Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories

2022 – The 9 to 12

Okay let’s get going with the 2022 review.

Audrey Horne

From Norway.

Another side project from extreme metallers to pay homage to their classic rock and metal influences which has become their main project. Think of bands like Kiss, Deep Purple, Ozzy Osbourne, Thin Lizzy, Iron Maiden, Scorpions, Helloween, Judas Priest, Van Halen, Tool, Metallica, Cheap Trick.

“Devils Bell” follows the excellent “Blackout” album from 2018, which featured “This Is War” and “Audrevolution”, two of my favourites from the.

As soon as you press play to “Ashes to Ashes”, the harmony guitars assault your ear buds. It’s almost doom like and after 46 seconds, the song morphs into something different, but it’s at the 1.40 mark when the guitar hero riff kicks in.

“Animal” has a riff straight from the rule book of the NWOBHM. “Breakout” has a killer riff that is from the 80’s, very Jake E. Lee (Ozzy period) and George Lynch (Dokken period) like and it morphs into a Jimmy Page riff, something like he played on “Whisper A Prayer For The Dying” on Coverdale/Page.

“Return To Grave Valley” (an instrumental) has a Thin Lizzy and Iron Maiden influence, which they also used on the excellent “This Is War” from the previous album.

“Danse Macabre” (translates to Dance With Death) has nothing to do with Ghost except that both songs have great riffs and catchy vocal melodies.

“Devils Bell” continues the Iron Maiden/Helloween influences. Make sure you stick around for the interlude/harmony solo section. “All Is Lost” has another killer guitar intro and stick around for the killer middle section which features vocal ohhs and harmony guitars.

“Toxic Twins” has some excellent guitar work. The names Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal and Thomas Tofthagen don’t have the same recognition as other guitarist, but these dudes can play and wail with the best of em. Underneath it all are the mammoth sized bass lines from Espen Lien and the thunderous Bonham meets McBrian drums of Kjetil Grev.

Another key ingredient to Audrey Horne are the early Ozzy like vocals from Torkjell “Toschie” Rod. Its unique enough to be his own and it has enough elements to pay homage to Ozzy.

“From Darkness” channels Uli Jon Roth from his Scorpions days. Think “He’s A Woman, She’s A Man”. And that solo section again, brings back memories of their love for Iron Maiden.

Compared to the streaming numbers of other bands, Audrey Horne is way below those numbers with most of the songs under 100K in streams.

Alter Bridge

From the U.S.

I wasn’t sure I was going to spend time to listen to “Pawns And Kings”. I feel like Myles’s voice is everywhere these days with so many projects happening that I enjoy, like his work with Slash, his Alter Bridge work plus his solo career. But as a guitarist, I am always super keen to hear what Mark Tremonti is up to.

I try to not listen to the pre-release singles but on this case I did spend time with a few. How can you deny a track with the title “This Is War” or “Pawns And Kings”. In the words of Yoda, “impressed, I was”.

After a long three month lead in, the album finally dropped in October, 2022. Compared to the streaming numbers of say, Three Days Grace new album, this one feels like it’s forgotten, however Three Days Grace does have a four month heads start.

The very metal like “This Is War” gives way to the heavy rock riffage of “Dead Among The Living”, which could have come from the recent Tremonti album. “Metalilngus” from their debut album is one of their most streamed songs at 101 million streams on Spotify, so it’s no surprise they try and keep the metal going with “Silver Tongue” which is also their most streamed song from the new album at 3.1 million streams on Spotify.

The intro riff on “Sin After Sin”. Wow. Press play and enjoy the almost 7 minute long song that moves between heavy metal, groove metal and heavy rock. At 1.4 million Spotify streams, it’s one of the Top 5 songs from the album when it comes to streams.

The sequencing on the album is excellent, as it transitions to a major key pop rock song in “Stay”. It’s much welcomed after the groove metal behemoth “Sin After Sin” before it. And at 756,559 streams its more or less forgotten, but it shouldn’t be.

“Fable Of The Silent Son” is an 8 minute epic that kept me interested throughout. Because while it starts off all dreamy like at 2.50 an almost djent like riff kicks in and they make it sound accessible. At the 5 minute mark this Tool like section kicks in before it goes into a Randy Rhoads style like solo section. This is the Alter Bridge I like, when they go back to the 70’s Rock albums and experiment.

And the sequencing again is spot on, as they hit us with a major key song in “Season Of Promise”. Stick around for the section between 2.30 and 3.30, because when Myles is singing like that, how can you not like it.

“Last Man Standing” is the least streamed track on the album at 490K Spotify streams. But I am hooked from the digital delay riff in the intro and that riff that kicks in at the 57 second mark.

The title track. Wow. Especially the “One” like section from about the 2.50 mark. 6 minutes and 18 seconds later I needed to hear it again. When the solo kicks in, the riff under it is very Middle Eastern sounding, so Tremonti is operating in the Phrygian Dominant scale. If you are a Muse fan, then you will enjoy the outro.

Bush

From the U.K.

How good was “The Kingdom” (2020)? 

Well Gavin Rossdale must have thought the same, because he is continuing to live in the music and style of said album with a few little tweaks here and there. As a side note, the song “Undone” from “The Kingdom” only has about 500K Spotify Streams, but wow, what a song that is. 

I feel like I am drowning with “Heavy Is The Ocean”, its downtuned and depressive riffage sinking me.

“Slow Me” immediately hooks me, as it starts off with the vocal melody. “More Than Machines” is the most streamed song at 2.29 Spotify Streams. How good is the vocal melody during the Chorus?

