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

Score Card Inc

Three years ago in November, 2013, I posted a score sheet on certain artists/trends and how they are dealing with the music business.

Three years later, how are the artists fairing.

Robb Flynn
He still understands that it is not all about making records. From Nov 2013 to now, Robb Flynn via Machine Head, kept on releasing his Journals both video and written. In April, 2014, “Killers and Kings” came out for Record Store Day and the band went on tour. He started a clothing range called “Killers and Kings” that didn’t really take off. In November, 2014, “Bloodstone and Diamonds” came out and the band embarked on a lengthy “An Evening With” world tour. In June 1, 2016, “Is There Anybody Out There?” came out as a stand-alone single.

His connection with his audience runs deep. People either dig him or detest him or some people will not just forget him in an orange jumpsuit during the Nu-Metal phase of the band’s career.

Protest The Hero
Back in 2013, “Protest The Hero” showed how the record labels are so out of touch with its customers. PTH was dropped because the label told them they have no audience. However, a fan funding campaign showed a pretty impressive hard-core audience that was willing to cough up some serious dollars for the band. Even the band was blown away at the response.

And they did it again between Nov 2015 and April 2016 with “Pacific Myth” an innovative one song per month release over six months via Bandcamp. Fans had the option of two packages, and I selected the one that also had the six video releases. In between, the guys would upload drum videos, cooking videos, song transcriptions and what not.

Nikki Sixx
In 2013, he talked about a farewell tour. Well that tour finally happened and concluded in 2015. The Crue fan base didn’t really need one more world tour however, they wanted to finish up in their own way and the world tour is what we got, with a new song called “All Bad Things”. The movie is still in the works, they have their own pleasure toys, a rumour of The Dirt 2, plus lawsuits from photographers and opening bands to contend with. Seriously, squirting piss at a bunch of guys who paid $1 million to be on the tour would always end up in the courts.

With Sixx A.M. he has released an albums worth of music and the next album is coming in a few weeks. They are on tour with Five Finger Death Punch, he does his Sixx Sense Radio Show and he doesn’t like to wash his hands after going to the toilet.

Coheed and Cambria
By November, 2013, COCA had been touring non-stop on the back of “The Afterman” two album releases that came out within a 4 month window. Add to that Comic Con appearances, plus Sci-Fi conventions and appearances in Comic Shops and you get the idea that this band realises that it is not just about music and money. It is about creativity.

Since then, Claude Sanchez became a dad. He wrote more comics with his wife called “Translucid” in 2014 and in 2015 managed to release another slab of songs called “The Color Before The Sun” and go on a another world tour.

Metallica
Back in 2013, I wrote;

They need to make new music soon. There are only so many times that a band can go on a worldwide victory lap on the same piece of music. They need to be back in the studio.

Well, we are almost one week away from that new music hitting the streets and in the meantime, we have been treated to three tracks.
It’s a welcome relief to hear Metallica doing what they do best and I believe they have enough new music in their archives for another album to drop within two years this time, instead of eight.

And after hearing the album – yes it is available on the pirate sites, I can honestly say that it’s not worth the 8 year wait at all and maybe 4 song EP’s is the best way to go.

Dream Theater
I wrote in November 2013, that they need a great record soon or they will become yesterday’s news. Dream Theater has a knack for popping up with some goodies, like “Images and Words”, “Scenes From A Memory”, “Systematic Chaos” and “A Dramatic Turn Of Events”.

So in January 2016, they dropped the 130 minute “Astonishing” concept album, about a dystopian future society. Concept albums lead to different revenue spin offs like a stage play, comic book stories, video games, animations, TV series, a movie and so forth. But then again, Slayer are doing a graphic comic book series and have never done a concept album.

Stone Sour
I wrote in 2013, that something went south with their career trajectory. Of course, a beast called Slipknot would devour the creative forces of the band. Their take on modern metal is good, but with Slipknot getting more melodic, is there a reason for Stone Sour to exist.

Five Finger Death Punch
They have an audience who purchases and streams their product. Along the way, each album has received certifications for so many units moved. An onstage meltdown, a record label lawsuit and then a change of label has not slowed the band down in any way. If they can remain together, they will remain a powerhouse.

