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

Playing Live

I just got an email from Visa about the “Kiss Early Visa Only Presale”.

You know how it works. Only a handful of tickets are available as pre-sales with prices which range from $99 to $310 and VIP Meet and Greets between $1,300 to $1,600.

And guess what, those limited tickets on sale are almost sold out. And not because fans purchased them.

And last week, I got another email from Ticketek about “new great seats that have been made available” for the Bon Jovi concert next month.

Why weren’t those seats available in the initial offering?

Why wait until a month before the concert to release these “new seats”?

Seriously, for how much longer are fans going to get abused with crap like this?

And the artists can do something about it but they stay silent.

Of course they would say they “need to increase the ticket prices” due to the decline in recording revenue, but hey most artists are on streaming these days and a lot of those artists don’t like it, because it shows that people are not listening to their music.

Did anyone read the Ticketmaster fiasco about how computer bots are buying up tickets so they could be resold at a higher price?

Because if the show has a “sold out” sign, the price of the ticket purchased by the bots will go up a lot on the reseller market.

Plus all the acts love to build the hype and image like “look at our show, it’s sold out”, but in truth it hasn’t. They are just hiding the truth.

Of course Ticketmaster has denied any wrongdoing and are launching an internal investigation but would you trust the words of a corporation. Hell, FIFA even said they would clean up their act after corruption and money laundering issues but instead they got even dirtier and even more secretive.

Remember when Metallica tested the market back in the early two thousands with higher ticket prices and people paid. And each time they went on tour after that, they retested the market with a higher price point. But like housing bubbles, the live bubble will burst and the prices will reset.

With time. And then what.

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

Music Is A Relationship Between Artist And Fan

With chaos comes opportunity.  For centuries, progress is made from learning how to deal with the chaos.

Copyright is in a chaotic state. The corporations who hold the rights to valuable art, are fighting battles against infringement, organising web blocking and are trying their best to get stricter copyright enforcement laws passed while also lobbying hard to extend copyright terms. As if the current “life plus 70 years after death” term is not long, enough.

In addition, these copyright monopolies don’t want works entering the public domain, so in the late 90’s these large organisations got a law passed that would prevent works meant to enter the public domain from not entering until 2019.

For those that don’t know, the public domain is culture. Keith Richards once said, ‘you can’t copyright the blues.’ Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Elvis Presley and all of the sixties greats took songs from the Public Domain and built a highly lucrative career from it.

Culture is built and expanded by sharing stories and building on the works of others. But the Copyright organisations have manipulated and changed copyright so much, it’s far removed from its purpose of giving creators a short term monopoly on their works, so they have an incentive to create more works.

Short terms meant 14 years to 28 years depending if the artist renewed their work.

Works that should be in the public domain do not benefit the original creators in any way. The majority of them have passed away, however these works (the valuable ones) are beneficial for the few copyright monopoly gatekeepers.

For culture to thrive once again, it is important to respect the public domain. If you want another 60’s culture explosion, we need to have a public domain.

It’s not going to be easy, because you have the RIAA who continually push lies out into the world, so that technology companies can do something to protect the labels crap business models. You have ISP’s who are fighting their own battles about what their users do on the net. You have the techies who provide services, using channels supported and owned by the ISP’s. You have the various lobby groups for the public, for the techies, for the ISP’s and for the labels/movie studios. And when these tribes come into a room, it’s exactly what Frankie sings, they go to war.

And nowhere in the mix is the artist and the customer. Because in the end, it’s the relationship the customer has with the music/art which creates value. The labels claim they are there to represent the artists, which is complete BS. The labels are there to represent themselves.

For the recording business to thrive, you need the artist to create and you need a customer to become a fan and connect with the art, so they could be monetised. If that relationship is not happening, all of the other crap going on is pointless.

