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

Fight The Copyright Powers That Be

I know this is a site about metal and rock but sometimes I need to go outside these styles.

Case in point.

Taylor Swift and her new record deal.

She left Big Machine Record’s and signed with Republic Records, a subsidiary of Universal Music Group.

In her new deal, Swift owns her Copyright. In other words, those master recordings are hers.

Remember I’ve been saying those who own their own copyright will win in the end. Swift isn’t stupid, she has seen how much streaming services pay the “copyright holders” of recordings. So instead of selling her rights to the corporation for a large advance right now, she’s keeping her future songs in her bank.

But that’s assuming that her future songs will have the same impact and success as her Big Machine Records catalogue, which in this case all stays with Big Machine Records.

The big one for me is how the sale of Universal Music Group Spotify shares are distributed (provided the sale happens).

Basically the label was in a powerful negotiating position against the streaming service because it had amassed a shit load of copyrights over the years. It held the rights of songs other people had written even when those songs should have been in the public domain.

So if Universal sells its Spotify stake, the label must pay all of its artists a cut of the sale as non-recoupable. Universal’s stake in Spotify is estimated to be above $850 million.

Sony already sold its stake for $768 million and Warner Brothers sold some of their stake for $504 million. Both labels, cashed up, distributed monies to their artists differently. Sony artists got monies paid as non-recoupable and Warner Brothers artists got the monies applied to their recoupable balances.

The VOX article gives a great example of why this happens:

When an artist signs with a music label, the label advances the artist some of the money it thinks the artist will bring in. Essentially, if an artist signs a $3 million contract, the label is saying, “We’re pretty sure you’ll earn $3 million in royalties in your first year of sales, so here’s that money early.” But that means the artist doesn’t get any more royalty payments until they’ve earned back that $3 million.

Whenever an artist hasn’t yet earned back an advance, they have what’s called “an unrecouped balance” with their label. As far as the label’s accounting books are concerned, the artist owes the label money.

So when a label sells Spotify shares — which means a big payday — it’s got two possible ways of sharing that payday with its artists. It can either count the money toward any unrecouped balances, or it can choose not to.

Sony decided that when it shared its Spotify money with its artists, it was going to ignore any unrecouped balances and send them the money directly, without applying it to their advances. Warner Brothers did the opposite, and applied the Spotify money to artists’ unrecouped balances before passing any of it along. In practice, that meant Sony artists got a big paycheck out of the Spotify deal, but the only thing that a lot of Warner Brothers artists got was the promise that they were a little bit closer to seeing an actual royalty statement someday.

For Universal, Taylor Swift is forcing their hand to distribute the monies to all artists regardless if they owe the label money or not.

Swift’s spirit here is the rock and roll spirit.

So how did a country artists who crossed over into pop become a rock star in ethos by standing up to the powers that be?

“We’re Not Gonna Take It” was the war anthem for a whole new metal/rock generation. But what are the rockers and metal heads doing right now.

Metallica with their label went to court against their fans, while Swift is seen as an artist standing up for other artists against the Copyright monopolies and greed of the record labels.

Like her or not, she had issues with Spotify and Apple over payments, and then probably realized it’s her label that was the issue.

Regardless, in true rock and roll spirit she asked for her music to be removed and it was. Until she decided it was time to put it back on, at the price she believed it was worth.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

2018 -II – Feels Like I’ve Been Here Before

Here is the Spotify playlist.

The Day When Legions Burn
Trust
Desolation
Tremonti

Mark Tremonti is a riff master. He just keeps churning out song after song after song. He also knows the modern game is to release frequently and to get people to listen.

“The Day When Legions Burn” is up there as a classic speed metal song and those leads are guitar hero material.

“Trust” has got this groovy and cool intro/verse with a Chorus that would not be out of place in Creed and Alter Bridge. But that slowed down bridge section which reminds me of “Blackbird” is a fuck yeah moment.

And in “Desolation” that section from 2.15 minutes to the end is perfect.