Trivium
Back in November, 2013, their new album “Vengeance Falls” was called a Disturbed covers album. The truth is, if people are talking about you, it is a good thing. And that album gave Trivium a concert classic in “Strife”. Since then, they released “Silence In The Snow” in 2015. They are always looking to reinvent themselves constantly while staying true to heavy metal. Plus Matt Heafy has a pretty cool Top 10 list of albums that changed his life.

1. Metallica – The Black Album (1991)
“A kid lent me The Black Album at school and it changed my life. I had never heard anything like it before, and I started playing guitar all the time.”

2. In Flames – Whoracle (1997)
“That was at the time of Napster, and I was into the classic great metal bands. I was on Napster and I found In Flames. I had never heard melodic death metal before, and it changed my ear on what kind of music I wanted to play.”

3. Queen – A Night At The Opera (1975)
“What I’ve always loved about Queen is that they’ve never released the same thing twice. Everything is drastically different while still sounding like Queen. Every song on A Night At The Opera sounds different to the next one and they all stand up as fantastic.”

4. Iron Maiden – Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son (1988)
“With Iron Maiden it’s hard, because I love so many of their records. They’re all so important. Seventh Son, though, is the one that really got me into Iron Maiden. It’s one of their more epic records; there’s vivid storytelling going on. Getting into Iron Maiden helped me trace the roots of the music that I love. I could see where so many metal, death metal and black metal bands had taken things from.”

5. Ihsahn – Eremita (2012)
“Emperor changed my life, and Ihsahn changed my life again with this album. He spun the idea of black metal on its head by incorporating jazz chords, interesting production and clean singing. That record taught me to never be afraid of making whatever I want to make. We’ve always done that, but this album drove that home for me.”

6. Boston – Boston (1976)
“The vocal production is insane. Everything about this record epitomises the best things of rock ‘n’ roll.”

7. The Beatles – Abbey Road (1969)
“The Beatles blow my mind in the same way that Queen do in that every song and record is so different to the last. Both of those bands have incredible songwriters as well. It’s not like nowadays where you might have one songwriter in a band.”

8. Emperor – Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk (1997)
“This is where Emperor really changed the dynamic of where black metal was going. Black metal was the rebellion to rock and metal, and was supposed to be different. “When there’s a movement like that, a lot of bands come out playing semi-similar music. That record opened up with clean guitar and there’s this classical singing; it has chaotic moments and beautiful moments all in one. Emperor makes such interesting black metal with these big dramatic moments.”

9. Depeche Mode – Violator (1990)
“Listening to Depeche Mode, you can hear that Rammstein is a combination of Depeche Mode and Metallica. Violator is one of the darkest, scariest records I’ve ever heard. It has this different kind of sadness that you feel in the music.”

10. The London Symphony Orchestra – Mozart’s Requiem (1791)
“The gothic artwork of that record is incredible, and this version for me is just the best. Listening to this, you can hear that out of all contemporary music, metal is the closest living relative to classical. It is the most epic moments of music that have always drawn me in, and I feel that with Mozart’s Requiem that is where you’re getting into the blueprint for everything that was to come.”

Shinedown
They have an audience who want to listen to them and so far, no one’s doing hard rock better than them. Their new album “Threat To Survival” has taken its influences from Adele, Imagine Dragons and other pop artists and they still made it rock hard. Daughtry and James Durbin should take note. Along the way, their fans purchased and streamed all the way to certification after certification.

Avenged Sevenfold
Say what you will about the “influences” on “Hail To The King”, doing that album was a bigger risk for Avenged Sevenfold then their new album and it paid off for them.

Fast forward to 2016, and their new album drops early. It is a creative tour de force but to me it’s already in the rear view. All of the good bits in each song are undone by the creativity of trying to push the boundaries.

Piracy
In 2013, I wrote that piracy is not that large of a problem as the majors and the RIAA make it out to be and with revenues in 2016, approaching the pre-Napster era, it’s further proof that piracy does not affect their bottom lines, especially when there are services out there that can compete with piracy.

Evergrey
The pure definition of perseverance with 20 plus years in the music business and still going strong.

By November 2013, the “new” version of the band that delivered “Glorious Collision” had splintered again and lead vocalist/guitarist Tom Englund was not sure on the next step. A reconnection with drummer Jonas Ekdahl and guitarist Henrik Danhage (who departed before “Glorious Collision”) spawned the excellent “Hymns For The Broken” in 2014 and a few months ago, “The Storm Within” builds on the atmospherics created by “Hymns”.

