A to Z of Making It, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Coheed And Cambria

“Vaxis – Act I: The Unheavenly Creatures” is the new album. The title can turn people away who are not fans and to be honest these long album titles did sound peculiar and they triggered an interest for me back in 2007, however I still needed another recommendation to dive in.

It started with a recommendation that came from a Guitar World interview about the “No World For Tomorrow” album, which also came out in 2007 but I still did nothing with it.

Then a few months later I was given a burnt copy of “In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth” by an old band member. I was at work and I couldn’t wait until I got home as I had some after work activities to do so I would have been home late. Anyway I placed the CD into the CD player of the PC, grabbed the shitty e-training headphones from work and pressed play.

The rest is history as I became a fan for life.

So here I am 11 years later and another new Coheed release has hit the streets. Being a fan, I have no problem spending the $172.95AUD for the Deluxe Box Set. I’ve done this same routine for the last four releases.

It’s another concept album.

My first concept experience was “Operation Mindcrime” from Queensryche, then “The Crimson Idol” from WASP and then “Streets: A Rock Opera” from Savatage. But Coheed take it to another level, with more or less each album except one being part of a concept story called “The Amory Wars”.

Here is a quick summary. There are more detailed ones out there.

A scientist called Sirius Amory discovers an energy source called “The Keywork” is actually souls who haven’t transcended. This happens on “The Afterman” album.

Many years later, a person called Wilhelm Ryan starts using the energy of the Keywork to murder and rule. Coheed and Cambria are robots created to destroy him. Along with a person called Inferno, who also is a robot, they attack Ryan’s fortress and manage to destroy it. But Ryan survives. However Coheed and Cambria think he’s dead. Thinking it’s over, their memory is wiped. This happens on “The Year Of The Black Rainbow”.

In “The Second Stage Turbine Blade” Coheed and Cambria get killed and their last surviving son, Claudio, is left to take up the charge. I’m still not sure how humanoid robots have children. But the recent Bladerunner movie also had this story arc.

Claudio finds out that he’s like the chosen one in “In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth”.

In “Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Vol. I: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness” there is a character called “The Writer” that starts to fuck up the story because he’s going through a relationship break up. It reminds me of the Matrix characters “The Keymaker” merged with “The Architect”.

In “No World For Tomorrow”, Claudio destroys the Keywork and releases the trapped souls. And the new album takes place after this event.

Now of you want to read reviews of the album I suggest you check out these reviews from Metal Injection and Rock Sins.

I more or less agree with everything they say. In my view, if the album music doesn’t convert new fans the narrative will. It’s a win-win for Coheed and Cambria.

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A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Dynazty

Dynazty came onto my radar in 2016.

Actually I heard of em a few years before but avoided them because of the band name, thinking they would sound like Kiss, and why did they spell it with a ‘Z’.

They are a typical example of what its like to be involved in the music business today for a Swedish band. They exist completely off the mainstream radar screen, doing their thing and building their catalogue of songs. And eventually, people will notice. But it takes time. Hell, I’m a fan of their last three releases and I don’t even know who is in the band.

How is that possible?

It’s so far removed from the label gatekeeper 80’s/90’s model. Anyway I looked em up this time and here are the member’s. Nils Molin on vocals, George Harnsten Egg on drums, Rob Love Magnusson on guitar, Mike Lavér on guitars and Jonathan Olsson on bass. Yep, I can’t say I’ve heard of em.

The new album and number six overall is called “Firesign”. It’s a European sounding album, so it’s fitting that I am listening to it in Europe.

But it was album number four “Renatus” that hooked me in which I heard at the same time as album number five “Titanic Mass” in 2016.

And people are listening. Music is a lifers game. You’re either in it for life or it’s just a passing hobby.

And Dynazty are in it.

A label head would call this pop power rock. But I hate labels, so to me, it’s just a cool rock album with kick ass guitar solos. Actually really good guitar solos.

Breathe With Me

The kick ass intro gets the foot tapping, the vocal melodies gets the head nodding and when the guitar solo comes in, it’s got so many cool licks from sweep picking to legato lines to string skipping to pentatonic lines.