Deja-Vu
Monument

From England and man you can hear their Maiden influences on the “Hellhound” album.

This song is actually a cover of one of my favorite and obscure Maiden songs from their “Somewhere In Time” album.

Monument also have a song called “Death Valley” on the album which has a vocal line similar to “Deja-Vu”.

Feels like I’ve been there before indeed.

Dance Macabre
Ghost

How good is this band?

They just nail it with riffs that remind me of songs from my youth and Tobias Forge is one hell of a lyricist and vocalist. Even if you don’t like his Evil Pope/Cardinal look, there is no denying he’s an excellent artist.

Lover
Artsidir

From Iceland and I have no idea how this pop rock band ended up on my playlist, but the song is catchy and it sounds familiar and it’s a cool listen.

Living In A Hurricane
King Company

From Finland. Another super group project of extreme metal musicians playing songs from their influences and I fucking dig it.

The intro riff is straight from the “Sunset Strip”.

The whole “Sometimes The World Ain’t Enough Album”
The Night Flight Orchestra

Read my review here.

Awaken The Tyrants
Motorjesus

From Germany.

This is the beauty of Spotify. Every artist from any part of the world is available to be found.

I love the sound of this song. It’s classic heavy metal the way I now it.

The whole “For The Love Of Metal” album.
Dee Snider

Read my reviews here and here.

The whole “Long Nights Journey Into Day”
Redemption

Read my review here.

Killing Ourselves To Live
Buzz
Black Vultures
Halestorm

Lzzy Hale gets it. She communicates with her fans via Twitter and she writes lyrics which reflect life. And her topic range is huge from tongue and cheek songs about threesomes and vibrators, to more serious subject matter about internet trolls and taking risks to stand for something.

“Killing Ourselves To Live” to me, is about not being afraid about the pain that the fight for a better life and society will bring ya.

“Buzz” based on the lyrics looks like it’s about a vibrator.

“Black Vultures” to me is about the social media haters (the black vultures) circling and waiting for Lzzy to fail.

Easter – Live at the Royal Albert Hall
Marillion

The lead break here is what hooks me. It hooked me from the first time I heard it and it still hooks me now.

Why Won’t You (Die Motherfucker)
Mile

Any song that starts off with the words “why won’t you die motherfucker it’s time for you to leave” has my attention.

It’s aggressive and energetic and I dig it.

It came across my radar when Spotify added it to one of their playlists which I follow.

And of course they are from Sweden.

Paralyzed
Feel The Way I Feel
Nonpoint

It sounds nothing like the Nonpoint I first heard, but goddamn it, I like it. It’s a risk and they are flying high with it.

Running Out Of Time
Home
Heartline
Ladders For Leaders
Dead Letter Circus

Great Aussie rock band.

“Heartline” and “Ladders For Leaders” are the standout tracks for me.

Check out these lyrics;

Villains created,
Become ladders for leaders
To keep us from asking
Who’s holding the strings
Coming from their backs

Governments defined. Create an enemy and use said enemy to ascend the political wilderness and rise to the top. And behind you, the corporations and their lobbyists are filling you with cash so you bow down to them.

Another Day
Ultraphonix

This album was an interesting experiment from George Lynch and Corey Glover and this song is by far the best.

Body Of Work
Degreed

Degreed are hit and miss with me. On this song, they nail the heavy rock in the verses with a super catchy melodic rock chorus.

And of course they are from Sweden.

Some Thing About Love
Saliva

It’s not Josey Scott on vocals but they still rock. This song could have been on a Good Charlotte album it’s that catchy.

Take Away My Soul
Uriah Heep

They are still rocking it, being led by Mick Box who is the only original member left.

I am not a person willing to buy into this (I’m a free man)
I stand by my own decision I made long ago (I’m a free man)
I am stronger and I go my own way

We believe we are free, but we are tied to a lot of institutions, it’s not even funny.

Plus there is an outro guitar solo that seems to go on forever and I like it..

