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

A Metal Heads Guide To The Key Of Music Success

The technology of today allows for convenient costless copying and transportation of large chunks of data across the internet. Before the rise of streaming, people were still given a raw deal when it came to digital music and forced to overpay. In Australia, an iTunes song costs between $1.69 and $2.69. This price remained the same, even when our dollar was stronger than the US dollar.

Then the ACCC, our competition watchdog launched an inquiry into these geo-blocking price restrictions. Apple went in front of the commission and stated that they didn’t set the price for music in Australia and that the price was set by the Record Labels. It was found by the Commission that there should be no reason why Australians should pay more for software and music. However, nothing has changed in relation to the prices.

When music is offered in a convenient and low-cost legal alternative, the rate of piracy drops because most people do want to support artists and the various research out there points out that is the case.

For example, let’s look at TesseracT, the band. They released a great album in “Altered State”. It didn’t sell huge amounts in the U.S, so based on the record label success model, the album is a fizzer. However, the band knows that touring is where they make their money. And that is what they are doing. Musicmetric data showed (before it went behind a pay wall) that TesseracT’s music was downloaded the most in North America via peer-to-peer Torrent networks. So guess which area’s TesseracT have toured?

Yep, North America. They are touring there again from March and April 2014. The previously toured North America between September and October 2013. Coincidence. Maybe.

In relation to Spotify, they have a combined album stream count of 1,705,734. What this means, is that if you tally up all of the album songs shown in their popular list you will get to that number.

Go on YouTube and you see that the “Nocturne” (OFFICIAL VIDEO) by Century Media Records has 302,002 views. My favourite track from “Singularity” on the Century Media Records channel has 260,817 views compared to the 130,835 on Spotify. These numbers matter. Especially for a band that plays to a niche market.

What about the band Volbeat? They fall on all sides of the equation. They are one of the most streamed metal bands out there, plus they are downloaded a lot via peer-to-peer networks and in addition to all of this, they are still selling albums in the U.S. Their “Outlaw Gentlemen And Shady Ladies” album was released on 5 April 2013 and as at 29 January 2014, it is still selling in the U.S.

Yep, that’s right, in an era were physical sales of recorded music are non-existent, Volbeat has been selling consistently for 42 weeks straight. Prior to the release of “Outlaw Gentlemen And Shady Ladies”, their previous album “Beyond Heaven, Above Hell” was still selling up to and past the release date of the new album.

From a record label point of view, this is pure gold. They have a band that can consistently sell albums and Volbeat has been doing that each week for the last three years in the very competitive US market.

That is why they are hitting the U.S market again for the third time, this time with “Trivium” and the best DIY independent band out there in “Digital Summer”.

Look at their song “Still Counting” on Spotify. It has 21,193,159 streams. On the YouTube channel of Tomas Grafström “Still Counting” has 11,725,300 views.

My favourite song “Fallen” has 12,392,089 streams. On the VolbeatVEVO channel, “Fallen” has 4,583,706 views.

“Cape Of Our Hero” from the new album has 5,838,326 streams. On YouTube, “Cape Of Our Hero” has 2,999,070 views on the VolbeatVEVO channel.

Another band that is doing great numbers both in actual sales, streams and peer-to-peer downloads is Skillet. The album “Rise” was released on June 25, 2013 and at this point in time, 31 weeks after that, it is still selling. That is what the labels want, bands that can sell week in and week out. What does the band want? They want people to listen to their music.

To compare to the current mainstream rock band, none of these bands come close to Imagine Dragons. “Night Visions” came out on September 4, 2012. 73 weeks later, the album is still moving physical albums. At this point in time the album has sold over 1.8 million copies in the US. The main songs are high on Spotify’s streaming chart. They are also very high on the peer-to-peer download lists.

Seriously their Spotify numbers are insane. “Radioactive” is at 172 million streams compared to 128 million views on YouTube. “Demons” is at 73 million streams compared to 50 million views on YouTube. My favourite “It’s Time” is at 75 million streams compared to 59 million streams on YouTube.