It’ll be cool to sit down and figure it all out.

The Grey

Any track that starts off with just drums and bass hooks me in. When the keys and guitars kick in, it’s melodic heaven.

And that guitar solo. It starts off with a repeating open string lick under changing chords. After that it’s time to tastefully shred.

If the first two songs don’t hook you, then the rest won’t.

In The Arms Of A Devil

One of the heavier tracks on the album and another guitar solo moment which hooks me.

My Darkest Hour

The vocal melodies, the symphonic music and that guitar solo. Brilliant. I scrubbed it back 8 times just to hear the lead again.

Will these songs sustain and penetrate?

Who knows.

I thought Dokken would rule the world and instead it ended up being Metallica.

Firesign

Rammstein riffs merged with In Flames riffs merged with Joey Tempest style vocals.

What’s not to like?

And when you add in another tasty guitar solo.

It’s perfect.

Follow Me

It’s everything that’s great about Euro Metal wrapped up in a 4 minute song.

And again the guitar leads shine.

The Light Inside The Tunnel

Malmsteen influences are all over this album, but by the last song it’s clear that the Dynazty guitarists have surpassed the Fury Master.

And apart from the symphonic nods, this song grooves. It has an addictive chorus on the album and another great guitar solo.

Check it out purely for the guitar heroes.

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Music Is A Relationship Between Artist And Fan

With chaos comes opportunity.  For centuries, progress is made from learning how to deal with the chaos.

Copyright is in a chaotic state. The corporations who hold the rights to valuable art, are fighting battles against infringement, organising web blocking and are trying their best to get stricter copyright enforcement laws passed while also lobbying hard to extend copyright terms. As if the current “life plus 70 years after death” term is not long, enough.

In addition, these copyright monopolies don’t want works entering the public domain, so in the late 90’s these large organisations got a law passed that would prevent works meant to enter the public domain from not entering until 2019.

For those that don’t know, the public domain is culture. Keith Richards once said, ‘you can’t copyright the blues.’ Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Elvis Presley and all of the sixties greats took songs from the Public Domain and built a highly lucrative career from it.

Culture is built and expanded by sharing stories and building on the works of others. But the Copyright organisations have manipulated and changed copyright so much, it’s far removed from its purpose of giving creators a short term monopoly on their works, so they have an incentive to create more works.

Short terms meant 14 years to 28 years depending if the artist renewed their work.

Works that should be in the public domain do not benefit the original creators in any way. The majority of them have passed away, however these works (the valuable ones) are beneficial for the few copyright monopoly gatekeepers.

For culture to thrive once again, it is important to respect the public domain. If you want another 60’s culture explosion, we need to have a public domain.

It’s not going to be easy, because you have the RIAA who continually push lies out into the world, so that technology companies can do something to protect the labels crap business models. You have ISP’s who are fighting their own battles about what their users do on the net. You have the techies who provide services, using channels supported and owned by the ISP’s. You have the various lobby groups for the public, for the techies, for the ISP’s and for the labels/movie studios. And when these tribes come into a room, it’s exactly what Frankie sings, they go to war.

And nowhere in the mix is the artist and the customer. Because in the end, it’s the relationship the customer has with the music/art which creates value. The labels claim they are there to represent the artists, which is complete BS. The labels are there to represent themselves.

For the recording business to thrive, you need the artist to create and you need a customer to become a fan and connect with the art, so they could be monetised. If that relationship is not happening, all of the other crap going on is pointless.

If you are an artist, you need to realise your fans are king. Exceptional fan service is the key driving force behind a bands success. It’s good old business 101, “treat your customers right and they’ll stay with you forever”.  Because if you build a community of customers and are serving these dedicated customers with something great, then you would expect profits to go up.

In all of the wars happening around access to music, the most important one, the artist and the fan connection, is continually ignored. Don’t be an artist that falls into that trap.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Logos

In the “No Sleep Til Sudbury” book there is a chapter on Motley Crue. You need to read the book to find out what is said as I don’t want to give away spoilers.

