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

Music Is A Relationship Between Artist And Fan

With chaos comes opportunity.  For centuries, progress is made from learning how to deal with the chaos.

Copyright is in a chaotic state. The corporations who hold the rights to valuable art, are fighting battles against infringement, organising web blocking and are trying their best to get stricter copyright enforcement laws passed while also lobbying hard to extend copyright terms. As if the current “life plus 70 years after death” term is not long, enough.

In addition, these copyright monopolies don’t want works entering the public domain, so in the late 90’s these large organisations got a law passed that would prevent works meant to enter the public domain from not entering until 2019.

For those that don’t know, the public domain is culture. Keith Richards once said, ‘you can’t copyright the blues.’ Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Elvis Presley and all of the sixties greats took songs from the Public Domain and built a highly lucrative career from it.

Culture is built and expanded by sharing stories and building on the works of others. But the Copyright organisations have manipulated and changed copyright so much, it’s far removed from its purpose of giving creators a short term monopoly on their works, so they have an incentive to create more works.

Short terms meant 14 years to 28 years depending if the artist renewed their work.

Works that should be in the public domain do not benefit the original creators in any way. The majority of them have passed away, however these works (the valuable ones) are beneficial for the few copyright monopoly gatekeepers.

For culture to thrive once again, it is important to respect the public domain. If you want another 60’s culture explosion, we need to have a public domain.

It’s not going to be easy, because you have the RIAA who continually push lies out into the world, so that technology companies can do something to protect the labels crap business models. You have ISP’s who are fighting their own battles about what their users do on the net. You have the techies who provide services, using channels supported and owned by the ISP’s. You have the various lobby groups for the public, for the techies, for the ISP’s and for the labels/movie studios. And when these tribes come into a room, it’s exactly what Frankie sings, they go to war.

And nowhere in the mix is the artist and the customer. Because in the end, it’s the relationship the customer has with the music/art which creates value. The labels claim they are there to represent the artists, which is complete BS. The labels are there to represent themselves.

For the recording business to thrive, you need the artist to create and you need a customer to become a fan and connect with the art, so they could be monetised. If that relationship is not happening, all of the other crap going on is pointless.

If you are an artist, you need to realise your fans are king. Exceptional fan service is the key driving force behind a bands success. It’s good old business 101, “treat your customers right and they’ll stay with you forever”.  Because if you build a community of customers and are serving these dedicated customers with something great, then you would expect profits to go up.

In all of the wars happening around access to music, the most important one, the artist and the fan connection, is continually ignored. Don’t be an artist that falls into that trap.

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

Playlists And Streaming

Spotify is growing. The pop artists or the cross-over artists from other genres into the pop world are getting into the 100 plus millions/billions listens. And the high counts are due to two things;

  • Spotify Playlists.
  • Listeners Playlists

If a song is added to the most followed playlists, then the listens go up.

There is a “Rock In The 2000’s” playlist created by Spotify and if you check the songs on it and then check the streams the songs have on the artist account, you will see those songs on the playlist dwarf the rest of the catalogue. For example, “Chop Suey” from System Of A Down is on the Spotify playlist and the listens of Chop Suey is exponentially higher than the remainder of SOAD’s catalogue.

“Drake doesn’t lock himself into an album cycle. When Drake wants to put out music and he feels like it’s ready, Drake puts out music. So it’s not the typical, “I’m gonna put out two singles, then launch my album, then go on tour, then wait two years and go back in the studio and release this music.” I think he really has captured that rhythm of how fans want to consume music.”
Spotify’s Troy Carter on Drake’s Streaming Success

Drake is as metal and rock as the soap in the bathroom is metal, however the lesson should be applied to all. New music is an invitation into the world of the artist. It’s not the only thing. Capture the moment and release when the song is ready, not many months later when the album is ready.

