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

Metal Music

Heavy F…. Metal.

In 2018, it will be 50 years from when Steppenwolf, screamed the words, “Heavy Metal Thunder” in their iconic “Born To Be Wild” song. And while the reference to “heavy metal thunder” was the loud sound of the motorbike, it seemed to stick for a style of music that was just around the corner.

But heavy metal goes back a bit further than that. You see, in the 1930’s there was a guitarist called Django Reinhardt.

He was a jazz shredder who passed away in 1953, well before heavy metal became a tour de force. But to become a shredder, wasn’t easy for Django. You see, a fire in the late 20’s extensively burned his left hand and other areas of his body. His right leg was paralysed and his fourth and fifth fingers on his left hand were badly burned. The Doctors told him that he will never play guitar again and they wanted to cut his leg off. Django refused the surgery and within a year, learned to how walk again with the help of a cane. But his two fingers remained paralysed. So Django had to relearn how to play the guitar by using his thumb and two fingers.

Fast forward to the 60’s and an unknown Birmingham guitarist tore off the tips off his middle fingers in a freak factory accident. A visit from the company foreman, alerted Tony Iommi to Reinhardt.

“It really inspired me to really get on with it, and start trying to play.”
Tony Iommi VH1 in 2015.

Although Iommi’s problems weren’t as severe as Django, he still had to do things a bit differently. While Django had to relearn how to play the guitar from scratch using less fingers, Iommi just needed to innovate. The first innovation was the creation of the plastic finger tips. The second was the down tuning of the guitar from standard pitch to accommodate the plastic finger tips.

And while Sabbath are seen as the forefathers of heavy metal, metal in general was more than just Sabbath. It was the attitude, the rebellion, the free-spirited nature, the community and gang-like mentality. And this attitude goes back to the early 60’s. In 1964, Beatles records accounted for 60% of all music sales in the U.S. according to Billboard magazine. Rock became a commercial force, priming the U.S kids for the more abrasive, distorted version of rock would enter in a few years’ time.

But to understand the Beatles, you need to go back to Chuck Berry, the father of rock and roll. The Beatles covered “Rock And Roll Music” and “Roll Over Beethoven”. John Lennon ripped off Chuck Berry for “Come Together”.

Hell, the Beach Boys ripped “Sweet Little Sixteen” from Chuck Berry and called it “Surfin’ U.S.A.”.

ELO’s career was jump-started when they covered “Roll Over Beethoven”.

Let’s not forget “Johnny B. Goode”, a hit when it came out, and in 1977 the song was launched into space with the Voyager I and II spacecraft to await discovery. Chuck Berry was a metal head before metal was even around. He sang about fast cars, women and teenage rebellion. In other songs, he questioned the status quo. And since those days, metal has grown worldwide. It’s the new world music. As an article in the Wall Street Journal states;

“Today’s “world music” isn’t Peruvian pan flutes or African talking drums. It’s loud guitars, growling vocals and ultrafast “blast” beats.”

The internet and mp3 sharing has spread heavy metal music to all corners of the world. Music in general was locked up, behind gates, but now we can hear every song ever recorded online, even the songs from “out of print” albums. People from oppressive countries who wouldn’t normally have access to metal music suddenly had access via their fingertips. Metal music is a lifestyle. You live the way you look and look the way you live. There are no pretensions. And you can’t get more metal and no bullshit than Ginger Baker, a person who inspired future metal drummers going on record detesting the style. That’s exactly the free-spirit of a metaller.

“I’ve seen where Cream is sort of held responsible for the birth of heavy metal. Well, I would definitely go for aborting. I loathe and detest heavy metal. I think it is an abortion.”
Ginger Baker – Cream 

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

STREAMLINE

Where do you want your fans to go?

Give people too much choice and they don’t buy at all. It’s one of the reason’s why a lot of people are still sitting on the fence when it comes to streaming. They’re not sure if it’s going to stick. My musical journey started with vinyl and cassettes, then I had to upgrade my vinyl/cassette collection to CD’s, then I ripped all of my CD’s into MP3’s and now I’m doing streaming. As just one music consumer from the millions in the world, I have Megadeth’s “Rust In Peace” on vinyl, on CD and on CD again as a remastered release. Actually, this is the same deal for all of Megadeth’s output up to “Rust In Peace”.

