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

Playlists And Streaming

Spotify is growing. The pop artists or the cross-over artists from other genres into the pop world are getting into the 100 plus millions/billions listens. And the high counts are due to two things;

  • Spotify Playlists.
  • Listeners Playlists

If a song is added to the most followed playlists, then the listens go up.

There is a “Rock In The 2000’s” playlist created by Spotify and if you check the songs on it and then check the streams the songs have on the artist account, you will see those songs on the playlist dwarf the rest of the catalogue. For example, “Chop Suey” from System Of A Down is on the Spotify playlist and the listens of Chop Suey is exponentially higher than the remainder of SOAD’s catalogue.

“Drake doesn’t lock himself into an album cycle. When Drake wants to put out music and he feels like it’s ready, Drake puts out music. So it’s not the typical, “I’m gonna put out two singles, then launch my album, then go on tour, then wait two years and go back in the studio and release this music.” I think he really has captured that rhythm of how fans want to consume music.”
Spotify’s Troy Carter on Drake’s Streaming Success

Drake is as metal and rock as the soap in the bathroom is metal, however the lesson should be applied to all. New music is an invitation into the world of the artist. It’s not the only thing. Capture the moment and release when the song is ready, not many months later when the album is ready.

Platinum selling artist Mark Tremonti has released three albums in 2 years, and while Tremonti and Alter Bridge are on tour, he is spending his free time giving guitar lessons/doing guitar clinics as an additional income stream.

It is easier to find and less costly to release new music, leading to unpredictable successes from artists who might not have been discovered or produced an album in an earlier era.
Michael Luca and Craig McFadden – Harvard Business Review

And that’s the cold hard truth about music in 2016. Artists who normally wouldn’t be signed can suddenly record and release music into the world. The supply of new music over the last 10 years is way higher than the demand for new music. Hell, I listened to 950 plus unique artists on Spotify this year. I grew up in the 80’s with no more than 50 or so unique artists. Spotify has over 20 million songs that haven’t been listened to yet.

Sure, some of the Spotify playlists might be a PR exercise for the labels, in the end, it still comes down to the user, who still likes to have some a filter to push new music on them. But then the record labels would like to mislead people about how much it costs them to break an artist to the mainstream.

The truth is the labels don’t break artists. They can spend monies on the artist, the promotions and put them out into the market place, however it is the people who decide if the artist will break on through. And what we are seeing more are artists making it on the back of streaming and no radio support.

But times have changed: in a landscape dominated by services such as Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal and Amazon, it is possible to have a hit without the press and radio (or much of the public) even noticing you. Kiiara, hardly a household name, is currently enjoying a global hit with Gold, off the back of 312m streams on Spotify alone. (Other services don’t make their numbers public.) You could look at British artist James TW, whose song When You Love Someone has 35m streams. Then there’s Australian teen Joel Adams, whose one and only song Please Don’t Go has chalked up 320m streams on Spotify.
Peter Robinson – Guardian Writer

Yeah, I got no idea who the above artists are and none of them are really rock or metal, but the possibilities are there for unknown metal and rock bands to become streaming behemoths without the support of record labels and radio stations. However, having a high streaming listen count doesn’t automatically correlate to concert ticket sales or sales of recorded music, much in the same way Facebook likes/followers never equal sales. The artist will need to work even harder to convert those listeners into real fans, because a lot of streaming users are casual fans who like to check songs out.

 

In the back-end of Spotify, for instance, fans are split into three categories: streakers (who have listened to the artist every day in the last week), loyalists (who have listened to them more than to any other over the past 20 days), and regulars (who listened to the artist on the majority of the days in the month
Peter Robinson – Guardian Writer

Spotify is building the data banks instead of the labels. Apple already has the databank. The labels have done nothing in this regard. So as an artist, who do you want to partner with?

And finally, there are the playlists. The more playlists the songs are added to, the more exposure the songs will get and this is where the old gatekeeper model comes into play. How does a rock or metal band get their songs onto a Spotify created playlist that has over a million followers?

STREAMING – changing the music business again
STREAMING – artists who made it huge without radio support
STREAMING – Swedish artists benefiting from streaming 
RECORD LABELS – breaking an artist 
SONGWRITER WHO SOLD HIS SONGS FOR A FEE AND IS UNKNOWN

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2016

2016 will be seen as the year when the populations of the world, fresh from dealing or seeing terror hit their streets, decided to enforce change with their vote. Whatever side of the fence people sat, it was shown in major countries that the major cities and the governments are out of touch with the rest of their country. When people voted in 2016, it was a protest against the last 30 years of democracy and how the ruling classes became richer while the middle classes became poorer.

Megadeth kicked the year off with “The Threat Is Real” and it sure was. Megadeth released the better album this year, however Metallica’s “Hardwired To Self Destruct” would be more popular.

The messiah or mass murderer
No controlling who comes through the door
THE THREAT IS REAL – Megadeth

The shepherd led, we blindly followed
Into the world of no tomorrow
THE ENDLESS KNOT – Haken

Tyrants overtaking intoxicate with lies
There is no escaping, not this time
The simple man receiving, defending every crime
Somehow still believing they are right
THE LAST HERO – Alter Bridge

Omnipresent endless knot
The architect of every thought
Through the prison walls made by your design
A chameleon hides behind Orwellian eyes
THE ARCHITECT – Haken

We give up more of our liberties and privacy, but how secure are we?

For all the spying our governments do, they have no idea when an event will happen. Sure, they might identify persons of interest and then what. No one stopped the terror attacks in Paris and Brussels but somehow the mainstream media and the police read and believed the fake news sites on the internet.

We will grow strong from this
We will not be defeated
However hard they try
Over and over and over a thousand times
RISE OF THE MELANCHOLY EMPIRE – Sixx A.M.

With hands held high, we can rule the world
RULE THE WORLD – Dee Snider

It’s a call to arms for the “good” people of the world to band together and defeat the “bad” people of the world.

When terrorist bombs go off, the lines between good and bad are clear, we are the good ones and the terrorists are the bad ones. During the U.S election lead up, Trump was portrayed as the bad one and Hillary as the good one by the mainstream media. The fact that over half of the country voted for him, does it mean that all of those people are bad.

