A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

1986 vs 2013

BON JOVI

In 1986, Jon Bon Jovi was all about the music. He was in debt to his record label and still living with his parents. The “band” Bon Jovi released their biggest seller, Slippery When Wet.

Now, Jon Bon Jovi is all about the money. The band Bon Jovi released their biggest dud, in What About Now, Richie Sambora has been booted because of money and Jon Bon Jovi cancelled a New York Fair concert for an intimate Government concert that paid more.

 

BLACK SABBATH/OZZY OSBOURNE

In 1986, Black Sabbath released Seventh Star with Glenn Hughes on vocals and Ozzy Osbourne released The Ultimate Sin.

Seventh Star was originally intended to be the first solo album by Iommi, but due to pressures by Warner Bros. Records and the prompting of band manager Don Arden, the record was billed as Black Sabbath featuring Tony Iommi.

The Ultimate Sin featured songwriting contributions from Bob Daisley and Phil Soussan, however due to Sharon Osbourne (Arden) trying to keep as much money as possible in Ozzy’s corner, Bob Daisley was not credited on the initial release and Phil Soussan had an accounting disagreement with Sharon. Everyone got shafted by an Arden.

In 2013, Black Sabbath released 13, their first album with Ozzy since 1978, that also featured the talents of Rage Against The Machine drummer Brad Wilk. Bill Ward said he would not participate until he was offered a “signable contract.” One B.W is out and another B.W is in. Again, someone was shafted by an Arden.

RECORD LABELS

The major labels wanted their artists to have careers. They spent a lot of money to convince the public that they should pay attention to their new artist or the latest release of an existing artist.

The marketing was from the label down to the streets. The labels had so much power and they set the bar. Either a band was signed to a label or they didn’t matter. Major labels were plentiful and the most powerful person in the music business was the Record Label head. Artists could live off the money from their record deal as people had to buy the expensive record to listen to it. Because it was expensive, we played it over and over and over again and eventually became a fan.

Now the marketing is from the streets and the record labels want the hit singles. They have shareholders to please, a board to please and all the label heads are interested in bonuses and short term profits. There is no long term vision anymore as the Record Labels do not have the same power.

The major labels have been reduced to 3, with Sony, Universal and Warner Bros.

In 1986, record companies were cool. In 2013, HBO, Netflix, Showtime, Facebook, Apple, Samsung, Twitter and Amazon are cool. 

 

LIVE

In 1986, all the acts did the arena and stadium tours because demand was high. If a band opened for a major act, they believed they had made it. The public discovered new acts when those acts opened up for our favourite bands. Look at the list below;

Metallica and Ratt opened up for Ozzy Osbourne.

Anthrax opened up for Metallica.

Marillion opened up for Rush.

 

Loverboy opened up for Van Halen.

King Kobra, White Lion and W.A.S.P opened up for Kiss.

 

W.A.S.P also opened up for Iron Maiden.

Cinderella opened up for Bon Jovi in the U.S and Queensryche opened up for Bon Jovi in Europe.

 

Queensryche also opened up for AC/DC.

Cinderella also opened up for David Lee Roth.

Honeymoon Suite and Glass Tiger opened up for Journey.

Dokken opened up for Accept.

Keel opened up for Dio.

Krokus opened up for Judas Priest.

Now only the classic rock acts of the Seventies and Eighties can sell out the arenas and the few modern superstars. The majority of acts play the club circuit. If bands have a small hard core fan base, they can raise enough money to make an album and own everything about themselves. No one cares who the opening band is.

RANDY JACKSON

In 1986, he played bass with Journey. He appeared on the Raised on Radio album and also toured with them. People judged him on his abilities.

In 2013, he is a judge on American Idol.

CHARTS

Back in 1986, the charts meant everything and albums sold in double digit millions. Slippery When Wet from Bon Jovi went to Number 1 for 1 week in October and then it re-appeared at number 1 for 7 weeks in 1987.

Now the charts are useless and artists are lucky to sell a million units. There are a few, like Adele that go into double digits. Bon Jovi’s What About Now went to Number 1 for 1 week and it didn’t reappear again.