Platinum selling artist Mark Tremonti has released three albums in 2 years, and while Tremonti and Alter Bridge are on tour, he is spending his free time giving guitar lessons/doing guitar clinics as an additional income stream.

It is easier to find and less costly to release new music, leading to unpredictable successes from artists who might not have been discovered or produced an album in an earlier era.
Michael Luca and Craig McFadden – Harvard Business Review

And that’s the cold hard truth about music in 2016. Artists who normally wouldn’t be signed can suddenly record and release music into the world. The supply of new music over the last 10 years is way higher than the demand for new music. Hell, I listened to 950 plus unique artists on Spotify this year. I grew up in the 80’s with no more than 50 or so unique artists. Spotify has over 20 million songs that haven’t been listened to yet.

Sure, some of the Spotify playlists might be a PR exercise for the labels, in the end, it still comes down to the user, who still likes to have some a filter to push new music on them. But then the record labels would like to mislead people about how much it costs them to break an artist to the mainstream.

The truth is the labels don’t break artists. They can spend monies on the artist, the promotions and put them out into the market place, however it is the people who decide if the artist will break on through. And what we are seeing more are artists making it on the back of streaming and no radio support.

But times have changed: in a landscape dominated by services such as Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal and Amazon, it is possible to have a hit without the press and radio (or much of the public) even noticing you. Kiiara, hardly a household name, is currently enjoying a global hit with Gold, off the back of 312m streams on Spotify alone. (Other services don’t make their numbers public.) You could look at British artist James TW, whose song When You Love Someone has 35m streams. Then there’s Australian teen Joel Adams, whose one and only song Please Don’t Go has chalked up 320m streams on Spotify.
Peter Robinson – Guardian Writer

Yeah, I got no idea who the above artists are and none of them are really rock or metal, but the possibilities are there for unknown metal and rock bands to become streaming behemoths without the support of record labels and radio stations. However, having a high streaming listen count doesn’t automatically correlate to concert ticket sales or sales of recorded music, much in the same way Facebook likes/followers never equal sales. The artist will need to work even harder to convert those listeners into real fans, because a lot of streaming users are casual fans who like to check songs out.

 

In the back-end of Spotify, for instance, fans are split into three categories: streakers (who have listened to the artist every day in the last week), loyalists (who have listened to them more than to any other over the past 20 days), and regulars (who listened to the artist on the majority of the days in the month
Peter Robinson – Guardian Writer

Spotify is building the data banks instead of the labels. Apple already has the databank. The labels have done nothing in this regard. So as an artist, who do you want to partner with?

And finally, there are the playlists. The more playlists the songs are added to, the more exposure the songs will get and this is where the old gatekeeper model comes into play. How does a rock or metal band get their songs onto a Spotify created playlist that has over a million followers?

STREAMING – changing the music business again
STREAMING – artists who made it huge without radio support
STREAMING – Swedish artists benefiting from streaming 
RECORD LABELS – breaking an artist 
SONGWRITER WHO SOLD HIS SONGS FOR A FEE AND IS UNKNOWN

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A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit, Unsung Heroes

Music Business Brewtality

Put all the myths aside and lets not carry the delusion on any longer.

The music scene is brutal.

Anyone heard the song “Chainsaw Charlie (Murders In The New Morgue)” from WASP.

For those that have heard the song you would know what I mean. For those that haven’t heard the song, Charlie is the President of show biz who feeds on the pop stardom dreams in wannabe artists by promising to make them a star. After those artists make Charlie millions, their careers are chopped up by Charlie and his Chainsaw and discarded to the morgue just for someone younger to take their place.

In other words the junkyard of broken rock n roll dreams is piled high with the souls of artists who didn’t meet the commercial milestones that the record labels were after.

And when an artist sees that all they are worth is just an income generating machine, they start to change. Some can’t handle it and they may end up dead. Others deliver albums that polarized their fan base. Others just play the game and keep on delivering the same album over and over again. And then there are others that deliver more ground breaking work.