The bottom line is everyone is clueless and the future is exactly that, with endless possibilities and outcomes.

So together we’ll build a new world
A better world
OUR NEW WORLD – Dream Theater

But for all of Petrucci’s clichés, the world is much more complex. Robb Flynn asked “Is Anybody’s Out There” that feels just like him. One simple song, with two powerful verses addressing abandonment and racism.

Now I stand as a father, to men with no honor
Ashamed of the racists I used to call brothers
Cause no flag can mean bravery,
when bloodied by slavery,
The rebel, a devil, disguised as a savior
IS ANYBODY OUT THERE? – Machine Head

And he didn’t stop there. After Trump’s election win, he released (via YouTube) an acoustic song called “Bastards”. A simple D to A to Bm to G chord progression, underpins some personal viewpoints about the state of his world. And “Bastards” generated some heated discussions amongst the Machine Head fans, especially the ones who voted for Trump.

I am disconnected from a system I’ve rejected.
ALONE WE STAND – Killswitch Engage

A sign of things to come with Brexit, Trump and the Italian referendum serving as perfect examples of the disconnected people rejecting the current systems in place.

  • And the system allows Volkswagen to cheat on their emissions tests.
  • And the system allows the banks to get away with running the country into the dirt.
  • And the system allows lobbyists to lobby/bribe elected officials into writing laws to benefit corporate profits.
  • And the system allows the CEO’s to scream help to the government for a bail out, while the people, the workers, need to sell because they lost their jobs or they can’t make repayments.

I’ve seen rock bottom and I’ve smashed my fists against it
Just keep telling yourself it will be alright
STRENGTH OF THE MIND – Killswitch Engage

And there’s nowhere to turn
At the end of the road, I can’t hold on
MY ALLIED OCEAN – Evergrey

I’m just a creature of a broken past
We’re all looking for a second chance
PRAYERS FOR THE DAMNED – Sixx A.M.

Who hasn’t been there?

You know the moment, when you feel like you are not winning and everything you do just turns to crap. And you cant get out of the rut, because you’re spending your days doing things for others, through obligation or duty to the family. And your life is so far away from the world of possibilities you had when you where young.

Somehow through it all
We carry on (we carry on)
WE CARRY ON – Killswitch Engage

And that’s our lives in a nutshell. We overcome setbacks, deaths in the family, wins and losses. Through it all, we still carry on. We rise.

Speak out, don’t let the status quo define you
This is your world, just put the fear back in their eyes
RISE – Sixx A.M.

Did I decide
Or did the road choose me?
1985 – Haken

Free will is an illusion. We believe we have it, but it ceases to exist when we start to follow the rules set by institutions.

 

Falling from the sky
Cast out from heaven’s light
Drenching the soil with blood
Baptized in the fire hole
THE DEVIL’s BLEEDING CROWN – Volbeat

I always looked for acceptance
I understood what it’s like to be different
PASSING THROUGH – Evergrey

From the day we are born we are looking for acceptance especially those outliers cast out from heaven’s light who do not conform to what the institutions what from them. The key is to stay true to who you are and be accepted and not be the artist who created safe art, looked safe, walked away from their fans to be in partnership with the corporation and so forth.

What have I got to lose
When I’ve already lost it all
PRAYERS FOR THE DAMNED – Sixx A.M.

When you’re at the bottom, the only way is up. For a lyric to work for me, the person writing it, has to have experienced it.

It’s the worse when you lose when you know how hard you tried
BELIEVE – Dee Snider

So many times when I was misunderstood
I just wish we had spoken so much sooner
DISTANCE – Evergrey

Life is funny in hindsight and sometimes painful to replay. We all would love to live with no “what if’s” however it never happens that way.

Just like tragedy
Folks line up to see
We forget and the problem’s gone
It just ain’t right to move on
MY LAST MISTAKE – Tremonti

We show outrage initially and then we move on like it never happened. It’s a sick symptom of society where we fail to hold to account, the people responsible for the tragedy. The GFC perps went on college speaking tours and high-five jobs at the financial firms they organised laws to benefit. They escaped unscathed, while the middle class and lower class got their homes foreclosed.

Every time there is a shooting there is outrage, however nothing is done after on gun reform.

For all of the laws passed to spy on citizens in the name of terror, not one terrorist act have they stopped. And after each terrorist attack, our privacy and liberties erode a little bit more.

The people need to hold to account the people responsible. But we cannot devote the time because the people responsible have us hooked line and sinker. We can’t take time of work because the income means more to us than the cause.

Sold my soul and signed my name in blood
Stole it back, now praying in the dark
Fooled the devil, begging for a fight
Count the dollars, make your bet tonight
SEAL THE DEAL – Volbeat

Seduced by fame
A moth into the flame
MOTH INTO FLAME – Metallica

Infamy
All for publicity
Destruction going viral
MOTH INTO FLAME – Metallica

If you wanna lead or be a star
They’ll expose all that you are
Are you sure you want this now?
They will only tear you down
CROWS ON A WIRE – Alter Bridge

Facebook and social media has created a culture wherein everything is on show. Ask yourself the question. Is it fame you want or a career as a musician/artist?

Middle fingers in the air, singing we don’t f….. care, when we say “So What”
SO WHAT – Dee Snider

It’s become the soundtrack to “Standing Rock” in 2016, but it’s been my motto since I got into hard rock/heavy metal music.

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Spotify 2016

In 2016, Spotify tells me I listened to 25,538 minutes of music. On average, this equates to 70 minutes of music per day. The listening minutes are made up of 958 unique artists and 3,277 unique tracks got a spin.

Remember back in the 80’s and even the 90’s, when only a handful rock and metal artists would get our attention.

  • It could be because we laid out money for their record, so we had to spin it.
  • It could be we saw the music video on TV and recorded it to VHS tape and watched it over and over again.
  • It could be due to the record labels promotional campaigns we got caught up in their scorched earth PR policy.
  • It could be due to radio playing the songs non-stop.

In the process, we made the small number of artists into global superstars and lined the pockets of the record labels in the process.

Well in 2016, I am just one fan who listened to 958 unique artists on Spotify and I am sure I am not the only one. In my case, those 958 artists came from the rock and metal genres, which means the current bands, with their current releases are competing with the history of music, plus their past hits for our attention.