The whole Persistence album
Kingcrow

From Italy.

Read my review here.

Walk Me Through The Fire
Nordic Union

The Road To Hell
Sunstorm

Nordic Union is a Danish/Swedish Frontiers project featuring Pretty Maids vocalist Ronnie Atkins and guitarist/songwriter/producer Erik Martensson from Eclipse and W.E.T.

Joe Lynn Turner fronts Sunstorm and melodic rock songwriter Alessandro Delvecchio provides keys and songwriting. “Road To Hell” is a song that has a few musical passages reminiscent of “Judas” from Malmsteen.

And I’ve had this feeling for a while that the projects Delvecchio and Martensson are involved in are starting to sound very similar. And Frontiers really needs a rethink here.

Remember this is why hard rock went into cardiac arrest while everyone blamed Grunge. Too much samey equals career suicide.

Stay tuned for 3.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

The Way The World Works

Corporations lobby the Government to have their taxes lowered while banking titans rort the system, say sorry at a Royal Commission and all is forgiven.

Welcome to Australia or any democratic country for that matter which has become a plutocracy.

Read this Guardian article about donations from a lobby group called Village Roadshow to Australian political parties.

Put enough coin in the pockets of politicians and watch them vote YES for the laws the corporation wants even though said law is bad for the people who voted the politicians in.

In this case the laws are all around Copyright legislation and site blocking powers. Plus Village Roadshow is allowed along with other entertainment lobbyists to direct search engines to remove links to sites they don’t like and there is no due diligence done.

Village Roadshow is basically allowed to become an internet police force as they tell ISPs to take down sites at their choosing.

You can imagine the heads of Village Roadshow agreeing to take some losses now financially and reap the benefits later. No different to the drug cartels who will allow a shipment to be lost while many more slip through and millions come flooding in.

We will know in February 2019, how much Village Roadshow donated to the parties for the most recent legislation. And for those people who still don’t know what I’m talking about, this is basically a rich corporation trying to influence the passing of legislation to benefit their business model.

In saying all of the above, the public will also find out how much the internet providers and companies like Google would have donated to politicians for them to stop the legislation.

Again this is for their own business models to succeed. Once again the people who matter the most, the consumers of entertainment are nowhere in the conversation. Remember, if there is no connection between a consumer and art, there is no money.

What Village Roadshow and the entertainment industries want is a return to their business model which more or less began 100 years ago. Seriously if you want to look at organizations resistant to change, look no further than Village Roadshow.

And Politicians should be embarrassed as they failed the people who voted them in, for a selfie with the rich and famous.

At least one politician raised the concern or maybe he was paid by Google to raise the concern;
“As lawmakers, just because we might get a selfie with Richard Roxburgh — I love Rake as much as anyone else — or a political party gets a donation from a rights holder, does not mean that we should stop looking at how to make the types of reforms that balance the needs of creatives and the needs of producers versus the needs of consumers.”
Ed Husic – Labor MP

It’s hard work to balance the needs of creatives and producers versus the needs of consumers and no one right now likes hard work, so people go down the simple route of serving the needs of creatives and producers and screwing consumers.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

The Copyright Empire

I have a Google Alert set up for Copyright and everyday there are ten or more stories on Copyright issues, ranging from Ed Sheeran settling with artists over a copyright suit to a song of his which has become super popular, to Led Zep asking a judge to throw away the Stairway appeal, to local restaurants playing music and asked to pay for a Copyright licence, to parents breaking the Copyright law when they film their kids dance to music, to ISPs being asked to block websites, to Google being told to remove search links to certain sites, to people being charged with piracy and to whatever else the Copyright Industry wants.

If the above doesn’t tell you who copyright benefits, then reread it again.

You see when Governments get involved and pass laws around copyright, there will always be an entity or corporation that contributes no music to the public that will benefit from this monopoly.

The new emperor in town is the Music Modernization Act (MMA). If it will deliver more streaming revenue to music publishers and songwriters as stated, remains to be seen, however for it to happen their has to be a price contraction somewhere else in the recording business market or a price increase passed on to the customer.

