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

Random Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Of course not.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another that got my attention was the following;

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

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

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

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

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

It’s COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT.

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

What the people have done is COPY the work.

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

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

Australian Music Scene – The Rise Of The Indies

Australian Music is ALWAYS a rich vibrant scene. And it is a scene that is underpinned by Independent artists. These independent artists are the real battlers, the one’s that carry the load of the vibrant music scene. Financially it is a miserable livelihood however the emotional experience is rewarding. And there is no escaping that Australian Independent artists are some of the hardest working artists and also the lowest paid members of the Australian workforce. The sad thing is that the elite levels of Government have no idea about the Independent artists. Any Government funding goes to the large Industry bodies who don’t really disperse the monies to the artists doing the rounds on the streets.

In music we have APRA/AMCOS, ARIA, AMIN, AIR, AMA and so many other local and state bodies. So all of these industry groups and associations are part of the music industry. Their main source of income is derived from Independent artists and Government Grants. The same independent artists that are living on or below the poverty line. For these artists, the larger music industry bodies are faceless monoliths that put profit first. While they may serve the major players in the Australian music industry, they do nothing for the rest. It is another example of taking care of the one percenters and forgetting about the rest.

The solution is for the mainstream to support and nurture independent artists. These music industry bodies need to ensure that all of the diversity and innovation created by the independent sector is supported and nurtured. Because the independent sector is the oxygen of the mainstream industry bodies. Once you cut them off and the major bodies will suffocate.

That is why it is great to see that 80% of the nominations for the latest ARIA Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Album Of The Year category were released “independently”. For the uninformed independent or “indie” is basically an artist or a record label that has no connection to a major label or interference from a major label. In most cases it is the DIY style of artist. However with everything that deals with the music business, the definition is more complex than it should be. Most indie labels operate without major labels interference, however they all still use the distribution and promotion arms of the major labels.

For example, Sumerian Records is an independent label in the US. They have distribution deals with the Alternative Distribution Alliance (ADA), who is the independent music and film distribution arm of Warner Music Group who is a major label.

Going back to the bands nominated for the Hard Rock/Heavy Metal ARIA, A DZ Deathrays “Black Rat” album was released on the independent label “I OH YOU” who has an affiliation with Mushroom Records who is owned by Warner Music Group. The Amity Affliction’s “Let The Ocean Take Me” and Shihad’s “FVEY” where released on Roadrunner Records who is a subsidiary of Warner Music Group. Sleepmakeswaves “Love Of Cartography” album was released through Australian independent record label Bird’s Robe Records, which is distributed through MGM Distribution in Australia. In 2013, UK label Monotreme Records licensed their album for an international release across the UK, Europe and North America. This is a true independent band and label in my eyes. High Tension’s “Death Beat” is under license to independent label Cooking Vinyl Records, who uses RED Distribution for U.S distribution and it is also owned by Sony.

Look at some of the successful crowd funding campaigns independent artists have taken.

In Australia, heavy rock band, “I Am Voyager” went to their fans with a goal of about $10,000 and ended up getting $18,000 plus. In the U.S, Protest The Hero went to market with a goal of about $115,000 and ended up getting $300,000 plus. Haste The Day went to market with a goal of $65,000 and ended up getting $139,276. Emery went to market with a goal of $50,000 and ended up raising $110,815. Spocks Beard went to their fans for their 11th album with a goal to raise $25,000 and ended up raising $69,119. Trapt had a goal to raise $50,000 and ended up raising $56,634. Chimaira went the crowd funding route for a fan edition CD-DVD of their CROWN OF PHANTOMS album with a goal of $30,000 and they ended up raising $60,758.

Independently minded musicians and label owners are the ones that are pushing boundaries in music because they want control over what’s being released, when it’s released, and how it’s released. And they are not afraid to use the major labels when it suits them, but ultimately they’re calling the shots.

