A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Grit

Don’t try to be everywhere. We live in an internet era and each day is information overload day. The more that artists try to appeal to everybody, the less people actually care. Satisfy the audience that is your hard core fan base. It will give you a career in music. Don’t chase trends because what is here today will be gone tomorrow.

Europe and Y&T are two 80’s bands that have control over their masters and are making more money now than they did in the 80’s. Metallica and Motley Crue also own their masters and by having control of their catalogue, they can exploit their recordings in any way they want. Hell, Metallica even did their own special deal with streaming services.

Why do you think Tom Scholz (Boston), Duran Duran and Don Henley took their labels to court? They tried to get back the rights to their masters and the record labels said no. The labels know that power and money comes in the catalogues they hold.

There has been a lot of press over the last 15 years around how the internet would make the record labels redundant, and how artists would not need a record deal anymore. Well those old gatekeepers are even more powerful than ever before. What most clueless writers failed to realise is the negotiating power back catalogues bring to the argument. And the labels are the ones holding the rights to those catalogues.

Never quit. Greatness comes from frustration. Don’t be upset about failing. If you are upset about failing, it just means that you haven’t failed enough. Dream Theater almost called it a day, during the period between 1988 and 1991, when months rolled by and no suitable singer appeared.

Perseverance is a skill. It keeps you estranged from the conventions of society. You know the conventions that tell you to get a real job.

Quiet Riot during the Randy Rhoads years, used to compete with Van Halen on the L.A circuit. Van Halen got picked up and Quiet Riot struggled. Randy left to join Ozzy and the band more or less ended, however lead singer Kevin Dubrow persevered under his own surname, and resurrected the Quiet Riot band name after the death of Randy Rhoads.

George Lynch’s story is one of perseverance. He auditioned for Ozzy’s band on two occasions, losing out to Randy Rhoads once and then to Jake E. Lee. After Randy got the Ozzy gig, Lynch got Randy’s teaching gig at Randy’s mother school. In relation to the Jake E. Lee situation, Lynch got the guitar slot and then Ozzy (aka Sharon) changed their mind. One of his earlier bands The Boyz had a showcase gig organised for Gene Simmons to attend. Van Halen opened the show and the rest is history. Gene even said to George Lynch, that with a name like his, he will never make it, unless he thinks about changing it.

Ronnie James Dio spent 18 years paying his dues before finding success with Rainbow in 1976. Will musicians starting out today, put in 18 years of service to music.

The band Rush is a perfect example in perseverance.  Back in 1976, before “2112” came out, success was far from guaranteed. In 1974, Rush had released their self-titled debut, which was a standard hard-rock album in the vein of Led Zeppelin, Cream and Free. “Fly By Night” came next and it was Rush’s first with drummer Neil Peart. It featured the Ayn Rand-influenced “Anthem” and the progressive multipart “By-Tor & the Snow Dog”. For 1975’s “Caress of Steel”, Rush went even more progressive to diminishing returns.

On the verge of being dropped by Mercury Records, and under pressure to deliver a radio-friendly product, Rush went even further away from the mainstream, more into the world of progressive music and delivered “2112”, a concept album about a futuristic society, ruled by a class of people known as the Priests of the Temples of Syrinx. This future does not allow people to create or to be stimulated. In the story the main character finds an old guitar and learns to play it. The Priests punish him and destroy the instrument. From perseverance, the album “2112” was born and it laid the groundwork for all of Rush’s future success.

Rush delivered an album that satisfied their muses and the label got a band with a career. If they delivered what the label wanted, a radio friendly album, the label may have made some money, however they wouldn’t have had a band with a career on their roster. Breakthrough work is usually rejected at first. Success is slow.

There is plenty of money to be made in the long run if you don’t make money your number one priority. Start small and remember you don’t have to start perfect. Just start.

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One thought on “Grit

  1. Great writeup! Lynch had no idea he lost out on two Ozzy auditions. Knew about one but two. Man talk about left at the alter not once but twice! haha
    Good to see bands like Europe cashing as as there music now is excellent. Y&T I had no idea they owned or I guess Menketti owns. Sure would like to know how the dough is passed around that 3 original members have passed on…
    Rush what can say ton of touring also helped them break open but good on them sticking to there guns and bowing out gracefully after 40 years…

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