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

Score Card Inc

Three years ago in November, 2013, I posted a score sheet on certain artists/trends and how they are dealing with the music business.

Three years later, how are the artists fairing.

Robb Flynn
He still understands that it is not all about making records. From Nov 2013 to now, Robb Flynn via Machine Head, kept on releasing his Journals both video and written. In April, 2014, “Killers and Kings” came out for Record Store Day and the band went on tour. He started a clothing range called “Killers and Kings” that didn’t really take off. In November, 2014, “Bloodstone and Diamonds” came out and the band embarked on a lengthy “An Evening With” world tour. In June 1, 2016, “Is There Anybody Out There?” came out as a stand-alone single.

His connection with his audience runs deep. People either dig him or detest him or some people will not just forget him in an orange jumpsuit during the Nu-Metal phase of the band’s career.

Protest The Hero
Back in 2013, “Protest The Hero” showed how the record labels are so out of touch with its customers. PTH was dropped because the label told them they have no audience. However, a fan funding campaign showed a pretty impressive hard-core audience that was willing to cough up some serious dollars for the band. Even the band was blown away at the response.

And they did it again between Nov 2015 and April 2016 with “Pacific Myth” an innovative one song per month release over six months via Bandcamp. Fans had the option of two packages, and I selected the one that also had the six video releases. In between, the guys would upload drum videos, cooking videos, song transcriptions and what not.

Nikki Sixx
In 2013, he talked about a farewell tour. Well that tour finally happened and concluded in 2015. The Crue fan base didn’t really need one more world tour however, they wanted to finish up in their own way and the world tour is what we got, with a new song called “All Bad Things”. The movie is still in the works, they have their own pleasure toys, a rumour of The Dirt 2, plus lawsuits from photographers and opening bands to contend with. Seriously, squirting piss at a bunch of guys who paid $1 million to be on the tour would always end up in the courts.

With Sixx A.M. he has released an albums worth of music and the next album is coming in a few weeks. They are on tour with Five Finger Death Punch, he does his Sixx Sense Radio Show and he doesn’t like to wash his hands after going to the toilet.

Coheed and Cambria
By November, 2013, COCA had been touring non-stop on the back of “The Afterman” two album releases that came out within a 4 month window. Add to that Comic Con appearances, plus Sci-Fi conventions and appearances in Comic Shops and you get the idea that this band realises that it is not just about music and money. It is about creativity.

Since then, Claude Sanchez became a dad. He wrote more comics with his wife called “Translucid” in 2014 and in 2015 managed to release another slab of songs called “The Color Before The Sun” and go on a another world tour.

Metallica
Back in 2013, I wrote;

They need to make new music soon. There are only so many times that a band can go on a worldwide victory lap on the same piece of music. They need to be back in the studio.

Well, we are almost one week away from that new music hitting the streets and in the meantime, we have been treated to three tracks.
It’s a welcome relief to hear Metallica doing what they do best and I believe they have enough new music in their archives for another album to drop within two years this time, instead of eight.

And after hearing the album – yes it is available on the pirate sites, I can honestly say that it’s not worth the 8 year wait at all and maybe 4 song EP’s is the best way to go.

Dream Theater
I wrote in November 2013, that they need a great record soon or they will become yesterday’s news. Dream Theater has a knack for popping up with some goodies, like “Images and Words”, “Scenes From A Memory”, “Systematic Chaos” and “A Dramatic Turn Of Events”.

So in January 2016, they dropped the 130 minute “Astonishing” concept album, about a dystopian future society. Concept albums lead to different revenue spin offs like a stage play, comic book stories, video games, animations, TV series, a movie and so forth. But then again, Slayer are doing a graphic comic book series and have never done a concept album.

Stone Sour
I wrote in 2013, that something went south with their career trajectory. Of course, a beast called Slipknot would devour the creative forces of the band. Their take on modern metal is good, but with Slipknot getting more melodic, is there a reason for Stone Sour to exist.

Five Finger Death Punch
They have an audience who purchases and streams their product. Along the way, each album has received certifications for so many units moved. An onstage meltdown, a record label lawsuit and then a change of label has not slowed the band down in any way. If they can remain together, they will remain a powerhouse.

Trivium
Back in November, 2013, their new album “Vengeance Falls” was called a Disturbed covers album. The truth is, if people are talking about you, it is a good thing. And that album gave Trivium a concert classic in “Strife”. Since then, they released “Silence In The Snow” in 2015. They are always looking to reinvent themselves constantly while staying true to heavy metal. Plus Matt Heafy has a pretty cool Top 10 list of albums that changed his life.

1. Metallica – The Black Album (1991)
“A kid lent me The Black Album at school and it changed my life. I had never heard anything like it before, and I started playing guitar all the time.”

2. In Flames – Whoracle (1997)
“That was at the time of Napster, and I was into the classic great metal bands. I was on Napster and I found In Flames. I had never heard melodic death metal before, and it changed my ear on what kind of music I wanted to play.”