For Motley Crue, (it’s the same deal for all of their albums up to 1989) I have “Dr Feelgood” on cassette, vinyl, CD, CD remastered, in the box set “Music To Crash Your Car Too” and on CD again remastered with bonus tracks.

For the 1994 Motley Crue CD, I have it on cassette, the CD with the red writing and the CD with the yellow writing. Plus I have the super expensive Japanese EP, “Quaternary”.

So you can see how band sales are really inflated when you have other people in the world doing the same thing I am doing, which is re-purchasing the music in different formats and in some cases with bonus tracks upgrades.

I will used “Shout At The Devil” and “Dr Feelgood” from Motley Crue as a case study.

“Shout At The Devil” came out in January 1984. By November 1989, it was certified triple platinum for 3 million in sales in the U.S. You could safely say that Motley Crue had 3 million fans. However in May, 1997, it received its 4x Platinum award for 4 million U.S. sales. While the label and the band would believe they had picked up an extra million fans, the truth is, those million sales over 8 years came from their original 3 million fans, re-buying the same album in a different format or packaging maybe once or twice.

“Dr Feelgood” came out in November 1989. By January 1991, it was certified 4x Platinum for 4 million U.S. sales. Its next certification came in May, 1997, for six million U.S sales. Again, the band didn’t just pick up 2 million new fans. Instead it was the hard-core fans re-purchasing an album they already owned on normal CD and then with the remastered bonus tracks.

When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in the late 90’s they had too many models, all with design and functionality issues, that even Apple couldn’t keep up servicing them. So, it’s no wonder that Jobs streamlined the product range. And then Apple started to make money again. Now that Jobs is gone, Tim Cook is following the same mistakes of the other clueless leaders Apple had when Job’s wasn’t in charge. Too many products with too many bugs.

Look at the band releases these days and how many different offerings they have. The recent Metallica release has the following packages;

  • CD – normal album
  • Vinyl – normal album
  • CD – Deluxe album
  • Vinyl – Deluxe album
  • iTunes – normal album
  • iTunes – Deluxe album
  • Streaming – normal album
  • Streaming – Deluxe album

Why is there a need to have a normal album release and a deluxe album release these days?

Why can’t the album just be the album? If the band wants to put out three discs, let them and call it THE ALBUM…

Price and the how people will pay high prices for what they deem superior or rare is one of the reasons mentioned for the deluxe edition still existing but these days the deluxe edition is not in limited supply anymore. Millions are in circulation. The real main reason is due to artists and labels refusing to abandon the past.

Jobs refused to be chained to the past. Legacy ports were axed on the iMac. CD Rom drives got axed on later versions. The iPod was murdered by the iPhone. If Jobs let the past dictate the future, Apple would have been left dead and buried. But the past is the Achilles heel for the music business. The public is moving on. It doesn’t care if HMV goes under. It doesn’t care if mp3’s are declining. Hell, mp3’s via Napster is nearly 20 years old. The public at large doesn’t care about deluxe editions. Super fans and fans of bonus tracks do care but the music business cannot roll on these fans alone. It needs the majority, hence the reason why streaming has become a big player, because it offers access.

Trust me the labels would prefer to not have streaming, because the listens are anaemic on signed acts. Hell, there are DIY bands who have more listens on their account than label backed bands. But streaming exists, because the majority wanted it.

Don’t let the past dictate the future.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Dictatorships

It needs to be clear who is in charge of the ship. Metallica have Ulrich and Hetfield in the song writing department, however Ulrich is the captain of the ship with the help of managers Mensch and Burnstein. But without Hetfield creating, Metallica are nothing. He went missing during the “St Anger” period and what we got was an album with the main songwriter not there creatively. But it’s Ulrich who rules the roost.