Megadeth
In 2013, Megadeth’s new album “Supercollider” was outsold by Metallica’s self-titled “Black” album. In 2015, Mustaine got his metal chops back and in 2016, “Dystopia” came out. Another Mustaine Resurrection was at hand.

Tremonti/Alter Bridge
Mark Tremonti knows it’s about putting new music out there and consistently. In 2013, we had “Fortress” from Alter Bridge. In 2015, we had “Cauterize” from Tremonti and 2016 has given us, “Dust” from Tremonti and “The Last Hero” from Alter Bridge. In three years, Tremonti has been part of 4 albums while Metallica ……

The Night Flight Orchestra
The best classic rock side project ever from Soilwork and Arch Enemy band members. The first album “Internal Affairs” came out in 2012 and the second “Skyline Whispers” in 2015. Essential listening to any hard rock fans of the 80’s.

Sales
In 2013, I wrote that sales are not the best metric to measure a bands reach and pull in the market. In 2016, listens are more important than sales.

Bullet For My Valentine
By November 2013, people had lost their “Temper Temper” with them, but in 2015, the band found their “Venom” again, which leads us to new music hitting the net in November 2016.

Revolution Saints
In 2013, this band existed in the head of the Frontiers President. In 2015, they released an excellent melodic AOR rock album. So much potential, so many good songs, great musicians and it all went to hell because Castronovo couldn’t keep his 5555t together. Let’s hope that Jack Blades and Doug Aldrich forgive him and they try for another album. This time with the three of them writing.

TesseracT
One of the hardest working progressive bands out there, building their fanbase, city by city. In 2011, they released “One”. In 2013, they released the excellent “Altered State” and in 2015 we got “Polaris”.

Days Of Jupiter
An unsung Swedish melodic groove rock band, that’s a cross between Evergrey and Disturbed. In 2012 they released “Secrets Brought to Life” and in 2015, “Only Ashes Remain” came out.

Sweet and Lynch
Another album would be sweet.

Muse
They play stadiums but they don’t have the same sales figures as the 70’s and 80’s legends. A perfect example of the modern world, in which massive single songs sell concert tickets.

Live
In 2013, I wrote;
Remember the excitement and the buzz of going to the show. It was uncontrollable. Everyone waiting in line to get inside, to watch a band that rules, in an era that music ruled. Today, it is too expensive to take kids to a concert and that is only for a glimpse in the back. This business needs a reset.

Concert ticket prices are still high, especially for the superstar acts. The price gauge happened as an offset to dwindling revenues from recorded sales, however with recorded music revenue now as high as the pre-Napster era, there is no reason for the high concert ticket prices.

Slash
As an artist, he didn’t need to go back to Gunners. He had enough momentum to keep going as a solo artist and with Myles Kennedy, a better front man than Axl Rose. Slash kept on releasing new music consistently, while Duff and Axl complained of piracy and artistically were dead in the water. Money triumphs over creativity and in this case, it’s really sad.

Album
Back in 2013, I wrote how everyone talks about the money that is lost due to piracy as album sales shrink. Back then 20% of the tracks on Spotify have never been played. So what is the point of the album, when people ignore the songs that are not “hits”. When I go to Spotify and I come across an artist I haven’t heard before, I go to their Spotify page and hear the tracks in their top 10 list. Those tracks in most cases are pulled from many different albums.

And if any of those tracks connect with me, I might dig deeper into the album.

Rodrigo Y Gabriela
Created by their love of metal and rock music and when that same genre put up roadblocks to a career in music, they changed tact and went all flamenco acoustic on the world. Talk about paying their dues and taking risks. They moved from Mexico and took a chance in Europe. Over an 8 year Dublin residence, they honed their style and songs, so when their “official” debut album hit in 2006, what seemed like an overnight sensation was 15 years in the making.

There is nothing more difficult in the world then trying to make it as a musician. You need to show up day after day, week after week, year after year. And your brand or movement might just make some small gains. Then it hits a few speed bumps, like Rodrigo and Gabriela’s metal band losing their recording contract in 1997 and suddenly you are back at the start. But they kept on showing up, on the coast of Mexico and playing their acoustic guitars in the bars. Because showing up day after day, is the hardest part of making a difference. If you look at the history of the artists we like and admire, you will see many years in pursuit of their dreams.