If you are an artist, you need to realise your fans are king. Exceptional fan service is the key driving force behind a bands success. It’s good old business 101, “treat your customers right and they’ll stay with you forever”.  Because if you build a community of customers and are serving these dedicated customers with something great, then you would expect profits to go up.

In all of the wars happening around access to music, the most important one, the artist and the fan connection, is continually ignored. Don’t be an artist that falls into that trap.

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

Theatre Of Copyright Business

Dave Mustaine recently posted the following on Twitter;

It’s a big week for songwriters all over the country, on Tuesday, the Senate passed the Music Modernization Act, the most important piece of legislation in a generation, making sure songwriters are paid the fair market value when their songs are played.

Steven Tyler was one of the biggest lobbyist for this Act to pass.

Nikki Sixx posted the following on Facebook about another Copyright fight in Europe that looks like it’s going to get the green light;

Fantastic news. This started with artists who had the courage to use their voice’s and standing up to an industry that wasn’t willing to change.I am very proud of all those artists and happy to see the ball rolling in the right direction.Without compensation artists can’t afford to keep making the music.We are just getting started.

There is a lot of opposing opinions to Nikki’s post from EU citizens that highlighted issues with the new EU Copyright Reform especially Article 11 and 13.

The real rock stars these days are the fans.

The artists think they make a little coin and they’ve won some victory. They are clueless to the social impact these laws create in handing even more power over to the Corporation.

The enemy is the labels. Artists should take up arms against them, instead they are taking up arms against the consumption methods of their fans.

Remember the labels want the old world, in which they had control over the distribution and before Napster they tried real hard to get perpetual copyright. Then again Nikki Sixx owns his Masters and was involved in setting up a label. So his record deal is with himself. Isn’t he making enough coin?

Both of these Acts originated from the corporations instead of the artists. The labels always win and the public domain gets nothing again. The label executives fly private while 98% of artists fly economy.

No Government should be allowed to add new rights to works created decades ago. Those works got created under the laws at that time, which suited the artist just fine however they have been changed retroactively too many times and now those works are under copyright for close to 110 years.

Copyright law is about creating an incentive for new creativity and to enrich the public. It’s a trade off. Adding new rights to old recordings doesn’t create any incentive for new creativity.

If you want to read about the US Act, read these two articles;

EFF Article

Techdirt Article

For the EU law read the following articles;

EFF Article

Techdirt Article

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

Copyright Lies Are A Business Model

What comes first, the words or the music?

The answer always is, “listening to the words and music of other artists”, however it’s rarely said. Even more so today, for fear of a court case.

Being inspired by artists, story tellers and sounds is how we learn. From the day a child is born, they are listening to the sounds of the voices and learn how to talk from it. They watch people walk and decide to try it themselves. We basically copy what others do. But when big business gets involved and hijacks a law designed to protect artists, well this isn’t what Copyright should be and it shouldn’t be up to any court to decide.

Any musician starting out learns to play the songs of others before writing their own. This builds their style and forms a large part of their song writing. Led Zeppelin just made songs or riffs they had heard from other artists, sound better.

However, lawyers these days along with the heirs of deceased artists are trying to turn this into a pension fund, because the current length of copyright terms (which the labels lobbied hard to get in the 60’s and 70’s and 90’s) allow them to do so. But if you look at any guide to becoming great in any field, they all say to copy the greats.

Artists do not operate in a vacuum. They assimilate what is happening around them to create music. They create because they want to create. It’s a human need that needs to be satisfied within. No artist sits down and says to themselves, “geez, lucky for me that Copyright law is for my life plus 70 years, so I have an incentive to create.”

However, the recording industry constantly spews the same rhetoric about the need for stronger copyright enforcement and longer copyright terms, because piracy is killing the industry and if there is stronger copyright enforcement, then artists will get paid, and if artists get paid, more art will be created.

Are they serious?

The true purpose of copyright, is the progress of arts and science.

And while piracy ran rampant, and recording industry revenues went down, there was still plenty of creative output. Artists create because they want to create.