“May Your Love Be Pure” and “Shark Bite” bring the groove rock, while “Human Sand” brings back the retro 70’s feel of Classic Fuzz Rock in the intro. “Kiss Me I’m Dead” also has an intro riff which reminds of 80’s metal. “Identity” has a head banging industrial metal riff ala Rammstein.

“Creatures Of The Fire” is as good as anything on the charts and at 127,815 Spotify streams, the song is forgotten. It reminds me of the excellent “Undone” from “The Kingdom” album.

The closer “1000 Years” is also a favourite, with its synth like guitar riff and Rossdale’s sad vocal delivery.

Shinedown

From the U.S.

It’s not their best work but probably their most angriest. A lot of living has happened between “Attention Attention” (2018) and “Planet Zero”. It’s no surprise that George Floyd, the Insurrection and Covid lockdowns get some attention on this album.

After a brief 22 second intro from “2184”, a punk metal burner called “No Sleep Tonight” kicks in. “Planet Zero” was one of the lead singles and its sitting at 16.2 million Spotify streams, but it’s not the best song by a long shot.

“Dysfunctional You” could have come from “The Sound Of Madness” while “Dead Don’t Die” would keep the fans from “Threat To Survival” happy. 

“America Burning” is patchy. 

But “A Symptom Of Being Human” is by far the best track on the album. An acoustic song, which could have been written during the Smith And Myers sessions, it arrives on this album, exactly when you need it.

“Hope” is a four letter word, is the hook for the song. It’s classic Shinedown doing rock ballads with balls.

“Clueless and Dramatic” is “The Sound Of Madness” part 2 and I like it. “Sure Is Fun” is anything but, while “Daylight” is showing to be a sleeper hit with 7.3 million Spotify streams and counting. It lives in the Shinedown meets The Script meets Imagine Dragons world. 

“The Saints Of Violence And Innuendo” is a cross between Brit Pop and Aerosmith while “Army Of The Underappreciated” is a miss. “What You Wanted” could have come from Smith and Myers.

As a fan, the last two albums have been hit and miss. Three to five killer tracks and the rest loaded with filler.

Just missed out

Reckless Love

From Finland.

The album “Turborider” was moved out of 12th place because somewhere in my subconscious I couldn’t have an EOY list and not have Shinedown on it, especially when they have a new album out.

But check out songs like “Turborider”, “Outrun”, their cover of “Bark At The Moon”, “Like A Cobra”, “For The Love Of Good Times” and “89 Sparkle” sounds like a modern disco dance cut with a dash of hard rock. “Future Lover Boy” is another dance rock tune, with synths and a metronomic drum beat.

“Prodigal Sons” is the heaviest track, reminding me of early The Rasmus. And my favourite.

It’s nothing earth shattering, not really original, the lyrics are dumb, but Reckless Love do their homage to the 80’s really well. And I like it. On some occasions it almost comes across as parody. But never boring and a 35 minute blast from start to finish. And there is still plenty of shred on hand for the guitar purists.

So why didn’t it make my Top 12. 

It’s the electronic dance beats and synths. These add ons on each track made the songs sound too computerized and in some stages the auto-tuned vocals robotic. But I think that was the style they were going for.

Let your ears do the decision making for you. 

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories

2022 – The 5 to 8

Say hello to the next four.

Coheed And Cambria

From the United States.

“Vaxis II: A Window Of The Waking Mind” continues their “Amory Wars” space opera. The “Vaxis” series takes place after “The Keywork” was destroyed and it follows a couple on the run, along with an “Eleven” like Child which came into they care, as they try and

The thing about CoCa that I like is the variety in the music. You get major key songs which sound like Pop Punk/Metal/Rock songs like “Comatose”, “Rise, Naianasha (Cut The Cord) and “The Liars Club” (My Chemical Romance comes to mind here).

“Shoulders” and “Love Murder One” are modern groove rock tracks.

“A Disappearing Act” could end up on dance floors with its pulsing synth riff and bouncing bass/drum groove, and yet it still rocks hard. Then again, “Love Murder One” has a lot of pop elements as well, which could fit this category as well. “Bad Love” pushes the limits of fusing what is contemporary pop/dance with hard rock. It’s catchy and I like it.

“Blood” is a slow rocker with auto-tuned vocals which serve the song well. It could be on a Post Malone album. “Our Love” is another slow rocker, more U2 and 80’s synth Rush.

“Ladders Of Supremacy” is written after George Floyd’s horrible death. Its heavy and it rocks. And they made it fit the story. Check out it’s Tool like section from the 5 minute mark.

“Window Of The Waking Mind” is progressive in its arrangement and moods.

Claudio Sanchez along with Travis Stever have kept my interest in Coheed and Cambria for the 20 years I have been a fan. During that time drummer Josh Eppard left and came back, while original bassist Michael Todd couldn’t shake off his addictions which put him onto a path of armed break-ins and jail time, who was then replaced by Zach Cooper and what a job Cooper has done the last 10 years he’s been with the band.

Ghost

From Sweden. Their streaming numbers are wow. Along with Volbeat, they are part of big metal acts these days based on their streaming numbers.

“Kaisarion” is a great way to kick into album after the 100 second “Imperium”.

“Spillways” feels like a 70’s Classic Rock track, with its metronomic piano riff. And how creative is the hook, “through the spillways of your soul”. Who comes up with this?

“Call Me Little Sunshine” has me ready to take up arms. It’s clean tone intro feels like the pyramids are getting built and when it cranks into the distortion, it’s time to break desks.

How good is that melodic riff in “Hunters Moon”?

