A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Great Marketing

Anyone been following the Seinfeld episode known as Nikki Sixx vs Steel Panther?

It’s another hilarious episode about nothing.

It started off with a simple interview question to the guys from Steel Panther about “which artist would they like to bring back from the dead?”

The singer Michael Starr (great stage name as well) responded that he would like to bring back Vince Neil; the earlier version.

Nikki Sixx then posted on Twitter that “The singer in Steel Panther can go and fuck himself… wanna be band, putting down Vince Neil.”

Blabbermouth was all over it, reporting a few tweets here and there for click bait.

Fans of Motley Crue kept responding about “who is Steel Panther”.

And Blabbermouth kept on finding tweets to report and kept the click bait coming everyday with headlines like, “NIKKI SIXX Slams ‘Wanna-Be Band’ STEEL PANTHER: ‘They Are A Holes” and my favourite one because it didn’t even include the person’s name (because I am pretty sure they don’t know it), “STEEL PANTHER Drummer Responds to NIKKI SIXX; “Sounds Like Someone Needs Some F Attention”.

Steel Panther are a parody band and they are having a lot of fun doing what they do. Singer Michael Starr whose real name is Ralph Saenz has a PhD. in English.

So he knows a thing or two about marketing, so it was no surprise that the band then posted a tweet that said BACKSTABBERS, and featured a video of Motley Crue Corabi era laughing hard, when they were asked what their thoughts are about how Vince Neil broke so many ribs in a boating accident.

They laughed so hard and Mick said something like “is the boat okay”.

Remember Vince Neil and Axl Rose feud. Even the VH guys said they would foot the bill for a Vegas showdown. Great marketing for both bands. Same deal here.

And the saga continues. A cool interlude and laugh for our crazy days.

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

Quantity and Quality

When I used to play and write in bands, there was always a discussion about quantity vs quality when it came to writing songs.

One band I was in between the years of 2001 and 2005, wrote all up 14 songs. The focus here was more on what we assessed as quality.

We had a white board in our rehearsal space and we would write down ideas we just jammed.

The idea was to bring in our top 3 riffs each week and we just jammed them and we recorded them as well. Whatever we didn’t use would go into the backlog and then get cleared after six months if we never returned to that idea.

We would listen to the tapes, from the session and start writing on the board the things we liked.

And we would give the bits we liked names, like Tool Riff, Maiden 2 minutes solo rip off, Dream Theater Learning To Live outro, thrash section, Groove section, Machine Head All In My Head drum intro and so forth.

Then we would structure these bits into a song, as certain sections stood out as verses and so forth.

And the working titles always sounded silly, like “That Dick Head”, “Missing One Shoe”, “Filth” and many different ones. The titles also came about based on abstract words the singer would use to demonstrate what kind of syllable words he wanted for that section.

“Filth” became known as “Faith” once it was all done and dusted. “That Dick Head” became D.N.A.

It was fun to do, but also frustrating and a very long process.

Because once we got the music down, the lyrics and vocal melodies would take just as long. We even took to the stage with lyrics unfinished, and the singer just mumbled his way as he had the melody down, just not the words.

And yes, sometimes, “Faith” and “Filth” got transposed, because the singer spent so long singing “you are nothing but Filth” and I changed the words to “you gotta have faith”, at a few of the earlier shows when we debuted “Faith”, he sang, “you gotta have filllllllth”.

Brilliant, hey. And a good laugh even to this day.

Personally during that period, I was writing a song a week, in so many different styles or a blend of styles as it was the only way I could remain happy in the band.

My view always has been that quantity will create quality.

In other words, the more bad songs you write, sooner or later, the good ones will come. There is a reason why “Slippery When Wet” moved a lot of product, and that’s not including all the hairspray boxes which got shipped.

Jon, Richie and in some cases Desmond Child, wrote over 50 songs for the album.

Working on songs, that others might think or see as a bad idea is actually a good thing. It’s the simple secret to good songs. Flesh out the bad songs and suddenly good songs will come to the fore.

The other is to get to a co-writer or for you to become a co-writer for someone else and share your ideas with others. Maybe those bad songs are not so bad to other people.

