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

Modern Day Rock Star

Game of Thrones was downloaded illegally 54 million times when the first episode from Season 8 came out.

Think about that for a second.

54 million illegal downloads for one episode. “Game Of Thrones” is the modern day definition of being a rock star.

In the same way fans waited for the release of a new album of music from their favorite artists, fans of the Game Of Thrones books and TV shows are eagerly awaiting the release of each episode of the final season plus the next novel installment.

How did it get like this?

How did a TV show and a book replace rock and roll in the public conversation?

By taking risks and nothing being off limits.

But it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Game of Thrones. It didn’t start off with huge numbers and viewership. Because of greed the show was behind paywalls, so it became popular among illegal downloaders. This was built with each season and each episode. As it grew in illegal downloads, it also grew in legal viewership. As a byproduct, the books sold even more which in turn led to more money in the long term and a bigger TV show and a bigger budget.

And for book writer George RR Martin this is bitter sweet, as he wrote stories (which got rejected) for decades before Game Of Thrones became a hit.

Meanwhile, Hollywood is complaining about their low box office returns, as they still go about doing things the old way with cinematic releases and Netflix does things the new way and is cleaning up with viewership.

Videogames outgross movies, Netflix does better than Hollywood and streaming services have put billions back into the recording industry but there’s still no respect to these services. Just ask legacy creator Steve Spielberg who wants Netflix movies banned from being considered for Oscars.

Netflix knows that views are more important than cash, and they also know fans of art have no problem paying to suit their convenience. Going to a cinema at a predetermined time for prices ranging between $13 and $18, paying top dollar for popcorn and drinks and enduring people’s chewing or wrapper noise or talking and all of the other bullshit, well that’s not convenient anymore and society has changed a lot from when going to cinemas was seen as a social hang.

Then again, I took the kids to watch “Avengers: End Game” and it felt like the past, with lots of people, no car spots available and a buzz about what was on offer.

But, like in music, the war is over and Netflix won.

But artists and songwriters are still complaining about the royalty payments they receive from their streaming service, which they seem to forget that the streaming service in most cases will pay their label or publisher, who will then pay them?

Did these artists forget how their label went to war against Napster and then refused to license Spotify to the point that YouTube (which pays less) got traction?

Did these artists forget the advance payment they got from the label and how the labels creative accounting arm is ensuring that the artists stays in the minus, while the label gets the larger share of the streaming payments?

And if you are a creator with dreams of reaching critical mass, well you are contending with streaming platforms churning out content, video games, smartphone makers, social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat and the millions of other creators trying to make it, just like you.

Plus a TV show.

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

Road Trip Tunes

We had a road trip to Melbourne over the Easter and ANZAC week here in Oz. My kids were doing the music selections via Spotify. A song from this band, a song from that album from another band and on and on they went, cherry picking their favorites.

“Why don’t you listen to a whole album?”, I asked them.

“I don’t know which one”, my eldest replied.

“Let’s start with “Slippery When Wet” from Bon Jovi”. At this point in time, my kids have been exposed to only three songs from this album. I will let you guess with three they are.

The distorted keyboard chords of “Let It Rock” filled the car and when the “woh oh oh” vocals kick in, with the whole band, I got a feeling of being young again and being slammed by knockout punch after knockout punch with each song.

My son asked me “What happened to Jovi?”.

“He got rich” was my answer.

After the last chords of “Wild In The Streets” came crashing down, I said to him to queue up “5150” from Van Halen. I explained the back story of David Lee Roth leaving, and how all eyes were on this new version of the band.

“Hello, baby” screams Sammy Hagar as the AC/DC steroid groove of “Good Enough” kicks in, for Sammy Hagar to use the analogy that a fine women is like a good piece of prime grade beef.

And while the keyboard songs dominated the pop charts, “5150” is a hard rocking album with “Good Enough”, “Get Up”, “Summer Nights”, “Best Of Both Worlds” and “5150” bringing the brown sound to the party.

In relation to my kids, who have grown up with cherry picked favorites via algorithms, the album listening looked like it was proving to be an enlightening experience so far. And from a Van Halen point of view, only “Dreams” from this album had been heard by my kids.

“A black cat moans while he’s burning with the fever”, kicks off our road trip appreciation of the Whitesnake “1987” album.

This album is as heavy as rock could get. Each song, even the ballads are littered with unbelievable guitar work from John Sykes, a rhythm section as tight as a “G string tuned to A” from Neil Murray and Aynsley Dunbar and of course David Coverdale is being pushed to the limits vocally.