We all know that in the pre-Internet era, signing with a label was the only choice an artist had if they wanted to have a career in the music industry and of course, like all great monopolies the labels exploited that power and position. And I use the “career” word loosely, because we should all know by now that the monies earned by 1% of the artists prop up the whole business which in turn means that a lot of artists never really had musical careers. Sure they rode on a wave and had some cash thrown at them, however once the wave crashed down, so did their so called careers.

But the internet was supposed to level the playing field and in a way it did, however what didn’t change was the need for artists to still require a record label to be heard above the noise. Of course there are a lot of artists that are DIY artists and are quite happy to be so. However they are competing with a shitload of other artists that are DIY and Label artists.

From October last year you had Sixx:A.M, Exodus, Slipknot, Sanctuary, Texas Hippie Coalition, Scar Symmetry, Devin Townsend, Sister Sin, At The Gates, Black Veil Brides, Cavalera Conspiracy, Machine Head, Pink Floyd, Foo Fighters, In This Moment, Nickelback, AC/DC, Angels And Airwaves, Smashing Pumpkins, Marilyn Manson, Papa Roach, Periphery, Blind Guardian, Lynch Mob, Alpha Tiger, Sweet and Lynch, Serious Black, Eclipse, Harem Scarem, Level 10, Crazy Lixx, Rated X, Allen/Lande, Vega, Dalton plus a plethora of re-issues, best offs and live releases. All of these releases are on labels.

Then you go onto Bandcamp and you start to see hundreds more being self-released.

Just in one day, February 4, 2015 there were over 40 new metal releases. Now think about all of the new music hitting the net in this fashion and that was just for the metal tag on bandcamp. So with so much new music out there, how can fans find an artist and if they do, how much time will these fans invest in the artist before new music from another artist comes their way.

And that is why the music business is brutal.

Brutality Number 1:

We all know about record label mistreatment and greed. Seen this study recently about streaming monies and how they are actually distributed from the streaming platform. Click on the link and find out who is keeping the majority of the money. Trust me there are no surprises there however the take away of the study is that it was commissioned by a Record Label association and they state that it is perfectly okay for the labels to keep the majority of the streaming money because of the costs they incur to record and  upload the actual music.

Brutality Number 2:

But the real brutality in the music business is finding and then keeping an audience and once that audience is found, it needs to be replenished year after year as original fans drop out, so new ones need to come on board.

The biggest killer of the Eighties bands like Dokken, Kingdom Come, Anthrax, Skid Row, Yngwie Malmsteen and many others that had platinum albums is that their fan base didn’t get replenished as quickly as it was dissipating.

Seen interviews recently of some of the above artists. They are confused and wondering what the hell happened to those million plus fans who purchased some of their Eighties LP’s. They assumed that just because they sold a million records they had a million fans. They cant compute that people might have purchased their record, listened to it once and then never played it again. They cant compute that people might have purchased their record, listened to it once and then hocked it to a second hand store. And seriously how accurate are those stats anyway.

Soundscan metrics came in around 1991 and at least these metrics are based on sales from shops. But the fact that a large part of my metal and rock collection is from second-hand shops, well those sales don’t even rate a mention as an official sale/fan. Dokken and Malmsteen are two artists that came into my life in this fashion. Hell, Twisted Sister, Metallica, Blind Guardian, WASP and Megadeth came to me via dubbed copies of their albums on cassettes. So how does that compute as a sale/fan.

How much money do you think I have invested in those bands afterwards in merch, ticket sales and recorded music purchases? Trust me a lot.

So that is why the music business is BRUTAL towards the artists as the artists who create the music are clueless and the labels are more so, because FANS don’t just come from sales of recorded music.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Everyone Is Building Their Business On The Backs Of Artists

So all the news outlets are glossing over the 1.3 million sales of the new Taylor Swift album. As is the norm everyone in the mainstream media is trumping up the irrelevant and they are totally ignorant to the reality that exists in the music business. The reality is that more and more people are using streaming services.

