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

I Guess People In The Recording Business Don’t Like Change

The History channel morphed from running historical documentaries to scripted TV shows and unscripted reality shows. Home Box Office morphed from running licensed movies to creating its own content and renaming itself HBO.

Newspapers ran long form stories that people wanted to read. Then the goal shifted to profit-seeking click bait and we got news tainted by money and political agendas from the owner of the news outlet. In the end, the papers got rich by selling advertisements and re-printing PR stories. And the people stopped buying newspapers and took to the internet for their news. The urban boundaries of the traditional newspaper suddenly couldn’t compete with the worldwide boundaries of the internet.

Change is constant, because we get bored easily. The internet connected billions of people and almost 20 years later we take it for granted, the same way we take electricity for granted. We expect it to work all the time and god forbid if we have downtime.

Great buildings of yesteryear are being torn down as cities constantly reinvent themselves. Hell, my hometown is in the midst of converting from an industrial steel city into an innovation hub. So why should music be chained to the ways of the old.

Steve Albini published his 1993 essay “The Problem with Music”. You can find it at this link.

Here is a brief summary of the figures found in it;

These figures are representative of amounts that appear in record contracts daily. There’s no need to skew the figures to make the scenario look bad, since real-life examples more than abound. Income is underlined, expenses are not.

  • Advance: $250,000
  • Manager’s cut: $37,500
  • Legal fees: $10,000
  • Recording Budget: $150,000
  • Producer’s advance: $50,000
  • Studio fee: $52,500
  • Drum, Amp, Mic and Phase “Doctors”: $3,000
  • Recording tape: $8,000
  • Equipment rental: $5,000
  • Cartage and Transportation: $5,000
  • Lodgings while in studio: $10,000
  • Catering: $3,000
  • Mastering: $10,000
  • Tape copies, reference CD’s, shipping tapes, misc expenses: $2,000
  • Video budget: $30,000
  • Cameras: $8,000
  • Crew: $5,000
  • Processing and transfers: $3,000
  • Offline: $2,000
  • Online editing: $3,000
  • Catering: $1,000
  • Stage and construction: $3,000
  • Copies, couriers, transportation: $2,000
  • Director’s fee: $3,000
  • Album Artwork: $5,000
  • Promotional photo shoot and duplication: $2,000
  • Band fund: $15,000
  • New fancy professional drum kit: $5,000
  • New fancy professional guitars (2): $3,000
  • New fancy professional guitar amp rigs (2): $4,000
  • New fancy potato-shaped bass guitar: $1,000
  • New fancy rack of lights bass amp: $1,000
  • Rehearsal space rental: $500
  • Big blowout party for their friends: $500
  • Tour expense (5 weeks): $50,875
  • Bus: $25,000
  • Crew (3): $7,500
  • Food and per diems: $7,875
  • Fuel: $3,000
  • Consumable supplies: $3,500
  • Wardrobe: $1,000
  • Promotion: $3,000
  • Tour gross income: $50,000
  • Agent’s cut: $7,500
  • Manager’s cut: $7,500
  • Merchandising advance: $20,000
  • Manager’s cut: $3,000
  • Lawyer’s fee: $1,000
  • Publishing advance: $20,000
  • Manager’s cut: $3,000
  • Lawyer’s fee: $1,000
  • Record sales: 250,000 @ $12 = $3,000,000 gross retail revenue Royalty (13% of 90% of retail): $351,000
  • less advance: $250,000
  • Producer’s points: (3% less $50,000 advance) $40,000
  • Promotional budget: $25,000
  • Recoupable buyout from previous label: $50,000
  • Net royalty: (-$14,000)
  • Record company income:
  • Record wholesale price $6,50 x 250,000 = $1,625,000 gross income Artist Royalties: $351,000
  • Deficit from royalties: $14,000
  • Manufacturing, packaging and distribution @ $2.20 per record: $550,000
  • Gross profit: $710,000

 THE BALANCE SHEET

 This is how much each player got paid at the end of the game.

  • Record company: $710,000
  • Producer: $90,000
  • Manager: $51,000
  • Studio: $52,500
  • Previous label: $50,000
  • Agent: $7,500
  • Lawyer: $12,000
  • Band member net income each: $4,031.25

The band is now 1/4 of the way through its contract, has made the music industry more than 3 million dollars richer, but is in the hole $14,000 on royalties. The band members have each earned about 1/3 as much as they would working at a 7-11, but they got to ride in a tour bus for a month.

The next album will be about the same, except that the record company will insist they spend more time and money on it. Since the previous one never “recouped,” the band will have no leverage, and will oblige.

The next tour will be about the same, except the merchandising advance will have already been paid, and the band, strangely enough, won’t have earned any royalties from their t-shirts yet. Maybe the t-shirt guys have figured out how to count money like record company guys.

So you wonder why artists are still in debt to their label. Yeah they might have recorded and they might have toured, but they really didn’t make anything. So if you are an artist today, what era would you rather be in.

But Steve Albini didn’t stop there. 21 years later, Albini did a presentation about music at an event. You can read the whole presentation here.

Here is a summary;

I hear from some of my colleagues that these are rough times: that the internet has cut the legs off the music scene and that pretty soon nobody will be making music anymore because there’s no money in it. Virtually every place where music is written about, there is some version of this troubling perspective. People who used to make a nice income from royalties, they’ve seen the royalties dry up. And people who used to make a living selling records are having trouble selling downloads as substitute for records, and they no longer make records.

It’s worthwhile to remember from where we’ve come. From where this bitchiness originates. In the 1970s through the 1990s, the period in which I was most active in bands in the music scene – let’s call this the pre-internet era. The music industry was essentially the record industry, in that records and radio were the venues through which people learned of music and principally experienced it. They were joined by MTV and videos in the 80s and 90s, but the principle relationship people had with music was as sound recordings. There was a booming band scene and all bands aspired to getting recorded, as a mark of legitimacy.

In the 70s and 80s most bands went through their entire lifecycle without so much as a note of their music recorded. But recording was a rare and expensive enterprise, so it wasn’t common. Even your demo tape required considerable investment. So when I started playing in bands in the 70s and 80s most bands went through their entire lifecycle without so much as a note of their music ever being recorded.