And my time listening to music is fragmented between iTunes, CD’s, Vinyl, CD and Spotify. I listened to a lot of music in the 8 weeks I spent in Europe but it all came from iTunes.

My five top artists for the year are;

  • Kingdom Come – does anyone even remember them? While the commercially successfully version of the band lasted between 1987 and 1991, vocalist and main songwriter, Lenny Wolf kept the band name going with German/European musicians until he retired the band in August 2016. And since the majority of their releases are on Spotify, it was happy days listening for me.
  • Sixx:A.M. – as a Motley fan from the 80’s it was only natural I gravitate to this and it’s the best of the side projects apart from Vince Neil’s first solo album back in the 90’s. And they are a band who had new product out in 2016 and it was good enough to compete with the history of music.
  • Saxon – there was a period between April and June this year that Saxon got a lot of listens as I got myself re-acquainted with their 80’s output and then I started to delve into their 90’s plus output.
  • Whitesnake – no new product in 2016 but still a big favourite of mine.
  • Tremonti – a lot of new product over the last few years so it’s no surprise the band ended up on this list.

My top 5 genres are;

Rock, Hard Rock, Album Rock, Metal and Glam Metal.

I always hated the genre labels and their stupid pigeon holed definitions.

Seriously, what the hell is Album Rock?

To me, it’s either Metal or it’s Rock.

Friday was my favourite day to listen, followed by Saturday and Sunday. Then came Wednesday and Thursday, with Monday and Tuesday been my least favourite days to listen to music.

And finally, here is a selection of my top tracks for the year from Spotify are;

Prayers For The Damned – SIXX:A.M
The album came out in April this year and this song was the lead single that hit streaming sites in February. It’s more or less a perfect modern hard rock song like “Life Is Beautiful” and a constant on my playlists.

Run To The Hills – Vitamin String Quartet
My kids prefer this version over the original and they found it by accident by searching for “Run To The Hills” on Spotify. To be honest, the eastern European vibe is intoxicating and since I was never really a fan of the original song to start off, the Vitamin String Quartet version has become a staple.

Twilight Cruiser – Kingdom Come
It’s 21 years old and the title track to the 1995 album. The feel and the groove and that guitar lead that sounds like a wolf howling are just perfect.

Ghostbusters – Ray Parker Jr
Another track courtesy of my boys, especially my 4-year-old. I hear it and i remember Huey Lewis.

Back In Black – Vitamin String Quartet
Another track courtesy of my boys and my four-year old loved hearing the vocal melody played by a violin, which he then sang along with.

Hall Of Fame – The Script
It was the reason why I got a family premium account. The song must have screwed up the Spotify algorithm because since this was listened to by my kids, my Discover playlist has been a mess.

Dust – Tremonti
The brilliant title track of the new album.

In The Fading Light – Andy James
He came up in a Discover Playlist. It’s an instrumental from an EP released in 2013 and it’s been on my Drive Home from work playlist since i heard. The guitar lead melody is perfect and I find myself chanting it as I drive home.

Sail On – The Night Flight Orchestra
The best classic rock side project from guys in Soilwork and Arch Enemy.

Funky Town – Pseudo Echo
My kids again, however I was a fan of this version in the 80’s, so it was cool to be re-acquainted with it.

Iron Man – Black Sabbath
My kids again, because of the Iron Man/Marvel movies.

Slip Of The Tongue – Whitesnake
It’s one of my favourite cuts and it’s Led Zeppelin on steroids.

War – Live – Bruce Springsteen
My kids again and it was good that they pulled up Bruce Springsteen performing live as I wouldn’t have listened to this song or the other live songs this year if it wasn’t for the kids.

Living Out Of Touch – Kingdom Come
Quick call the stupid plagiarism lawyers. Yes, I know it sounds like Led Zeppelin. Gary Moore even wrote a song called “Led Clones” about Kingdom Come. But there is no denying that Lenny Wolf was a master of re-creating classics, in the same way the Gallagher brothers recreated Beatles classics.

Good Enough – Van Halen
The boys were watching “Spaceballs” and this song came up. I totally forgot about it as it’s been 30 years since it came out and “Dreams” proved to be the cross over hit. But the Van Halen I like is the distorted groovy rock version of the band and this song is one of the best opening tracks for an album.

So I searched it up on Spotify and added it to my Drive Playlist.

“Hello Baby”. And all hell breaks loose. Enough said

Distance – Evergrey
The opening track from their new album “The Storm Within”. As the lead single, it got a lot of listens.

My Way – Kiss
It’s from 1987’s keyboard heavy “Crazy Nights” album. It’s a cool track, I dig the clichéd lyrics and it’s cool to hear Paul Stanley squeeze his balls even tighter for some of those highs. And now my kids dig it and it’s getting constant listens.

Stargazer – Kingdome Come
My kids had one of those toy keyboards and they figured out the intro, so it became a constant song we listened to on Spotify.

Rise – Sixx AM
The lead single to Part II – Prayers For The Blessed.

Trains – Porcupine Tree
Steven Wilson just did what he wanted and wrote songs the way he wanted. He wasn’t a songwriter that was locked in to a particular genre and that is why Porcupine Tree is a favourite of mine. Love the groove, the feel of the acoustic guitars and that epic ending.

Black Rose – Volbeat
I was hooked on that 60’s bubble-gum pop vibe in the Chorus.

My Last Mistake – Tremonti
The heaviness of the music.

We Are The Ones – Dee Snider
The title track and the opening track to Dee’s solo album.

Live In Love – Times Of Grace
Does melodic pop rock heavy death metal make even sense. If it does, then this track is for you.

The Threat Is Real – Megadeth
You get the Arab voices at the start and the chainsaw pedal point riff. The threat is indeed real.

Do You Like It – Kingdom Come
A simple ode to rock music and the live show and yes, I really like it.

The Devil’s Bleeding Crown – Volbeat
This song is a favourite of mine, because it’s a boogie-fied version of “Children Of The Grave”.

