I am trying to catch up on these posts, so I can do them weekly. So here is another review of November posts from 2018 and 2014.
2018 (4 Years Ago)
I have a Google Alert set up for Copyright and everyday there are ten or more stories on Copyright issues, ranging from Ed Sheeran settling with artists over a copyright suit, artists trying to reclaim their rights back from the labels, to artists selling their rights in songs to corporations for a fee, to Led Zep asking a judge to throw away the Stairway appeal, to local restaurants playing music and asked to pay for a Copyright licence, to parents breaking the Copyright law when they film their kids dance to music and uploading without paying someone, to ISPs being asked to block or censor websites, to Google being told to remove search links to certain sites, to people being charged with piracy and to whatever else the Copyright Industry wants.
If the above doesn’t tell you who copyright benefits, then reread it again.
And The Copyright Ballad Of John Fogerty highlights all of the above and more. He had to buy back a majority stake of the songs he wrote. Think about that for a second. A CEO in an office just made multi-millions for doing sweet f.a. while the person who made him rich had to make him even richer so he could get a majority stake.
I was doing a simultaneously review of 1979 (two posts for that year) and 1984 (one post for that year in the month)
Man, 1979 had a lot of good releases. For the record, most of these albums I heard in the 80s and some in the 90’s.
Kansas released “Monolith”. It’s a fantastic album, but largely forgotten in the streaming era, as the hits from other albums do the rounds on streaming playlists. Styx released “Cornerstone” and my favourite tracks were not the hits. Instead I gravitated to “Love In The Midnight”, “Eddie”, “Borrowed Time” and “Lights”.
Van Halen followed up the debut album pretty quickly with “II” and they danced the night away to multi-platinum. But my favourite track was always “Somebody Get Me A Doctor”.
Graham Bonnet fronted Rainbow founded a whole new melodic metal movement with “Down To Earth”. Which would continue with Joe Lynn Turner on vocals.
Cheap Trick showed how a studio recorded live album can do better than an actual studio album with “At Budokan”. So did UFO with “Strangers In The Night”.
Foreigner started to play “Head Games” with us. Are they a blues rock band, a hard rock band or a pop band or somewhere in between. Meanwhile Supertramp released their best album in “Breakfast In America” and it was their sixth album.
ELO released “Discovery” but the only track worth paying attention to was “Don’t Bring Me Down”. Same deal with The Knack. While the album had a cool pop rock vibe, “My Sharona” stole the show.
The Angels released “No Exit” an album that fused punk with pub rock and blues. And Australian audiences loved it. Little River Band released “First Under The Wire” and how good is “Lonesome Loser” on it.
For 1984, the post I did was titled 1984 – III – Are We Evil Or Divine?
“The Last In Line” is my favourite Dio album period. Plus it was my first purchase of Dio’s solo career. The guitar work of Vivian Campbell was and still is very influential to me.
Kiss was continuing their evolution without the pain with “Animalize”. The opener “I’ve Had Enough (Into The Fire) doesn’t get enough love and attention. But it should.
U2 released “The Unforgettable Fire” and sent the charts, music television and radio scrambling to add “Pride (In The Name Of Love) to their rotations.
Queen released “The Works” and Tina Turner gave the melodic rock movement a kick in the butt with “Private Dancer” as songs like “What’s Love Got To Do With It”, “We Don’t Need Another Hero” and “Its Only Love” could cross genres.
And the might Deep Purple reformed and made a massive statement with “Perfect Strangers”.
In some alternate universe I went and watched Mike Portnoy’s Shattered Fortress on Friday 24 November 2017 in Sydney. But in reality I didn’t. What kind of magic was used to make me forget that the concert was on I will now. It wasn’t until a year later when I was cleaning out my laptop bag that I saw the ticket. Not one but two tickets.
Does anyone remember Compressorhead?
It is a Robot band made from recycled parts. They do a pretty mean cover of “Ace Of Spades” cover.
It’s been said that this robot “band” plays real electric and acoustic instruments but in the end, this project was just some great code writing and midi sequencing.
I was spinning George Lynch a fair bit during this period. The songs “Wicked Sensation” and “All I Want” got separate posts.
Since Ronnie James Dio’s death, a few bands popped up from ex-members that pay homage to his style of song writing.