Music is now a game of data. The key to any artist is not how many albums or songs are sold. The key is this;

ARE PEOPLE LISTENING TO YOUR MUSIC?
ARE PEOPLE SHARING YOUR MUSIC?
ARE PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT YOUR MUSIC?
ARE PEOPLE DOWNLOADING YOUR MUSIC?
WHERE ARE THESE PEOPLE LOCATED?
MUSIC IS A RELATIONSHIP BUSINESS. DO YOU HAVE A RELATIONSHIP WITH THESE PEOPLE?

If you answered YES to the first question, move on to the next question. If you haven’t answered YES to the first question, take a step back and start writing more music.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories

The Best Metal and Rock Top 10 for 2013

Well the year is almost over and it is time to look back at the albums that connected and hit the mark for 2013. Anyone who has been a constant visitor to this blog will notice that I have spoken about these albums in previous posts in more detail.

1. Protest The Hero – Volition

Disclaimer; I was one of those fans that contributed to this album, so the competition for the best album of 2013 wasn’t even close. Protest The Hero wins hands down. They delivered an album for the fans. It has everything that a condensed progressive technical metal album should have. Plus it has Chris Adler on drums. In 2011, “Scurrilous” was number seven on my list.

If you want the detailed breakdown, here it is;

This album also shows how the mainstream media is out of touch. Despite all the hype around Metallica, Avenged Sevenfold, Dream Theater, Korn and Black Sabbath, the biggest release of the year belongs to Protest The Hero.

And deservedly so.

They connected with their audience via Indiegogo. They have cut through all the internet noise without the need of major label. In the age of information overload, Protest The Hero relied on their audience and their music to get their message through.

2. Avenged Sevenfold – Hail To The King

Call this album what you will, however no one can take away the fact that it is a damn good listen. Having those nods to the past and building on those influences is what music is all about. In twenty years time, this album will be revered and copied, because that is how music is made.

3. Five Finger Death Punch – The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell Vol 1

Part 1 is a killer classic metal album with arena melodic rock chorus. Watch You Bleed, Lift Me Up, The Wrong Side Of Heaven, Anywhere But Here are all rock sing a longs.

4. Killswitch Engage – Disarm The Descent

Jesse Leach is back and man can he write a catchy chorus. Each song goes through so many vocal emotions, it’s one heck of a roller coaster. The Times Of Grace project brought Jesse back into the metal world. “The Hymn Of A Broken Man” was one great album and it was in my top 10 list for that year.

In 2009, I also had the self titled Killswitch Engage album at number five in my top 10 list.

5. TesserAcT – Altered State

This band is really branching out from the Djent constraints by embracing atmospheric style song writing. The math metal is still there and the vocals bring it all home. I have always said, TesseracT will be seen as the new Pink Floyd by a whole new generation. In 2011, TesseracT came in ninth position with the album “One”. I was pleasently surprised to see this one pop in Robb Flynn’s top 10 list.

6. Trivium – Vengeance Falls

Trivium have always had the balls to make decisions. Working with Dave Draiman is one of them. Seriously i cant see an issue with how the vocal melodies are phrased or delivered by Heafy. I really like this album. The music is top-notch and the songs are of high quality. In 2011, Trivium came in tenth position with the album “In Waves”.

7. Coheed and Cambria – The Afterman – Descension

Another band that is employing data to connect with fans. They have been on the road since January and released two slabs of music within 3 months. This album doesn’t have Domino The Destitute, but it has Sentry The Defiant plus others.

8. Five Finger Death Punch – The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell Vol 2

A Day In My Life. Man that chorus just hooks me in. Put to the side the cliché rhyming from Moody and just focus on the musical melodies and you will be hooked as well. It’s been played on repeat on my iPhone on my way to work and on my way home.

“American Capitalist” was fifth in my 2011 list and “War Is The Answer” was 2nd in 2009, just behind “Black Clouds and Silver Linings” from Dream Theater.

9. Volbeat – Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies

I was a fan of this band before they broke through in the U.S. It was the “Rock The Rebel/Metal The Devil” album from 2007 that made me a fan. I was really looking forward to this release and the band didn’t disappoint. It has all of their trademarks with a dash of country and hillbilly thrown into the mix.