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1983 – Episode IV: Drastic Measures As The WASP Heading Out For A Storm Kills Em All

As more people got disillusioned with their institutions, the more heavy metal grew. A small niche was starting to reign. The middle working class, suddenly had an outlet. Artists wrote lyrics about what they felt and it connected with the youth of the 80’s.

But these artists didn’t just come out of nowhere. These artists had a certain confidence and perseverance. Most people gave up instead of staying the course.

But the bigger secret to metals breakthrough as a commercial force was MASS. The fans supported metal. Bands classed as thrash metal, speed metal, power metal, heavy metal, hard rock, heavy rock, glam rock, glam metal, etc…these days could all be found in the Metal section of a record store back in the 80’s. Bon Jovi next to Black Sabbath. Motley Crue next to Metallica and Megadeth. Van Halen next to Venom. Twisted Sister next to Thin Lizzy, Tygers of Pan Tang. It was all metal.

The fans remained together and united even though it was for a few short years, like 1982 to 1986. Sort of like how Facebook grew as the ONE dominant player. Apple tried to compete and failed. Ping and Connect are a distant memory. MySpace disappeared like new wave music disappeared when metal started to grow.

Since Facebook’s rise, (like Metal’s rise) other products (like different genres created by record label marketing reps) have come out. Instagram, Snapchat, Musicly, Tumblr and Twitter just to name a few. Suddenly, Facebook’s membership starts to slow down dramatically. People stop visiting the site and people start closing accounts. Fragmentation has occurred.

You see the public wants to belong, have something to talk about. Facebook provided that and to the youth of the 80’s, metal music provided that same outlet.

Pre 90’s era, on average, five thousand albums were released a year. Just getting a record deal was a near-impossibility. A lot of artists couldn’t even compete and the ones that did knew they had to deliver something special.

For those that missed Episodes 1, 2 and 3, just click on the numbers for a recap.

WASP – WASP
It’s a triple knock out combination in “Animal”, “I Wanna Be Somebody” and “Love Machine”. There is a saying that you have your whole lifetime to write your first album and only three months for your next, if you get a chance. Blackie wasn’t saving any songs for the next album. He went all out on the first.

“Animal”
Blackie doesn’t perform this song anymore as it clashes with his current faith, but back in the 80’s it was a different story.

I’m the wolf with the sheepskins clothing
I lick my chops and you’re tasting good

Blackie doesn’t mind living it up while he’s going down.

“I Wanna Be Somebody”

I wanna be somebody
Be somebody too

Yep, we all wanted to be somebody and MTV made us all believe that we could become global superstars in the same way that the internet has made us all DIY musicians, bloggers, film creators, novelists, etc. But showing up to work doesn’t mean I get a pay increase. Same deal with music. Just because you create something, it doesn’t mean people will pay attention and untold riches would fall before you.

You don’t want no nine to five
Your fingers to the bone

But we still put in the hours. I came across a marketing campaign called “Real estate tips from the terminally ill”. In a nutshell, the terminally ill wished that they didn’t skip spending time with their family in order to work longer hours to pay off their mortgage. Once you are in debt, the only way out is to work hard and pay it off, or to sell.

Persistence is the key to being somebody. You believe it doesn’t matter, but it does. Because sometimes in life, you feel like the wind is at your back, your sails are up and you are achieving what you want. But good karma doesn’t hang around forever and that golden sunset you are sailing to proves to have some issues. And suddenly, you have your back against the wall, the wind is against you and all of those opportunities have ceased and your momentum to the top has halted.

It’s in these moments that those who want to be somebody keep on rising and all the wannabe’s become train wrecks, chucking tantrums and blaming others for their failures.

“Love Machine”
L.O.V.E All I need’s my love machine
L.O.V.E All I need’s my love machine tonight, tonight

This was my first introduction to W.A.S.P. as the film clip was doing the rounds on music television. They looked like Mad Max Horror Movie Rejects. The 12/8 triplet drumming pattern over a simple power chord riff is what makes this song unique musically and the L, O, V, E chant in the Chorus is iconic.

“School Daze”
“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of American.
And to the republic for which it stands. One nation under god, indivisible… with liberty and justice for all!”

It gets your attention right away.

A text-book mad-house, twelve years
I’m here in a rage
A juveniles jail and I’m here locked up in their cage

It’s how we saw school, not really knowing that you have some of your best years in school and that after we leave school, we keep on learning new things every day.

School Daze, school daze, I’m here doin’ time
School daze, school daze, my age is my crime

Today we have access to all of the information we want and with that access, we are constantly researching and learning. But we couldn’t do what we do know back in the 80’s. Access was restricted and we didn’t want to be a cog in the education degree factory machine however many of us ended up becoming cogs in the workforce. Some of us got to make decisions while a lot of us had to follow decisions.

A blackboard jungle toed the line the rulers made

School is a foundation but it’s not everything. The truth is we never stop learning. What makes us unique is the lifelong informal education we undertake.

Hellion
I am assuming “Love Machine” came first, so I will call “Hellion” a derivative version of L.O.V.E.

Wild child, you’re sweatin’ and you’re stoned

Just add drunk to it as well.

“Sleeping (In The Fire)”
There was always something about WASP and ballads that just worked brilliantly. Not sure if it’s Blackie’s vocal tone or the fact that he just writes excellent ballads that are not clichéd.

Taste the love
The lucifer’s magic that makes you numb
The passion and all the pain are one
You’re sleeping in the fire

It’s a simple Dm to B flat to C to Dm progression.

What does it all mean?

Who cares? Bad boy Lucifer gets a mention and for 1983 that was enough to get people into a panic.

Metallica – Kill Em All
At the time of its release “Kill Em All” didn’t set the world on fire. And because Metallica are still a force to be reckoned with in 2016, the history around the “Kill Em All” album is being rewritten, but the truth is much different.

The lifespan of “Kill Em All” was short. It came out on July 25, 1983 and by February 1984, seven months after it was released, Metallica was in the studio, writing and recording “Ride The Lightning”. The victory lap for the debut album was seven months. That’s it. If the band wanted to continue with their music career, they needed to get back into the studio and record a new album.

Of course when the 1991 Black album exploded, new fans started to dig deep and purchase the bands older material. It is for this reason that “Kill Em All” started to get RIAA certifications. It finally reached U.S sales of 3 million units in 1999.