There was “Dream Child” with Craig Goldy on guitars, Rudy Sarzo on bass, Simon Wright on drums, Wayne Findlay on keys and singer Diego Valdez. You also have other Goldy projects in “Dio Disciples” and “Resurrection Kings”.
And then there was “Last In Line” with Vinny Appice on drums, Vivian Campbell on guitar, Andrew Freeman on vocals and Phil Soussan taking over on bass after the passing of Jimmy Bain.
Of course, any retro sounding metal/rock band has Frontiers Music president, Serafino Perugino as the protagonist to get the ball rolling. Only “Dio Disciples”, who have a deal with BMG for an album of original material are not on Frontiers Music.
But the real secret sauce behind all of these Frontiers Music projects is songwriter and producer Alessandro Delvecchio. A very underrated songwriter. If you listened to “Revolution Saints”, well Delvecchio is all over those albums. If you listen to “Resurrection Kings”, he’s also involved with that. The same for “Dream Child”.
And although I liked the album, I wasn’t a fan yet, but I was interested to hear what could come next. And 5 years later, no new product has arrived.
A System That Rewards Attention
If you create a system that rewards attention, the easiest way to get attention is to be a bad actor. That underlies our media ecosystem, that underlies our political system and it’s degrading society in so many ways.
EV WILLIAMS – Creator Of Blogger, Twitter and Medium
Did anyone read the story about “Threatin”.
They are an LA band, created by Jered Threatin. He then created a record company web page that was bullshit, he created a booking agency web page that was also bullshit, he doctored live footage to make it look like he was popular on YouTube which was bullshit and he created a management company website which was of course bullshit as well. He also paid for Facebook likes and comments and YouTube views and many more wonderful things to do with scorched earth marketing.
And through it all, he convinced stupid greedy venue owners in Europe to book him. And he didn’t even have a fanbase. He even convinced these club owners the shows were sold out. If they just did some due diligence and checked out Threatin’s Spotify account, they would have seen the stream numbers don’t match the spin coming from his “management” and they could have asked some hard questions. But they didn’t, they got had and they got pissed.
If Threatin did pull it off and sell out the gigs based on the made up hype, maybe there would be a different discussion, but hey, people fail more than they succeed.
The Purchase Dilemma
Remember the time when you would go through the LP racks (afterwards it would be CD’s) and pull out the LPs you wanted to buy.
Each week I wanted to buy a lot of music but had enough money to buy two.
You can read the rest here, about how album covers, song titles, record labels and producers played a part in deciding what to buy.
And here is a bit of history on when I used to take guitar lessons.
I bugged my Dad to buy me a guitar so he got me a classical guitar with the hope I could learn to play classical songs. He paid $15 for a 30 minute lesson with a man called Niccolini, who instead taught me how to play metal and rock songs because I asked him to.
I used to tell Niccolini which songs I would want to learn, he would then go away and learn those songs and then at the next lesson he would show me. While learning songs from other artists was cool, I also took the lessons, to get the techniques right. I’m big on foundations. If the foundations are not right, everything else that comes after is not right either.
And I would fool my Dad by playing metal and hard rock songs in a classical way. Like anything from Randy Rhoads or Yngwie Malmsteen.
And my record collection was a source of pride. I played them through and through. They are part of my DNA. I used to have the collection under lock and key, in an alarmed room because once upon a time, if someone broke in, they would steal part of the collection. I couldn’t have that happen.
Today, they’ll walk straight past it and go for the tech.
Music is part of my life. It will always be.
2014 (8 Years Ago)
Back in 2014, my posts really focussed on the music business as a whole, using metal and rock artists to illustrate the points I was trying to make.
It seemed like everyone was complaining about being paid. Except the labels.
And if the money was not filtering down to the artist, whose fault is that?
Then again, no one is guaranteed to be paid. People don’t want to accumulate shiny plastic discs or vinyl records while others do. So the price point for music fans of music is very different and this translates to how artists get paid.
Just because the user streams the music for free, it doesn’t mean that Spotify is not paying the rights holder. Accounting is the bedrock of the techies, however for the labels it is a different story.
And if you wanted to know how “breakage” is pure profit for the label, then read this post.
But artists seemed to be missing the point. They still focused on the old models and were failing to see new ways. IN THE END, regardless of what the artist does, it is the LISTENERS/FANS that decide if the artist makes it or doesn’t. The power is in the listener hands. And those relationships start like all relationships with a simple hello. So connect.