10. Alter Bridge – Fortress

Mark Tremonti is one hell of a guitar player and most importantly a hell of a songwriter. Teaming up with Myles Kennedy has been a godsend. Alter Bridge get better with each album and they rarely fail to disappoint.

Notable Mentions

Audrey Horne – Youngblood

If you don’t know this band, you should. I swear every genre of music and time period associated with music is heard on this album. Give this band the attention they deserve. Their whole catalogue is on Spotify so there is no excuse to not check them out. Any band that is from Norway and with a black metal post deserves to be heard in a hard rock context.

Mutiny Within – Synchronicity

The only thing holding this band back is what their definition of success is and Chris Clancy. He is so hung up on fighting for the old system and how it used to be, he is failing to see opportunities in front of him.

Hearts And Hands – My Own Machine

A great pop metal or pop rock album. Hearts and Hands started off as a side project for Chelsea Grin vocalist Alex Koehler. However since he departed after their 2012 self titled EP, the band has undergone a significant transformation and their sound has shifted away from breakdowns and screams to effected guitars, acoustics and great songs.

Love and Death – Between Here and The Lost

A hundred times better than the new Korn album. They even sound like Korn on some of the songs. Brian Head Welch is a star and this album proves it.

Sound Of Contact – Dimensionaut

Progressive Rock and a voice that sounds very similar to Phil Collins. Plus any album that has a concept attached to it, always gets my attention. Its plot follows an alienated, unnamed human who is tired of humanity and embraces his fate as a traveler of dimensions, time and galaxies. Throughout the story, the dimensionaut constructs his escape from reality, realizing new experiences and encountering love in the process.

Faith Circus – Turn Up The Band

If this band had the same attention as Avenged Sevenfold, critics would come out and comment how each song sounds like a rip off from every successful glam rock and blues rock album made in the Eighties. Music is derivative and Faith Circus deliver. It is a great listen from start to finish. Another band from Norway that deserves your attention.

Final Notable Mentions

Due to my kids overdosing on the music I placed on their iPods certain classic rock albums have come back into my life.

Twisted Sister – You Cant Stop Rock N Roll
Twisted Sister – Stay Hungry
Kiss – Lick It Up
Kiss – Asylum
Kiss – Destroyer
Deep Purple – Machine Head
Bon Jovi – Slippery When Wet
Survivor – Eye Of The Tiger
Europe – The Final Countdown

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

It’s all MIRRORS and MISDIRECTION: Tilting Against Windmills with Protest The Hero

That vocal section in “Tilting Against Windmills” from about 2.28 with the lyric “Father Forgive me for I have sinned” sounds huge. It’s epic and it just comes out of nowhere. Isn’t it funny how a small section totally makes the song. The whole “Volition” album is full of great sections.

“Without Prejudice” has the base line that comes out at about 3:10 which just builds to a mad climax. It also has an awesome lyric line. “Jump from the nearest tallest building and reach new heights.” What a brilliant way to say the clichéd and overused Reach For The Sky term.

“Clarity” has the excellent lyric line of ‘This drought is relieved with acid rain”. Love the lyrical statement.

“Yellow Teeth” has a mad chorus guitar melody.

“Plato’s Tripartite” has a tough progressive bit from about 2:54 to 3:32.

“A Life Embossed” has an awesome progressive guitar lead that starts at 3:44.

“Mist” has the major key ending with the dark lyric line of “You’re as deep as the grave, marching to the heartbeat of the land.” It just comes out of nowhere and after a chaotic math metal interlude.

The last song “Skies” is the perfect closer. It feels like it’s got some subliminal message that says, “play me again… play me again… play play play….”

Every song on “Volition” has something that just stands up and slaps you in the face with awesomeness. I am starting to sound like Bill and Ted. And what about the drumming. It is a tragedy that Chris Adler isn’t touring on the back of this release. Everything just sounds more powerful. From the double kick to the hitting of the skins.