ANTHEMS OF A GENERATION

In 1986, we had Addicted To Love from Robert Palmer, Sledgehammer from Peter Gabriel, Dreams from Van Halen, Livin On A Prayer and Wanted Dead Or Alive from Bon Jovi, Peace Sells from Megadeth, Battery from Metallica, Raining Blood from Slayer and The Final Countdown from Europe.

In 2013, nothing lasts.

THE MUSIC BUSINESS 

In 1986, it was all about the music and if a band was all over traditional media, it meant they had traction and that people would be hearing their music.

Now, our favourite bands are playing to the masses who just don’t care and now it is all about marketing. Look at the marketing campaign for the new Dream Theater album. It looks like the label is trying to monetize every little bit of it. If a band is all over traditional media, it doesn’t mean that they have traction and it doesn’t mean that people have heard their music.

In 1986, everything was expensive and the cost of music was different at every store. Due to the high prices of music, everybody had a little bit of it. We had to buy it to hear it, or we used to tape it of someone who purchased it.

Now, music costs the same everywhere, and it’s cheap and everybody has more than they want. Music is available to hear for free, whether on YouTube or streaming music services like Spotify.

In 1986, albums from our favourite artists would normally come out every two years. Due to this lack of new material, music was scarce, so when we purchased albums we played them to death. We became fans by over playing the music we purchased as it was all about the music.

Now, music is released constantly and it is plentiful. Due to these riches of new material, we don’t spend as much time with the albums we purchased. We become fans by looking for the song that grabs our attention on the first listen.

LADY GAGA

In 1986, Lady Gaga was born. In 2013, Lady Gaga is just Born This Way.

METALLICA

In 1986, Metallica released Master of Puppets and lost bass player Cliff Burton in a bus accident while on tour.

In 2013, Metallica will be released Through The Never a live/concert film and will be losing a lot of money when it doesn’t set the world on fire.

MEGADETH

In 1986, Megadeth released Peace Sells.. But Who’s Buying, which in their case, everyone was buying.

In 2013, Megadeth released Supercollider and no one was buying.

KISS

In 1986, Gene Simmons from Kiss produced and co-wrote songs for the Black N Blue album, Nasty Nasty, that had a certain Tommy Thayer on guitars.

In 2013, Kiss released Monster, that has Tommy Thayer on guitars, as well as lead vocals on one song and a major co-writer of material.

STRYPER

In 1986, Stryper released To Hell With The Devil.

In 2013, Styper will release No More Hell To Pay. It looks they still have hell on their minds.

SLAYER

In 1986, Slayer reigned in blood.

In 2013, Jeff Hanneman’s reign ended. RIP.

QUEENSRYCHE

In 1986, Queensryche was one band that released the a superior album in Rage For Order.

In 2013, Queensryche are two seperate bands that ended up releasing two inferior albums in Frequency Unknown(Geoff Tate version) and Queensryche (Todd LaTorre version).

The fans are screaming for order.

CINDERELLA 

In 1986, Cinderella released Night Songs and proved to the world that they are nobody’s fool.

In 2013, Tom Keifer the singer from Cinderella released The Way Life Goes, an album 9 years in the making with a song called Fools Paradise.

VINNIE VINCENT

In 1986, Vinnie Vincent invaded the charts, with a point to prove.

In 2013, Vinnie Vincent is …..

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

Success Is A Combination Of Different Metrics

I’m surfing the net and reading. I come across a few reviews of music. Black Sabbath are getting favorable write ups from the mainstream however music fans are split.

I think we need a shut down and a restart in music as everybody is so busy scrambling for cash. Great music is coming a very distant last.

Ozzy these days is all about the money.

In my opinion it doesn’t matter whether anybody buys the new Black Sabbath album. Thinking of sales as the only validation point is old school economics.

These days it’s all about whether people LISTEN to it. I love Black Sabbath but I’m not listening to 13 nor have I a desire to hear it again.

Music was always a service. People heard music by going to a live performance of it. Then music evolved into a product. I grew up in an era were I wanted to own the music I liked. I wanted to collect as much music as possible. I was buying a product.