3. Queen – A Night At The Opera (1975)
“What I’ve always loved about Queen is that they’ve never released the same thing twice. Everything is drastically different while still sounding like Queen. Every song on A Night At The Opera sounds different to the next one and they all stand up as fantastic.”

4. Iron Maiden – Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son (1988)
“With Iron Maiden it’s hard, because I love so many of their records. They’re all so important. Seventh Son, though, is the one that really got me into Iron Maiden. It’s one of their more epic records; there’s vivid storytelling going on. Getting into Iron Maiden helped me trace the roots of the music that I love. I could see where so many metal, death metal and black metal bands had taken things from.”

5. Ihsahn – Eremita (2012)
“Emperor changed my life, and Ihsahn changed my life again with this album. He spun the idea of black metal on its head by incorporating jazz chords, interesting production and clean singing. That record taught me to never be afraid of making whatever I want to make. We’ve always done that, but this album drove that home for me.”

6. Boston – Boston (1976)
“The vocal production is insane. Everything about this record epitomises the best things of rock ‘n’ roll.”

7. The Beatles – Abbey Road (1969)
“The Beatles blow my mind in the same way that Queen do in that every song and record is so different to the last. Both of those bands have incredible songwriters as well. It’s not like nowadays where you might have one songwriter in a band.”

8. Emperor – Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk (1997)
“This is where Emperor really changed the dynamic of where black metal was going. Black metal was the rebellion to rock and metal, and was supposed to be different. “When there’s a movement like that, a lot of bands come out playing semi-similar music. That record opened up with clean guitar and there’s this classical singing; it has chaotic moments and beautiful moments all in one. Emperor makes such interesting black metal with these big dramatic moments.”

9. Depeche Mode – Violator (1990)
“Listening to Depeche Mode, you can hear that Rammstein is a combination of Depeche Mode and Metallica. Violator is one of the darkest, scariest records I’ve ever heard. It has this different kind of sadness that you feel in the music.”

10. The London Symphony Orchestra – Mozart’s Requiem (1791)
“The gothic artwork of that record is incredible, and this version for me is just the best. Listening to this, you can hear that out of all contemporary music, metal is the closest living relative to classical. It is the most epic moments of music that have always drawn me in, and I feel that with Mozart’s Requiem that is where you’re getting into the blueprint for everything that was to come.”

Shinedown
They have an audience who want to listen to them and so far, no one’s doing hard rock better than them. Their new album “Threat To Survival” has taken its influences from Adele, Imagine Dragons and other pop artists and they still made it rock hard. Daughtry and James Durbin should take note. Along the way, their fans purchased and streamed all the way to certification after certification.

Avenged Sevenfold
Say what you will about the “influences” on “Hail To The King”, doing that album was a bigger risk for Avenged Sevenfold then their new album and it paid off for them.

Fast forward to 2016, and their new album drops early. It is a creative tour de force but to me it’s already in the rear view. All of the good bits in each song are undone by the creativity of trying to push the boundaries.

Piracy
In 2013, I wrote that piracy is not that large of a problem as the majors and the RIAA make it out to be and with revenues in 2016, approaching the pre-Napster era, it’s further proof that piracy does not affect their bottom lines, especially when there are services out there that can compete with piracy.

Evergrey
The pure definition of perseverance with 20 plus years in the music business and still going strong.

By November 2013, the “new” version of the band that delivered “Glorious Collision” had splintered again and lead vocalist/guitarist Tom Englund was not sure on the next step. A reconnection with drummer Jonas Ekdahl and guitarist Henrik Danhage (who departed before “Glorious Collision”) spawned the excellent “Hymns For The Broken” in 2014 and a few months ago, “The Storm Within” builds on the atmospherics created by “Hymns”.

Megadeth
In 2013, Megadeth’s new album “Supercollider” was outsold by Metallica’s self-titled “Black” album. In 2015, Mustaine got his metal chops back and in 2016, “Dystopia” came out. Another Mustaine Resurrection was at hand.

Tremonti/Alter Bridge
Mark Tremonti knows it’s about putting new music out there and consistently. In 2013, we had “Fortress” from Alter Bridge. In 2015, we had “Cauterize” from Tremonti and 2016 has given us, “Dust” from Tremonti and “The Last Hero” from Alter Bridge. In three years, Tremonti has been part of 4 albums while Metallica ……

The Night Flight Orchestra
The best classic rock side project ever from Soilwork and Arch Enemy band members. The first album “Internal Affairs” came out in 2012 and the second “Skyline Whispers” in 2015. Essential listening to any hard rock fans of the 80’s.

Sales
In 2013, I wrote that sales are not the best metric to measure a bands reach and pull in the market. In 2016, listens are more important than sales.

Bullet For My Valentine
By November 2013, people had lost their “Temper Temper” with them, but in 2015, the band found their “Venom” again, which leads us to new music hitting the net in November 2016.