So I am sick and tired of hearing the RIAA and major label rhetoric about how artists put in their blood, sweat and tears into their music and because of piracy they don’t have a say about how it is released. The “Indies” are finding new and creative ways all the time. For a musician it is an exciting time to be a part of the music scene. Especially if you are an indie.

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Music, My Stories

A Day In The Life of Sevendust, Soundwave and AJ Maddah

I purchased tickets to watch Sevendust open up for Creed as part of their Australian Tour back in March 2002. ONE week before the tour started, Sevendust pulled out due to “undisclosed unforeseen circumstances.” In their place was a band called “Crash Palace”. I was like WHO. I didn’t purchase tickets to watch Creed and Crash Palace. I purchased tickets to watch Sevendust only.

As a Sevendust fan I was disappointed. A week after they announced the “undisclosed unforeseen circumstances” press release, drummer Morgan Rose said that the reason why the band pulled out was that John Connolly’s grandmother passed away and he needed to be there. Also Clint Lowery married his long-time girlfriend and needed to spend more time with her.

In March 2004, Sevendust toured Australia as headliners with support from Sunk Loto and Full Scale. At that time I wasn’t financially viable and I didn’t end up going to the shows.

In May 2006, Sevendust cancelled a planned UK/European tour due to a “lack of tour support”.

In March, 2008, Sevendust toured Australia again.

Then Sevendust where on schedule to appear with Avenged Sevenfold. I didn’t mind Avenged Sevenfold, however I purchased tickets based on Sevendust appearing. Then in July, two weeks before the Australian tour commences, they issued the following message;

“Unfortunately we will not be making the trip to Australia this time with A7X. We will be making plans to come back soon. So sorry for any inconvenience and look forward to our next tour there.”

In 2010, Sevendust pulled the plug on their European tour earlier than scheduled for “circumstances beyond their control” .

In 2011, Sevendust made the trip to Australia, playing Soundwave and they also did a few Sidewave Shows as well.

In November 2013, Sevendust dropped off the “From Death To Destiny Tour” with Asking Alexandria, All That Remains, Emmure and For Today several dates earlier due to a “personal family matter.”

Now we have this issue of the Soundwave cancellation. The way the parties tell it is that the band asked for assistance with additional costs and if Soundwave/AJ Maddah didn’t agree to the request, Sevendust still had a Plan B to get to Australia. However, the rejection from Soundwave/AJ Maddah was a swift denial of their request for additional assistance and a cancellation of their Soundwave spot.

Okay, as a fan it is disappointing when a band you like and purchase tickets to go and watch, don’t end up showing up. Based on the above, Sevendust has built up a healthy trend of cancelling tours. The Australian tour cancellations are always hard to swallow as they happen a week or two before the shows are meant to start while some of the other tours have been cancelled mid-way.

It’s very easy to get caught up on the cancellations and forget the amount of shows that Sevendust play each year. Go to Google and type in “setlist.fm Sevendust”.

In 2013, Sevendust played 116 shows.

For comparison sake, Bon Jovi played 106 shows. Five Finger Death Punch played 78 shows. Coheed and Cambria played 97 shows. Shinedown played 103 shows. Volbeat played 131 shows. Avenged Sevenfold who had the most successful album of 2013 in the metal genre played only 49 shows.

The only band to eclipse Sevendust in the “Road Warrior” title of the year is Volbeat.

2012 was a lean concert year for Sevendust, playing only 19 shows.

In 2011, Sevendust played 120 shows.

To compare again, Bon Jovi played 65 shows. Five Finger Death Punch played 46 shows. Coheed and Cambria played 44 shows. Shinedown didn’t play any shows in 2011, however in 2010 they played 101 shows and in 2012 they played 128 shows. Volbeat played 97 shows. Avenged Sevenfold played 120 shows and shared the honours with Sevendust in the “Road Warrior” title of the year.

2010 saw Sevendust play 69 shows.

