A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Popular

I came across a post on Seths Blog about popular versus good.

This is what the post says;

They’re not the same.

We often strive to have both, but that’s unlikely. The price of having one almost certainly involves losing the other.  We often end up compromising something to get both and fail.

Better to have one than neither.

What are your thoughts when it comes to music?

Bands break through and become popular because they created a song or an albums worth of songs, which connected with enough people, to make those songs popular.

The labels had no idea what would become popular, because it’s a personal connection between fan and artist. So they kept putting money towards new content.

“Slippery When Wet” became a popular album.

Based on the post, does that mean it’s not good?

The label, the producers and management would have been happy if the album went Gold in the U.S.

But instead of selling 500,000 copies, it moved 12 plus million in the U.S.

Or does the post try to highlight the situation that after an artist becomes popular, it’s the follow up album which tries to recapture the zeitgeist and compromises on the good, in order to remain popular.

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

Can’t Remember How I Got From Here To There

48 years ago and before he found fame with Rainbow, Ronnie James Dio recorded “Never More” which appeared on Elf’s self-titled debut in 1972.

The title of this post are the opening lyric lines.

Musically it’s one of those classic proto-metal cuts, on an album which is more or less blues rock with derivative lyrics.

And it’s not an album that most fans of Dio’s work with Rainbow, Sabbath and as a solo artist will want to listen to often.

Because as we know, 4 years later, Ronnie James Dio became the devil horn saluting Ronnie James Dio we all know when he teamed up with Ritchie Blackmore.

But first, he had dues to pay. And pay then he did. Writing and performing songs that no one would listen to or even knew he did.

No one is born with a “gift” or a “natural talent”. Talent is a skill which is honed and built through passion, perseverance, practice and being uncomfortable.

And you will write a lot of songs before you end up with the songs that connect with people. And sometimes you are a too far ahead of the times for people to truly appreciate what you’ve created.

Hell and Fire burning higher / Now I can see the ever after / Clock is moving only / While I see you down here me in laughter

Never more

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

Theater Of Copyright

It looks like the “Stairway To Heaven” case going to die?

For those that don’t know, Michael Skidmore (from here on in, known as “The Trustee”), is the trustee for the Randy Craig Wolfe Trust, which has the rights to the songs written by Randy Wolfe and his time in the rock band Spirit. The song in question here is “Taurus” and the similar feel and structure that both songs have.

My view on this is easy, a dead artist cannot hold a copyright and the law which changed copyright terms to last the life of the artist plus 70 years after death is a stupid one.

Because this is the rubbish you get. But Jimmy Page didn’t win because of the silliness of dead people holding copyrights.

Jimmy Page won because the sheet music is different. But “The Trustee” believes that the court should have been able to hear the sound recordings. But that rule allowing sound recordings came into place in the mid 70’s and the songs in dispute here are under old laws.

Anyway, the case got booted.

But for how long will “artists of the now” be taken to court over copying claims from the trustees or heirs of dead artists. Institutions cannot charge fees to the dead, so how can the dead claim a copyright and be paid for it and whoever passed a rule to allow copyright to be transferred to others has committed a wrong to the public domain.

Did you see that Universal Music Group announced a $1.2B Hotel, Performance Venue and Casino in Mississippi? It’s also going to do a similar venture in Atlanta and Orlando.

You see, this is what happens when artists give away all of their rights to the labels. It gave the labels power. They used that power to lock up culture for the life of the artist plus 70 years after the death.

But David Crosby still tells everyone streaming is the enemy. Gene Simmons as well. The enemy to an artist is ignorance and a fixed mindset. There is a lot of money in recorded music. As long as you hold the copyright to the recorded music.

Otherwise why would companies spend a lot of money buying the copyrights to popular songs. The return on these songs because of streaming payments is always going up, while stocks on Wall Street go down.

And look no further than Frontiers Records from Italy. They are releasing a lot of product compared to other labels because their President knows that music scales and will keep paying forever.

And the Labels, they are pieces of work. It’s a power play. You know how artists are trying to reclaim their copyrights back from the labels after 35 years, which is legislated in Copyright Law, but the labels are fighting hard to keep the rights. So while those court cases are ongoing, the labels are now counter suing the artists for selling their own albums on their websites or for using the album art on their websites.

So the artist make the labels rich and somehow the artists are the problem.

And Copyright keeps getting very ugly because artists sue each other.

You see an idea is an idea. I could have an idea for a song here in Australia, and there is a very high probability that other people would have a similar idea, somewhere else in the world. And when one song becomes a hit, then expect a writ, because even though ideas are not copyrightable, there is also someone who believes they are.