The key point here is the artists who played music for their whole lives, wrote songs and never had anything officially recorded. All because the gatekeepers of the day didn’t see them worthy. Today, everyone can record and release their music. If it gets heard, is another story, but you have a chance to record and build a musical legacy.

Radio stations were enormously influential. Radio was the only place to hear music from any people and record companies paid dearly to influence them. Direct payola had been made illegal but this was a trivial workaround. Record pluggers acting as programming consultants were the middlemen. They paid radio stations for access to their programmers and conducted meetings where new records were promoted.

CBS told Journey to change their style and become more radio friendly otherwise they would no deal in place.

The most significant bit of tailoring was an accounting trick called recouping costs. The costs of making a record wasn’t borne by the record label, except initially. Those costs were recouped or taken out of the income the band might otherwise run as royalties. The same was true of all those promo copies, posters, radio pluggers and payola men, producers, publicists, tour support, 8×10 glossies, shipping, freight – basically anything that could be associated with a specific band or record was ultimately paid for by the band, not by the record label.

As the label shifted from vinyl to CD as the dominant format, the labels could easily sell the CD as a convenient, compact, trouble-free way to listen to music. The profit margin exploded and the money got stupid. Retails costs of a CD was half again or double more than an LP but the manufacturing, shipping and storage costs were a tiny fraction. The labels even used vinyl’s legacy as a tool to increase this profit margin by charging bands for unique packaging, despite the fact that CD packaging was designed to be standardised.

21 years later and Albini is still pointing out the record label creative accounting. And these creative accounting practices have been in place since the 1930’s and they are still in place today. The whole world changes, wars happen, we put man on the moon and the recording label contracts having changed a bit.

You may have noticed that in my description of the mass market music scene and the industry as it was pre-internet I made little mention of the audience or the bands. Those two ends of the spectrum were hardly considered by the rest of the business. Fans were expected to listen to the radio and buy records and bands were expected to make records and tour to promote them. And that was about all the thought either were given. But the audience was where all the money came from and the bands were where all the music came from.

So true. The audience/fans are what makes music money but they never had a say or were not even considered in any discussion when it comes to music. And Albini’s comments highlight the viewpoints the record label suits had. Fans were expected to pay. So what a shock they all got when Napster showed them what fans really want. So now we are living in an audience driven distribution system, albeit the record labels are trying very very hard to get it back to a record label driven distribution system.

Fans can find the music they like and develop direct relationships with the bands.

The world and social media allows it to happen. Hell, I don’t even understand why artists would want to do interviews for magazines or websites or radios. With social media, artists can control the narrative themselves. That’s better than a stupid magazine. Artists can tour places they never could have done before.

A couple of years ago my band mounted a tour of eastern Europe. We played all the hot spots: the Czech Republic, Poland, Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, we made it as far as Istanbul, Turkey. It was a magical experience, playing in front of audiences who were relatively unjaded by the routine of touring bands and we were welcomed like friends. We played to full houses at the same size venues as the rest of Europe. The same sizes as we would play here in Australia. And the audiences seem equivocally familiar with our music. The key difference being that most of the places have literally never sold a single record. Essentially 100% of our exposure had been through informal means over the internet or hand-to-hand.

Iron Maiden toured Central America and places like Costa Rica to sold out audiences and they never sold a recorded album there. Same deal with India and other Asian countries.

There is great public good by letting creative material lapse into the public ownership. The copyright law has been modified so extensively in the past decades that now this essentially never happens, creating absurdities whenever copyright is invoked. There’s a huge body of work that is not legally in the public domain, though its rights holder, authors and creators have died or disappeared as businesses. And this material, from a legal standpoint now removed from our culture – nobody may copy it or re-release it because it’s still subject to copyright.

I guess the problems with music are still there and with the lobby groups preaching stronger copyrights and jail times on par with murder and drug trafficking, it could get worse. Seen the memo on the war against drugs. Enforcement is losing.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity

The Unforgiving Black

You can have riffs in songs that sound similar and the song can still be original. You can also have riffs in songs that sound similar and still have successful careers in music without suing each other into litigation hell.

Case in point; “Woman From Tokyo,” from Deep Purple which curiously has the same riff as Joe Walsh’s “Meadows,” from “The Smoker You Drink…”

Both songs were released the very same year, although there were no plagiarism lawsuits and both artists had/went on to have very successful careers.

So it’s a sad state of affairs when it comes to music and copyright these days. The metal and hard rock community has been sensible about it, but I am pretty sure that if another metal or rock artists broke through to the mainstream, there would be a long list of plagiarism cases filed.

Plagiarism cases have become big business that artists are settling with other artists/songwriters. It’s better to pay them off and give them a credit, than fight it in the courts. But all of these cases and settlements create a dangerous viewpoint. It assumes that the work of the earlier artist is so original and free from influence of the music the songwriter might have listened to.

Hell, if you are a streaming convert, who wrote the songs is not even mentioned. The people who consume music don’t even care who wrote the songs.

Elvis Presley didn’t even write a single song that he performed. Who is more known? His songwriters or Elvis?

The fact that the term “plagiarism” is used in music is pretty sad.

If a person was writing an essay or a non-fiction book, they would list all of the works that influenced their new work via the bibliography. The people who wrote those influential works would not get any extra money or a credit on the front cover for writing the essay/book.

If the person was seen to use words from a writer that he/she didn’t mention or attribute via the bibliography, then that person will be called out for plagiarism. The end result leads to the essay/book being altered to reflect a new addition to the Bibliography.

If you have read “The Talent Code” by Dan Coyle, you will note at the end of his book, he has a pretty extensive list of works he used to create his book. So imagine the front cover of the book if all of the past writers who inspired and formed the ideas in “The Talent Code” got an authorship credit and compensation.

But when it comes to music, money rules, so it’s pretty obvious why a word associated with literature is being distorted and made to fit some warped view in music. But then again, the record labels with the RIAA control the narrative, and they have done a brilliant job selling their propaganda. But know it’s them on the back foot, as lawyers are suing the labels who hold the copyrights.

If people want to use the term plagiarism in music then each song should be set up like a written book and have something like a Bibliography which we can call “Musicography”. Unless this happens, how can they call it plagiarism.

For example, Avenged Sevenfold’s “Shepherd Of Fire” would have the following musicography listing;

  • Mustaine, D and Friedman, M 1997, “Trust”, Cryptic Writings.

