4 Years Ago (2017)
My then five year old had to draw his family in kindy class. In the drawing he had me drawn with a black T-shirt and black shorts.
When they say “Take the Black” in “Game of Thrones”, a metal/rock head says, “pffft, we’ve already done that”.
All though I’ve morphed to plain black tees as I have gotten older, I still break out the metal and rock t-shirts now and then.
When I first got together with my wife, I had a Posion T-Shirt with the sleeves cut off and she had dance music playing in the car.
I asked her if she had anything else.
The answer was no.
I asked her if she would be okay if I introduced some new music in the car.
She said okay.
The next day, I had the rock and metal mix tapes ready for indoctrination.
At first it was the more commercial sounding rock and metal.
Secretly the dance tapes ended up in a draw in my room. It was many years later that she asked what happened to those tapes.
I started this post with “Just put out the damn album”.
When we laid out cash for the 10 to 15 albums we used to buy a year, we had time to digest and live with the music for a long time so we were okay with the lead up.
The 8 week lead up to the release is too much these days especially when the LP run could be over in a month after it’s released.
That’s how fast new albums disappear from the conversation in the current environment.
The first week sales that might look great on paper are irrelevant.
Check the second week streaming numbers. Then the third, then the fourth and so on. Those numbers will show you if the fans care for the music or if only the press (that the marketing team has paid to promote your product) cares.
And people will complain about streaming revenue and how it doesn’t pay enough. Control your rights, have a song that people connect with and you will be paid well and forever.
If investment firms are cashing in, it’s because streaming pays. But it pays the organization who controls the rights.
YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music and all the rest will pay forever.
Isn’t that better than the one off transaction between the record store and the fan?
That fan could have purchased the album, taken it home, played it once and traded it.
Maybe that fan played the album a million times. But the artist wouldn’t know that behaviour.
Data tells us what’s hot and what’s not. And like it or not, it’s always been about the hits. To me a hit isn’t the song that takes the number 1 slot on a chart.
“Fear Of The Dark” or “Hallowed Be Thy Name” or “Creeping Death” or “Fade To Black” or “Master Of Puppets” didn’t set the charts alight but the fans made those songs hit’s. Convert staples.
We don’t live in 1989, where mediocre stuff on the radio gets some traction because of the marketing/hype dollars invested into the promotion. We live in the era of connectivity and virality and hits and streaming that pays forever.
But artists need to release a continuous stream of product to win.
It’s my bible.
I played the cassette tape to death trying to learn every riff and lick. And when I couldn’t pick it all up, I shelled out $50 on Wolf Marshal’s transcription of the “Tribute” album and I spent a lot of hours woodshedding to it.
Even though Ozzy re-cut his vocals for the release there is no denying Randy Rhoads and his love for his instrument. The way he re-imagines his multi-layered guitar riffs from the studio versions and turns it all into one definitive guitar cut is brilliant. For any guitarist, new or old, this is it. It gets no better than this.
“Mr Crowley” was the first song I got stuck into. It has two shred leads and the way Randy combined those guitar lines into one definitive track for the “was he polemically” section is brilliant. And the outro lead is just one of those songs within a song lead breaks.
“Revelation (Mother Earth)” has a finger picked part at the start which is breathtaking, the interlude is subdued and relaxing but that outro is breathless. And the live tempo is much better than the studio tempo.
“Children Of The Grave” was the next song I tried to learn after “Mr Crowley”. I love the way Randy plays the C#m riff on the 4th fret on the 5th string. That’s how I learned this song. It wasn’t until many years later I heard the Sabbath version and Iommi is down tuned to C#.
I must say, I love the tempo of this live version.
And that outro improv lead is brilliant especially when Randy starts to reference Ace ala “Love Gun”.
When I think of “Children Of The Grave”, I think of this.
“Goodbye To Romance” is the piece d’resistance in guitar playing. The jazz like chords in the verses, the arpeggio chorus riff and that guitar solo.
These day’s guitarists can do unbelievable and very advanced things on the guitar but do they have the song sense of Randy Rhoads.
My kids back then had been watching “School Of Rock” and “The Pick Of Destiny” on and off, so i did a \::/ salute to Jack Black for spreading his love of rock and heavy metal to the masses.
Because the movies capture what rock and roll is all about;
- going against the grain,
- breaking rules set by the institutions/parents and having fun along the way.
Let’s make sure it will never be forgotten.
“Back To Mystery City” by Hanoi Rocks was covered. It’s unfortunate that most people know of Hanoi Rocks because of drummer Nicholas “Razzle” Dingley’s death due to being drunkenly driven by Mötley Crüe’s Vince Neil.
All death is tragic. And I remember reading an interview (I think it was in Faces) that if Razzle’s didn’t join in 1982, the band probably would have broken up. And then his death in 1985 ended the band.