Revolution Saints
In 2013, this band existed in the head of the Frontiers President. In 2015, they released an excellent melodic AOR rock album. So much potential, so many good songs, great musicians and it all went to hell because Castronovo couldn’t keep his 5555t together. Let’s hope that Jack Blades and Doug Aldrich forgive him and they try for another album. This time with the three of them writing.

TesseracT
One of the hardest working progressive bands out there, building their fanbase, city by city. In 2011, they released “One”. In 2013, they released the excellent “Altered State” and in 2015 we got “Polaris”.

Days Of Jupiter
An unsung Swedish melodic groove rock band, that’s a cross between Evergrey and Disturbed. In 2012 they released “Secrets Brought to Life” and in 2015, “Only Ashes Remain” came out.

Sweet and Lynch
Another album would be sweet.

Muse
They play stadiums but they don’t have the same sales figures as the 70’s and 80’s legends. A perfect example of the modern world, in which massive single songs sell concert tickets.

Live
In 2013, I wrote;
Remember the excitement and the buzz of going to the show. It was uncontrollable. Everyone waiting in line to get inside, to watch a band that rules, in an era that music ruled. Today, it is too expensive to take kids to a concert and that is only for a glimpse in the back. This business needs a reset.

Concert ticket prices are still high, especially for the superstar acts. The price gauge happened as an offset to dwindling revenues from recorded sales, however with recorded music revenue now as high as the pre-Napster era, there is no reason for the high concert ticket prices.

Slash
As an artist, he didn’t need to go back to Gunners. He had enough momentum to keep going as a solo artist and with Myles Kennedy, a better front man than Axl Rose. Slash kept on releasing new music consistently, while Duff and Axl complained of piracy and artistically were dead in the water. Money triumphs over creativity and in this case, it’s really sad.

Album
Back in 2013, I wrote how everyone talks about the money that is lost due to piracy as album sales shrink. Back then 20% of the tracks on Spotify have never been played. So what is the point of the album, when people ignore the songs that are not “hits”. When I go to Spotify and I come across an artist I haven’t heard before, I go to their Spotify page and hear the tracks in their top 10 list. Those tracks in most cases are pulled from many different albums.

And if any of those tracks connect with me, I might dig deeper into the album.

Rodrigo Y Gabriela
Created by their love of metal and rock music and when that same genre put up roadblocks to a career in music, they changed tact and went all flamenco acoustic on the world. Talk about paying their dues and taking risks. They moved from Mexico and took a chance in Europe. Over an 8 year Dublin residence, they honed their style and songs, so when their “official” debut album hit in 2006, what seemed like an overnight sensation was 15 years in the making.

There is nothing more difficult in the world then trying to make it as a musician. You need to show up day after day, week after week, year after year. And your brand or movement might just make some small gains. Then it hits a few speed bumps, like Rodrigo and Gabriela’s metal band losing their recording contract in 1997 and suddenly you are back at the start. But they kept on showing up, on the coast of Mexico and playing their acoustic guitars in the bars. Because showing up day after day, is the hardest part of making a difference. If you look at the history of the artists we like and admire, you will see many years in pursuit of their dreams.

It is a work of a lifetime to create an impact and build something of substance. In 2013, they were riding the highs of their 2012 “Area 52” collaboration, which involved re-working their best songs with a full flamenco band. Then in 2014, “9 Dead Alive” dropped and new music is needed ASAP.

Sebastian Bach/Skid Row
They shouldn’t get back together, because no one cares about Skid Row in the way they used too. They might have a large audience in Japan, like Dokken, but the rest of the “Youth Gone Wild” have moved on. Sebastian Bach is actually bigger than Skid Row and releases way better music than Skid Row have done without him. But, what was he thinking when he approved the photo for his memoir’s cover.

The Kindred
From Canada and the healthy progressive scene. They started off as “Today I Caught The Plague” from the ashes of another band called “A Legend Falls”. In 2011 they released the excellent “Lore” and went on tour with one of my favourite bands in Protest The Hero and their “Scurrilous Tour”. Then in 2013, a name change happened to “The Kindred” and the excellent “Life In Lucidity” came out at the start of 2014.

However, PTH needed a drummer for their “Volition” tour and it was no surprise that they tapped Mike Ieradi (who also co-founded the group) to fill the spot. Then in 2015, vocalist David Journeaux departed, with Johnny McArthur as their new vocalist and Kenny Saunders as their new drummer. So now I wait to see what comes next.

Streaming
Back in 2013, I wrote that everyone talks about the money which isn’t filtering down to the artist and how streaming is too entrenched to be replaced. Since then the record labels have grown their revenues on the back of streaming. Artists who negotiate deals with the streaming services like Metallica and Motley Crue have never complained about streaming. Suddenly, luddites Anthrax are not complaining and Scott Ian even mentioned how he believes streaming is the best thing to have happened to the recording industry.