“Kill Em All” is a product of its time and its era. Heavy metal and hard rock music was becoming a commercial force to be reckoned with, so by 1983 standards, “Kill Em All” was up against some hard competition for people’s attention.

Motley Crue, Twisted Sister and Def Leppard had break through albums with “Shout At The Devil”, “You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll” and “Pyromania”. Ozzy Osbourne, Kiss and Dio had brand new bands. “Bark At The Moon” showcases Jake E.Lee, “Lick It Up” showcases Vinnie Vincent and “Holy Diver” showcases Vivian Campbell. ZZ Top hit the mainstream with “Eliminator”. Iron Maiden followed up the breakthrough success of their 1982 album, “The Number of The Beast” with “Piece of Mind”. Quiet Riot had a number one album on the back of the Randy Rhoads back story and a cover of Slade’s “Cum on Feel The Noize”. Judas Priest was also riding high on the charts and selling well from a 1982 release called “Screaming For Vengeance”.

When I first got my hands on the album, “Jump In The Fire”, “The Four Horsemen”, “Phantom Lord” and “Seek And Destroy” had me hooked. Those four songs got constant rotation and if I was making mix tapes, those four songs would always end up scattered through the list.

In time, I have appreciated what the other tracks bring to the mix.

“Hit The Lights”
The song that started it all for Metallica. It’s full of speed and youthful exuberance.

No life till leather, we’re gonna kick some ass tonight
We got the metal madness when our fans start screaming,

It was a cult like following that sustained Metallica and gave the band life.

When we start to rock, we never want to stop again
Hit the lights

Being classified as a thrash metal band never sat well with Metallica. To them it was just rock and metal. To be classed as a thrash band was anathema, as it meant they had to conform to a certain style and tempo.

We know our fans are insane, we’re gonna blow this place away
With volume higher than anything today, the only way

It wasn’t just volume. It was energy, youthful abandonment and a nervous tempo that made the songs faster. For the metal fans, all we had was each other. And it was enough. We knew it and we worked with what we had.

“The Four Horsemen”
An embryo of what Metallica would become with each album release up to the “Black” album.

You have been dying since the day you were born
You know it’s all been planned

It might be a throwaway lyric but to me this is James Hetfield of “The Unforgiven” fame and the lyrics;

“New blood joins this earth and quickly he’s subdued, through constant pained disgrace, the young boy learns the rules”.

Did anyone pick up on the very heavily influenced “Sweet Home Alabama” section from the 3.27 mark?

“Motorbreath”
Motorbreath, it’s how I live my life
I can’t take it any other way
Motorbreath, the sign of living fast
It is going to take your breath away

When I saw James speeding away from the studio in the “Some Kind Of Monster” movie, this song instantly came to mind.

Those people who tell you not to take chances
They are all missing on what life is about
You only live once, so take hold of the chance
Don’t end up like others, the same song and dance

And there is the mantra of the rebellious youth.

To a lot of people in 2016, it would be hard for them to believe that “Kill Em All” was a DIY/Indie release. Metallica was indie before indie was cool. Hell, those 4 lines might sound clichéd, but when you look at the young Metallica and their work ethic, you start to see some truth in those words.

We take chances on what we don’t know. So if we start to change what we do know and believe, it’s one step forward to starting to change our behaviours. That’s the challenge, to find our way, to keep on going and pursue the dream, even when no one cares.

“Jump In The Fire”
This song, along with “Seek And Destroy” became the first two songs that I gravitated too on the album.

Follow me now my child, not the meek or the mild but do just as I say

So come on… Jump In the Fire.

“Whiplash”
A song designed to break your neck.

Adrenalin starts to flow
You’re thrashing all around
Acting like a maniac
Whiplash!

It was all about making music just to go on the road, via the tour bus or to fly in economy class. Then when MTV made artists global superstars, it became about the royalty statement and flying private. Because if the label heads could do it, then why couldn’t the artists.

Bang your head against the stage like you never did before
Make it ring, make it bleed, make it really sore

And millions did do exactly that. It was all about that hour to two at the show. That’s what the artists lived for and that’s what the fans lived for.

But we’ll never stop, we’ll never quit, ’cause we’re Metallica

And in 2016, they are still here, cause they are METALLICA.

“Phantom Lord”
This song is Dave Mustaine’s baby as so many of the riffs here appear in Megadeth songs.

Hear the cry of war, louder than before
With his sword in hand to control the land
Crushing metal strikes on this frightening night
Fall onto your knees for the phantom lord

You can just imagine the metal lord with a metal sword, bringing metal to the masses. There is just so much metal in “Kill Em All”, it makes Spinal Tap sound like a weak rock band.

The leather armies have prevailed
The phantom lord has never failed
Smoke is lifting from the ground
The rising volume metal sound

From 1983 to 1992, the leather armies ruled.

“Seek And Destroy”
I remember learning how to play the riffs to the song and I normally did my own thing during the lead break. This song and “Jump In The Fire” are the only two songs from the debut album that made it onto a Metallica mixtape I had happening around 87, just before “Justice” came out.

Scannin’ the scene in the city tonight
Lookin’ for you to start-up a fight
There’s an evil feeling in our brains
But it is nothing new, you know it drives us insane

People were scared of dudes with long hair and black clothes once upon a time. Now it’s the norm.

Searchin’, seek and destroy

The call to arms.

“Metal Militia”
We are as one as we all are the same
Fighting for one cause
Leather and metal are our uniforms
Protecting what we are
Joining together to take on the world
With our heavy metal
Spreading the message to everyone here
Come let yourself go

Again, just so much metal on the album, however for anyone that didn’t live through the 80’s the message is the same. It was “us versus them” mentality.

Kansas – Drastic Measures
This version of Kansas is very far removed from the early Kansas. After commercial success with “Carry On My Wayward Son” and “Dust In The Wind”, it’s expected that the band would be pressured to write more “hits”. But what the labels failed to understand is bands never sit down to write hits. They sit down to write songs.

“Drastic Measures” is the ninth studio album and the one that would see the great Kerry Livgren leave Kansas. He only submitted three tracks for the album and held back a lot of his songs for his next project post Kansas. The album was John Elefante’s attempt to stamp his mark on Kansas and his compositions dominate the album.

