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

I Guess People In The Recording Business Don’t Like Change

The History channel morphed from running historical documentaries to scripted TV shows and unscripted reality shows. Home Box Office morphed from running licensed movies to creating its own content and renaming itself HBO.

Newspapers ran long form stories that people wanted to read. Then the goal shifted to profit-seeking click bait and we got news tainted by money and political agendas from the owner of the news outlet. In the end, the papers got rich by selling advertisements and re-printing PR stories. And the people stopped buying newspapers and took to the internet for their news. The urban boundaries of the traditional newspaper suddenly couldn’t compete with the worldwide boundaries of the internet.

Change is constant, because we get bored easily. The internet connected billions of people and almost 20 years later we take it for granted, the same way we take electricity for granted. We expect it to work all the time and god forbid if we have downtime.

Great buildings of yesteryear are being torn down as cities constantly reinvent themselves. Hell, my hometown is in the midst of converting from an industrial steel city into an innovation hub. So why should music be chained to the ways of the old.

Steve Albini published his 1993 essay “The Problem with Music”. You can find it at this link.

Here is a brief summary of the figures found in it;

These figures are representative of amounts that appear in record contracts daily. There’s no need to skew the figures to make the scenario look bad, since real-life examples more than abound. Income is underlined, expenses are not.

  • Advance: $250,000
  • Manager’s cut: $37,500
  • Legal fees: $10,000
  • Recording Budget: $150,000
  • Producer’s advance: $50,000
  • Studio fee: $52,500
  • Drum, Amp, Mic and Phase “Doctors”: $3,000
  • Recording tape: $8,000
  • Equipment rental: $5,000
  • Cartage and Transportation: $5,000
  • Lodgings while in studio: $10,000
  • Catering: $3,000
  • Mastering: $10,000
  • Tape copies, reference CD’s, shipping tapes, misc expenses: $2,000
  • Video budget: $30,000
  • Cameras: $8,000
  • Crew: $5,000
  • Processing and transfers: $3,000
  • Offline: $2,000
  • Online editing: $3,000
  • Catering: $1,000
  • Stage and construction: $3,000
  • Copies, couriers, transportation: $2,000
  • Director’s fee: $3,000
  • Album Artwork: $5,000
  • Promotional photo shoot and duplication: $2,000
  • Band fund: $15,000
  • New fancy professional drum kit: $5,000
  • New fancy professional guitars (2): $3,000
  • New fancy professional guitar amp rigs (2): $4,000
  • New fancy potato-shaped bass guitar: $1,000
  • New fancy rack of lights bass amp: $1,000
  • Rehearsal space rental: $500
  • Big blowout party for their friends: $500
  • Tour expense (5 weeks): $50,875
  • Bus: $25,000
  • Crew (3): $7,500
  • Food and per diems: $7,875
  • Fuel: $3,000
  • Consumable supplies: $3,500
  • Wardrobe: $1,000
  • Promotion: $3,000
  • Tour gross income: $50,000
  • Agent’s cut: $7,500
  • Manager’s cut: $7,500
  • Merchandising advance: $20,000
  • Manager’s cut: $3,000
  • Lawyer’s fee: $1,000
  • Publishing advance: $20,000
  • Manager’s cut: $3,000
  • Lawyer’s fee: $1,000
  • Record sales: 250,000 @ $12 = $3,000,000 gross retail revenue Royalty (13% of 90% of retail): $351,000
  • less advance: $250,000
  • Producer’s points: (3% less $50,000 advance) $40,000
  • Promotional budget: $25,000
  • Recoupable buyout from previous label: $50,000
  • Net royalty: (-$14,000)
  • Record company income:
  • Record wholesale price $6,50 x 250,000 = $1,625,000 gross income Artist Royalties: $351,000
  • Deficit from royalties: $14,000
  • Manufacturing, packaging and distribution @ $2.20 per record: $550,000
  • Gross profit: $710,000

 THE BALANCE SHEET

 This is how much each player got paid at the end of the game.

  • Record company: $710,000
  • Producer: $90,000
  • Manager: $51,000
  • Studio: $52,500
  • Previous label: $50,000
  • Agent: $7,500
  • Lawyer: $12,000
  • Band member net income each: $4,031.25

The band is now 1/4 of the way through its contract, has made the music industry more than 3 million dollars richer, but is in the hole $14,000 on royalties. The band members have each earned about 1/3 as much as they would working at a 7-11, but they got to ride in a tour bus for a month.

The next album will be about the same, except that the record company will insist they spend more time and money on it. Since the previous one never “recouped,” the band will have no leverage, and will oblige.

