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

Outside The Conversation

Are the organisations like the record labels and the publishers doing their best for artists in the long term or are they just focused on the short term profits?

Customers of music showed the recording industry what choice brings to the conversation and the record labels ignored it. It wasn’t until a hardware company created iTunes and then a techie created a streaming service that customers started to get what they want.

Are the record labels and their lobby groups seeking useful outcomes in their fight against piracy or just short term wins?

Seriously, legislation to protect copyright and make the terms longer does not foster creativity. It only gives the current players a longer government granted monopoly.

What about how the record labels keep all the streaming licensing monies and give nothing back to the artists?

Some of the bigger artists might get a fee however the record labels are in this powerful bargaining position because of all the artists, not just the few. Then again, most people want the music of the few.

Is the record label policy of other people losing and them winning a good policy for artists and music in general?

It seems the record labels like to win. To them it’s a battle to get control back of things they lost. And they will do it through the courts and with legislation designed to protect their business model.

And if the record labels get control over the distribution chain and the recording industry goes back to the gatekeeper model of the past, do artists believe they will better off?

It’s easy to fall in love with the ideal of record labels getting artists to sign fair and equitable deals. Of course, that’s not how it works. And if there’s one organisation that hasn’t learned from past mistakes it’s the record labels and their lobby groups.

Instead of following a path that leads to better standards/outcomes for artists in the long term they seek a litigious path that only benefits them in the short term.

And what we have here is tribal identity at full force. Artists are emotional and they react to what is going on in a complicated world. In this case, the tribal identity set up by the record labels aligns itself with a downward spiral of selfish, short term actions. Fans are also emotional. Some attach themselves to the artist/creator point of view while others read wide and make their own choices.

And that’s the disconnect the industry is facing. Choice for fans to decide and make their own decisions and the power to demonstrate what they believe something should be worth.

No one wants to go deep anymore and unpack the facts. They’re too busy building out their identity online.

Trust me when I say this, there are fans who don’t pay for recorded music because they don’t believe they should, however these same fans have no problem coughing up $200 plus dollars for a concert ticket for a larger act and these same fans have no problems coughing up $20 to $70 for independent acts. It’s their choice how they choose to interact with music.

And then there are the fans who have large LP and CD collections, who don’t pay for music anymore, but still pay for concert tickets and what not.

And then there are fans like me who have large LP and CD collections and decided that streaming is the way forward. So I pay for a family account and I have no problems forking out cash for a concert ticket.

And then there are fans who have large LP and CD collections and have decided that purchasing physical is what they want to do. And these fans also have no problem paying for a concert ticket.

Life is fluid and we need to make choices every day.

This is the world we’ve arrived in. We’re dying for entertainment. The recording industry has never been more powerful. There’s all this crap about piracy, streaming rates and the techies taking over. But the techies make tools, not stories or music.

Life is a struggle for everyone, not just creators.

And our leaders have their own agenda while corporations pollute the conversation with their lobby dollars.

Why do you think they pay no tax and white collar crime corrupt bankers avoid jail?

Someone always thinks the rules don’t apply to them. If you listen to the recording industry, they would tell you that the techies believe that rules don’t apply to them. But hang on a second, if the techies are doing it their way, didn’t that used to be the ethos of the musician. To do it their way. So what went wrong? The techies have become the new rock stars. And they built it all themselves.

These days the pop stars become brands and puppets to the corporations. Otherwise there is a high chance they are left off the playlist. At least there are metal and rock creators doing it their way. Outside of the conversation they are building something, going against the grain.

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

Fragile Attention

If the stories are true, then Netflix has a debt problem. And we all know Spotify hasn’t turned a profit and neither has Pandora. Meanwhile, Soundcloud is for sale or closing up shop, depending on which stories you believe.

Will Netflix survive long enough to turn a profit?

I hope so. Their own catalogue keeps growing but does the money spent on original content turn into profits or is their debt due to infrastructure and network costs. The ISP’s charge Netflix (and all the other streaming providers) a lot of money and then they charge us to you use the internet and access Netflix. It’s a double dip of epic proportions. Netflix also has investors and shareholders that it needs to placate.