It is a work of a lifetime to create an impact and build something of substance. In 2013, they were riding the highs of their 2012 “Area 52” collaboration, which involved re-working their best songs with a full flamenco band. Then in 2014, “9 Dead Alive” dropped and new music is needed ASAP.

Sebastian Bach/Skid Row
They shouldn’t get back together, because no one cares about Skid Row in the way they used too. They might have a large audience in Japan, like Dokken, but the rest of the “Youth Gone Wild” have moved on. Sebastian Bach is actually bigger than Skid Row and releases way better music than Skid Row have done without him. But, what was he thinking when he approved the photo for his memoir’s cover.

The Kindred
From Canada and the healthy progressive scene. They started off as “Today I Caught The Plague” from the ashes of another band called “A Legend Falls”. In 2011 they released the excellent “Lore” and went on tour with one of my favourite bands in Protest The Hero and their “Scurrilous Tour”. Then in 2013, a name change happened to “The Kindred” and the excellent “Life In Lucidity” came out at the start of 2014.

However, PTH needed a drummer for their “Volition” tour and it was no surprise that they tapped Mike Ieradi (who also co-founded the group) to fill the spot. Then in 2015, vocalist David Journeaux departed, with Johnny McArthur as their new vocalist and Kenny Saunders as their new drummer. So now I wait to see what comes next.

Streaming
Back in 2013, I wrote that everyone talks about the money which isn’t filtering down to the artist and how streaming is too entrenched to be replaced. Since then the record labels have grown their revenues on the back of streaming. Artists who negotiate deals with the streaming services like Metallica and Motley Crue have never complained about streaming. Suddenly, luddites Anthrax are not complaining and Scott Ian even mentioned how he believes streaming is the best thing to have happened to the recording industry.

Streaming is the future and those artist who don’t grow with this future will be too busy shrinking.

The Gaslight Anthem
They do the early 80’s Bruce Springsteen better than Bruce Springsteen these days. It was like a supergroup of independent musicians that came together in New Jersey in 2006. Their 2010 album, “American Slang” spawned an unexpected hit with the title track and “45” from their 2012 album “Handwritten” became their biggest hit. Since then, “Get Hurt” came out in 2014 and by July 2015, the band went on an indefinite hiatus.

Since the hiatus, singer Brian Fallon released a solo album called “Painkillers” in March 2016, and on April, 2016, a vinyl EP called “Georgia” was released for Record Store Day 2016 with a limited pressing run of 2,000 copies on 10″ vinyl. Let’s hope that “The Gaslight Anthem” get together for more music over the next three-year period.

Volbeat
Seen as overnight sensations however they are over 25 years in the business. It all started with “Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood” in 2008 and being added to the Metallica “Death Magnetic U.S. Tour”. Then in 2010, “Beyond Hell/Above Heaven” came out and while that was still selling, they released “Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies” in 2013 and they hit every major music market over and over again. Since then, they released “Seal the Deal and Let’s Boogie” and are continuing on their merry ways. For all the newbies, check out their streaming numbers. They are huge compared to other major label metal/rock acts.

Killswitch Engage/Times Of Grace
In 2013, Killswitch Engage released “Disarm the Descent”, their comeback album with Jesse Leach on vocals. And how good is “In Due Time” with brutal verses and an arena rock chorus. Then in February 2015, a new track called “Loyalty” appeared on “Catch The Throne: The Mixtape Volume 2” to promote “Game of Thrones”. They then toured and kept on working on “Incarnate” which finally came out on March 11, 2016. Since then, they toured and are planning on releasing a beer. Meanwhile, “Times of Grace” have five songs completed for a new album to come out, with their last one coming out in 2011.

Advertisements
Standard
Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy

P.S.T (Piracy, Streaming and Touring)

All the talk in the media from the old gatekeepers is that piracy is bad for the artists or that Spotify’s free music-tier is bad for artists.

So can someone tell me how Motley Crue is playing in Abu Dhabi?

If we lived in the world of the old gatekeepers, the record labels would be in control and Motley Crue would have sold hundreds of thousands of albums (on a consistent basis) in the UAE before it was even considered to tour there.

However, in the internet age, it is a much different world.

Motley Crue suddenly has an audience in the UAE.

Is this audience courtesy of piracy or legit sales or legit streams?

There is a strong indication that Motley Crue’s UAE audience is due to piracy.