Megadeth’s “Hanger 18” would have the following musicography listing;

  • Hetfield J, Mustaine D, Ulrich L and Burton C 1983, “The Call Of Ktulu”, Ride The Lightning

If Coldplay had a musicography listing then Joe Satriani would have been okay with it. Maybe not.

If Led Zeppelin or even The Beatles had a musicography listing then it would all be okay, wouldn’t it. Maybe not, because the laws and rules on the copyright of sheet music, to the copyright on sound recordings, to who holds the copyrights while the creator is alive, to who holds the copyrights when the creator is dead, to mechanical royalties from broadcasts, to streaming rates, to licensing rates and to so many other uses of music are a mess.

Here is a work I created quickly for this post, based on  the lyrics from “The Unforgiving” and “Fade To Black” from Metallica.

Let’s call the song, “The Unforgiving Black”.

Deprived of all our thoughts
We are drifting apart
Emptiness in our hearts
Learning to live to their rules

What is felt and what is known
Only the end can set us free
And we struggle on
Chained to the whipping post

Things not what they used to be
So quickly we are subdued
To the point of agony
Until there’s nothing left
Never had a chance to shine
As the darkness grows
More and more are getting lost within
The unforgiving black

We have served master our whole lives
Trying to please them all
Our dedication became slavery
And bitterness is all we know

We battled constantly
A fight we couldn’t win
Until we no longer cared
And lost the will to live

Yesterday is gone
It’s like it never existed
And we are unable to see
What might have been if we tried
Never had a chance to shine
As the darkness grows
More and more are getting lost within
The unforgiving black

  • Hetfield J, Hammet K, Ulrich L and Burton C 1983, “Fade To Black”, Ride The Lightning
  • Heftield J and Ulrich L, 1991, “The Unforgiven”, Metallica

Is it plagiarism?

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

The Big Money In Streaming Licensing Deals

Everyone is blaming Spotify for bringing in windowed exclusives. But in reality it’s not their fault.

Spotify is a service, that provides music to users. It was created by techies because the record labels didn’t have the clout to do what was required for their artists and the vast copyrights they hold. But for Spotify to work, it needed access to the vast libraries of copyrights the record labels hold. And this is how Spotify as a service will cease to work unless they move in and start creating their own content and developing their own artists. Like how Netflix has, like how HBO went from licensing movies from the movie studios to creating their own content.

And Spotify now has owners that are interested only in making money. Hell, the record labels even have a stake in Spotify, so Daniel Ek is at the mercy of these owners, who are all waiting for Spotify to go public so they could rake in billions for their millions investments.

But the record labels control the story and Spotify is portrayed as the baddie, while the faceless record labels hide behind the artists who decry Spotify and other streaming services. The record labels have done such a great job with their fake news story about streaming rates killing music, but they forget that the numbers don’t lie. Maybe they can explain why did their revenue go up to double digits and it’s back to those billions of the CD era?

But it’s the record labels who are not paying back to artists and songwriters the cash they are flush with.

For those that don’t know, Spotify and Universal Music Group (UMG) have come up with a new licensing agreement which forced Spotify to restrict new albums from Universal artists to the premium service for a two weeks as a minimum. So what about the artists who withhold their music from streaming services for a month. That could mean a six-week gap for the free tier ad-supported users of Spotify. Take a guess as to what that means. Piracy will be back with a vengeance. But then, the record labels via the RIAA will just scream and lobby hard for laws to change and stricter enforcement to happen. You can do more time in prison for a copyright offence then an actual crime.

Daniel Ek should have told Universal to go and shove it. The only streaming options for Universal would be Tidal, Pandora and Apple Music. Let’s see how far they would have gone with that.

Then Daniel Ek, should have gone after the big artists and made deals with them exclusively, cutting out the record label in the process. Yeah, I know contracts play a part, but the labels are nothing without the ARTISTS. It’s the artists that make the record labels money and not the other way around. And if the artists all challenge the status quo, then different outcomes would happen. But all of these are difficult conversations to be had and no one wants to lose out on any money.

Every artist should be suing their label for negligence and unpaid wages. How can a label not be seen as negligent by restricting access to music?

Research continues to show that people don’t like to be told how to do things. But the labels believe they know what people want.

The labels are delusional if they think the public would just take out a premium streaming offering, because of windowed releases. It will not happen, the same way, analog phones are not going to happen. Once we move on, we move on. There is no going back. Anyone remember MySpace or Yahoo or even Netscape.

There’s no doubt that ad-supported free tier will end. The labels would make sure of that in the next round of licensing deals in a few years time.

But for an artist, fans these days, don’t want to pay high rates for recorded music. They want the history of music for a low price. They would rather pay for the experience of the show. And in all of these boardroom deals between techies and record labels, it’s the artists who don’t control the rights to their music that get burned. And for some reason, Rush’s “The Big Money” comes to mind.

Big money make a million dreams
Big money spin big deals

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity

Recording Industry Marketed As The Music Industry.. More Recording Industry Fakery…

There is a big difference between the music industry and the recording industry, but the way the record labels and the RIAA tell the story, they are the same. But the truth is; the music industry is very different to the recording industry.

The Music Industry is everything, like recording (vinyl, CD’s and mp3’s fall under this), streaming, licensing, touring, merchandise, publishing, musical instruments (sellers, manufacturers and buyers), music hardware, music software, video production and many more.

People might have come across the RIAA name, a lobby/bribery association whose sole purpose is to fight for the major record labels in Washington. RIAA stands for the Recording Industry Association of America. Notice how there is no music term in their name.

But the RIAA have a lot of creative writers who write fake news. Like these headlines;

It’s important to note a few important things here;

  • The Recording Industry is a section of the “music industry.”
  • The Recording Industry is in the business of making money from music recordings.
  • The Recording Industry is not the Music Industry.
  • The Recording Industry likes to sell and market itself as the Music Industry.

So next time you read a story about the music industry, make sure it’s not a piece of fakery about the recording business.

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

Copyright Fakery And Abuses

Fake news is nothing new to the world. It’s been around for a long time.

It’s become a problem now because the people/organisations who invented it, had the tables turned and fake news was/is used against them. That’s right, the media outlets who put fake news out in the world based on PR companies and Ad companies sponsorships, had the tables turned against them. The recent U.S election is a perfect example of how powerful fake news can be.