And if the intro to “Watcher In The Sky” doesn’t get you moving, check for a pulse. And that hook, “search lights, looking for the watcher in the sky”. Brilliant.

But my favourite is the Van Halen-ish “Aint Talkin Bout Love” sounding “Griftwood”.

Out Of This World

From Sweden.

I was blown away by this album. Kee Marcello is on guitars and keys here, with Tommy Heart on vocals, Ken Sandin on bass, Darby Todd on drums with Don Airey performing guest keys. In case you are not aware, the name of the band is the same as the album that Kee Marcello played on with Europe. “Out Of This World” was the highly anticipated album after “The Final Countdown” however it only sold half of what the previous album did. Marcello would record the excellent and forgotten “Prisoners Of Paradise” (1992) and he more or less disappeared from the writings of the press.

The way Marcello plays the guitar, he is more of a cross between Steve Vai and Eddie Van Halen, then others, and you can hear this on the songs. His love of Styx, early Journey and Toto and their melodic rock songs is also evident here, as it feels like Steve Lukather played on the album. 

Vocalist Tommy Heart is a pro here as well, delivering quality on each song. Because in the end, it doesn’t matter how great the music is, if the vocals are crap. And there are no crap vocals here. Hell, on some songs, I feel like Joey Tempest is singing.

The album clocks in at 45 minutes and the only thing I could after it finished is press play again. Tracks like “In A Million Years”, “Lighting Up My Dark”, “Staring At the Sun” and “The Warrior” (Van Halen’s “Hot For Teacher” comes to mind, then again, “The Winery Dogs” have taken this approach as well) are on par with the well-known tracks from the Melodic Rock and Melodic Metal mainstream era between 1984 and 1991.

Do your ears a favour and press play on it? 

Three Days Grace

From Canada. 

They became mainstream in the early 2000’s (circa 2003/04) and they rode that platinum success for over a decade. Then vocalist Adam Gontier left abruptly in 2013, replaced by Matt Walst from the band My Darkest Days. His brother Brad is the bassist of the band and one of its founders, along with drummer Neil Sanderson and ex-vocalist Gontier. Barry Stock rounds out the band as the second guitarist.

The last album they did with Gontier, “Transit Of Venus” is my least favourite and it’s taken a while for the band to recapture that fan base. “Human” was a good start (“Painkiller is sitting at 140 million streams) but the excellent “Outsider” released in 2018 got me back on board. On Spotify, songs like “Right Left Wrong” (44.1 million streams), “The Mountain” (74.6 million streams), “Infra-Red” (50.7 million streams), “I Am An Outsider” (25.3 million streams), “Strange Days (12.3 million streams) and “The Abyss” (10.1 million streams) need to be listened to. 

So “Explosions” was highly anticipated.

The album immediately introduces the heaviness with “So Called Life”. At 34.2 million streams on Spotify since May 2022, it will surpass a 100 million by this time next year. Because we are looking for something to take the edge off this so called life. 

“I Am The Weapon” is heavy and melodic and it could have come from the melodic metal streets of Sweden. “Neurotic” which features Lukas Rossi is a throwback to the Gontier fronted albums, which will satisfy the core. Along with songs like “No Tomorrow” and “Redemption”. 

You can hear the heartache in “Lifetime”, its slow rock, but if you listen closely, you can hear those ballad like country licks being played.

Press play to hear the intro riffs to “A Scar Is Born”. 

I love the way “Souvenirs” percolates and builds around Matt Walst’s vocal melody until it explodes. And the hooks in the Chorus, “We don’t know why we’re here, but we’re not here for long” and “Surrounded by souvenirs from days that are gone”. Truth right there. At 1.7 million streams the song is more or less forgotten, but it is one of my favourites.

“Champion” is Imagine Dragons and The Script with more grit. “Chain Of Abuse” could have come from Breaking Benjamin. “Someone To Talk To” features the cellos of Apocalyptica,

The closer is the title track.

At 37 minutes long, the album is concise, it rocks hard and the only thing you can do afterwards is press play again.

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

Albums

The New York Times wrote an article back in August 2020, with the headline “How Much Is An Album Worth in 2020: $3.49? $77? $1,000? Maybe $0.”

Tool announced a price of $810 USD for the “Fear Inoculum” Ultra-Deluxe vinyl version. The version, includes five discs of 180-gram vinyl, with music on one side and etched art on the other. The sets are also autographed, but are only available to fans who bought the Toolarmy VIP tickets to the forthcoming dates on their tour. In other words, they are seriously exclusive.

Go to Discogs and you will see physical albums (vinyl especially) selling for a lot higher than what they are worth or purchased for.

Wu-Tang Clan made just one copy of “Once Upon A Time In Shaolin” and auctioned it off for $2 million dollars in 2015 to Martin Shkreli who lost it when the Feds seized his assets in 2018. While this was more gimmick and marketing and not for every artist, it definitely opened up the minds of artists.

While it was always known by the fans, it also became a common viewpoint amongst the artists that purchasing “physical” music is not always about the listening experience to the fan, but a valuable artefact to own. In other words, if the artists stopped chasing the mass and focused on the core to provide them with Super Deluxe releases, we’ll they could make some serious money.

Ask David Coverdale. He has commemorated major album releases with fantastic box sets for the super fans who all paid higher than expected.

Metallica have been doing the same.

Def Leppard have been doing large box sets of time periods. Slaughter are now doing deluxe Vinyl editions of albums. Gene Simmons unleashed “The Vault”. Sell a 1000 of them at $1000 dollars and that’s a cool million.

Each artist has a fan base who will either pay nothing for music or will pay for the normal album release or would stream or would pay a lot more for a Limited Edition Deluxe version.