The album was produced by Neil Kernon along with Kansas.

“Fight Fire With Fire”
Man, that opening riff is a groove stomper. It sounds familiar, but I can’t put a name to the influence. It’s written by John Elefante and his brother Dino Elefante.

There’s a hole in the wall
With a light shining in
And it’s letting me know to get up
It’s time to begin

A new day has begun. It’s time to get up and live it.

Oh there is nothing to lose
‘Cause it’s already lost
In a runaway world of confusion
I’m gonna take it

The day you are spending at work, the song that you are creating in your spare time, the discussions you are having with friends and peers, are they just actions to get you through the day or are they the actions you will be remembered by. And when we have nothing left to lose, our actions become greater.

“Everybody’s My Friend”
Another track written by the Elefante brothers about an unknown getting a recording contract.

Someone calls out my name
They ask me how I’ve been
So what’s it like in the big time?
Will you be my friend?

Suddenly people you have never known come out and pretend to be your friend.

“Across the board, from the bottom to the top, the music industry is built on people pretending to be bigger than they are.”
Zoe Keating

Have you met Mick Jagger?
Ringo, George or Paul?
Do you have my number?
Will you give me a call?

People want to attach themselves to famous people and people who are famous are lying to themselves and to their fans, believing they have friends when really, if it all goes away, they will have no one.

They all want to know
Do you make a lot of money?
They all want to know
Will you change your name?
They all want to know
What’s it like to be a rock star?
Everybody wants to know if they can hang around

As far as the fans of music were concerned, if an artist had a record deal, they had money. But that wasn’t the case. It was all a mirage. The image of fame put out there by MTV and the record label PR machines, made us believe, sort of like how Facebook likes makes you believe you have a lot of people who enjoy your product. Then why is your bank account so low.

Everybody wants to have a little piece of the action
Everybody wants to get into the show
Everybody falls in love with the main attraction
Everybody wants to know if they can hang around

Jodi Mitchell described the recording business in the “FREE MAN IN PARIS” with the following lyrics.

“There’s a lot of people asking for my time
They’re trying to get ahead
They’re trying to be a good friend of mine”

People like that are spread in all walks of life. Our social media lives are riddled with networking shenanigans. We have to have a lot of friends and a lot of likes and a lot of comments. And for some reason if we don’t we are losers.

“Mainstream”
Kerry Livgren is on hand to give the album some of that old Kansas spirit.

It’s so predictable and everybody judges by the numbers that you’re selling
Just crank ’em out on the assembly line and chart ’em higher (higher, higher)
Just keep it simple boys it’s gonna be alright as long as you’re inside the

There’s money in music, if you’ve got fans. But the record label heads believed they knew more and they’d get what they wanted by dangling dollars in front of the artists. This a version of Kansas looking to restore its sales success from the late 70’s. But the casual fans moved on and the hard-core fans who purchased the album and listened to it, didn’t know what to think of it. To me, the album is a testament to the effect mainstream success had on the band.

The market is dead, accounts in the red
Media saturation
We’re deep in a rut, the arteries cut
Sensory deprivation
Really loved it, didn’t earn a cent
No one’s buying your experiment

We live in a world of listens, which is a way overdue metric in music. To gauge a band’s success on sales was always wrong. If sales was the be all, end all, then there wouldn’t have been a second-hand market for unwanted albums. But there was a second-hand market and it was big business.

“Don’t Take Your Love Away”
It sounds like a “Peter Cetera” song in the Verses and then it moves into “The Police” territory, think of “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” released in 1980 in the Chorus. It’s also another song written by the Elefante brothers. The move to AOR is complete.

You can take away the money
Take away the flame
Take away the things that I possess

You can take all my dreams away
The things that I need to survive
You can have it all

Sometimes all that matters are the simple things, like having someone be there for you each night.

The years are passing by me
Like a fast train that’s here and gone
It’s gone
Where they go, I just don’t know

Time is our greatest enemy. It stops for no one and it’s the one thing humans cannot control.

“Incident On A Bridge”
Musically, it’s got a “Cold As Ice” vibe in the intro and it’s one of the songs written by Kerry Livgren.

The world has a lot to give, but it’s worthless if you don’t live
And life only comes from the one who made it
When I look back and see the plan, when I retrace the race we ran
The course was so clear and true, each bridge that we crossed led me straight to you

What is living these days?

Life was different in the 80’s. it was more about personal fulfilment. Then Reagan’s U.S policies worked their way into Australia and suddenly it was all about remuneration. I could see it with my fathers’ peers. While we remained in our single storey house, the rest of them played keeping up with the Jones’s and six bedroom houses for a family of four became the norm.

“End of the Age”
The third and final Livgren penned track on the album.

The clock winds down and the bells will toll
For the dawn that follows may require your soul

The lyrics would work brilliant on a Metallica album.

When the mountains fall and the heavens roar
Then the reign of man will end forevermore
And the fools who believed in their empty ways
Will be witness to a world that’s set ablaze

The four horseman of the apocalypse are here.

Vandenberg – Heading For A Storm
This is the band Adrian Vandenberg stayed loyal to, when Dave Coverdale approached him to join Whitesnake in 1984. It was the same band that sued him and stopped him from using the Vandenberg name, hence the reason why his newest project is called Vandberg’s Moonkings

“Friday Night”
It’s got that “Dancing The Night Away” from Van Halen vibe.

During the week I’m only half alive, wasting my time all day from 9 to 5
They think I’m slow and I’m a lazy guy

I’m not sure the generation of today looks forward to Friday nights as much as we did. A lot of kids these days have weekend jobs and they would need to be at work on Saturday. So why would they go out on a Friday night.

But it never was like that.

Friday’s okay, I get my pay, spending all night on rock, women and wine

The lead break again is well thought out, well planned and perfectly executed.

“Time Will Tell”
Pedal point riffs merged with the AC/DC style of power chords merged with Def Leppard pop sensibilities. A great mix.

