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

Price Reset

All prices have a reset.

The live business greed at the moment is like the record label greed pre-Napster. Releasing albums with two to three good songs and charging too much for it.

If artists allow corporations to keep exploiting their fans in this way, there will be a backlash.

A price reset.

In the same way housing prices and share prices have a reset.

Even the recording business consumer prices have had a reset however the licensing fees the labels charge to services have increased exponentially.

On demand TV has had a price reset because of Netflix. There is a whole new generation who don’t even remember what Cable is.

Artists need to make money, there is no doubt, however just because they release new music it doesn’t mean they are not entitled to make money.

No one has a right to make money from music. Ed Sheeran gave his music away for free and played for free. It was only after Sheeran established his worth in the market that he was able to start making some money.

In other words, just because Ed Sheeran decided to write and produce music, it didn’t mean he had an entitlement to be paid from the start; he had to prove to people that he was worth paying for before people did so.

The internet distribution methods allows everyone to create. There are no gatekeepers. So anything an artist creates is competing with everything released today and in the past.

You have to remember that it’s only a few hundred years, if that much, that artists are working with money. Artists never got money. Artists had a patron, either the leader of the state or the duke of Weimar or somewhere, or the church, the pope. Or they had another job. I have another job. I make films. No one tells me what to do. But I make the money in the wine industry. You work another job and get up at five in the morning and write your script.

This idea of Metallica or some rock n’ roll singer being rich, that’s not necessarily going to happen anymore. Because, as we enter into a new age, maybe art will be free.

Maybe the students are right. They should be able to download music and movies. I’m going to be shot for saying this. But who said art has to cost money? And therefore, who says artists have to make money?

In the old days, 200 years ago, if you were a composer, the only way you could make money was to travel with the orchestra and be the conductor, because then you’d be paid as a musician. There was no recording. There were no record royalties. So I would say, “Try to disconnect the idea of cinema with the idea of making a living and money.” Because there are ways around it.

Francis Ford Coppola on answering a question about how a start up artist can make money in the current P2P 2011 climate.

It’s an old interview from 2011 but Coppola makes some relevant points especially the last line about disconnecting the idea of cinema (and in my view any art in general like music and books) with the idea of making a living or earning money.

And it’s hard for people because we’ve all grown up in an era that showcased the millions movies and bands made.

And there are always different ways around making money. You just need to put the hard work in.

Trent Reznor had some albums released for free on P2P and they proved popular. He released a super deluxe edition afterwards and people purchased this limited edition run and he grossed $700,000.

Amanda Palmer is the crowd funded hero.

Even Protest The Hero was surprised how large their fan base is when they went the crowd funded route after being dropped by their label. For the next release, they did a special Bandcamp release with a 6 month subscription for a song a month. They then released the songs in vinyl and people still purchased them.

I recently did a post about an R&B artist who uses Spotify listening data to organize tours and making some good coin around it.

So what are you waiting for.

You have the tools, it’s time to find the business model that fits.

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

Wildside

I get that hard rock was getting generic and stupid towards the late 80s and early 90s as the record labels signed hundreds of artists and made those artists sound similar to other artists.

But some bands did sound generic but in a good and unique way.

Wildside was a generic sounding band. It didn’t mean they weren’t good like some of the other generic bands like Roxx Gang, Pretty Boy Floyd, Skin N Bones and Sleez Beez.

I’ll even chuck in Bullet Boys, Steelheart and Danger Danger to that list however each band had some real unique talent, like Mike Matijevic on vocals from Steelheart, Andy Timmons on guitar from Danger Danger and Mick Sweda on guitar from Bullet Boys.

But Wildside was different.

Maybe it was singer Drew Hannah, who sounded like a cross between Mark Slaughter/Tom Keifer and Stephen Pearcy.

Then you had Brent Woods who played lead guitar and was capable of acquiring Lynch like status. Benny Rhynedance played rhythm guitar and held the fort well like Malcolm Young, while Marc Simon on bass and Jimmy Darby on drums set the foundations.

They got a deal with Capitol Records who marketed them as the next Poison and “Under The Influence” came out in 1992.

It was produced by Andy Johns and recorded at EVH 5150 Studio. Steve Thompson and Michael Barbierio mixed the disc. It was basically a 5 star production line up.

And the album, just came back into my life via Spotify.

Okay time for a Spotify rant.

I still can’t believe how Spotify keeps on fucking up the generic band names by linking other bands called Wildside with this Wildside. One band is Spanish and nothing like this band. Then you have Fozzy. A metal band created by a wrestler and then you have a serene pop artist called Fozzy. Same name, so they must be the same artist. Dumb and dumber if you ask me.