Radio is a perfect example of how it went from a format that broke acts and drove culture to a format that focused on profits to please shareholders.

Gyms make their money from customers who pay and never use the facility. However, the customers who are at the gym for 4 hours a day end up costing the Gym in the long run.

Is this the same deal with Netflix?

Streaming services might have 100 million subscribers, however they might have only 2 million subscribers accounting for 95% of the usage.

Then again it’s been proven that the type of user you want is the person who uses the service daily instead of once a week.

Netflix lives in the current world, where everything’s instantly available, just a click away. But they have the same issue every other service and artist has. People can’t slow down their lives long enough to immerse themselves in their content at a rate they would like. If Netflix has this problem, imagine every up and coming musician.

And sometimes it doesn’t matter what you do. If someone doesn’t want to hear from you anymore, you’ve lost the ability to reach them. For a brief time, an artist or a service might have a person’s attention. However attention is fragile. In a monoculture, when we had 5 channels and gatekeepers, attention could last longer. However it today’s world, it’s gone within an hour, sometimes even a week.

Attention is fragile. We give it and then we take it away only to give it to something or someone else.

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

Promised Land – Sweet and Lynch

I’ve been listening to “Promised Land”, the new single from the Sweet & Lynch project. For those that don’t know, Michael Sweet from Stryper joined forces with George Lynch to create Sweet & Lynch. They are supported by one of the best rhythm sections in the business in James Lomenzo on bass and Brian Tichy on drums. Underpinning it all is melodic rock label Frontiers.

Their first album, “Only To Rise” was released in 2014 and I must say it’s an excellent listen and a great throwback to a style I remember well, but with modern touches and production.

Well, here we are, 3 years later and “Promised Land” is the first single released from the upcoming “Unified” album.

The first thing that hooks me is the feel of the song. It’s basically a speed metal song and the double kick throughout the whole song adds to the frantic feel of it.

And the pedal point riffs make the song.

To me, it’s a cross between Dokken’s “Lightning Strikes Again” and “Tooth And Nail” in some sections and Stryper’s “The Way” in other sections. Reading some of the comments on the YouTube video, people are linking it to Dio, Iron Maiden, Ratt and Aerosmith. That’s the beauty of music. It’s subjective and I love the way people attach past influences to something new.

Lost on a sea of unreality
Searching for what we don’t know
Too many times we are blinded by fear
And locked in a box down below

We have been conditioned to reside in what’s familiar. We work with people who are familiar, doing jobs that are familiar and we will remain in these careers because it feels familiar. And we feel competent doing it. Change on the other hand is unfamiliar and it makes us feel incompetent.

Don’t let the devil rob your soul
He’ll always try to take his toll

In all forms of life we need to have a baddie, an entity that scares us so much, that we obey a certain way/rule so we don’t come across this entity.

Take my hand, the promised land
Is just where you want it to be
It’s all around, only to be found
Open your eyes and you’ll see the promised land

What is the promised land these days? Do people expect because they worked hard and did their best, something great will happen in the end? What are we seeking here?

Once you lie down it’s so hard to get up
That’s when the birds fly above
Eat from the table and drink from the cup
The glory of what you’re made of

Life is short and the world is forever. What we do while we are alive determines how long we live in the conversation after we are gone.

Don’t let the light go out in you
Look past the problems you pursue

Sometimes the things that mattered in our youth don’t matter as much when we get older. That’s what getting older means. We are able to not give a fuck about things.

The lead break is one of Lynch’s finest metal moments in 2017. It’s got melody, hammer ons, pull offs, sweep picking and string skipping. All at 140 plus clicks a minute.

It’s a crazy chaotic world we live in and a lot of good music is lost in the noise. “Promised Land” will probably be just another song lost in the 30 million plus songs on streaming, along with other Sweet & Lynch gems like “Love Stays”, “Me Without You” and “Recover”. But not to me. I’m streaming it and I’ll keep on streaming it.