Like how I paid $129USD ($259AUD with postage included) for the new Coheed and Cambria Super Deluxe album. The band has no problems moving 20,000 units at that price and that’s a cool $2.58 million.

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Music, My Stories

June 1991, Guitar World – 25 Greatest Rock Guitar Recordings

In this issue they had a list of 25 Greatest Rock Guitar Recordings.

The editors of the magazine worked out a criteria and tried to find albums that met the criteria.

  1. The players technical brilliance
  2. The originality of the performance
  3. The magnitude of the works influence on subsequent artists

So here is there list. I will list the first 10 with my summary of what they wrote.

  1. Jimi Hendrix Experience – Are You Interested (1967)

Everything that Rock and Metal would become is here on this album. And it’s all influenced by Jimi Hendrix’s deep knowledge of Blues and R&B, acquired during his years on the club circuit.

  1. Van Halen – Van Halen (1978)

Another game changer album for originality in sound and experimentation with equipment plus pushing forward the techniques of guitarists in lead playing and riff structures.

  1. Derek And The Dominos – Layla (1970)

This is the outcome of when Eric Clapton and Duane Allman got together. Get into a studio, play live and get the tape rolling. You get a lot of blues rock and some celestial slide playing.

  1. Chuck Berry – The Cheese Box (1989)

When you get a blues player, rocking out with string skipping, chicken picking and a primitive two hand tap approach, then this album is seen as the next progression from the blues music that came before.

This box set released in the late 80s is from previously released recordings made between 1955 and 1973.

  1. Led Zeppelin – IV (1971)

This is Jimmy Page pushing his abilities as a composer, orchestrator and studio wizard. It’s got all the styles in here that would be known as hard rock, heavy metal, acoustic folk rock and blues rock.

  1. Jimi Hendrix – Band Of Gypsies (1970)

This album showcased the two different sides of Hendrix. For all of his pursuits of relentless perfection in the studio, Hendrix liked to jam when it came to playing live and throw caution to the wind. This album captures that live spirit.

  1. The Allman Brothers – Live At The Filmore (1971)

Duane Allman reinvented electric slide guitar. Dicky Betts introduced melodic Western swing and country-tinged lines. Together they gave The Allman Brothers a twin firepower not seen in other bands at this point in time.

  1. Elvis Presley – The Sun Sessions (1976)

Scotty Moore contributed greatly to improving Rock and Roll playing by combining jazz and blues and playing the songs with a pick or his fingers or moving in between both during a song.

  1. Jeff Beck – Blow By Blow (1975)

Pushed the boundaries of what instrumental guitar albums should sound like.

  1. Steve Vai – Passion And Warfare (1990)

A fusion of styles and techniques into a psychedelic hard rock instrumental album.

The rest of the list is made up of the following albums;

  1. The Beatles – Meet The Beatles (1964)
  2. Ozzy Osbourne – Blizzard Of Ozz (1981)
  3. Bo Diddley – The Bo Diddley Box (1990)
  4. Metallica – Ride The Lightning (1984)
  5. Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble – In Step (1989)
  6. Black Sabbath – Paranoid (1970)
  7. Yngwie Malmsteen – Rising Force (1985)
  8. The Velvet Underground And Nico (1967)
  9. Joe Satriani – Surfing With The Alien (1987)
  10. The Rolling Stones – Exile On Main Street (1972)
  11. The Mahavishnu Orchestra – Birds Of Prey (1973)
  12. Creedence Clearwater Revival – Chronicle (1976)
  13. Yes – Fragile (1971)
  14. AC/DC – Back In Black (1980)
  15. Pink Floyd – Dark Side Of The Moon (1973)

I didn’t see the point in having two Jimi Hendrix albums in the Top 10.

And I was confused to see Steve Vai in the list as I don’t think his “Passion And Warfare” album met the third criteria within 2 years.

And being a rock and Metal fan, I would definitely have AC/DC, Blizzard Of Ozz and Malmsteen further up the list.

So what’s your view?

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

Albums

“Blizzard Of Ozz” is 39 minutes long. A year later, “Diary Of A Madman” comes out and it clocks in at 42 minutes.  Ozzy built his career on these albums. Two albums in two years.

“You Can’t Stop Rock’N’Roll” from Twisted Sister is 38 minutes long. A year later, “Stay Hungry” comes out as a tight, nine-song, 37-minute set. Like Ozzy, Twisted Sister built their career on the backs of these albums.

“Kill Em All” is 51 minutes long. “Ride The Lightning” is 47 minutes long. “Master of Puppets” is 54 minutes long. Three albums in the space of three years and Metallica’s career is defined and built. In comparison, “Death Magnetic” is 75 minutes long and we are approaching EIGHT years between releases with the opus scheduled for an October release.

“The Number Of The Beast” is 39 minutes long . “Piece Of Mind” is 45 minutes long and “Powerslave” is 51 minutes long. In the space of three years, Iron Maiden built a career on the backs of these three albums. In comparison, “Book Of Souls” is 92 minutes long and it was released six years after their previous album.

“Highway To Hell” is 41 minutes long. “Back In Black” is 42 minutes long. “For Those About To Rock” is 40 minutes long. Three defining albums in the space of three years and AC/DC went from an Australian band to global superstars. In comparison, “Black Ice” is 55 minutes long and “Rock Or Bust” is a return to a normal time length of 35 minutes long. Although the quality is just not there and their main riff meister is missing in action.

