Coming into 1984, hard rock and metal bands started popping up everywhere in the mainstream. Magazines moved their reporting from different styles of music to cover only hard rock. The labels even started promoting rock music as different genres. Eventually, the heavy metal section of the record store would be divided to include hard rock, speed metal and extreme metal. In a few more years after that, glam metal and melodic rock would also be listed as categories. But in 1984, regardless of what “genre” a band got labelled with after, we still found the albums in the heavy metal section of the record shop.
Judas Priest still had the world in the palm of their hands with “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin” and then they dropped “Defenders Of The Faith”. “The Sentinel” is my favourite track on the album. I could listen to it over and over again.
The debut album from the “guys from Jersey” is tiny compared to the albums that came after, but it still has some worthy riffs to talk about. So press play on Bon Jovi’s debut.
The fury known as Yngwie Malmsteen dropped his debut album “Rising Force” and neo-classical got an adrenaline shot.
The Fish led era of Marillion dropped “Fugazi”. It was an acquired taste and I enjoyed the music more than the vocals.
When I first heard “Ride The Lightning”, I didn’t even know what kind of music it was. I felt like a chainsaw assaulted my earbuds. It didn’t sound like the hard rock mixes I was used to, as my ears were conditioned to enjoy the Tom Werman, Keith Olsen, Bruce Fairbairn produced albums.
It was original, progressive and it set the track list running template for the future albums which followed.
I didn’t know it then, but Y&T would became one of my favourite bands ever. Their big money Geffen move didn’t happen until the late 80’s and A&M was the wrong label for their classic era. Regardless, Y&T’s is part of my DNA. “In Rock We Trust” I say.
From a copyright point of view, how the hell would David Coverdale do the accounting for the “Slide It In” album. There are the songwriters who would deserve their royalty and then there are the two versions of the album, with different members who would get a performance royalty.
The final Cold Chisel album “Twentieth Century” came out months after they played their final show in December of 83.
And it had three classics in “Saturday Night”, “No Sense” and “Flame Trees”. It’s also hard to believe that “No Second Prize” from Jimmy Barnes solo album that followed this, was submitted and rejected from this album.
I absolutely support that musicians should be paid for their work.
What I don’t get is how the record labels and misguided artists feel entitled to push for stronger copyright enforcement as a way to guarantee an income which is contrary to the foundations of what copyright was designed to do.
The song “Happy Birthday” goes all the way back to 1893 and it was under Copyright protection until 2030 because someone decided to retroactively place it back under copyright. Then there was outrage and then it was part of the public domain.
Copyright protectionism is about protecting old business models. Stronger Copyright has nothing to do about supporting thriving new industries. Stronger Copyright has nothing to do about finding new ways of doing things.
And people do pay for music.
Metallica’s self-titled Black album is still moving on average 2000 units a week. And it is doing this even though millions of copies of the album are available to be downloaded for free. It is doing this even though it is available for streaming on Spotify and YouTube.
Volbeat has been selling records on a weekly basis in the U.S since 2011. They are doing these numbers even though their album/s are available to be downloaded on peer-to-peer networks. They are doing these numbers even though their albums are available for streaming. Same deal with Five Finger Death Punch, Avenged Sevenfold and Skillet. Still selling, regardless of the state of piracy.
So what is it. Do artists need stronger copyright laws or better business models and terms that pay them a fair days pay for a fair days work?
What a great band name, using a police slang term for a motorcyclist crashing and skidding along the road at high speed. Their so called overnight success was 14 plus years in the making that began in different states and different cities, far removed from the Sunset Strip of LA.
Vocalist Gary Jeffries has a huge story to tell. He put in a lot of time playing the bar circuit and his origin story dates back to the Seventies. Eventually he came to L.A in the mid Eighties to audition for QUIET RIOT after original vocalist Kevin DuBrow left. He didn’t get that gig, losing out to Paul Shortino from Rough Cutt.
Start with the debut album. They wanted to call the album “Mood Swing” and once you sink your teeth into it, that is exactly what you will get.
It was produced by Greg Edward who paid his dues as an engineer on big albums like “Scarecrow” from John Cougar Mellencamp and “Like a Rock” from Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band. Virgin Records released the album and it looks like they had no idea how to promote the band or the album in a changing musical landscape.
It was a million dollar blockbuster and the mythology around Motley Crue by 1989 supported and underpinned this blockbuster movie. The drug overdoses, the return from death, the crashed cars, the women, the drugs, the partying, the clashes with the law and the eventual “sobriety”.
It is their first album with Bob Rock, who Nikki found via Ian Astbury from “The Cult”. Remember that music is a relationship business. That is how we are meant to roll. It was recorded in Canada at Little Mountain Studios at the same time that Aerosmith was recording “Pump”. Both of the biggest party bands had committed to a healthy lifestyle, going on jogs together.
The piece de resistance is “Dr Feelgood”. Musically, it is a Mick Mars composition, that he had completely mapped out on his own. He had to take the song to the band a few times before they started to pay attention to it and it was the song that started the ball rolling with Bob Rock, after the band sent him a demo.
Can you imagine Vince Neil singing for a whole day and only having one line of a lyric that was deemed usable?
Yep, that was the standard set by Bob Rock. Of course a million dollar budget didn’t hurt. And didn’t they come a long way from the seven days recording session for “Too Fast For Love”. Album number five left no loose ends.
“Dr Feelgood” set a new standard for hard rock and a lot of the bands like Dokken, Great White, Firehouse, Poison, Ratt and so many others just didn’t take that next step. And of course, shortly after the album was released, Metallica went to Bob Rock and said that they want their own “Dr Feelgood”.
“Today I Caught the Plague” was first. I thought the band name was crap but the debut album “Lore” was a real stand out for 2011. I came across the band by sheer luck when I saw a tour poster from “Protest The Hero” and it had “Today I Caught The Plague” as one of the supports.
While “Lore” was an independent release, “Life In Lucidity” is on Sumerian Records. A label that is perfect for them. Because labels are still the answer to get your name out to the masses. As much as the internet was meant to level the playing field, the labels have more power than ever. So if you want to be on a label, you need to be on a label that specialises and deals with bands that are of similar styles.
The first song I listened to was “Heritage” and I bought the album on iTunes not long after, ordered the CD from Amazon and put it as a favourite on my Spotify playlist.
A very long post covering Zakk’s long career with Ozzy, Pride And Glory, Ozzy again and Black Label Society up to 2014. Check out what I think are essential songs that people should listen to from Mr Berserker Wylde.
And I just kept talking about “Angel Of Mercy”, spreading the gospel on the song from Black Label Society.
Great music must contain emotion. That is why “Angel Of Mercy” connected with me. It hits me emotionally and it makes me feel something. All the great songs do? And because I care for the song, I can’t stop sharing it and talking about it with people who want to listen. And when music is done right, it sells itself.
And that’s a wrap for a month’s worth of DoHistory. Let’s get back to reading blog posts and posting some more content.
Back then I asked the question “If we stop using Spotify or Netflix, would we miss them?”
Since then a lot of other players have taken market share in the steaming world.
I am a heavy user of Spotify. For Netflix its hit and miss. Sometimes I could go weeks without using it and on other occasions it’s every day.
At the moment, in 2022, I also have subscriptions to Stan, Amazon, Paramount+ and Disney.
Being missed when you’re gone is a worthy objective for any organisation. It also should be an objective for any artist. If I stopped listening to music in general, I would miss it. If I stopped listening to music from certain artists I would really miss it.
And the ones who will survive are not those looking for short term profits, but those that realize it’s a war of attrition.
Metallica wanted to re-issue their 1982 demo “No Life To Leather”. Dave Mustaine on Twitter, said the talks broke down because Lars wanted song writing credits on two songs that Mustaine wrote every note and word to. So instead of agreeing to share the song writing, Mustaine passed.
Song writing is always an issue with bands.
Van Halen had all the band members listed as songwriters on all of their albums. Suddenly, when the band re-negotiated their publishing deals for their earlier David Lee Roth albums, Michael Anthony was removed as a song writer.
Skid Row’s Dave Sabo and Rachel Bolan said that Sebastian Bach didn’t contribute to the Skid Row debut album as most of the songs were written before Bach joined. Bach countered to say, that the way he sung the songs, and the way he decided to hold certain notes was enough of a contribution to the debut album and he should be listed as a songwriter. Manager Doc McGhee said Bach has no idea how copyright works.
Nikki Sixx said one of the reasons for Vince Neil’s departure from Motley was due to his lack of song writing contributions, which Vince countered to say he had enough co-writes on Motley’s classic 80’s era to counter that.
100% of the time, when an individual writes a song, there will be music, words and melodies written at the same time.
I went in cold on this as well. The first thing that came to mind was “A Perfect Circle”. So I Googled it and of course it is Billy Howerdel’s project. And he sings on it. The album came out in 2008 and the first time I heard it was May, 2014.
“Keep Telling Myself It’s Alright” is the album name and there is no filler here. Check it out.
“Angel Of Mercy” from Black Label Society always gets me to pay attention.
The song appears on the album “Catacombs Of the Black Vatican” from Black Label Society.
And the lead break is pure magic. Just listen.
It builds and builds to the point where you cannot help but be in awe at the feel, the melodic phrasing and the disciplined technique on display.
The song was never a hit on the Billboard Charts and due to its mellow nature it might never get a live appearance, but god damn it, the song is a classic.
Ozzy probably didn’t know it, but in Zakk, he had a guitarist who could do Black Sabbath better than Black Sabbath, do the works of Randy Rhoads justice. (Of course, as a diehard RR fan, no one could do RR better than RR himself) and Zakk could play Jake E Lee better than Jake E Lee. Zakk once called his Ozzy gig the most glorified covers gig ever, where he gets to play some cool shit written by others and he also gets to play his own shit.
The follow-up self-titled Lynch Mob album had Keith Olsen producing. I suppose anything to do with George Lynch, includes a saga with a lead singer.
Dokken was four years dead. In between that time George Lynch and Mick Brown shacked up together with Lynch Mob and remained with Elektra Records. Jeff Pilson went to War and Peace and lead singer Don Dokken got wined and dined by Geffen Records and jumped ship.
The first post Dokken battle between had Lynch scoring some points with the excellent “Wicked Sensation” coming first. However, Don Dokken and John Kalodner were still building their all-star cast for “Up From The Ashes” and even though the album was an exemplary piece of melodic hard rock, it failed commercially. I suppose Don’s $1 million advance sign on fee didn’t help the budget. But it is still a favourite to me.
And the great momentum built up by the Mark 1 version of Lynch Mob was taken back a few steps with the ousting of vocalist Oni Logan. The story goes that Lynch had a problem with the way Logan sounded live. So after letting Logan go, the band had Glenn Hughes come in. He would sing the songs on the demos and then new singer Robert Mason would record em.
Fun fact for the day is that Glen Hughes did co-write a few tunes with Don Dokken for the “Up From The Ashes” album, with “When Love Finds A Fool” making it to the final cut.
But the album failed to match the sales of “Wicked Sensation” even though “Tangled In The Web” was a Top 10 hit.
Lynch Mob went on tour and Lynch was “not feeling it” with Mason and he wanted to get another singer. That singer was Ray Gillen, who at the time wasn’t interested because he had just completed “Voodoo Highway” with Badlands and was keen to push and promote that album.
If only Gillen knew the fall out that would happen between him and Jake a few months later. Glenn Hughes was considered, however he was discriminated against because of his age.
And then George Lynch returned to Dokken for the already written “Dysfunctional” album and even though as a hard core fan, I thoroughly enjoyed it, the truth of the matter is the band was spent. And we can speculate or argue why or just revel in the greatness of what came before.
The recording industry tells us that we need more Copyright for music to thrive and survive. But nursery rhymes survived all this time without the recording industry and copyright.
Say bye-bye to the old and say hello to the new. Here is a list of the new nursery rhymes that my two-year old loves.
“We’re Not Gonna Take It”
Back in the Eighties, the PMRC listed “We’re Not Gonna Take It” as number 7 on their filthy fifteen list. And the reason why it was on the list. Violence. Yep, Tipper Gore and her housewives found the song to be violent while millions upon millions of adolescent teens found it empowering.
“Cum On Feel The Noize”, “Rock and Roll”, “Rock N Roll All Nite”
Songs about letting your hair down.