You read in the papers that it’s all a mess
That life isn’t what it used to be
They say that we all have to get used to less, recession strikes society

And people in 2016 think that Brexit and Trump in power is bad. As world-renowned investor Warren Buffet said when he was asked about Trump’s win;

“The stock market will be higher 10, 20 and 30 years from now and it would have been with Hillary [Clinton] and it will be with Trump.”

Time will tell if we are in trouble

We had issues with elections, governments, recessions and uprisings in the 80’s and we still made it through.

“Heading For A Storm”
A good title track musically. Like a lot of the songs from the Eighties, musically they connected however the choice of words or topics left a lot to be desired.

Can’t stop, nowhere to run – I’m heading for a storm, no way left to turn

This is very similar to what early Europe would sound like. Lots of Michael Schenkerism’s in the lead breaks, even the main riff could have come from a MSG or UFO album. Always blown away by the lead guitar compositions.

“Waiting For The Night”
Again the acoustic guitar comes to the fore as a prelude and then the Deep Purple “Highway Star” rhythms kick in with a lead break tour de force. The very definition of Euro Metal.

When the darkness falls and the night-time calls, that’s when I’ll be around

It’s more of that Friday night “let our hair down and rock” vibe.

People say we’re strange, don’t accept our ways, we don’t fit in their world

Damn right. Long haired and black t-shirt wearing rock heads didn’t even get a chance to fit in. Teachers already labelled us and employers in the manufacturing industry only employed us.

They’ve got their values and I have got mine, I’m not their kind

It looks like the values of the metal head still rule.

Friendship, togetherness, uniqueness, simplicity and freedom.

And here is my 20 song track list.
SIDE A
1. Hit The Lights – Metallica
2. The Four Horseman – Metallica
3. I Wanna Be Somebody – W.A.S.P
4. Sleeping In The Fire – W.A.S.P
5. Phantom Lord – Metallica
SIDE B
6. Animal – W.A.S.P
7. L.O.V.E Machine – W.A.S.P
8. Jump In The Fire – Metallica
9. Seek and Destroy – Metallica
10. Metal Militia – Metallica
SIDE C
11. Fight Fire With Fire – Kansas
12. Friday Night – Vandenberg
13. Everybody’s My Friend – Kansas
14. Don’t Take Your Love Away – Kansas
15. Waiting For The Night – Vandenberg
SIDE D
16. Heading For A Storm – Vandenberg
17. Mainstream – Kansas
18. Incident On A Bridge – Kansas
19. Different Worlds – Vandenberg
20. End Of The Age – Kansas

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Once Upon A Time There Was A Rock Band

A rock band signs a record deal.

They are so happy.

All of the years of hard work has finally paid off and now they can go about writing, recording and touring while the record label foots the bill. And by default of having a recording contract, the masses will gravitate to them without question, especially once they do a music video.

But the months of hard work for the current version of the band goes back to many years before, when a group of friends decided to have a life by travelling the country side in a van, just to play in front of zero people on occasions. They believed if they put the hours in, they would gain attention.

Then a member leaves. It was obvious. They needed to get a real job as they started to have commitments. From 4 original members, they are down to three. The new replacement is good, a better musician, but not a friend. Months go by and the new entity has bonded like never before.

Then another member leaves. As people grow older, their priorities change. The band is not fun anymore and the member who left was doing music for fun, not for a recording contract and not for arguments about how many fans did they befriend on social media. The band is down to two original members who by chance are the two main creative forces.

With the addition of another new member, to join the two original members and the old new member, the band seems to have lost some momentum. The dynamic within the band changes. The new member and the old new member have gravitated to one of the original members and suddenly, the two original members are at each other.

But they are lifers. Music is all they ever wanted. They sacrificed school, normal jobs and family for music. Plus they have invested heavily into the band. So they keep on going. They have no other choice if they ever want to recoup. And they keep on arguing. But they are getting some success and the way they see it, the success outweighs the issues the dysfunctional band is having.

So they sit down with their manager to go through the contract once the negotiations are done with. Their manager is a man who lives a simple, non extravagant life and he tells them the cold hard facts of their recording contract.

The advance would just cover studio time, with an unknown producer, an unknown engineer and an unknown person to do the mastering. Of course that unknown producer, masterer and engineer will end up being the same person, who is extremely talented and keeps on telling the band how he is doing this project as a favour. Don’t you just love it how favours cost money.

“But what about living expenses”, asks one of the members’.

“Of course there are some living expenses included”, states their manager. 3 month’s rent for all of the members while they are recording the album. Of course, all of the monies are payable back to the label from net profits the band makes selling their music.

The manager congratulated the signed band and told them to not quit their day jobs.

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

Score Card Inc V2.0

Bon Jovi/Richie Sambora
“Aftermath of the Lowdown” is way better than any Bon Jovi music released from 2007 onwards. It’s deep and personal and there was no way that Jon Bon Jovi would have put his vocals to those songs, so they ended up being Richie Sambora songs. But it did nothing commercially and Sambora is from the cloth of sales and charts. So he went back to the comfort zone of Bon Jovi, but he wasn’t feeling it, so he went solo again,which has morphed into a duo called RSO.

Meanwhile, Bon Jovi continued on as business as usual, making huge profits at the box office. However, all was not well with the label and “Burning Bridges” was meant to be the goodbye letter, but money talks. And Jovi is back in league with the label they hated and a new album called “This House Is Not For Sale” is out. Suddenly the press is going gaga over its number 1 charting and since the legacy labels still control the news cycle. But the album is a flop. It’s second week was a disaster and nothing has been mentioned about its third or fourth week. But, the ones that control news cycle are doing their best to rewrite history, seizing on a few words that Jovi said “down playing Richie’s role in the song writing”. Suddenly, Richie wasn’t involved as much.

The truth is they are better together than apart.

But then again, all of the good bands had a high creative span of about 10 years before they split or went on hiatus. The Beatles, The Eagles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Kiss and Aerosmith all had close to 10 years of mega creativity in the 70’s.

Metallica, Motley Crue, Bon Jovi, Aerosmith (again), Slayer, Megadeth, Skid Row, Van Halen and many others had a good run from 1980 to 1992.

But the MTV era gave bands a longer shelf life and what we have in the modern age is sub-standard music.