The next tour will be about the same, except the merchandising advance will have already been paid, and the band, strangely enough, won’t have earned any royalties from their t-shirts yet. Maybe the t-shirt guys have figured out how to count money like record company guys.

So you wonder why artists are still in debt to their label. Yeah they might have recorded and they might have toured, but they really didn’t make anything. So if you are an artist today, what era would you rather be in.

But Steve Albini didn’t stop there. 21 years later, Albini did a presentation about music at an event. You can read the whole presentation here.

Here is a summary;

I hear from some of my colleagues that these are rough times: that the internet has cut the legs off the music scene and that pretty soon nobody will be making music anymore because there’s no money in it. Virtually every place where music is written about, there is some version of this troubling perspective. People who used to make a nice income from royalties, they’ve seen the royalties dry up. And people who used to make a living selling records are having trouble selling downloads as substitute for records, and they no longer make records.

It’s worthwhile to remember from where we’ve come. From where this bitchiness originates. In the 1970s through the 1990s, the period in which I was most active in bands in the music scene – let’s call this the pre-internet era. The music industry was essentially the record industry, in that records and radio were the venues through which people learned of music and principally experienced it. They were joined by MTV and videos in the 80s and 90s, but the principle relationship people had with music was as sound recordings. There was a booming band scene and all bands aspired to getting recorded, as a mark of legitimacy.

In the 70s and 80s most bands went through their entire lifecycle without so much as a note of their music recorded. But recording was a rare and expensive enterprise, so it wasn’t common. Even your demo tape required considerable investment. So when I started playing in bands in the 70s and 80s most bands went through their entire lifecycle without so much as a note of their music ever being recorded.

The key point here is the artists who played music for their whole lives, wrote songs and never had anything officially recorded. All because the gatekeepers of the day didn’t see them worthy. Today, everyone can record and release their music. If it gets heard, is another story, but you have a chance to record and build a musical legacy.

Radio stations were enormously influential. Radio was the only place to hear music from any people and record companies paid dearly to influence them. Direct payola had been made illegal but this was a trivial workaround. Record pluggers acting as programming consultants were the middlemen. They paid radio stations for access to their programmers and conducted meetings where new records were promoted.

CBS told Journey to change their style and become more radio friendly otherwise they would no deal in place.

The most significant bit of tailoring was an accounting trick called recouping costs. The costs of making a record wasn’t borne by the record label, except initially. Those costs were recouped or taken out of the income the band might otherwise run as royalties. The same was true of all those promo copies, posters, radio pluggers and payola men, producers, publicists, tour support, 8×10 glossies, shipping, freight – basically anything that could be associated with a specific band or record was ultimately paid for by the band, not by the record label.

As the label shifted from vinyl to CD as the dominant format, the labels could easily sell the CD as a convenient, compact, trouble-free way to listen to music. The profit margin exploded and the money got stupid. Retails costs of a CD was half again or double more than an LP but the manufacturing, shipping and storage costs were a tiny fraction. The labels even used vinyl’s legacy as a tool to increase this profit margin by charging bands for unique packaging, despite the fact that CD packaging was designed to be standardised.

21 years later and Albini is still pointing out the record label creative accounting. And these creative accounting practices have been in place since the 1930’s and they are still in place today. The whole world changes, wars happen, we put man on the moon and the recording label contracts having changed a bit.

You may have noticed that in my description of the mass market music scene and the industry as it was pre-internet I made little mention of the audience or the bands. Those two ends of the spectrum were hardly considered by the rest of the business. Fans were expected to listen to the radio and buy records and bands were expected to make records and tour to promote them. And that was about all the thought either were given. But the audience was where all the money came from and the bands were where all the music came from.

So true. The audience/fans are what makes music money but they never had a say or were not even considered in any discussion when it comes to music. And Albini’s comments highlight the viewpoints the record label suits had. Fans were expected to pay. So what a shock they all got when Napster showed them what fans really want. So now we are living in an audience driven distribution system, albeit the record labels are trying very very hard to get it back to a record label driven distribution system.

Fans can find the music they like and develop direct relationships with the bands.

The world and social media allows it to happen. Hell, I don’t even understand why artists would want to do interviews for magazines or websites or radios. With social media, artists can control the narrative themselves. That’s better than a stupid magazine. Artists can tour places they never could have done before.