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

Frequency

Frequency. It’s a bad word for rock and metal artists. Release music frequently. 

It’s still a concept artists are struggling with. It’s even more troublesome for bands. The singer/songwriter can make it happen, but for bands it’s a different story.

Do you think Netflix would get 5.2 million new subscribers in the last quarter, if they released one tv show every two years?

Of course not. 

And their programming rocks. Don’t like this show, don’t worry we have another new show coming in two weeks.

While HBO might have “Game of Thrones”, its old school business model of releasing an episode each week will prove its downfall. 

While content is what brings people in, distribution is king! 

The oldsters did a great job selling the story of platinum records and chart placement = success. While rock gods lapped it up, hip-hop and grunge came to to fill the void and the danger that rock occupied. 

The new world demands more, while the rock and metal heads are still worrying about the chart placements and that build up to the one time release date, where money is supposed to rain down. 

The day of release is when the hard work really starts. You want a story that lasts and if you release a new song, wait for the reaction. 

If you get none, be smart and create more music. Forget the album, you’re looking for a reaction, and if you get none, it’s back to the drawing board. 

It’s an online streaming world. 

And to be in a band, it’s not about the payday so much as access and attention. Metal and rock needs to realize it’s best to have a continuous stream of new tunes being released and making news.

The money will come. But you need to control your copyrights so you get maximum royalties. 

It’s a new world and if you play metal/rock you’ve got to be in the streaming game and releasing frequently. 

The youngsters, the ones who replenish the music base are signed up to streaming. And artists who don’t want to be part of the streaming group are still debating the payouts.

Publishers and labels bitch about YouTube payments however those organizations are purely responsible for YouTube’s growth.

Because of greed, the labels and publishers negotiated with Spotify for over 3 years before it entered the US market. During this time, people turned to YouTube for their music fix. And it’s still number one when it comes to streaming.

The paradigm is different. Your musical output lives online and the money is in what lasts. Success is based upon cumulative streams, not sales of albums, and the streams go on forever.

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

Jungle Giants

In an era that’s so far removed from the monoculture I grew up in, there are artists popping up everywhere. 

The Jungle Giants is a band I’ve never heard off but they are an unsigned band that’s racked up 36 million streams on Spotify. Those stats are impressive and way more than band stats on label deals. 

It goes to show if you are invested and operating in the modern world, well the skies are the limits. Ask any artist on a label deal to tell you what percentage of profits they’re making and they won’t be able to tell you. Ask any independent artists and they know. 

The band is confident for the future of digital music and they know economies of scale. The bigger Spotify gets, the bigger the pool of money grows to start paying artists. As long as the record labels and publishers don’t kill it off with high licensing fees. Because it’s artists like these the labels hate. 

“It’s not a perfect world for them (majors) any more… People can do it on their own.”Sam Hales – Jungle Giants Frontman

The labels don’t want artists to do it on their own. The labels don’t want artists controlling their own catalogues. The labels want to control it all. It’s because of this past control, the labels hold the power seat in negotiations. And they can put up roadblocks. If they take over the streaming companies, then bands like Jungle Giants will need to play by the record label rules.

“Every now and then we get something like eight grand, we get cash, and all our streaming revenue goes straight back into the band.”
Sam Hales – Jungle Giants Frontman

It’s hard work controlling your own destiny. With so much freedom, you are free to decide what path to take. 

And for those that think Jungle Giants just wrote one song and racked up millions of streams. Think again. Album number 3 just came out. They have skin in the game and momentum. 

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

Streaming and Distribution 

I believe that it’s an excellent time (on the current state of the music scene). I feel that there’s so much out there for people to pick from and choose from its phenomenal. I mean and guitar playing is at such a high level right now. I mean these younger generations are just taking it to a point where you know it’s beginning to explore places that people have never gone before, it’s just fascinating. And the music itself too, you can pick a genre and find so much great music in every genre. People are just pushing the envelope in all directions, so I think it’s very gratifying and satisfying. It’s a little challenging to pick through I mean from this thing back in the day when I was growing up there’s like a half a dozen or 10 big giant great bands that are super groups you know. Now it’s like there are thousands of bands. Picking through everything is hard. It’s stressful trying to find all the right music you know.
George Lynch 

Today, noise reigns supreme. For the ones who have financial backing, they surround us with their nuclear blast marketing. And in most cases people ignore them.

