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

Listening Habits

It’s a tough crazy world.

Artists spend their blood, sweat and tears into their new product and no one seems to be paying attention.

How can they, with all the music coming out.

For 2019, I listened to 5,783 different songs on Spotify. To put that number into context that is roughly 16 different songs, each day, for 365 days. In the old vinyl LP days of 8 songs each, this would be two albums every day of different artists.

Streaming allows this diverse listening experience and for the fan, this is a good thing.

It’s also a good solution compared to peer to peer downloading. But people complain about the payments they receive, however there is no denying that streaming services have put some serious money back into the recording industry.

Prior to Spotify, the recording labels got nothing. And it’s a shame that those same labels don’t funnel those monies back to their artists. Because if wasn’t for the artists, the recording labels would not be in the position of power to negotiate anything. And if it wasn’t for the artists forming connections with people, then the labels would have no business model.

If you take streaming services out of the industry, people will not start buying CD’s again en masse.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Fans

Fans maketh the artist and the fans taketh the artist.

For all artists, the need to create music is enough of a reason to start. Then some artists will have acceptance of their music. And suddenly artists have a thousand plus hard core fans.

Artists are normally happy to sell out the limited run of super deluxe editions of albums.

For the medium to larger acts, this is about 20,000 copies of an album between the prices of $50 to $200 each, and you can see a cool gross income between $1 million and $4 million. If the artists own their rights and are in control of their masters, then the deluxe editions if done right, can be a nice little supplement.

And streaming also gives the artist control of where their fans are, in which cities they live and which songs these fans are listening to. If the artists have the resources, then they can tour these places. Scorpions and Whitesnake are coming to Australia and I am pretty sure it’s on the back of some impressive streaming numbers, because it wouldn’t be on sales.

More so than ever, the fans decide how they want to commit to their relationship with the artist. And a lot of fans of music are also pretty content to listen to music at home, without feeling the need to go out and watch an artist live.

It’s part of the new world.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Greatest Hits And Popular

Greatest hits get tiresome and I think I am suffering burnout on it. Not because artists are putting out greatest hits or best off collections, it’s because Spotify has the same popular songs from artists across hundreds of their own generated playlists like, songs to run to, work out to, songs of the 80’s, hard rock songs, glam rock songs and so forth. And then you go to the artist account and of course, the top 5 songs for the artist are the ones on the Spotify generated playlists.

Surprise, surprise.

And if all we do is listen to the most played songs, the hits, then we are missing out on the real good stuff. But it’s hard to escape the greatest hits, because the internet and every social media platform, push us to check out what is trending and what everyone else is checking out.

But to be popular or to make something popular, the creator is leaving out the important parts of the song, in case it turns people away, like a lyric that deals with dark thoughts or a guitar solo which takes the song into the 5 minute mark. You want a hit, call Max Martin, who has a team of writers working on the same song,

In other words, simplify things in exchange for attention.

It’s easier than it sounds, otherwise artists will go straight to the hit, or a director wont make those small indie films and make just the hit film.

Because no one will know what is a hit until they release it.

The Beatles recorded hundreds of songs before they even broke big. Black Sabbath never had a hit but are seen as hit makers today. David Coverdale wrote hundreds of songs before he hit the charts in a big way with the 87 album.

And the music we love, the soundtrack to our youth, well, those songs didn’t really get to number 1. Same deal for the books I read, the articles I read, the journals I read and documentaries I watched, that formed my viewpoints and shaped me.

Popular doesn’t mean the best. It’s just popular.

Remember “Gangnam Style” or “Achy Breaky Heart”.

Check out this great post from Seth Godin about Hits.

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Music, My Stories, Copyright, Alternate Reality

Certification

Certifications still exist in 2019.

In order for an organisation to exist they need to find something relevant.

The RIAA is a lobby group for the record labels, and a trophy giver to artists. These little trophies, like a gold certification for 500,000 albums sold in the U.S. used to be a little bit easier to calculate when sales was the only metric used.

But when digital downloads and streaming started to take over, for right or wrong reasons, the RIAA and its sister like companies in other parts of the world, got all creative in their counting.

Suddenly, a thousand odd of streams is an album sale or 12 tracks downloaded is an album sale. Artists then would offer their albums with ticket bundles and if the fan clicked on the download link, that counted as a sale. Or artists would offer their albums with clothing sales and again, if the fan clicked on the download link, that would count as a sale.

For right or wrong reasons, certain artists and their backers are looking for bragging rights.

So what does a certification tell the world?