A couple of years ago my band mounted a tour of eastern Europe. We played all the hot spots: the Czech Republic, Poland, Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, we made it as far as Istanbul, Turkey. It was a magical experience, playing in front of audiences who were relatively unjaded by the routine of touring bands and we were welcomed like friends. We played to full houses at the same size venues as the rest of Europe. The same sizes as we would play here in Australia. And the audiences seem equivocally familiar with our music. The key difference being that most of the places have literally never sold a single record. Essentially 100% of our exposure had been through informal means over the internet or hand-to-hand.

Iron Maiden toured Central America and places like Costa Rica to sold out audiences and they never sold a recorded album there. Same deal with India and other Asian countries.

There is great public good by letting creative material lapse into the public ownership. The copyright law has been modified so extensively in the past decades that now this essentially never happens, creating absurdities whenever copyright is invoked. There’s a huge body of work that is not legally in the public domain, though its rights holder, authors and creators have died or disappeared as businesses. And this material, from a legal standpoint now removed from our culture – nobody may copy it or re-release it because it’s still subject to copyright.

I guess the problems with music are still there and with the lobby groups preaching stronger copyrights and jail times on par with murder and drug trafficking, it could get worse. Seen the memo on the war against drugs. Enforcement is losing.

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

Copyright Fakery And Abuses

Fake news is nothing new to the world. It’s been around for a long time.

It’s become a problem now because the people/organisations who invented it, had the tables turned and fake news was/is used against them. That’s right, the media outlets who put fake news out in the world based on PR companies and Ad companies sponsorships, had the tables turned against them. The recent U.S election is a perfect example of how powerful fake news can be.

The recording and movie industries along with their associations/lobby/bribery groups in the RIAA/MPAA have been the largest perpetrators of fake news in the world. When billions of dollars are involved, these industries employ some of the most creative writers in the business to basically creating fictional works of fakery. And people believe it.

Let’s start with a few good ones.

  • Home Taping Is Killing Music And It’s Illegal
  • Copy a CD and get a criminal record
  • Piracy: It’s a crime
  • Piracy kills artists.

In other words, if the consumers of music don’t pay for every instance of music, how can musical artists or movies ever make a living?

These words of wisdom ignore independent research about the power of free music in helping musicians to be discovered in the first instance. The biggest enemy of any artist is NOT BEING DISCOVERED. Once they are discovered, they can then go on and make all kinds of money via the more friendly artist profit outlets in concerts and merchandise. But the RIAA has done such a good job at spreading fake news about Copyright, that many swallow the industry’s words of wisdom whole.

Ed Sheeran is a mega seller in today’s current musical market. I have written about him before on these pages. He began his career without a record label and promoted himself instead.

“Beyond writing the songs, Sheeran also wrote his own rules about how to sell them. Like so many others, he had set off for London as a teenager, singing on street corners and in pubs. But he didn’t knock on record company doors or wait to be discovered. Instead, he began marketing his own stuff, releasing his music himself on websites until — inevitably — a record label came calling. He had already earned half a million from his independent sales, putting the music out himself.”
CBS Article

The labels came knocking after Sheeran had built up a following. And how did Sheeran build up the following?

“It was file sharing. I know that’s a bad thing to say, because I’m part of a music industry that doesn’t like illegal file sharing, but illegal fire sharing was what made me. It was students in England going to university, sharing my songs with each other.”
CBS Article

But the labels and the RIAA want stricter enforcement for piracy and longer prison terms and bigger fines for illegal file sharers.

Because copyright has been hijacked by these Corporate entities for the last 70 years, we have situations that makes the mind boggle. Like how a band in 2017, might not be able to use a song that dates back the mid 1900’s, whose creator is believed to be dead and was passed down for generations orally. Here’s what the Yahoo article has to say on the matter;

“A Gwich’in love song, passed down for generations through oral tradition, has become a copyright roadblock for the Hummingbirds — preventing them from releasing their latest album “One Weekend” in June for months. The song Goodbye Shaanyuu is one of the tracks on the album. It’s a folk song from Fort Yukon, Alaska that dates back to the mid-1900s. But the record company dealing with the band is holding off the official release of the album, says Mumford, until the band solves a copyright issue with the song — which was written by a Gwich’in woman named Annie Cadzow, who is believed to be dead.”

This is the Copyright mess that corporations have created. Even though a corporation could hold the rights to this song, because it makes no money, it is forgotten. And now there is a band that wants to bring it back and they have to go through hell to release. The article further states;

The band has three options:

1) Find Annie Cadzow — or her family members — and get permission to use the song in their album.

2) Find out if Cadzow has died more than 50 years ago, which puts the song into the public domain. Or

3) Just release the song in hopes that no one will come forward and sue, but this is a non-option for the band out of respect for Cadzow and Gwich’in history.