Motley Crue have Nikki Sixx but there was a period when Tommy Lee (due to his relationship with Pamela Anderson plus a certain tape) was bigger than the Crue and he destabilised the band. But Nikki Sixx has re-invented himself since the start of the 2000’s, to a point where he is now bigger than Lee. And Sixx kept the Crue going.

Jay Jay French believed he was in charge of Twisted Sister as band creator and manager however Dee Snider was the main songwriter and the face of the band, so he believed he was in charge. It was no surprise that the band imploded from within.

Bon Jovi have Jon Bon Jovi and everyone else comes a distant second. Even Richie Sambora.

Dokken is a whole 300 page story in itself. George Lynch believed he should be in charge because the songs that gave Don Dokken his record deal are songs that Lynch and Brown wrote in a previous band. But it was Don Dokken that got the deal originally and since the band had his name, he should be in charge. No wonder they imploded.

Van Halen’s early albums had music written by all 4 members. This always surprised me and when I started getting into bands, I could see how difficult it is for all members to contribute actively to a song. Anyway, in the mid 2000’s the song writing credits on past albums changed to exclude Michael Anthony and keep it as Roth and the Van Halen brothers. For who was in charge, David Lee Roth believed he was in charge and could do what he want. This almost made EVH leave the band which carried his surname. So when EVH started to disagree with Roth, it was no surprise that Roth departed. EVH got Hagar and then put his trust in management to steer the ship. And it was no surprise that Hagar also departed due to management issues in the mid 90’s. And it’s no surprise the VH has not been very creative the last 20 years. They have no LEADER to steer the ship.

Black Sabbath had Tony Iommi.

Ozzy Osbourne had Sharon. Without Sharon, Ozzy wouldn’t have a solo career.

Ratt didn’t have no-one in charge, handing their career over to their manager, so it’s no surprise that they have the shenanigans going on right now, with court cases over the use of the name Ratt.

Deep Purple had Richie Blackmore in charge. When he steered the ship, the band rolled. But Ian Gillian showed his limitations. So it was no surprise that the band broke up not long after Blackmore left. Blackmore worked with better singers in Coverdale, Dio and Joe Lynn Turner. So when Purple returned in the mid 80’s, he pushed on through until the mid-90’s when he decided he couldn’t continue anymore with Gillian. So he left and Purple continued on aimlessly without their leader.

David Coverdale formed Whitesnake from the ashes of Deep Purple. When he was challenged, band members got fired. Case closed.

Same deal with Ronni James Dio. He formed his own band and when his dictatorship was questioned, the members got fired. Vivian Campbell wanted a cut of profits, instead he just got cut from the band.

Queensryche had Chris DeGarmo in charge, however when he departed there was no successor selected. Tate took up the mantle and we all know how that turned out.

Guns N Roses have Axl Rose as captain. When that was questioned, Slash and Duff walked.

Mike Portnoy thought he was in charge of Dream Theater however it was always John Petrucci. So when Mike decided to put the band on hiatus, the decision was made to move on without him.

Iron Maiden have Steve Harris. He has kept the band running, in the same way Iommi kept Sabbath running. Bruce Dickinson left and failed as a solo artist. Adrian Smith left and failed as a solo artist. Lucky for them, Harris kept Maiden going and when the time came to reunite the classic line up, with the addition of Gers, it proved to be a masterstroke at the right time. The Rock In Rio DVD is testament to the power of that decision.

For any newbie band starting out, you need a leader to steer the ship. Otherwise it will be chaos and just a hobby.

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

Score Card V4.0

Mutiny Within
In 2010, Mutiny Within released their self-titled debut on Roadrunner Records. It didn’t get the traction they hoped for and Roadrunner didn’t get the return on investment. Roadrunner blamed piracy, however, the whole marketing campaign was centered on stating that the band is a cross between Killswitch Engage and Dream Theater. It was a terrible comparison and a terrible marketing campaign.

They had tours booked, but no financial support the label, plus they had to contend with band member departures. Then in 2011, vocalist Chris Clancy left the band due to financial reasons. He had some interesting viewpoints on piracy and recording contracts in general. For some reason, he believed that just because he got a recording contract for album number 1, he was guaranteed to make an income from music. A few weeks after Clancy left, Roadrunner dropped em. 9 months later, the band was on hiatus due to the difficulties of finding a new vocalist.