I was trolling through the recent certification awards on the RIAA website and I saw a lot of artists who I have never heard off, get a lot of single song certifications, so my assumption here is that these songs are streaming like crazy. And a check on Spotify confirmed that.

But two certifications got me interested because I used to cover these songs in bands. KANSAS got a triple platinum certification for “Dust In The Wind” and a 4x Platinum certification for “Carry On My Wayward Son”.

Now imagine that.

Song’s released in the 70’s are getting cherry picked by fans and listened to over and over and over again on streaming platforms. And you can’t say that the songs are part of a ticket or clothing bundle.

Here are the facts;

  • “Dust In The Wind” was released in January, 1978 and it got no certifications whatsoever back then, nor in the years after.
  • And the record labels have a habit of not spending money to promote old songs if they don’t make money, so those songs become forgotten.
  • It wasn’t until digital services like iTunes offered up the track that it got a Gold certification in December, 2005.
  • And 14 years after that and almost 9 years since streaming commenced, the track went from Gold to Platinum to 2x Platinum and now 3x Platinum.

Whereas;

  • “Carry On My Wayward Son”, released in November 1976, got its Gold certification in December 1990 and in November 2019, it got platinum x1, x2, x3 and x4 certification.
  • And when you look at the streaming numbers you can see why;
    • “Dust In The Wind” has 231,083,018 streams and “Carry On My Wayward Son” has a combined count of approx. 270,000,000 streams on Spotify.
    • On YouTube, the official video and audio of “Dust In The Wind” have a combined count of 300 million views and “Carry On My Wayward Son” has close to 160 million views of the official video and audio.
    • Plus you have the user uploads when all combined add up to a lot of million views.

    And it’s a long journey for a song and an artist.  

    Debates can be had on sales and certifications but what I find impressive when I see theses kind of things is how artists are still relevant even when they are out of the mainstream press. It’s like the saying goes, you can’t keep a good song down

    And it pisses me off how record label reps had so much control to kill an artists career once upon a time, even though the music from the artists always had an audience for their music.

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

    2019 – Part 2

    The year in review continues.

    The “Feral Roots” Album
    Rival Sons

    Album number six. They started off the release cycle in 2018, by dropping four or so songs that got me interested.

    And after the album dropped I started saving songs like “Do Your Worst”, “Sugar On The Bone”, “Back In The Woods”, “Look Away”, “Feral Roots”, “Too Bad” and “Shooting Stars”.

    In other words, the majority of the album, took me by the throat the same way the dog on the cover would if it got a hold of me. And the earlier Rival Sons albums didn’t grab me like this one.

    It’s like they did a deal with the devil at the crossroads. Even the opening lyric to “Do Your Worst” introduces the devil by saying, “see that stranger coming up the hill, though you don’t recognize him, I know your preacher will.”

    Burn
    Testament
    War
    Corroded

    Another band from Sweden who write music in a way that I like and can easily relate to. And they have been doing this since 2004 and releasing albums since 2009.

    The “Bitter” album is basically loud, aggressive and heavy and people who read this blog know that I have covered Corroded previously.

    The Gathering
    The Runaway
    Gathering of Kings

    The “First Mission” album is like a who’s who of melodic rock artists around Europe and “The Runaway” stands out to me because of Bjorn Strid doing some impressive vocals.

    Home
    Horizon Ignited

    From the album “After The Storm”.

    I haven’t heard the album yet and I probably won’t at this point in time, however “Home” did come up on a Release Radar playlist and it was good enough to get added to my 2019 list. And I’ve been listening to this song for most of the year, but I know nothing about the band.

    So Google tells me they are from Finland, with melodic and death metal influences.

    There’s no light beneath the waves, the silence feels like home

    Evergrey’s Tom Englund is very big on using water as a metaphor or analogy to convey a feeling and Horizon Ignited are no different, finding comfort at the bottom of the ocean.

    Fall Into The Light
    Dream Theater 

    From the “Distance Over Time” album

    It’s probably my least favourite Dream Theater album, but this song has all the things I like about Dream Theater. Killer riffs, frantic drumming, emotional guitar solos and that outro solo with its sweep string skipping is finger breaking.

    Never Let You Go
    DeVicious

    From the “Reflections” album. They are a band based in Germany with German and Serbian members. This song is a duet with Norwegian singer, Age Sten Nilsen from melodic rock bands, Wig Wam and Ammunition.

    Mettavolution
    Battery
    Rodrigo y Gabriela

    From when they released there self-titled album in 2006, I have been a fan. I enjoyed their “11:11” album in 2009, their Area 52 band style project in 2012 and their “9 Dead Alive” album in 2014.

    Basically I like the shit they create.