Now I don’t need to own music. I can just get the music I like whenever I want to hear it. Streaming is changing the way I consume music.

Instead of purchasing a CD once and playing that album 10,000 times, I can now stream a song 10,000 times. It’s a relationship between the artist and fan that never ends.

The music business is built on smoke and mirrors. That gig that sold out, by bands purchasing their own tickets for reselling in reality didn’t sell out. That album that sold millions, by the labels pressing millions in reality didn’t sell millions.

If people want to know if an album or a song is a hit they need to look at more metrics.

How many YouTube views?
How many Spotify streams?
How many streams from other providers?
How many torrent downloads. Free music can be good for you. I remember watching the Iron Maiden 666 movie and Nicko McBrian was saying that they haven’t sold a single record in Costa Rica, however they have 40,000 kids coming to the show.
How many digital sales in the major markets?
How many physical sales in the major markets?
Are people talking about the album?

The main point is it’s a combination of everything, sales numbers are not everything, you’ve got to look at the total picture.

Standard
Music

What Does A Number 1 album mean these days?

So Black Sabbath had a Number 1 record with sales of 155,000. A friend of mine was quick to tell me that. Week 2 then saw a big 70% drop with only 45,000 sold.

Bon Jovi had a number one album with Because We Can and in nine weeks it disappeared completely. Why? Because the fans are not spreading it, they are not talking about it and they are not listening to it. Will the Black Sabbath album suffer the same fate? Time will tell.

What does a sale mean these days? Do sales even matter?

What does matter is whether people LISTENED to the music!

Spotify now has play count metrics and who can forget the worlds original unofficial streaming service, YouTube.

In this day and age new music from Black Sabbath with Ozzy singing is long overdue. However, in the end I am not hooked on it enough to spread it and from looking at the data, the fans have the same view.

Standard
Derivative Works, Influenced, Music

Black Sabbath – 13

When I heard that Ozzy Osbourne had returned to Black Sabbath and that they are going to write and record new music, I was excited.  I was expecting this state of the art album, that would stay true to the Black Sabbath legacy, and an album that defines a new modern legacy for the band.

Then I heard that Rick Rubin was hired and to be honest I was concerned.  Rick Rubin was a master producer.  These days, he just gets bands to recreate albums that they have already created.  I have listened to the new Black Sabbath album a lot on Spotify.

The problem that I have with it, is that it tries too hard to recreate the first four Black Sabbath albums.  However, one thing I do like is that they have stayed away from the Verse – Chorus – Verse – Chorus – Bridge – Solo – Chorus structure.

God Is Dead should have been a fantastic song, only if it was edited down to about six minutes.  The clean tone intro moving into the heavy crunchy riff stays true to the Black Sabbath legacy, while also creating a new modern legacy for the band.  At one stage, Diary Of A Madman popped in my head.  In my opinion, the extra three minutes just drag it out.

End Of The Beginning tries to recreate the song Black Sabbath just a bit too much.  Loner also falls into the same boat, borrowing very heavily from N.I.B.  Live Forever borrows from Fairies Wear Boots.

Zeitgeist on the other hand was surprising, with it’s Emerson Lake Palmer From The Beginning vibe.

Damaged Soul also falls into the surprising category, as it is a blues dirge in the vein of Dazed and Confused from Led Zeppelin merged with Dirty Women, Into The Void and Electric Funeral from Sabbath.  Iommi is at his best when he references the blues genre for Sabbath and I don’t believe he gets the respect he deserves for it.  His lead break is up there with all the blues greats.

Dear Father also has that Into The Void heaviness, however it really borrows a lot from War Pigs and Behind The Wall of Sleep.  I really like that Beatles She’s So Heavy chord progression.

Peace Of Mind is a D side Ozzy Osbourne solo cut.

If there is a song to recommend as almost perfect, it is Age of Reason.  It has everything in it that is Black Sabbath.  It is a nod to the past, a nod to the present and I am sure in twenty years time a new generation of musicians will be crediting this song as an influence.