I decided to do some Google searches on Protest The Hero because that is what we do these days. I was at first interested to see what kind of gear they use which is a pretty basic set up. Then in my searches I came across some YouTube clips of them giving tutorials for some of their songs.

All I can say is Whoaaa….

First off, I wanted to break my guitar, just because they make what they are playing look so easy. What I am finding out is that by “trying” to take on some of their stuff it is opening myself to a whole new world of composition and it is breaking me out of my rut.

I also watched some interviews with the guys as well and they talked about their influences especially Paul Gilbert and John Petrucci. What was funny to me is that they actually aren’t major Rush fans at all, which I thought was bizarre as they are Canadian and Rush is Canadian. Rhythm guitarist Tim Millar said something like “I have like a Greatest Hits album but that’s about it”.

Even before the Ron Jarzombek connection on “Drumhead Trial” I was always saying to anyone who listened to me that Protest The Hero remind me of Watchtower, a technical thrash band from the Eighties. Watchtower released a brilliant album called “Control and Resistance”. I remember picking it up for $2 in a second hard record store around 1989. What a bargain?

In relation to Watchtower and their album “Control And Resistance” this is what Guitar World said about it in a list of Top Ten Shred Albums of the 80’s.

“Sounding like the twisted scion of Metallica and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, WatchTower was the most brilliant weird band of its time. Guitarist Ron Jarzombek, with his complex harmony solos, strange scales and furious staccato lead bursts, performs tricks on his guitar that will leave you more than sufficiently breathless.”

Their 2nd singer Jason McMaster was tapped to join Pantera before Phil Anselmo joined. Then he left and formed a hard rock band called Dangerous Toys and had some mainstream success. The original guitarist Billy White also went all hard rock and joined Don Dokken for his solo project (and was also the main songwriter on it). Remember the album “Up From The Ashes.” The bass player Doug Keyser was asked to audition for Metallica after Cliff Burton died. Watchtower has a history man with so many different MIRRORS and MISDIRECTION.

Also another band that Protest The Hero always reminded me off is Leviathan, another progressive technical metal/rock band. Their album “Deepest Secrets Beneath” is essential listening.

I’ve cranked “Volition” to death already, so yesterday I decided to go through some other progressive bands. I played the new Dream Theater, played Periphery II and played Tesseract “Altered State” and then went back to “Volition”.

Progressive music is in a good place as far as I’m concerned.

All four bands mentioned above have different and unique sounds but yet are undeniably progressive. Protest The Hero is by far the most intense, and I think that’s why they stand out above the rest.

Listening to the new Dream Theater and then going back to “Volition” was a real eye opener. I hold Dream Theater in high regard from a technical point of view, however the stuff that Protest The Hero do is technical to the max and it’s the tempo they do it in that gives this overwhelming impression.

It just made listening to Dream Theater sound so slow and old. Speaking of old bands, the new Fates Warning album is better than Dream Theater’s self-titled album. I really dig what Fates Warning is all about, merging hard rock, with Tool/Porcupine Tree/atmospheric Pink Floyd like movements and Iron Maiden style lead breaks. Plus as a Dream Theater fan, Fates Warning get Kevin Moore to contribute with each album.

When I was going through the booklet I noticed that their producer Cameron McLellan was involved a lot in the song writing process. It’s no surprise that he is filling in for bassist Arif Mirabdolbaghi. Like how un-metal is that. He pulled out of the U.S tour because he is involved in a stage play and because the recording ran over the tour dates conflict with the dates of the stage play. So of course for the US tour Cameron McLellan is filling in for him.

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A to Z of Making It, Derivative Works, Music, My Stories, Piracy

2013 Metal and Rock Releases. Are they Derivative, Evolutionary, Original or Clones?

Artists need to think about their music as a product. In the end we (the fans) are all suckers for good products. Give us a good product and we will reciprocate.

So I am listening to the new Protest The Hero album, “Volition”. What a product it is! For the record, I was one of those fans that contributed to the Indiegogo campaign so you can say that my views are biased.

And what about this for a piece of PR? As soon as they were made aware of a few leaks hitting the internet in bad quality, Protest The Hero hastily arranged a download site for their Indiegogo contributors, sent an email to everyone about it with instructions on how to get their unique download pin and away we went, downloading the album.