Do you know the Middle East is a huge region when it comes to illegal P2P downloading?

The following statement found in the book “Introduction to Private Security” by John Dempsey sums it up perfectly;

In Europe, Middle East, and Australia, P2P traffic consumes anywhere between 49 percent and 89 percent of all Internet traffic in the day. At night, it can spike up to an astonishing 95 percent.

You can do some further reading on countries where P2P piracy is very high at the following link.

Even though it is from 2011, the data tells us a few things.

Eastern/Central Europe, South America, Asia, Australia and the Middle East have high rates of P2P piracy as regions.

When you break it up to countries, China, Colombia, India, Russia, Malaysia, Turkey, Taiwan, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and Italy lead the way.

So let’s look at some of the recent tours bands have undertaken.

Metallica in 2011 did the “2011 Vacation Tour” that focused on Europe, South America, Asia and for the first time ever, they took in India.

In 2012, Metallica undertook the “European Black Album Tour” that focused solely on Europe.

In 2013, Metallica undertook the “Summer Tour 2013” which took in again Asia, Europe, South America along with North America.

In 2014, Metallica did the “Metallica by Request” tour which again took in Europe and South America.

Is it coincidence or shrewd planning that Metallica has taken in those markets. Hell, India is known as a nation of P2P downloaders, however it hasn’t stopped Metallica or Iron Maiden touring there.

Iron Maiden’s “The Final Frontier” tour (2010/11)  took in Eastern Europe, along with Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, South Korea, Japan, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Puerto Rico.

The “Maiden England World Tour” (2013), took in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Chile and Eastern Europe again.

The “Somewhere Back In Time” tour  (2008/09) took in (apart from the North American and European markets) India, Australia, Japan, Mexico, Costa Rica, Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Puerto Rico. Then on the second leg it took in Dubai (UAE), New Zealand, India (again), Mexico (again), Costa Rica (again), Venezuela, Colombia (again), Ecuador, Brazil (again), Chile (again), Peru, Argentina (again).

The Bon Jovi “Because We Can” tour from 2013 took in Brazil, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, Mexico, Japan, Australia, China, Malaysia, Singapore, China (again), Abu Dhabi (UAE) and Israel.

This was on top of the normal European and North American markets.

The “Bon Jovi Live” tour set to kick off in September 2015, takes in China, Malaysia, Singapore, Macau, Abu Dhabi (UAE) and Israel.

Five Finger Death Punch haven’t been around as long as Metallica, Iron Maiden or Bon Jovi, however it still hasn’t stopped them from hitting Japan, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand on their recent “Wrong Side Of Heaven” tour.

Avenged Sevenfold’s “Far and Middle East Tour” from 2012, took in Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, Philippines, Malaysia and UAE.

Their “Hail To The King” from 2014 took in Brazil, Australia, Mexico, Chile and Argentina on top of the normal European and North American markets.

Their “Asian Tour 2015” will cover China, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, Indonesia and Hong Kong.

Again the question must be asked, is it coincidence or shrewd planning. Streaming services can tell the bands which countries or even cities are streaming their songs and at what rates. Other firms out there like Music Metrics can tell bands, which countries or even cities are illegally downloading their music.

All of this data, once in the hands of a person that knows what to do with it, is a marketers dream.

Articles always point out that “pirates” are the biggest spenders and after seeing large bands hit markets with high piracy rates and still sell out shows, I would agree with that assertion.

Piracy, Streaming and Touring go hand in hand.

Standard
Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity

The Copyright Pension/Annuity

When I started to write my own songs back in the late Eighties, copyright was not even in my mindset. You see, when you start to do something creative you do it because there is a sense of fulfillment and a desire to create.

From my own experiences, I never sat down with my guitar and said to myself, “Gee, lucky for me, there is a copyright law in place that lasts my whole lifetime, plus another seventy years after I die, to give me an incentive to create”.

Those kinds of thoughts never enter the mindset.

Which brings me to today and how the very nature of what Copyright is has been hijacked by large corporations and greedy next of kins.

The whole “Blurred Lines” case is a joke. For the record, it is a crap song that made a lot of cash. So what we have is a jury deciding if a song sounds similar to another song and for them to decide that it does sound similar, it more or less indirectly infers that Marvin Gaye was so original that his song “Got To Give It Up” came out of some celestial vacuumed place that only Marvin Gaye had access to. However, everyone knows that is not the case. All artists are the sum of their influences.