At this point in time, my kids had only been exposed to “Here I Go Again” and “Is This Love” via the Spotify algorithms.

Not anymore.

Today they got “Crying In The Rain”, “Bad Boys”, “Still Of The Night”, “Give Me All Your Love Tonight”, “Children Of The Night”, “Straight For The Heart” and “Don’t Turn Away”, along with the bonus tracks “Looking For Love” and “You’re Gonna Break My Heart Again”.

My son said we should play a Def Leppard album and “Hysteria” was selected. We both agreed the album has two songs too many on it, but there is no denying the power of the big songs.

In relation to exposure, “Animal”, “Pour Some Sugar On Me” and “Hysteria” are the songs they knew, but know they have added “Woman”, “Rocket”, “Gods Of War”, “Love Bites” and “Armageddon It” to their list.

For those people who grew up in the 80s, it’s weird to think that there is a whole generation born in the two thousands who don’t know the other Def Leppard songs apart from the hits the Spotify algorithms bring back.

Dr. David telephone please, Dr. David telephone

Dr. David here to dispatch. Dispatch. Go ahead.

We have a 17 year old male. Unconscious. Possible O.D. Patient is not breathing at this time. We are presently putting on the mask

And with that, the down tuned D note riff kicks off “Dr Feelgood”. The only songs they really knew from this album is the title track and “Kick Start My Heart” because they play em a lot, plus they spent time learning the riffs to “Kick Start”.

I explained to my boys some of the themes of the songs. “Rattlesnake Shake” is about jerking off, “Slice Of Your Pie” is about a women offering up her body like cherry pie, “Same Ol Situation” is about your girlfriend leaving you for another girl, “She Goes Down” is about blowjobs and “Sticky Sweet” is about fucking. Each time I gave my explanation, my wife squirmed a little bit more in her seat.

By the time “Don’t Go Away Mad” and “Time For Change” played through, we were ready for a change.

And that change came with Skid Row’s “Slave To The Grind” album. I’ve exposed the boys to Skid Row more than the other bands for some reason. Maybe because the ballads on this album are excellent. “Quicksand Jesus” and “Wasted Time” are still in my playlists. “In My Darkened Room” has a chorus melody which is addictive for a serious subject. They are also learning “Youth Gone Wild” on the guitar.

“Monkey Business” kicks off the album with a cool groove, while “Slave To The Grind” brings the thrash. My son worked out that he could sing “he’s the one they call Dr Feelgood, he’s the one that makes you feel alright” to the intro riff of “The Threat”. “Quicksand Jesus” shows some great vocal chops from Sebastian Bach, “Psycho Love” is too repetitive and on Spotify “Get The Fuck Out” is replaced by “Beggars Day”. “Livin On A Chain Gang” and “Creepshow” finish off the listening experience as we pull into our driveway.

And in the end, when I asked them if there was something they got out of hearing the full albums, it wasn’t the answer I expected. The extra album songs they heard didn’t change their opinion of what they needed to save. They even fell asleep to the Whitesnake’s album.

The human taste for music favors songs which sound similar to previous songs with just a little variation. And then, when we find a song we like, we repeat it over and over again.

Repetition and Similarity.

It’s been proven in research and a whole chapter is devoted to it in the book “Hitmakers” by Derek Thompson.

And when you have the whole history of music at your fingertips, streaming services by default creates a new class of music fans by exposing these fans to big songs selected by their algorithms which all sound similar with little variation. And as a by product, this generation doesn’t like to hear songs which are different.

Repetition and Similarity.

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

The Record Vault – Annihilator

It all started with my cousin, Mega (his nickname was short for Megadeth). He was one of those dudes that just stayed up and taped and taped and taped everything to do with metal and rock music doing the rounds on our local TV stations. One such clip he taped and played me was a song called “Alison Hell”. After he saw that I was interested in it, he told me he had the LP and if I want to copy it off him.

Lucky for me, I had a blank TDK tape handy, so it was a no brainer to get him to copy it.

Since it was a blank tape, I needed to fill up the B side and Mega had a lot of music which I didn’t have. As part of this day together, we also ended up watching the “Shocker” movie and of course, Mega also had the “Shocker” soundtrack on vinyl.

And yes, I was confused with the spelling. The album is called “Alice In Hell” so when I was writing down the track list, my cousin was reading it out to me from the album cover, so when he said “Alison Hell” for song 2, I heard “Alice In Hell” and was about to write that down.