The best way to fight piracy is to communicate with your fan base. They are your only concern. In relation to people downloading the album some will come to a show and some will download it and hate it.

So what was my immediate thought on the new album?

Original and evolutionary. This is Protest The Hero continuing on from what they have created in the past by adding a few more bells and whistles. The decision to go the fan funded route was just the beginning. During the recording process they lost a drummer and got an even better drummer in Chris Adler. They then got some friends to build some IT support to store all the data of the fans that contributed via Indiegogo.

So to sum up, Protest The Hero were able to record, mix, master and produce an album without having any record label support and without the need of a record label advance that they would have had to pay back AND they are still able to use the record labels to distribute the standard release worldwide.

Going back to the drumming, what a brilliant job from Chris Adler? It’s inspiring in the sense of “I Want To Break Stuff” inspiring. It just feels very metal like.

While Dream Theater and Korn get a lot of ink in the press, it is bands like Protest The Hero, Machine Head and Digital Summer that are stealing the thunder by reaching out to their fans, connecting and doing it the new way. They are cutting out everyone that gets in the way of them and their fans. It is a band to fan connection. It is a fan to band connection.

On a side note, when I listen to new music from bands, I normally place the music in the following categories;

1. Progress is derivative (to others this is the stolen or copied bucket).

2. Evolutionary (this is bands building on their past a little bit each time. It is the iterative approach)

3. Original (this is something that is so divergent or out there that it hasn’t been done before)

4. Maintenance (this is where the band delivers the same album over and over again)

So looking at my top 20 list of music so far from 2013, in which categories do they fall in.

Progress Is Derivative
Avenged Sevenfold with the “Hail To The King” album.

“Lift Me Up” from Five Finger Death Punch and “Kingmaker” from Megadeth also fit into this category.

Evolutionary

This list has quite a few releases in it.

Protest The Hero leads the way with “Volition”. It builds on all of their previous efforts.

“Vengeance Falls” from Trivium is also an evolutionary album, building on the shorter song structure from “In Waves” with better melodies and technical precise riffage.

The concept album from Black Veil Brides falls into the evolutionary bucket for me. While the overall musical themes of the album are still rooted in the previous releases, there was enough growth to show a band evolving.

Mutiny Within hit the evolutionary path with the release of “Synchronicity” which shows the band moving further away from the metalcore stigma that Roadrunner put on them.

30 Seconds To Mars went all world music on “Love Lust Faith Dreams” which is again an evolution of “This Is War.” My wife loves this album.

Audrey Horne released “Youngblood” which is a further evolution from their previous album, moving more into a blues rock/metal vibe.

The next two albums are debut albums and the reason why I saw them as evolutionary is that the evolve from the sounds of Korn and Genesis/Pink Floyd.

Brian Welch’s solo project, Love and Death released the excellent “Between Here and The Lost” which is an evolution of what Korn was doing prior to Head’s departure. If i had to pick between Korn’s new one and Love and Death, my vote goes to Love and Death.

Sound Of Contact released a sci-fi concept album with “Dimensionaut” that captures the eerie spirit of sci-fi soundtracks merged with Pink Floyd/Genesis and Marillion prog.

Original

I see Volbeat as an original band.

With “Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies” they merge country with their metal/rockabilly style. This album could have fitted in the evolutionary bucket as well, however in my opinion there is another of a blend of different music styles to class it as another original release.

I just finished reading a post on the Classic Rock Magazine website with Michael Poulsen, the lead singer from Volbeat. In that interview, he states that artists cant make any more money from record sales and that selling records doesn’t put food on the table anymore.

This is strange coming from a band that shifted 300,000 units in the U.S with their previous album. So if you do the math 300,000 at $10 a CD comes to $3MIL gross earnings on the CD. The current album is sitting at about 130,000 units in the U.S so far. So if Volbeat are not getting any money from the sales of recorded music, they should be speaking to their label about re-negotiating their deal.