So where do all of the profits go to from the 1.3 million sales. There is a common viewpoint put forward by the record labels that the music industry (which is funny how they refer to the recording industry as the music industry) is in dire straits. They blame piracy. The artists blame streaming services even though Spotify pays 70% of every dollar they get to the record labels and the music publishers. Pandora pays about 55% to 60% of every dollar they get to the record labels and the publishers.

In music, the deals between record labels and artists have two levels; a) a royalty percentage for recorded music that is sold like a CD, a VINYL album or a digital download and b) a different percentage for music that is licensed for use in a film, and other types of promotions like commercials, sporting events and so forth.

Different artists have different deals. Imagine being an artist, and the retailers get 30% of your music while the record labels keep more than 80% of the money they receive.

In the digital world, many artists like Enimen and Dave Coverdale have successfully argued that digital services are being licensed by labels and thus the licensed royalty amount should apply. Def Leppard couldn’t agree with their label and that is why their output is not on digital services. However we have current forgeries that the Def Leppard band re-recorded.

Retailers have built their business on the backs of artists. The record labels have built their business on the backs of artists. The live tour promoters have built their businesses on the backs of artists. The music publishers/rights organisations have built their business on the backs of artists. Radio has built its business on the backs of artists. It looks like everyone is building their business on the backs of artists except the artists themselves.

And how does all of this tie in to what fans of music want.

A digital music study that came out of the Nordic countries is being forgotten at this moment in time. For the uninitiated, the Nordic countries Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland are the earliest adopters of streaming services in a mainstream way and their growth of their recording industry is seen as a model for the rest of the world to follow.

So what we have is Spotify who has an estimated 7 million users in Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden. This is about 18% of Spotify’s worldwide reach. The takeaway is that 78% of Nordic Internet users are digital music consumers (an estimated 13.8 million), having used services such as YouTube, Spotify, Wimp or iTunes for accessing music content. Of those 78%, 20% said they had paid for some form of digital music, either downloads or streaming. YouTube was the most popular.

Fans of music like to listen to music for free and with each generation growing up this is more prevalent. However all of those organisations that built their businesses on the backs of music sales don’t like it. Got to give it to the technology retailers for adapting to an ever-changing marketplace. iTunes downloads are down however Apple are preparing for it with their own streaming service. Spotify is now offering one family account, which makes total sense, so expect Spotify’s premium user base to rise.

It’s a brave new fragmented world and it will be for a few more years, until streaming services in the large North American markets take a real foothold. Then watch out for a new battle to begin between artist and record label for unpaid monies.

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

THE CCC!! Capitalist Copyright Crap And How The New Breed Of Artist Will End Up Making More Than The Old Breed Of Artist

We live in a capitalist society. The wealthy dominate us and anyone who gets in the way gets their dues. Don’t believe me, then tell my why copyright laws are at their most protective.

Once upon a time in a galaxy far far away, the copyright length was set at 14 years with an option to renew it for another 14 years after which the work falls into the public domain. This was enough incentive for the people of that era to enjoy the profits from sales of their works and be encouraged to write more. What was made clear back then was that the ultimate beneficiary in all of this was the public. Then copyright was expanded to 42 years, then 56 years, then life plus 50 years and now it is life plus 70 years. Throughout all of the copyright term extensions, each passing was heavily supported by the ones that held the power, like book publishers, film studios and record labels.

“I worked half of my life for free. I didn’t really think about that one way or the other, until the masters of the record industry kept complaining that I wasn’t making them any money…. As I learned when I hit 30 +, and realized I was penniless, and almost unable to get my music released, music had become an industrial art and it was the people who excelled at the industry who got to make the art. I had to sell most of my future rights to keep making records to keep going.”
Iggy Pop – John Peel Lecture 2014

So what went wrong with copyright.