“Livin On A Prayer” and “Don’t Stop Believin”
Two songs are about never giving up and believing in yourself. And those people are still believing with billion plus streams for these songs.
“Eye Of The Tiger”
The “Rocky III” producers wanted to use “Another One Bites The Dust” however they could not get permission to use the song, so Sylvester Stallone hired Survivor to write an original song instead.
“We Will Rock You”
The boom boom cha. It’s undeniable.
And these songs get passed on via word of mouth. It’s how culture rolls.
Six years had passed since Death Magnetic was released.
Led Zeppelin Reissue’s
Seriously. How many times can someone own the original three albums or the songs contained within those albums.
Seriously. Is this still an issue in 2014?
Streaming Doesn’t Pay
It does pay. If you are not getting any of the pie speak to the label or the organisation that holds your rights.
They are irrelevant. All they do is give the old guard a way to measure something that is irrelevant because the new way to measure an artist’s reach is just too hard to fathom for them.
Are people listening to the album?
Press Releases for new albums
People can see through the hype. We don’t care when bands say “how great this new album is” or “how it is a definitive statement of the band right now”. All we care about is if we like it. If we do like it, we will talk about and we will push it. If it is crap, expect it to disappear.
Because if publicity does increase sales, then bands should be selling by the millions and selling out their shows. But they don’t.
And that’s another wrap of DoH history for a week.
Life always throws curveballs. I have reached the stage in my life where I don’t have the time to do my full time IT job. I wouldn’t have it any other way with all of the family distractions, however my blogging has suffered a fair bit in 2022, from the usual daily posts to a post or two in a week and then back to daily posts and then to one or two a week again. Even reading and commenting on posts has gone a bit slack, but I will get around to reviewing it all.
So here is a two week review of Destroyer Of Harmony History.
4 Years Ago (2018)
Copyright was designed to protect the artist and to enhance culture. It did this, by giving the artist a monopoly on their works, so they could make money from their works and have an incentive to create further works. This monopoly was for a short period with the option to renew. Once the expiry date passed, the works became part of the public domain for future generations to build on and use. Like how the 60’s musicians took all the Blues classics from the 30’s that had terms which expire in the 50s and the “British Invasion” was born.
Corporations started to rise because of these monopolies and what we have now is a copyright standard so far removed from what copyright was meant to be. For over a century the record label has built up a history of owning songs it shouldn’t be owning.
“Why would a label be insisting on keeping a property that has stopped selling, that they don’t have any plans to re-promote except when the artist dies?” Todd Rundgren
“Of all the creative work produced by humans anywhere, a tiny fraction has continuing commercial value. For that tiny fraction, the copyright is a crucially important legal device” Lawrence Lessig
The songwriters and the actual artists will never be properly compensated because of poor record keeping from the record labels and the publishing organisations, but these same organisations blame the technology companies for not doing enough to seek out the songwriters.
But the labels licensed their catalogues to the techies, so wouldn’t they have the information as to who wrote what. Especially for the lesser artists.
There is a scene in the “Uncensored” video with Vince Neil cruising down the Sunset Strip in a limo with a spa pool and he’s talking about the name of the next album, called “Girls, Girls, Girls”.
On May 15, 1987, “Girls Girls Girls” comes out and the world was treated to two video clips. The “Censored” clip and the “Uncensored” one. MTV had a ball with it.
And the clip is misleading. While it looks like the guys are having fun, attending strip clubs and dropping bills into knickers, Nikki Sixx was in the spiralling grip of a heroin addiction, Mick Mars was blacking out from alcoholism, Tommy Lee was coking it up, screwing anything that moved and somehow managed to get married and still screw anything that moved, while Vince Neil was still on probation from his car crash homicide and pretending to be sober. In other words, life in the Crue was chaos with a capital MC.
The best track on the album is the opener, Nikki’s religious sermon to the street life of L.A. “Wild Side” is perfect, from the riffs, the drum groove, the vocal melodies and of course, the lyrics.
Kneel down ya sinners to streetwise religion Greed has been crowned the new king
From a commercial perspective, “Girls” was competing against “Slippery When Wet” from Bon Jovi, “The Final Countdown” from Europe and Whitesnake’s 1987 self-titled album for listeners attention. “Look What the Cat Dragged In” from Poison was also rising. But it not only competed, it went toe to toe with all of those releases and Motley came out on top in the live box office. Hell, even Whitesnake was opening up for them.
And who can forget the words from management, that if the band went to Europe to tour, they will come home in body bags. “Girls” would be the end of the Motley band as we knew it. A snapshot of how a band can take alcohol and drugs to the limits.
Artists always had a lot of songs in the bank. Sometimes they didn’t even release their best song. They always withheld some for the next album and the album after. And they kept on writing.
Majority of artists are intrinsically motivated. The joy of creating a new song is what motivates them. If the song gets public acceptance, and it brings in money, great. As long as they are still motivated by the joy of creating a new song, they will be fine. As soon as they are motivated by the need to match or better the popularity of the “hit” song, then they are in trouble.
Social media is there to give you instant feedback. After the show is over, people are commenting. After a song is released, people are commenting. It gives you the ability to connect and know your fans, to interact with them and to get a feel for what they like and want from you.
Remember music is forever, and it needs people to like it. Be creative and never stop.
It takes artists a while, but they eventually realise how much their copyrights are worth. Nikki Sixx on Twitter said that the best industry lesson he learned was that Motley Crue didn’t really need a record label after the first two albums. And this antipathy towards labels ended up with Motley Crue getting their rights to the Masters back in 1998 from Elektra.
And then you have instances where artists need to sell their songwriting credits because of bad business decisions. K.K. Downing, founded Judas Priest. He left the band in 2011 due to issues with the other members and he purchased a golf course, which went into administration. As part of bankruptcy, Downing sold the rights to 136 songs he co-wrote. According to the article, these songs generate $340K to $400K in royalty payments annually back in 2018. Those numbers are only growing and the Copyright holders, (the Labels and The Publishers) are making their money back tenfold.
On the other side, is the graphic artists who normally get paid a flat fee for their services to create/design an album cover. At the time of designing the cover, no one really knows the impact the album might have on culture. So is the graphic artist to get paid extra when the album they designed the cover for broke through and sold millions. Case in point, Jethro Tull and the iconic “Aqualung” cover.
In the 70’s a young artist was hired by Chrysalis for $1,500 via a handshake deal to create three paintings to his style and content for Jethro Tull’s new album. The album went on to become Jethro Tull’s best-selling album, with over 7 million copies sold and so many anniversary editions issued. And apart from the great music, the album cover has become iconic, being re-issued on cassettes, CD’s, T-shirts and what not. And the artist who painted it, well, the label contends it was a “work for hire” agreement. And with no written contract, the label can say anything, so Chrysalis (now Warner Brothers) said the copyright for the paintings belonged to them. Fancy that. A label claiming to own the artistic rights to art.
When it comes to artists and copyright law, it’s very messy, especially for famous works as the companies don’t want to lose the rights to valuable works. So the corporations always try to extend Copyright terms.
As much as I like using Spotify, once they reach critical mass, the prices will go up. But it’s easier said than done, as there is a lot of competition in streaming these days. And one of the key role of our governments is to make sure monopolies don’t exist, but every time they pass a piece of legislation, they more or less give rise to monopolies. Copyright monopoly anyone.
And back in 2018, my Netflix subscription went up and it went up again last year, while the shows I watched they keep cancelling like “Altered Carbon” or “Sense8”. But like all technology companies, once you reach critical mass, the price goes up. Maybe it’s time to reassess my financial commitments to these organizations.
Cinderella’s “Long Cold Winter” had its 30th Anniversary on May 21, 1988. It’s was good then and it’s still good today, a timeless album.
And on May 23, 1979, Kiss released “Dynasty”. It was my first Kiss album on LP and of course, due to having so little product to listen to, it became a favourite. However, my brothers friends who had the earlier Kiss albums hated this album.
On May 24, 1988, Van Halen released “OU812”. The piece d’resistance is “Mine All Mine”. It wasn’t just competing with the singles from this album for attention, it was competing with “Jump”, “Panama”, “Dreams”, “Summer Nights” and “Why Can’t This be Love” for attention. Because in the MTV era, songs had some legs.
And everything these bands represent is opposite to what is popular on the charts today. Today it’s all about the beat and it doesn’t feel personal which is opposite of what music should be.
Playing in a band is tough. Everyone wants to do it, but the long road to make some money and no safety net scared a lot of people off. And the ones who stuck it out, are still sticking it out.
Some broke through, some got signed and released music on a label and some still play the bar/club scene. These days, artists can record and release their music themselves, while holding down a full time job that pays.
Music is a lifers game. Because it’s alienating. When you write music, you are normally alone, surrounded by feelings. When you are on the road, you end up alone in a hotel room and for some artists they never come home alive. It’s hard to even speak about depression today, especially when you are surrounded by social media and it’s “everybody’s a winner” message.
So while society might base itself around the winners on social media, the truth is we all lose, each and every one of us at some point in time.
Did anyone hear about the copyright infringement suit between The Script and James Arthur.
Back in 2018, James Arthur’s “Say You Won’t Let Go” released in 2016 had 846 million streams on Spotify and on YouTube it had over 600 million views.
Meanwhile “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved” from The Script, released in 2008, doesn’t even rate a mention in the Top 10 streamed songs for The Script and even their biggest song, “Hall of Fame” released in 2012 is sitting at 419 million streams on Spotify. On YouTube, “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved” has 172 million views.
G, D, Em and C is the chord progression under question. The Script are adamant that the way they use the Chord progression with the vocal melody is unique and original and they are the first ones EVER to do it. Go to a Christian church and a lot of the songs they sing there use this chord progression. Pick up any album from any era and this chord progression will be there.
The songs do sound similar, but any song which uses this chord progression will sound similar. Of course it’s no surprise that the attorney’s representing “The Script” are the same ones Marvin Gaye’s heirs used for “Blurred Lines”. According to The Script’s legal team, at stake is $20 million dollars.
The reason why music became such a large commercial force is because songs sounded similar. In the book “Hitmakers” by Derek Thompson, it mentions how our tastes in music are based on something we’ve heard before with some slight variation.
How many times have we stumbled upon a new song that we like, listen to it constantly on repeat while we try to figure out what other song it sounds like?
But we live in a world that if someone is winning, someone must be losing. So in this case, James Arthur is winning and The Script are losing, because he is winning with a song that sounds similar to their song and their song sounds similar to another song and that other song sounds similar to another song and so on.
8 Years Ago (2014)
Remember the days of purchasing an album based on a heavily marketed opening track and to find out that the album had 1 great song and 2 to 3 maybe 4 decent songs. And the rest were there as pure filler.
After being burnt so many times on purchases like these, did the labels or artist need any more evidence as to why people took to cherry picking when the mp3 became available. And with streaming, we have taken it up a notch.
The big songs just keep getting bigger and the album cuts are forgotten. A lot of music listeners wouldn’t even be able to name the album that had “Don’t Stop Believin’”.
Yep the labels are at it again. Using money that should be paid to their artists to buy shares in another technology company.
This time around Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment have each bought $3 million in shares in Shazam Entertainment on top of the stake they own in Spotify.
The record labels still scream that there is no money in the recording business because of piracy. Yet, Universal Music has also purchased shares in Beats Music and when the Apple billion dollar purchase is complete of Beats, it will be even richer.
Yet, a recent IFPI report shows that the labels invested $4.5 billion in artist and repertoire. If there is no money in the recording business,then why would the record labels spend so much money on artist and repertoire.
Because artists are the lifeblood of the music industry. And it is artists that make the labels money. No one buys an album because Elektra released it.
The labels have purchasing power because of the artists.
The labels have status because of the artists.
The artists have made the label executives more wealthy than the best-selling artists.
So if the record labels own shares in Spotify and Shazam, does that mean by default, the artists also own those shares. The answer should be YES.
Every corporation in power, when faced with the inevitabilities of competition, have a nasty habit of pushing backwards. They assume that by killing off any competition before it gets some momentum, they have done enough to protect their business models. They assume that if they lobby or bribe hard enough and get even more draconian laws passed, it will give them more power to prevent any further problems down the line.