TesseracT’s “Altered State” to me is a great piece of work. It isn’t just a bunch of songs put together and called an album. This is an album that needs to be listened from start to finish, with high quality headphones. There is so much happening that each listen is a new experience. It’s original to me.

Maintenance

All of these releases are good releases showcasing what the band does best. In a lot of cases, bands produce their greatest album by doing this and in some cases bands produce a few forgettable albums as well.

Coheed and Cambria – “The Afterman –  Descension”

Dream Theater – “Dream Theater”

Bullet For My Valentine – “Temper Temper”

Stone Sour – “House Of Gold And Bones Part 2”

Alter Bridge – “Fortress”

Killswitch Engage – “Disarm The Descent”

Five Finger Death Punch – “The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell Vol 1”

Pretty Maids – “Motherland”

Buckcherry – “Confessions”

An artist and their music can move up or down in these categories throughout their careers.

The lessons here are that bands don’t have to be ground breaking original to be successful. They just need a well thought out approach that is executed well.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

TesseracT – The Modern Definition of Traction

TesseracT’s new album “Altered State” was released a few months ago. In relation to sales, it came and went pretty quickly. So if you take the old record label paradigm, which a lot of the journalists do these days, they will call it a failure.

Well, if you go on Spotify, you will see that the new album has been streamed 1,000,425 times.

Before everyone starts screaming that Spotify doesn’t pay and that it does nothing for artists, they should read this story doing the rounds on Mashable.

The “Singularity” video on YouTube has had 214,579 views.

The “Nocturne” track on YouTube has had 278,047 views.

Other tracks from the “Altered State” album, that have been released by Century Media have had views with similar numbers.

These are the numbers that matter in this day and age. The ones that show that people are listening to your music.

Then you have the following tour dates;

TesseracT w/Katatonia, Cult of Luna and Intronaut:
01.10.2013 (USA) Cleveland, OH – Peabody’s
02.10.2013 (USA) Chicago, IL – The Bottom Lounge
04.10.2013 (USA) Denver, CO – Summit Music Hall
06.10.2013 (USA) Los Angeles, CA – El Rey Theater
07.10.2013 (USA) San Francisco, CA – Slim’s

TesseracT Headline tour with Scale the Summit:
09.10.2013 (CDN) Vancouver, BC – Tom Lee Music Hall
10.10.2013 (CDN) Edmonton, AB – Pawn Shop
12.10.2013 (CDN) Calgary, AB – The Gateway
13.10.2013 (CDN) Regina, SK – The Exchange
14.10.2013 (CDN) Winnipeg, MB – Union Sound Hall
16.10.2013 (USA) Minneapolis, MN – Skyway Theater – Studio B
17.10.2013 (USA) Lawrence, KS – The Granada Theater
18.10.2013 (USA) Indianapolis, IN – Emerson Theater
20.10.2013 (USA) St. Louis, MO – Fubar
22.10.2013 (USA) Ft Worth, TX – Tomcats West
23.10.2013 (USA) Houston, TX – Fitzegerald’s – Downstairs
24.10.2013 (USA) New Orleans, LA – One Eyed Jacks
25.10.2013 (USA) Atlanta, GA – The Drunken Unicorn
26.10.2013 (USA) Tampa, FL – Orpheum Theatre
27.10.2013 (USA) Greensboro, NC – Blind Tiger
01.11.2013 (MEX) Guadalajara – F.Bolko
02.11.2013 (MEX) Mexico City – Multiforo Cultural Alicia
03.11.2013 (MEX) Monterrey – Café Iguana

w/ Karnivool:
13.11.2013 (UK) Portsmouth – Wedgewood Rooms
14.11.2013 (UK) Bristol – Thekla
15.11.2013 (UK) Nottingham – Rock City Basement
16.11.2013 (UK) Glasgow – The Garage
18.11.2013 (UK) Sheffield – Corporation
19.11.2013 (UK) Manchester – Academy 2
20.11.2013 (UK) Birmingham – Institute Library
21.11.2013 (UK) London – Koko
23.11.2013 (IND) Bangalore – Bacaradi NH7 Weekender