MONEY is what went wrong.

When people in the recording/entertainment business got very rich for doing absolutely nothing, they decided that they needed to pay their local politician a visit, send them some money and get laws enacted that helped to protect their monopolistic business models.

Don’t you just love how the powerful lobby groups like the RIAA and their stooges talk about “piracy” and how “piracy corroded the livelihoods of musicians who put blood, sweat and tears in creating those works”.

Don’t you just love how they seem to forget how the labels employed creative accounting to ensure that almost no album ever recouped.

And isn’t it funny how the RIAA and their stooges don’t want to talk about the antiquated recording contracts that the labels still get artists to sign. Maybe back in the day it was okay for record companies to keep 80% of the revenues as it was a costly exercise to produce, distribute and promote their fledgling talent’s works. But in 2014, especially with all of the different ways that music is monetized, aren’t these old contracts really out of touch with the real world.

So while the old breed of artists like the top 1% who accounted for at least 80% of the recording business revenue bemoan the new recording industry, the new modern breed of artists understand that online music is essentially a promotional vehicle for live performances. I also predict that these modern breed of artists will end up making more money than their heroes.

I seriously believe bands like Avenged Sevenfold, Shinedown, Five Finger Death Punch, Volbeat, In This Moment, Halestorm and so on, will make more money in the long run than Metallica, Motley Crue, Kiss and so on.

Why?

The new breeds have leaner organisations than their counterparts and they are more knowledgeable than their counterparts.

What I mean by this is that the new breed of artists don’t have to deal with expensive recording budgets like the artists of old. They don’t have to deal with distribution and breakage costs like the artists of old. They have a better understanding of economics and accounting principles. The new breed is more diversified. Their business is not all about recording and touring. They are branching out into different industries and they are finding interesting and innovating ways to connect with their audiences.

So watch out for the new breeds.

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

YouTube

Do you want an audience or a fan base?

An audience will go and check out a song after being instructed to do so. The fan base will choose what song to play or what album to play when they want to.

It’s always the techies that are getting it right for the music industry. They can see how to make dollars in between all of those ones and zeroes.

“An audience changes the channel when their show is over. A fan base shares, it comments, it curates, it creates.”

YouTube’s global head of entertainment Alex Carloss said the above.

So where do you stand as an artist.

Do you have an audience? People who are directed to check you out?

Or do you have a fan base, people who share, comment, create playlists and do everything else.

It is a global world and YouTube is a platform that can reach all corners of the world. The reason why it is so popular is that while the major labels procrastinated over how much they would get from the streaming services, YouTube entered via the backdoor and became the leader. And it wasn’t even licensed.

Recent research has shown that by not having your music on YouTube could lead to an increase in music sales. What this clearly shows to me is that there are more factors out there that have led to reduced sales of recorded music than piracy alone. It also shows the shift of people’s listening habits. But wait, Neil Young and the Ponos team still reckon we need studio quality files. Yep, good luck with that.

If you are not using YouTube to promote yourself, then you are doing it all wrong and your career is challenged.

Even if the record labels do not renew their licensing agreement with YouTube, it will still survive. Because it is the fans that want it. YouTube’s success is made by the people, who apart from going to listen to music or view videos, they also upload as well. If I want to hear a new release before I buy it I normally go to YouTube. The whole album is there. Spotify is good as well, however it’s search algorithms are rubbish, plus it doesn’t have everything there.

I wanted to listen to Badlands “Voodoo Highway” album recently. It’s not on Spotify, however YouTube has it. Unlicensed.

I wanted to listen to Don Dokken’s “Up From The Ashes” album recently. For both, I could have gotten the CD and played it or I could have plugged in the portable drive and played it from there, however that was too much effort. Spotify didn’t have it, but YouTube did. Again unlicensed.

The record labels get wined and dined by Apple for exclusivity around their streaming service. And then when the cash rolls in from another licensing agreement to them, the artists will complain that streaming is killing the music business.