But change is eternal. It is progress and it cannot be stopped. Try as the corporations will, change always happen.
The recording industry built an empire decades ago based on the control of the media and the distribution chains. Teenage kids from 1999 built a better system.
And the system allows for the transitioning of power and control back to the audience and the actual creators. But the artists want to apply the old charging system to the new system.
It should be the norm that in 2014, if a person still buys a physical CD or LP of the artists, that same person should be able to download that whole album via a download site that the artist controls. Coheed and Cambria did this with “The Afterman” releases. Amazon offers it via the AutoRip option however not all artists opt in.
It should be the norm that in 2014, if a person wants to download an MP3 rip of an album for free, they should be able to do it. If Pirate sites make so much money from advertisements, then why don’t the record labels provide the same service that they pirate sites provide and even reward those uploaders for continuing to spread culture instead of locking it up. These people would never have purchased physical anyway.
Music is cultural. It was always possible to identify people’s musical tastes by the clothes they wore and the style of their hair. Our musical identity was a source of pride.
The definition of a casual music fan twenty to thirty years ago meant having a high music IQ and typically purchasing a seven inch single on a weekly basis. The definition of a casual music fan today means having a lower music IQ about who was involved in the song’s creation and focusing all on the song.
Nobody owes a musician a living and what is valuable is subjective.
From the beginning of time, musicians always made money from public performances.
Copyright at its basic level ensures that people receive compensation for a valuable good that they spend time and energy to create. This creates an incentive to put more time and energy into producing new work. Longer Copyright terms do not benefit the original creator in any way whatsoever.
People start to create for the sake of creation rather than money.
Whether people want to admit it or not, every song that is written relies on some sort of connection to past works.
Piracy has never been the problem. The RIAA just found it convenient to blame Piracy. It was all a smokescreen to fool the politicians into action so that they can get control back over the distribution/gatekeeper monopoly they had.
Recording revenues never recovered because it turns out that most people just want the best songs and not all of the songs.
There is a big difference between getting paid a “living wage” and earning one. Just because a musician creates a song or records an album, it doesn’t mean that you need to get paid a living wage. You need an audience that believes that you have provided a service to them by releasing your music.
Music is something people choose to do free and money is a by-product of doing music. A wage is something your employer pays you for doing your part in bringing him profit. If you want a wage for playing music and you are not a superstar act, then you need to put in your 40 hours a week. Be a music teacher, gig every day.
Being paid is good, but being known is better.
You could say wrong time, wrong place.
I am always into bands that can take the AC/DC style of rock n roll and spruce it up with their own twists without sounding too much of a copycat. Junkyard was such a band that did it really well with their debut album released in 1989.
A lot of people believe that the Guns N Roses comparison is the reason why Geffen Records became interested. To put it into context, Guns N Roses didn’t really take over the world until 1988 and by then, Junkyard already had a record deal in place with Geffen records.
The excellent Tom Werman was on hand to produce the debut album that came out in 1989. The engineer was Duane Baron who was also no slouch in the producer chair either.
While others complain about Werman’s work ethic or input, the Junkyard team had nothing but praise. However, another candidate that was considered was Matt Wallace, who did the initial demos that Geffen financed before they gave the go ahead for the full album to be recorded. Matt Wallace was a more eclectic producer, being involved with artists like “The Replacements”, “John Hiatt” and “Faith No More”.
They wrote and recorded material for a third album with the working title “103,000 People Can’t Be Wrong” (which was a reference to the first week sales of album number 2) but the record never got made for various reasons.
The band wanted to produce it themselves so Geffen gave them an ultimatum.
Record it with a real producer, however they will give no marketing support or touring support.
Or they would release the band from their deal and allow the band to shop the record to other labels.
But no other label would come forth to support them as all of the labels had moved on to find the next Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden or Alice In Chains.
It’s there Eighth album.
How many bands out there had their biggest album on their 8th release?
Just to put it into context. Metallica’s 8th album was “St Anger”. Motley Crue’s 8th album was “New Tattoo”. Aerosmith’s 8th album was “Done With Mirrors”. Black Sabbath’s 8th album was “Never Say Die”. Ozzy’s 8th album was “Down To Earth”. Bon Jovi’s 8th album was “Bounce”.
When I heard the “Fireworks” album from Bonfire I got the impression that they were superstars already. The album to me is a definitive piece of hard rock, melodic rock, heavy metal and euro metal all merged into one cohesive package.
I had a friend who had a friend who had a friend that made me a copy of the album on cassette. I had no idea who was in the band, who wrote the songs, who produced it and on what label it was on.
What I did know was the music. And the music was great.
In the end, Bonfire was one of the thousands of bands that signed contracts stacked against them and of course they got ripped off.
The “Breaking the Chains” clip was all over MTV but no one was buying the album of the same name.
The band was doing an arena tour with Blue Oyster Cult and the label still wanted to drop them.
“Tooth and Nail” was Dokken’s last shot. The band recorded it and then they went back to their day jobs. Mick Brown and George Lynch went back to driving trucks while Don Dokken went back to buying, fixing and selling cars.
Then the album blew up.
Put aside the band politics and the legendary Lynch/Dokken wars. Just pay attention to the songs, especially the backs to the wall attitude that you can hear emanating from the speakers.
Sykes first official band was an outfit called “Streetfighter”. They played mainly cover songs and an original song called “She’s No Angel” appeared on a compilation album called “New Electric Warrior”. There was also an EP released which can be found on YouTube with Sykes playing guitar and doing vocals.
In 1980, Sykes saw an ad for a lead guitar position. He auditioned and ended up joining Tygers Of Pan Tang for two albums, “Spellbound” and “Crazy Nights”. Although good albums, they didn’t sell like the record label wanted them to sell.
Meanwhile, Sykes was getting some recognition and was even asked to audition for Ozzy Osbourne’s band.
In the book “Thin Lizzy” by Alan Byrne, its mentioned how Sykes was brought into Thin Lizzy on the suggestion of producer Chris Tsangarides who had worked with Sykes in Tygers Of Pan Tang, and also secured a deal for Sykes with MCA to release a song that Sykes had written.
“Thunder and Lightning” started to re-establish Thin Lizzy in the 80’s as they album had a metal heavy rock edge. At the same time, David Coverdale tried to hire Adrian Vandenberg and Mama’s Boys Pat McManus on guitar however they both rejected the offer. John Sykes was then offered a million dollars advance payment to join Whitesnake.
Mel Galley eventually left the band during the tour and Sykes went on to handle the guitar parts himself. Jon Lord also left to reunite with Deep Purple, thus making Whitesnake a four-piece of Coverdale, Sykes, Murray and Powell.
Money plays a part in every band and Whitesnake was no different. Cozy Powell didn’t like what he was offered to continue with the band and left. Aynsley Dunbar got his chance and ended up being the drummer for Whitesnake’s most successful album.
The 1987 Whitesnake sessions had delays, illnesses and personality issues. Murray didn’t know if he was in the band or out of the band, however he kept on turning up to the studio and completing his bass parts. Coverdale told them all to explore other projects if they got a chance as the money from Geffen was running out and Coverdale couldn’t keep them on the payroll.
The 87 album was rumoured to have cost $3M dollars to write and record. This financial pressure destroyed the song writing partnership known as Coverdale/Sykes. It could have been one of the best song writing partnerships in hard rock music for many years after, but we’ll never know. David Coverdale called the writing process a “musical conversation” between Sykes and himself. And we got to hear the results of the musical conversation.
Remember in “The Social Network”, the final scene, Zuckerberg is alone in his house, surrounded by darkness except from the light coming from his computer and he is still sending friend requests to his ex-girlfriend who told him she doesn’t want to see him or hear from him again because he is a sociopath. It sure seems a very social way to communicate with someone.
But he was a misfit in his circle and a lot of people identify with misfits. It’s a big reason why rock music became a commercial force. Today, those metal and rock T-shirts are available everywhere as designer clothing, but once upon a time, they were patches earned from a lifestyle lived. Because it was all about the music. Divided we lived, but united we stood.
Then we grew up, started to earn money, started to borrow money and suddenly we became part of the rat race. And no one forced us to enter the rat race. We tried to climb a greasy pole, believing if we worked hard enough, we would get to the top.
We might live in a country that is a democracy, however as long as you are living to please others and to build other people’s dreams then you are not free. Without realising it, your whole life is tied to a job.
Everyone has a story and the less you have in possessions and dollars, the more you have struggled, the better the story is. So the story of this generation should be about standing up against injustice. When pushed to the wall, how do you react?
Life is a process, with ups and downs. We fall in and out of love. We make money, lose money. We have children, watch them grow up and then we are alone. And somehow through it all we survive almost anything thrown at us and come out of it for the better. As long as we made a choice.
You can choose a ready guide In some celestial voice. If you choose not to decide You still have made a choice You can choose from phantom fears And kindness that can kill; I will choose a path that’s clear- I will choose free will Free Will by Rush
So many people have grown up in countries where free speech is respected. But today, people are scared to speak freely, scared to be attacked by the bots, the trolls, the politically correct hipsters, the angry left, the angry right and whatever else the internet social media predators can throw at you.
Maybe it’s time to say we’re not gonna take it anymore.
There was a saying that if you followed enough of the rules, you would get a recording contact, millions of dollars and the red carpet. Perhaps one in a 1,000,000 acts pull this off. Actually you have a higher probability of being hit by a comet than making a lot of money in music.
So, the record labels wanted to maintain the sales model but they got dragged kicking and screaming to downloads. Credit Apple for pushing it and credit Warner Music for being the first major to sign. Suddenly their revenues went up. But they still complained. They screamed to their friends in politics for laws to be passed. Then streaming came out and they got dragged kicking and screaming to streaming. They even got a percentage of the streaming company and surprise, surprise, the revenues went up again.
Times are changing. Nothing will look the same in relation to labels and streaming companies in the next ten years.
As for the labels, they are not going away. Morphing more into marketing companies, who could help with your world domination ideals, but do you need them.
But for over a century the record label has built up a history of owning songs it shouldn’t be owning. It’s ridiculous. An artist signs a deal, pays off all the costs associated with the album and somehow, the label still owns the copyright. The battle for artists to regain their rights is happening.
According to Nielsen Music, almost 70% of the monies received by the labels is because of older catalogue items. So giving back the artist their copyrights as dictated by law is bad business for the labels. As the article states, around 20 artists have reclaimed their rights from the thousands who are entitled to.
And the labels pull out all the tricks, like telling the artist they will pay them a higher royalty rate (which is useless if the label does nothing to re-promote the tunes) or paying the artist a large advance to hold on to profitable masters.
Then came hedge funds and investment houses, purchasing older catalogues for a lot of money.
It seems that the ones who passed away before the internet age are more or less forgotten by the masses unless they were part of a superstar act or where the superstar act themselves.
Criss Oliva who tragically passed away on October 17, 1993 when a drunk driver crossed the road and hit Criss Oliva and his wife head on in a motor vehicle accident.
The “Gutter Ballet” LP was my first introduction to Savatage. Without knowing how the band sounded, the excellent album cover by Gary Smith was the decisive factor.
This album was a true turning point for the band.
It didn’t sell in the millions, but a classic album it is none the less. As a by-product it also became a leader for a new genre that incorporated power metal with orchestral/symphonic flourishes.
“Of Rage And War” kicks off proceedings with helicopters and other sounds from the various war machines. The whole intro reminds me of Megadeth. The song is about transforming powerlessness into anger.
“Gutter Ballet” is the epic six-minute anthem. It starts off with that melancholic piano intro in the key of D minor and then when the guitars come in along with the head stomping drums, the song transitions into a unique groove of “hard rock” clashing with “classical” and “classical” clashing with “symphonic” elements. It leaves an everlasting memory.
In the end it is the guitar the drives the song along. Check out the whole section before the lead break, then the lead break itself and then the syncopated parts coming out of the lead break. It’s perfect and the legato phrasing is liquid like melodic.
The title “Gutter Ballet” actually came from a play that producer Paul O’Neill had written in the early seventies, which of course went on to become the basis for the “Streets” concept album that followed “Gutter Ballet”.
“Temptation Revelation” follows and it is an instrumental. At one stage it was the original title for the LP. The guitar work from Criss Oliva again makes it. It has this Euro-Vibe style of guitar playing.