Streaming is the future and those artist who don’t grow with this future will be too busy shrinking.

The Gaslight Anthem
They do the early 80’s Bruce Springsteen better than Bruce Springsteen these days. It was like a supergroup of independent musicians that came together in New Jersey in 2006. Their 2010 album, “American Slang” spawned an unexpected hit with the title track and “45” from their 2012 album “Handwritten” became their biggest hit. Since then, “Get Hurt” came out in 2014 and by July 2015, the band went on an indefinite hiatus.

Since the hiatus, singer Brian Fallon released a solo album called “Painkillers” in March 2016, and on April, 2016, a vinyl EP called “Georgia” was released for Record Store Day 2016 with a limited pressing run of 2,000 copies on 10″ vinyl. Let’s hope that “The Gaslight Anthem” get together for more music over the next three-year period.

Volbeat
Seen as overnight sensations however they are over 25 years in the business. It all started with “Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood” in 2008 and being added to the Metallica “Death Magnetic U.S. Tour”. Then in 2010, “Beyond Hell/Above Heaven” came out and while that was still selling, they released “Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies” in 2013 and they hit every major music market over and over again. Since then, they released “Seal the Deal and Let’s Boogie” and are continuing on their merry ways. For all the newbies, check out their streaming numbers. They are huge compared to other major label metal/rock acts.

Killswitch Engage/Times Of Grace
In 2013, Killswitch Engage released “Disarm the Descent”, their comeback album with Jesse Leach on vocals. And how good is “In Due Time” with brutal verses and an arena rock chorus. Then in February 2015, a new track called “Loyalty” appeared on “Catch The Throne: The Mixtape Volume 2” to promote “Game of Thrones”. They then toured and kept on working on “Incarnate” which finally came out on March 11, 2016. Since then, they toured and are planning on releasing a beer. Meanwhile, “Times of Grace” have five songs completed for a new album to come out, with their last one coming out in 2011.

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

Albums

Is the album format really over?

The old way of spending half a year recording an album, then going on a marketing/promotion tour before its release, so you could have massive first week sales just doesn’t work anymore.

Protest The Hero were in my face for six months, with their “Pacific Myth” Subscription via Bandcamp. One song was released each month. It was brilliant. We (the fans) focused on each song for a month. We talked about each song and then when the conversation was over, we got hit with another one.

On top of that, we also got a video each month that covered the “Volition” fan funded album cycle. Further to that, we got drum through videos, food cooking videos and guitar tabs for the songs.

The band should keep at it. Not stop. Release a jam cover song here and there, write a stock standard metal song in the vein of Metallica’s “Black” album, put some demo’s out there of a work in progress, release a live recording and so forth. The band could be doing all of the above, while they now promote the vinyl/EP release of “Pacific Myth”.

Which brings me to the album.

I am really forming the view that the album is purely for the record label. It’s the only way the labels know, how to get an artist to sign away their copyrights to them, so the label could reap the benefits for hundreds of years after. In other words its a pure cash grab for the label.

The new way is to be making new music constantly and releasing it. But it wont happen because there is always a view that each release needs to be monetized to maximum.

But for an artist, how does the album cycle work.

They will release the album. It might even chart. A month later no one apart from the hard-core fans care about it. We move on. And that year the artist spent refining those twelve tracks, only got them four weeks’ worth of attention.

So what now.

They might go on tour and the album might come back into the conversation.

Is anyone talking about the new album from Three Doors Down, four weeks after it was released?

The answer is NO.

But people are still talking about Five Finger Death Punch. “Got Your Six” is still selling units and it’s getting streamed. “Dystopia” from Megadeth is still in the conversation, four months after it was released. “Immortalized” from Disturbed is still selling on the back of “The Sound Of Silence”.

For some bands, the album works and for others it doesn’t.

But, what is clear, is the game has changed.

Artists need to be making music constantly. Artists are musician’s first, business people next.

So what is the purpose of the album?

The album is for the hard-core fans. If an artist doesn’t have a track that converts people, they will need to go back and keep on writing. Because for an artist to survive, they must always be gaining new fans while they keep their existing fans.

And the MTV world of global superstars is gone. Over.

No one dominates like the times of old. Chaos is the world we have right now. Previously magazines like Hit Parader, Circus, RIP, Metal Edge, Faces would tell us what was important. Then those magazines sold their pages to PR companies controlled by the labels and the fans ignored them.

Now we are overwhelmed with content and there is no worldwide ranking to tell us what to tune in or out off. Hell, I don’t even know when new music is coming out from my favourite artists, until it hits my Spotify new releases. And that’s not always on release date. Tremonti is a perfect example. The new album “Dust” has been out since April 29, however it is being withheld from Spotify.

Why?

I pay my monthly fee and for some reason, I’m being punished for it by the artists I’m trying to support. Talk about treating fans like shit.