Music is such a subjective and personal experience, meaning each person will experience it differently.

Songs that David Coverdale had intended for other musicians ended up being Whitesnake songs. “Fool For Your Loving” was written for BB King and “Is This Love” was written for Tina Turner.

When Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora started writing with Desmond Child, the songs were meant to be shopped around for other artists, instead they kept them. And then after they didn’t make the “Slippery When Wet” or “New Jersey” album, the songs got shipped out to Alice Cooper, Cher and others.

And Bryan Adams let go of songs he wrote with Jim Vallance, which didn’t seem to fit his style, like “War Machine” which became a Gene Simmons sung, Kiss song.

Van Halen (when David Lee Roth re-joined) used musical ideas from their 70’s demo recordings to craft a new album in the 2000’s.

So keep those ideas flowing and never throw em away.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

It’s A New World

Remember when album leaks used to be a thing.

You know the story, in the lead up to the release of any widely sought after album there was always one certainty. The album would leak ahead of its official release date.

And suddenly, the recording industry woke up to what Napster already told them in 1999. Release everything on the same day around the world and album leaks stopped.

But it took the recording industry so long to realise that, people moved away from music and onto streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and what not.

Suddenly, people lost interest in music leaks as TV shows and Movies became more interesting. Remember when four episodes of Game Of Thrones leaked early. Or when movies hadn’t even hit the cinemas and The Pirate Bay had torrents up.

We live in a world that is all about the NOW.

Music quickly comes and it quickly goes.

Look at all the Top 10 Lists or Charts for each week and you will see that it is a different list each week. There is just so much new music coming out at the moment and people are just churning it up and spitting out the bone.

Anyone talking about Tool anymore.

13 years for the album to drop, for just a few weeks in the public conversation.

It’s a brave new world if you want to play.

Release frequently and do it all over the world on the same day.

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

The Labels Complain Again

It’s typical of the recording industry to complain about anything which benefits the consumer. They seem to forget that the profits they make is due to a relationship between the artist and the consumer. There is a zero relationship between the record label and the consumer. From the consumers point of view, the record label doesn’t even exist in their mindset.  

So the labels license their music to various streaming services for a fee and then pocket the majority of the multi-million fee instead of spreading it to the artists, because hey, why would the labels compensate the artists, since it’s the works of the artists that give them the negotiating power at the table.

Apple is considering putting a bundle together that incorporates Apple Music and Apple TV. More subscribing customers who normally wouldn’t subscribe to a music subscription would increase the pool of money. But then again, how many people would give up their Netflix and Spotify subscriptions for an Apple Entertainment bundle. We wouldn’t know because no one does their due diligence. For the record, I wouldn’t give up my Netflix, Spotify and Amazon Prime subscriptions for an Apple bundle.

So all of this is based on feelings. And somehow these feelings from the label executives that they will be ripped off are not based on any research or evidence.

Read the article.

Of course, the labels will sell the story that if they lose money, then it would have a flow on effect to the artist. But the labels haven’t been losing money for the last 5 years, so why aren’t the artists getting paid.

And artists bash up Spotify, but no one is speaking up about these bundles that Apple is proposing.

There is a blog post over at Seth’s Blog about ways to grow. It basically states that if you persist and get the word out, you will be the same. There will be no growth. This is the record label model, do what they have always done.

However to grow, they need to change something, like enter a new segment, earn trust or do work that matters to someone.

But it’s hard to grow and help the artists when the label executives are dragged kicking and screaming into a new segment.

Steve Jobs convinced EMI to sign on for $0.99 mp3 digital downloads and the rest came, only after years of negotiations. It took 3 years for Spotify to be licensed in the U.S. and during that time, YouTube became the unofficial streaming provider. And then again, they had to get a stake in the company in order to give the approval.

Artists really need to have a look at what they are signing away, because the label doesn’t care for you at all.

If they did, they would be proud to enter new market segments which could lead to more income. Instead they are scared to lose what they have, so they persist and do more of the same.

Complain.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Creating

The first song you write and release will probably be ignored.

The tenth one maybe not.

The twentieth will probably do something commercially.