And for getting paid, if you have some traction and are not seeing any coin, redo your contracts with the middle parties. Otherwise if you are an artist who has no traction, obscurity is your enemy, so keep on creating.

There is an article over at Torrentfreak which talks about copyright and how more money leads to less creative output which challenges the bullshit put out by the labels and their stooges.

It’s because overpaid artists don’t work harder; they work less. Jimmy Page is a perfect example. Look at his recorded output since Led Zeppelin finished up.

So Copyright was originally designed to give a creator a short term monopoly on their works so they create more works. However Copyright over the last 50 years has become a scheme which encourages our superstar artists to work less. And this is the opposite of the true purpose of copyright; to facilitate the progress of arts and science.

And what is even more opposite of the true purpose of copyright is this stupid “Blurred Lines” case.

Remember how the Pharrell/Robin Thicke song “Blurred Lines” infringed on Marvin Gaye’s song “Got To Give It Up” because it had a similar feel/groove. No actual music was copied. And what makes it bizarre, “feel” or “groove” is not protectable subject matter under copyright law. But we have a court deciding differently. It’s not like Marvin Gaye’s song was so original and free from influence of other songs from the same era.

Based on this ruling, The Night Flight Orchestra cannot exist at all, because they pay homage to artists who influence them. God damn it, every band that I know off, pays homages to other artists. This is a stupid court decision. Paying homage to other artists, or writing a song in the style of another artist is how musicians first learn to create songs. It does no harm to the original artist, and often introduces more people to the original work.

And, similar lawsuits are rapidly being filed. Ed Sheeran is dealing with one over his song “Thinking Out Loud” and if it is too close to Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On.” The songs do have the same chord progression, but are pretty different.

As the Techdirt article states “having the same chord progression allowed Sheeran to sometimes easily perform a mashup of the two songs at concerts. But again, that’s a tribute, but it’s now being used against him.”

The scope of copyright is creeping into other things. And it’s wrong.

And because of how far gone Copyright is gone, we have a war in the EU over a perceived “value gap” of what YouTube pays versus what those songs would have earned if people had the chance to buy them.

Seriously, the recording industry might as well bring back dial up internet or the telegram.

The truth is, songs are streamed more on Spotify than they are on YouTube these days. And when are people going to understand we are living in a new era. Any person can make music. It’s cheap, you can do it from home and you can release it from home. But the biggest difference is consumption. It’s the listeners who hold the power now, not the labels.

The old model was you needed a major label. They would put some money into the recording and then promote you. Artists felt like they could have a career, even if they never became mainstream or had a hit. Now, there is so much music available, the majority of music fans don’t care about acts. The streaming platforms are not robbing the artist, it’s the fans. They have decided how they want to access music. Revenues are up for the labels, but maybe not for the artist, especially the ones on crappy record deals.

But somehow, the recording industry finds ways to put longer and stronger copyright terms into the discussion. Which is disappointing. And lawyers who represent the heirs of dead artists are waiting to sue. Which is disappointing.

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Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Removing Music From Spotify

Once upon a time, it used to cost a lot of money to record. Very few acts, got signed and even less acts got a chance to record and get distributed. In other words, getting inside the record label machine was hard, however if an act could penetrate, they could have a long career even if they never had a hit.

The label kept you in business and the label promoted you to get you fans. However the truth is, it was even harder to keep a record deal than getting a record deal. Especially if you didn’t sell. And even more so, once MTV came out and you didn’t sell.

Kiss was one of those bands who benefited from this business model. They relied on the label putting some money upfront for the recording of the album, for the film clips and for tour support.

Then Napster came, then torrents, the iTunes store and streaming and Gene and Paul just kept on shouting it loud to everyone about how there is no music business, while they toured non-stop and made money from the music business.