The acoustic guitars of “Crystal-Ann” fills my headspace and the guitar playing technique is excellent and precise. I asked my cousin who the guitarist is and he reads out Jeff Waters from the liner notes. At that stage I’d never heard of him.

By the way, I wasn’t allowed to hold his album covers in case I wrecked em. Actually no one was allowed to touch Mega’s albums except Mega.

Then the evil sounding intro to “Alison Hell” kicks in and when the drums come, you know it’s desk breaking time. And it goes through so many changes and moods before the first verse even starts. To me, this is progressive music. It doesn’t have to be constant time changes, and 50 million notes per bar, which on some occasions is okay, but not all the time. Changes in mood will do the job, and it can all be done in a 4/4 time signature. 

When “Welcome To Your Death” comes in, you get the feeling that Jeff Waters is way ahead of his time in song writing . Not only does he merge the speed and aggression and technical progressive song writing of Megadeth with Slayer, Anthrax, Exodus and Metallica, he also brings in elements of Randy Rhoads and Michael Schenker influences into the mix.

The lyrics and the vocal melodies are not as strong as the artists who had more sales and while people still like to go mental at break neck riffs, their needs to be a message in the words which they can relate to and connect with. 

“Wicked Mystic” is another speed a thon with head banging open string riffs and fast palm muted lines. And that solo, feels like “Over The Mountain” got merged with “Master of Puppets”.

The rest of the album is not as strong as it became too repetitive in the riffs department, with the only light being some cool lead breaks here and there in the songs.

In Australia, we got our music late compared to the rest of the world because of gated releases. I basically heard “Alice In Hell” and the second album, “Never Neverland” in the same year of 1990. However on this day when I was at Mega’s house, I only had one tape with me and it had music on it. On Side 1, was my own Walkman edition of “Somewhere In Time” from Iron Maiden with Side 2 first, and then Side 1. On the second side, I had a mix of Maiden from “The Number of The Beast”, “Piece of Mind” and “Powerslave”. And that was the side which was sacrificed to record “Never, Neverland”.

The difference in production is the first thing you hear. While “Alison Hell” sounded like it was recorded in a garage, “Never, Neverland” had better sonics and a different vocalist. The debut album had Randy Rampage and the second had an unknown called Coburn Pharr, who sounded better. And the reason why Randy Rampage quit the band was to keep his senior role at the shipping docks in North Vancouver.

You see, even back in the 80s/90s artists had to work two jobs to make a living in music, hoping that they will become the 1% of artists which breaks through. A label deal never guaranteed riches. All it did was give an artist an opportunity to participate in the recording business, provided the A&R rep was satisfied with the end output. But it also meant, an artist would have to give up their most valuable asset to the labels to exploit forever.

Another upgrade with this album was the influence of grooves, which Pantera would build a career on and all song writing being done by Jeff Waters, which involved lyrics a person could connect with. 

“The Fun Palace” has a lead break of about 2 minutes which is guitar hero status. And those riffs.

“Road To Ruin” has an interlude, lead section, which blows me away. On the road to ruin with alcoholic speed alright and the song ends with tyres screeching before a smash.

“Sixes And Sevens” has this interlude progressive bit, which hooks me in and when the lead break comes in, Jeff Waters delivers on all levels.

“Stonewall” is another great song, with killer riffs and great lyrics.

“Never, Neverland” has a pretty cool 90 second intro before the verses kick in. And sonically it’s a different song, moving between clean and distorted tones.

The other three albums I have on CD are not available on Spotify Australia which is wrong, but hey, they are all on different labels, like SPV and Music For Nations, so since those companies own the rights, they can do whatever they want with the music.

In saying that, I got “Refresh The Demon” to see what the  band was up to since “Never, Neverland” and I don’t remember a song from it, but it must have been okay, because I purchased “Remains” and was vomiting all over the place when I heard electronic programmed drums and an industrial sound. However in 2002, I gave them another shot with “Waking The Fury” (because the album title reminded me of Yngwie Malmsteen) and I can’t really remember a track from that album either and I haven’t really gone back to the band, except for the first two albums.

And who remembers the CD holder teeth breaking? I only pushed down once and bang they all went.

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

In The Court Of The Copyright King

The original intent of Copyright was to give the creator of the work a 14 year monopoly to monetise their work, without it being copied. In turn this would give the creator an incentive to create more works, especially if a work proved to be valuable. Once the term expired (the creator did have the option to renew for another 14 years), the work would fall into the public domain and people would be free to build on it and use it. It’s how Rock and Roll came to be, by reusing blues music in the public domain.