Then social media came to the rescue. In 2012, they posted some unreleased demo tracks from unreleased album number 2 on YouTube and got a positive response from fans. By the middle of the year, Chris Clancy was sort of back, finishing off vocals on the unfinished tracks.

In January 2013, they released album number 2 in “Synchronicity”. Clancy also set up a project called Industry Embers, an organisation dedicated to spread the word about music piracy. He revealed that music piracy had been the downfall of Mutiny Within, with the debut album only selling around 10,000 copies since released, and the album being shared and pirated at least 100,000 times.

I don’t really subscribe to the theory that 100,000 downloads = 100,000 lost sales. If your music is getting pirated, it means people are interested, but when they choose to pay is really up to them. It could be instant, it could take years. I like Mutiny Within, however I don’t own any of their music. The first album I heard on YouTube, the second album again on YouTube and once I had a Spotify account, on Spotify.

Anyway, the response album number 2 was surprising for the band and one of the Facebook posts mentioned how the band was left speechless. Maybe 20% of the 100,000 people who downloaded the first album illegally, became monetized fans this time around.

Regardless, there is no denying the excellence of “Become”.

Can’t forget what I’ve become

In February 2017, “Origins” came out and “Reasons” is the track that is connecting with me. And to my surprise, guitarist Andy James makes a surprise guest appearance on the song.

All I wanted was a way to survive,
A simple reason to make me feel alive

The album was written by collaborating digitally over two continents and leaving the joining of it all to Clancy who also mixed and mastered the album. Music is a lifers game and the guys in Mutiny Within are in it for real this time.

Evans Blue
By 2013, I was spinning “Graveyard Of Empires” their 2012 release. Then the band went on hiatus, while singer Dan Chandler hooked up with Dan Donegan from Disturbed to create the band Fight Or Flight.

In July, 2013, “A Life By Design” was released and it had the excellent tracks “Leaving” and “First To The Last”. But the album got no traction. It couldn’t rise above the noise. Donegan went back to Disturbed and Chandler returned to Evans Blue and in 2016, we got a brand new Evans Blue album called “Letters From The Dead”. The songs are not as good as their previous releases but Dan Chandler has one hell of a voice and he keeps it sounding fresh. I’m still interested to see what comes next.

Corroded
In 2012, they released “State Of Disgrace” with the excellent “Let Them Hate As Long As They Fear” and “Believe In Me”. But I forgot about them, because the album was not on Spotify.

Then the new song “Fall Of A Nation” came up on my Release Radar playlist. So I was interested, as nothing new had come out since 2012. I went to check out the Spotify account and lo and behold, their previous albums are now available.

They are another band from Sweden that I dig, and musically, if you like Machine Head, Black Sabbath and groove orientated Judas Priest, then you will like Corroded.

Another Lost Year
In 2012, they released their debut album “Better Days”, which to be honest was a pretty good f listen. Then I heard nothing from them via the normal news cycle.

But when I went on Spotify to check em out a few weeks ago, I saw they had been busy.

They released an EP called “The Revolution: Pt. 1 The Other Side” in 2014, another EP called “The Revolution, Pt. 2: It’s a Long Way Home” came out in 2016 and an album called “Alien Architect” was also released in 2016. While the EP’s are hit and miss, “Alien Architect” is a return to form.

Hell Or Highwater
An excellent side project from Atreyu drummer and their melodic vocalist Brandon Saller.

So when Atreyu went on a “Disturbed inspired” break in 2011, Saller decided it was a good time to bring out his side project where he is the main vocalist. In 2011, the excellent hard rock album “Begin Again” was released. I came across it in 2012 and dug it.

“Gimme Love”, “Find The Time To Breathe” and “Rocky Waters Edge” are pretty good rock tunes.

But then I heard nothing from them. Most of the metal news outlets focused on Atreyu getting back together and releasing a new album.

But from writing this post, I now know an EP called “The Other Side” came out in 2013. So off to Spotify I go.