Anyway the chapter got me thinking about Motley Crue, because the band was huge in my life growing up and still to this day I fork out dollars to buy stuff from em and I’m sure I’ll be forking our dollars for “The Dirt” soundtrack as well.

I know it’s insane, especially since the band was average at best with Tommy Lee being the most talented in all areas, musical and home video making. And I’ve watched em live every time they came to Australia, only to walk away saying how shit is Vince and why didn’t someone unplug Mick Mars. But I’ve gone back time and time again.

The one thing that always hooked me in with the Crue is the marketing. Each album has its unique band logo. It’s never the same logo, like Acca Dacca’s, Maiden, Judas Priest and many others. I can see a logo and I’ll know which album it’s connected with. And as soon as I got good drawing one logo, I had to learn to draw a new one. I think its a marvelous move.

A friend of mine called Herman who I don’t really see anymore had a denim jacket with logos sewn on and by 1989, that jacket had five Crue logo patches on it and two Whitesnake/GNR logo patches compared to one Metallica, Megadeth, Dio, Van Halen, Maiden, Acca, Slayer, Poison, Jovi and Kiss. Again, genius marketing move from the Crue and also by Coverdale in reinventing the Whitesnake brand and Guns N Roses who had the two guns facing each other logo which was generic and the “Appetite For Destruction” logo.

If I owed a generic AC/DC top with only the logo on it, I would be known as having an AC/DC top regardless of when I purchased it and I would have no need to purchase a new AC/DC top unless it faded to grey or ripped completely.

But if I owed a Crue top with the Girls logo in 1992, I would be known as owning an old Crue top. It was a symptom of my generation. And because it was a genius marketing move from Crue/Sixx, I always felt the need to get a new top.

Ka Ching. Ka Ching.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

This Shall Also Pass

And the sun will rise
Dawn will break through the blackest night
Distant in its glow
This shall pass be still and know

I think Phill Demmel wrote the lyric.

It was inevitable that something had to give. People do grow apart. Yes that’s true and the songs that people want to write and play also changes. That’s also true. But in this social media world, artists also don’t want to piss people off. So a lot of artists choose to live with a filter in public. Not Robb Flynn.

So Phil Demmel and Dave McClain leaving Machine Head was just a matter of time. All the best, thanks for the great tunes and two unbelievable albums in “The Blackening” and “Unto The Locust”.

But the show must go on. Robb Flynn needs to continue and fly the Machine Head flag high. Maybe he won’t. I hope he does.

Because when members leave and the band name continues, those people who were in the band previously would still need to get paid, especially if you play the songs they were involved in writing. So lawyers get involved and band agreements get messy and Robb Flynn would think, why the fuck am I working my arse off, city by city, to pay people who are not in the band anymore.

Remember when the Osbourne’s sued Tony Iommi because he continued to release albums under the Black Sabbath name which Sharon claimed Ozzy helped to build up as part of the original line up, so he must be entitled to a cut even though his solo career was running riot over Sabbath’s.

And Machine Head have made some changes to their line up, probably not as much as Megadeth but still a decent turnover. Then again Mustaine parted ways with Effelson, got sued by Effelson and then brought him back. Maybe Adam Duce would come back.

And new bassist Jared MacEachern has done nothing wrong to be fired. Then again, Jared is a guitarist and could fill the vacant guitar spot if Duce returns.

But I’ve always seen Machine Head as Robb Flynn. As long as he’s there, it’s Machine Head, the same way James Hetfield is Metallica and the same way Dave Mustaine is Megadeth and Tom Englund is Evergrey.

Those guys can replace the band members around them and it will still sound like the band. But bands are also about friendships and the hangs. So members stay in bands for those friendships, even when they feel they shouldn’t.

A million dead end streets and
Every time I thought I’d got it made
It seemed the taste was not so sweet

Everybody goes throw changes as Bowie said. Machine Head is changing. Robb Flynn embraced the social side and is connecting with his fans. The loyal ones. Who are there through thick and thin.

And there are fans who are swingers. They move in and out based on the new music. And then there are fans who like a certain line up or just a certain album.

