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

It’s An Artist World, So Why Are You Giving Your Rights Away

When you have a non-major label song enter the much loved “major record label” chart, you get a sense that something is happening in the wind.

Especially when its a kids song, released in 2016, written by a South Korean company who does children music, with 50 plus million Spotify streams and over 2 billion YouTube views.

The song is stupid and not my cup of tea, but this post isn’t about the song, it’s about how a non major label song can breakthrough in the internet era. These anomalies that happen few and between will end up being the norm. If the artists allow it to happen.

Because at the moment, we still have our favorite bands drip feeding a pre-release single every 4 weeks of their upcoming album and unless it’s ubiquitous, the music is instantly forgotten. Can anyone say “Bullet For My Valentine” had a new album out last year?

We also have these “newbie” acts struggling for years to get their songs noticed and then they build a loyal audience, get an offer from a label or a publisher, sign away their copyrights and they forget why they broke through in the first place. Which was their music to fan connection.

In other words, if you are not being heard, you can’t solve your marketing problem tomorrow.

Some acts could not have made it without a label, but the label is not keeping these acts going anymore, the fans are.

But the recording industry is the same as it ever was by focusing on radio and charts while the internet allows acts to put out new music every day if they desire.

Every artist riding high on the “much loved” charts started by giving their music away for free. No one waited for a label rep to say yes, or for a label to give them money. They just started, they wrote, they played, they recorded, they released and they repeated. And they failed, and they tried again.

And if you have a deal, you need to know that the labels work to a calendar about what to release and when to release it. It’s never your choice.

Record Labels want to sell, while an artist is looking to have a career and fans are looking for access. And remember if there is no artist and fan connection/access, the labels will have nothing to sell and the artists will have no career. It’s an artist world right now, so why are you giving away your rights.

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

Take A Walk On The Stream Side

You can buy an album and never listen to it, however if you do listen to the purchased album, the artist has no idea how many times you played it.

Streams means you listened, and it tells the artist which song/s you listened to, even if it was in the background. It tells the artists from which area you are from. It arms the artist with tools to plan their tours.

And it’s rare that you will stream the whole album. You probably will only stream the songs which are your “hits” or if the album crosses over, maybe the actual hits.

And in the same way you cherry-picked your favourites and made that awesome mix tape, or CD once upon a time, you do the same in the digital era with a playlist.

And if artists want fans to buy albums, where do they expect the majority to play them?

Most computers don’t even come with a CD drive and most new cars also don’t have a CD drive either. As for those super expensive stereo systems from the 80’s, are now marketed to audiophiles.

And for iTunes files, its an overpriced offering compared to what is available. I stream and still buy some albums on CD throughout the year. It’s because I can’t stop buying. But the new generation is all about on demand and streaming. It’s a different market and artists need to adjust.

And if artists are waiting on just sales to get traction, they are operating in the old world. Without big streaming numbers, acts get no traction in the mainstream, but acts can have a career on the outer edges, satisfying their core, niche market.

Every artist should be getting their fans to stream. But we still get the voices against streaming services and how these services pay poorly. If that’s the case, you need to renegotiate your terms with the corporations which hold your Copyright.

But streaming shows your fans. If anybody is streaming your music a lot, they’re a fan, and they’ll pay to see you live and they will buy VIP tickets and merchandise and any special edition of an album you put out. Don’t you want to know that information?

And the chart that matters is one of listens. But artists still want sales and that number 1 Billboard spot (for bragging rights) and they package their album with tickets. Metallica did it with “Hardwired” and Jovi did it with their last two albums.

But seriously, is selling an album with tickets reflective of the albums success?

Of course not, it’s typical record label creative accounting. It might matter to the artist, but fans don’t give a shit. And remember, for an artist to have a career, it’s a relationship between fan and artist.

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Copyright, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

The Hard Reality When You Rely On Others To Build Your Dream

You are in a band and yet get signed. The record label isn’t really known for promoting heavy metal music, but hey, a recording contract is a recording contract and without it, you cannot move forward in your quest for global stardom.

