Music, My Stories

Music Addiction

It was a religion going to the record store and seeing all that I couldn’t buy. And a purchase was not an easy decision. Because if i didn’t like it, I was stuck with it. On a lot of occasions, the record shop wouldn’t have the album I went there for. So I would buy something else because there was always a back up buy list.

And i played those records until i knew every lick by heart. When I had equipment that could slow the music down or speed it up, I would use it. And I got lazy afterwards, so I was happy to hand over money for guitar transcriptions books. I even purchased the transcriptions for albums I had already learned, so I could have em. You can get all kind of fan transcriptions online today and for free.

And I would write down the lyrics on an A4 page and then I would write the chords above the lyrics. I had a folder of transcribed songs like that.

And then life gets in the way and decisions are made. Band members leave because they discovered they weren’t quite good enough or decided they didn’t want to put in the same commitment as the others.

During breaks my gear gathered dust. But the music is still there, i am still addicted.

And others I knew would do everything they could to get closer to the music life. They would work as a roadie, work in a record store, do some work for a label or promoter. And it wasn’t because they wanted to get rich, but because everyone wanted to be closer to the party and the lifestyle.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Building Small Communities

Music is spread from person to person. Someone would come across an artist they liked and they would put the effort in to spread the word.

And once we got exposed from someone, we made it our mission to find another artist and talk about them and insist that people pay attention. It’s why music magazines became popular.

The true fans. They are the ones who will go ahead and spread an artists music and it’s not because an artist wants them to, it’s because they want to.

Algorithms try to do music discovery but they are nowhere near close to the human emotion of music. And the programmers have no idea how to write code that connects with the human curation.

And the labels are all about short-term profits which is a terrible way to build a proper and sustainable industry. There’s always a shortcut like scalping tickets or cooking the charts, a rule to be bent by being creative on the accounting and by not paying the artists their share. And when they don’t get their way, they pay politicians enough money to pass laws to give them their way.

So artists are on their own, building their small sustainable communities.

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

Who Should Watch Over The Royalties?

Last year, the Music Modernization Act became law, in an attempt to fix some aspects of Copyright. While it had a nice clause about moving some very old music into the public domain, the issue that got all the artists excited was the changes required to the mechanical licensing process for songwriters, making it easier for songwriters to get the royalties they are owed.

But.

In all the excitement no one thought to read the details. The law gives birth to a new collection society for these mechanical royalties. So companies/organizations had to submit their proposals to The Copyright Office. And the one that looks like it could win the “bid” (the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA)) is one of the organizations which caused part of the current mess with royalties.

In other words, it’s another system created to move money to the big music publishers and away from independent artists.

The publishers have the PR down, telling people how they represent all songwriters which is not quite true.

And independent songwriters make up 99% of the music business, but they are all confused about what is going on and what they need to do to collect their royalties. Trusting in organizations to do the right thing is not really a good business model. And in times of confusion, the one that benefits most, is the one in power, which is the NMPA.

As the Techdirt article explains:

There is a pot of unclaimed royalties that have already been paid by music services that is estimated to be between $1.5 and $2.5 billion.

With so much money at play, the new organization will need to create some fancy algorithms to match the monies to the songwriters. However, the new law also gives the new organization a POWER to distribute any unclaimed royalties to themselves after a three year period.

So how proactive do you think this new organization would be to find these independent songwriters?

And this kind of conflict of interest isn’t new. SoundExchange is a good example. In 2005, this new body was formed, a spin off from the labels to collect online royalties and by 2009 it had a lot billions of unclaimed royalties to couldn’t match, even to well known artists.

If the NMPA gets the green light from the Copyright Office they will control billions of dollars in royalties. It’s more power to the old legacy players.

As the are Techdirt article states, the biggest challenge to being a successful independent musician is not piracy, but rather the legacy industry getting in the way and keeping money it owes independent musicians.

The Techdirt article.

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

A Tool Conversation on Fear Inoculum

Here is a conversation that took place on the 30/8/2019 when Tool released “Fear Inoculum” their first album in 13 years.

