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

This Shall Also Pass

And the sun will rise
Dawn will break through the blackest night
Distant in its glow
This shall pass be still and know

I think Phill Demmel wrote the lyric.

It was inevitable that something had to give. People do grow apart. Yes that’s true and the songs that people want to write and play also changes. That’s also true. But in this social media world, artists also don’t want to piss people off. So a lot of artists choose to live with a filter in public. Not Robb Flynn.

So Phil Demmel and Dave McClain leaving Machine Head was just a matter of time. All the best, thanks for the great tunes and two unbelievable albums in “The Blackening” and “Unto The Locust”.

But the show must go on. Robb Flynn needs to continue and fly the Machine Head flag high. Maybe he won’t. I hope he does.

Because when members leave and the band name continues, those people who were in the band previously would still need to get paid, especially if you play the songs they were involved in writing. So lawyers get involved and band agreements get messy and Robb Flynn would think, why the fuck am I working my arse off, city by city, to pay people who are not in the band anymore.

Remember when the Osbourne’s sued Tony Iommi because he continued to release albums under the Black Sabbath name which Sharon claimed Ozzy helped to build up as part of the original line up, so he must be entitled to a cut even though his solo career was running riot over Sabbath’s.

And Machine Head have made some changes to their line up, probably not as much as Megadeth but still a decent turnover. Then again Mustaine parted ways with Effelson, got sued by Effelson and then brought him back. Maybe Adam Duce would come back.

And new bassist Jared MacEachern has done nothing wrong to be fired. Then again, Jared is a guitarist and could fill the vacant guitar spot if Duce returns.

But I’ve always seen Machine Head as Robb Flynn. As long as he’s there, it’s Machine Head, the same way James Hetfield is Metallica and the same way Dave Mustaine is Megadeth and Tom Englund is Evergrey.

Those guys can replace the band members around them and it will still sound like the band. But bands are also about friendships and the hangs. So members stay in bands for those friendships, even when they feel they shouldn’t.

A million dead end streets and
Every time I thought I’d got it made
It seemed the taste was not so sweet

Everybody goes throw changes as Bowie said. Machine Head is changing. Robb Flynn embraced the social side and is connecting with his fans. The loyal ones. Who are there through thick and thin.

And there are fans who are swingers. They move in and out based on the new music. And then there are fans who like a certain line up or just a certain album.

This is who we are
This is what I am
We have nowhere else to go
UNITED we will stand

The lyric in capitals is actually divided but it always should have been united in my eyes.

Into glory we will ride.

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Music

Some Hard “Music Business” Truths – Dave Lombardo, Tom Araya and Band Agreements

Dave Lombardo hasn’t been silent when it comes to the financial “behind the scenes” happenings of Slayer. It doesn’t matter on which side you are on in this argument, one thing that is true is that these kinds of issues are real. Bands cannot exist without a band agreement in place. And when a Band Agreement is drawn up there are a few main players in it.

1. The Band themselves
2. The Manager
3. The Lawyer
4. The Accountant

Musicians are always taken for a ride when it comes to management, lawyers and accountants. The whole Adam Duce vs Machine Head saga is down to the same questions that Dave Lombardo is asking. What happened to all of that money that was grossed?

Let’s look at some of Lombardo’s claims.

He claims that in 2011, the band Slayer grossed $4.4 million and that he only earned $67,000. He also claims that he earned that same amount from the band when he rejoined the band. Sounds like a pretty shitty employment contract if you ask me.

So what do we know about 2011?

In 2011, Slayer played 62 shows based on the website Setlist.fm. Doing some simple math, Lombardo came away with $1080 per show. For a lot of independent musicians this is a nice pay-day for the whole band, however in this case it is for an individual in a band that grosses over $4 million dollars.

Now let’s do some math around the gross earnings per show from Slayer. In order to do the math, I searched the internet for a Slayer Billboard Boxscore and I found one.

Slayer in November 2013 played a show in Winnipeg, Canada and the gross sales for the show came to $57,100 and the venue was half full. The data is available on the lambgoat.com blog. So let’s just say that $60,000 gross is an average intake for a Slayer show. Multiple that gross amount by the 62 shows and you get a figure of $3.72 million. Add merchandise, licensing, publishing and royalties and you get close to the $4.4 million mark. So it is safe to say that Slayer is a million dollar business. And Dave Lombardo was just paid $67,000.

Back in February, 2013, Lombardo first announced his findings that 90% of Slayer’s tour income was being deducted as expenses, leaving 10% for the band to split amongst the four of them.

Again, going back to the math, if Slayer grossed $4.4 million, that would mean that $4 million went to expenses and $400,000 was left to be split between the original 4 members (I am assuming that the touring guitarist “Gary Holt” is part of the Expenses). So Dave Lombardo gets $67,000. That leaves $333,000 to split amongst 3. $111,000 each sounds about right.

Tom Araya claimed Dave was a working member of the band and never a partner, making mention that when Dave joined again during the ‘Christ Illusion’ album, Slayer offered Dave a contract with the band, hence the $67K amount.

This is in contrast to Lombardo’s claims who also mentions that Araya got his silence bought, when management handed over a lot of money to go against Lombardo. Lombardo claims that he was a percentage holder within the band and all that he asked for was to see the detailed expenses.