“The Other Side” is a brilliant track, along with

I’ve been feeling like a stone here
All my gathered moss in tow
So I packed up my cases
And headed into the unknown

Heartist
In 2012 they released the excellent EP “Nothing You Didn’t Deserve”. And they went silent, until the album “Feeding Fiction” dropped in 2014. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t as good as the EP. However I am still interested to see what comes next and a recent Facebook post mentions that vocals are complete for the new album.

I Am Giant
2014 gave us “Science And Survival” but it was “The Horrifying Truth” from 2011 that cemented their status, plus it had a re-recording of my favourite song, “City Limits” which first made its debut on the “The City Limits/Neon Sunrise” released in 2010.

In between, they toured, placed their music with corporations, became ambassadors of certain clothing ranges, became X-Factor NZ judges and helped produce other bands.

Fast forward to February 2017 and a new single called “Dead Flower” is doing the rounds on my Spotify release radar, however, it’s with a different singer.

Fates Warning
The addictive “Disconnected” album, released in 2000 is a perfect blend of Porcupine Tree, Pink Floyd, Tool and “Images and Words” era Dream Theater with the unique Matheos song crafting underpinning it all.

After a few more albums, the band went on hiatus circa 2005, only to resurface in 2013, with “Darkness In A Different Light”, which had the excellent “One Thousand Fires”.

Then in 2016, “Theories of Flight” came out, with a few more gems in “Seven Stars”, “The Light And Shade Of Things” and “White Flag”. To have a career and a future in music is to keep on creating music. You cannot rest on past successes.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

The Speed Of Moving On

Once upon a time, there was the BlackBerry. It was the phone for professionals with a full miniature keyboard and an operating system that provided emails and messaging functionality. But, the iPhone’s launch with apps in 2007 changed the game. It showed the world, that people didn’t just want a phone for emails and messaging. They wanted to do more. And that more came from apps. This brand new ecosystem, put tools into the hands of their users. Developers and companies rose up all around the world, just to create apps for the iPhone. But they couldn’t do the same on the Blackberry.

So while the Blackberry executive brass said that users would not want an iPhone, they totally missed the boat on how app developers increase the value of their own product.

In 2007, Blackberry was number 8 in global smartphones sold. Fast forward 10 years later, it has 0.0% market share.

Google dominates the numbers game because it gives out Android to phone makers for free, making it the operating system of choice for low-cost handsets in the developing world like India and China. Apple, on the other hand, keeps iOS in-house and its prices high — limiting its reach but maximising its profits.
BUSINESS INSIDER ARTICLE

The speed at which people abandon one thing and move on to another is huge. Remember MySpace. Remember Yahoo. Remember dot-matrix printers. Remember film cameras.

We are living in the generation of kids born from 1997 onwards. A generation who wants to consume music but not in the same way that their parents did. Their sense of community is all online. These kids weren’t alive when the Record Labels ruled the day, so they have no desire for yesterday, they are all about today and what lays beyond.

And the biggest story of the past five years that hasn’t been told is the seas of information that makes it nearly impossible to get any message heard. The main newspapers articles are written by publicists. The artists chime in to help Metal Hammer rise again, but they keep on forgetting that it’s the people who used to purchase the magazine that have moved on. We are sick and tired of the publicist articles. There is nothing new there. We can get all of that information from Wikipedia. Hell, artists who have a following, don’t need to do interviews, just start-up a blog and control your own news.

Success tomorrow means having an opinion today.

Attention is first. The money comes later.

This is 2017, where even the biggest acts in certain genres are unknown to many. It’s different to the mid 80’s, when MTV ruled and a limited number of acts had constant rotation on the channel.

I dare most people to sing two Shinedown songs and the average person has no idea who Five Finger Death Punch is, however both bands get as many RIAA certifications as bands in the 80’s did. In the same way, that most people don’t know which is the biggest video game, or the biggest online game or the biggest app or the biggest book. There’s just too much information.

Businesses depend upon customers. If no one is buying, companies fail. Artists depend upon audiences. If no one is listening, artists fail because the money is in the mass. The more people who listen, the more money the artist will make. But they need to get people’s attention.