NO.

The Record Labels are still killing the music business. Their own greed will kill off streaming services. A stream is not a sale, so the royalty rates that labels pay artists are bullshit. Because the labels classify a stream as a sale which in turn brings with it a lower royalty rate.

Because if a band can stand to make $24,000 for putting up a silent album on Spotify that has been streamed for a combined sum over 4.7 million, then surely the larger acts that have 40 million streams will be making better dollars.

But they don’t.

Because that low royalty rate per stream that Spotify pays, gets further diluted when the Record Label applies it’s 80/20 split to it. Then that low 20 percent is split again by managers, lawyers, band members, etc..

What about illegal downloading of music?

It is still going on and it will never stop because people still want to have the mp3.

14 years have passed since the Napster revolution and music lovers still don’t have a legal ad-supported peer-to-peer download service for mp3’s. It’s leaving money on the table if you ask me.

Do you know what one of the main income revenues is for the record labels?

Yep, its YouTube fan clips that go viral. The ones that have unlicensed music playing in the background. With the YouTube Content ID system, labels can claim the clip as theirs and then reap the benefits that the clips views bring in.

Even Governments fear it. Turkey’s government blocked access to YouTube when an audio recording of top civilian and military officials appeared, which involved high-level security talks on Syria. The Government has classed it as illegal content. I see it as a form of censorship.

YouTube was seen as the enemy to TV stations and to the Music Industry. Now it is their greatest ally, only if they know how to use its potential. Expect to see the various YouTube networks become bigger than the movie studios in the future. Because they realise that it’s not all about the blockbuster effect. Releasing content more frequently is king.

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Music

Double Threats

There is an article doing the rounds at Noisecreep about rockers who branch out into some other venture (like another successful band) or something that is beyond the musical medium.

So of course the lists focuses on the “SuperStar”. First here is the list from Noisecreep.

10. Mike Shinoda from Linkin Park / Fort Minor

9. Chris Jericho from Fozzy and Professional Wrestling

8. Henry Rollins from Black Flag / Rollins Band (I am adding acting to this)

7. Marilyn Manson

6. Maynard James Keenan from Tool / A Perfect Circle / Puscifer

5. Jared Leto from Thirty Seconds to Mars and acting

4. Dave Grohl from Foo Fighters / Them Crooked Vultures / Nirvana / Scream

3. Corey Taylor from Slipknot / Stone Sour / Author

2. Rob Zombie from Rob Zombie / White Zombie / Directing

1. Nikki Sixx from Motley Crue / Sixx: A.M. + Radio DJ, Book Author and Photographer

What about the artists that are not superstars?

The artists below are doing an unbelievable job or have done an unbelievable job to remain a double threat in the music business.

1. Claudio Sanchez from Coheed and Cambra / Prized Fighter Inferno + Comic / Book Author

2. Adam Dutkiewicz from Killswitch Engage / Times of Grace + Producing

3. Digital Summer (the whole band) – They hold down normal day jobs and they are also a successful modern rock band.

4. Randy Blythe from Lamb of God + successful photographer

5. Robb Flynn from Machine Head + successful blogger

6. John Sykes from Whitesnake / Blue Murder / Solo Artist / Thin Lizzy tribute

7. Joe Satriani – Solo Artist / Chickenfoot / guitar teacher

8. Slash from Guns N Roses / Slash’s Snakepit / Velvet Revolver / Solo Artist + Motion Pictures

9. Doug Aldrich at one stage was playing guitar for Whitesnake and Dio at the same time. Also involved with Burning Rain.

10. David Draiman from Disturbed / Device + Producer

11. Protest The Hero (the band) – successful fan funded band and campaigners.

12. Kevin Churko – Successful Producer / Songwriter and Studio Owner

Original Noisecreep Article: http://noisecreep.com/best-double-threat-rockers/

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