But not all works are valuable. Right now, there are over 30 million songs on streaming services that have no commercial value nor have they being heard. There are millions of books written which hold no commercial value whatsoever and films/tv shows made which no one cares about.

Myspace lost over 50 million songs when it accidently wiped or threw away (depending on who you believe) their servers which held the songs and they had no back up. No one even cared at this cultural loss except archivists.

The issues we have happening today in Copyright are all due to the movie studios, record labels and book publishers. Up until 1998, they had gotten so many laws passed in the name of protecting creators, but in reality, it was to protect their business models. They knew that if they didn’t hold the works of others, they would be challenged to survive.

During this time, they also sold the story that an idea is like real property (aka, intellectual property) and that if someone else comes up with a similar idea, they have stolen your property. So they kept pushing this line and they kept on saying that copyright needs stricter enforcement and longer terms.

And people believed it. But back then when these organisations held the power and creators were still alive, it was all good. But suddenly, creators started dying and their copyrights got passed on to their heirs and suddenly the labels are getting sued.

And now, these organisations are ignoring the law and have no interest in retuning the copyrights back to the creators, because in the recording business, the labels know that the more valuable copyrights they hold, the more power they have at the bargaining table.

A member from The New York Dolls’, Southside Johnny and Paul Collins are taking Sony Music to court, while John Waite and Joe Ely are taking UMG to court, all because the labels are not doing what the law says they should do.

After 35 years, creators have the right to take back their copyrights, as long as they serve the labels with a Notice Of Termination. In these cases, the creators have done everything right, but the labels are still saying NO.

Sony has alleged that the music created by “The New York Dolls” was under a “work for hire” agreement, which the band has challenged.

One thing is certain here, the labels don’t want a precedent set, in case they lose, so they will settle out of court, in the same way they settled out of court for Don Henley, Tom Scholz, David Coverdale, Eminem and many others before that.

And then they will repeat the “works made for hire” cycle again, when another artist who has created valuable art wants to reclaim their copyrights. And off to court they will go, just to settle out of court. Ridiculous, isn’t it.

Creators should have the same rage at cases like these as they do about Spotify’s appeal to the Copyright Royalty Board’s rates increase.

Here is a Billboard article, outlining the rage of songwriters against Spotify, but nothing against the labels for not returning the rights of songs to the creators.

In the letter, the following is mentioned;

“Our fight is for all songwriters: those struggling to build their career, those in the middle class and those few who have reached your Secret Genius level.”

 Umm, sorry, but you guys don’t fight for all songwriters. And you don’t fight for me. A letter written by a marketing person from the Publishers or Labels is proof of that.

The majority of songwriters who are struggling to build their career haven’t made any coin, although they wished they did. So this class of songwriters wouldn’t benefit in any way from the royalty rate increase. And their works will not suddenly become huge, just because the royalty pool was increased.

The middle class if they own their copyrights would see some dollars come their way however the majority of monies would still go to the organisations who hold the copyrights and the artists they hold who represent the 1% of the recording business and have value in their works. And the songwriters will still get pennies because of their shitty deals with the labels and publishers.

And what about the takedown mess happening in the name of Copyright. YouTube cops the blame, however the blame also lives with the organisations sending down takedown requests without doing their investigations to see if the takedown is legit.

Lionsgate took issue with YouTuber AngryJoeShow giving “Hellboy” a bad review, so they took down his video by making a copyright claim (claiming that they own the video). This also means that Lionsgate will receive all the revenue earned by the video. It sounds like Copyright as Censorship for me.

Previously, a YouTuber called “The FatRat” went to war against a Colombian music company after the company claimed a tune which TheFatRat created as theirs. The FatRat issues were solved when YouTube decided to investigate and saw it as a bunch of B.S and removed the claim.

There are issues from YouTube’s side of things as well, as they just take the copyright claims from others as being true, and then when the YouTuber appeals, the organisation which sent the copyright claim has the power to decide whether to grant the appeal of the claim it originally made. To me, this is all B.S. and putting power in the hands of organizations without any due process.

A company representing Disney, made a claim on a Darth Vader video put up by a YouTube channel called “StarWarsTheory”. The channel created a fan film about Darth Vader with all the necessary approvals from Lucasfilm to do it and monetise it. Eventually the claim was lifted by Lucasfilm themselves, who told Disney, this isn’t cool. Even Warner Music Group via their publishing arm Warner/Chappell, put in a claim over the music in the fan film, which they said has notes similar to “The Imperial March”.

And the problem is not just YouTube’s problem. Instagram took down a video by will.i.am because someone sent a copyright claim on it.