And what a said state of affairs for Copyright. You have the heirs of Marvin Gaye, who haven’t contributed anything to the arts and are living off the proceeds of a stupid law that extends Copyright 70 plus years after death. There are millions upon millions of songs out there that sound similar, however once a song makes some serious cash, the knives come out.

What I took out of the court case and what bodes well for music in general is the amount of money the track made.

$5.6 million in profits went to Robin Thicke while $5.2 million to Pharrell Williams, $700,000 to the other writer T.I. and the rest of the $16.7 million in overall profits went to the  record companies Interscope, UMG Distribution and Star Trak. Since Napster, we have been hearing the same rhetoric from the recording industry and out of touch artists.

Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley are renowned for their viewpoints on rock being dead and piracy killing off any chance a new artist has of making some money. Scott Ian wanted to disconnect people from the Internet. Nuclear Blast want to shakedown people who downloaded the music from “All Shall Perish”.

Meanwhile the record labels kept the propaganda machine going that they just can’t make any money because of piracy. So here is just one song that has made close to $17 million dollars in profits. One song, remember that.

So it goes back to the same old saying, create something that people gravitate too and watch it make you money. There is a shitload of money out there if artists can create a great song that people gravitate to.

Actually speaking of plagiarism, listen to the “Funky Town” vocal melody and then listen to the verse vocal melody in Kiss’s “Lick It Up”. They are identical. Hell, the whole “Sonic Highways” album from Foo Fighters is a case of influences. Same goes for the whole “Hail To The King” album from Avenged Sevenfold. Let’s add  “Kill Em All” from Metallica which was more or less a rip off the NWOBHM movement. Subsequent Metallica songs afterwards would further borrow from other cult/unknown artists.

Recently Five Finger Death Punch lifted “The Ultimate Sin” verse vocal melody and used it for the “Lift Me Up” verse. Dave Mustaine did the same both musically and vocally by lifting “Children Of The Grave” and using it for “Kingmaker.”

Thank god that Dave Grohl, A7X, Five Finger Death Punch, Dave Mustaine or Metallica didn’t decide to let a Marvin Gaye song influence them, otherwise they would be in the courts as the well.

I think it is pretty safe to say a lot of songs sound the same regardless of genre. I see it more as a tribute than a rip off and to be honest in no way does the new composition take away from the original. For example, there is no way that “Something From Nothing” from the Foo Fighters takes away from Dio’s “Holy Diver”.

But when you have a whole copyright industry that makes money of the works created by others, you get a lot of bullshit happening, especially when a song makes a lot of money.

Standard
Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity

The New World

The new world is hard. I don’t know about you, but I just cant figure it out. We all complain that no one is asking hard questions for fear of being left outside alone and then when we get into a similar position we also succumb to those vices. It’s like we sell out our ideals to go mainstream.

But is anybody paying attention?

Did you see that Sixx AM put out a new album? They did something with iHeart Radio and the usual press interviews. But is anyone really paying attention. The youngsters have so much going on, they sit out unless it crosses over. And for the old Motley Crue fans, well albums require so much dedication of our time that unless it’s great and everyone is talking about it, we all just move along. “Modern Vintage” is a good album. For the record if I had to rate them, then the order the albums came out in is the way I would rate them.

And the tour will be a success, because the Crue fans have shown that they love to watch a live show more than buying an album. So expect Sixx AM to do well on the live circuit.

And just when you think that no one is paying attention, you hear that Shinedown chalked up another certification to their arsenal. While debates can be had on sales and certifications, what is impressive is that they kept on selling while out of the mainstream press. What is impressive is that they kept on selling while all of their music was available on Spotify, The Pirate Bay, Pandora, YouTube and so on.

Which goes to support what I have been saying all along?

The fans are the ones that make or break you.

For some artists, a thousand hard core fans is enough incentive to keep on making music, while for others it’s not. But you need to know where they are and you need to connect with them. In Shinedown’s example that connection happened when they asked their fans what songs they would like to see the band cover acoustically.

While no one seems to be paying attention to all the music coming out, it looks like streaming services are in a league of their own. Each day brings about another story on streaming services. In my view streaming services are the solution, not the enemy.