Methademic is up there as well.  As with Age of Reason, I believe that this song will be talked about by a whole new generation of Black Sabbath fans, brought up on 13.  How good is that sinister acoustic intro, and boogie driven bass verse?  Iommi is in his element, rolling riff after riff.  There are so many blues references that he brings up in the riffs and he makes it sound effortlessly.

Pariah has a riff that is so familiar, I just cant pin point the song.  At first I was thinking Guns N Roses, then I was thinking Deep Purple, then I was trying to rack my brain on a Black Sabbath song.  This is the kind of derivative work that I like.  It’s okay to reference yourself or another band, you just need to do it in a way, that invokes the feeling that Pariah invoked in me; it is familiar, yet i cant pinpoint it.

Overall, it is a comeback album that could set the foundation for the next album.  It has an album that the good, the bad and the ugly.

Standard
Music

Sales Numbers for the U.S.

Metal Insider

I was looking at the sales figures in the above link.  A lot of people focus on the sales aspect of everything, so if something is sold a lot of times, they class it as being successful.

So if you look at the sales, you will see a lot of hard rock and metal bands doing low numbers for the week.  One can easily jump to conclusions.  The album is bad, it bombed or the industry favourite, piracy.

However, to me the sale numbers mean nothing.  What is important here, is the length of time the music has been out.

Let’s start with Volbeat.  They have two albums that are selling.  Yippee, you say.  Here’s the thing, Beyond Heaven/Above Hell was released in September 2010.  Yes, 2010.  It has been around for over 2 and a half years.  What does this tell you?  They did it without the mainstream sledgehammer across the head marketing like Bon Jovi and Justin Timberlake.  They did it by creating great music and letting the people spread the word.  The funny thing is, the song that made them popular in the U.S, Still Counting is not even on this album (it is from an earlier album from 2007 called Guitar Gangsters and Cadillac Blood) and was added as a bonus track later on.  Talk about great music waiting to be found.  It was released in 2007 and it wasn’t until 2012, that people really heard Still Counting, appreciated it and starting buying it.

You need to remember, there is so much music released each days, (I checked the new release schedule and i counted over 400 releases on one day).  Multiply that by 52 weeks, and you have a lifetimes worth of music to go through.  We need a filter and what better filter than people spreading the word.  Not by the hundreds, but the by the thousands and in PSY’s case, by the millions.

Volbeat’s new album Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies entered the charts in the top 10.  They had the usual big first week sales and second week drop, however this time around, the audience was waiting for a new release.  Time will tell if this album will have the same longevity.

From hearing it, it’s a good album, but it doesn’t have the defining song, and that is what fans want.  Bon Jovi had Wanted Dead Or Alive on Slippery When Wet, Motley Crue had Kick Start My Heart on Dr Feelgood, Metallica had Enter Sandman on the Black album, Poison had Nothing But A Good Time on Open Up and Say Ahh.. and so on.

In This Moment has been doing business since August 2012.  34 weeks.  Bon Jovi’s What About Now, has more or less stalled.  Justin Timberlake’s is slowly declining as well.  Will they still be selling in 34 weeks time.  For Bon Jovi, i am sure they will not.

Otherwise, is a band that i have been following for over a year now.  Each week, you see them move between 400 and 700 units.  They are touring their arses off, picking up new fans along the way.  The album came out in May 2012.  It will make a year, where it has been selling low numbers.  To me this is a success story.  If they stay at the rate they are, they will be passing 40,000.  What’s 40,000, I hear people saying?  That is a year’s worth of touring.  The music is the entry-level to all the other things in the business.  You don’t make money from selling music.  You make money from the doors that music opens.

Stone Sour have two albums that are selling, House of Gold and Bones Pt 1 and Pt 2.  The concept story is the entry for the multimedia projects to come, like the graphic novels, the motion picture movie and the tour.  It’s not all about sales, it’s about different income streams.

Coheed and Cambria has already walked the path that Stone Sour is walking right now.  They have had their concept albums put into comic form, graphic novel and companion books.  Claudio Sanchez has also signed a deal to develop the Armory Wars story into a motion picture film.

Black Veil Brides is another band, involved in the multimedia aspect, with their concept album, Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones.  