As the Billboard article states;

Apple Music has already negotiated to pay a smaller share of its revenue to labels in order to offset undetermined increases to publishers, targeting a rate of 55 percent to labels.

So in this case, Apple will pay less to the labels and more to the publishers.

As the article further states;

Publishers, which have been getting 12 percent of Apple Music’s revenue, could therefore see their slice of Apple’s streaming revenue grow to 15 percent.

But …..

Those three big publishers are owned by the three largest record labels. So for those publishers to get more in their profit and loss means their owners will get less. It’s all the fucking same, isn’t it. The money is still within the creative accounting teams.

So how much more will songwriters really get?

It’s still a great mystery.

And these amounts the publishers get could be greater in the future because hey, judges are allowed to decide the rate regardless of the economic market. So lobby hard and get the rates you need.

Remember folks, Spotify is yet to make a profit and somehow they have higher rates to contend with. So Spotify has two options, keep their monthly prices the same and negotiate with the labels for a reduction in their rate (like Apple) or increase their monthly prices to cover these extra costs but risk losing customers.

But art is a relationship between artist and fan. And somehow these two parties cease to exist when corporations control the copyright monopoly. If the artist has no fans, there is no money to be made.

Another thing the Billboard article states is;

The MMA also mandates that unmatched royalties be divvied up after three years to publishers according to their market share, which could produce close to $100 million in new annual revenue.

Are you fucking serious?

This is revenue earned by the corporate copyright holder because they cannot find the original writers due to death, bad book keeping on behalf of the label and publisher and what not.

So instead of these songs being in the public domain as they should be, corporations are forming new income streams. All in the name of Copyright. All in the name of intellectual property.

What a fucking joke.

If you want to read about why we should stop using the term “intellectual property” around Copyright, then give this story from Aeon a read.

Because the recording and movie industries have tricked everyone into believing that artistic expression of an idea is like real property.

Remember how these industries linked downloading a song or a movie to stealing a car. It never was the same thing, but people fell for it. Even artists fell for the “stealing” part.

The article further states about how the limited copyright terms have sort of become forever terms;

Copyrights, intended to be temporally limited, have grown nearly without limit. Congress drastically increased copyright terms in 1976, and again in 1998. The latter piece of legislation was the infamous Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, passed thanks in no small measure to the Disney Corporation lobbying to retain exclusive hold over its ‘property’, Mickey Mouse, and not to allow it to pass into the public domain. Elsewhere, users of ‘intellectual property’ suggest that protections be passed on to a so-called heir: so that the notion of inheritance has been carried over from real estate and now, ‘copyright trusts’ battle for the intellectual property rights of the long-dead original holder, placing onerous restrictions on those who would seek to make derivative works based on material that should long ago have passed into the public domain. But if that rights-holder is not present, then the original motivation for that legal protection – the encouragement of the further production of artistic works by the artist – is clearly not met.

Damn right.

If the artist is not around then their creations should be in the public domain like the way it was up until 1976.

Basically there should be no Copyright transfer to the heirs as Copyright was created to encourage an artist to produce more works for a limited time monopoly. Not for heirs to sue other artists and use it as a pension fund.

I guess their building, empire, empire.

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

Piracy

The debates and arguments never cease. There is no doubt that piracy has grown the fan base of established acts but it hasn’t brought the recorded income with it. For newer artists, look no further than Ed Sheeran, who used peer to peer services to spread his music. Without it, he wouldn’t be the megastar he is.

Researchers also try to quantify how ticket sales equate to people who pirated music. And there is a lot of research out there supporting it. Metallica post Napster started to play stadiums on their own. They rarely did that previously. On top of that, Metallica tested the waters on ticket prices.

Read this interview about how they seized the moment.

I know I became a fan of a lot of bands because of pirated material. Bands like Trivium, Coheed and Cambria, Shinedown, In Flames, Evergrey, Killswitch Engage, The Night Flight Orchestra and Corroded just to name a few. And I had no qualms paying ticket prices if these bands came to town.