But.

And there is always a but when it comes to Copyright.

If there isn’t a court case for similar ideas, then there are cases over licensing, samples and whatever else lawyers can fit into the grey world which is Copyright.

Not sure if you have seen the stories about Tracy Chapman suing Nicki Minaj over a sample from Chapman’s song “Baby Can I Hold You” which appears on an unreleased track from Minaj called “Sorry”.

The song “Sorry” was pulled from the album’s release because the label couldn’t get clearance to use the sample. Minaj even begged Chapman over Twitter to approve it, but Chapman is anti-samples.

And even though the song was pulled, it still didn’t stop the song from getting played on radio stations and once the song was aired, the fans quickly ripped it from the broadcast and sent it out onto the worldwide web.

Hence the court case. Chapman wants payments and Minaj says there are none.

And the arguments have all gone off track and no one really knows what the hell they are arguing and counter arguing over. Anyway, Minaj won the case.

And labels just keep doing wrong on behalf of the artists. Here you have a label called Trax Records who specialise in dance and house recordings being accused of fraudently filing sound recordings to the U.S Copyright Office of other artists and claiming the recordings as their own.

Sony Music is also doing everything it can to keep as much money from old artists in the Sony bank account. Sony paid $12.7 million to settle a case and is allowed to deny any wrongdoing. It’s amazing what $12 million buys. The fact that these old songs are still under copyright, long after the artist has passed away is an issue for me.

I guess Copyright just lives on and on and on and the courts are kept busy with cases and the labels keep ripping creators off, while they invest in start-ups, make billions and then build casinos.

All in the name of Copyright.

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

Copyright KW

I’m not a Kanye West fan, but here are seven tweets he put out there a week ago that would ruffle some feathers.

  1. The artist owns the copyright in the recordings and songs and leases them to the record label / publisher for a limited term. 1 year deals

This is the big one.

The record labels have a powerful seat at the negotiation table because they have the copyrights to valuable songs locked up for a very long time. Even investment companies are now buying out these valuable assets because they realised the return on investment on these popular songs is huge.

Music scales.

  1. The record label / publisher is a service provider that receives a share of the income for a limited term. The split can be 80/20 in the artists favour.

The record labels believed that it was all about them, and that in order to get a person to the top, it was the label that did all the hard work by outlaying money. And they got pretty pissed when they didn’t get the recognition.

Well, that’s not really true is it. The artist had to write the songs and people had to connect with the song for the artist to rise to the top. It didn’t really matter what the label did in relation to marketing. If people connected, then word of mouth would have been enough.

And in today’s reality, no established artist needs a label. They can write music and release to digital service providers immediately. The physical aspect might be a bit challenging, but if you have an established fanbase, well you don’t need a label in between. The artist should go direct to the fan.

  1. DEPENDANTS – Artists must be dependent on no one but themselves to manage their catalogue. You should need NO ONE else to understand the business you’re in.

Imagine being told that the songs you wrote in your bedroom or on the floor at the place you were staying while broke and almost homeless is now under the control of someone else, like an investment firm or a label. All because you signed a contract to record and release music and you never really knew what you signed.

  1. LAWYERS – the first thing that changes about Record Deals is actually lawyers. We need Plain English contracts. A Lawyers role is to IMPROVE deals…. not charge for contracts we cannot understand or track. Re-write deals to be understandable from FIRST READ.

I remember when the Breaking Benjamin contract was put out onto the internet about a decade ago. It had a lot of pages as to what the label owned the rights to and the powers the labels had.

Then there was ONE page on the money. It showed the advance payments for each album and when each album is expected to be delivered and the royalty split.

But the contract was only with Ben Burnley. And Breaking Benjamin is a band. So Burnley then needs to engage a lawyer to draw up a band agreement, so they have some payment system in place with the other members of the band. And those members would also need lawyers to read the band agreement and make sure they do not get ripped off.

  1. ADVANCES ARE JUST LOANS!! – On Artists re-signing, these stop. Advances are Loans with 75% interest rates (or worse). NO other business in the world takes a look at the business, buys shares, starts to profit, when it profits. Record Companies have to buy into you, not loan you.

Be careful about that advance payment. It might feel like you are rich, but that advance payment is just buying you out at the rate you are worth now. You might be worth a lot more later on, and there’s a high chance that you are still paying back the advance payment you got two decades ago.