Spotify rant over.

So like all bands labeled hair, they lost their record deal and by 1994, Brent Woods had also jumped ship to replace Steve Stevens in Vince Neil’s band. But in 2004, the band reformed without Benny Rhynedance and still continue to perform to a certain extent, with Brent Woods probably being the most busiest.

If you want to read a cool history, check out Metal Sludge, as rhythm guitarist Benny Rhynedance recounts the band’s history in a five part series.

“Under The Influence” is a fun album to sink your teeth into, as the band puts all of their influences, ranging from AC/DC, Crue, Led Zeppelin, Kiss, Judas Priest and Aerosmith into the songwriting blender to create some cool rocking tunes.

Also if you are a Kiss fan, check out “Clock Strikes”, which is also co-written by Paul Stanley.

And I hope that music like this doesn’t get forgotten in the future as history is always written by the winners.

As those Metal Sludge recaps state, the bands roots go back to 1982, Seattle. It’s a long way to a recording contract and an even longer way to make it to the top.

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

1979 – IV – Lights Out In America

I’m really enjoying revisiting this 1979 period.

For Parts 1, 2 and 3 just click on the numbers.

Here is the playlist for Part 4.

UFO – Strangers In The Night

Michael Schenker’s solo career was my first listening experience and UFO came much later in the 1990’s when I went seeking out the 70’s.

I got this album and “Lights Out” at a Record Fair in the late nineties for next to nothing.

Record fairs are very different beasts today, charging way too much and above retail. But once upon a time it was worth going.

Love to Love

How good is it?

The piano lines and how it all just builds and comes together. I do prefer the studio version because the guitar is more abrasive and higher in the mix.

Did you know that Schenker took his riff from this song and used it on “Desert Song”?

Quick, let’s get the lawyers on it.

Doctor Doctor

The first time I heard this song was on this album. And it reminded me of Maiden for some reason.

Lo and behold when I saw Maiden on the “Somewhere Back In Time” tour they had this song on the backing intro tape just before they started the concert.

Lights Out

The energy and attitude on this live version is electric and I dig.

And how good is that F#m riff groove from Schenker.

Damned If I Do – The Alan Parsons Project

It’s from the album “Eve” and I illegally downloaded his discography in the early 2000’s and before YouTube, because I was interested to hear the music of a person who was involved in capturing the sounds on such landmark albums like “Abbey Road” and “Dark Side Of The Moon”.

It was interesting to say the least.

Lyrically the song deals with loving someone else but that person you love doesn’t have the same feelings, hence the conflict of damned if I do and damned if I don’t.

And it’s the vocal melody that hooked me in, sung by Lenny Zakatak and while The Alan Parsons Project used more than one vocalist on each album, Zakatak was known as the real voice of the band.

Cold Cold Change – Midnight Oil

It’s from the “Head Injuries” album and the riff has a fuck you punk attitude that I like.

Is it a forewarning to climate change or a song dealing with the Australian political climate and using the weather as a metaphor or is it dealing with the Cold War (there is a lyric line that states;

We jumped in the air to see over the wall
No master plan, it’s a bad design
Significant time in spite of us all

Don’t Bring Me Down – Electric Light Orchestra

It’s from their “Discovery” album and man, it was huge.

It’s also the only good song on an album which was littered with strings and ballad like songs.

Styx – Cornerstone

Here is a review from Deke over at Thunder Bay Arena Rock that I totally agree with.

Lights

Tommy Shaw is on vocals for a song that sounds like it could have appeared on an ELO album.

Borrowed Time

It’s a prog Rock song with its Pink Floyd inspired intro. Then it’s ELO and Boston in the verses and in the chorus, the dudes must have worn the tightest leather pants as there is some of the highest pitch harmonies ever committed to tape.

Living high on borrowed time indeed.

Eddie

It’s “All Right Now” sped up and its perfectly all right with me about telling Eddie not to run because it’s the end of his fun.

Yep, that’s the lyrical theme, so thank god the music connected.

Love In The Midnight

Its that section after the acoustic intro that hooks me. The groove and feel is perfect.

And then that bass groove while the choir like chants and then that keyboard solo and the guitars come in with a solo straight from the book of pentatonics.

It’s progressive in the vein of Yes and I fucking dig it.

The Knack – Get the Knack

The album that spawned “My Sharona” onto the world has some pretty cool Sixties retro tunes as well. But no one would know em, because “My Sharona” was everywhere.

Oh Tara

It was different and it reminded me of those 60s movies but when I heard it, it actually reminded me of Hanoi Rocks.

My Sharona

You can’t deny it’s catchy. From the drum intro to the bass/guitar riff.