“When The Crowds Are Gone” is one of the best ballads, ever. Jon’s melancholic voice carries the song as it is filled with genuine emotion.
“Silk And Steel” is another instrumental and it reminds me of “Air” from Jason Becker. Another guitarist that in this case was tragically struck down with a terminal illness. “Silk And Steel” is a highlight as it features Criss Oliva’s at his “Segovia” best. A virtuosic, lively and carefree performance.
Side one ended and I needed to replay it before I moved onto side two. That is how music should be. Replayable over and over again.
“She’s In Love” kicks off side 2. The only song with weak lyrics, however it is important to note its place in the Savatage canon and an ode to the Accept style of Hard Rock/Metal that Savatage also dabbled in.
“Hounds” was an inspiration to me as a guitarist. I used the songs structure as a template for songs that I would write back then. I loved it’s epic feel and under it all there is this doomy technical atmosphere.
“The Unholy” could be from any classic metal album. The whole intro at first reminds me of “Lucretia” from Megadeth.
“Mentally Yours” sounds like an Alice Cooper song. Even the lyrical themes are very shock-rock Cooperish.
“Summer’s Rain” is another great ballad.
Criss Oliva is one of the most emotive and eclectic metal guitarists. The album is littered with so many different guitar techniques.
All in all, if metal is your taste then you need to hear this album. If you are a genre hopping musical fan, then this album is a must for the metal genre.
Who remembers watching interviews or reading interviews from their favourite bands about how much the band members loved each other, how they are brothers and so forth.
The cold hard truth is this. Bands/artists want to show a solidarity, a unity. They don’t want people and fans of the band to see weaknesses, so they try their best to make it look like everything appears fine on the surface.
However underneath it is a different story.
Every biography I have read, from “The Dirt” about Motley Crue, to “Enter Night” about Metallica, to “Lifting Shadows” about Dream Theater, to “Face The Music” about Kiss or to Dave Mustaine’s bio about his career. The same theme is prevalent throughout. The band members didn’t like each other.
No one really speaks their mind as it would cause problems in the band. And when dollars are at stake, management is doing their best to suppress what people think.
Song writing is the main reason. When you see artists leaving an act due to musical differences, its because they wanted to have their songs included on an album, however the other members kept on rejecting the songs or changing the song loses it’s soul.
Look at a few bands that are doing the circuit today and they have their own issues with members.
Volbeat – holding on to lead guitarists is problematic.
Five Finger Death Punch – holding on to bass players and lead guitar players is problematic. And recently they changed drummers.
In This Moment – holding on to bass players, guitar players and drummers is proving problematic.
Shinedown – holding on to bass players and lead guitar players is problematic.
Dream Theater – vocalist change after one album, three different keyboardists and a drummer change.
Trivium – changing drummers on a regular basis, however over the last few years it looks they have settled on that issue.
Evergrey – only Tom Englund is the original member.
Machine Head – only Robb Flynn is the original member.
The way we improve as humans is by finding a better way of doing things. In other words we copy what we see and we improve upon it. We do that from the day we are born.
The whole English rock movement in the sixties was born from copying the blues and folk movements and improving on them.
Keith Richards even went on to say that you can’t copyright the blues as all of the blues standards were copied over and over again so that thousands of derivative works existed.
Deep Purple built a career on taking certain sections from jazz standards that Jon Lord knew and turning them into rock songs.
Led Zeppelin built a career on taking certain sections from obscure folk songs, unsigned aritsts they toured with, blues standards and blending them into definitive masterpieces.
Black Sabbath had their roots in blues, classical and jazz. They borrowed from those genres. Listen to Bill Ward’s drumming on the early records. It’s almost got a swing, jazz feel to it.
Metallica initially built a career on taking certain sections from obscure New Wave Of British Metal acts and turning them into thrash metal masterpieces. For the self-titled BLACK album, the lead off track “Enter Sandman” has an intro that is copied and improved on from a local Californian band.
It is human nature that we are always looking at ways to improve. And copying something that came before, and then adding incremental improvements to it is how we do it.
One thing I do know is that copying is a key ingredient in the process of creating new works and it is a shame that the corporations that owe the majority of the copyrights are destroying this culture so that they can protect their bottom lines.
Look at any artist or band you like and you will notice one important element. They are lifers in the music business.
Dee Snider went through a long and drawn-out bankruptcy after Twisted Sister imploded. This is his big low from the platinum highs of “Stay Hungry” three years earlier. After bankruptcy he was free to make a new record and re-negotiate publishing deals.
The next high came when he signed a high pay deal with Elektra Records for the project that would become “Desperado”.
The next low started when Dee got that call that Elektra Records had dropped “Desperado” and shelved the album. That kicked off a process of more lows. Elektra didn’t just drop Desperado, they also prevented Dee from recording for any other label. Basically a record label that claims they are here to protect artists was destroying the career and personal finances of an artist.
Dee Snider just kept on going, trying to get the rights to his songs returned to him. He kept on going trying to get the right to license the Desperado record to another label for a fair price. In the end, the only thing that Elektra Records would accept was full reimbursement of the money they’d laid out for the deal—$500,000 or $50,000 per song.
But, but, the record labels are here to protect their artists.
The truth is, the record labels are there to make money from the lifers in the music business. It’s that simple.
It is those outliers, those misfits that end up changing the world.
Metallica got traction when they first came out because they didn’t fit in. And then when the “thrash scene” started to become saturated, Metallica delivered an album that didn’t fit into that scene and sold 25+ million in the U.S alone. Suddenly, elitists of that movement labelled them as sell outs.
Same goes for Motley Crue. Love em or hate em, when all the labels were looking for Devo style post rock acts in the early Eighties, along comes Motley Crue. Merging punk attitude with classic rock they paved the way for another band with a bigger appetite for destruction.
Guns N Roses came in an era when every label wanted a band like Bon Jovi. They came in an era when every label wanted their current roster of bands to deliver an album like “Slippery When Wet”. How anti-Bon Jovi was the classic Guns N Roses line-up? And guess what, they sold millions upon millions of albums. And they did it by not fitting in.
Dream Theater got traction in the era of Grunge. Even the analysts are still scratching their heads at that one. How could a progressive rock band break through when the record labels along with the media perpetuated the myth that knowing how to play your instrument was uncool.
The thing is most of the artists that we like never really fit into any circle/genre when they came out.
Foxy Shazam and “Welcome To The Church Of Rock And Roll”.
Who’s that guy singing?
That was my first impression. I was hearing Geddy Lee from Rush. I was hearing Freddie Mercury from Queen. I was hearing Robert Plant from Led Zeppelin.
“Your music sucks including us It’s time we cleared our name”
Rock N Roll is a virus that never leaves the body. We all always return to it over and over again.
“All you suckers are a flock of sheep I’ll be your shepherd, follow me”
Hallelujah is what I say.
And then as soon as I got into the song it was over after 2 minutes. It was like a freight train going off the rails and screaming the message for the “Church Of Rock N Roll”. I couldn’t get it out of my head so I replayed it over and over again. And the magic went through me one more time.
WHO ARE THESE GUYS!
It is that kind of album. It had me interested to find out more. When I heard it in 2012, I had no idea who was in the band, who produced it or how long the band had been together. It’s always cool to hear a fresh sounding retro album while most of the other acts chase modern rock hits that they still don’t have. The first eight tracks are special.
The album is produced by Justin Hawkins from “The Darkness” fame and you can hear the vocal influence on Eric Sean Nally.
And “Welcome To The Church of Rock ‘N’ Roll” is a classic because it hops genre’s so effortlessly and Foxy Shazam get away with doing a good job at it. It doesn’t sound like pop music but it does sound like the classics on radio. And back in 2012, it had me spreading the gospel of Foxy Shazam.
You are an artist performing solo or within a band.
You decide to record an album.
You spend time and effort writing, recording, producing, mixing and mastering your latest opus.
You do some promo and release it.
It doesn’t sell what you expected. Once upon a time, the definition of a successful act was based on how many records they sold.
And the streams are growing slowly but not enough in the first week. But after a year or two, the streams start growing and growing and growing.
Five Finger Death Punch came out in the piracy/streaming era, and that hasn’t stopped the band from racking up Platinum and Gold certifications. But it took time. It wasn’t an overnight, first week sales success.
And fans consume music differently. They will buy music. They will stream music. Some will do both, buy and stream. They will download music without paying for it. They will download and pay for it. They will buy a concert ticket or a T-shirt or a book from the artist. They might miss the first few albums and then invest a lot of dollars in a limited/deluxe edition release.
WASP released “The Crimson Idol” in the early nineties. Commercially it didn’t do anything to get a certification. But it is seen as Blackie Lawless’s finest achievement.
Machine Head released “The Blackening” in 2007. It didn’t sell to get a certification, however it allowed Machine Head to go on a three-year victory lap on the back of it, touring the world over and over and over again. It was hailed by Metal Hammer as the album of the decade. It is also seen as Machine Head’s definitive masterpiece.
I sort of did a history post called “2009: This week (April 1 to April 6) – 5 years ago”.
I just went back and looked at some events that happened in the music business.
Record Labels: The 360 deals that the labels had artists sign had a lot of headlines as the labels found a new way to get more money from the artists. In this case, the 360 deals take income from touring and merchandise for almost nothing in return.
As a guitar player it was that C#m7(add9) chord that i always return to.
It is basically a C#5 power chord played on the 4th fret on the A string. Add the ninth note (the D#) and then let the open B and E strings resonate. It is a beautiful sounding chord. When you tab it out, it looks like this.
——0– ——0– ——8– ——6– ——4– ———
The first time I heard a power chord with the added 9th was in “Message In A Bottle” and then again in “Every Breath You Take” by The Police.
Both songs have Sting as the songwriter, however the real credit goes to Andy Summers. He was the one that took a keyboard line or a bass line and made it rock.
Then I heard that chord again in 1992. From bands I had no idea about. One band was Dream Theater and the mighty John Petrucci used it in “Take The Time”.
The other band was Saigon Kick and their very underrated guitarist/founder/main songwriter/producer/record label owner/studio owner and general music business lifer, Jason Bieler also employed the same sounding chord in the song “Love Is On The Way”.
And that chord has been in my arsenal ever since. If I need to play a C#m chord in a song, this is the one i play.
The other chord is this G#m9(#5) that I heard in “Jet City Woman” by Queensryche and again in “Another Day” by Dream Theater.
——0– ——0– ——3– ——4– ——X– ——4–
Hearing “Love Is On The Way” again today, brought back all of those memories.
And that is what music is all about. A soundtrack to our lives. Memories from different times that somehow connect with one another. That is what the C#m7(add9) chord achieved.
THEN Bands/Artists needed to be busy to make it or stay relevant.
NOW Bands/Artists still need to be busy to make it or stay relevant. Just check out George Lynch and the amount of releases since 2008. Or Mark Tremonti or Myles Kennedy and their involvement in various projects.
At the time, Avenged Sevenfold was out on the road promoting the “Hail To The King” album, working on the “Deathbat” game and an anniversary re-issue for “Waking The Fallen”.
THEN The challenge was getting your music heard
NOW The challenge is still about getting heard.
THEN No one toured South and Central America.
NOW Touring dollars are in South and Central America. If you are an established band and are not touring South/Central America, then you are leaving money on the table.
THEN Platinum selling bands/artists were told that they owed the label millions.
Van Halen comes to mind here during the Van Halen II era. “We went platinum. We toured for a year, we came back, and Warner Bros. told us that we owed them $2 million,” said drummer Alex Van Halen.
“And on top of that, we owed them another record,” added guitarist Eddie Van Halen.
“It was the end of the year. We had three weeks to deliver another record…then boom, we went straight out on tour again. The first record took about a week, seven days to do. The second record took about three weeks.”
NOW Platinum selling bands/artists are still told that they owe the label millions.
THEN Bands/Artists covered songs as a career choice and made them unique. They made those cover songs their own. Van Halen did it with “You Really Got Me” and again with “You’re No Good”, which Linda Ronstadt also covered.
NOW Bands/Artists do cover songs as a tribute to their influence.
THEN The Record Labels didn’t know what would succeed or what would fail.
Metallica’s “Kill Em All” was independently financed.
Motely Crue’s “Too Fast For Love” was independently financed.