But YouTube who pays much less has fan uploads of the album and pirate sites who pay nothing have a torrent up.

So chances of getting traction are slimmer. It’s a level playing field.

Good is no longer good enough, not if you want to get ahead.

Remember when Dokken broke up and we had Lynch Mob and Don Dokken albums. They were good and it’s debatable if they were great, because great is such a subjective word. But in the end, the albums of both bands had a lot of crap in them.

Which brings me to the question?

10 to 12 tracks packaged in an album every 2 years vs 4 songs in an EP every 3 months.

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

The Past Is Done. The Future Is Here.

The Internet age.

Where everything is thrown against a wall and whatever sticks, ends up lasting forever.

In other words, first week sale numbers don’t mean a thing. The scorched earth publicity and marketing push by the label for an album release don’t mean a thing.

If any artist is focusing on the here and now, its contra to the way  the music business works in the connected Internet era. We’re (the fans) are only concerned with what lasts.

But the media tries to sell it so that everybody who is involved in music deserves to be rich from music. But how many are willing to do the work, especially when nobody’s paying attention to them.

Being in music isn’t about the highs or lows, winning and losing. It’s about surviving.

Here is a little secret.

The ones that end up winning in the future are creating their catalogues away from the radar, in stealth mode.

And it’s not easy.

Every musician is competing against the means of production. The costs to create content are low and we (the people) are overwhelmed.

What do we read, what do we watch and what do we listen to?

Everybody’s got a book to read, a documentary to watch, a track to listen to and no one’s got time to do it all. The last four years of my Guitar World subscription are still in the plastic wrappers the magazines came in.

Unopened. As a subscriber since 1986, I thought I would keep it going until this year is over. So January 2017 is my last issue.

The last time I read the magazine, it sounded like the article was written by the PR company instead of the actual journalist. There was no guts to the story and there was no in-depth analysis. Nothing at all. Gone are the days when Wolf Marshall used to go In Deep into players styles and so forth.

But the press over the last fifteen years believes it must promote everything and is rarely critical. And the press is missing the point how we are in the midst of a revolution, living in an era of chaos that will not last forever. But no one is reporting it. It’s all about piracy, copyright trolls, Spotify royalties or something so far removed from the real issue.

Fewer people will be successful from now on than before, despite everyone being able to create. We are going to have just superstars and niches.

And for all of those rock bands and metal bands, guess what, it’s still about the one song that hooks people in. But not all people. The entire world doesn’t live and breathe music. Remember that in your quest for global dominance.

And one last thing.

Spotify is not the problem, YouTube is. YouTube has more visitors and pays less. At least on Spotify you get the whole album along with the “song” that draws people in. Notice on YouTube it’s never the whole album. Yeah I know that some user accounts on YouTube have the whole album up but you need to look for them, go deep. So if you are in the album game, then you want your fans going to Spotify. But not a lot of artists are willing to say that.

But the album is fading. Yeah I know it makes great profits, but a 70 minute album with two good songs is a bad fit for today’s listeners. We don’t have time to listen to an album twenty times to get it. That’s what we did when we had no cash and could only afford one disc. But that was in the past. You don’t see the telegram and analog mobiles coming back.

The past is done. The future is here.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Art and Music

The first album cover that comes to mind would be Kiss’s “Destroyer”.

In the Eighties, Twisted Sister’s “Stay Hungry”, Iron Maiden’s “Powerslave”, Motley Crue’s “Theatre Of Pain”, Stryper’s “To Hell With The Devil”, Megadeth’s “Peace Sells” and Metallica’s “Ride The Lightning” are iconic images that remain in my head space over and over again.

Add to that list “Whitesnake”s self-titled album and Guns N Roses “Appetite For Destruction”.

The whole package of an album was crucial to me. It was an experience to look at the album cover, the lyric sheets and the credits, as I dropped the needle, kicked back with the headphones and digested the album.

The art was the doorway into the music of an artist. Sometimes it was a win and sometimes it was a complete waste of money.

Maybe I gravitated to heavy metal and hard rock because of my interest in the artwork and the stories I took out of the artwork. Seriously, who hasn’t thumbed their way through thousands of thousands of albums and stopped dead when an album cover caught our eye. On a lot of occasions, that was the difference if I purchased the album or not. The other key difference was who produced it or who was involved in the album. There was no “try before you buy” option.

Production guys like Keith Olsen, Tom Werman, Bruce Fairbairn, Bob Ezrin, Neil Kernon, Peter Collins, Martin Birch, Michael Wagener, Mutt Lange, Andy Johns, Mike Clink and towards the late Eighties, Bob Rock became key deciders if the album was a purchase or a leave for me. Especially if it was a band whose music I never heard before like Skid Row, Extreme, Guns N Roses, Bulletboys, Warrant, Tangier and even Whitesnake’s 1987 album was a NEW one for me in 1987.

Which brings me to the point of the post?