This is who we are
This is what I am
We have nowhere else to go
UNITED we will stand

The lyric in capitals is actually divided but it always should have been united in my eyes.

Into glory we will ride.

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

Missed Opportunities

The record labels and music news sites that benefit from reporting positive articles about the labels, talk about the billions of dollars the music industry made in the financial year just before Napster hit. So from a simple viewpoint, when Napster hit, sales of music started to decline. For the RIAA and the record labels, these two events correlate, so it implies that one is causing the other to move. But actually the sales of music have been falling for some time.

What happened during the 90’s just before Napster went worldwide was a lot of re-purchasing. This is people who had music on vinyl or cassette and they started to re-purchase the music they already owned on CD’s. These re-purchased items, in most cases re-mastered or super deluxe editions with bonus content at higher prices would skew the record label figures to make it look like new music was bringing in billions of dollars when in fact it was people purchasing old catalogue items of their favourites. And once you had those albums on CD, you didn’t really need to re-purchase them again.

Lars and Kirk from Metallica maintain that it was the right action to go after Napster. No it wasn’t. The right action was to build a business model to replace the gap in the market that Napster was servicing. That gap was basically to allow people to share their music collections (bootlegs and original recordings) in a very simple and convenient way. Napster got popular because of it, and the record labels should have created something to match it.

But the labels did nothing, and then a small company called YouTube did fill the gap that Napster was really servicing. And YouTube today, generates billions of dollars. These billions could have been in the profit and loss statements of the record labels but they messed up. Remember, we are 20 years post Napster, and Napster still gets talked about, while the record labels did absolutely nothing to counter it, except scream for legislation and gestapo like police powers.

So going back to Lars and Kirk, creating a service that allowed people to share their music was the best course of action and as YouTube proves a very profitable one at that.

The arrival of YouTube and eventually streaming services put a dent into the traditional sales model, however with the increase in people attending concerts and festivals, one needs to ask the question, did piracy assist in these increased crowds?

Iron Maiden came back with Bruce Dickinson, bigger than ever and played to sold out crowds in countries they’ve hardly sold any recorded product in. Twisted Sister and Motley Crue also came back bigger than ever post Napster and played to their biggest ever crowds until they retired. Did piracy assist in these concert attendances as well?

And what about Metallica?

Having their music illegally available on Napster basically made sure that their music was available in every place in the world that had an internet connection (it was the same deal for Iron Maiden, Twisted Sister and Motley Crue).

In other words, their music was worldwide, which of course led to more fans having access to their music and a correlation of super large concert attendances and highly ridiculous ticket prices to capitalise on their world-wide reach. Even Metallica sold out concerts in countries without really selling any recorded discs in those countries. In some countries their music wasn’t even available legally, only illegally.

And here we are in 2018, with the record labels still trying to kill the market gap that Napster serviced. In this case, YouTube is the one in the firing line. YouTube and Spotify should just become labels themselves and start financing the production of music themselves, the same way Netflix and Amazon create their own content and also license content from others. Then the argument will be different.

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity

Look What The Copyright Dragged In

It’s sad reading the stories below, because it shows how far removed Copyright Law is from what it was intended to be.

There are copyright battles happening everywhere. Most of the news is on how the record labels and movie studios are calling on governments to pass stronger dictatorship style copyright laws which would give these organisations police like powers.

Because if being creative on the accounting side for the labels isn’t enough, they also need to have police gestapo like powers. And remember that Copyright was originally designed to help the creator of the art. However, it’s assisting the corporations to make billions of dollars while the creators make a lot less.

Remember the movie, “This Is Spinal Tap”. Well, the movie has made over $400 million in profits, however the co- creators have received $81 from merchandise sales and $98 from record sales.

If you think those amounts are pretty low, well the co-creators thought so as well, and off they went to court, for fraudulent accounting and to get the copyright back in the hands of the creators. And lucky for them they got a judge that saw their side, so the case is going to get interesting. Other cases, got judges that had backgrounds in the copyright industry, so guess how those cases turned out. A victory for the copyright corporation.