“We’ve removed the video you posted at 9:55 am on January 26, 2019 because it included the following content: VIBRATIONS pt. 1 pt.2 by The Black Eye Peas,” reads the alleged Instagram email.”

But hang on a second, will.i.am formed The Black Eye Peas and wrote the song.

Who knows if it was a phishing scam or the corporate copyright holder sending takedown notices via bots. Just goes to show the ridiculousness of the world we live in.

And we still have the stupid legal fight between Twisted Sister/Universal Music and Australian politician Clive Palmer which is going to the courts in June.

We all know that Palmer’s “Australia Aint Gonna Cop It” is a rip off from “We’re Not Gonna Take It”. And we all know that Palmer enquired about using the music of Twisted Sister but when he heard the price, decided to do his own derivative version of the song.

And of course, Clive being the business man that refuses to pay for anything, including the wages of his workers, is saying that his melody is based on “O Come, All Ye Faithful”, a song which is out of copyright.

Jack White is also a Eurovision winner, without even writing a song for Eurovision. What he did do is write a song called “Seven Nation Army” and since the winning song “Toy” had sections which sounded similar to “Seven Nation Army”, Jack White has been added as a co-writer because his label took the writers of “Toy” to court.

Again, these kind of cases puts the idea out there that the notes order of “Seven Nation Army” are so original that only Jack White wrote a progression like that, free from influence.

AND FINALLY for all those people who still believe that the entertainment industry is getting killed by piracy, here is what you should read, The Sky Is Rising, which details how much new content is coming out.

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

1984 – V – Grace Under Pressure

If you are curious here are parts one, two, three and four of the 1984 series.

Pretty Maids – Red Hot And Heavy

I didn’t hear this album until the early two thousands. I had “Future World” on LP, however any other release by the band was available via an expensive IMPORT price of $50 to $70 Australian. And then Napster came along, and then Audio Galaxy, LimeWire and cloud sites like Rapid Share. Suddenly, people’s music collections were available everywhere and at any time.

For this album there was no dropping the needle, it was all about putting on my headphones, plugging them into the computer and pressing play to the mp3 tracks, lined up WINAMP.

It kicks off with what I know as the “Excalibur” theme, and others know as ‘O Fortuna’.

“Back To Back” and “Cold Killer” have cool riffs and show off their NWOBHM influences.

“Red Hot and Heavy” shows off it’s Thin Lizzy, Judas Priest and Scorpions influences.

“Waitin’ For The Time” and “A Place In The Night” are AOR Melodic Rock to a tee.

And that’s why I always enjoyed the albums from “Pretty Maids”. Like Dokken and Y&T, they lived somewhere in between heavy metal and hard rock and melodic pop.

Rush – Grace Under Pressure

Ernest Hemingway said “Courage is grace under pressure.”

And when you are pushing towards the mid 80s, Rush showed true courage in delivering another album full of synth rock. Hell, talk about courage, some songs don’t even feature any bass guitar.

“Distant Early Warning” has a keyboard riff which sounds excellent played on a distorted guitar.

“Afterimage” is my favourite track and “Red Sector A” has this riff from about the 1.10 mark, which makes me press repeat on this track.

This is also the track which has no bass guitar

“Are we the last ones left alive? Are we the only human beings to survive?”

And its these first three tracks which still get played to this day.

The Alan Parsons Project  – Ammonia Avenue

The album came out in February 1984 and it was meant to capitalize on the platinum success of “Eye In The Sky”. And although it went Gold, the album was seen as a failure. MTV was a game changer and if you looked like a studio band, you didn’t stand a chance with a new empowered generation of rock and metal heads.

But to me there are always a few cool tracks on APP albums which I can relate to.

On this one, “Let Me Go Home”, “Dancing On A High Wire” and Pipeline” are stand outs.

Chris DeBurgh – Man On The Line

Chris DeBurgh doesn’t get enough credit as a Rocker because his ballad, “Lady In Red” was so huge, it dwarfed everything else he released. Then again, each album he did release always had more ballads than rockers.

“The Ecstasy Of Flight (I Love The Night)” is the song which stood out for me and I remember hearing it on a music video show and taping it.

Midnight Oil – Red Sails In The Sunset

They write songs about Australia, our environment, our history, our culture and our attitudes.

And it resonated and connected with people.

“Kosciusko” and “When The Generals Talk” are the standouts here.

Meatloaf‘s “Bad Attitude” didn’t have anything earth shattering on it, but the title track and “Surfs Up” are derivative versions of previous Meatloaf songs and are a cool listen.