Tom: 

So have you been cranking the new TOOL yet?

Pete: 

Yep and you.

Tom: 

Kids had a fathers day thing at the school this morning.

Anyway, I’ve just started cranking it.

Onto “Descending” now. Song 6 of 7 and 66 minutes in. Lol.

Tool don’t really edit their songs to fit a radio playlist or whatever. And their progressive style of rock is very different to say Dream Theaters prog Rock as Tool sits on a groove for a long time before they change.

Pete: 

What did you think of “Invincible”?

Or what did you think of certain sections in “Invincible”?

Tom:

Was gonna say that was tough. Man, they didnt like editing this time ay.

Pete

Not really…(my response to the editing statement)

I listened to two songs coming into work this morning. All up 24 minutes worth.

Tom

So far they have had mad grooves and build ups but there has been an absence of climaxes.

Some cool solos though.

The solos in Tool are like riffs played in the higher register.

Pete

In “Descending”, I like how they end it with the drums doing the off beat that the guitar did earlier.

There is a section in “Invincible” when the guitarist just plays this open string groove and the drummer actually plays a stock beat.

Tom

So far “Descending” has been the one that kicks the most.

Before I heard “Descending”, I would say “Invincible” would have been it.

The songs sit on a groove for a long time.

Pete:

Did you hear the riff in “Invincible” that was from “H”?

Tom

The “H” riff didn’t pop out on this listening. I will keep an ear out for it next time round

“Descending” is dragging on, but its a lot more exciting.

Pete

What?? Its the main riff of “H”.

I felt like rippping the steering wheel off when I heard it.

It’s like a nice little throwback and it was one of the first riffs i learnt from em.

Tom

lol

“H” is still my favourite song, its the first song I remember hearing from them on JJJ.

Pete

“Culling Voices”

Whats your thoughts on it?

Actually just fast forward to the 6 minute mark.

The first six minutes dragged on for a bit too much for me.

Tom

“7empest” seems a little old school like the “Opiate” and “Undertow” era.

I guess this is the one with the 5 minute solo.

Pete

I don’t recall a 5 min guitar solo at all on the album.

Well not a guitar solo like how I call a guitar solo.

Tom

“7empest” is the one with the guitar solo.

Pete: 

Ignoring Tom’s review of the last song, I was back listening to the album from start to finish.

So “Fear Inoclum” is a pretty cool song.

“Pneuma” continues the tone set and the way they jam that bass riff from about the 1.20 minute mark is pretty cool

That riff from about 9.20 in “Pneuma”. As if it doesnt make you want to break the desk. And it just keeps building until the end.

Tom

There isn’t a song with Maynard in the climax, coming in screaming “VICARIOUSLY I, LIVE WHILE THE WHOLE WORLD DIES, MUCH BETTER YOU THAN I.

Pete comment: Tom is right here that Maynard’s absence in the endings is missing.

Pete

Well he is a WARR-I-OR.

STRUGG – I – LING.

The above is a lyric from “Invincible”.

Tom

I have to admit, its definitely a TOOL album.

They didn’t go all weird or anything like that.

Pete

That open string riff from the 8 minute mark in the song “INVINCIBLE”. First its just the riff, then some keys, then Maynard starts with “tears in your eye” then the drums come in mimicking the guitar.

Tom

Yeah man, the only criticism I have is the lack of Maynard power vocals in the climaxes of the songs that are traditionally there.

It’s missing in all the songs otherwise everything else is pretty epic.

Tom is still on about the lack of the vocal climaxes. And if you remember our “Justice For All” conversation, the bass was a big issue for him as well. Lol.

Pete

Then at 9.40 in “Invincible”, the drummer plays a stock beat.

This will be head banging section of the concert and the last 2 minutes.. Those riffs

Actually those last 4 minutes of “Invincible”…. x 13 years wait = ??

Tom

For me its “Descending” from 5:54 to 6:50, the vocals are epic. They just needed to be repeated at around 10:53 over the new riff, I have to find a way to do it.