The recording and movie industries along with their associations/lobby/bribery groups in the RIAA/MPAA have been the largest perpetrators of fake news in the world. When billions of dollars are involved, these industries employ some of the most creative writers in the business to basically creating fictional works of fakery. And people believe it.

Let’s start with a few good ones.

  • Home Taping Is Killing Music And It’s Illegal
  • Copy a CD and get a criminal record
  • Piracy: It’s a crime
  • Piracy kills artists.

In other words, if the consumers of music don’t pay for every instance of music, how can musical artists or movies ever make a living?

These words of wisdom ignore independent research about the power of free music in helping musicians to be discovered in the first instance. The biggest enemy of any artist is NOT BEING DISCOVERED. Once they are discovered, they can then go on and make all kinds of money via the more friendly artist profit outlets in concerts and merchandise. But the RIAA has done such a good job at spreading fake news about Copyright, that many swallow the industry’s words of wisdom whole.

Ed Sheeran is a mega seller in today’s current musical market. I have written about him before on these pages. He began his career without a record label and promoted himself instead.

“Beyond writing the songs, Sheeran also wrote his own rules about how to sell them. Like so many others, he had set off for London as a teenager, singing on street corners and in pubs. But he didn’t knock on record company doors or wait to be discovered. Instead, he began marketing his own stuff, releasing his music himself on websites until — inevitably — a record label came calling. He had already earned half a million from his independent sales, putting the music out himself.”
CBS Article

The labels came knocking after Sheeran had built up a following. And how did Sheeran build up the following?

“It was file sharing. I know that’s a bad thing to say, because I’m part of a music industry that doesn’t like illegal file sharing, but illegal fire sharing was what made me. It was students in England going to university, sharing my songs with each other.”
CBS Article

But the labels and the RIAA want stricter enforcement for piracy and longer prison terms and bigger fines for illegal file sharers.

Because copyright has been hijacked by these Corporate entities for the last 70 years, we have situations that makes the mind boggle. Like how a band in 2017, might not be able to use a song that dates back the mid 1900’s, whose creator is believed to be dead and was passed down for generations orally. Here’s what the Yahoo article has to say on the matter;

“A Gwich’in love song, passed down for generations through oral tradition, has become a copyright roadblock for the Hummingbirds — preventing them from releasing their latest album “One Weekend” in June for months. The song Goodbye Shaanyuu is one of the tracks on the album. It’s a folk song from Fort Yukon, Alaska that dates back to the mid-1900s. But the record company dealing with the band is holding off the official release of the album, says Mumford, until the band solves a copyright issue with the song — which was written by a Gwich’in woman named Annie Cadzow, who is believed to be dead.”

This is the Copyright mess that corporations have created. Even though a corporation could hold the rights to this song, because it makes no money, it is forgotten. And now there is a band that wants to bring it back and they have to go through hell to release. The article further states;

The band has three options:

1) Find Annie Cadzow — or her family members — and get permission to use the song in their album.

2) Find out if Cadzow has died more than 50 years ago, which puts the song into the public domain. Or

3) Just release the song in hopes that no one will come forward and sue, but this is a non-option for the band out of respect for Cadzow and Gwich’in history.

The band is working with researchers in Alaska who are helping track down Cadzow’s only living daughter who’s said to be in her late 80s.

But the bassist for the band Bob Mumford believes that the song known today doesn’t sound nothing like the original song as lyrics were added and melodies got altered. So how does this sit with current copyright law that assumes that all works are so original and if there are any similarities it’s time to sue.

As the article further states;

“Folk music was widely believed to be “national treasure” — or owned by everybody. Until the idea of copyright came along. The practice of exerting copyright is actually pretty easy. The person that transcribes the oral performance, exerts ownership on it. So whoever makes the recording has copyright on it.”

And that person would have a monopoly on their creation for a certain period of time and then that work would become part of the public domain for other people to use and build upon without any restrictions.

And once upon a time it was like that. But then people had money, they purchased sound systems and vinyl records. Recorded music was suddenly monetised. Which led to many artists complaints about record label creative accounting. And it’s still going on.

The Carpenters are taking Universal Music Group and A&M records to court over the monies paid to them from digital sources. As the Variety article states;

“The Carpenters contend that accountants they hired to examine the record label books found multiple errors and that the defendants rejected the claim of royalties. He is seeking compensatory damages of at least $2 million. Among other things, according to the lawsuit, the record labels “improperly classified” revenue from digital downloads of Carpenters’ music as sales of records as opposed to licensing revenue — short-changing them from a higher royalty rate.

The lawsuit also claims that the defendants undercounted digital downloads and that they applied an incorrect base price to the sales of CDs. The lawsuit notes that the lawsuit is similar to litigation involving the recordings of Eminem in which the defendants were several affiliates of UMG. Ultimately, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that digital downloads were a licensing of master recordings rather than a sale of records.”

The labels do what they want to artists who make them millions and then the labels scream loudly to politicians to get laws passed to protect their business models.

So what about songwriters, who write songs for other artists?

As the labels get flush with cash from streaming licensing and royalty fees, they have failed to pass it on to the people who matter. But due to creative fakery of news, the Songwriters lobby group believes that the streaming services are to blame and they should pay more, with the hope that those extra payments are filtered down to the songwriters.

“We should get compensated every time someone streams a song”
David Israelite, CEO of the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA)

But wait a minute, some publishers already have their own deals with the streaming companies to compensate the songwriters, so why is there a need to force streaming companies to pay more. Spotify is barely profitable and in order to please the NMPA, a $20 million settlement was announced recently.

As the NY Times article states;

“Spotify will pay publishers between $16 million and $25 million in royalties that are already owed but unpaid — the exact amount, these people said, is still undetermined — as well as a $5 million penalty. In exchange, the publishers will refrain from filing copyright infringement claims against Spotify. The settlement concerns mechanical licensing rights, which refer to a copyright holder’s control over the ability to reproduce a musical work. The rule goes back to the days of player-piano rolls, but in the digital era mechanical rights have joined the tangle of licensing deals that streaming services need to operate legally.”