High profile bands from the Eighties also had a renaissance in the 2000’s because of pirated material. Motley Crue, Metallica, Guns N Roses, Iron Maiden, Twisted Sister, Megadeth, Judas Priest, Europe and Whitesnake come to mind immediately.

In the same way MTV gave the Seventies bands another chance in the Eighties, piracy gave all the Eighties acts who had some traction another chance in the Two Thousands. Provided they still wanted to work together. Bands like Skid Row, Ratt, Warrant and Dokken unfortunately missed out because key members hated each other.

It’s a pretty simple business model.

Have your music available worldwide for free and people will access it.

All of those bands mentioned above have played cities they’ve never played before and to crowds larger than before. They played these cities without selling any real recorded product in those cities.

But the Copyright holders still complain.

Seriously, is stream ripping really an issue these days. Think about the work/time involved to rip a stream. The people who are doing all of that are not interested to pay for recorded music. Those people will pay via other methods.

I can tell you that in Eastern Europe, I have not come across a legitimate music shop. The few shops I have come across (and I use that term loosely) sell rips of albums. So how do you think the people in Eastern Europe will access music.

In most cases, they will download a copy of the album. But that hasn’t stopped bands from hitting Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Hungary and Russia on tours. And streaming services are fragmented. Spotify is not available in Serbia, Romania and Russia. Apple Music is available in Russia, but not in Serbia and Romania.

And YouTube is always to blame when it comes to stream ripping, but all the service did was to provide a gap that existed in the market, which Napster highlighted and the labels tried to kill.

Seriously if stream ripping us an issue, then video ripping of video clips in the 80s would also have been an issue.

Who knew that my video ripping ways would end up being a $2000 a year music habit.

It happens. People start to invest when they are ready or have the means to. And again if there is no artist to fan relationship, all of these issues the labels find are pointless.

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

Music Is A Relationship Between Artist And Fan

With chaos comes opportunity.  For centuries, progress is made from learning how to deal with the chaos.

Copyright is in a chaotic state. The corporations who hold the rights to valuable art, are fighting battles against infringement, organising web blocking and are trying their best to get stricter copyright enforcement laws passed while also lobbying hard to extend copyright terms. As if the current “life plus 70 years after death” term is not long, enough.

In addition, these copyright monopolies don’t want works entering the public domain, so in the late 90’s these large organisations got a law passed that would prevent works meant to enter the public domain from not entering until 2019.

For those that don’t know, the public domain is culture. Keith Richards once said, ‘you can’t copyright the blues.’ Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Elvis Presley and all of the sixties greats took songs from the Public Domain and built a highly lucrative career from it.

Culture is built and expanded by sharing stories and building on the works of others. But the Copyright organisations have manipulated and changed copyright so much, it’s far removed from its purpose of giving creators a short term monopoly on their works, so they have an incentive to create more works.

Short terms meant 14 years to 28 years depending if the artist renewed their work.

Works that should be in the public domain do not benefit the original creators in any way. The majority of them have passed away, however these works (the valuable ones) are beneficial for the few copyright monopoly gatekeepers.

For culture to thrive once again, it is important to respect the public domain. If you want another 60’s culture explosion, we need to have a public domain.

It’s not going to be easy, because you have the RIAA who continually push lies out into the world, so that technology companies can do something to protect the labels crap business models. You have ISP’s who are fighting their own battles about what their users do on the net. You have the techies who provide services, using channels supported and owned by the ISP’s. You have the various lobby groups for the public, for the techies, for the ISP’s and for the labels/movie studios. And when these tribes come into a room, it’s exactly what Frankie sings, they go to war.

And nowhere in the mix is the artist and the customer. Because in the end, it’s the relationship the customer has with the music/art which creates value. The labels claim they are there to represent the artists, which is complete BS. The labels are there to represent themselves.