The “Spinal Tap” case is a perfect example of a large corporation using copyright to benefit the corporation instead of the creators. Unfortunately for UMG/Vivendi, the co-creators in this case, also found fame with “The Simpsons” and they have a voice in the market as powerful as the corporation.

In other copyright news, the creators of TV show “Empire” got sued by another person who claimed that “Empire” is based on his script called “Cream” which he pitched to the show runners 8 years ago. Both shows centred on a black record label executive.

Yep, that was the similarity between the two scripts and the judge basically said, an African-American, male record executive is un-protectable.

Is the creator of the “Cream” script to blame here?

No.

The blame rests solely with the movie studios and the record labels who lobbied hard to get copyright extended to these current terms (life of the creator plus 70 years). Instead of assisting the public domain and giving people an incentive to create, these organisations are intent on destroying the public domain and giving people an incentive to sue, because hey, someone stole their idea. Well think of another idea. Or take that original idea and make it better.

And speaking of long copyright terms, remember all those cases involving streaming company payments over pre-1972 recordings, because those high commercial recordings fall under various state laws in the US. Well, organisations were trying to get remastered editions of those recordings passed as new derivative originals so they could come under the current copyright laws that would only benefit the copyright holder, which as we know is usually the organisation and very rarely the creator.

Meanwhile, Disney made a doco about Michael Jackson and they used some of his music in it without asking the Jackson Estate.

The Estate didn’t like that and thought Disney should have asked for copyright permission, in the same way Disney asks other documentary makers to seek copyright permissions from Disney when they make documentaries on Disney. So Disney cited the principle of fair use, a small section in Copyright law, Disney and other large organisations tried to kill off as their actual defence.

Funny how a large corporation which tried to kill off fair use in various copyright revisions are now using it as their defence.

And the copyright dispute is still going on, but it never should have even been an issue. Both organisations are holding on to intellectual property that should be in the public domain because the creator of the said works is dead.

If the creator dies, then there are no more works from that creator, so their previous works fall out of Copyright and become part of the public domain. It’s exactly how the 60s music explosion happened.

And what about YouTube’s Content ID system taking down works that are copyright free.

Isn’t it funny (a lot of sarcasm here) as to how an algorithm created by YouTube to protect the interests of the copyright holders (mainly the large organisations) is now over protecting them, to the detriment of the public domain.

Read the Torrentfreak article to find out how much time is being wasted to “protect the interests of large corporations”. A Professor uploads copyright free music and YouTube is taking them down. Time wasted. The Professor then counter claims and YouTube then restores. Time wasted again to be back at the start again. And the way the algorithm works, it will pick up these videos again in due time.

Seriously, this is the world that Copyright controlled by Corporations has created and for YouTube to exist they needed to create something for the Corporations. And if users uploading copyright free music isn’t a problem, then allowing websites to stream rip videos from YouTube is a problem to the large copyright organisations.

I think people are forgetting that the “users” of the service are responsible for how they use the service. And if the record labels can’t get the message that the users are sending them, then they will continue to miss business opportunities to monetise these users. These users go to so much effort to find videos and use another third party software to stream rip that video. That is a lot of effort there by a user to own music in a digital form.

And YouTube is still in the firing line for not paying the copyright holders fairly. They seem to make billions in ad-revenue and pay thousands to artists.

The article states:

Artists claim that a song needs to be streamed 51.1 million times before they can make the average UK annual salary of £27,600. Revenue is based on the number of streams a video has received and funded through advertising.

It is claimed that YouTube pays creators 0.00054p per stream of music, meaning a track that is streamed one million times would earn about £540. Artists say that 85% of YouTube’s visitors come to the site for music, contributing £2.33 billion to the website’s revenue in 2017.

It’s a new world we live in. People want to get paid right away, even if they have a hundred thousand views. But be careful what you wish for.

Organisations like YouTube have given artists access to a world-wide market instantly. If you compare now to the past,  for an artist in the record label controlled era up to when Napster hit our internet lines, artists needed a record label and a lot of money behind them to have access to a world-wide market.

And this is the model the record labels want back. The gatekeeper control model. And misguided artists are pushing for it. Scary if you ask me.

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