Even the simple lead break is a lesson on effectiveness and simplicity as it builds to the repeated pull off lick towards the end of it.

And for a song that went to Number 1, the lead break goes over a minute long.

Fucking AAA, if you ask me, because in the 80s we started to get singles edit cuts and the first thing cut or shortened was the lead break.

That’s What the Little Girls Do

Again it’s got that 60s vibe which is cool.

Supertramp – Breakfast in America

One of the best albums of 1979.

This is the one that Supertramp built a career on, the one album that allows them the victory lap many years later. And it’s also their sixth album, which goes to show you need to be a lifer. Your greatest work always comes after and very rarely with your first release.

And it’s funny how I gravitated to the songs with vocals by Roger Hodgson.

And for those conspiracy theorists, the cover has been said to have forecasted the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Towers. Sometimes people have two much time on their hands.

The Logical Song

That keyboard riff and the unique vocal melody is what music is about. Plus this song worked well as a hard rock cover.

When I was young,
It seemed that life was so wonderful,
A miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical

The innocence of childhood and every day is an adventure.

But then they sent me away
To teach me how to be sensible,
Logical, oh responsible, practical

The schooling factory is all about dollars and conditioning. Whichever lobby group pays the most, gets the curriculum they want, that would benefit their business models.

And higher education was about expanding your mind and doing things differently until it changed as an essential qualification to get a job.

I said now what would you say
Now we’re calling you a radical,
A liberal, oh fanatical, criminal

And different viewpoints scare people, so we are given labels. If we don’t agree we are radicals, from the left or whatever other stupid term people come up with.

Breakfast In America

Another song that works well in a hard rock setting.

Take a jumbo across the water
Like to see America
See the girls in California
I’m hoping it’s going to come true
But there’s not a lot I can do

I’m pretty sure there was a time when every soul around the world wanted to go to America once upon a time.

Is it still the case today?

I’m a winner, I’m a sinner
Do you want my autograph

All winners have a dark side.

To win in sport, players are required to border on the dark arts, which means playing on the edges of the rules.

To win in music, for every famous musician there is an aggrieved musician, especially when bands start out, most musicians write and play some of their most famous songs with others.

CC Deville lifted the “Talk Dirty To Me” riff from his previous band and gave them no credit.

“Hit The Lights” was written by James and another person in his previous band before Metallica but it’s credited to Hetfield and Ulrich. Even the Dave Mustaine compositions should not have any Ulrich credits but they do.

Take The Long Way Home

When lonely days turn to lonely nights
you take a trip to the city lights
And take the long way home
Take the long way home

Love these lyric lines. I can’t recall how many times I’ve taken the long way home because the drive was relaxing and the music playing on the stereo or my headset was spot on. I was like just one more song and after that I’ll drive towards home.

One time I had to return a video to the video store. Yep, video rentals was a thing once upon a time. The video store was only 3 minutes away from my house at the time, so all up, it would be 6 minutes for a return trip.

Well after I dropped the video off, I proceeded to drive towards Sydney, decided to stop at Coogee for Pizza and eventually I would get home 5 hours later.

Take the long way home indeed.

Tycoon – Tycoon

Sometimes a band releases an album that should have been popular however their label didn’t really know how to market them.

I don’t even remember how this album came into my life. Maybe it was the Freddie Mercury look a-likes on the cover.

Anyway for me, “Such A Woman” is the track that sealed the deal. It’s melodic and better than the songs that made up the Billboard Top 10. But it’s generic lyrically.

And final say goes to Dean Sciarra, who posted the below review on Amazon for this album.

First things first – this album has gotten a bad rap from certain people, one that it doesn’t deserve in my opinion. It may not be the best Classic Rock album in the world but it certainly has its moments.

As does “Turn Out The Lights” – the second album even though Tycoon was forced by the label to make this record under duress to comply with what the label thought would fly with what the market was buying at the time. They were wrong and subsequently the band was bumped from the label.

What they had wanted to do instead is reflected in the album “Opportunity Knocks” which is a rockin’ masterpiece that no label at the time would sign off on because everyone wanted the new Talking Heads kind of bands. Bad idea!

On a personal note, lead singer and main songwriter, Norman Mershon passed away in November of 2007. He was one of my best friends and a more wonderful person you will never meet. His death was tragic and avoidable due to doctors’ error. I managed Tycoon after they left Arista and was a part of the recording of “Opportunity Knocks” which to this day blows away all other Tycoon recordings. This could have been a big band had Arista not gotten in their way. I saw the future back then and it certainly included Tycoon still being around today had it not been for unfortunate bad luck

Little River Band – First Under The Wire

The fifth album by the Australian act.