Billy Squier – Signs Of Life

It all comes back to the “Rock Me Tonite” video.

Cheesy; yes, terrible idea; yes, but did it really kill Squier’s career because in the 80s there was a lot of cheesy bad videos for artists.

Squier like many others had some success early on and then struggled to duplicate it. Twisted Sister comes to mind immediately and so does Quiet Riot. That’s not to say this album doesn’t have good songs, it’s just the audience had moved on.

“All Night Long” is excellent while “Reach For The Sky” has a feel and groove borrowed from The Police and Gotye used a similar groove and feel for “Somebody That I Used To Know”. Quick call the lawyers.

“Hand Me Downs” borrows from “Long Way To The Top” in the verses. Quick call the lawyers again.

Don Henley – Building The Perfect Beast

“The Boys Of Summer” was everywhere and what a song. I didn’t hear the rest of the album until the late 90s. Other tracks which stand out to me are “Not Enough Love In The World”, “Driving With Our Eyes Closed” and “Land Of The Living”.

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

The Record Vault – Avenged Sevenfold

It all started with Guitar World.

Synester Gates and Zacky Vengeance started to appear in the magazine and songs from the band started to appear in the transcription section. One of those songs was “The Beast And The Harlot” and I read the transcription. And I read it again and again and again. There was just so much stuff happening in the song.

So I sat down to play it, without even hearing the song. And I liked what I heard from playing it.

Then I went and downloaded their catalogue which at that point in time, consisted of “Sounding The Seventh Trumpet”, released in 2002, “Waking The Fallen”, released in 2003 and “City Of Evil”, released in 2005, which had the song in question as it’s opening track.

From here on, I purchased the self-titled album on release day, “Nightmare” also on release day and “Hail To The King” also on release day, while also going back and buying the albums I had downloaded. “The Stage” I still haven’t purchased in physical, however I will, purely to have it in my collection.

The “Waking The Fallen” album is all about “Second Heartbeat” to me and those last two minutes that kick in from 4.46 (you need to get through the screaming to taste the elixir). And that lead break from Synester Gates, that goes for the last 49 seconds of the song is the stuff of Guitar Heroes. 

“I Won’t See You Tonight” part 1 is up there as a cool second. And “Clairvoyant Disease” reminds me of Savatage post Jon Oliva era while “Unholy Confessions” has this Judas Priest like riff in the intro which hooks me in. I am pretty sure “Black Veil Brides” used that same riff for the song “Knives And Pens”. 

“Critical Acclaim” starts off the self-titled album released in 2007.

All the way from the east to the west we got this high society, Looking down on their very foundation, Constantly reminding us that our actions, Are the cause of all their problems

Pointing their fingers in every Direction and blaming their Own nation for who wins the elections They’ve never contributed a fucking thing to the Country they love to criticize

And what has changed since this song was written. The elite became more elite, they pay and bribe their way through life and for their dumb kids to enter college, they’ve been exposed as using tax havens to launder money and pay no tax and yet everyone else is a problem, except them.

“Almost Easy” is one of their best songs, and drummer “The Rev” does this double kick cymbal thing in it which is insane.

“Afterlife” has this lead break from Synester were he puts pedal to the metal at about the 4.15 mark. To be honest, he puts a lot of the 80’s guys to shame with his technique and feel, incorporating sweep picking, fast legato lines, supersonic picked alternate notes and tapping. 

“Lost” is another song which has a lead break to put all other lead breaks to shame in the outro. Super melodic, with whammy dives chucked in for effect.

“A Little Piece Of Heaven” is one of those defining songs of a band, which combines so many different things into a 7 minute song. You either like it or hate it or just put up with it.

The music box melodies of “Nightmare” kicks off the album that carries its name and after the death of “The Rev”, Mike Portnoy is on drums. It was a perfect fit music wise, maybe not personality wise. And in their pain of losing an important member, Avenged Sevenfold, created an excellent album.

“Welcome To The Family” has this Pantera “Cowboys From Hell” groove merged with Metallica’s “Sad But True” in the verses which I dig as the song transitions between these grooves to punk like choruses and melodic metal harmonies.

“Buried Alive” has an intro that rivals “Welcome Home” and “Fade To Black”. And from about the 4 minute mark its desk breaking time, as the song picks up with harmony leads, some supersonic shredding and sweeping and from about the 5 minute mark it’s Metallica time, ala “Orion”.