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

Enter Night, Exit Copyright

It’s funny how the billionaire music collectives wanted to meet with President Elect Donald Trump straight after the election. Did they ask for the meeting to work out ways to help the songwriters they represent get more money?

Of course not.

The music lobby groups and organisations backed Hillary Clinton with bribes and voices. It was pretty clear they wanted another Clinton in power. Actually if Hillary won, the U.S would have been ruled by two families (Bush and Clinton) for 20 plus years.

The two main performing rights organizations (PROs) in the industry are the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) and Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI). These special interest groups collectively represent over one million songwriters, composers, and music publishers and control the rights to approximately 90 percent of all musical compositions. Originally formed to protect music artists and producers by facilitating licensing deals between them and entities that play their music for the public, such as radio stations and restaurants, ASCAP and BMI have swiftly mutated into a government-recognized (and government-created) monopoly.
Jillian Lane Wyant – American Thinker

In other words, a government granted private monopoly really interferes with the rights of the artists and destroys the public domain. But these organisations have done a wonderful job of spinning their stories, all in an attempt to protect the billions they get for really doing nothing.

So how much is the global music copyright business worth?

It’s an important question because since Napster, the only press we seem to hear is about declining CD/mp3 revenues and how those streaming billions still end up as cents to the songwriters. What seems to be selectively missed is the value of copyright.

The international record label lobby group is telling the world, the music business is worth $15 billion. However, Spotify’s Director of Economic, Will Page, has performed his own analysis and global revenues generated by music copyright in 2015 is at $24.37bn.

Who do you believe?

A record label amount shrouded in secrecy, smoke and mirrors or a report from a service that offers music, and based on statistical data models.

The $24.37bn figure is made up of $13.975 billion to the record labels, $8.257 to the performing rights organisations and $2.139 billion to publishers via direct licensing. It doesn’t even include the multi-billion dollar live industry.

So if 70% of the $24 billion was paid to artists, then $16.8 billion would be in the hands of artists. However, 90 to 95% of the monies earned from copyright goes to the Labels and the Copyright monopolies and the end result is pennies for the actual songwriters.

And if you believe the crap the labels push to their loyal news outlets about the costs of breaking an artist, then the labels are actually losing money. But, the labels and the publishers still have their sky-high towers, with their staff flying private, while 99% of the artists they hold copyrights for, fly economy or don’t even have the funds to pay for a flight let alone tour.

And think about how much power the Publishing side of music has. $10.397 billion is not small change and it’s in the hands of people who contribute nothing to music and culture.

Because it’s not the entertainment industry or the music industry; it’s the copyright industry, plain and simple. And they don’t safeguard their rights or their copyright; they safeguard their monopolies, clarified as their copyright monopoly.
TORRENT FREAK ARTICLE

Because if the copyright industry did care about the artists, why would they go to court against the artist in a bid to prevent the artist from terminating the copyright agreements.

Case in point is Duran Duran.

All they wanted was to end a longstanding contract that gave a music publishing company permission to exploit their work. Because artists who control and own the copyrights to their own catalogues, especially a catalogue full of hits, can negotiate their own streaming licensing rates and so forth. Motley Crue and Metallica are two such artists who own their copyrights and can negotiate better rates.

But in the end, Copyright laws that are designed to benefit the songwriters have been washed in waters polluted with other contract laws and what we have is a mess designed to safeguard the monopolies of the copyright industry. Because in the U.S, Copyright law specifies that artists can reclaim their copyrights after 35 years. So Duran Duran issued a termination notice to their label for their copyrights.

“What artist would ever want to sign to a company like Sony/ATV as this is how they treat songwriters with whom they have enjoyed tremendous success for many years? We issued termination notices for our copyrights in the US believing it simply a formality. After all, it’s the law in America. Sony/ATV has earned a tremendous amount of money from us over the years. Working to find a way to do us out of our rights feels like the ugly and old-fashioned face of imperialist, corporate greed. I thought the acceptability of this type of treatment of artists was long gone – but it seems I was wrong. Sony/ATV’s conduct has left a bitter taste with us for sure, and I know that other artists in similar positions will be as outraged and saddened as we are. We are hopeful this judgment will not be allowed to stand.”
Simon LeBon

If the copyright industry did care about the artists, then why would they lobby governments to write laws that kept on changing the expiry of copyright terms from 14 years to 28 years to “on death of the artist” to “death plus 70 years” and in some countries it is now “death plus 90 years” . It’s all about safeguarding their monopolies and nothing to do with protecting artists.