That connection could be with B-sides and rare tracks. In 2014 this was a rare thing, but I can say that by 2020, a lot or artists started to raid their vaults as they realised there was value there.
Then again, Minecraft was free to download and play. With the free version, you couldn’t save your progress but for a one of fee of $6.99, you could download the full version and have all the features. There are lessons here for the music business and artists.
Look at any band that is successful and you will see a band member with an entrepreneurial spirit. Some do it out of necessity.
Jay Jay French went and formed his own independent label to release the early singles from Twisted Sister when they couldn’t get a record deal.
Joan Jett had 23 labels pass on releasing her first solo album. Out of a need to get her music out, she founded Blackheart Records with producer Kenny Laguna. This was 34 years ago. By 2014, her label is now a force to be reckoned with, via its music, clothing and film divisions.
Then again, getting a record deal could be a blessing or a curse.
Because everyone is trying to twist the narrative to their own advantage. The labels for themselves. The techies for themselves. The artists for themselves. The publishers for themselves.
I’m a fan of Black Veil Brides and their Bob Rock produced self-titled album was getting a lot of spins. If you haven’t heard it, press play on it right now. Sonically it is one of the best hard rock and old school metal releases in 2014.
Anyone read “Stephen Pearcy: Ratt and Roll”. If you haven’t, don’t. I don’t recommend it. The disintegration of Ratt and the tough times of the Nineties are glossed over. The way the songs came together, and the influences behind them is not even mentioned.
Anyway it got me thinking about the Eighties so I wrote a post that sort of makes sense about learning a lot from history.
And somewhere along the way, everyone forgot how music thrives. By sharing it with others. Go any social media site and people are sharing their lives. Go to any blog site and you will see people sharing photos, writings, music, opinions, stories, etc. And all the things that we share are all free.
How we communicate has changed significantly and how to succeed as an artist has also changed significantly. Artists need to be agile and be ready to try different ways of promoting and connecting.
If you remember, in the October 2014 review, I reviewed the careers of Adrian Vandenberg and John Sykes up until 2014. This month, Digital Summer, Evergrey and Vivian Campbell got the same treatment.
And I was cranking “Bloodstone And Diamonds” from Machine Head a lot. You can read my review here.
Then again, every act has an arc. Like the Bell Curve. Sometimes they have multiple Bell Curves.
Because the new world is hard. Attention spans are lower and what is hot today is gone tomorrow. That album you spent making for 12 months is dead after 4 weeks.
We are living in a world that is besieged by economic problems. We are living in a world that has democratic governments undertaking surveillance on their citizens like the totalitarian regimes that our grandfathers died fighting against. We are living in a world where the majority of politicians are on the payroll of the corporations. We are living in a world that has a digital divide to go along with a class divide. We are living in a world where privacy is eroded a little bit at a time.
Some of my favourite artists had songs that just spoke to me.
“What do you mean I don’t support your system, why do you think I’m broke”.
Dave Mustaine wrote that back in the mid-Eighties. Fast forward almost thirty years, and we are still broke supporting the system. The rich and the powerful caused a global recession and guess what, they got bailed out by the governments while we lost our jobs and homes. Inequality exists in music as it does in economics. You’re either a winner or a loser and if you cross over, you become a global phenomenon. Think Metallica. There crossover was the “Black” album. That is their victory lap album.
“But now the holy dollar rules everybody’s lives, gotta make a million, doesn’t matter who dies.”
The above line is from “Revolution Calling” from Queensryche. Spotify cares about Spotify and they want to make millions. Taylor Swift cares about Taylor Swift and she wants to make millions.
“Words are the bullets to this revolution”
Robb Flynn spits out the line in “Clenching the Fists of Dissent”.
We live in an information age. Everything is at our fingertips so we should put those tools to use to do our own investigations because our media reporting outlets are all owned by large corporations. They report news items that will push their agenda. They report news items that have been paid for by a marketing PR firm. Impartiality is over. Never have we been so divided but connected we are.
The problems of today existed before. However, it is the people of today that had to bail out the rich. If the POOR or the WORKING CLASS did something fraudulent and corrupt, they would be doing time in a cell. When the RICH do something fraudulent and corrupt they end up screaming to the Government for a bail out and escape without punishment.
“We’re Not Gonna Take It” was the catch cry once upon a time. It is time it becomes a catch cry of a new generation.