NOW The Record Labels still don’t know what would succeed or what would fail.
Five Finger Death Punch is a big seller in the world of metal and hard rock and they couldn’t get a deal at the start so they self-financed their debut and issued it on a small subsidiary label.
THEN Music was a risk business.
NOW Music is still a risk business.
THEN Labels invested in a lot of projects because they didn’t know what would connect.
NOW Labels invest in fewer projects and blame piracy because they still don’t know what will connect.
THEN Recording was expensive.
NOW Recording is cheap.
THEN Distribution was expensive and controlled by gatekeepers.
NOW Distribution is cheap.
THEN Marketing was all about radio and record shops.
NOW It is about Spotify, YouTube, social media and virality.
THEN Labels had executive boards/owners that were music fans.
NOW Labels have executive boards that are actual business executives.
The rise of the internet, has given rise to sites like UltimateGuitar.com and Songsterr, which has full transcriptions of songs from artists.
The beauty of it all is that the transcriptions are free and made by musicians who are fans of the band. Some of the more complex progressive stuff is also out there and massive kudos to the guys and gals who sat down to transcribe Dream Theater, Periphery, Sikth, Animals As Leaders and Protest The Hero because they love the bands and not because they get paid to do it.
On the flip side you still have Hal Leonard selling Note For Note books for $50 to $70 plus dollars in Australia. And they wonder why no one is buying. Let’s blame piracy. Why not, everyone else does.
Of course, there was a time when the Music Publishers Association freaked out about PowerTab and went all nuclear on the software and tried to kill the user transcription sites.
Ahead Of The Game: YouTube dominates music streaming UNOFFICIALLY.
Behind The Eight Ball: Apple’s got no streaming solution. iTunes Radio is no match for Pandora so Apple/Cook making a billion dollar deal with Beats Music (which was losing money) so that they could have a streaming solution. And Trent Reznor (who was an investor in Beats) cashed in with the Beats sale to Apple by making way more money than he ever made in music.
Ahead Of The Game Independent bands that come up with creative ways to engage their fans. “The Airborne Toxic Event” a few years back released a series of stripped-down, single-shot videos for every song on their album. Check out their Spotify and YouTube numbers today. A lot of the established rock bands do not have those numbers. The lesson here is that the artists in today’s world have way more opportunities to reach out to their fans and share content with them. It’s a lifer game.
Behind The Eight Ball Artists talking about CD sales. Or research that focuses on innovation hurting sales of music. Hell, lets bring back Eight Track Tapes and Cassettes while we are at it.
If you are an artist, you need to keep on creating so that you can stay ahead of the game. If you are a label, you need to be finding talent and innovating to stay ahead of the game. Otherwise, you will be behind the eight ball and blaming everyone else for your shortcomings.
And that’s a wrap for another week of DoH history.
I was doing a review of the year 1984, Read here for my thoughts on Dokken – “Tooth And Nail”, Van Halen – “1984”, Twisted Sister – “Stay Hungry”, RATT – “Out of the Cellar”, Iron Maiden – “Powerslave”, Bruce Springsteen – “Born In The USA” and Stryper – “The Yellow and Black Attack”.
“Being original doesn’t require being the first to do something. It just means being different and better.” Adam Grant, Originals
History is always written by the winners. If you read any story about Metallica today, it more or less states that “Kill Em All” came out in 1983 and took over the world on release day.
Ritchie Blackmore has been instrumental in influencing guitarists.
But between Deep Purple and Rainbow and three different vocalists, Ritchie Blackmore, blew the paradigm open of what a heavy rock vocalist should sound like. And it’s something he doesn’t credit for.
He pushed Ian Gillian to the limits to record the ohhs and ahhs on “Child In Time” influencing a young Bruce Dickinson to start practicing hard, and getting another unknown singer called Rob Halford to change his vocal style.
Both of these singers would come out with styles that would also influence a generation.
With David Coverdale and Ronnie James Dio he pushed the boundaries even more who influenced another generation of Metal singers.
From a guitarist perspective, it’s hard not to be influenced by Blackmore. Blackmore’s fusion of blues, rock and roll, classical and medieval Influences was so commercially successful, he more or less spawned a new style of guitar playing called Euro Rock/Metal.
And from a band perspective, every single Metal guitarist at that point in time was inspired by Blackmore to find a vocalist who had similar/better talents to the vocalists Blackmore used.
lf the band was started by a drummer and a bassist, they would be looking for a guitarist like Blackmore and a vocalist like Gillian, Coverdale or Dio.
“Here’s a challenge for you (and no using the internet for the answer): Can you name all 7 (unsuccessful) albums I’ve done solo or been a part of with a band since I left Twisted Sister in 1987?
A Twitter post from Dee Snider.
For a very long time, the record labels convinced everyone that the only way to define success was by sales. But people might have purchased an album, heard it once and never heard it again.
Dee said further on;
“While I’m proud of all the work I’ve done, YES success is defined by sales. I’m long past “making music for my own head”. Once you’ve had public acceptance of your art, you yearn for it.”
The truth is, there is no secret formula for hits.
Artists always had a short life span at the top. Most of the 70’s acts would have been dead and forgotten if there was no MTV television in the 80s.
Which someone else replied that Dee’s album, “We Are The Ones” was excellent with the following questions;
“Do you consider it unsuccessful? Is success only defined by album sales or rather by the quality of the product?”
Another person commented that just because it isn’t popular it doesn’t mean it’s not valid and that music touches people in different ways.
And here we are again wondering what success is.
“Blood and Bullets” from Widowmaker is still Dees best album post Twisted Sister. For me, it’s highly influential.
Dee delivered a stellar vocal performance and Al Pitrelli also produced the goods in the guitar department, while Joey Franco and Marc Russell underpinned it all.
Of course, Desperado (the post TS band that got stiffed by Elektra on release day) guitarist Bernie Torme co-wrote 7 of the 12 songs on the album, so he deserves a huge 10 out of 10 for his stellar riffage and songwriting.
If you’ve read Dee’s book, “Shut Up and Give Me The Mic” Dee had to buy back the Desperado songs from Elektra who claimed ownership of them due to the label financing the demo song writing sessions.
The thing is, a lot of the albums which are really influential to people are rarely commercially successful.
I remember the day that I got the “Tribute” tab book.
Studying the style of Randy Rhoads, I learned all about modes and the different scales that are made from each note of the mode, like Ionian, Phyrgian, Dorian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian and Locrian. I even named my son Dorian after one of the modes. It’s so easy to dismiss musical theory, however when you have an actual song that you can refer to, it makes it so much sense.
Wolf Marshall did an unbelievable job with the book transcription and on the commentary on each song. Actually Wolf Marshall was the transcription god back then. Another was Dave Whitehill. Experienced, super-talented and knowledgeable guitar players that broke down so many doors with their transcriptions and made it easier for young guitar players to pick up the guitar and practice.
“Crazy Train” was the first song I mastered. At the time, Alex Sklonick also had a column in the magazine “Guitar For The Practicing Musician”. In one of those columns, Skolnick also talked about modes and how “Crazy Train” is in the key of A Major and how it switches between the minor and major modes throughout the song. At the time it was a lot to take in however once you get it, you get it. Plus having a song like “Crazy Train” to refer too, who wouldn’t get it.
That one song has all the tools that every guitarist should possess.
And then when you start to go through all of the other songs, you see/hear all of the above tools re-used, which re-enforces all the techniques. Some songs had finger picking and arpeggios. Randy Rhoads was the definition of completeness.
By creating great music, he also taught us how to be better guitar players. Everything made sense. You can take a teacher and make them a rock star, however you can never stop the rock star from being a teacher and that is exactly what Randy Rhoads was. A teacher.
His reach on one song is huge. Add to that all the others and it’s a crazy train alright. Rest in peace brother.
Remember “Popcorn Time”. It had no registrations to use it and there was no restrictions on content. It looked like Netflix and it was free. The user just presses play. It’s easy to use and its design was elegant.
And the entertainment industries killed it instead of employing the people behind it.
“Popcorn Time” was designed by programmers in Argentina, where the movie “There’s Something About Mary” was still classed as a new release by the movie studios in that country.
The development team created an innovative piece of software to meet a service problem for their country because the content industries failed to make content available.
We all know that piracy is wrong, however it opens up the conversation to the larger issue.
THE BAD – It made the RIAA spend millions suing music customers.
THE GOOD – But, Apple saw a market here and began to turn those Napster digital natives into iTunes buyers by making it easy to grab the latest music, anywhere, at any time. Same deal with Spotify, who put money into a market that didn’t exist before.
They are a hard rock band. When are they going to realise that and drop the stupid screamo vocals.
RECORD LABEL CONTRACTS and ROYALTIES
Fear Factory’s Burton C. Bell had this to say about Roadrunner Records and its founder Cees Wessels;
“I still get royalties. It comes in, but it depends how much we work, how much we tour. If we tour a lot I see better royalties, if we don’t then I don’t.
I have no idea when we’ll get the rights back [to our catalog], because that Roadrunner contract is bullshit.
I literally signed a deal with a Dutch devil. But when you’re young, you don’t care. You’re 23 years-old and ‘we’re going to give you an advance to make your first record, we’re gonna put you on tour, sell your shirts in all the stores. You are gonna to be famous!’’Alright, make it happen!’
Every single label failed their artists by not innovating. The analog dollars vs digital cents mess they got themselves in, is purely of their own doing.
The Macklemore Lessons
Be in it for the long haul. The career of Macklemore has been a long one (21 years and counting). There’s no such thing as an overnight success.
Michael Poulsen from Volbeat started his first death metal band Dominus in 1991. During that time, Dominus released an album called Vol.Beat. When the band broke up in 2001, Volbeat was born. It wasn’t until 2005 that the first Volbeat album dropped. It wasn’t until Metallica picked em up as openers in 2009, that their US career kicked into overdrive. 30 years in the business. That is a lifer.
Check out the list of releases from George Lynch between 2008 and 2014.
2008 – George Lynch – Scorpion Tales 2008 – Souls Of We – Let The Truth Be Known 2009 – Lynch Mob – Smoke And Mirrors 2010 – Raven Quinn – self-titled debut 2010 – George Lynch – Orchestral Mayhem 2011 – George Lynch – Kill All Control 2012 – T & N – Slave To The Empire 2012 – George Lynch – Legacy (EP) 2012 – Lynch Mob – Sound Mountain Sessions (EP) 2013 – Lynch Mob – Unplugged – Live From Sugar Hill Studios 2014 – KXM – KXM
Apart from the high volume output, Lynch is also immersing himself with different band set ups. Different dynamics. Sort of like the seventies musicians who just got together over a weekend and made an album.
The modern internet rule is here today, gone tomorrow. In order to survive, you need to show up and create. The music business is not in trouble. Only dumb labels and artists are.
But all things evolve, and if you are not open to change, you will be forgetten.
It’s pretty pathetic how the entertainment industries need to get governments to pass laws every time there is a shift in technology. Back in the Eighties, the boss of the MPAA Jack Valenti proclaimed at a Senate Congressional Hearing that the VCR’s are to the American film producer like the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone.
Fast forward a decade later and VHS sales of movies proved to be a very large income source for the movie industry.
So when it comes to negotiating new laws for copyright, it is these large and cashed up business entities that are lobbying politicians.
Copyright is too distorted and removed from what it was intended to do. It needs a rethink and a massive re-write. The kids of today, the ones that pirate, will one day step up into government and then, change will happen.
THE WALKING DEAD
It’s passed its prime.
The last half of Season 4 was by far the worst. It is a yawn fest of massive proportions.
The main show runners in Frank Darabont and Glen Mazzara got booted for various reasons, with TWD comic creator Robert Kirkman being behind the Mazzara booting.
One thing I can say is that comic book writers should stick to comic books. They are not TV show runners.
ROCK’N’ROLL HALL OF FAME
They call themselves “leaders in the music industry” that joined together to establish the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation.
Joe Elliott from Def Leppard called it as it is. Elliot called them a “board room of faceless tuxedo-wearing morons” who decide such things based on their own determination of what’s cool.
One of the big comparisons that people make is the status of sales right now vs sales more than 30 years ago. And everyone today, especially artists or media personalities, always say that the Eighties was so much better. It is a bold claim to make, especially when the Eighties is known as the era that ripped off artists.
