2018 (4 Years Ago)
The problem with writing about 80’s music is those who remember it, care about it and those who don’t remember it or did not grow up in it, don’t really care about it. Well not all people. There are some.
But for those of us who lived it, the artists inhabit a special place inside us, where our memories are triggered by the melodies and distortion. Play a Top 100 Rock list from the 80’s and you’ll be surprised how many songs you can sing along to.
2014 (8 Years Ago)
The Music Business launches an Anti-Piracy Game App to educate young people on piracy while at the same time copyright infringement of music is declining each year due to decent and well-priced legal alternatives.
The game allows players to select an aspiring artist from a list of hopefuls, compose tracks from a roster of song-writers, producers and studio technicians and balance the books by keeping an eye on how radio play, streaming and piracy impact on profits. But the game doesn’t show the players how much an artist REALLY gets for a song and how much the labels keep for themselves.
In the metal and rock sphere, two record labels come to mind, where I feel that their intentions are motivated by having a copyright monopoly on certain songs.
One is Frontiers and the other is Rock Candy. Frontiers are getting a lot of the Eighties greats to create forgeries of their hits, while Rock Candy is buying up albums from the Eighties and re-releasing them with expanded packaging, so that all these forgeries and new versions of the Eighties albums fall under a new copyright term.
Remember when Voltage Pictures went after people sharing the “Dallas Buyers Club” movie.
I wrote back in 2014 that “In This Moment” would regret signing with Atlantic Records.
Remember “Bush”. After three successful releases on a smaller label, “Bush” signed a big dollar deal with Atlantic for their fourth release and in return they had their least successful album. And the label wasn’t happy. So with no mainstream success and a lack of label support, “Bush” called it quits.
“Winger” was signed by Atlantic and they had success with them and Atlantic reaped in millions from the first two “Winger” albums while the band was classed as still in debt. After “Winger” delivered their best album “Down Incognito”, “Beavis and Butthead” also happened, and after the dui lynched a Winger loving family in one of their episodes, Atlantic Records suddenly developed amnesia and claimed that they had never heard of “Winger”.
“Collective Soul” already had a demo version of their massive hit “Shine” doing the rounds on radio for about six months before Atlantic picked them up and re-released the same demo album under the Atlantic brand. What an artist and development program at Atlantic. While the band kept selling, Atlantic loved them. Then when the sales started to decline (although still great numbers compared to other bands), the label started to lose interest and after 7 years of making Atlantic wealthy, once their contract ended, it wasn’t renewed.
“Pride” from White Lion broke out and Atlantic pushed them to write more hit singles for the next record. This pressure to create “hit songs” caused a conflicted Vito Bratta even more conflict and when that attempt at “hit songs” failed to provide an increase in sales for “Big Game”, the label just stopped caring. As a last resort, they gave them a lot of money for the “Mane Attraction” album but the band took their time and they were out of the music scene for 12 months recording that album. And Atlantic had already moved on. The album was released with no marketing budget and within 5 months, the band was over. No one from the label even called them.
“Twisted Sister” had a huge local following, however US labels just kept on rejecting them. Eventually, they went looking for a deal in Europe and after a false start with Secret Records, they ended up getting signed to Atlantic Europe. So of course, Atlantic US came knocking, signed them (even though they ignored and rejected them for ten years prior to that), made a huge amount of money of the “Stay Hungry” album and then dropped them three years later.
“Zebra” had a huge local following before they got signed with Atlantic Records. Then the “Zebra” debut album became one of the fastest selling releases on the Atlantic roster. Three years later, Atlantic dropped the band, however they kept an option open on Randy Jackson. So Jackson finished the “China Rain” record in 1990 and Atlantic Records decided not to release it but they wouldn’t allow him to take the masters and release it with a different label.
“Badlands” was signed by Atlantic. The self-titled debut came out and it achieved cult like status among the jaded metal community. “Voodoo Highway” came next however Atlantic was not impressed as the label wanted hit songs for MTV and they wanted those songs written to a strict radio formula. Ray Gillen apparently had songs that suited what the label was looking for. Those frustrations came to a head when Jake E. Lee accused Ray Gillen of going behind his back. In the end, Atlantic broke the band up and then dropped them when they went chasing the grunge dollars. And there albums will never see the light of day on digital services or re-releases because of Ray Gillen infecting the daughter of an Atlantic Exec with HIV.
Dave Mustaine will never have to spend another dollar on marketing. I have a Google Alert set up for Dave Mustaine, and man, what can I say, the web is a flux with Dave Mustaine news. Because he likes to express his opinions. And people either hate him or love him.
In an interview on the FasterLouder website, Mustaine is asked questions, around the then recent album “Super Collider” and how it is seen as a failure. Mustaine responded by saying it debuted at No 6 on the Billboard charts, so he wouldn’t call that a failure.
It’s important to note that the charts do not have the same meaning and influence as they once did. When someone comes up with a chart that combines sales, streaming counts, YouTube views along with the conversation occurring on social media, only then can we call the charts sensible.
And the album “Super Collider” is a failure.
In the end, we are mainly interested in what is great and it is better to release great more frequently instead of an album every 2 years that has a couple of great tracks.
“When you spend nine months working on an album, all the work that goes into it and recording it, mixing it, mastering it, then you release it and it falls on deaf ears.”
“I’d rather work on two songs under that plan (exploring the idea of placing their songs in films, or signing sponsorships deals through integrated marketing with other types of companies that want to use their song specifically to reach tens of millions of people) than do eleven songs that only reach 100,000 people.”
Nikki Sixx from Motley Crue said the above in an interview on the Classic Rock website back in 2014. The link to the story is in the original blog post.
The record labels and the RIAA will say that artists would stop recording less because people pirate/copyright infringe. They will call for stronger copyright enforcement.
Sociologist would say that sales of recorded music have declined due to the rise of other desirables, like apps and gaming in general. Look at the sales of the “Halo” games series by Microsoft. “Halo 4” made $220 million in 24 hours. Overall, the whole series has grossed over $3.4 billion.
Have any rock bands reached that many people or made $220 million in sales in one day?
And artists are still creating and still releasing and still breaking through. Just not the big artists from yesteryear.
Critics will say, that Motley Crue should release something worth buying and that they will buy it.
Musicians took risks and stood for something. They made money, they blew money, some did drugs, and they made money again. Basically rock stars did it their way. There was no safety net. That is why we flocked to them. That is why we became fans. They represented an attitude, a sense of freedom that connected with us.
That’s a wrap for another week.