  1. ROYALTIES – Again back to dependents. You need a business manager to read how you did? So you pay to see your money!!! NO MORE. Royalty portals need to show (and do not now) Every song you delivered, Every store you are in, How many streams per song, Income per song.

Umm, this is happening right now Kanye.

Artists can see what is happening with their songs, the streams and in which store. The only thing missing is the income per song because Streaming services don’t work that way.

  1. PORTALS – Are not just for royalties. They are for your entire business. Every audio file, every asset, every deal stored WITH the money. Money and Music must stay together. When your term ends, download it all. Leave. This is a call for all artist to unify … I will get my masters , I got the most powerful lawyer in music and I can afford them but every artist must be freed and treated fairly.

And who is in charge of this portal and in which country are the servers stored and how secure are the servers and what do artists need to pay to have access to this portal, because in tech, nothing is free.

It’s already old news because the PR machine behind the labels likes to kill news like this.

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

Music Scales

There was a line of thinking in the early 2000’s that the value of recorded music would be zero. That the album would be used purely as a promotional tool to get the artist on the road. That no one would make music anymore because why would they, if they can’t make any money from album sales.

Time Warner got so scared of these kind of conversations and Napster and illegal downloads and peer to peer sharing, that in 2004, they sold their music division of Warner Music/Atlantic/Elektra and their many associated labels for approx. $2.6 billion. In 2018, that same division, is valued at $15 billion.

Today, we have so much new music that it’s hard to keep up. The money received from recorded music is going up, because of streaming. And apart from the ones who made it or had public acceptance of their music or the oldsters, no one really creates to be paid.

They create because they need to create. It’s an outlet for them. It’s a way to express who they are, to put their thoughts and ideas into characters and into stories in the songs. If they do get paid afterwards, well that’s a by-product of their need to create.

And music gets bigger. If the artist has a song that connects or becomes a hit, it costs the label or the artist nothing to continue to sell that hit. Word of mouth would do that.

Think about the first two Black Sabbath album’s. Both albums were recorded and mixed in a short amount of time. The costs would have been minimal. And fast forward 50 years later, “Paranoid” has 362 million streams on Spotify. “Iron Man” has almost 220 million streams. “War Pigs” has 122 million streams. “N.I.B” has almost 50 million streams.

In other words, the costs of making the album evaporate quickly and the rest is almost pure profit, especially in the era of digital, where music lives forever and pays forever. So the labels have assets that will never go down to zero.

A few weeks ago I was thinking how Frontiers from Italy is constantly putting money out to get artists to record new music. From looking at the metal and rock genre, Frontiers have the most releases from any label that I am aware off. They even get artists from different bands to work together, like Michael Sweet and George Lynch. Well, the Frontiers execs are aware that by having assets like the copyright of the music in their building, those assets will never go down to zero.

And Frontiers is thinking, we need to have a catalogue of songs like Universal and Warner’s.

Warner Music has the history of recorded music as an asset. Led Zeppelin. They have it. Prince. They have it. Twisted Sister. They have it.

You get the drift.

And people will always want to listen to songs from artists, so Warner will get paid for decades, until the copyright runs out, which in my lifetime will never happen. In other words, music is a better investment than anything else. If you buy physical property, you would need to maintain it, renovate it and keep paying bills for utilities, however music just scales.

And people will keep on creating and the labels will get bigger if they are the ones funding the creating. But creators are smarter these days and they know that if they give up their copyrights for a fee right now, they might miss out on millions later.

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

Progress Is Derivative

Coney Hatch released “Friction” in 1985.

The song “Monkey Bars” has a riff and vocal melody that sounds like a Beatsie Boys tune called “Fight For Your Right (To Party)” which came out in 1986.

Kingdom Come released their self titled debut in 1988.

“Get It On”, takes the entire chord progression from “Kashmir” and “What Love Can Be” takes from “Since I’ve been loving You” and “The Rain Song”.

Bon Jovi released Slippery When Wet” in 1986 and Desmond Child just took the music and melodies of a song he wrote for Bonnie Tyler called “If You Were A Woman (And I Was A Man)” and used it for “You Give Love A Bad Name”. Then Belinda Carlisle and her team came out with “Heaven Is a Place on Earth” a year later.

Basically be influenced and take what came before and make it better.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Randy Rhoads

“Crazy Train” just got a 4x Platinum award in the U.S. And my favourite track “Mr Crowley” also achieved a Gold certification in the U.S.

People are still listening.

These songs didn’t top any chart nor did they get extensive radio play. I don’t think they even got a proper single release.

They are album cuts and the popularity of these songs is due to the fans.