Let’s look at Metallica and Megadeth compared to Avenged Sevenfold.
Metallica released “Kill Em All” in 1983. It wasn’t until 1989 (yep six years later) that the album was certified GOLD for sales in the U.S. After six months, Metallica was back in the studio recording the follow up.
But, on the back of the Black album juggernaut, by 1999, “Kill Em All” was certified 3 x Platinum, Still it happened, 16 years after it’s release.
Megadeth released “Killing Is My Business (And Business Is Good) in 1985 and to this day it hasn’t been certified at all.
Avenged Sevenfold released “Sounding The Seventh Trumpet” in 2001 and like Megadeth’s debut, it still hasn’t passed the 500,000 Gold barrier.
Compare the first album release of each band and all of them failed to achieve GOLD status within the first five years of release.
But…. Bands had way more sales in the Eighties than today…. The answer is NO, they didn’t.
I watched “Thirty Seconds To Mars” live at the Sydney Entertainment Centre on 29 March 2014. Leto had the crowd in his hands from the word go and he manipulated the audience to jump, chant and sing with him throughout the whole performance.
They are a success story.
Sales on the board. Streams. YouTube plays. Box office score. Merchandise.
Record Labels want to sell a lot right now, while an artist is looking to have a career and live forever in the hearts and minds of music lovers.
Hit songs/albums are not made by marketing or an artist telling the world it is their best work. They are made by cultures of people who connect with the song and then share their love of that music with others.
Cheap mediocre goods might sell millions in retail businesses however mediocre doesn’t cut it in music. Hence the death of the album format.
Record Labels are all about the wealth, the Forbes Rich List and flying private. Artists are about the essence and then when they see the talentless executives living it up on the backs of their creations, artists change and become obsessed with the same trappings that consume the Record Label hierarchy.
Record Labels think of how they can monetise the album/song. That is why they strike corporate deals with other entities for crappy pre-release streams and so forth. Artists just want their fans to hear the new music and hit the road to promote it.
Record Labels cease to be when they run out of money, however an artist never stops creating.
Record Labels judge success by how much money the artist made for them. The artist judges their success by how many people their music touched and what impact it had on society and culture.
If a record label exec screws up they could lose their job, however there is a good chance that they will find another high-powered well-paying job. If an artist messes up, there is a good chance they could lose their career.
Way underrated and way under-appreciated, it’s almost criminal.
In the beginning GUN got lumped in with the hard rock/glam rock style of bands, however GUN had way more substance. Way more character.
Coming from Scotland, they didn’t conform to the LA Sunset Strip scene. The songs didn’t focus on “Cherry Pies” or “Slipped Her The Big One”. They didn’t focus on spelling Rock, ROK. They didn’t have to compete with any band in the scene for the fastest licks and biggest hair.
Instead they focused on their own brand of rock’n’roll. And their lyrical themes didn’t deal with the usual rubbish that the hard rock bands started to serve towards the end of the decade.
Check out my review of the “Rock N Roll Animal” album.
I knew nothing about them. Back in the Eighties, we got the press releases, the interviews, the promo spots and the musicians appeared larger than life. Today, we get the music first and then we go back to investigate who the hell created it.
If you are into hard rock, then this is the album for you.
The whole album is an example of progress being derivative.
Taking your influences, blending them and the output is your style and your sound. That is what music is all about. The whole album reminds me of “The Night Flight Orchestra” project. It is a fun album to listen to.
Of course they are on Frontiers Records, who seem to be on a roll surrounding themselves with talent. At first hearing, I thought the band came from Sweden as most of the hard rock bands I have been getting into are from there. However, that is not the case. They are from Pittsburgh, USA.
It is the usual lifer story.
All of the members had done time in previous semi-successful bands from the Pittsburgh area. Some of those bands toured nationally and internationally. There is a lot of history there. A super group from Pittsburgh area bands. In a way like “Night Ranger”. A super group of Californian bands.
Investment funds are purchasing licenses to music catalogues that make money. Streaming services have shown how much money they pay to the copyright holders which in most cases are the labels, the publishers, the few artists who own their rights and now, Hedge Funds and Investment Funds.
The three major music labels jointly brought in over $25 billion in revenue last year, with $12.5 billion coming from streaming recorded revenue alone. Spotify payments represent around a third of that streaming total. Major label profits combined in 2021 exceeded $4 billion.
Furthermore, social media services like Facebook, Tik Tok, Snapchat and the like also pay a lot of license fees to the copyright holders. Even games like Roblox had to settle a $200 million suit around licensing fees to the publishers and labels. There is a lot of money going out to copyright holders which isn’t filtering to the actual people who make those copyrights valuable.
Then again, a lot of those people are dead and their copyrights are unfortunately held by corporations (instead of being in the Public Domain) who might pay a few million or a few thousands to the artists heirs. Sort of like a lifetime pension that reverts to the spouse and then to the kids.
From a Metal point of view, investment fund, Tempo Music acquired a majority stake in some of Korn’s recordings and compositions. And another investment fund called, Round Hill Music did a deal with members of Supertramp.
David Bowie’s catalogue went for a lot and he’s not even alive to spend it. So did Bob Dylan to Universal Music Group, who is figuring out how to spend his $400 million at his age. And Neil Young sold 50% of his stake in his song to Hipgnosis for $150 million.
81 year old Tina Turner also sold her rights to BMG (a music publishing company) along with her image and likeness. “Chanisaw Charlie” from WASP comes to mind and how “Charlie” the label boss in the song, whores the image of the dead rock stars.
And the cases for plagiarism in music just keep coming.
You see, I find it hard to believe that an artist is so original and free from influence. And yes, some songs might sound the same or have similarities. Hell the whole Southern Rock genre sounded the same in the 70’s and so did the Blues Rock genre from the same period. They actually both sounded the same.
Listen to progressive music like Yes, ELP and Rush and you would start to hear a lot of similarities. It’s just how creativity works. Nothing is created in a vacuum, free from influences. Creativity is a sum of our influences and experiences.
Plagiarism cases don’t happen much in metal and hard rock circles these days, but if any of the artists have a hit song right now, well, where there is a hit, there is a writ.
Drake and Chris Brown are in court over copyright infringement. Kate Perry just won her suit. Bad Bunny is also sued for infringement. Ed Sheeran has a special team that constantly fights plagiarism court battles.
And Taylor Swift is almost done re-recording her old songs to get away from a restrictive contract in which her copyrights are owned by her original label and for some reason they had the right to sell those rights on to anyone, which they already did.
In other words, they used Taylor Swift as a bargaining chip, sold the copyrights they held in her music and took the money with no compensation to the artist.
“Frontiers” from Italy is constantly putting money out there to get famous artists from the 80’s and 90’s to record new music for them and to re-record their old songs for the label.
From looking at the metal and rock genre, “Frontiers” have the highest releases from any label that I am aware off. I guess the Frontiers execs are aware that having assets like “copyright” under their control, makes good business sense.
Those copyright assets will never go down to zero. Because streaming pays those who hold the copyrights and the money is in holding the copyrights for the life of the artist plus 70 years after death. In some countries its 90 years after death.
In other words, music is a better investment than anything else. If you buy physical property, you would need to maintain it, renovate it and keep paying bills for utilities, however music just scales. And artists will keep on creating.
AI can create new songs from Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra or Michael Jackson. A company called OpenAI can generate new pop songs in the style of these artists. It’s not studio quality, more like garage demo’s as the AI creates derivative versions of music they’ve already released and new lyrics based on the songs the artist previously released.
But the biggest issue always facing artists is payments.
The streaming services have secret licensing agreements with the music publishers and the labels. These black box deals are worth a lot to the labels and publishers.
But the music publishers and labels are in these positions of negotiating power because of the works that the artists have created, however those licensing monies do not filter down to the artists.
Then again, these kinds of black box creative accounting from the labels is engrained in their system. It’s nothing new.
But I’ll sign my contract baby, and I won’t you people to know Every penny that I make, I’ve got to see where my money goes
From “Working For MCA” by Lynyrd Skynyrd
But artists don’t see where their money goes and they haven’t seen for a very long time.
And when the labels had the power and control of the distribution chain before Napster, they could sign artists to the most crappiest deals ever. Which they still enforce today.
While everyone was complaining about freemium and the monies streaming services pay to the rights holders of music, Fortnite “Battle Royale” came out for free and conquered all. It’s already at everyone’s price point. It can’t get any lower so it costs nothing to try it.
But Fortnite was originally a game for purchase. Within six months of its release in 2017, it had over a million users. But then in September 2017, Epic (the game developer behind it) did something different. They released a free-to-play “Battle Royale” mode. Within 2 weeks of its release, it had over 10 million players.
For Epic, the “Battle Royale” mode is a major hit. It’s like Bruce Springsteen, “Born In The USA” style of a hit. And it’s still going strong because the best marketing tool is word of mouth.
Fortnite spread because the people who played it, enjoyed it and then they asked their friends to create an account and play with them online.
And their friends said “why not”, it’s free, let’s give it a try. The game kept growing in popularity because Epic constantly upgraded it on a regular basis.
In other words, the fans of the game are not waiting 2 years for a new upgrade. Like how fans of artists wait years for new products.
I come from the era of the album, but all I want is frequent content. It’s the reason why the bootleg industry was huge in the 80’s and 90’s. Hell, my record collection has hundreds of bootlegs, from live recordings, to demo recordings, to sound check jams and what not. It was the need to fill the gap between albums.
Mick Mars said that he almost left Motley Crue during the “Generation Swine” sessions and that still to this day, he hates the album.
It was meant to be called “Personality #9” with John Corabi on vocals. But the label was still reeling from the $3 million loss on their accounts from the 1994 self-titled album so they demanded that Vince Neil come back in.
The Crue started working on the follow-up in 1995. Nikki Sixx wanted to road test the songs before they recorded them, in small venues and using different band names, like the Four Skins. It was a back to the seventies approach, when bands used to debut new songs on the road before committing them to tape in a studio. That is why so many songs from the seventies worked well in a live setting. Deep Purple played “Highway Star” for at least 12 months before recording it. Same as Ted Nugent and “Stranglehold”. The list goes on, however today’s rock star doesn’t need to pay their dues on the live circuit.
But they road tested nothing.
The biggest Achilles heel to “Generation Swine” is the lack of the hit song. Like “Kick Start My Heart”.
It wasn’t a hit on the Billboard Charts, however in rock circles it was a song that all the rock heads and the metal heads could latch onto. Even the self-titled album, didn’t have that kind of song that people could latch on to.
Here is a summary, however each rule is expanded in the blogpost.
On Motley Crue’s 2008 song ‘Welcome To The Machine’ they provided a few general rules about the recording business and the machine that is the music business.
Rule Number 1: “Sign on the x to sell your soul”.
Rule Number 2: “It’s so automatic, Hocking broken plastic, Royalties you’ll never know”.
Rule Number 3: “Give your ass like a whore, Once you take a hit, You need more more more”.
Rule Number 4: “Welcome to the machine, Once it sucks you in you’ll never leave, Grind you up spit you out, After all you’re just a piece of meat”.
Rule Number 5: “Sell out to the rats, Make em rich make em fat”.
On Motley Crue’s 1999 song ‘Fake’ they seem to provide a few more general rules about the recording business.
Rule Number 6 (supporting Rule Number 1 and 2): “Sold my soul while you sold records, I have been your slave forever.”
Rule Number 7 (supporting Rule Number 5): “What are you fat cats doing anyway?, Take our money and flush it down the drain.”
Ugly Kid Joe asked “Mr Recordman” if he knew who they were or if he gave a damn about them or if he was purely there for the dough. Based on their career trajectory, the answer was obvious. Mr Recordman didn’t give a damn about them once they stopped being “commercially viable”
Rule Number 8 – Mr Recordman doesn’t know who you are. Look at the band “Winger”. When Reb Beach called the label after the Beavis and Butthead episode hit TV screens, the label claimed they never knew a band called Winger.
Rule Number 9 comes from Disturbed and their song “Sons Of Plunder”.