Other bands who play a similar style have already released their albums and are starting to make headway. Meanwhile, the label keeps you in the studio, writing and recording demos before they give the green light for an album to be made.

Those “competing” bands are now onto album number 2 and 3 and your label is watching those other bands with interest, while telling you to write more songs that sound like this band and that band.

They are grooming you to be the labels competition to a band who is selling and making coin on the live circuit.

Then when you are ready to launch your assault, the label is sold to another label and you are dropped from their roster because you are unproven.

What do you do?

Do you pack up, head home and get a job or do you stick to it and restart again?

Not all members have the same drive and hard work ethic to try again, so they leave, replaced by other members with ambition that hasn’t been crushed by a record label.

“We were on MCA (record label) for three records and they were grooming us to be their version of the metal thing in the scene (like Metallica) and we got to a certain point where they’re ready to launch us on the world and then they got bought out by a bigger corporation and all the bands that they had never heard of before they just got rid of. We were one of those bands.

They were grooming us to be something big, [and] then we just got dumped for no reason at the last minute. That was kind of a big, emotional hit for us, I think. It knocked us back down to earth and we had to decide whether we were doing this for the love of music or if we were doing this for the wrong reasons.”

Flotsam and Jetson frontman Eric A. Knutson

And even when you released albums with a major label, it doesn’t mean that you got paid millions.

“After certain amount of time on a major label like Elektra, you find out how the business works, which in our particular case it was not working in our favour, you learn the definition of the word recoup.

And then you realize there is no way you can make any money unless you break big like Metallica but until then you are operating in Debt and you will never break out. Everybody gets paid first and the band gets paid last. I have the publishing which are not much money but no other royalties.

We are still in debt on the first few albums. Not only that but it’s tough to find out how much debt or profit after all these years. They send statements that you can’t read unless you are a lawyer, so I just wrote it off.

Your in debt for tour support, your in debt for videos, your in debt for everything and those are the reasons why I really like the new music business, there is more good about the new music business than there is bad. It’s more direct artists to fans and us old guys can still have a career.”

Metal Church guitarist Kurdt Vanderhoof

In a game that has Corporations acting as gatekeepers, the decks are stacked against the artist unless for some reason a band connects on so many levels that they have the power to demand a better deal.

And when gatekeepers control everything, they also control the legislation which gets passed, filling the pockets of politicians to protect their business models with basically perpetual copyright terms and what not.

But artists are fighting back. Bryan Adams is pushing for Copyright reform in Canada.

He wants a better copyright arrangement that benefits the artists. He argues against longer copyright terms, as they only benefit and make money for the record labels and the collection agencies and not the artists.

Adams wants a shorter reversion term so after a period of time, the artist should have their copyrights returned to them. Adams also states that long copyright terms have no benefit to the creators.

As I’ve said many times on this blog, basically, no one decides to start creating because copyright terms are not long enough. They create because they need to create.

And Adams lays it out that it’s the record labels and publishing houses who lobby hard for longer copyright terms, not the artists.

He even mentioned how Government committees set up to assist artists have a committee made up of record label and publishing people and no artists.

Van Morrison said that when his third album “Moondance” was released, he was paid $100 a week to survive and he earned no money from the album, because the people he trusted signed away his rights for the first three albums to Warner Bros, pocketed the money and Van Morrison got a weekly wage in the process.

And to top it off, for Morrison to get a higher wage, he had to join a Union for session players. So imagine that, Van Morrison had to be a session singer on his own fucking album. He got paid as a session singer instead of an artist. And in order to get paid he had to submit a shitload of forms and then wait for payment.

But he learned from it, has more control and is 40 albums deep into his career.

And you know what he said, when the interviewer asked what drives him to create.

He replied back with “It’s what I do.”

He didn’t mention it’s because copyright terms last 70 years after his death.

It’s because there is a need inside him to create and that is what drives him. Having an audience or the chance of an potential audience who cares, motivates him. Not copyright.