You can see what a mess Copyright has become, when mechanical rights that go back to the player piano rolls are still discussed about today. And Spotify is just one streaming services. There are others that will need to do these kind of extortion deals and suddenly the NMPA is loaded up with cash in the hundreds of millions. All because the labels, the publishers and their lobby groups don’t pass on the monies earned to the people who actually create.

“I am thrilled that through this agreement, both independent and major publishers and songwriters will be able to get what is owed to them.”
David M. Israelite

I don’t know about anyone else, but what we have is a world of mega associations/corporations and labels living large off the value that music creates without really compensating those creators. Because as we have seen all around the world, these organisations like to accumulate and live the high life, but they don’t want to pay those monies in full to the people who really earn it.

If you don’t believe me, check out this article, over at Torrentfreak, where the Greek organisation in charge of collecting and paying artists royalties, was found to have serious financial irregularities where their operating expenses outstretched it’s income, creating an 11.3 million Euro deficit, while during the same period, the CEO, GM, PR and Secretary pocketed 5 million Euro’s.

As the Torrentfreak article states;

“By Dec. 31st 2014, the undistributed royalties to members and rights holders amounted to 42.5 million euros, and have still not been awarded to members. The nature of a significant portion of this collected revenue of approximately 36.8 million euros has not been possible to assess, because collection invoices weren’t correlated to specific revenues in AEPI’s IT system.”

So next time you read a piece of news about stronger Copyright’s needed to compensate artists, remember the fakery involved in that piece of news and how people who contribute nothing to culture and music, live a jet setter lifestyle on the backs of the artists.

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

1983 – VI – No Parole From The Born Again, Bent Out Of Shape, Rock And Roll Frontiers As The Never Switch Is Flicked For Steeler Siogo’s Surrender.

Listening back to all of the music from 1983 got me thinking about life and time. Even though 1983 is 34 years in the past, it feels like it was more recent.

How time flys?

And I am trying to work out how certain events pushed me onto different paths and how those paths became far removed from the path I wanted to be on.

And while life might seem chaotic in 2017, it wasn’t much different in 1983. We still had terrorism back them. The IRA was very active in the U.K and we had acts of terror in Lebanon. We had changes in government that didn’t appeal to the status quo.

The frontiers are a changing.

Journey – Frontiers

“I gotta tell you that I’m not hurtin’ for a place to live and I’m not hurtin’ for money, no, but filthy rich – no. You’ve got six people in the band, you’ve got unions in this country, you’ve got people who want a big hunk of what you make all the way down the line. It’s a big circus. It takes five semis and a lot of lights, a lot of sound, a lot of crew and a lot of busses and gas! When you talk 107 shows and you talk 30,000 miles, you’re talking a lot.”
Steve Perry 

Coming into the recording of “Frontiers”, Journey was riding the waves of “Don’t Stop Believin”. The Jonathan Cain era was in full swing.

So what was next for Journey?

How do you follow up “Escape”?

They began their career as progressive rockers in the 70’s, and by the start of the 80’s they had moved into hard rock. With the addition of Jonathan Cain on keyboards and with the success of “Escape” they moved into superstar territory. And with “Frontiers”, Journey kept on polishing their sound and moving further away from their progressive blues roots. Plus they also gave a certain person in Italy a name for his future record label.

Separate Ways
It’s been covered by metal bands ad infinitum because it’s such a good song. The opening keyboard lick would work well as a guitar lick. Then when the drum groove comes in, it’s quality all around.

I would have preferred to hear some more grunt in the verses from the guitar, but this is Journey coming off the success of “Escape” and Neal Schon transitions into a song decorator.

Someday, love will find you
Break those chains that bind you
One night will remind you
How we touched and went our separate ways

The chorus melody was so good, that Steve Perry, Jonathan Cain and Neal Schon re-used it/plagiarised it/copied it or let themselves be influenced by it on the song “Message of Love” from their 1997 comeback album, “Trial By Fire”.

Faithfully
It’s the signature ballad and the last track recorded for the album. Prince even asked Journey for permission before releasing “Purple Rain” because the chord changes are close to “Faithfully” and he didn’t want to get sued.

“I thought it was an amazing tune and I told him, ‘Man, I’m just super-flattered that you even called. It shows you’re that classy of a guy. Good luck with the song. I know it’s gonna be a hit.’”
JONATHAN CAIN 

“We all talked about it, and everybody said, ‘Nah, it’s the highest form of flattery. Let it go.’”
NEAL SCHON 

And Cain could have requested a co-writing credit on “Purple Rain,” but he didn’t.

“No, no, that’ll just bring bad juju on you, and you don’t want to do that. I just thought it seriously showed the kind of caring, classy guy Prince was.”
JONATHAN CAIN

All music is a sum of a person’s influences.

Circus life
Under the big top world
We all need the clowns
To make us smile

It’s a brilliant lyric comparing the rock and roll touring lifestyle with the life of a carnie.

Steve Perry did a great job on the vocals, especially that outro. In This Moment also use this song as an influence for the outro of their song “World In Flames”.

Troubled Child
This song is one of those underrated gems on an album. Those little nuggets.

Voices echo, from the past
Decisions made for you

The whole song is great lyrically, but it’s the above that sticks out. Something that James Hetfield constantly sings about, especially in “The Unforgiven” songs.

Ask The Lonely
It was a bonus track on the 2006 re-issue. It should have been on it.

Black Sabbath – Born Again
At the start of the 80’s, Black Sabbath re-invented themselves with the Dio led version of the band. However after the success of “Heaven and Hell” and “Mob Rules”, Ronnie James Dio said see ya later to Tony Iommi and took drummer Vinny Appice with him. Bill Ward was back in alongside Iommi, Butler and keyboardist Geoff Nicholls (RIP). So the search began for a vocalist. We all know the story of how this was meant to be a new supergroup project however their new manager Don Arden (who was also Ozzy’s ex-Manager and the father to Ozzy’s wife, Sharon) would not even contemplate it. His grudges against Ozzy and Sharon and the fact that he wanted to better them with the groups he managed would be the death knell of this project.

David Coverdale and Robert Plant were talked about as vocalists. They even received an audition tape from Michael Bolton who at that time was unknown. But it was Arden who recommended Gillian. And that is the problem. Ian Gillian is more or less terrible on it. And that album cover is now part of folklore. According to Wikipedia, Don Arden was fond of telling Osbourne that his children resembled the “Born Again” album cover.