“Natural Born Killers” is a blast fest in the verses. “So Far Away” tells their sadness and “God Hates Us” tells their rage. “Victim” tells their sorrow and sadness with gospel voices throughout the song. “Save Me” tells their darkness.

The  burning flames kick off their best album and their most divisive due to all the songs sounding like a song that came before from a certain artist. Hell, this is how music works people. Take something that came before, build on it, put it in your creativity blender and the outcome is art. I’ve already covered this album in detail in a separate blog post.

“Shepherd of Fire” has “Black Sabbath”, “Trust” from Megadeth and “Enter Sandman” from Metallica. Lars Ulrich said the drum beat from “Enter Sandman” is based on AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” and the main “Sandman” riff is based on a song from a band called Excel. Take what came before and make it yours.

“Hail To The King” is AC/DC in the riffs, “Wasted Years” in a gypsy jazz fashion in the intro and “Sign Of The Cross” from Maiden in the Chorus.

“Doing Time” is Guns N Roses. “This Means War” is “Sad But True” from Metallica. “Requiem” is In Flames Euro Metal. “Heretic” is Megadeth’s “Symphony Of Destruction”. “Coming Home” is Iron Maiden.

Basically, music is a sum of our influences. A person that hasn’t heard a piece of music before can say that what they heard right now is original as they have not heard anything else before that. Live long enough and you would know that everything has been written and how we interpret those influences through our own individualism, culture and viewpoint is what makes it sound “original” and there is nothing wrong with that.

But we still have lawyers and heirs of artists or artists who didn’t have a hit, suing artists who had a hit because the songs sound similar. And these kinds of people but the viewpoint out there that the songs they wrote are so original, so unique, so free from influences that only they could have come up with that note pattern, feel and rhythms in the whole history of music.

And I haven’t purchased “The Stage” as yet as I’m streaming it. To me the album concept and themes hook me in and “The Stage”, “Higher” and “Roman Sky” are worthy additions. “Exist” is not far behind.

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Copyright, Derivative Works, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity

Copyright, It’s Been A While

It’s been a while since I’ve done a post on the insanity which Copyright has become.

Over at YouTube, the copyright holders like Warner Music Group (WMG) are sending takedown notices for a super popular video called “The Fans Deserve Better” which has been allowed to operate since July 2014. In this takedown, WMG even blocked it, so nobody could watch it.

All the video shows is an 11 second clip of Iron Maiden’s “The Number Of The Beast” to demonstrate what a great vocalist is and then 11 seconds of an Asking Alexandria song to demonstrate how bad a vocalist can be.

In my own backyard of Australia, the music labels and movie studios pumped up the political parties with lots of cash to get legislation passed and site blocking is a real thing in the land of Oz.

This time around, the music labels Sony, Universal, and Warner, with assistance from Music Rights Australia and the Australasian Performing Right Association, are asking Australia’s Federal Court to approve their demand for the ISP’s to block stream-ripping sites.

So the ISP’s need to be the Copyright Police for the labels, because they haven’t been able to figure out the stream ripping market, and why people stream rip and what relationship to music these stream rippers have.

Do they attend concerts? Do they buy any recorded music? Do they just want to have content? What do they do with the content?

I know people who have terabytes of books, movies and music on hard drives which they’ve never listened too, watched nor read and they will never have the time to devote to all of that culture. But they want to say they have it. And it makes them feel good. There are articles stating the same about people who hoard digitally.

Is site blocking really needed as the labels and studios profit and loss statements are looking pretty healthy.

Did you know that recorded revenue earned by the labels keeps going up and up and up?

Four years straight.

And of course streaming revenue was the star of the show, which offset the decline in physical and download revenues.

Along the way to these increases in revenue, something magical happened.

The record labels for a long time complained about Latin And South America being a haven of piracy activity. In previous blog posts I’ve mentioned how metal and rock bands continually tour these areas to massive crowds and the bands haven’t sold any recorded product in these areas. Basically the people were starved of legal offerings and resorted to bootleg recordings and then piracy.

Finally Spotify is allowed to open their servers for the people of these countries to stream and these areas along with Australia (which the labels class as another haven for piracy and needs more court blocks) have been the fastest growing markets.

The labels didn’t create this new income stream, the techies did, but hey, the techies are the bad guys here. And isn’t it funny when people are given the choice to stream at a super low price, the majority would pay for that. So instead of focusing on 90% of the music fans who do the right thing, the labels and their lobby groups believe the 10% who obtain music illegally is worth spending money on and to increase the price the other 90% pay for legal options.

Mmmm.