But past success is no guarantee of future success. Our lives and society in general is more fluid, especially when it comes to new music. And Jovi is selling c grade re-writes of past hit songs, and using his brand to do it. There are just not enough new things there to convince people to listen and there’s not enough new things there to convince people who weren’t paying attention before to pay attention now. And Jovi along with Universal are hoping that people pay attention to the marketing and not to what’s inside the album. And the media is out of touch with consumers and the people in general. In all democratic countries, the media is consistently getting it wrong. Hell, they couldn’t even get Brexit and Trump correct because they fail to understand that success or failure is in the hands of the people and not the celebrities. And why haven’t all of the celebrities left UK or the US when Brexit and Trump happened.

What Jovi needed was a hit single. Instead we got 17 songs (that is if you got the deluxe edition) requiring too much of our time. Only diehard super fans will have the time, however, even those fans will have competing priorities these days. U2 is in the same boat and let’s not talk about the mess that was Aerosmith’s last album.

Because bands shouldn’t forget, that their newest release is competing with the history of recorded music and their old hits. I can easily switch from Metallica to Led Zeppelin to Dream Theater to Motley Crue to Ratt to Kiss to Machine Head to Dokken, etc.

Europe
Europe broke through to the mainstream about the same time Bon Jovi did in 1986 and that is where the similarity ends. While Jovi had commercially successful albums in “New Jersey” and “Keep The Faith”, Europe had modest success with “Out of This World” and “Prisoners of Paradise”. Europe then went on hiatus and lost their record deal with Epic in the process, while Jovi went on to more albums and eventually a comeback hit with “It’s My Life”.

But when Europe got their act together in 2003 and got control over their music catalogue, a funny thing happened. They started to make more money then what they did at the peak of their commercial success.

And Europe in 2016, is a better creative entity than Bon Jovi is.

Since 2003, the band has released five albums. The very modern and down tuned “Start from the Dark” album came out in 2004. Then in 2006, the very modern and melodic “Secret Society” album came out. The very modern but retro sounding “Last Look At Eden” album came out in 2009, followed by their jam record in “Bag Of Bones” in 2012. Then in 2015, their classic rock album “War Of Kings” came out.

And suddenly, Europe is getting traction again in the U.S and Australia, but this time it’s on their own terms and their own control. By doing what they do best. Be musicians first and create. They didn’t try and be tech entrepreneur, football club owners, gadget makers and so forth.

Digital Summer
One of the best DIY bands out there. In 2013, they were riding the wave of their fan funded “Breaking Point” album, released in 2012. 2013 also gave us “After Hours: Unplugged & Rewired”, which was followed by a stand-alone single called “50 Shades” in 2015. In between keeping a band going, the guys still hold down full time jobs.

Meanwhile, a new hashtag #DSAquarius has been doing the rounds on their Facebook page while new family additions in the DS world has led to a halt of the songwriting process for the follow up album. That’s how DIY Indie bands roll.

Don Dokken/George Lynch/Jeff Pilson/Mick Brown
In 2013 there was talk of a Dokken reunion but it never happened. Then finally in 2016 it happened and they all got paid well.

Since 2013, George Lynch has been the most creative of the four even though Don Dokken keeps on telling everyone that these projects didn’t do well commercially. Surely an artist should create because of a need to create, not because of a need to make millions.
• 2013 – Lynch Mob – Unplugged: Live from Sugarhill Studios
• 2014 – Lynch Mob – Sun Red Sun
• 2014 – KXM (featuring Doug Pinnick from King’s X and Ray Luzier from Korn)
• 2015 – Lynch Mob – Rebel
• 2015 – George Lynch – Shadow Train
• 2015 – Sweet & Lynch – Only to Rise
And Lynch has new releases coming out for Project N Fidelikah, Lynch Mob and KXM in 2016 and 2017 and it looks like Sweet and Lynch will have another album coming out as well.

Dokken on the other hand, released Broken Bones in 2012 and a rumoured project with Michael Schenker is still being talked about. Meanwhile, Jeff Pilson and Mick Brown have become touring go to guys for Foreigner and Ted Nugent.

Black Veil Brides
So in January 2013, the Black Veil Brides told us “The Story Of The Wild Ones”, their concept rock opera about standing up against the army of F.E.A.R., which was also adapted into a film called “Legion of the Black”. The lead single, “In the End” became a streaming behemoth for the band with 32,301,515 streams and still counting.

Then in October 2014, they released their self-titled album, otherwise known as “Black Veil Brides IV” with Bob Rock as the producer. It gave birth to a favourite of mine in “Goodbye Agony” and on Spotify it has racked up 7,105,442 streams. Sonically it’s one of their best recordings. Since then Andy Biersack issued a solo release and we wait for new music from BVB. Like a lot of other bands in music, having new music out on a yearly basis is the new thing, like how it was in the seventies and eighties.

Zakk Wylde/Black Label Society
In 2013, Zakk dropped “Unblackened” a live acoustic album, which was forgettable, but no one can forget “Angel Of Mercy” (currently it has over 1.5 million streams) and that unbelievable lead section from Zakk.

“Angel Of Mercy” appeared on the “Catacombs of the Black Vatican” album released in 2014. Then in 2016, we got another acoustic album in “Book Of Shadows II”, but what we want is another groove metal Black Label Society album.

Dynazty
Matt Heafy from Trivium tweeted once that he has found his new favourite band. And I don’t disagree with him at all. Sweden has a healthy hard rock and metal scene and Dynazty is another to add to that list. Hailing from Stockholm, Sweden, the band was formed in 2007 and it wasn’t until 2008 that they found a lead singer. Fast forward 8 years later and I am hearing the band for the first time in 2016.

And they sum up what it means to be involved in the music business. You exist today completely off the radar screen. And eventually, people will notice. But it takes time.

It makes me want to scream “Fire, Flames, Fury”.

Black Stone Cherry
It’s the era of the bands with Black in their band name. Black Sabbath, Black Veil Brides, Black Label Society and Black Stone Cherry just to name a few. Vocalist Chris Robertson on the earlier recordings sounded better than Chris Cornell ever did. In 2013, the band was recording “Magic Mountain” and it came out in 2014. While 2016 gave us the “Kentucky” album (the band’s 5th album) and the ten year anniversary of their debut album.

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