There is no academic evidence that proves longer copyrights leads to greater rewards or provides incentive for the creator. It’s not like the 19 year old James Hetfield said to himself, “gee, lucky copyright lasts for 70 years after I die, so I have an incentive to write “Hit The Lights” and create music”. No songwriter thinks of copyright when they sit down to write a song or to create anything worthwhile. They do it because of a need to be creative.

Remember a few years ago when Larrikin Music (a publisher) purchased to the rights to an old 50’s folk song (where the creator had died a long time ago) and then sued the songwriters of the band Men At Work for an 11 note flute sequence that sounded similar to their own flute solo in their 1980’s hit “Down Under”. Yep, that’s just one of many copyright abuses happening in the world.

However the biggest one is the “Blurred Lines” trial. Suddenly Marvin Gaye and his songs are so original. The lawyers on behalf of Gaye’s estate are spinning the story of how Gaye created in a vacuum and without any influence from artists that Gaye might have heard. And suddenly anyone who writes a song that sounds similar or has a funk/R&B feel, is copying Marvin Gaye.

Once upon a time, in 1790, the law for copyright was the creator had to register the work and they got a 14 year monopoly. They then had an option to renew for an additional 14 years for a maximum copyright of 28 years. And Copyright was never about making sure that content creators get paid. Copyright is about forcing works into the public domain so that everyone can use them. Fast forward to pre-1976, the law for copyright was 28 years (with proper registration), then another 28 years (with renewal registration) for a maximum copyright of 56 years. After that, the work entered the public domain. If the creator failed to renew at the 28-years, the work fell into public domain earlier.

Did anyone hear about the country songwriter in the 50’s who wrote songs and then sold them on to other artists for a small amount. Those other artists would then pass the songs off as their own and in some cases, those artists would end up hitting it big on a song they didn’t write. As the Knoxnews story states;

Arthur Q. Smith’s name doesn’t show up in country music history books too often, because Q, as his friends called him, sold his biggest songs outright for $25, $15 or even less. Sometimes he sold them just for the price of his bar tab. Q was a man of extraordinary talent, but also an alcoholic of legendary proportions. For years, his children only heard tales of his drunkenness from his colleagues; his accomplishments were simply well-known secrets among musicians.

An average weekly pay check in 1946 was approximately $50, and probably less in Knoxville, so $25 was a considerable pay check. Royalties were generally small unless a song was a big hit, and the pay trickled in slowly.

You see, Q didn’t just sell the song he wrote to one artist, he sold it many times to different artists, who then registered their version of the song with the Copyright office as their own composition. In effect, the same song was registered many times with many different writers, but never with the person who actually wrote it. Looks like a copyright mess to me.

And what about Orphan Works.

“These are works that are not available any more, and where it simply is not possible to find the copyright holder to seek out a license. Of course, this problem is almost entirely self-created. It’s the result of a forced switch from a system that required registration to get a copyright, to one where everything is automatically covered by copyright. Combine that with ever-expanding copyright terms and you have a recipe for a world in which the vast majority of works become “orphaned” while just a tiny few have any legitimate reason to remain under copyright protection. Millions of books, millions of photographs and hundreds of thousands of films are now considered orphaned works — unable to be either used or licensed — with many simply fading away.”

But if you listen to the copyright monopoly and their lobby groups, the world needs longer copyright terms and stronger enforcement. And yes, in order to protect the corporation, that’s exactly what Copyright needs, however in order to protect the artist, no, it’s exactly what they don’t need.

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

Playlists And Streaming

Spotify is growing. The pop artists or the cross-over artists from other genres into the pop world are getting into the 100 plus millions/billions listens. And the high counts are due to two things;

  • Spotify Playlists.
  • Listeners Playlists

If a song is added to the most followed playlists, then the listens go up.