“Heaven And Hell” is 39 minutes long and a year later “Mob Rules” came in at 40 minutes in length. Two albums in two years and Black Sabbath’s career is resurrected as a commercial force. For Ronnie James Dio, it was 5 studio albums and six years, and when the 42 minute long “Holy Diver” dropped in 1983, the foundations to Dio’s solos career are set.

What are these figures trying to say?

You don’t need 60 to 90 minutes’ worth of new music to be released on one slab at one time every two to three years. People don’t have spare hours. They have spare minutes. You need 30 to 40 minutes of new music to be released more frequently. Based on the past, bands got traction by releasing new music every 12 months.

Labels want albums because it is easier to charge money RIGHT NOW when there is a bundle of songs involved. Artists want albums, because they grew up on them and they want to be like their heroes and make a statement.

However the album means nothing to the listener who has a digital music collection. While the label heads and the artist want to be paid right now, the fan/listener thinks differently. And the difference between now and the past, is that the listener can influence the outcome.

You buy a track or an album and you could play it once. Maybe you could play it a hundred times or a thousand times or a million times. The artist and their label will never know how many times you played the track. All they will know is the ONE sale and all the money they would have received is from the ONE sale. But if you stream a track a million times, the artist will know. But listens pay less than sales and listens pay when a track is streamed! And if it is streamed a lot it will pay.

So…

Focus on listens. Fans are made by listens. We can talk about albums, but most people are listening to songs. And if a track has longevity, then so does the career of the artist.

Like when I go to “Blizzard Of Ozz”, I listen to “Goodbye To Romance”, “Mr Crowley” and “Crazy Train” as a must.

When I go to “The Number Of The Beast”, I listen to “Children Of The Damned” and “Hallowed Be Thy Name” as a must.

Of course there are other tracks that I like depending on moods, but the ones mentioned are essentials for me.

Listens are everything and based on how copyright law is designed to last the life of the artist plus 70 years after death, the copyright holder will get paid on each and every listen, forever. And the focus should not be on making an album-length statement of 60 to 90 minutes. It should be about putting out a song that can be listened to, over and over again.

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A to Z of Making It, Alternate Reality, Music, My Stories

2015

STREAMING
Streaming wins. So if you are an artist and your business model is based on recording an album and selling it, then you are challenged. However if you are an artist that creates new music to engage with your fan base then the world is your oyster.

DATA
The greatest value of any online company lays in the consumer data it collects. Why do you think Google, Amazon and Facebook are valued so high? So if you are an artist with an online presence what do you know about your fans? How do you turn fans into customers? How do you reward them?

DIVERSIFY
Diversity is the key to survival in any business. Amazon back in 1993 started off as an online bookstore. Now look at what it sells and what other services it provides. If you are an artist you start off with creating music. Then what is the plan.

NEWS/MEDIA
Who can we trust to be impartial today? The main news outlets are owned by massive corporations who are conspiring to control the narrative. They exist today to serve a select few. The ones that control the narrative are the ones that control life because in the end people love a story. That’s why novels, TV and movies are popular. That’s why reality TV shows employ scriptwriters.

TOURING
All the money for the artists is in touring. If you are a new band, then you need to establish a fan base before you even contemplate playing a show or touring. It’s totally different to when I was starting out. If you are a small independent band and self funded or a large independent band and self funded your mission is to constantly release new music, connect with fans and play live. It’s a lot of hard work and if all band members are not on the same page animosity ensures.

ALBUMS
If you are going to spend the better part of a year writing and recording it, then it needs to be great from start to finish. Good is not good enough anymore. Even though Five Finger Death Punch released two albums worth of music they really had enough great songs for one nine track album. Machine Head went three tracks too many on their new slab. Megadeth on Super Collider really had three good songs with a cool cover of Thin Lizzy. It should have been an EP instead of an album. Isn’t it better to tour on four great songs then a whole albums worth of music where only one song is included in the live set.

TECH
Our digital lives are all tangled up with the big technology companies, like Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook. These big techies are also becoming the powerful cultural gatekeepers that the much despised record labels held so dear for so long. Will the same hate befall the new cultural gatekeepers like it did the record labels.

TRUST
Our relationship with the large tech companies is based on trust: we trust them however we don’t really understand what they are gathering on us. And that trust will start to erode.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Some Thoughts On The Music Business

YouTube

YouTube allows you to go directly to your audience whenever they want and you get paid in the process. It might be small now, however it will grow with time. And surely that is better than having your video on MTV and getting squat.

Longevity

The truth is you get wiser as you get older. You learn from experience and life. Artists done need to tell us how great they are or how great the new album is. The fans are smart enough to decide what is great and what isn’t. In the end, you need to have stayed in the game long enough to win.

Music Is Not Scarce Anymore

The days of growing up at the record store and budgeting what album to buy are gone and have been for a long time. Today our favourite artists release new music and we check it out. If we like it we give it a few more spins and then move on. If we don’t like it, we move on straight away. If we really like it, we commit to it.

Back in the day, music was a commitment. After having laid down our cash on a record, we took it home, dropped the needle and spent months digesting it. But today, music is everywhere.

You Survive On Your Audience

You want to be in their consciousness 24/7 and the majority of albums today just don’t hang around long enough. Sure there are exceptions to the rule. Volbeat has been selling their new album since April 2013. Yep, that is almost 20 months ago. Avenged Sevenfold and Five Finger Death Punch are in the same league. Bands like Trivium and Dream Theater had albums that came, got lapped up by the core audience and then disappeared from the conversation. The audience wants to always talk about you, so give them a reason to talk about you.

Information Overload

People are overloaded with information so they’ve only got time for the best and they want more and more of it on a regular basis.