The thirtieth, will probably be ignored.

What is clear is that each song, creates more demand for other songs. Each song released gives you the power to release better songs. And better songs create more demand for other songs.

So in order to survive creating, you need to do something creative.

Simply begin.

And then don’t stop.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Marketing

Growing your brand and spreading the word of your art is a marketing problem.

So if that perfect album you spent months writing and months recording is nowhere to be seen, it’s because it’s not marketed properly.

And I am thinking of all of those hard rock and metal albums released between 1992 and 2005, which got released and didn’t really set the charts alight. It’s not because the music was crap, it’s because the labels didn’t care enough to put the money behind the artist to market them. But really was it the fault of the labels. It’s what the artist tells us.

Bands I support have spoken out about the label and the labels lack of enthusiasm at marketing their album. But the label did have the enthusiasm at one stage to put money into the demoing and recording of the album.

So is Geffen responsible or David Coverdale responsible for Blue Murder’s self-titled debut being killed or is the band responsible for not telling a story that connects with people or agreeing to that pirate look?

Is Elektra responsible for Motley Crue’s self-titled 1994 album doing poor numbers after they spent over 2 million dollars on the recording and marketing, or is the band responsible for not telling a story which connects with people?

Is EMI responsible for Queensryche’s “Hear In The Now Frontier” not doing better commercially?

Is Atlantic responsible for White Lion’s “Mane Attraction” disappearing from the charts?

Because marketing isn’t about putting a poster or an ad in a record store or internet site, it’s about telling a story that connects with people. As humans we make choices and the choice to invest in art is made together with other choices. Telling us that this is your best work, or that you put in your blood, sweat and tears is not really a story that connects. It’s a stupid PR spiel that doesn’t resonate at all.

And marketing isn’t about going all nuclear with ads and posters on every website and every print magazine either. It doesn’t equal advertising. Marketing is to spread ideas, serve the fans and satisfy their needs. And you do it by being authentic, respectful and truthful.

Artists need to tell us the story.

They need to own it.

They need to be truthful.

So if you have a marketing problem, you can’t solve it by simply repeating what you did yesterday.

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

The Power Of The Record Labels

It’s 1992.

Hard rock bands are becoming too generic and soulless, especially the newer breed from 1989 and onwards. The fans are looking for something new, but they still have their taste buds all over the hard rock/metal distorted cream.

Meanwhile, the labels are signing Seattle bands, left, right and centre, while they start dropping hard rock bands left, right and centre. Not only could the labels make an artist famous, they could also make an artist destitute. And back then, without the money and power of the label behind an artist, an artist would go unnoticed.

The power the record labels had to kill careers or to destroy styles of music.

So the artist would sign a deal and get a small royalty payment from the label. Today the artists would still sign a deal because they see the label as their ticket to riches, but instead the artists are now complaining of the low royalty payment of streaming services, but it is still the label keeping the lion share.

In other words, you give to get.

You give your rights to the label in order to get a chance at fame and riches. And there’s no use yelling at streaming services. They are not record labels, they are technology companies, using music to influence culture and grow their brand. Once their brand is big enough, they will do away with music.

Because seriously, which company wants to pay billions in licensing and be constantly in the courts?  

HBO paid billions in licensing, until it got to a stage where it was unfeasible and they had to start creating their own content. Netflix at first had only licensed content. And like HBO they saw that it was unfeasible, so they started investing in creating their own, and slowly doing away with the licensing.

Now, more than any time in modern recording history, an artist can do it themselves. They can record cheaply, distribute and get paid. So artists should build their own leverage and then they can decide what is next.

But we have lived in a world where the labels have controlled the narrative for way too long and MTV made everyone think that if they learnt how to play an instrument they will be rich and famous. The majority still hold this view and the minority that don’t, are the ones making it.

People talk up Record Day sales like they matter, when only the label is winning, while digital distribution can offer an artist new audiences in places where brick-and-mortar stores would be impossible or unsustainable, like foreign countries or rural areas. The end result is growth across the board. Nowadays it’s about reaching as many people as possible and eventually the money will flow in if you do it right. That should have been the role of the labels but instead it’s up to the techies.

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