“Speaking in Tongues” by Talking Heads is mentioned. “Burning Down the House” sold the album. It was everywhere. One of my hard rock bands in the 90’s even covered the song in a rock context.
“Streets” was the creative musical outlet for Steve Walsh in between his departure from Kansas.
The debut LP was released in 1983 on Atlantic Records. The deal was negotiatied with one manager and destroyed by their next manager after he argued with the President of Atlantic Records, Doug Morris.
So Atlantic just released the albums with no promo and if they stuck, good. But they didn’t stick. And they never released the albums on CD while they controlled the rights.
Steve Walsh even got a lawyer to get the albums back from Atlantic and Rock Candy re-released the Streets albums recently.
So before people beat up streaming, they need to understand how it was back then and the monopoly the labels had to kill or break a career.
The Eric Martin Band released a great melodic rock album called “Sucker for a Pretty Face”.
And I still don’t understand how “Burning” from Shooting Star wasn’t a big hit.
Maybe because they were on Virgin Records, a label known for new wave and running low on funds, so when a rock album landed in their laps they had no idea how to promote.
But the truth is that the bands first managers were stealing from em, so the band fired em.
And because these managers used to work as record promotion guys, they blacklisted the band to the radio stations.
Meatloaf released “Midnight At The Lost and Found” but it was lost as “Bat Out Of Hell” was still selling like it was a new release.
And Aldo Nova was trying to capture the highs of “Fantasy” with “Subject”.
8 Years Ago (2013)
The public has voted. It prefers streaming.
You would think the war is over. But it’s not.
Spotify pays millions to the copyright holders.
Now unless the artist is a DIY artist who controls their own copyright, or Metallica or Motley Crue who own their masters, most of the copyright holders are the major labels. So the labels are raking it in.
There is also a term doing the round, called “Black Box Revenue.” This is the name given to income that the record labels collect that cannot be directly tracked to the recordings of a specific artist.
To put it all into context, streaming services pay the labels an upfront fee to access their catalogues. In addition, the services then pay the labels royalties for each stream.
Yep the labels get paid twice because they “own” the masters that artists created.
Musicians always had to work hard to get somewhere, that part hasn’t changed and it will never change while others fly private on the backs of the hard work of artists.
During the recorded music industries heyday, there was this widespread idea, sort of like an unwritten law, that we (the fans of music) could purchase music and own it, the same way we purchased and owned the toaster and any other commodity.
Of course when it comes to music, its never that simple.
What the music fans actually purchased was a non-transferable license to listen to the music under very specific and strict conditions. If you don’t believe me read the fine print.
We basically had the right to enjoy the music in private, over and over again.
I had been re-reading a lot of the magazines I accumulated during the Eighties and the Nineties and I finished reading a story about Metallica from the Australian magazine “Hot Metal”.
It was the June 1992 issue.
And in the interview James Hetfield was talking about the stage design and how they would have an area in the middle of the stage set aside for taping. The fans would have to buy a special ticket for the tape section area and Hetfield saw it as a cool thing to flood the market with bootlegs.
Kirk Hammett said that there hasn’t been any great bands “because of things like iTunes and streaming and social networking, it’s destroyed music. It’s destroyed the motivation to go out there and really make the best record possible. It’s a shame.”
You see, when you detach yourself from the streets and live in your ivory tower, you don’t see what is happening at ground zero.
Five Finger Death Punch is going GOLD and PLATINUM in a tough sales market. They have great numbers in relation to YouTube views and Spotify streams. Their albums have been selling up to the point of when their new one is released. Think about that for a second.
Shinedown are doing super numbers in relation to sales, YouTube views and Spotify streams. They have certifications to prove it as well.
Will we have the superstars of the Eighties and Nineties again?
Of course not, but we don’t live in a monoculture anymore.
We are living in the golden age of music access. The history of recorded music is at our fingertips and that is a good thing.
If I pay $120 for a Spotify Premium account, it means that i can listen to millions of songs.
If I buy $120 worth of songs from iTunes in Australia, I can only listen to 70 songs.
If I pay $120 for CD’s, I can pick up 5 albums with a potential of 50 to 60 songs.
I’m a fan.
The music that BFMV creates is very reminiscent to the hard rock / heavy metal music created between 1981 and 1986, before Bon Jovi released “Slippery When Wet” and the majority of bands started chasing the pop metal / pop rock “pot of gold”. It is basically the same music that I grew up on.
Metallica – CHECK
Iron Maiden – CHECK
AC/DC – CHECK
Slayer – CHECK
Megadeth – CHECK
Judas Priest – CHECK
Modern influences like Machine Head, Pantera and Metallica “Black” album period are also found in the songs. It’s probably why I connected with the band.
And that’s another wrap for another week.