w/ The Safety Fire, Protest The Hero, Intervals:
06.01.2014 (DE) Karlsruhe – Substage
07.01.2014 (DE) Nuernberg – Hirsch
08.01.2014 (DE) Berlin – Magnet
09.01.2014 (DE) Hamburg – Logo
10.01.2014 (SE) Stockholm – Klubben
11.01.2014 (SE) Gothenburg – Fängelset
12.01.2014 (NO) Oslo – John Dee
14.01.2014 (DK) Copenhagen – Vega
16.01.2014 (B) Aarschot – De Klinker
17.01.2014 (F) Paris – Le Divan Du Monde
18.01.2014 (F) Toulouse – Le Saint des Seins
19.01.2014 (ES) Madrid – Copernico
20.01.2014 (ES) Barcelon – Sala Boveda
22.01.2014 (CH) Aarau – Kiff
23.01.2014 (I) Milan – Zoe Club
25.01.2014 (A) Vienna – Szene
26.01.2014 (H) Budapest – Dürer Kert
28.01.2014 (DE) Munich – Backstage
29.01.2014 (DE) Leipzig – Conne Island
30.01.2014 (LUX) Esch Sur Alzette – Rockhal
31.01.2014 (DE) Cologne – Essigfabrik
01.02.2014 (UK) Brighton – Concorde 2
02.02.2014 (UK) Birmingham – O2 Academy 2 Birmingham
04.02.2014 (UK) Sheffield – Corporation
05.02.2014 (UK) Glasgow – Classic Grand
06.02.2014 (UK) Manchester – Manchester Academy 2
07.02.2014 (UK) London – Electric Ballroom
09.02.2014 (NL) Dordrecht – Bibelot

Soundwave Festival:
22.02.2014 (AUS) Brisbane – RNA Showrooms, Soundwave 2014
23.02.2014 (AUS) Sydney – Olympic Park, Soundwave 2014
28.02.2014 (AUS) Melbourne – Flemington Racecourse, Soundwave 2014
01.03.2014 (AUS) Adelaide – Adelaide, Soundwave 2014
03.03.2014 (AUS) Perth – Perth, Soundwave 2014

So the modern definition of traction is all of the above. Add to that mix, merchandise sales and licensing deals and based on the shows that TesseracT are booked to play, I would say that the new album is a success.

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A to Z of Making It, Music

The New Artist Lesson

I have come across some good music lately, however the bands/artists that created the music are still languishing at the bottom of the music pile.  So what can bands like Burnside, Tesseract, The Night Flight Orchestra, Polution and Vaudeville do differently to get their brand and music out there.

IS THERE A MARKET FOR YOUR MUSIC?

The common misconception that most bands/artists have is that their music will succeed. The cold hard truth is that no one knows what music will succeed.  That is why A&R people, have a bad strike ratio.  They can find talent, however that doesn’t mean that the talent they find will succeed in the music business.

New bands need to test the market.  You need to see what kind of response you get back.  Find ways to measure the longevity of your song.  Did fans spread it on social media? Did a torrent go up on The Pirate Bay? Does it have seeders? Does it have leachers? Are people streaming it? Are people purchasing it? Are people listening to it on YouTube?

If the song is setting the world on fire, repeat the whole process again with a new song as there is a market there for you.

If the song is not setting the world on fire, take a step back, re-evaluate, create a better song and repeat all of the above as there is no market there for you at the moment.

Burnside created a brilliant album in Evolution that consisted of 13 songs and released them all at once. They relied on an old business model that doesn’t work anymore. They needed to test the market, so that they could see if there is a market for their music.  They should have released a song and measured it’s reach first. If you have an audience of less than 10,000, you should not be spending time creating a 13 song album.  

The Night Flight Orchestra wrote a song called West Ruth Avenue, that in my mind rivalled Gotye’s Somebody That I Used To Know.  Somebody That I Used To Know found a market, West Ruth Avenue didn’t.  (Yes, I know that The Night Flight Orchestra is a side project, however it is one album that should have found a bigger audience).