But it’s still a good time for an artist to get their product out. Actually it’s the best time.

For the record labels, they are still trying to get control over the distribution chain after losing it to Napster and other peer to peer file sharing programs. At the moment, technology companies have it and if the labels kill the streaming grape vine, they hope to bring the distribution chain under the record labels. 

Streaming has three main players. Spotify, Google and Apple.

Spotify is losing money each year and relies on investments. The record labels owe a piece of it but they are not investing in it. YouTube is owned by Google (well their parent company) and the record labels hate Google, blaming it for all of their ills. The “take it or leave it” deal with YouTube is not what the labels want, so they lobby hard to get laws passed which can cripple Google. Apple uses music to push sales of wares. However, even Apple is going to the table to get a lower payment rate back to the labels.

Going back to Spotify.

Since it has money woes and it cannot make a profit, it’s offering payola terms back to the record labels to have their music chucked into playlists for a fee. Because taking in money from users and advertisers is not enough to make money in music if you don’t have your own popular content bringing in money. And the labels are getting paid handsomely twice from each streaming provider.

  • Spotify pays them for licensing their music catalogues and then pays them again as royalty payments based on listens.
  • YouTube pays them for licensing their music catalogues and then pays them again as royalty payments based on listens.
  • Pandora pays them for licensing their music catalogues and then pays them again as royalty payments based on listens.
  • Apple pays them for licensing their music catalogues and then pays them again as royalty payments based on listens.
  • Tidal pays them for licensing their music catalogues and then pays them again as royalty payments based on listens.

I think you get the drift. Maybe that’s why Spotify is paying producers to be fake artists and play popular songs on piano for people to listen to.

And to top it off, the record labels are still using the 100 year old rule of geo restrictions when it comes to streaming. So music available in the U.S doesn’t necessarily equate to being available in Australia. Here is a quick list of albums I tried to call up in the last two weeks on Spotify Australia which are not available;

  • Heaven And Hell – The Devil You Know, released in 2009
  • Stryper – Murder By Pride, released in 2009
  • Three Days Grace – Life Starts Now, released in 2009
  • Night Ranger – Midnight Madness, released in 1983
  • Europe – Europe, released in 1983
  • Helix – No Rest For The Wicked, released in 1983

Isn’t it nice how record labels treat legitimate paying customers?

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

Michael Poulsen

We all come from different bands, mainly death metal bands and punk bands. So we’ve been in the scene for many years since the ’90s. I released my first demo with my first death metal band in 1991 or something. I also released four albums for a death metal band called Dominus back in the day. My song writing was kind of changing. It turned into be a little bit more rock songs. It seemed like all the inspiration that I had from my parents when they were playing their records from the ’50s got to me in a way that when I was writing, I wanted to include that ’50s feeling in my song writing. That came very naturally. But I just wanted to keep a distorted sound from the guitars and the pounding drums.
Michael Poulsen 

Volbeat started to break into the U.S market in 2010 on the back of their “Death Magnetic” opening slot. But the journey to fame/success or world-wide recognition started a long time ago. Almost 20 years before their U.S breakthrough. It started in a totally different scene and in a different continent.

A million bands will start-up today, however a very small amount will stick it out and become lifers in the game of music. And from the lifers who stick it out, an even smaller amount will end up rising above the noise and get some recognition. And even a smaller amount will make some serious money from it.