And Tom over that weekend downloaded some editing software and did it. And it sounded better.

Pete

“Invincible” over “Descending” for me…

I always saw the vocals as an extension of the instruments. Maynard sang like he was a lead guitarist instead of a lead vocalist. His melodies are like guitar melodies. And as a lead vocalist he normally hid behind screens live, so it was more about the sound than the look and words.

So lets talk about “7empest”.

Tom

Like I said it has an early Tool feel for me.

I don’t mind it, more rocky and the solo isn’t bad either

 Pete

What solo?

I always poke fun at the term solo mixed in with Tool. To me they are cool melodic riffs.

Tom

The 5 minute one.

Pete

Lol

Tom

It’s a solo man, the closest we will ever get from Tool

Pete

Petrucci – Live at Budokan for “Hollow Years”.

Now that is a solo.

Tom

If emotion is what you are after then “Lines In The Sand”.

Pete

I’m still listening to the 5 minute guitar solo. I forgot it was a guitar solo.

It feels like a riff played on the higher strings.

Tom

Thats the trick.

Pete

Take a riff and play it on the G, B and E strings and call it a guitar solo, that goes for 5 minutes.

Tom

Your right about the last bit of “Invincible”.

It kicks but still missing Maynard going top gear.

Maynard’s vocals is one of the reasons why I love Tool.

And him not being in the climax’s makes it feel like it is missing something.

Pete

Nah for me it was the grooves. The jams.

And obviously the lack of editing.

I felt like with the first APC album, Maynard’s vocals are brilliant.

I saw some comments online about how the long songs will only pay for one stream when they could have done three 4 minute songs and gotten paid for three streams.

These people don’t get it.

Tool don’t care about the per stream payment.

Why do you think it’s taken em this long to come onto digital services?

They got the upfront payment and the rates they want.

Final Note:

It’s good to have Tool on streaming services and back in the music scene with a new album.

They held off long enough to get a deal with Spotify on their terms and their rate.

They’ve always done things their way and even in this era of social connections, Tool is still the outsider. And outsiders win.

And the album is long which will be ignored by a lot of people, but there will be enough old and new people tuning in.

I enjoyed listening to their jams and how Tool seems to be the only big act who doesn’t care about what’s happening in music, how it’s become a hit game and how streaming monies saved the record labels. They live in their own world.

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Derivative Works, Music, My Stories

The Record Vault – Britny Fox

I purchased this 7 inch single with loose change, before the record labels decided to drop the high production costs of vinyl for the low production costs of CD’s and triple the selling price in the process.

And vocally, I wasn’t sure if I was listening to Tom Keifer, however it was “Dizzy” Dean Davidson who would go on to state many years later how he hated the Britny Fox material because he was controlled by management and the label to write songs like other popular songs.

Case in point, “Girlschool”.

Musically, it is so generic, it’s actually addictive and I like the way the music rolls and the vocal melody ties it all together.

But at this point in time circa 1988/89, I was over listening to songs that had uninspired rhymes, like rules/ school, school/cool, boys/toys and day/play/hallway.

And the B-side song “Don’t Hide” didn’t connect, so my Britny Fox purchases are down to just one single purchase and a bass tab book I picked up for 1 dollar which has the bass playing an open string for most of the songs.  

And the self-titled Britny Fox album went Gold, like many other generic albums around the same time due to the power of MTV and a film clip doing the rounds.

Then Dizzy left and someone else came in on vocals and that was it for all of em.

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

The Record Vault – Bonfire

From Germany.

My older brothers had a friend called Greeny. He had funds and he liked metal and rock music. It was from his car stereo I heard bands like Cinderella, Great White, Leatherwolf and Bonfire for the first time. 

I really got into this band. I thought they would be the next big thing. But they didn’t get there. Not for a lack of trying.

And it pisses me off that these two albums are not on Spotify Australia.

Fireworks

Released in 1987.