Spotify was always designed to compete with piracy, to monetise those users that pirated and it’s doing a pretty good job at it. They have put some serious money back into the recording industry. Prior to Spotify, the recording labels got nothing. It’s just a shame that those same labels don’t feed those monies back to their artists. Because if wasn’t for the artists the recording labels would not be in the position of power they are in right now.

But, as with everything, there are still misguided artists and labels who keep blaming theft and all kinds of bogeymen for their reduced sales. Take Spotify, YouTube and Pandora out of the industry and then what kind of state will we have. If they think that everyone is going to start buying CD’s again then they must think that the telegram will return.

But they fail to notice that we the fans have a) other interests, b) don’t like what they put out or only want the best, which means we cherry pick, c) don’t care about what they’re talking about or d) like to exercise choice.

It looks like people know “Shepherd Of Fire” and “Hail To The King” and don’t care much about the rest of Avenged Sevenfold’s album. And Five Finger Death Punch released a double album, but it looks like the fans care about a few select songs like “Lift Me Up”, “The Wrong Side Of Heaven”, “Watch It Bleed” and “Battleborn”. Which is a shame as those albums do have a lot of other good songs that deserve attention.

But that is the new world.

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

Guitar Heroes

“There are guitar heroes and there are band guys. Guitar heroes are the top dogs – whatever they say goes. Band guys are team players, committed to the chemistry of the whole. Steve Howe is a band guy from way back.”

October 1989 Guitar World…

Players like Zakk Wylde, Slash, John Petrucci and Marc Tremonti could easily be classed as band guys. James Hetfield is all about Metallica and of course there are many more that have come and gone.

In that same issue George Lynch spoke about his relationship with Don Dokken and how his new band Lynch Mob is a band that will not have a revolving door of musicians just because the band leader might have woken up on the wrong side of the bed. We all know how that turned out.

So it got me thinking about guitar players who are plying their trade day in and day out without getting the recognition they really deserve. It’s tough to be an artist regardless of era. Today, the main focus is on money. However music slays money all the time if done right and when it is done right it usually generates a pile of it anyway.

And I started focusing on two guitar bands that are doing the rounds at the moment. The only criteria I used is that the guitar partnership was formed/created at the start of the 2000’s with their respective bands.

Tom Englund/Henrik Danhage

Evergrey is about to make twenty years in the business and they are stronger than ever in popularity. Thank Tom Englund for keeping the flame burning. They are a band that doesn’t go out to write hit singles however some of the fan base believe they did just that with the “Monday Morning Apocalypse” album in 2006. For me, Evergrey is Evergrey. Dark, honest, melodic and hopeful.

The Englund/Danhage partnership started in 2000, ceased in 2010 and rekindled again in 2013. Clearly the magic is still there. For the uninitiated check out the albums “Hymns For The Broken”, “The Inner Circle” and “Torn”.  “The Inner Circle” album gave me a whole new inspiration to create music again.

They are the antidote, the complete opposite of our phony culture.

Zoltan Bathory/Jason Hook

Five Finger Death Punch are record label darlings at this point in time. With the first three albums all going Gold and the current Volumes 1 and 2 both pushing close to that mark what isn’t there to like from a record label point of view.

Underpinning the mighty PUNCH is the rhythm playing of Zoltan Bathory. Rooted in European metal and its modes, with a dash of hard rock and melodic death metal, Bathory consistently delivers head banging, foot stomping riffola. And no one could have predicted the success that would come.

The Bathory/Hook partnership started in 2009. For the uninitiated check out “War Is The Answer”, “American Capitalist” and “The Wrong Side Of Heaven Volume 1”.

And yes, Five Finger Death Punch are consistent sellers proving once again, people will invest their time and money if they believe in the MESSAGE!

Adam Dutkiewicz/Joel Stroetzel

This partnership started before 2000, however Dutkiewicz was the drummer back then. But in 2001, Dutkiewicz took up the guitar again and a whole new era kicked off.

For the uninitiated check out “The End of Heartache”, “As Daylight Dies” and “Disarm the Descent”. “As Daylight Dies” was an important album for me, as it combined melodic vocals, with brutal riffs and technical playing. Even though the band is not classed as a progressive band, they are progressive. It is a shame that in 2014, progressive music is seen as how fast and technical you can get, where in the past progressive music didn’t mean that. And that is the definition that Killswitch Engage inherits.