Metal fans are the most loyal. We are the ones that still like to buy because we are completists. The collection needs to be complete.

And Data is the new recording business.

Streaming services will tell the artist how many listens and in which cities and countries.

280+ million streams on Spotify for “Crazy Train”. Add in the counts from other streaming services and the number will keep getting bigger.

It’s taken a long time but it’s happening.

Expect to see more old songs and favorite album cuts rise to the top.

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

Certified Sales And Reach

I’m digging the data that comes from Stream N Destroy.

Based on RIAA certifications (total album units certified by the RIAA) Iron Maiden has 6.5 million sales in the US.

Megadeth and Tesla are also sitting at the same certification amount across their catalogue.

Who do you reckon has the biggest audience when it comes to playing live from the 3 bands?

Which tells me that Iron Maiden must be the most heavily pirated band there is. Their sales of recorded music compared to their sales of concert tickets and merchandise just don’t correlate. They get the same attendance as Metallica would get, yet the difference in certified album units between the bands is huge.

Metallica is at 63 million certified units.

While Megadeth and Tesla do play live, the crowds they get compared to Maiden are very different but they have the same amount of certified album sales.

So sales of recorded music does not correlate to massive concert attendances.

David Lee Roth, Muse and Dokken are sitting at 3.5M certified units but Muse plays gigs to 15,000 people and are headliners for certain European summer festivals.

Dokken even at their height didn’t play venues that big nor did David Lee Roth as a solo artist.

Like with Maiden, the sales of certified units don’t correlate with the concert attendances.

Since the sales don’t correlate to the increased demand for concert tickets, is it illegal downloading or the access to music via streaming driving the growth?

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

The Fall

Six years between albums.

“Distant Is The Sun” came out in 2014 and now we have “Dead Elysium”.

Before “Distant Is The Sun”, “The Fourth Season” came out in 2007, a seven year wait.

The thing with Vanishing Point is that they write the music that makes them happy. With Silvio Massaro behind the mic and Chris Porcianko on guitars, they act as the mainstays and the main writers within the band which came to my attention in 1997 with their debut album “In Thought”.

And while Massaro was on vocals for the debut the guitarist wasn’t Porcianko. The guitarist’s on the debut were handled by Andrew Whitehead and founder Tom Vucur. Porcianko joined the band after the debut album was done and never left.

Vucur left during the writing of “Distant To The Sun”, which meant they had to restart again as they couldn’t use his riffs.

And here we are in 2020, so far removed from normality. Our grandkids will be asking us, what was it like in the pandemic.

While the title track could have come from an Evergrey album, it’s tracks like “The Fall”, “Salvus” and “Count Your Days” which provide the variation.

I should of seen the signs

Foresight is a wonderful thing but in real time we aren’t the best at seeing the subtle signs.

“I can make believe or I can take the fall”

How I would love to escape sometimes instead of facing reality.

Throughout my life I’ve been knocked on my arse so many times by people and by society in general, that once I’ve fallen the only way up, is to stand again.

Slowly.

Sometimes with broken bones.

“I won’t give up, give in”

It’s repeated in the outro, like a mantra, a new awakening and a new awareness.

Don’t give up and don’t give in. I swear by these words.

And the guitar work from Porcianko is brilliant. A true guitar hero.

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

Originality And Competing With The History Of Recorded 🎶

Everyone who wants to play can play in the music industry. It doesn’t mean you’ll get paid for it. It doesn’t mean that you are entitled to be paid for it.

Creating art and finding connections with art happens at curious times for people. When we lived in the monoculture created by MTV, the chances were high for an artist to connect based on their music video being put on rotation.

How long those connections lasted was a different thing entirely?

And the system of the old legacy players would like to tell artists that if they don’t chart they don’t exist, but if you look at what’s in the streaming top 50 it doesn’t correlate to the Billboard charts top 50 or any other chart. And what was old and done is back again. “Bohemian Rhapsody” is back and so is “In The Air Tonight”. And the Black album outsells them all.

Previously the general viewpoint was that the artists new release was competing against other artists new releases for people’s attention. Now, the new release is competing against the whole history of recorded music for people’s attention.

It’s always been about longevity.

The first week numbers in 10 years are irrelevant, but whether you can last and sustain, is important.

How relevant are the first week numbers for Dokken, Quiet Riot, Skid Row, Ratt and White Lion today?

Zilch.

And there will be heirs of artists and failed artists who believe that someone else’s hit song is from an idea of theirs.

To quote Adam Grant, “Originality doesn’t mean being first, it means being different and better.”

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