But the songs “Disturbing The Priest” and “Zero The Hero” are pretty good musically. The lyrics are neither here or there, but the music is excellent.

Disturbing the Priest
According to Wikipedia, “Disturbing the Priest” was written after a rehearsal space set up by Iommi in a small building near a local church received noise complaints from the resident priests.

It’s underpinned by a bass groove reminiscent of “Heaven And Hell” and “The Sign of The Southern Cross”. Add to that, the eeriness of early Sabbath.

The devil and the priest can’t exist if one goes away

Damn right.

Zero the Hero
Accept the fact that you’re second rate life is easy for you

Conformity in one simple statement.

Rainbow – Bent Out Of Shape
MTV changed the way bands wrote albums. Suddenly experimentation, longer guitar solos or longer songs in general went out the window. Every band was trying to make that arena rock song. So it was no surprise that Rainbow would follow suit, especially after they had a few unexpected hits in “Since You’ve been Gone” from 1979’s “Down To Earth” album with Graham Bonnet on vocals, “I Surrender” from 1981’s “Difficult To Cure” with Joe Lynn Turner on vocals and “Stone Cold” from the 1982 album “Straight Between the Eyes”.

The band for the recording of this album was Ritchie Blackmore, Roger Glover, Joe Lynn Turner, David Rosenthal on keys and Chuck Burgi on drums. But the single here should have been “Stranded” instead of “Street of Dreams”.

Stranded
It’s the only good song on the album. That bass just keeps the pedal point note going, while Blackmore is free to explore so many different musical palettes.

Dog night, I’m so alone
A million miles out on my own
No one to talk, no one to care
Searching for someone, they could be anywhere

Life of a rock and roller.

AC/DC – Flick Of The Switch
It’s a solid album, coming out after the holy trinity of albums, their U.S breakthrough “Highway To Hell” in 1979, the mega selling “Back In Black” from 1980 and it’s 1981 successor “For Those About To Rock”.

Some personnel changes happened as well. Simon Wright is in the drummers’ chair, replacing Phil Rudd. Simon Kirke from the band Free also auditioned, as well as 699 other drummers. It would have been cool if it was 666 drummers.

The producer of their holy trinity albums, Mutt Lange was also out. Their manager Peter Mensch was also out. Angus and Malcolm stepped up to give the world a live and raw version of AC/DC. There are no classic songs on the album. But there is a lot of groove and swagger. The slower tempo’s make it sound HEAVY. But the songs don’t get played live, so the album remains largely forgotten to the masses.

“Basically what Mal had said was that he wanted to try and get that feeling of being in a room with it all happening. I don’t think it really worked entirely.”
Engineer Tony Platt in the book Maximum Rock & Roll

Rising Power
My body’s blown a fuse
Rising power
We’ll raise the night
Rising power

Rise/Rising = hard on. Blow a fuse = climax. Johnson is rolling out the metaphors.

Flick Of The Switch
With a flick of the switch
She’ll blow you sky high

Johnson is still rolling out the metaphors with innuendo.

Nervous Shakedown
It’s a dirty lie
It’s a shakedown
It’s lookin’ like a set-up

There is a lot of this happening today, with copyright trolls trying to shakedown internet users. The trolls put up the content and then take note who downloads the content via the public torrent trackers. Once they have a list of IP addresses, they go to the courts, so the courts could give approval for the Telcos to unmask their users and provide address details. If the courts approve, the trolls send the users letters, saying if they pay $50 to $100 and admit guilt, it all goes away, if they choose to fight it in court and they lose, then the users could be liable for thousands in fees. It’s a shakedown, a set-up.

Guns For Hire
Look out woman
I got gun’s for hire
Shoot you with desire

I wonder what Johnson means here.

Badlands
It sounds like Tom Keifer is singing this song. Musically, it’s a cross between George Thorogood’s “Bad To The Bone”, 70’s ZZ Top and AC/DC’s roots in the blues.

Again, it’s the groove that hooks me in.

“In the badlands”

Triumph – Never Surrender
I never heard this album in 1983. It became part of my collection much later on via Record Music Fairs and so forth and it was the more ambitious and melodic tracks that appealed to me.

A World Of Fantasy
How good is this song’s intro especially when the harmony guitars kick in?

Lost in your world of fantasy
Look what you’ve done to me

A Minor Prelude
It’s just a nice 90 second instrumental on acoustic guitar.

All The Way
How good is the intro?

Lyrical the theme is clichéd but the lyrics are just excellent.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way
Every dog will have his day
Those who wait are only wasting’ time

It’s all about the effort. In the 1900’s, research said that to achieve greatness you need to put in 10 years of practice. This was then enhanced to include 10,000 hours of practice, which was then further enhanced to say 10,000 hours of deliberate practice, which means breaking down a skill you want to learn into chunks and learning it slowly before increasing the speed.

That’s why the metronome is the best tool for any wannabe musician. Learn the song slowly and then increase the speed to its normal speed and just for fun, push the speed even faster to see how you go playing the song. Sometimes, ballads like “Alone Again” end up sounding pretty wicked at 150bpm.

That’s why the Senseball is the best tool for any wannabe football player. You start of slowly, focusing on the task at hand and slowly build it up.

Pray for wisdom – dig for gold
Can’t buy freedom by selling your soul

Recording contracts are designed to benefit the entity forking out the money to produce the works. So any wannabe artist needs to sell their soul for a shot at the brass ring.

You better watch out, you better look around
Cause what goes up is gonna come down
Everybody lives by the law of supply and demand

So true. Even the record labels live by the law of supply and demand. When people got fed up with the corrupted and very pricey supply chain, technology allowed mp3’s to be created. Suddenly music was everywhere.

Once you’ve set a course don’t change it
Luck will come to those who chase it
Don’t let anything get in your way

What a brilliant verse. Hell, the whole “Talent Code” book is based around the theory that you need to love what you do, to practice deep for a long time, so you can become an expert in your field.

Never Surrender
In the verses, it reminds me musically of Led Zeppelin’s “All My Love”. But at almost 7 minutes in length, it has a lot of musical movements and a groove that’s hypnotic.

How good are the lyrics in this?

Jivin’, hustiln’, what’s it all about?
Everybody always wants the east way out
Thirty golden pieces for the Judas kiss
What’s a nice boy doin’ in a place like this?