The band is working with researchers in Alaska who are helping track down Cadzow’s only living daughter who’s said to be in her late 80s.

But the bassist for the band Bob Mumford believes that the song known today doesn’t sound nothing like the original song as lyrics were added and melodies got altered. So how does this sit with current copyright law that assumes that all works are so original and if there are any similarities it’s time to sue.

As the article further states;

“Folk music was widely believed to be “national treasure” — or owned by everybody. Until the idea of copyright came along. The practice of exerting copyright is actually pretty easy. The person that transcribes the oral performance, exerts ownership on it. So whoever makes the recording has copyright on it.”

And that person would have a monopoly on their creation for a certain period of time and then that work would become part of the public domain for other people to use and build upon without any restrictions.

And once upon a time it was like that. But then people had money, they purchased sound systems and vinyl records. Recorded music was suddenly monetised. Which led to many artists complaints about record label creative accounting. And it’s still going on.

The Carpenters are taking Universal Music Group and A&M records to court over the monies paid to them from digital sources. As the Variety article states;

“The Carpenters contend that accountants they hired to examine the record label books found multiple errors and that the defendants rejected the claim of royalties. He is seeking compensatory damages of at least $2 million. Among other things, according to the lawsuit, the record labels “improperly classified” revenue from digital downloads of Carpenters’ music as sales of records as opposed to licensing revenue — short-changing them from a higher royalty rate.

The lawsuit also claims that the defendants undercounted digital downloads and that they applied an incorrect base price to the sales of CDs. The lawsuit notes that the lawsuit is similar to litigation involving the recordings of Eminem in which the defendants were several affiliates of UMG. Ultimately, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that digital downloads were a licensing of master recordings rather than a sale of records.”

The labels do what they want to artists who make them millions and then the labels scream loudly to politicians to get laws passed to protect their business models.

So what about songwriters, who write songs for other artists?

As the labels get flush with cash from streaming licensing and royalty fees, they have failed to pass it on to the people who matter. But due to creative fakery of news, the Songwriters lobby group believes that the streaming services are to blame and they should pay more, with the hope that those extra payments are filtered down to the songwriters.

“We should get compensated every time someone streams a song”
David Israelite, CEO of the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA)

But wait a minute, some publishers already have their own deals with the streaming companies to compensate the songwriters, so why is there a need to force streaming companies to pay more. Spotify is barely profitable and in order to please the NMPA, a $20 million settlement was announced recently.

As the NY Times article states;

“Spotify will pay publishers between $16 million and $25 million in royalties that are already owed but unpaid — the exact amount, these people said, is still undetermined — as well as a $5 million penalty. In exchange, the publishers will refrain from filing copyright infringement claims against Spotify. The settlement concerns mechanical licensing rights, which refer to a copyright holder’s control over the ability to reproduce a musical work. The rule goes back to the days of player-piano rolls, but in the digital era mechanical rights have joined the tangle of licensing deals that streaming services need to operate legally.”

You can see what a mess Copyright has become, when mechanical rights that go back to the player piano rolls are still discussed about today. And Spotify is just one streaming services. There are others that will need to do these kind of extortion deals and suddenly the NMPA is loaded up with cash in the hundreds of millions. All because the labels, the publishers and their lobby groups don’t pass on the monies earned to the people who actually create.

“I am thrilled that through this agreement, both independent and major publishers and songwriters will be able to get what is owed to them.”
David M. Israelite

I don’t know about anyone else, but what we have is a world of mega associations/corporations and labels living large off the value that music creates without really compensating those creators. Because as we have seen all around the world, these organisations like to accumulate and live the high life, but they don’t want to pay those monies in full to the people who really earn it.

If you don’t believe me, check out this article, over at Torrentfreak, where the Greek organisation in charge of collecting and paying artists royalties, was found to have serious financial irregularities where their operating expenses outstretched it’s income, creating an 11.3 million Euro deficit, while during the same period, the CEO, GM, PR and Secretary pocketed 5 million Euro’s.

As the Torrentfreak article states;

“By Dec. 31st 2014, the undistributed royalties to members and rights holders amounted to 42.5 million euros, and have still not been awarded to members. The nature of a significant portion of this collected revenue of approximately 36.8 million euros has not been possible to assess, because collection invoices weren’t correlated to specific revenues in AEPI’s IT system.”

So next time you read a piece of news about stronger Copyright’s needed to compensate artists, remember the fakery involved in that piece of news and how people who contribute nothing to culture and music, live a jet setter lifestyle on the backs of the artists.

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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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