In the process they recorded two albums in this period. Yes, you read that right, since Napster came out, Kiss have put out only two albums, “Sonic Boom” and “Monster”. But for all of the complaing about streaming, the Kiss catalogue was on Spotify Australia. Then when I looked at the Kiss catalogue a few days ago to listen to the “Lick It Up” album, it was gone. Actually, Kiss took off half their catalogue from Spotify Australia.

Are they serious? Is their label serious?

Talk about a slap in the face to the fans who actually pay for a premium account. Didn’t they get the memo that distribution is king and Spotify is the medium. It’s like taking your records out of record shops. If people cannot get access, they will just move on to something else.

Yeah, I know you can get the “classic” songs or the “hit songs” on one of the many compilations still available on the service, however those compilations don’t contain the more obscure tracks which are my favourite. I have no issue bringing out the CD or the LP as I have most of the Kiss stuff on both formats, but that’s not the point in this day and age.

Even my cult favourite band, Evergrey are hit and miss on Spotify. You don’t know what part of their catalogue will remain on the medium with each passing year. I’m against it. I’m against bands withholding their music from a service I pay for.

We are in a new era, where it’s all about consumption. Funds are tight, but Google and Spotify is not the problem. The artists are getting squeezed by the consumer. The consumer either listens or doesn’t want to listen to your music.

Stupid misguided artists bitch about streaming but it’s saving the recording business. Revenues are moving upward. And for the labels, streaming is the best, because it means less costs.

For any artist thinking of withholding their music from a streaming service, don’t do it. Don’t hold back progress. Because if you look at the past, you will see people who said the internet would kill the incentive to make music. Wrong, there’s so much more music than ever before. People said streaming would kill the business. Wrong, revenues are up and not it’s seen as it’s saviour.

Think forward, not backwards.

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Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Prices Go Up, Innovation Goes Down

Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Google have a monopoly on the market and when this occurs, we no longer have a choice, so prices would eventually go up. As much as I love using Spotify, what do you reckon is going to happen when it reaches critical mass and they have a monopoly on the market.

The monthly price would go up, as history is only too keen to tell us.  And when prices go up, innovation ceases and the consumers are then left with no voice and we then silently wait for the next revolution to take away this monopoly. Of course a key role of our governments is to make sure monopolies don’t exist, but everytime they pass a piece of legislation, they more or less give rise to monopolies. Don’t even get me started on the copyright monopoly mess governments have created.

Spotify, as much as I like using the service, gets on my nerves because it can’t distinguish the difference between artists with the same names. On my recent release radar I had “new releases” from dance acts called Tesla, Keel, Vandenberg, Exodus and Badlands. I like and follow the ROCK and METAL bands, not these crappy dance artists.

Even Kingdom Come’s Spotify profile is corrupted with music from another act called Kingdom Come which has nothing to do with Lenny Wolf’s version and their styles are completely different. So for all Spotify’s innovation, they fail on the most basic task. Keeping the acts unique, regardless of similar names.

Also, I still cant understand how acts can have some of their albums on the service but not the other albums in this day and age. Night Ranger’s biggest albums are not on the service. Y&T’s Geffen output is not on the service. Yngwie Malmsteen and Cinderella had their music on the service and some of their definitive albums from the 80’s are now absent. I don’t believe this is Spotify’s fault. The blame is on the artist or their label or some contractual clause over what monies are owned.

And while I type this, I got an email from Netflix saying my monthly subscription is going up to $13.99. The reasons for the increase was a one line paragraph, saying “to keep on delivering the best service possible”. So I’m working the numbers through in my mind. I might watch a TV series once every 3 months because of the time investment needed. The last one I watched was “Altered Carbon” and that happened over 10 days, and I started “The Rain” three weeks ago and I’ve only watched one episode.

So the price increase based on what I watch is not worth it in my mind. My kids rarely put it on anymore as they are hooked on Fortnite and YouTube videos of people playing Fortnite. Yep, you’ve read that correctly. It doesn’t make sense to me either.

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.