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Copyright, Derivative Works, Music, My Stories

The Right To Use A Song

Artists have fans from all sides of the political debate, from all sides of religion and from all different races.

It’s okay to take money from fans for concert tickets, recorded product and merchandise who support a political party you don’t support or fans who believe in a religion you don’t believe in.

But when a political figure plays music at a rally or releases their own Spotify playlist for sharing, artists decide its time to take a moral stance, asking said politician to stop playing their music at rallies or to remove their song from their Spotify playlist.

It happens in Australia and it happens in other countries as well.

If the artist creates art for public consumption, why do they get upset if people use it publicly, especially when all of the Copyright licenses are satisfied.

I’m not a Trump supporter or the Australian version of Trump, Clive Palmer. But both of em have used “We’re Not Gonna Take It” from Twisted Sister as part of their campaigns. Trump at rallies and Palmer in an ad, with the lyrics “Australia’s not gonna cop it” to music from “We’re Not Gonna Take It” in a different key.

There is no chance in hell that fans of Dee Snider or Twisted Sister would think that they endorse Palmer. It never occurred to me at all.

Dee and Jay Jay might not like it, but Copyright was never meant to be about censoring other people especially if the normal licenses are paid.

And the main issue which no one addresses is how Copyright has developed into a right to censor people and prosecute people.

And of course, in typical Palmer fashion he slammed Dee Snider, saying that he owns the Copyright to the words he wrote, and that Dee is trying to generate publicity to sell tickets to his Aussie shows.

I guess Palmer has no idea how Dee follows things through or who is messing with, because if anyone is not going to take it, it’s Dee.

And one last thought, who is going to ensure that the artists words are not misused after they are departed as Copyright does extend 70 years after death (with the MPAA and RIAA pushing for 90 years after death)?

Based on current trends, no one will, because as long as a fee is paid to the heirs, their lawyers and the Corporation who holds the rights, it will be allowed.

In the end Copyright was always meant to give an artist an incentive to create, not to censor, regardless if they agree or disagree with the people using their material.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Who Owns What

Should this be in the courts. Should a painting on a guitar body be protected by Copyright?

What about the other million guitar designs and paintings that happened on guitars of musicians who didn’t make it?

Who owns what there?

Of course, Copyright doesn’t matter or care when no money is involved. Copyright only goes to the courts if there is money involved. Copyright is only important and needs stricter enforcement when there is money to be gained or lost.

And the estate of Dimebag really shouldn’t have control over this design anyway. Dimebag didn’t even own the copyright to the artwork himself, (it was owned by his friend who painted the design) so how can it fall into the hands of his estate.

People will argue that he played a guitar made by Dean with that design on it and made it popular. Yes, that’s correct, but he still didn’t own the copyright on the guitar to pass it on to his estate after death.

Also the lightning design is pretty generic and it looks like the lightning on the “Ride The Lightning” cover and there is nothing really distinctive about it. As far as I’m concerned, the Estate or the Guitar maker should not have a Copyright over this design.

People and Corporations who offer no value to culture, make money from people who did offer value and change culture after death. This is basic hijacking of what Copyright was designed to do and it shouldn’t exist.

And as I mentioned before, what about the millions of other artists who tried to impact culture and didn’t. There was always copyright infringement happening.

The “Sunset Strip” sound in the early 80s was pretty much the same across the bands. And for the bands who made it like Motley Crue and Ratt, thousands of other bands who had similar/same songs didn’t make it, however they influenced the bands who made it to a certain extent.

How come they don’t make the news?

CC DeVille took a riff another person wrote in his previous band and used it for “Talk Dirty To Me”, without any credit to the writer. James Hetfield took a riff another person wrote and used it for “Hit The Lights” without any credit.

Copyright allows Corporations to amass power from art created by others. These Corporations keep this power long after the artist has passed away. This is wrong and against the interest of the public.

When one small artist who has a low status has an issue, it is irrelevant to everyone however when a bigger artist has an issue it is relevant.

And people wonder why small low worth artists are suing high net worth artists?

Instead of creating incentives to create, copyright is creating incentives to sue.

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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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