Rule Number 9: “You say you’ve found yourself a new sound, one hundred more all have the same sound”
The song Chainsaw Charlie from WASP is littered with music business rules. The first three lines, “Will you gamble your life?, Sign right here on the dotted line, It’s the one you’ve waited for all of your life” fall into Rule Number 1. Then the lyrics of “And tomorrow when I’m gone, Will they whore my image on?” brings us to Rule Number 10.
Rule Number 10: The record label will forever whore your image on after they have dropped you or after you have departed this Earth. There is a lot of money to be made in death.
Rule Number 11: “We’ll sell your flesh by the pound you’ll go, A whore of wrath just like me, We’ll sell ya wholesale, we’ll sell your soul, Strap on your six string and feed our machine.”
Rule Number 12: “Welcome to the morgue boy, Where the music comes to die” is about songs written by a committee. It’s soulless, however it sells.
Rule Number 13: “Ah, trust me boy, I won’t steer you wrong, If you trust me son, You won’t last very long”
Rule Number 14: “The new morgue’s our factory, to grease our lies, Our machine is hungry, it needs your life” is the definition of the recording business.
Rule Number 15: “I’m the tin man, I’ve never had a heart, I’m the tin man, But I’ll make you a star” is the Record Label CEO. All promises and that tin heart doesn’t care if those promises are broken.
Savatage is another band that covers the music business in a bit of detail. Rules 16 to 18 are from the song “Jesus Saves”.
Rule Number 16: “You know Jesus he started changing, Things got really strange, He saw his tee shirts everywhere, He started missing shows, The band came down to blows, But Jesus he just didn’t care.”
Yep, it’s a tough gig keeping a band together, especially when a band member becomes the idol that the fans latch onto.
Rule Number 17: “Things got out of hand, And so he quit the band, Still the critics they would rave”
Rule Number 18: “hear Him cut through the night, On those late night radio waves”
Eventually, we get old and we become “classic rock”. There is no way around out. Embrace it and play to your core audiences.
The final two rules are from the song “When The Crowds Are Gone” from Savatage.
Rule Number 19: “I don’t know where the years have gone, Memories can only last so long, Like faded photographs, forgotten songs”
Rule Number 20: “The story’s over, When the crowds are gone.”
Adrenaline Mob are seasoned professionals collaborating on a hard rock project. For some reason they remind me of Night Ranger.
The debut album “Omerta” was number 4 on my list for releases in 2012. I hold the vocal talents of Russell Allen and the guitar talents of Mike Orlando in high regard. Add to those talents the powerhouse drumming from Mike Portnoy on the first album (and the two EPs) and of course the mighty AJ Pero appears on the second album. As a Twisted Sister fan, this is a great thing to see happen. And finally John Moyer from Disturbed is providing the bottom end.
Listening to “Men Of Honour”, it comes across as a band having fun. Check it out and while you’re at it, listen to Mike Orlando.
I don’t know what to call Orlando’s guitar style. One term I have for it is “Technical Chaos”. He has the chops, but he plays with an improvised abandonment that sounds so precise and I like that.
If you remember back to 1998, the recording business became famous for saying that no one will be interested in downloading a crappy mp3. Guess they didn’t know how many billions those no ones came too.
Pono came out at a time when fans of music had decided that YouTube and Spotify are better alternatives.
And that is what Pono Music fails to understand. The fans of music are in control. If they want to pay, they will. If they want to go to a show, they will. If they want to download for free, they will.
All ideas or If you use the words “intellectual property” for the Copyright maximalists, have an influence from something that came before. We learn to write music by learning the music from others. We learn to write stories by reading the stories of others.
It’s probably why people shouldn’t get all emotional over ideas/intellectual property.
People like familiarity.
Derek Thompson in his book “Hit Makers” mentioned how people are drawn to music that might be new, yet familiar enough to be recognizable.
In other words, that new song we all like has enough variation in it to make it not a carbon copy of its source influence.
And people still like to claim that their song is so original and free from influence and when people have that fixed mindset, well, the courts are busy and the lawyers are making money.
Check out my recent Google alerts on the word Copyright.
A lot of delusional people who believe that their works are so original and free from influence.
All of our ideas have already been stolen. Because there is no such thing as the genius loner. It’s a myth. We are all social people and our creativity is fuelled by our social environments. Every single day, we take in our surroundings, we set meaningful and important goals and we are always thinking of solutions to problems.
A neuroscientist and a psychologist broke down creativity into three main buckets;
Bending means you take a previous work and re-model it in some way. “The Walking Dead” and “Night Of The Living Dead”.
Blending means merging previous works together so you have multiple melodies and re-cutting it to suit what you want to write. Jimmy Page was great at doing this with Led Zeppelin’s music. Metallica did that with “Sanitarium”.
Breaking is taking a short and important musical idea otherwise known as a musical fragment and building on it. Think of my post on “One Riff To Rule Them All”, which covers the A pedal point riff used in songs like “Two Minutes To Midnight”.
The differences between humans and computers is how we store information and how we retrieve information. For the computer, the riff stored on the hard drive will sound exactly the same three years later, however that same riff stored in our head would be different.
Our brain breaks it down, blends it and bends it with other information. This massive mash up of ideas in our brains is our creativity. And when we play that riff three years later, it has a different feel, different phrasing or something else. Some of them stink and sometimes we create something that breaks through into society.
A funny thing started to happen when streaming became the main source of income for the labels.
Live albums started to come out.
You see, streaming services like new content. And since bands like to take their time or need to make time to record new original music, they filled the void for new content by releasing live albums.
Suddenly getting new product out yearly instead of every two to three years became the norm. But it still didn’t solve the problem of people not buying albums.
Whitesnake is a band which keeps firing out live recordings year after year. “Made In Japan”, “Made In England”, “Bad To The Bone 84”, “Castle Donnington 90”, “Live In The Heart Of The City” and “The Purple Tour” have been released as stand-alone albums over the last 10 years.
And David Coverdale knows the value of his super fans.
Each week, the sites that enable copyrights to be infringed innovate at a rapid rate to stay ahead of the curve. They are competing against each other for people to use them to illegally access entertainment.
Read the post to see how these sites innovate. Instead of shutting em down, the labels and movie studios should be employing these people.
I played Nostradamus and looked into my crystal glass full of whiskey in the jar-o to make some predictions.
ON A DOWN SLOPE
The band leader, Chris Daughtry messed up big time chasing the crowds of “Train” and “Imagine Dragons”.
He is a hard rocker from day dot and rock gave him his legion of fans. For the ill-fated and recent “Baptized” album, he committed career suicide, throwing his lot with the hit songwriters.
The songs are good, however they are not Daughtry songs. It would have been better for him as an artist to have given those songs to other artists that are more electronic pop rock minded. That way he would have been the songwriter, the way Bryan Adams gave songs away to other artists that wouldn’t suit the Adams sound back in the 80’s.
We can see through the hype and we hate it.
So much hype was around Dream Theater’s self titled release and it disappeared from the conversation within six weeks.
Megadeth’s brand new album “Super Collider” was being outsold by the Black album.
THE ALBUM FORMAT
Making money is hard. Just because a band releases an album, it doesn’t mean that people would pay for it or would want it.
And when we are inundated with product we tune out, however, it turns out we have time for Metallica’s “Black” album. At this point in time it was still moving two to three thousand units a week and it was expected to pass 16 million by May 2014.
GOING GOING – ALMOST GONE
Classic Rock bands have another 10 years left.
ON THE UP – STORYTELLING
That is why TV shows are the most downloaded torrents of all time. Tell a good story and the world will be at your door step.
Read the financial reports on Universal Music Group.
Spotify has propped up their bottom line and that bottom line will get better each year for Universal. And they keep spreading the bull shit that they are out there fighting for the artists. The good guys.
Frontiers has become a major player in the classic rock, melodic rock and hard rock scene. They kept the flag of melodic rock flying high since 1996, when all of the other major labels abandoned the style and put their monies into grunge first and then industrial rock/metal and then nu-metal.
And their business model is all about locking up copyrights for a long time.
They have realised it’s not about sales anymore, and while steaming numbers and revenue are still tiny, in the long term the labels will be able to reap the benefits.
Because streaming is a regular recurring revenue business. And these Copyrights are valuable?
Let’s put it this way, if Metallica is on Spotify, then the rates paid back to the COPYRIGHT HOLDERS (which in this case is Metallica as they do own their Copyright) must be good, because Lars Ulrich and their manager Cliff Burnstein would not allow Metallica to enter a business arrangement that is not in their favour.
And back in 2014, Tool or AC/DC or Def Leppard were not on Spotify. They all are now.
The real truth is that there is much more music out there than there has ever been, so the issues that are present to artist and labels is how do they get people’s attention directed towards that new music.
Personally, I don’t even know anybody who pirates music anymore. There is no reason to pirate and legitimate customers/fans would always turn to legal alternatives.
Add “Recording Sales Revenue” plus “Streaming Revenue” plus “YouTube Ad Revenue” plus “Ticket Revenue” plus “Merchandise Revenue” plus “Corporate Deals Revenue” plus “Sponsorship Revenue” plus “Publishing Revenue” plus “Licensing Revenue” and then decide if you are winning or not.
Again, if you are not seeing a lot of revenue, then you need to be speaking to your label, because if you have numbers in all of the above Revenue streams then something is a-miss contractually.
You know the drill. A new technology comes out and eventually it will start to get some traction. Then the word will spread about and more people would flock to it. It’s new, it’s cool, it’s hip and its innovative. Then when it is at its peak, the people who testified for the new tech, will abandon it, looking for something new and better.
MySpace, Facebook, Twitter are three such platforms that came, peaked and right now are suffering an identity crisis.
MySpace is finished.
Facebook got traction because it connected people in a way that MySpace couldn’t. Now, all of these connected people need to deal with the marketing of products, advertisers, like requests, fake friend requests and spam.
Twitter is well, Twitter. With so many people tweeting or having their tweets connected to their Facebook Posts or their blog posts, everything is getting lost in the mix. When a big news item hits, Twitter is the platform to go to, because people who are directly involved in these big events are the ones that are tweeting.
Spotify has been around for a while now and in the last 3 years it set up base in a number of large music markets like Australia, Canada and of course the US.
The people tried it. Some have stuck to it. Some have abandoned it. The ones that speak out against it have never used it.
Spotify however needs a game changer. Sort of like how the move to APPS changed the iTunes store. And it’s all about the FREE. Fans of music showed the world that they want FREE music to listen to. And don’t say that FREE doesn’t work. How the hell did Free To Air TV exist and grow over the last 60 years.
I am all over the shop when it comes to music. I still purchase product from the bands I like and I stream as well.
And the funny thing is that I don’t use iTunes anymore.
Who would have thought that day would have come?
And that is what Spotify needs to think about it. Once the newness has rubbed off, what’s next. Consolidation. How can you consolidate when the modern paradigm is DISRUPTION?
I wrote this in 2014 and since then Spotify has innovated a lot to keep people interested. Putting their lot in with PODCASTS and it looks like they will be moving to Audio Books as well based on a recent survey I undertook with them.
It’s all about stopping copyright infringement. It’s all about shaking down internet users. It’s all about a ridiculous and “out of touch with reality” penalty system. For example, if a user downloads one song, the RIAA have argued that the copyright holders are out of pocket between $20 to $10,000. Seriously.
When discussions are had on Copyright, it’s all about the enforcement. It’s all about creating a monopoly. The ones that sit on the innovation fence are shouted down to from the ones that control/hold the Copyrights.
The thing is, people have been “copyright infringers” since day dot. Anyone that remembers cassette tapes, will tell you how they used to copy songs from recordings onto a cassette tape. James Hetfield used to copy Lars Ulrich’s record collection onto cassettes.
We used to copy songs from the radio onto cassettes. We used to copy movies from TV onto VHS cassettes. Then we got even more creative and hooked up two videos at once to make copies of the latest releases. With the advent of the CD and blank discs, we started making mixed CD’s. When Napster exploded, people flocked to it. Because we had been copyright infringing forever.
It is easy to lay the blame on others. However it is the record labels that need to take responsibility. They still don’t get it. People want FREE music. Spotify provides a service that is free, however it is still seen as restrictive and people still go to other torrent sites to download content. YouTube also provides a service that is free.
And then the recording industry claims that these sites make so much money from running ads on their site. If that is the case, then why isn’t the recording industry offering the same service and making that same money.