Start With Your friends

They actually know and care about you. If you’re good, they’ll tell their friends, and some of them will eventually be friends/trusted filters of others and people will hear about it that way.

Overnight Sensations

Overnight sensations are a decade plus in the making.

Timing

The timing was right for metal and rock acts to go multi-platinum in the Eighties. MTV was rising. The disenfranchised youths were looking for a voice, something to attach too. They found it in “We’re Not Gonna Take It”, “I Wanna Rock”, “Shout At The Devil” and so on.

Rock Bands Were Never Supposed To Last

The Beatles had about eight years before going solo. Led Zeppelin had about 12 years before calling it quits after the death of John Bonham. Kiss’s original line up had about 8 years before they ended. Motley Crue had 10 years before they fired Vince. Twisted Sister had about 8 years from when the core line up was formed. Rage Against The Machine had 9 years before they split. Soundgarden had about 12 years before calling it quits. That is about the average of a band keeping its original line up in tact before other life events impact the dynamics.

Promote The Why and Not the What

Evergrey went all “why” for the promotion of the “Hymns For The Broken” album. We know the story about how the band was almost over and how the return of two former members gave Englund a new belief to continue. And the fans resonated with this belief.

Protest The Hero sold the why. That is why they the fans pledged over $300,000 to them for “Volition”. We understand as fans why they needed to go down the fan funding route. We understood how the record labels had ripped them off. We believed in their story and wanted to be a part of it.

People will do the things that prove what they believe. We don’t don’t buy what our artists do, we buy why they do it.

Personality

The truth is long-term careers are based on being unique and staying true to who you are.

What seems to happen is that artists try to appeal to everybody and in doing so they rub off their rough edges which is the X factor that makes them unique.

We don’t want fake heroes to believe in. We want real heroes with real personalities.

That is why rock and metal took off in the early Eighties. They represented the working class and the youth that lived under iron fists. The metal and rock got all polished up and all of its uniqueness was planed off.

That is why grunge and alternative took off in the early Nineties. They trail blazed their own path by not sounding just like everybody else. While the metal and rock acts lost their edge and started to sound the same towards the end of the Eighties, the Seattle scene was not afraid to go their own way. They didn’t care if radio didn’t play them and they didn’t care if the media wouldn’t write about them. They forged their own path and made everyone follow them in the process.

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

What Does Volbeat’s RIAA Certification Tell Us About The Recording Business?

Volbeat just got a Gold Certification for digital sales from the RIAA in relation to their song “A Warriors Call” from the album “Beyond Heaven, Above Hell” released in 2010. So what does this tell us about the state of the metal/rock world in 2014 when it comes to sales.

Recognition Comes Much Later

Recognition and success come much later in the current world. In Volbeat’s case their entry in the mainstream American market was about ten years after they formed. This is extraordinary when you consider that they were very popular in parts of Europe before that. Overall, Volbeat’s first gold certification in the US has been 20 years in the making. The hardest thing today is to make a new fan or to get people to check you out. So anywhere music can be played, your stuff should be there. Volbeat do just that. On Spotify “A Warriors Call” is at 9,630,292 streams. On their YouTube account, the same song has 6,506,260 views.

If you create something that is good you will not be complaining about your income. Write a hit (and when I say hit, I don’t mean number 1 on the charts. I mean, a song that connects with a lot of listeners), you’ll make money in ways you never thought of, and you can sell your rights to the corporations you complain about, license it to every company or TV show or movie. But that means you need to create constantly as you don’t know what could connect with an audience. But that’s much harder to do than complain.

“A Warriors Call” was never a chart hit, however it connected with listeners.

The Bell Curve Is Prominent

With each metal/rock band there is a hardcore fan base that will try the band out straight away. These early fans make up 13% of the total future fan base and they are the ones that believe in the band and its music. Then within time there is a large 34% group called the early majority. These are the fans that will not try something, until somebody else tries it first and recommends it. Then there is another 34% group called the late majority. These fans adopt the band only after they see a clear majority of metal heads fully assimilating the band as a part of their daily life.

Metallica is a perfect example of the Bell Curve in action. From 1981 to 1983 they had a fan base based on early adopters. From 1984 to 1988, the fan base grew to include the early adopters and the early majority. After the explosion of the self-titled Black album that fan base grew even more as the late adopters and any laggards came to the party.

Volbeat is another perfect example. From 2000 to 2006 it was the early adopters. Then between 2007 and 2010 it was the early majority. During this period they also supported Metallica on the North American leg of Metallica’s World Magnetic Tour. And then from 2010 to know, we have the late majority all jumping into bed with Volbeat.

The internet is another perfect example. In the mid-1990s it was first used only by people who had access to and were familiar with personal computers. By the 2000s, the early majority started using it and a lot more development started taking place around communications, banking and financial services, and mass media (music, movies, books, journalism, newspapers, and television). Over the last five years, the late majority, previously unfamiliar with computers and the internet, have adopted computer skills after realizing the technology’s impact on society at large.

Albums

The core audience plus the early hardcore fans want it, but the public at large want the hits. Most people are casual listeners who don’t always go deep into every act they like. However if they want to go deep into an artist’s catalogue they will go onto Spotify. You can amass an albums worth of songs on Spotify and never actually release an album. That’s the new game.

Labels want albums because that is the best way to monetise for them. It is easier to charge money when there is a bundle of songs involved. Artists want albums, because they grew up on them and they want to be like their heroes and make a statement. However the album means nothing to the listener who has a music collection all on an iPod. Fans always wanted access and the internet era has provided that. And then there is the hardcore element that wants a little bit more like the the alternate cuts, demos, unreleased tracks and so forth.