Robb Flynn/Phil Demmel

They are like an old act that took four albums to find their voice and hit a groove. And what a groove they found in “The Blackening”. Enough said.  Also “Unto The Locust” is no slouch either and from what I have heard so far, “Bloodstone and Diamonds” is shaping up to be a monster.

Their Machine Head partnership began in 2003 although they knew each other from their time spent in Vio-Lence, it wasn’t until they got together to write the follow-up to the backs to the wall comeback album, “Through The Ashes Of Empires” that they set a new standard in metal and thrash circles. A three-year touring cycle followed. A deserved victory lap for a brilliant album.

And the thing about Robb Flynn that I like is that he fights back. If he is wrong, he apologizes however if he is not wrong he defends himself. Just because someone is criticizing him it does not mean they’re right. And Robb Flynn doesn’t give in so easily.

Claude Sanchez/Travis Stever

Coheed and Cambria have played a vital role in my developing skills as a songwriter. The “In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth” and it’s follow up, “Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV” showed what can be achieved when you mash-up so many different styles into a story line. “Welcome Home” is a perfect example. It has punk elements, pop elements and classic rock elements. “In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth” they showcase prog rock, atmospheric rock and classic rock with a twang of modern rock.

In other words, Coheed and Cambria are unlike anything else. They are so far from the me-too artist that is always trumped up by the media reporting outlets. An artist tests limits and Claude Sanchez definitely falls into this space.

Synester Gates/Zacky Vengeance

There is nothing about Avenged Sevenfold that hasn’t been planned and analysed to the smallest detail. Before they even started they decided on stage names, which is a throwback to the classic rock artists and the Eighties metal heroes. With their BLACK album “Hail To The King” they finally have songs that just rock on the stage.

I witnessed the energy the new songs output compared to the older more complex material. In relation to guitar playing, check out “Afterlife” and “Second Heartbeat”.

Even the mighty Zakk Wylde said that Gates is “the torchbearer for the young kids now to play solos, learn the scales, and develop a feel.”And with Synester’s influences ranging from Zakk Wylde, Dimebag Darrell, Slash, John Petrucci, Allan Holdsworth and Frank Gambale, a torchbearer he is.

Luke Hoskin/ Tim Millar

These guys are a perfect example of succeeding through hard work and hewing to their own vision and refusing to adjust to others’ input. While other artists might have had more of the limelight, all this did was allow the Protest The Hero guys to refine their song writing in relative obscurity.

For definitive albums, you can’t go past their new one “Volition”. Funded by the fans and written for the fans.

Matt Heafy/ Corey Beaulieu

Many of us are hooked by something. Trivium is one such band that hooked me. I put it down to their cover version of “Master Of Puppets”. Hell, they sounded better than Metallica.

And the thing that really connects with me is that they are always exploring themselves as artists. They don’t know if they are on the right path, but they are always trying to get there and that is important.

“Shogun” will be seen as their masterpiece album however songs like “In Waves” and “Strife” have proven to take a life on their own. I am really looking forward to their gig with In Flames in November.

Jake Pitts/Jinxx

With so many hard rock or modern rock bands out there, who does a person decide what band to gravitate to as our time is precious.

Having two guitar players that bring back memories of the early eighties is a good start. And that is where Black Veil Brides come in. Now the vocals are hit and miss but there is no denying the quality of the guitar playing and the song writing.

Dee Snider even called them “rockstars”.

Matthew Tuck/Michael “Padge” Paget

A similar set up like Trivium and their career trajectory is almost identical.

Like “Shogun” for Trivium, “Scream/Aim/Fire” is a definitive thrash metal album for Bullet For My Valentine.

Then there are songs from “Fever” and “Temper Temper” that have taken a life of their own. In this case “The Last Fight” and “Breaking Point”.

With so much new music, I usually stop paying attention and go back to my favourites. The above artists have proven themselves since the start of the 2000’s to become my favourites. For other up and comers, yell at me to notice you and I will ignore you. Yell a little bit more, and I will just retreat and burrow down deeper into my favourites.

Standard
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.

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

Some Thoughts On The Music Business

YouTube

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

Longevity

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

Music Is Not Scarce Anymore

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

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

You Survive On Your Audience

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

Information Overload

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

Start With Your friends

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

Overnight Sensations

Overnight sensations are a decade plus in the making.

Timing

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

Rock Bands Were Never Supposed To Last

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

Promote The Why and Not the What

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

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

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

Personality

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

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

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

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

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

Standard