Everyone wants to be successful. Everyone wants to be famous. But is everyone willing to put the hard work in. Is everyone willing to be surrounded by people who will lie and deceive?

Today you found a hero tomorrow you’ll forget

This is so relevant in 2017. The speed at which we move on to new things is astonishing.

Never Surrender – we cannot be denied
Never Surrender – spread your wings and fly

To become an expert and have a chance of success, you need to be in it for the long run. The 10 years. The 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. There are no short cuts.

Writing On The Wall
It’s got that 80’s metal pedal point vibe, but in a major key instead of a minor key.

I am up here
Walking on a tight rope
But I never pause to think
That I could fall

Damn right, there is no safety net in life, especially in music.

I’ve got one short dance
On this planet
But I’ll carve my message deep into the wall

Long-time dead, short time alive. Don’t waste your days on what you can’t control.

Blackfoot – Siogo
The first time I heard Blackfoot was via a Spotify Discover playlist and it was the song “Send Me An Angel”.

Send Me An Angel
I can’t live with all this doubt

Are we good enough?

Is this song good enough?

Do I look good enough?

So many expectations we place on ourselves just to please others. And then we wonder, why so many doubt themselves. It’s even worse today with social media.

Teenage Idol
Standing in his hometown
Waiting for the bus that’ll take him
Farther than he’s ever been

I’ve shown them what a pretty life I’ve made
Even though I’ll miss you badly

It’s the ultimate sacrifice. A career in music vs loved ones you need to leave behind. As Jonathan Cain wrote in “Faithfully”, the road is no place to raise a family.

Alcatrazz – No Parole from Rock N’ Roll
When I was starting out in bands, one of the guitarists in the band was a huge Yngwie Malmsteen fan. The drummer of the band was also a fan of Malmsteen and he had this album on LP, so I dubbed it on cassette from him. Home taping was spreading the music.

But the Alcatrazz story is much deeper than Malmsteen’s brief appearance. Like a lot of other bands in the 80’s it was a pseudo supergroup of musicians. You had a 20 year old guitar hero in Yngwie Malmsteen, a 30 year old experienced bassist in Gary Shea, a 33 year old experienced drummer in Jan Uvena, a 24 year old keyboardist in Jimmy Waldo and a 35 year old vocalist with major label experience in Graham Bonnet.

The story starts with bassist Gary Shea and keyboardist Jimmy Waldo. After their band “New England” lost their singer, they moved out to L.A to work with a guitarist called Vinnie Vincent and a new band called Warrior. Vinnie Vincent at the time also had a deal in place to co-write songs for Kiss. ‘Boyz Gonna Rock” and “I Love It Loud” appeared on the first Warrior demo. On the strength of that demo and the songs that Vinnie had written, he was asked to join KISS. We all know how big “I Love It Loud” became.

And from the ashes of Warrior, the embryo of Alcatrazz was formed.

With a dodgy manager on board, who took royalties meant for the band into his own pocket, Alcatrazz was a go. Shea actually reckons Malmsteen lost a lot of money when he left due to the thievery of their manager.

Island In The Sun
It’s the opening track and a Malmsteen classic. Actual songwriters are listed as Yngwie Malmsteen, Jimmy Waldo and Graham Bonnet but there is no denying the Malmsteen sound.

In their nine by five rooms, became inspired
By the silence in sight of the city

Is it about prison or something else?

Jet To Jet
It’s a Malmsteen and Bonnet composition. It’s pretty safe to say that all the music is from Malmsteen and Bonnet wrote the lyrics.

How they stared as we made our exit
We’re white they’re all brown
Dr. Livingstone where are you when we need you the most
We’re white as ivory on the Ivory Coast

Is the song about the arrival of white men in Africa?

Is the “Jet To Jet” title referring to the colour black (as jet is a shade of black)?

Hiroshima Mon Amour
It’s another Malmsteen/Bonnet composition. Bonnet was inspired by the 1959 French film Hiroshima Mon Amour, (translation: “Hiroshima My Love”), which he had seen in school. The film recounts the Hiroshima bombing and tells of the human suffering in the aftermath.

“I was always horrified by what happened. And Hiroshima, my love, it was like, goddamn, you know, I didn’t want that to happen again. So I read up a little bit about it, and that’s how that came about. It was something I thought should never have happened. It was just a horrible thing. I couldn’t believe that the Americans would do this, or anybody would do that to anybody. It was sort of a protest song in a way.”
Graham Bonnet 

The fireball would dim the sun,
Promising death in its cruellest form

There is no good in war, but man, when you read about the fall out and the cancers still happening even today, you get to understand the gravity of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Hiroshima Mon Amour
As we beg to be forgiven do you spit
In our face and curse us all.

Incubus
A short Malmsteen instrumental that he would use in his solo career.

Too Young To Die, Too Drunk To Live
It’s another Malmsteen/Bonnet composition.

Chemical kids lost in the street,
Looking for some kind of saviour
Perverted minds lead them like sheep
Into the slaughter they have to face

Chemicals once upon a time = alcohol. Today, chemicals on the streets mean so many different things.

There’s time to die but she just needs more time to live

A brilliant line. In the last six months I have attended 4 funerals. Two for people aged 40, one for a person in their 60’s and one for a person a few weeks short of their 80th birthday. 40 is way too young to die.

Years from now
Look how they change
They’re so mature and respected
Makes them laugh
They were such fools
So unaware of the real live world

Some made it to an older age so they could look back, others didn’t.

Steeler – Steeler
From interviews in Guitar mags, I knew that Yngwie Malmsteen was in the band Steeler. Also in the band was vocalist Ron Keel (from Keel) and former W.A.S.P. bassist Rik Fox. The band produced only one album.

The album was released September 25, 1983 but I didn’t hear it until very much later.

“Steeler was formed by in Nashville and fought our way to the top of the LA hard rock scene in the early 80’s – it’s a great story, and if you want to know all the details, I suggest you check out my official autobiography “Even Keel: Life On The Streets Of Rock & Roll,”. Success is a relative term – Steeler sold a couple hundred thousand albums, while my band KEEL has sold several million albums.”
Ron Keel 

It was Ron Keel and then guitarist Michael Dunigan who came out to L.A to scout gigs. Once they got a feel for the place, the whole band and crew came out. Eventually the original line up splintered because Ron Keel felt threatened by the level of musicianship on the L.A scene and he believed he needed to get better musicians.