Also remember this. The multi-Platinum “Stay Hungry” was a tight, nine-song, 37-minute set. “Blizzard Of Ozz” was 39 minutes long. Slippery When Wet was 46 minutes long. “Ride The Lightning” was 47 minutes long. All of them were classic albums that broke the bands involved to a larger audience.

What are these numbers trying to say?

You don’t need 80 minutes worth of new music to be released on one slab at one time to connect with fans. People don’t have spare hours anymore. They have spare minutes.

Streaming Is Not The Enemy

Streaming revenues will go up and you will get well paid eventually. But you need to utilize your recordings and mobilise your fan base to start streaming. If you still focus on the album sales, you will be destined for the scrapheap. So don’t keep your music off streaming services. Seriously what is the point in preventing people from streaming your music so that you can sell an extra 10,000 albums.

What advantage does AC/DC have by not being on Spotify?

What did Jimmy Buffett achieve by standing up in all his glory and asking Daniel Ek for a raise?

Record Labels

Are still clueless. Volbeat finally got a major label behind them in Universal for their latest release. The majors have no idea what connects. That is why they look to the independents or their off-shoot labels. In this case, thank god that Rebel Monster Records, which is an offshoot of Mascot Records showed interest.

Artists still want the label to make them famous as the labels have the marketing power and the relationships in place. So don’t bitch that you’re not getting paid by streaming services when in fact the record label is absorbing these payments and then drip feeding you the change.

 

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A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

So Do You Want To Know What Being In A Band Is Really Like?

Do You Want To Know What Being In A Band Was Really Like?

It was a lifestyle of round ’em up from whatever place or establishment they were in, go on the road, and see what happens. In between trips they will write songs, try em out live, and then go and record the tracks that worked the best in a live setting. Some people got rich in the process and the others get rich from the lifestyle.

“Highway Star” from Deep Purple was written in 1971 during the day while the band was travelling to a gig and performed that same night. In 1972, it was the lead off track on the excellent “Machine Head” album.

Towards the end of the seventies, artists ceased doing it this way.

Why?

Because of the “Blockbuster” record label business model.

In the music business, the Blockbuster Business Model refers to a method of spending large amounts of money on recording and marketing, with the hope that the music will become a blockbuster, generating high returns. If a band had some traction, then they were perfect candidates for the “Blockbuster Record”. Plus it also helped that before the Soundscan era, the record labels found a loophole in the certification process that was based on distribution numbers instead of sales numbers.

That is why bands started to spend 12 months in a studio. That is why albums started to cost millions.

The record labels knew what they were doing. Spend millions recording it, then print up a million copies of it and you have a platinum record to give to the band.

It as an accepted fact that there are a low amount of blockbusters each year. And it those blockbusters that prop up the rest.

Let’s look at last year. The blockbuster albums for the rock and metal genre’s could be broken down to the following releases;

Five Finger Death Punch
Avenged Sevenfold
Volbeat
Thirty Seconds To Mars
Black Sabbath
A Day To Remember
Bring Me The Horizon
Skillet
Black Veil Brides
Bullet for My Valentine
Killswitch Engage
Stone Sour
Trivium
Dream Theater
Coheed and Cambria

But what are the songs that people are cranking. If you go to Spotify and check the top ten songs for each band, you will see that following;

Five Finger Death Punch have no song from “The Wrong Side Of Heaven” albums in the Top 10, however they have the sales on the board.

Avenged Sevenfold are streaming stars with “Hail To The King”, “Shepherd Of Fire”, “This Is War” and “Doin Time” leading the charge. They are also selling stars.

Volbeat are super streaming stars. “Lola Montez”, “Cape Of Our Hero”, “Pearl Hart” and “The Nameless One” are leading the way. And the album is still selling, 12 months after it was released.

Thirty Seconds To Mars are also streaming stars. “Up In The Air” and “City Of Angels” are the stars from the new album, with “Do Or Die” slowly rising as a serious challenger. And after the Oscars, the album got a new lease of life in the sales department.

Black Sabbath have “Loner”, “God Is Dead” and “End Of The Beginning” as the songs that people decided are worthy of their attention. The album also had a three-month run in the sales department.

A Day To Remember have no real star songs to remember from their “Common Courtesy” album but they do have the sales.

Bring Me The Horizon have their whole album in the Spotify Top 10 and man, the streaming numbers are good. “Can You Feel My Heart” has 7.2 million streams, “Sleepwalking” has 7.5 million streams. Plus they have the sales.

Skillet has nothing from “Rise” in the Top 10 songs for Spotify, however their album is still selling.

Black Veil Brides have “In The End” leading the charge for them and also had a good run in the sales department.

Bullet for My Valentine have “Tears Don’t Fall (Part 2)”, “Breaking Point”, “Riot” and “Temper Temper” leading the way.

Killswitch Engage have “In Due Time” leading the charge with four of other songs also in the Top 10.

Stone Sour have “Do Me A Favour” leading the charge from the 2013, House Of Gold and Bones release.

Trivium have “Strife” leading the way.

Dream Theater have “The Enemy Inside” with 800,000 streams but it’s pretty clear that compared to the other bands, Dream Theater fans purchased the album and are listening to it that way.

Coheed and Cambria really pushed the sale deluxe editions of the “The Afterman” releases to their fans and it paid off for them very handsomely. Which is probably why they have no songs in the Top 10 for their Spotify account. It’s because we, the fans have the mp3’s due to the way Coheed and Cambria packaged it.

So do you want to know what being in a band is really like now?

