.

The charts are irrelevant, while listens are in. If you don’t believe me, then have a look at the paltry sales that lead to a number one album in Australia.

More people are accessing music through streaming and that is a very good thing. Has anyone heard Iron Maiden complaining about their box office returns after each show, or the fact that they are one of the bands that has huge P2P traffic. It takes a non-rocker to sum up the effect of people accessing music easily.

“I’m playing three Wembley Stadium (shows) on album two. I’m playing sold-out arena gigs in South America, Korea, south-east Asia and Australia. I don’t think I’d be able to do that without Spotify or if people hadn’t streamed my music. My music has been streamed 860 million times, which means that it’s getting out to people. I get a percentage of my record sales, but it’s not a large percentage, (whereas) I get all my ticket sales, so I’d much rather tour. That’s why I got into the business — I love playing gigs. Recording albums, to me, is a means to an end. I put out records so I can tour. For me, Spotify is not even a necessary evil. It helps me do what I want to do.”
Ed Sheeran

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