Mike Varney, the owner of Shrapnel Records played Ron Keel a demo tape of Malmsteen and he was on a ship from Sweden to L.A. Rik Fox looked like a rock star and got the bassist gig. By making changes, Keel lost the camaraderie and chemistry within the band.

For Malmsteen, this was a four month stopover in his grand vision for greatness. The stop-over involved 9 shows, the recording session for the album and two song contributions in “No Way Out” and “Abduction”.

Cold Day In Hell
It’s listed as a Ron Keel song and it’s one hell of good rock song. More in vein with what Keel would sound like, but without a Malmsteen lead break.

Empty eyes of heartless friends
The night is mine again
Bitter streets of evil stares
No one listens, no one cares

The lead break from Malmsteen is a classic.

No Way Out
It’s written by Ron Keel, Mark Edwards and Yngwie Malmsteen and although the lyrics are hit and miss, it’s still a good listen.

Click the link to listen to 1983-Part6

1. Separate Ways (Words Apart) – Journey
2. A World Of Fantasy – Triumph
3. Send Me An Angel – Blackfoot
4. Island In The Sun – Alcatrazz
5. Stranded – Rainbow

6. Disturbing The Priest – Black Sabbath
7. Rising Power – AC/DC
8. A Minor Prelude/All The Way – Triumph
9. Faithfully – Journey
10. Jet To Jet – Alcatrazz

11. Flick Of The Switch – AC/DC
12. Never Surrender – Triumph
13. Hiroshima Mon Amour – Alcatrazz
14. No Way Out – Steeler
15. Writing On The Wall – Triumph

16. Cold Day In Hell – Steeler
17. Badlands – AC/DC
18. Ask The Lonely – Journey
19. Incubus / Too Young To Die, Too Drunk To Live – Alcatrazz
20. Zero The Hero – Black Sabbath

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Unsung Heroes

Piracy Incorporated

The Pirate Bay (TPB) is going to turn 14 years this year.

From its inception, it was a facilitator, spreading the disruption caused by Napster years earlier to even larger audiences. It showed the entertainment industries how they needed to change. But they didn’t change and it took companies like Netflix and Spotify to make this happen. And they did it by using the same technology made famous by The Pirate Bay. But while Netflix realised that money is in producing your own content, Spotify and other streaming providers have not. Licensing content from someone is not a satisfactory business model. Just ask HBO, formerly known as Home Box Office. Their early business model was all licensed content and they lost money year after year, while the movie studios got richer. It wasn’t until HBO went into original content, that they started making some serious cash. As soon as Spotify, Apple, YouTube and Pandora realise that they need to enter the recording business to produce their own content, the music industry will change and disrupt even more.

TPB had to stand strong against the pressure put on it by the MPAA and the RIAA and their sister organisations throughout the world. It has stood firm against government officials (loaded up in lobbyist dollars) trying to prosecute it. It was taken down, raided and it still survives. And it keeps on innovating even when court orders become the new normal, requesting ISP’s to block the web address or domain registries to deny any applications for TPB domains. Even in it’s home country of Sweden, court appeals and cases are still ongoing. Google was even pressured to alter (in my view censor) its search algorithm, so TPB doesn’t come up.

But TPB is still alive. It has become a vessel for people to access content they normally wouldn’t have access too. In the process, it has made the world a better place.

Metal music in general has grown to all corners of the world. Suddenly, every country has a metal scene and the larger metal bands that have the means to tour are suddenly hitting markets they’ve never hit before.

The high rates of software piracy in Eastern Europe caused an IT skills explosion.

Romanian President Traian Basescu, once told Bill Gates that digital pirating helped his nation build a budding software industry.
REUTERS Article on Eastern European Piracy

The high rates of music creation software piracy led to the electronic dance explosion coming out of Europe.

In the process, artists have gained decent followings. However, while bands in the past had followings, it was assumed that every single follower had purchased recorded music and that the band had made money. But that was not the case in the past and it still isn’t today.

I had music recorded on cassette tapes and video tapes to begin with.

  •  If the radio played a song I liked, I recorded it on cassette. I did this by pressing record every time a song started or was about to start and if I dug the tune, I kept the recording going. If I didn’t dig it, I stopped the recording and rewinded the tape to the last song, so I can start again. The rewinding part was easy when the tape was new, but when you started to record after a previously recorded song, you had to rewind to that point in time. The same process was carried out with video tapes. I was explaining this to my kids and they didn’t look amazed at all by my rewinding abilities.
  • I had friends of my brothers who had dubbed music on a cassette from someone else who copied it from someone else who copied it. So on some occasions the music I got was a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy. It sure sounds like mp3 downloading to me.
  • My brothers had one friend who purchased a lot of music, but he wouldn’t let no-one copy it. I remember one time I borrowed the “Fireworks” album from Bonfire and “Blow My Fuse” from Kix from him, without asking or telling him. He reckons I stole it. What kind of thief am I, when I returned the borrowed goods?

So what can artists learn from The Pirate Bay?

The Pirate Bay spread via word of mouth. It didn’t embark on a scorched earth marketing policy. For an artist there is no better marketing strategy than word of mouth. That is how virality works. With social media, it can spread even faster. But you need to be able to follow it up, quickly and with quality.

  • Volbeat got traction in the U.S in 2012 on the backs of a song they released in 2008. This in turn started to bring attention to their previous albums. Success comes later in today’s world. In some cases, much later.
  • This is very different to say, Galactic Cowboys. Back in the late eighties, Geffen Records signed them to a deal and just kept on pushing the band onto the public with a pretty high-profile marketing campaign. The marketing budget was huge, the recording budget was huge, but the public just didn’t take to them. There was no word of mouth. No one spoke about them and when you brought them up in a conversation, it was a “who”. In saying that, I thought the band was innovative and excellent.

The Pirate Bay’s user base is growing and replenishing.

  • For the thousands that stop using the service, another thousand start using the service.
  • For the thousands that stop listening to Metallica, another thousand started listening to Metallica.
  • For the thousands that stop listening to Ratt, another 10 started to listen to em.

You do the math as why certain things get bigger or remain bigger, while other things reduce in scale.

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