It is a lifestyle of writing and releasing songs, connecting with fans and being as human as possible. Some people will make money in the process, some people will walkaway and complain that piracy is killing everything and then others will still get rich from the lifestyle. Then when the great song turns into great songs, the band will hit the road.

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

Music Trends in Hard Rock and Heavy Metal – What’s On The Up and What’s On The Down

ON A DOWN SLOPE

DAUGHTRY

The band leader, Chris Daughtry messed up big time chasing the crowds of “Train” and “Imagine Dragons”. He was a hard rocker from day dot and that is what gave him his legion of fans. For the ill-fated and recent “Baptized” album, he committed career suicide, throwing his lot with the hit songwriters. The songs are good, however they are not Daughtry songs. It would have been better for him as an artist to have given those songs to other artists that are more electronic pop rock minded. Daughtry needs more music right away and they need it to ROCK.

RECORD LABELS

The major metal and rock labels will continue to sign the bands and artists that had success in the Eighties and Nineties and get those bands to release forgeries of their greatest hits. It’s all about locking up the songs under copyright. “He who owns a lot of copyrights, will make a lot of money in the future, when said artists are dead and buried.”

In relation to new bands, they will sing fewer bands on even more shittier deals and shift their efforts to breaking them. It doesn’t mean that we will pay attention. It will be bands from certain niche’s that will break out and we will gravitate to them.

Also no one wants to pay. Look at the APP business. The highest downloaded APPS are all free ones. And they are still making money. We are happy to provide our private data to Apple and Google, as long as we get what we want, with no strings attached. If a record label has a business model that is dependent upon people paying, re-evaluate.

KIRK HAMMETT

He is out of touch. We live in a world right now that is connected 24/7. A lot of those connections happen because of social media. So his recent, “Ivory Tower” comments about social media show just how out of touch he is. Also from seeing him play live on three occasions, he has made a career on the coat tails of James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich. Don’t believe me, watch the making of the Black album, especially the scene when Bob Rock tells him that the solo he just put down for “The Unforgiven” is garbage.

HYPE

We can see through the hype and we hate it. So much hype was around Dream Theater’s self titled release and it disappeared from the conversation within six weeks. Megadeth’s “Super Collider” is being outsold by the Black album. Daughtry’s “Baptized” took forever to record and it did nothing. You can’t have a song called “Long Live Rock N Roll” and not have it sounding anything like ROCK. It sounds like that one hit wonder song “I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker With A Flower In My Hair.”

RESPONSE SYSTEMS FOR COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT

NAPSTER showed the music business and the entertainment business at large, how fans of music, movies and books want to consume content. They want to download it easily, free of DRM, use it in any way they want and they want to do it for free.

For all of the talentless CEO’s that flew in private jets off the hard work by the artists, this was a big NO NO. So off they went to their lobby group arms, the RIAA and MPAA and they started to lobby hard the governments. The various sister associations around the world started to do the same thing. The best thing they could come up with is a graduated response system, financed by the ISP’s. It failed in France. It failed in New Zealand. In the U.S it is hard to tell, especially when you have a copyright troll like Rightscorp shaking down IP addresses. So if Rightscorp is sending shake down notices to ISP’s, then why does the US have a graduated response scheme?

The bottom line is this, the people who the RIAA and MPAA want to catch are years ahead of them in INNOVATION. And INNOVATION is what they should be focusing on.

THE ALBUM FORMAT

We are challenged with time and we only want the best. Since we are allowed to cherry pick, we will. Heavy Metal and Hard Rock artists need to understand they are in the hit business. It doesn’t matter if they are radio-friendly or not. Each band in each metal and rock genre, needs to create that song that hits us on the first listen.

That is why bands like Five Finger Death Punch, Avenged Sevenfold and Shinedown are so successful. They get the game. That is why Killswitch Engage is successful. Adam Dutkiewicz understands the power of a massive chorus. That is why Trivium is having a career. Over the course of all of their albums, they always had a song that had “hit potential” for the genre they are in.

Making money is hard. Just because a band releases an album, it doesn’t mean that we want to pay for it in its entirety, especially if it has got a couple of crap songs on it. It’s better to release 8 songs that a “certifiable smashes” instead of 12 songs that have four crap ones. However, it turns out the public still has time for Metallica’s “Black” album. It is still moving two to three thousand units a week and it is expected to pass 16 million by May.

Artists need to think about the no limits that digital offers them. We want the good stuff. Artists need to think about how they can provide us the good stuff, without resorting to the album format. Don’t base your career on dropping an album every two years. An artist needs to base their career on constant events.

GOING GOING ALMOST GONE

CLASSIC ROCK

The artists are on their last legs. Motley Crue is ceasing to tour, however stand alone shows, plus new music are still in the works. They have hit the same markets over and over again since their 2004 comeback and in between they have released 3 new songs on a “Greatest Hits” album, 13 new songs on “Saints of Los Angeles” and 1 new song in 2012. The train is slowly coming to a halt.

Aerosmith released a DUD. The train is not a rolling anymore for them. All up, Classic Rock bands have maybe have another 10 years left.

A transition is happening. The younger acts are generating touring dollars, playing smaller venues and at affordable prices. It’s happening.

ON THE UP

STORYTELLING

That is why TV shows are the most downloaded torrents of all time. Tell a good story and the world will be at your door step.

RICHIE SAMBORA

Seeing him in Australia, he is invigorated and he is having a blast. Not having to play second fiddle to Jon Bon Jovi, he is branching out again and this time, his roots are strong enough to balance his branches. The “Aftermath Of The Lowdown” is the best hard rock record from 2012 that went unnoticed because it was released so close to his Bon Jovi work.

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