There is a “Rock In The 2000’s” playlist created by Spotify and if you check the songs on it and then check the streams the songs have on the artist account, you will see those songs on the playlist dwarf the rest of the catalogue. For example, “Chop Suey” from System Of A Down is on the Spotify playlist and the listens of Chop Suey is exponentially higher than the remainder of SOAD’s catalogue.

“Drake doesn’t lock himself into an album cycle. When Drake wants to put out music and he feels like it’s ready, Drake puts out music. So it’s not the typical, “I’m gonna put out two singles, then launch my album, then go on tour, then wait two years and go back in the studio and release this music.” I think he really has captured that rhythm of how fans want to consume music.”
Spotify’s Troy Carter on Drake’s Streaming Success

Drake is as metal and rock as the soap in the bathroom is metal, however the lesson should be applied to all. New music is an invitation into the world of the artist. It’s not the only thing. Capture the moment and release when the song is ready, not many months later when the album is ready.

Platinum selling artist Mark Tremonti has released three albums in 2 years, and while Tremonti and Alter Bridge are on tour, he is spending his free time giving guitar lessons/doing guitar clinics as an additional income stream.

It is easier to find and less costly to release new music, leading to unpredictable successes from artists who might not have been discovered or produced an album in an earlier era.
Michael Luca and Craig McFadden – Harvard Business Review

And that’s the cold hard truth about music in 2016. Artists who normally wouldn’t be signed can suddenly record and release music into the world. The supply of new music over the last 10 years is way higher than the demand for new music. Hell, I listened to 950 plus unique artists on Spotify this year. I grew up in the 80’s with no more than 50 or so unique artists. Spotify has over 20 million songs that haven’t been listened to yet.

Sure, some of the Spotify playlists might be a PR exercise for the labels, in the end, it still comes down to the user, who still likes to have some a filter to push new music on them. But then the record labels would like to mislead people about how much it costs them to break an artist to the mainstream.

The truth is the labels don’t break artists. They can spend monies on the artist, the promotions and put them out into the market place, however it is the people who decide if the artist will break on through. And what we are seeing more are artists making it on the back of streaming and no radio support.

But times have changed: in a landscape dominated by services such as Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal and Amazon, it is possible to have a hit without the press and radio (or much of the public) even noticing you. Kiiara, hardly a household name, is currently enjoying a global hit with Gold, off the back of 312m streams on Spotify alone. (Other services don’t make their numbers public.) You could look at British artist James TW, whose song When You Love Someone has 35m streams. Then there’s Australian teen Joel Adams, whose one and only song Please Don’t Go has chalked up 320m streams on Spotify.
Peter Robinson – Guardian Writer

Yeah, I got no idea who the above artists are and none of them are really rock or metal, but the possibilities are there for unknown metal and rock bands to become streaming behemoths without the support of record labels and radio stations. However, having a high streaming listen count doesn’t automatically correlate to concert ticket sales or sales of recorded music, much in the same way Facebook likes/followers never equal sales. The artist will need to work even harder to convert those listeners into real fans, because a lot of streaming users are casual fans who like to check songs out.

 

In the back-end of Spotify, for instance, fans are split into three categories: streakers (who have listened to the artist every day in the last week), loyalists (who have listened to them more than to any other over the past 20 days), and regulars (who listened to the artist on the majority of the days in the month
Peter Robinson – Guardian Writer

Spotify is building the data banks instead of the labels. Apple already has the databank. The labels have done nothing in this regard. So as an artist, who do you want to partner with?

And finally, there are the playlists. The more playlists the songs are added to, the more exposure the songs will get and this is where the old gatekeeper model comes into play. How does a rock or metal band get their songs onto a Spotify created playlist that has over a million followers?

STREAMING – changing the music business again
STREAMING – artists who made it huge without radio support
STREAMING – Swedish artists benefiting from streaming 
RECORD LABELS – breaking an artist 
SONGWRITER WHO SOLD HIS SONGS FOR A FEE AND IS UNKNOWN

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