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

Defenders Of The Copyright Faith

In 1998, the US Congress passed the Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA) which extended the 1976 Act’s terms of life of the creator plus 50 years after death to life of the creator plus 70 years after death. The CTEA also increased the extension term for works copyrighted before January 1978 that had not already entered the public domain. Basically under this act, works made in 1923 or afterwards that were still protected by copyright in 1998 would not enter the public domain until 2019 or later.

You can see how this little act changed copyright law to benefit the corporation. It’s nickname is the Mickey Mouse Protection Act, because Disney lobbied hard for this extension to protect Mickey Mouse, who made his debut in 1928. Of course, sane people argued that long copyright terms don’t provide any incentive for the creator to produce more works.

Remember that TPP (Trans – Pacific Partnership) deal that was negotiated in secret when Obama was in power, Trump then killed it and then Trump brought it back bigger and nastier. Well, there was a clause in there, where the US is saying to nations, if they want to be part of this partnership, they need to change their Copyright laws to be the same as the US.

Of course, the Movie Studios and Record Labels argued that by lengthening copyright terms they would invest more in creating content. As I’ve said before, when a person sits down to create, they do not go to themselves, “Geez, thanks to Copyright Terms being extended to 70 years after I’m dead, I have an incentive to create”. The creator sits down and creates because it is a need to do so in their life. There is no movie studio or record label investment when the creator first creates. It is just the creator fulfilling a need to create.

But corporations who control the copyrights of works are addicted to copyright term extensions and here we are in 2018, 20 years from 1998 and guess what is happening again.

Yep that’s right, US Congress looks like it is going to please the corporations instead of the public.

Little do people know that there was a court challenge to the 1998 extension and the Court rejected the challenge because they did believe to think that Congress would need to extend terms anymore. As the Wired article states;

After all, with a term of 95 years for work created before 1976, and life of the author plus 70 years for work beginning in 1976, how much more time could possibly be needed?

But guess what, buried in the otherwise harmless “Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service, and Important Contributions to Society Act” is a few words which would give organisations (yes, corporations) the right to control music recordings made before 1972, up until 2067.

As the Wired article states,

“These recordings would now have a new right, protected until 2067, which, for some, means a total term of protection of 144 years. The beneficiaries of this monopoly need do nothing to get the benefit of this gift. They don’t have to make the work available. Nor do they have to register their claims in advance. That this statute has nothing to do with the constitutional purpose of “promot[ing] Progress” is clear from its very title.”

The worrying part is what does this mean for the future. As the Wired article further states;

“If this bill passes, we can expect other copyright owners to complain about the “unfairness” in the gift given to the creators of legacy recordings. And in the clamber to harmonize with this 144-year term, a swamp of extensions is certainly on the way. No doubt, the beneficiaries of these gifts will be grateful to Congress, and show their gratitude in the campaign-finance-ways of Washington. Equally without doubt, this is not what a system meant to “promote the Progress of Science” was ever intended to be.”

Yep, creators are so lucky to have these kinds of organisations looking out for them.

It takes artists a while to understand, but they don’t need a record label these days. Nikki Sixx on Twitter recently 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 is now into administration. As part of bankruptcy, Downing needs to sell the rights to 136 songs he co-wrote. According to the article, these songs generate $340K to $400K in royalty payments annually.

So remember Downing has a copyright on his works. This copyright gives him a monopoly on his works so he can earn money from them, which in turn gives him an incentive to create. And now he needs to sell this right to someone or something (being a corporation). Yep, that’s exactly what copyright is for.

And then what about artists on album covers. Artists normally got 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 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.

Read the article.

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.

As the article states, when it comes to artists and copyright law, it’s very messy, especially for famous works because the companies don’t want to lose their valuable rights to those works. So the answer always is for corporations to extend them. For how long will the public tolerate this, I don’t know. Countless people and organisations are out there protesting these extensions, but the public is still relatively silent. And it’s the public who are getting robbed.

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