Lonesome Loser

Have you hear about the lonesome loser?
He’s a loser but he still keeps on trying.

That my friends is life in a nut shell. We fall down and we get back up.

Hard Life

How good is the start?

Man it reminds me of Y&T so much.

It’s a hard life
We’ve just gotta learn to understand
That we’ll be alright
If we help everybody here
It’s a hard life
We just gotta learn to understand
That we’ll be alright
We just got to lend everybody here a helping hand

The problem is we are more divided than other over religion, politics, race and social standing.

Well that’s part four done, stay tuned for part five.

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Music, Stupidity

What The?

I was cleaning out a few of the different pockets in my work lap top bag when I came across this.

Yep it’s a year old unused concert ticket.

And I was like what the?

How the fuck did I forget to go to this?

I remember I had a Ticketek voucher given to me for my birthday in 2016. I remember using that voucher in 2017 to purchase this ticket. I actually purchased two tickets to the concert.

And then nothing. I printed em out and put em in my work bag and totally forgot about them.

So I’m replaying all the events in my mind as to what would have made me totally forget that I had a ticket for this concert.

Maybe it’s the date of the concert, which is a day after my birthday. Maybe it was something to do with the kids. I can’t recall anything earth shattering happening. I’m really stumped and I’m pissed at myself for missing this.

Lesson learned.

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A to Z of Making It, Music

A System That Rewards Attention

If you create a system that rewards attention, the easiest way to get attention is to be a bad actor. That underlies our media ecosystem, that underlies our political system and it’s degrading society in so many ways.

EV WILLIAMS – Creator Of Blogger, Twitter and Medium

I’m pretty sure you’ve heard the story about “Threatin” an LA band, which is basically the creation of a person called Jered Threatin and how he manages to book a European tour without really having a fan base.

He created a record company web page that was bullshit, he created a booking agency web page that was bullshit, he doctored live footage to make it look like he was popular on YouTube which was bullshit and he created a management company website which was of course bullshit as well. He also paid for Facebook likes and comments and YouTube views and many more wonderful things to do with scorched earth marketing.

And through it all, he convinced stupid greedy venue owners in Europe to book him. He even convinced them the shows were sold out. If they just did some due diligence and checked out Threatin’s Spotify account, they would see stream numbers (less than 10K) that didn’t match the spin coming from his “management” and they could have asked some hard questions. But they didn’t, they got had and they got pissed.

If Threatin did pull it off and sell out the gigs based on the made up hype, maybe there would be a different discussion, but hey, people fail more than they succeed. Just because it worked for Rebecca Black and her song “Friday”, it doesn’t mean it will work for others.

But Threatin did exactly what society rewards.

Going back to Ev Williams quote.

You need to be living under a rock to not know that we are living in a social media system that rewards attention to all the bad actors. For right or wrong, feel good and happy ending stories don’t attract people’s attention like the other stories.

But fan bases are not made by being a bad actor. Bad actors will get some eyes checking out the story and then after a day or two, it’s forgotten as people move on.

Fan bases are relationships which take years to build and those relationships will then sustain the artist for many years to come.

But you need to have the tunes and the story to build it. It takes time.

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Music, My Stories

The Purchase Dilemma

Remember the time when you would go through the LP racks (afterwards it would be CD’s) and pull out the LPs you want.

At the end of your searching, which could last over an hour or two, maybe even more, I would have at least eight LPs in my hand but enough money to buy two.

And then I would go through the “how can i decide which albums to purchase with my limited funds” algorithm in my head.

  • Is the cover interesting?
  • Is the band name acceptable?
  • Are the song titles generic or different?
  • Who is the producer?

And if it was a new artist I’ve never really heard of, I would ask myself the following;

  • How does the band look?
  • Are the songs written by the band or with outside writers?
  • Which label are they on?

And just like that I would have wilted down those eight LPs to four. But I still have a dilemma. I only have enough money for two.

So I would have a look at my friends score. And it’s pretty similar to mine and I can see they are also suffering the same dilemma.

So it’s time to plant the “purchase seed”.

How about they buy two albums and I buy the other two albums and then we will copy those albums that either of us didn’t have on a cassette. Sometimes we wouldn’t even copy an album one of us owned and the other didn’t because after hearing it, it didn’t really resonate or it was just plain shit.

And on the train trip home we would stare at the back covers and the lyric sheets, absorbing the album before we’ve even heard it.

Man, those days are gone. Long gone.

And why would they even come back, as the majority of music fans love how we can access everything at our fingertips.

But they don’t have the purchase dilemma.

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