The artwork and the music compliment each other. It gives the music a visual that I could attach myself too. I see it in my kids when they go through my record/CD collection. They connect with the graphic first.

My first Dream Theater album was “Images and Words”. It was purchased based on three things.

The artwork – it looked cool, surreal and progressive.
The length of the songs – By the early nineties, I was looking for music that had some substance. As a fan of hard rock and metal, I was getting bored and fried with the 4 minute songs coming out from the acts I supported. Seeing an album that had songs between 8 to 11 minute range was like a ‘HELLYEAH’ moment.
The producer – Dave Prater. I actually enjoyed his work with the band Firehouse on their self-titled debut in 1990 and “Hold Your Fire” in 1992. Also Bill Leverty is one hell of a guitarist who has not received the recognition he is due.

When I tell my kids that I used to purchase music without hearing it, they look at me, like I am the biggest idiot in the world. It doesn’t make sense to them to spend money on music without hearing it. The fact that I needed to buy a CD to hear Dream Theater is unknown to them.

So the artworks once upon a time, assisted artists in selling music and enhancing their lyrical messages.

You see, a fan can make a connection with an artist in so many different ways. It could be visual, musical, lyrical or a combination of all. So when MTV came, everything started to change.

Can you think of the Motley Crue “Girls, Girls, Girls” album and not think about the uncensored video clip for the song?

Can you think of Twisted Sister’s “Stay Hungry” and not think about the “We’re Not Gonna Take It” or “I Wanna Rock” videos?

What about Whitesnake’s album and the Tawny Kitaen poses in all of the video clips?

What about the performance videos of Bon Jovi during the “Slippery When Wet” and “New Jersey” albums? What a shrewd marketing move to do each Bon Jovi video clip as a performance clip. It put their faces into houses around the world and turned the band into global superstars.

Music videos suddenly became another way for a fan to make a connection with an artist.  Take this quote on music-related art from The Conversation website.

Music-related art helps us learn more about the intention of an artist, and with more music being released than can be heard, this is important. This can, as shown, be the absence of artwork as much as is its presence. As the so-called music industry continues to shift its gaze towards live music events, so too can artists. New ways in which musicians can move and excite fans will continue to emerge, and with them the opportunity to work with artists in innovative ways. Album artwork will continue to catch our attention and create recognisable brands. Music videos will continue to accomplish similar feats, albeit with smaller budgets.

Why do you think Spotify is moving into video and other forms of streaming?

They understand that for a fan of music or for a fan of an artist, it is more than just music. The ones that spend the money want more.

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

Random Thoughts

The Grammy nominations are out and as usual the metal category reads like a comedy. Why even bother, no one cares. The Grammy’s are as relevant as the sales metric. Maybe next year they will be renamed into the Streammy’s and some magic formula will be used to find nominations.

What is it about people or organisations sense of entitlement these days?

Consumers of music are finally given a choice (legally and illegally) on how to consume their music and all the middlemen come out screaming for the Governments or the courts to write new laws or set precedents that protect their business models. In the current case, you have the publishers BMG Rights Management and Round Hill Music via copyright troll “Rightscorp” using a 1998 law to compel ISPs to support its pre-internet business model. These organisations think that shaking down people is the way forward.

Sort of like Billboard. Seriously, what kind of fucked up maths goes into their charts. Hello, look at everything that is successful and you will see one common theme. They all kept it SIMPLE. Steve Jobs knew it. Daniel Ek knows it. Sean Fanning knows it. Mark Zuckerberg knows it. However, the people at Billboard have no idea. Someone, decided that 1,500 streams of any song equals an album sale. WTF. How does the stream count of any song reflect the influence (if any) of an album?

It’s good that Billboard is focusing on what people are listening to however it is bad that they are trying to recreate that listening metric to show a fake album purchase. Buying an album does not mean one listens to it, oftentimes people only listen to the hit. Report that.

The charts are there to purely satisfy the recording industry. It was never about the consumer. The recording industry and their press outlets all want to “high-five” each other on the number ones. And then what. 99% of the classic albums never got to Number 1. “Back In Black” from AC/DC never reached Number 1 in the U.S. “Led Zeppelin IV” never got to Number 1 in the U.S. “Master Of Puppets” from Metallica never reached Number 1.

I get it. Change is inevitable. For all the talk about monies, and what are those “poor start-up independent bands going to do” in the current free music industry it’s funny to see that more indie/self-funded music is being made now than ever before. Do you think the new breed of musicians are sad because recording studios or CD plants have closed?

Of course not.

While the recording industry promotes what it has lost, it fails to see what fans of music have gained. And by those fans gaining , the recording industry gains.

In Australia, the Government posted all of the individual submissions to the Australian Government’s Piracy Discussion Paper online and one of them caught my attention.