They don’t want to, because that would mean they would have spent dollars in Information Technology. And they don’t want to do that.
And most artists have never made a living from royalties. The record labels always have.
Well I hope you enjoyed another wrap up of Destroyerofharmony history?
When artists write lyrics that reflect society and our politics back at us, people get upset. When I think about the past, people who made real change persisted even when others tried their best to silence them.
Artists once formed the chorus of dissent to social ills and corruption. It’s probably a reason why we got so many songs that still stand the test of time today.
Artists told the record label heads what to do, not the other way around.
Machine Head’s new album at the time “Catharsis” was causing division amongst their American fan base. Europe, Asia and Australia didn’t really care about its Anti-Trump stance. Fans of any artist come from different sides of the political debate. It’s expected. No one can agree on everything. If people did, everyone would wear the same outfit. The world would be pretty bland if people all agreed. Wouldn’t it.
It never would occur to me to stop listening to an artist because of a stance they have on an topic.
Artists are not the enemy. They are mirrors, reflecting the world back to us. What we choose to do with the reflection is a different story.
Copying of music has always been there. We used to listen to the radio and record songs from it. We used to record video clips from TV music stations. We would make a copy of an LP from a friend or a family member. We would even re-copy a copied album. The music industry grew because of copying.
So if we used the buzzword of the modern era, piracy was rampant back in the 80’s. Most of my music collection during that period was made up of music copied onto blank cassettes.
You know that peak year of sales for the recording business in 1998. Well there is research out there which suggests it was due to two reasons. One reason was people replacing their vinyl collections with CD’s and the other reason is the people who had music copied on blank cassettes in the 80’s had enough disposable income to buy those albums on CD.
If I didn’t borrow and copy (which the labels call stealing and piracy), I probably never would have become the fan of music I am. As my Dad would always say, “I probably would have had four houses paid off, instead I have a tonne of grey concert T-Shirts, ticket stubs and a wall to wall record collection.” I wouldn’t have it any other way, because the memories are the stories I tell.
Six months after the album release date, Bon Scott would be dead. Mutt Lange is on board to produce at the strong insistence of their U.S record label and it was the start of the holy trinity of albums. Malcolm was less than pleased because it meant older brother George, was no longer involved.
“Highway To Hell” is a rite of passage. It might have been about touring, however timeless songs have lyrics that can be interpreted in many different ways. Plus the riff to kick it off is iconic. Credit Malcolm.
Livin’ easy, Livin’ free
Pink Floyd – The Wall
“The Wall” is Roger Waters lasting legacy. But the best song on the album to me is “Comfortably Numb” written by Gilmour and Waters. Credit producer Bob Ezrin for persisting to get Gilmour’s music on the record. However, it was “Another Brick In The Wall Part 2” that was all over the radio.
Check out “Goodbye Blue Sky” as well, which served as the inspiration for “Fade To Black” from Metallica.
And that outro solo in “Comfortably Numb”. Perfection.
Judas Priest – Hell Bent for Leather/Killing Machine
The first time I heard “Delivering The Goods” was via Skid Row’s “B-Side Ourselves” EP. I enjoyed the Skid’s live take on it, so I went seeking for the album in the second hand record stores. I actually own both copies, the “Killing Machine” version and the “Hell Bent For Leather” version.
Or the iconic riff in “Hell Bent For Leather” which is so derivative that many other bands had a similar riff before and after this song, like the opening riff in “2 Minutes To Midnight”. They even used it again for “Running Wild”.
In relation to guitar playing, Glenn Tipton always kept an eye and ear out for what was hot in guitar circles and he would go away, master these new styles and incorporate those influences and styles into his guitar playing. In this case, he breaks out a tapping lick which was obviously influenced by EVH. On albums from the mid 80’s, Tipton would start to incorporate sweep picking courtesy of Yngwie Malmsteen’s influence.
“The Green Manalishi (With The Two Pronged Crown)” is a great cover of a Fleetwood Mac song, which is written by their original and largely forgotten guitarist Peter Green (RIP), and it works pretty cool in the hands of Judas Priest.
Journey – Evolution
It has “Lovin, Touchin’ Squeezin’” but it’s not my favourite. The three listed songs are for various reasons.
“Lovin’ You Is Easy” has upbeat music and it’s always good to hear Schon rocking out.
“Do You Recall” has melodies which appear in Jovi songs.
“Lady Luck” grooves, taking its cues from Led Zeppelin.
The Police – Reggatta de Blanc
The Police didn’t really write a perfect album from start to finish, but they could write classic tracks.
The intro to “Message In A Bottle” hooks me. And it’s guitarist Andy Summers who saves the day with his add9 chord voicings over a simple bass groove.
Whitesnake – Lovehunter
I didn’t hear this album until very late in the 90’s. During this time I was buying so many second hand LP’s from record fairs and second hand book shops, I can’t even place a memory as to when I purchased it. But I do know I was always a sucker for the 3 for $5 bins.
Press play to hear “Walking In The Shadow Of The Blues” which is written by David Coverdale and the underrated Bernie Marsden.
It all started with the blues. Rock was built on the bones of the 30/40’s blues artists. Metal was also built on the bones of those same artists, along with the defiance and rebellion of rock music. Without the blues, the music I listen to, would not be possible.
KISS – Dynasty
One of the first albums I owned from Kiss and I played it to death, so it’s no surprise I have a few songs from it on my list.
“I Was Made for Loving You” was the obvious single, but it was still an unexpected hit, written by Paul Stanley, Vini Poncia and Desmond Child. Stanley also performs bass duties on this one.
“Sure Know Something” is a mixture between melodic rock, disco and new wave. In the end, it’s still Kiss. The bass groove is unique and the lead guitar break from Stanley is worth the listen.
“Dirty Livin’” is an excellent track. It could have been on a Steely Dan album or a Doobie Brothers record. Instead it’s on a Kiss record and it rocks. Peter Criss sings, it and he co-wrote it with Stan Penridge and Vini Poncia. It’s actually the only track that Peter Criss drums on. Anton Fig played drums on all of the other songs.
“Magic Touch” is solely written by Paul Stanley, which comes loaded with a melodic riff and a pop melody. Still to this day it’s a favourite, purely for its sense of melody.
“Hard Times” is from Ace Frehley and its another Kiss rocker.
The record labels just kept getting my attention like trying to get the Courts to set a precedent in which the Internet Service Providers act as the Police to monitor music pirates based on the labels say so.
And my favourite was Principle Management (U2’s Management Company) losing money for the fourth year in a row, so its Chairman Paul McGuiness was quick to blame Google for his losses. Talk about sense of entitlement.
With Jake E Lee excommunicated from the Osbourne camp no one was sure what he would do next. But in 1988, Badlands formed.
The original Badlands line up was Ray Gillen on vocals, Eric Singer on drums, Greg Chaisson on bass and of course Jake E Lee on guitar. And we will never be able to see the band that cut the self-titled debut album reunite. Ray Gillen has passed and Eric Singer said in an interview on the “Daves on Tour” website that his memories of Badlands aren’t good ones.
Eric Singer auditioned for Ozzy back in 1985 and he didn’t get the gig. Greg Chaisson also auditioned for Ozzy around the same period and he also didn’t get the gig. Both of them lost out to Randy Castillo and Phil Soussan. The outcome for both Singer and Chaisson was that they got to meet Jake E Lee and have a jam with him.
Eric Singer also did a stint in Black Sabbath during the Glenn Hughes/Ray Gillen era. Music is a relationship business and it was these relationships, albeit small ones once upon a time, that ended up getting together to create one hell of a debut album.
In an interview with Kerrang from May 1989, this is what Ray Gillen had to say on the bands beginnings;
“I was particularly keen on the project because I had to pick myself up off the floor after my involvement with the Blue Murder project had gone sour. I was basically asked to leave the band due to outside record company pressure. John Kalodner, one of the top people at Geffen Records, simply said that I couldn’t sing!”
Wearing their Seventies classic rock influences on their sleeves and very cleverly merging the minor key riff remnants of the mid-Eighties heavy metal sound, Badlands hit the target. Each song was unique.
The standout song on the debut is “High Wire”. It cemented Jake’s reputation. You can’t keep a super star down and what a great way to open the album.
Seriously, how good is that opening riff?
The beauty of the song is the simplicity. It is a simple A to C, A to D riff, the cornerstone to all classic blues/classic rock songs.
“Winter’s Call” is the most Zeppelinesque song on the album, especially in the verses, combining Middle Eastern drones with Celtic modes. It is also one of the oldest songs on the album, as the song’s roots go back to 1983.
“Streets Cry Freedom” is the next gem and a great way to close off side one. When vinyl was king, albums got sequenced by having a great opening track and a great closing track. The comparisons to Led Zeppelin, Humble Pie and Bad Company are prevalent in this song. The song’s verses are a typical 12 bars blues. Instead of playing it in the standard way, Jake E Lee shows his guitar smarts by arpeggiating the verses.
“Seasons” is the gem on the second side. It reminds me a lot of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir”.
This was 1989 and MTV ruled. Bands needed a hit to get recognition. So while “Dreams In The Dark” did the video rounds, as the record label decided it had the most “hit” potential, songs like “Winters Call”, “Seasons” and “Streets Cry Freedom” slipped under the radar.
The self titled album is brilliant. While other artists went with the one hit single per album and the rest as filler, Badlands delivered an album strong from start to finish.
So how did a TV show, based on a niche Zombie comic, explode into the mainstream and into people’s consciousness.
In order to understand the answer you need to go back to the beginning. And the beginning for “The Walking Dead” goes back to 1968 and a movie called “Night Of The Living Dead”.
“The Walking Dead” is a classic case of building on works already in the public domain as well as building on existing copyrighted works by creating derivative works.
First the whole Zombie genre owes a large debt to George A. Romero’s classic “Night Of The Living Dead”. Many of the accepted Zombie formulas started here. Something that is quite common to us in 2014, was all brand new to audiences in 1968.
Due to a late name change from “Night Of The Flesh Eaters” to “Night Of The Living Dead”, the distributor forgot to include a copyright symbol on the release and due to this omission, the movie entered the Public Domain on its actual release date. That meant that anyone could do derivative works and also build on the existing story.
The whole opening scene from “The Walking Dead” of Rick Grimes waking up in the hospital alone, is a combination of what has come before.
In “The Day of The Triffids, the main character awakes to a silent hospital to find that his town has been overrun with blinded people.
In “28 Days Later”, a bicycle courier awakens from a coma to find the hospital and the city, completely deserted and overrun by people infected by the rage virus.
In “The Walking Dead”, Rick Grimes wakes from a coma in the hospital to find his town overrun with walking corpses, referred to as ‘walkers’.
Romero did miss out on a hefty payday due to the copyright bungle with “Night of The Living Dead”, but Romero’s story ends well. The film’s popularity OPENED UP MORE OPPORTUNITIES. Romero continued to create movies and the fame that his Public Domain movie gave him, opened up other offers around comics and novels.
In the end, the lack of copyright around one movie, grew and helped define the zombie genre in the same way that the lack of copyright around earlier blues and folk standards helped define the classic rock genre. So next time someone tells you they need stronger copyrights or longer copyrights, point them to the “Night Of The Living Dead” example.
I got a 8GB USB stick of music given to me recently by a musician friend who told me that I need to check out the bands on the stick. When I was growing up we used to these kinds of trades on cassettes. Back then we had an hours or hour and a half worth of music. Today 8 gigs worth of music is about 270 songs at 320kbps. Yep, that is how it is done today.
Some of the bands on that key are still favourites today like Degreed and Riverside.
In between solo albums, Henley was busy with the Eagles, Geffen contract issues, Copyright issues against Record Labels, termination rights on songs and the Eagles again.
Henley knows his rights.
While people criticise musicians who turn into business people, it was inevitable that musicians would end up taking the business path.
The great record label rip off/exploitation made them seek this path. It is just unfortunate that a lot of the musicians that didn’t achieve world-wide domination still don’t realise their rights on their songs. Not a lot of hard rock and heavy metal artists are serving notice to their record label to reclaim songs they had written 35 years ago.
While I don’t agree on everything Henley does, like sending a cease and desist letter to an independent band or trying to get a remix law taken off the radar, the bottom line is this, he is a musician that looks out for his own interests. And that is why we loved our heroes.