TesserAct in my view released a great album in Altered State.  Century Media streamed the album on their YouTube page and it had over 90,000 hits.  The album comes out and it moves over 4000 units in the U.S.  Is this a good thing or a bad thing? The label tested the market with the pre-release stream on YouTube. I think both artists where expecting a better turn out in sales, however this is the wrong view point to have. Fans can now stream their music.

SUPPLY vs. DEMAND

I hope that the bands I have mentioned are not focusing on the payment side of things. Remember Spotify, Pandora, iTunes are all services that you use to get your music out there.  Don’t solely rely on these services as a source of revenue.  It’s a diversified music game. You need to have other strategies for that.  However, before you get to this stage, you need to ensure that a market exists.

Remember that you are a seller and a supplier.  It’s simple economics. Supply vs Demand. At the moment, the recorded music world is over supplied. There is so much music out there, however not all of the music that is released has a demand waiting for it. Demand equals buyers. Buyers equal fans. The artists should be satisfying the needs of the fans.

BUILDING PLACES OF WORSHIP FOR YOUR FANS

It is the fans that will promote you.  No one cares about the music that radio pushes. No one cares about the music that the press and mainstream media pushes.  No one cares about the music if you scream until your black and blue about how great your song is. 

People care and pay attention, when they see fan blogs created in your name (like the John Petrucci forums, the Mike Portnoy forums, the Dream Theater forums and so on).  You need to ensure that you build a cathedral so that your fans can worship your music and spread it.

In the end, you need to have great music marketed to people that will like it and buy it.  Otherwise you will remain in your local suburban market.

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A to Z of Making It, Music

What Can Daft Punk teach the rock/metal heads?

Daft Punk entered the charts this week at Number 1, moving 339,000 copies of their Random Access Memories.

So what can other genre’s learn from Daft Punk.

1. You need to be in it for life.  That is the committment needed to music.  Instant successes do not end up having a career. There will be times when doubt rears its head, and trust me, it is a hard obstacle to overcome.  It’s a normal feeling to just walk away.

Vito Bratta from White Lion is one example.  He just walked away from it all, where Mike Tramp (White Lion vocalist) and James  Lomenzo (White Lion bassist) have just kept on going.  Mike Tramp formed Freak Of Nature, then went solo, then reformed White Lion with a whole new suite of musicians and is not running solo again.  James Lomezo went with Zakk Wylde into Pride and Glory which morphed into Black Label Society, as well as a stint in Megadeth.

How many bands break up because they do not have instant success?

2. You need to engage your fan base.  The fans are loyal to the artist, not to the record label.  The fans will talk about the new song or the new album, they will spread the word and share the new video clip.  That is how marketing is done today.  Forget about the scorched earth marketing policy of Bon Jovi, David Bowie or even Black Sabbath. If no one is sharing your work, it’s time to create new work that is better.  It’s time to start engaging.

3. Excellence.  I don’t even like dance/electronica music, however I still dig the single Get Lucky.  It’s got that classic seventies funk disco vibe in 2013.  You need to be able to find your voice.  For any artist starting off in music it normally means writing songs in a style similar to what your heroes write about.  If that is your voice, cool.  However i suspect it isn’t.  Refer to point 1, you are in it for life.

TesserAct said that they put screaming vocals in their songs when they where starting out, because that is what was expected of bands in the Djent movement, however they never liked screaming vocals.  Check out their new album, Altered State.  There is not one screaming vocal line in it.

4. Streaming is king.  65% of Daft Punk’s sales came from digital downloads.  In addition, the buzz created by the fan base caused high streaming on Spotify. The Get Lucky – Radio Edit has been streamed over 33 million times.  Other songs from the album have been  streamed more than 10 million times.  Of course the RIAA will still scream piracy, and order that Google take down links via its search engine.

Compare this to say Stone Sour (I’m only using Stone Sour as an example as they have a new release), where Absolute Zero is getting close to the 2 million streams.  The only song from Stone Sour that has broken through the 10 million stream mark is Through Glass and that is from an album released 7 seven years ago. Songs from House of Gold and Bones Part II are not even in the million stream range and I really like that album.     

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