“I have spent a lot of time and money on my song to be mastered and distributed through CDBABY and iTunes. In the last 4 months since my song was released there has been over 30,000 hits on Utube [sic] where someone has uploaded it. To make matters worst [sic] there is only about $80 in the bank from the sales. Can someone tell me how to stop this.”

The first thing that comes out of that rant is how misinformed the “musician” is.

First, if someone put the song up on YouTube, then they are obviously a fan. Connect with them.

Second, YouTube’s has a Content ID system. There are players out there that can assist with this. Find them.

Third, 30,000 views on YouTube means an audience. Surely that is a good thing. What steps are in place to mobilise and grow that audience?

Fourth, without YouTube, how would that artist reach 30,000 people. Of course that would be via a record label. Which means gatekeepers and the chance of not being signed.

Final point, no one is rushing out to buy CD’s again or mp3’s.

Another that got my attention was the following;

“I am a writer so I want copyright to be protected to protect my livelihood.”

It’s hard to believe that people are in an industry without fully understanding why Copyright came into being. In a nutshell, Copyright was always about promoting the progress of society by returning works into the public domain once their copyright expired. Once upon a time, it did and it worked brilliantly and now (since about the Seventies), not so much as Copyright got twisted into what it is now.

Copyright was never about having people’s livelihoods depending on it.

Also there is no evidence that stopping copyright infringement leads to more purchases of music, movies or books.

After reading through a bit more of the submissions, I was dismayed at some of the words used like STEALING and THEFT.

It’s COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT.

No one has stolen nothing. iTunes still has the song for sale, Spotify still has the song for streaming, YouTube has multiple copies of the song for viewing. Amazon still has the book for sale in both hardcover and e-book format.

What the people have done is COPY the work.

It’s not that hard to understand, however people need to do the research to educate themselves.

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

All Aboard: The Randy Rhoads Guitar Train

I remember the day that I got the Tribute tab book.

I put the head phones on and listened to the album over and over while my index finger pointed out/followed the notes. After that first listen I went to the guitar, tuned up and started to play the basic riffs. After playing through the tab book in that fashion, I went back to the head phones and started following the notes again. I didn’t know it at the time but by doing this I was storing the image of the progressions in my mind. In a weird way, that is how I started to remember the songs.

Then I went back to the guitar and played through the whole album again with a lot of mistakes around the lead breaks.

I did this routine for months until I perfected the album. The music of Randy Rhoads became my bible. It was a religion. 32 years have passed and the legend remains. The memories remain. The teacher remains.

I remember the time when I traded my cousin a few Twisted Sister 12 inch singles for the “Quiet Riot II” album with Randy Rhoads. I needed to have it. My cousin wouldn’t part with it. I kept on persisting and finally he agreed. I was on a train to his place the same day.

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 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 more easier to learn.

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.

Power Chords. CHECK. The All- Aboard part, the pre chorus and the chorus.
Pedal Point Riff. CHECK. The Intro F#m riff, along with the verse riff.
Movable Chord Shapes over a Pedal Point. CHECK. The whole verse riff that moves from A to E to D.
Finger Tapping. CHECK. Lead Break
Hammer Ons and Pull Offs. CHECK. In the Chorus and the Lead Break and sprinkled throughout the verse riffs.
Legato Lines. CHECK. In the Lead Break.
Palm Muting. CHECK. In the F#m riff and the lead break.
Alternate Picking. CHECK. Throughout the whole song.
Bends. CHECK. In the Chorus lead interludes and the Lead Break.

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.

Bob Daisley on his website released some snippets of what he calls the “Holy Grail”. Small snippets of jam sessions with Randy Rhoads. Hearing them just made me crank the Blizzard, Diary and Tribute albums again.

If something like Spotify was around in the Eighties, imagine the stream metrics these songs would have by now. It’s no surprise that “Crazy Train” is Ozzy’s most played track on Spotify with 15 million plus streams. “Mr Crowley” is up there with 4.9 million streams. Go on YouTube and there are hundreds of channels that have the song, with a lot of views on each channel. One fan channel has over 15 million views. Another has 5 million.

That is Randy Rhoads. His reach on one song is huge. Add to that all the others and it’s a crazy train alright. Rest in peace brother.

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

The World According to Nikki Sixx

“When you spend nine months working on an album, all the work that goes into it and recording it, mixing it, mastering it, then you release it and it falls on deaf ears.”

“I’d rather work on two songs under that plan (exploring the idea of placing their songs in films, or signing sponsorships deals through integrated marketing with other types of companies that want to use their song specifically to reach tens of millions of people) than do eleven songs that only reach 100,000 people.”

Nikki Sixx from Motley Crue said the above in a recent interview.

The album format is dead and buried. People just don’t have the time to sit down and play an album from start to finish over and over again anymore, especially when there is so much other content out there to consume.

So what is this telling us. It all depends on which side of the argument you sit.

The record labels and the RIAA will say that this is what happens when people pirate/copyright infringe. They will call for stronger copyright enforcement.