It turned into a very unique thing where we combined a lot of different styles. We kept the distorted sound, but you could definitely hear inspiration from a lot of the rock music of the ’50s, as well heavier music from the ’70s and ’80s. When you mix all that together, it becomes Volbeat. We never really branded the band in a certain style or direction. It was all about just playing. I think that led us to being who we are today. For us, it’s not important to be 100% metal or 100% rock ‘n’ roll or anything. It’s music, and we’re inspired by so many different styles and bands. You can hear that in the Volbeat music.
Michael Poulsen 

What an awesome concept!!

To take what came before as influence and use it to create something that is different. And the borrowing from different eras and cultural appropriation is what music is all about.

I also like how it’s seen as “Volbeat’s music” and not some term that came from a record label rep or a magazine editor. For those that don’t know, record companies (in most cases) came up with the terms that bands got labelled with. For example, Nikki Sixx is very vocal on Twitter about how “a record company came up with the derogatory term “hair metal” so they could sell new metal rock to a new generation.

A lot of metal histories try to track back the movement of heavy metal to a single artist. In most cases they pick the artist who had the most success. However like any popular invention, it is a combination of many little things. The first Apple Mac didn’t just come from nowhere without any influences. It was an amalgamation of products from other companies with some new additions and interface tweaks courtesy of Wozniack and Jobs. And music is no different. Music is a combination of influences with a few little tweaks here and there.

When you look at metal history, you don’t see a lot of black musicians listed there as influences, yet the whole metal movement was heavily reliant on the blues in those early formative days. Black Sabbath, the band seen as the first metal band, covered blues songs as Earth. But when you look at the written history of Black Sabbath, the writers talk about the blues of white musicians as influences to Sabbath. They talk about the influence of classical music to Black Sabbath which again is mainly written by white people.

The Beatles played Blues, Soul, Motown and Rock and Roll covers in their early days, made up predominantly of black artists. So did Black Sabbath. Hell, the Beatles even took a Chuck Berry song and called it “Come Together”.

Robert Johnson is cited as a large influence to Keith Richards who was introduced to his music by Brian Jones. Eric Clapton worshipped at the altar of Johnson and many years later, re-recorded all of Johnson’s classics. Howlin Wolf had a lot of songs covered by many white artists across many different genres.

We were sacrificing a lot of stuff in the beginning like jobs, education, girlfriends. Being away from family. And it was just to dedicate ourselves to the road and all the hard work there is to be an active band, to survive. We’re from that generation where we built everything up. There was no internet, no mobiles. It was old-school and I’m very proud of that. That could be part of why we’re still around. We earned our stripes.
Michael Poulsen 
Paying your dues and building up experiences matter. Esepcially when it comes to creativity. The pain of loss manifests itself into art. The happiness of life ends up as a song and so forth.

Today, bands are so eager to get the attention, to get the success, before the work. I’m not a fan of that. I think there are too many youngsters who concentrate too much on the success before they actually concentrate on the music. The music is what it’s all about, and it has to come straight from the heart. We started playing in small bars and it was never because we wanted to be a successful band. We just wanted to do something. We wanted to belong somewhere. Friendship, brotherhood. And it just escalated. Somehow we got bigger and bigger, and the success came. So success was never the important thing for us. It came along and of course it feels good now and we do embrace it. But there’s a lot of stuff we don’t do because we still want it to be about the music. There are lot of TV programs in Denmark where we were getting offers to be on every f—–g day. All the commercials. But we turned it all down because it’s not the reason why we started a band. We’re very aware of not overdoing anything that is Volbeat. We want to be on the road, we want to make records and we want to earn the right to be successful. And we did that from the very beginning. So I can only say that too many young bands concentrate on success before they concentrate on the music. They will fail because that’s not what music is all about.
Michael Poulsen 

We’re living in the social media connection revolution. With so many people connected to each other and everyone building monuments of their lives online, young artists believe success is around the corner. Music is seen as a way to become successful. But if you get in the game with the mindset to be successful over creative, you will not last. Your success is based on your creations. Your success is based on your experiences and your community. It’s easy to license your music to TV shows and Commercials. It’s seen as a way to make easy money for a lot of artists. But then your music turns into a jingle. At least you got paid, right.

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