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.

Advertisements
Standard
Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Living Under The Laws That Corporations Wrote And A Bit Of Metallica For Old Times Sake

“Alice In Wonderland” turned 150 years old recently and it is still in the public imagination.

Hell, it has been in the public domain since 1907 (42 years from when it was originally published) and that still hasn’t stopped the story from making money. By having the work in the public domain it has allowed other people to create derivative versions of the story and the characters. “Alice In Wonderland” is a perfect example of how adaptions of the original story has ensured that the story gets passed on to multiple generations.

So next time you hear of someone calling for longer copyright terms, tell them about “Alice In Wonderland”.  The incentive of a 42 year copyright monopoly was a sufficient motivator for Lewis Carroll (real name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) to create more works.

Alice In Wonderland Article

Carroll didn’t need a copyright to last 70 to 90 years after his death as an incentive to write stories. Sort of like the heirs of Marvin Gaye. Seriously, what the hell have they contributed to the arts. Copyright was never about being a lifetime pension that carries over to the children or the next of kin. The rule is simply, if the artist passes away, their music falls into the public domain.

As much as I love Hendrix, I don’t agree with his relatives holding a copyright monopoly on his works.

However a lot of people (with a large corporation or corporations attached) stand to profit from long-term copyrights.

Anyone heard of Wu-Tang-Clans single album that has an 88 year copyright caveat. What this means is that the person who paid something like $5 million dollars for has to wait 88 years to hear it. This is what happens when music is turned into something that is not music. The fans that made the group popular are not able to hear it, because greedy people attached to the group want to profit from it.

For those that do read my posts, you will note that I have mentioned a lot of times that fans of artists are not purchasing music anymore. They are purchasing art packaged as a must have for collectors. I always use Machine Head’s “Killers and Kings” Record Store Day single release with four different covers. Yep, I purchased all four singles and guess what, they are still in the shrink-wrap.

So if you need anymore proof that sales of music is all about collectables then look no further than Metallica’s “No Life Til Leather” cassette release for Record Store Day.

You see, releasing music should never be about the new album only. Music was never designed to be about locking yourself away for a year or for months in a studio while you record your new master opus. Music was never designed to be about spending months and months on promotion and marketing. Music was never designed to give rise to large copyright monopolistic corporations. However that is where music has come to.

Because it is these large copyright monopolies that have lobbied hard for internet service providers (ISP’s) around the world to store and then hand out the personal information of their users to these greedy corporations.

All in the name of copyright infringement.

What the large copyright groups have done, via their cashed up lobby groups is bypass legal process. If an internet user has been falsely accused, well, too bad. The burden (and a costly one at that) to prove that you are innocent is on the user, as the way the anti-piracy laws are written, there are basically no consequences for a copyright monopoly business from making false accusations.

I guess this is what it means to live under the laws written by corporations.

 

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

Are You in Music To Create Art Or For The Money

Blame MTV.

In the Eighties MTV made everyone believe that the music business was all about platinum albums. It made everyone believe that they had an entitlement to be paid if they just created music. It made everyone believe that success was measured on where you sat on the charts and how many records got sold. What got lost in all of this was the real people of the music business. While MTV celebrated the bands and artists that got the platinum and gold awards, it sent out a message to all aspiring artists that if you just write a song and get signed the same thing would happen.

From day dot, musicians always earned their keep by creating first and than performing. A lot of the times they performed for free. Times have always been hard for creative musicians. Just because some artists have Diamond Certifications on their walls does not mean that the rest of the musicians do. And the truth is money has ruined art. It doesn’t matter how good or bad something is, it’s all about how much money it makes. And songs written in that fashion will not last.

Which is a shame as a lot of up and coming artists are all about conformity. They want to be a member of the group. They don’t want to let their freak flag fly. Everyone wants to be liked. All this does is make everybody just like everybody else. The reason why artists became superstars is that they had a uniqueness about them. They had rough edges that connected with people.

And for all of those people who see live music as the saviour obviously haven’t toured. Touring is a tough gig because so many people who shouldn’t take a piece of the pie do. The label gets a cut (why), management gets a cut (why), the booking agent gets a cut (on top of the booking fees they charge the fan), the crew gets a cut (which is expected), the lawyers get a cut (why), the tour budget gets a cut (so that the band rolls from one city to another) and the band gets a cut (to keep up their repayments and for life expenses). But people know all this and they still get involved with music.

Why?

Because they want to create art.

So if you are an artist and you care about money then you don’t belong in the music world. Fakes, artists with no backbone or artists with an entitlement complex, please do not apply. Music is not a safety net or a pension scheme.

If you care about art, then welcome and start creating.

Take a leaf out of the Coheed and Cambria playbook.

They buck social trends with their concept albums, their comic book stories and their creative ways of releasing their albums. Even in a world that is stopping to buy albums, Coheed and Cambria have found unique ways to feed content to their fan base and this results in a ton of cash to them in the process. But it all comes down to the art and now that they are on their own, they are exploring more possibilities. They signed with Columbia Records as a successful indie artist and then when it came time to part ways from the majors, they ventured off on their own and became independent. What they do works for them and their fan base. It doesn’t mean that it will work for everyone.

Artists are more known today for a song or a body of songs instead of a body of albums.

There is a fan base out there that will like the song “Lift Me Up” from Five Finger Death Punch and not know from what album it came from.

There will be fans at a live gig that have never paid for recorded music.

That’s life right now.

Standard