Sociologist would say that sales of recorded music have declined due to the rise of other desirables, like apps and gaming in general. Look at the sales of the “Halo” games series by Microsoft. “Halo 4” made $220 million in 24 hours. Overall, the whole series has grossed over $3.4 billion. Have any rock bands reached that many people?

“Angry Birds” caused an app sensation in 2009, “Candy Crush” caused a bigger credit card sensation in 2013 due to its innovative in-app purchase system. What about the recent free game “Fluffy Bird”? It was free and it got downloaded 50 million times. Then the creator just pulled it.

Fans of music will still listen to music, however music now has to play on a crowded field compared to the Eighties. We had music on terrestrial radio, LP’s, CD’s and Cassettes. The profit margins on these items were huge for the record labels.

In 2014, we have music on LP’s, CD’s, on iTunes, on streaming sites, on Amazon, on terrestrial radio, on internet radio, on YouTube, on various other downloading sites, both legal and illegal. The profit margins vary from high to low on the various ways we consume music.

In addition, we also have television on Free to Air, Pay TV, Internet TV. We have movies on streaming sites, at the cinemas, on pay TV channels, on DVD’s, on BluRays, on various other downloading sites, both legal and illegal. We have Games on PC’s, Consoles and Apps. We have books electronically and on paper. We have Facebook and Twitter to connect. More time is spent on these sites than listening to actual music.

Fans of Motley will say this is a product of the times. It’s a singles market. Daft Punk released an album, however it turned out that it was the song “Get Lucky” that people actually wanted. The single format works well for pop music.

However, metal and rock fans are still stuck in the album ideology.

Dream Theater released an album without a decent single and after six weeks, it’s US sale run was over. However, they are happy to do that every two years. They know that their livelihood is touring.

Protest The Hero organised distribution deals with other labels for “Volition”, however it was all for nothing, as the 8000+ hard core fans already had a digital version of the album via the Indiegogo Campaign. It’s just a shame that the perks still haven’t arrived, almost 5 months after the release date.

Other fans will say, that Motley Crue should release something worth buying and that they will buy it. Motley Crue released “Sex” in 2012. Since I am on the Motley Crue email list, it was offered as a free download for 24 hours when it first came out. I went and downloaded it. It is classic Crue and a great song to add to the set list.

James Michael from Sixx A.M. also released a single called “Learn To Hate You” in November, 2012. It only has 116,034 views on James Michael’s YouTube channel, while Motley Crue’s “Seek” has 108,038 views on their Motley Crue Vevo Channel and 449,397 views on a user channel called Lachi James.

So from reading Nikki’s views on new music, I believe now that the release of “Sex” from Motley Crue and “Learn To Hate You” from James Michael was an experiment in how can an artist release a song and reach millions of people.

How many people would have acted quickly enough to download the song as a freebie within the 24 hour window?

How many people from a certain city would have purchased the song via iTunes after hearing Motley Crue perform it on the Kiss tour while they were in that city?

How many people would have downloaded the song illegally?

How many people viewed a YouTube post of the song?

How many people streamed and shared the song?

If a band wants to monetize and have reach, they need to create and keep on creating. They need to release everything on YouTube and Spotify and iTunes all on the same day. It is better for the band to control the YouTube releases than allowing others to monetize their content.

So what is happening with Sixx A.M.?

The new album has been talked up a fair bit by Nikki via his Facebook posts. New music for them has been in the pipeline for a while. So is it because Sixx A.M is classed as a new band, radio will play them. Terrestrial radio is dead. That format is dead. The opportunities are all on line now.

I consider Nikki Sixx a musician. A musician by definition is someone who creates music. And that is what musicians do when they are hungry. It is all about the music and only the music. But, once they reach the top and start focusing on the trappings, the music part starts to fade away as the focus moves to keeping what they have attained.

Musicians took risks and stood for something. They made money, they blew money, they did drugs, they made money again. Rock stars did it their way. That is why we flocked to them. That is why we became fans. They represented an attitude, a sense of freedom that connected with us.

As a fan of Motley Crue, I am disappointed that there decision to make new music is because on money and reach. The people that want new Motley Crue music will get it. So why don’t they service those fans.

And the Final Tour. Serious. They just finished touring. Kid Rock did a tour with $20 concert tickets. His risk paid off. All his shows sold out and those $20 ticket fans got converted into Kid Rock fans. Digital sales increased. Merchandise sales increased. Streams increased. Kid Rock went on that tour without a guarantee that he will be paid. He played the game without a safety net.

However, no one is keen to follow in his lead. Everyone wants that contract from Live Nation, the cash up front, the guarantee. The artist, along with their managers, agents, enablers, handlers, the pet dog and whoever else is attached to the entourage, want the money first and to leave the onus of recouping to the promoter.

Come on Crue. Put all of your issues aside and record a decent amount of music and get it out there.

http://ultimateclassicrock.com/motley-crue-no-final-album/

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