For the recording business to thrive, you need the artist to create and you need a customer to become a fan and connect with the art, so they could be monetised. If that relationship is not happening, all of the other crap going on is pointless.

If you are an artist, you need to realise your fans are king. Exceptional fan service is the key driving force behind a bands success. It’s good old business 101, “treat your customers right and they’ll stay with you forever”.  Because if you build a community of customers and are serving these dedicated customers with something great, then you would expect profits to go up.

In all of the wars happening around access to music, the most important one, the artist and the fan connection, is continually ignored. Don’t be an artist that falls into that trap.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Copyright, Music, Unsung Heroes

Steve Vai and Ozzmosis

Steve Vai was confirmed to do an album and tour with Ozzy until Sharon Osbourne canned it. This is what Bob Daisley had to say on the matter in an interview on the Classic Rock Revisited website;

“In 1994 Ozzy got hooked up with Steve Vai. Steve came in and played guitar and co-wrote everything with Ozzy.

They were looking for bass players who sounded like me. Steve Vai said, “Ozzy, why don’t you just get Bob Daisley to come in?” So they got me in.

We started in Steve’s studio in LA and then we went to CBS studios to write and rehearse but it wasn’t really working out between Ozzy and Steve.

Instead of firing him and doing it the right way and saying, “Steve, it is not working out” Sharon came in and said, “Sony has pulled the plug on the project. There is no album to be done.”

I thought what a load of bullsit. Deen Castranova said to me, “Oh fuck” and he got all depressed. I said, “Deen, don’t worry. We will hear from them in a couple of days. This is just a ploy to get rid of Steve Vai.”

The phone call came a couple of days later and that is when they started talking to Zakk. They kept me hanging around for months as I was supposed to do the album. They changed their mind again and got Geezer Butler in to do it. I thought, “Oh fuck, thanks a lot.” I said, “Hey Sharon, how about a cancellation fee?”

I had already had five grand up front and she said, “I will give you another five grand. That is a $10,000 cancellation fee.” They never ever paid me that other five grand, those cocksuckers.”

There is no love lost there when it comes to Daisley and the Osbourne’s especially when you know the lyrics that Ozzy sings every night came from the mind and pen of Daisley.

Steve Vai’s involvement in the Ozzmosis album became limited to co-writing just one song “My Little Man”.

I read a lot of discussions around an uncredited guitar performance on that song. My general view is that Steve wrote it and Zak played it the way Zak plays. Others believed Steve played on the track.

And while the song is credited to Ozzy and Vai, I always had my doubts if Ozzy wrote the lyrics.

So if Ozzy didn’t write them, who did?

Well the lyrics came from the great Lemmy Kilmister.

Yep, Lemmy wrote the lyrics about his son Paul.

And all of these debates about intellectual property and how it’s valuable and how copyright protects the writer. It’s bullshit.

Lemmy is not even credited.

How is copyright protecting him?

Much like how Jake E. Lee and Bob Daisley got shafted for the “Bark At The Moon” album.

Copyright is a mess and the Copyright’s for Ozzy’s songs are even messier.

Over at Vai.com, there is a blog around this album. It’s mentioned how the original version of “My Little Man” had much weirder Vai-like chords than the version that was Zakkified.

And one of the commenters on the site, who seemed to be very close to Vai, responded that the song “Kill The Guy With The Ball” that appeared on “Alien Love Secrets” was conceived during the Ozzy sessions, and if you listen to the song it would give you a good idea of the direction of the material Vai was writing with Ozzy.

Maybe, Gary Cherone might be able to put lyrics to it.

And what the above tells me is how the record labels would just throw money at people for no reason whatsoever on a new album and then expect the artist to pay that money back from sales.

Vai would have been paid something. Daisley as well. Lemmy has mentioned how he made more money co-writing Ozzy tracks than what he did with Motörhead. Castronovo would have been paid. The studio for this session would have been paid. Zakk would have been paid. Geezer would have been paid.

And all of this for just one song.

What about the rest of the songs?

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