Shinedown is one of the best hard rock bands doing the scene right now.  Amaryllis has been out for over a year now and the band is still moving units.  Why, because people are spreading the word, they are hearing the songs live and are liking them.

For the critics that have called this album a failure, just because it didn’t move the same units as The Sound of Madness is a shallow viewpoint to have without any analysis.  A song like Second Chance comes around once in a decade.  That song alone moved over 2 million mp3’s.  The Shinedown tour is doing decent business at the box office.

The key here is longevity.  You don’t want to be here today and gone tomorrow.  You want the music, the band, to remain public, to be in people’s’ minds.  So many have released albums and have been forgotten.  Does anyone remember that Joe Walsh released a new album last year, or that David Bowie and Bon Jovi released an album in the same week.  They have been forgotten.  The hardcore fans will say otherwise and that is okay they are entitled to their opinions.

Life today is all about information.  We have a tonne of it.  We are connected 24/7.  There is always something coming out that takes the flavor of the minute.  Black Sabbath released God Is Dead, and it was tanking, regardless of what the artists and Loudwire said about it.

Ozzy then releases a statement about his fall back into addiction, trying to drum up press and then Sharon chimes in.  It ain’t working, the song is a dud at nine minutes long.  It’s a four-minute song on a 12 inch extended remix.

I am seeing them in two days at the Allphones Arena in Sydney.  I might eat my words after hearing it live.  No one is talking about them.  The 13 album is already in the rear view mirror and it hasn’t even been officially released.  They are touring Australia and there is no buzz.   

Standard
Music

Black Sabbath must have the same marketing team as Bon Jovi

Black Sabbath

I am going to watch Black Sabbath towards the end of April.  The way I got into Black Sabbath is through Randy Rhoads.  He was my idol.  The Tribute, Blizzard and Diary albums became my bibles in relation to guitar playing.  I needed to learn every riff, every lick, every bass line and every vocal melody line.  It was an obsession.

On Tribute, I heard three songs that where not written by the usual Ozzy, Randy and Bob Daisley combination.  I actually feel sorry for Bob Daisley.  Sharon tried her hardest to write Bob out of the Ozzy history and to give the barely sober Ozzy a bigger role in the song writing process.  It’s common knowledge that Randy wrote the music, Bob the lyrics and the melodies where Ozzy’s.

Paranoid, Iron Man and Children Of The Grave where the songs.  On the album sleeve it mentioned that the songs are written by Osbourne, Iommi, Butler and Ward.

This is the pre internet era, so you couldn’t just Google the names.  You needed to read the album sleeve, buy magazines or ask older people if they know anything about the artists.

It was Children of The Grave that got my attention.  The way it’s done on Tribute, the original Black Sabbath version sounded lame when I heard it.  The tempo was slower and it didn’t have the wonderful Randy Rhoads Guitar Hero solo.

So Black Sabbath is about to release a new album.  The first one with Ozzy since 1978’s Never Say Die.  It’s called 13.  They even got Rick Rubin involved.  What he actuakky dies these days is open to discussion.  Ozzy calls the album, mind blowing.  It’s the usual approach of the old school of marketing.  Talk up an album before its release.

Ozzy’s last great album was No More Tears featuring the wonderful bass playing of Bob Daisley.  His musical career has been slowly declining however his net worth has been increasing due to Ozzfest and reality TV.  Does anyone remember any songs from Black Rain, Scream and Down To Earth.  Do people care about a new Black Sabbath album?  Heaven and Hell (the recent Dio fronted Sabbath) made their money through ticket sales, which focused on the legacy created by the first two Dio fronted albums.

One thing that Black Sabbath doesn’t seem to know is that this is a new era.  They are doing it all wrong, like how it was done in the old days.  Top down marketing.  Hit the fans across the head with a sledgehammer of marketing propaganda and hope they spread the word.  No one in the streets is spreading the word.   Yeah its all over the usual music websites and the band is doing radio interviews, but no one is really pushing it socially.  Black Sabbath has fans, there is no doubt about that but it does it know any of them.

Standard