Speaking of the techies as the bad guys, you might have noticed headlines like “Spotify Sues Songwriters To Pay Less Royalties”. It’s all B.S. but with the way the internet spreads news and with people looking for someone to blame at their own failings in connecting with their fan base, these headlines spread like crazy.

What is happening is that Spotify and Amazon have taken issue with the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board (which should never ever exist), raising the royalty rate amount that Spotify needs to pay to the Copyright Holders. So instead of paying 10% of their revenue, they need to pay 15% of their revenue.

Spotify is not suing songwriters at all. What they and other streaming services are proposing is a different payment model.

And then you have Apple, which went from an innovative leader to meh, coming out in support of these increases, because hey, since streaming is a small portion of their bottom line, it can only help them out if their competitors close shop. 

And the solution to make users pay more, will get some people paying more, and the rest will return to torrents and stream ripping.

But, what everyone seems to forget is that the money in music is due to the relationship a customer has with the music and the artist. They determine the price they are willing to pay.

Here are a few articles on the Spotify vs The Royalty Board to form your own viewpoints on.

Rolling Stone article which summarises the facts without any bias.

Music Business Worldwide article that has Sony and Warner Music reps urging composes to fight Spotify’s royalty rate challenge.

A Vulture article which explains the facts even better than the Rolling Stone article.

Here is the rock and metal worlds response via Loudwire.

And let’s not forget the reapers hand hovering over “Blurred Lines”, the song written by Robin Thicke and Pharrel Williams, which had no infringing riffs or licks, but a funk feel similar to Marvin Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up”.

In this case, a homage to funk led to $5 million being paid to the heirs of Marvin Gaye plus 50% of all future earnings. And the worrisome part is, these kind of cases put the idea out there that Marvin Gaye was so original and free from influence and that his songs did not pay homage to any artist or style.

From a rock perspective it’s the same as Led Zep suing Greta Van Fleet over a song of theirs for having a rock feel similar to a Led Zep song.

Ed Sheeran is also going to court to defend “Thinking Out Loud,” from the heirs of Ed Townsend who co-wrote, Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On.”

A few years before that, Ed Sheeran’s song “Photograph” had a few extra writers added to it (out of court) as well. In this case, the writers of a song called “Amazing” believed their song is so original and free from influence that other artists couldn’t resist copying it (that’s sarcasm by the way). The fact that Sheeran’s song went huge and their amazing song didn’t, meant a writ needed to be served. 

In relation to “Thinking Out Loud”, it looks like another out of court settlement is on the cards and an extra songwriter who is dead, will be added to the credits of an Ed Sheeran song. Yep, Copyright was meant to expire when a person died, but not in this lifetime. They still get songwriting credits.

And these out of court settlements keep coming.

The most ridiculous one out of them all was where a person called Alisa Apps, took Universal Music Group and artist John Newman to court, because Newman’s song had the lyrics “I need to know now” in it, which is the same lyric line as her song.

Are you serious on this one?

Lucky the Justice system actually came to the party on this one and said you can’t copyright generic words or short phrases.

And finally, here is copyright as a shakedown tool, as collection agencies sue bars, nightclubs, restaurants and any place playing music over licensing fees.

In this case, the place in question is meant to owe BMI (a collection agency for 900K plus artists) $6,850. BMI alleges the organisation played music without a proper public license in place. I’m just curious for which songwriter is BMI collecting these monies for. Because when a collection agency sends employees to visit establishments and log the music they hear being played, it sure sounds like a shakedown than a warning or to educate business owners.

P.S. COPYRIGHT AS AN ENFORCEMENT TOOL

One last special Copyright case is how the RIAA, and the labels are suing an ISP for the fast speeds it offers because those high speeds foster piracy and it wouldn’t kick off the people responsible because it might damage their brand. I kid you not. I’m waiting for the day, when the makers of knives are sued because the sharpness of their knives foster greater damage to human organs when someone plunges it through skin in a fit of rage.

P.S.S. – COPYRIGHT AS AN ENFORCEMENT TOOL

People who create a tool that connects to the TV and internet and allows people to watch content they didn’t pay for are jailed for a total of 17 years. I’m waiting for the day when gun makers (a tool created by people) get jailed for 17 plus years, when their tools are used to take the life of people who didn’t want to die.

P.S.S.S – COPYRIGHT AS A MONOPOLY

And one of the outcomes of the Music Modernization Act was that a new music collective would be created for streaming royalties and suddenly we have groups fighting over who should be in it and lots of money going into different people’s hands to approve.

I thinks that’s all I have patience for. Till next time.

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