The thing is Araya is pulling a double face here, as he blasted the band’s management when it came to Jeff Hannemann’s tributes. This is what he said in an interview on Classic Rock;

“I wanted to do more – I was hoping to do more. But the nature of the business… the management gets involved in anything we do and they fucked it up. I’m throwing them under the bus. It really upset me, because it would have been more than just that.”

Money talks. Slayer is a machine that is all about the business and making profit. The person that has the cash has the leverage and in this case, the Slayer management team has that leverage. So why would they use some of the cash that Slayer earns to pay a tribute to the most important member of Slayer. Jeff Hannemann gave them all a career with his great songwriting skills.

It’s bad enough that record labels rip off artists. It’s bad enough that accountants, managers and lawyers rip off artists. But it is the worse when band mates rip off band mates.

If Kerry King and Tom Araya stuck with Dave Lombardo, they would have had the leverage. It’s like the Machine Head song, “Who We Are”.

DIVIDED WE STAND.

But it should be UNITED WE STAND.

In the same way that the audience all stood united to watch the original four at the Horden Pavillion in Sydney back in 2007, with Mastodon opening.

http://loudwire.com/dave-lombardo-claims-only-made-67000-slayer-4-million-gross-2011/
http://loudwire.com/slayer-tom-araya-elaborates-dave-lombardo-exit/
http://loudwire.com/slayer-tom-araya-why-dave-lombardo-ousted/

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Music

Friendships + Business = Music Detonation

Friendships + Business = Music Detonation

Let’s face it, you meet a few different people and strike up a friendship due to your similar tastes in music. You can all play instruments, so you decide to start up a band. You have quite a few songs written, musically and lyrically and the jamming begins. Within a week, over 10 songs are down. Its beers, hugs and smiles all round. It’s time for a gig.

A quick two song showcase recording is completed to get the gigs, complete with cover art, lyrics and thank you. The music and lyrics are stated as a band effort. You don’t feel that is correct, however you let it slide just to keep the peace. Because in the end it’s all about the gigs, the music and having fun. Who cares what some CD cover states?  Why cause arguments within the band.

The gigs start coming, the shows keep getting better and you bring more and more songs to the table. The audience is getting larger and there is a demand for new recorded music. You engage certain super fans and get them to list their 10 best songs and off to the recording studio the band goes.

By this time, it’s more than just the band in the studio. There is an audience out there, who want the music, who want information. The drummer does a local street rag interview, where he claims that the songs are a band effort, everyone has their input. This doesn’t sit well with you, as you know that is not true.

All the songs have been written by you and only you. If there has been any input it has been minimal with the suggestion of doing the chorus twice instead of once. You confront the drummer at his untrue statements, and he disagrees with you, stating that the songs did have his input. You ask him what input did he have. He answers by saying he gave you the idea on the subject matter for the lyrics. You go to him an idea does not mean that he wrote any music and lyrics. At this point, the singer and the bass player are sitting on the fence.  You feel betrayed. It’s all splintering apart. Then the engineer mentions about the performance collection agencies and if the songs are registered. Everyone has dumbfounded looks except you. You tell them that you have registered the songs as 100% yours and that most of these songs date back to before the band was formed. The lawyer friend chimes in with a band agreement, stating that since the songs are written by you, you will get 50% of the mechanical royalties and split the other 50% between the other members. He also suggest that you get 100% of the publishing royalties.

This causes disagreements and resentments and you know that this band is on borrowed time. You tell the members in the band that you are leaving and that you are taking your songs with you. They say nothing. Then you get a call from the collection agencies telling you that your old band mates have just registered your songs in their own name as songwriters and if you agree with their request to amend your registrations. You are angry and you tell the agency that you do not agree. The agency tells you that you need to sort it out with them and until then, the songs are placed in suspension and any monies earned on those songs will be withheld until an agreement is struck. You feel violated, used and angry.

How can this happen? The onus is now on you to prove that you wrote your own songs. After exhausting all the free legal advice you can get, you finally speak to an entertainment lawyer who tells you he will do it cheap and take care of you. So you have email conversations, phone conversations and you request the lawyer to write a letter to your ex band mates. All this is done. You get the bill for the month. $700 for one letter, a couple of email conversations and a couple of phone conferences. And the letter is ignored by your ex band mates and nothing is solved.

More anger and more resentment. You can’t believe this is happening. You have done nothing wrong, except create music, which you loved doing. And now you are paying money to prove what is yours. This goes on for months and the band responds to the letters with different demands and always stating that they had input in the songs creation. The album was finished, and they go about releasing it, without your permission.

Even more anger and even more resentment. They even changed the previously agreed booklet, adding themselves as songwriters.

If anyone thinks the above doesn’t happen, then they are living in a delusional world. This is what happens in bands, as everyone is greedy. This is what happens as everyone wants to trump up their efforts as being more important than what it really is.

Gone are the days, when a drummer was just a drummer, a bass player just a bass player and so on.

If you are the songwriter, then you don’t need a band anymore.  You see previously a songwriter needed a band to play live shows.  That was how it was done once upon a time.  These days, its not like that.  Live venues are not what they used to be (has anyone come across gigs where the band needs to guarantee a certain turn up and if that turn up is not there the band has to pay the shortfall.

Write your songs, release them yourself.  Don’t waste your time with people who will bring you down.  If you are great and your songs are great, great musicians will come knocking.

Until then, keep writing and be great.

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