So what does the above tell you about Sevendust. They are bloody hard workers, who put in a lot of miles to perform to their audience. Of course it is disappointing that they have had to withdraw from a few Australian tours, however they are in the music business. With any business, why should anyone do something at a loss or if they can’t make any money from it. The only crime from Sevendust is not being transparent enough. We live in an information society and the fans wanted the information straight from the band.

As the war of Twitter words escalated, the story started to become clearer however that was all too late. The band has the attention of their fans via Facebook and other social media outlets. They should use that notice board to communicate with them in a proper personal way, not in the PR way of “unforeseen circumstances beyond our control”.

For any band to tour Australia it is a costly exercise. With our declining dollar, it will make it even more costly. I remember the nineties and the early two thousands. Not a lot of metal bands toured Australia when our dollar was worth 50 cents US. It wasn’t worth it.

AJ Maddah calls Sevendust pissweak for cancelling on him on three occasions. So what about the 314 shows the band has played since 2010. Three Australian tour cancellations vs 314 shows. I don’t call that pissweak.

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

Cog – Are You Interested? (Classic Song Waiting To Be Discovered)

I just finished reading an article from TorrentFreak about databases that store everything we do online. In light of the N.S.A surveillance scandal in the U.S, it is a timely reminder of issues that should matter to everyone.

On the one hand we have the entertainment companies moaning and complaining about piracy and the need for everyone else to do something for them in order to prop up their dated business models.

On the other hand, we have other IT companies taking up government contracts to COLLECT and STORE data on its own citizens. The observations range from web browsing habits, emails, Facebook activity, phone activities and text messages. All of this totalitarian overheads in the name of democracy and protection.

As I was finishing reading this article, a song from the super excellent Australian band COG came on. The song is called Are You Interested? and it more or less tells the listener that personal privacy in today’s society doesn’t exist. It was released on the excellent Sharing Space album from 2008. I loved this album back in 2008 and five years later I still love it. That to me equals a GREAT album.

I still can’t believe it has been 5 years. I remember watching them at Waves in Wollongong, on the Sharing Space tour.

Cog had their own groove going and a massive big sound for a three-piece. Lucius Borich was on drums, Flynn Gower on guitar and his brother Luke Gower on bass. It is a dead set shame that they never got a higher level of international recognition. I am sure they still had some of their best work to come.

On the album Sharing Space, Cog really went to town on the politics, especially around governments that do the bidding for the Corporations.

Yes they’re making lists of people interested in this
And they’re scanning all their databases
Hunting terrorists
Yes they’re making lists of people interested in this
And anyone who speaks their mind is labelled anarchist

So we know that the NSA collects and stores information from U.S. internet and telephone companies. All of the data goes to different data centres. As mentioned in Wired Magazine, these data centres will “intercept, decipher, analyse, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks.”

Sure sounds like a big list to me. I am just curious as to how many bad people the NSA/Prism scheme actually captured or prevented from doing anything nasty.

Barcodes and fingerprints
Obedience identikit

It’s like the book 1984. Actually one of my favourite movies, Equilibrium, is influenced by the concepts in 1984. Who is to say that the Government will not expand their data collection to medical data.

Yes, they’re making lists are you interested?
Yes, they’re making lists but maybe they’re the terrorists

It looks like the terrorists have won. America and other “democratic” nations have done a great job of destroying themselves in the aftermath of 9/11. Democracy is now a Police State.

The vocal style of Flynn is so unique, it makes the song remain in my head space for a long time after it is finished.

A bit of back story in relation to Cog. The band I was in during the time period between 2000 and 2004, opened up for Cog. This was the period of the Just Visiting Part 1 and Part 2 EP releases. As a live band, they killed it.

They knew which songs to open a set with so that they could pump everyone up. For the Just Visiting EP’s it was Moshiach, for the New Normal it was Doors and for Sharing Space it was No Other Way.

Another thing they did really well was their light show. For an independent band, they put a lot of effort into their live show. It changed for all three albums;
· Just Visiting had the Chinese lanterns
· The New Normal had the lasers and the spotlights
· Sharing Space had the strobes, traffic light and heater like lights

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