    And “Mettavolution” is the title track of an album that has them covering Pink Floyd’s 19 minute “Echoes” song plus there is a bonus cover of “Battery” from Metallica. If you are fan of Metallica, you will be pleased of the acoustic rendition, because Gabriela is so percussive in her style, she covers the drum feel along with the rhythm guitars so easily, it allows Rodrigo to flourish the song with the vocal melodies and everything else melodic.

    Break These Chains
    The Brink

    From England and signed to Frontiers “New Breed” roster. And their sound is like the glam rockers of the past and their names mimic the past names as well, like Izzy Trixx, Lexi Laine and Tom Quick.

    Break the chains that bind you I say.

    Radio Song
    Buckcherry

    Buckcherry have been going since 1995.

    Each album has a song or two which gets me interested and on the “Warpaint” album, “Radio Song” is a ballad about time slipping away and looking for you’re an escape, while you hear the radio playing your favourite song, so you turn it up and have some fun.

    Shock
    Tesla

    One of my favourite acts. Their first four albums became so influential to me, in my song writing, plus the interviews of Frank Hannon and Tommy Skeoch spoke of influences I didn’t really know of, so based on their recommendations, I brightened my musical horizons.

    Blood In Blood Out
    Mustasch

    Another band from Sweden, which I have mentioned before in my yearly write ups. They are basically dudes wearing moustaches with some serious musical ability to craft aggressive, abrasive, metallic and melodic rock songs.

    I was born to be defiant

    It’s the lifestyle of a metal head.

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    Music, My Stories

    Going Out

    I asked my kids why they always stay home when they are not doing sports. And their answer was interesting. The older one wanted to relax, while the middle one and the younger one said they don’t need to go out, because everything they want, they have at home.

    If they want to listen to music, I have a large CD/Vinyl collection, plus I pay for a family Spotify account, plus they have YouTube and I also have a large mp3 collection as well.

    If they want to watch movies, I have a pretty decent DVD/Blu-ray collection, plus I pay for Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

    If they want to watch sport, I have a football channel subscription. If they want to read, I also have a decent book collection as I enjoy reading fiction and non-fiction writings.

    Basically their entertainment needs are met.

    And if those things don’t entertain them, they pick up the guitar and play it or the keyboard.

    And if those things don’t tickle their interest they have their PS4 and online gaming.

    And if all of these things don’t amuse them, they have their iPhones or iPads and their social media accounts.

    Phew, I had to leave the house and go out to do any of these things once upon a time, like to buy a record, watch a concert, borrow a book from a library or a video from a video shop or find friends in the street to play a board game with and to get a job to purchase a guitar.

    And at the same time, I saw a post over at Seth Godin’s website, called “Break The Lecture” in which he mentioned that “in 1805, if you listened to music, you heard it live. Every time. Today, perhaps 1% of all the music we hear is live, if that.”  And he compared that to  a lecture for school or work, and how you had to hear it live in 1805 and its still true today, which he found strange. Why didn’t the lecture move over to digital.

    And it’s right, to listen to music, a person had to leave their home. Then came radio and television and home entertainment stereo systems that played vinyl, then cassettes, then CDs, then they became docking stations, then Bluetooth stations and the focus shifted from massive speakers to expensive headphones.

    And who knows what’s next.

    Microchips in our ears to capture soundwaves and Bluetooth waves. Suddenly we will all be like superheroes with advanced hearing, capturing concerts from miles away in our homes. Oh wait, that’s radio.

    I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same.

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    A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

    The Arc

    No artist is immune from the career arc, where you’re hot and then you’re not. Its happened to a lot of artists before in the 70s, the 80s, the 90s, the 00s and even more so in today’s internet world, where an artist can release something great and it can remain ignored in the marketplace.

    Remember Motley Crue who sold out arenas in the 80s, then half filled theaters in the 90s and they came back in the early 2000s to sold out arenas again then went away and are now coming back again.

    Remember Aerosmith.

    A huge band in the 70s, disappeared towards the end of that era and it wasn’t until 1987 that they became relevant again. And that relevance kept on rising until the late 90s and suddenly they weren’t as hot as before.

    Remember Iron Maiden. Sold out arenas in the 80s and then weren’t as hot after Bruce left, but took up the momentum again when he returned.

    And there are many more who were hot, then not hot and then hot again, but bands normally break up when their career is not as hot as it was in the past like Twisted Sister or Skid Row. Twisted did reform and became hot again, while Skid Row refuse to kiss and make up.

    And artists who have those royalties from all those old records can go on the road based on that music.

    But some artists are even fucking this up with ticketing bundles and scalping their own tickets.

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