There isn’t a bad track on this album. Maybe when it came to the charts and the hearts and minds of consumers, its many years too late in sound and style, as the public by 1987 was hooked on Jovi, Van Halen, U2, Motley Crue, Whitesnake, GNR and soon, Metallica.

And then you get the Bonfire sound, which is rooted in melodic heavy metal circa 1982 to 1985.

The album tracks are written by vocalist Claus Lessmann, guitarists Hans Ziller and Horst Maier and bassist Jörg Deisinger.

“Ready 4 Reaction” is the opening track and it blasts out of the speakers. “Never Mind” continues the melodic rock. “Sleeping All Alone” is an attempt to hit the charts as Jack Ponti and Joe Lynn Turner have a co-write. It didn’t chart, however it’s a good song.

“Sweet Obsession” also has Joe Lynn Turner and Jack Ponti as co-writers. I got the single and then I couldn’t find the album for years. So I dubbed it.The current version of the band doing the rounds these days always reference this album in the live arena and they totally ignore the follow up.

Point Blank

Released in 1989.

A big shift in personnel happened on this album with founder Hans Ziller being fired even though the album features his music. And before Ziller was fired, guitarist Horst Maier-Thorn was also let go.

Desmond Child was brought in. Bob Halligan Jnr was brought in and Jack Ponti was brought back. Desmond Child even recovered the song “The Price Of Loving You” for his own solo album, that’s how high he held it.

Even Michael Wagener was hired to produce. It was an all assault to get the music buying public into the band.

And the album did nothing.

There was no promo in Australia for it and a little paragraph in the Metal Edge magazine many months after it was released tipped me off.

Like the debut, the album sound was out of date by a few years. By 1989, the tastes and sounds morphed even more. This album would have done great if it was released in 1987.

Acoustic/Unplugged was becoming a thing and the Blues had come back into the sounds of rock and metal with bands going back to their roots.

Of course, Motley Crue released a thunderous sounding album dripping with groove and GNR was still riding the wave of their punk boogie oriented debut album, furnished with an EP of acoustic songs.

And somewhere in between Bonfire sat, without one of its founding members.

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

Gaming The System

If there is demand for an artists music then why aren’t the artists servicing the demand.

Because there are people putting up bootleg and demo recordings of popular artists on digital services and making money from it in the process. In some cases they even uploading fake recordings which somehow manage to get onto the artists homepage.

Actually that homepage part crap needs to be sorted by Apple and Spotify quickly because how the fuck can you fuck that up. Too much reliance on algorithms and not enough human eyes and ears.

I got a song in my Spotify Release Radar from Tommy Lee and instead of seeing the aged, white tattooed T-Bone, I see a young black rapper. Same deal with names like Dio, Ratt, Rush, Badlands, UFO, Keel, Vandenberg, Cinderella, Icon, KISS and Journey.

The process to game the system is simply.

You just set up an account with a digital distribution company and start releasing music.

Now these distribution companies are set up for independent artists to release music. But we have bullshit artists using it to game the system and fuck it up for legitimate independent artists.

And the digital distribution companies do have fraud prevention methods but people who are gaming the system are just getting smarter than the algorithms coded by people who are not as smart as the con artists.

One fraudulent leaker earned $60K in royalties by putting unreleased tracks from a popular artist on their Spotify and Apple Music accounts.

What the fuck were the artists record labels reps doing?

Didn’t they see these unreleased songs go up.

I guess not because, they were too busy fighting stream ripping sits, pirate sites, website blocking and anything else that involves censorship of the Net instead of developing artists and taking care of their artists and paying them on time and fairly.

The way the payments work for is that Spotify or Apple or Pandora will pay the digital distributor royalties for the artists. This normally happens three months after. So for royalties earned in January, the payments to the distributor happen in March/April.

And then the distributor will hold these payments as they “clear” the royalties from being free of any copyright claims. This takes another three months.

So for a fraudulent uploader to earn $60K, it means many people were asleep at the wheel.

And legitimate independent artists get punished even further as they wait over six months for a royalty payment. All because people want to game the system and the system has too many people asleep at the wheel.

Read this article over at Pitchfork.

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