Music, My Stories, Piracy, Unsung Heroes

Metal Loyalty

Why is it a surprise to people that heavy metal or hard rock fans are the most loyal fans?

There is a pretty good chance that every metal fan has purchased the same album, from acts they like, more than three times.

I am talking from my own experience here. I have the Crue’s Eighties albums on Cassette, LP and on CD.

In the Nineties, these albums got remastered and had some bonus tracks added to them. So I purchased them again. The same albums then got repackaged into Box Sets and guess what I did? I purchased them again.

All up, I purchased each Eighties Motley Crue album five times. Just typing it all out makes me sound silly. Now apply the same counts to Metallica, Iron Maiden, Twisted Sister, Van Halen, Ozzy Osbourne, Megadeth, Bon Jovi, Europe, Cinderella, Kiss, Whitesnake, Def Leppared, Guns N Roses, Skid Row and so on.

Others call it dumb, others call it silly, however I call it loyalty. And guess what? There are millions more people out there the same as me.

Talking about the Eighties, let’s look at the year 1987. The biggest hit singles for that year according to Wikipedia are “La Bamba” from Los Lobos, “Never Gonna Give You Up” from Rick Astley, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” from Whitney Houston, “It’s A Sin” from Pet Shop Boys and “Who’s That Girl” from Madonna.

However during the year, Guns N Roses unleashed their record-breaking “Appetite For Destruction” album and Def Leppard also unleashed their own record-breaking album in “Hysteria”. Both albums are known as slow-burners, meaning that they took their time to hit it big. Something today’s know it all musicians fail to understand.

For Guns N Roses, it wasn’t until “Sweet Child O’Mine” came out as a single in August 1988 that the album really started to sell. And that was 14 months after it was released. Using the RIAA certification system as a metric for success, by August 1988, Appetite For Destruction was certified three times multi-platinum. Not bad, hey. Then “Sweet Child O’Mine” came out as a single in the same month. By December 1988, (four months later) the album was six times multi-platinum.

You see what happens when one song connects.

Continuing on, by July 1989, almost 12 months since “Sweet Child O’Mine” was released as a single and two years since the album came out, the album was certified eight times multi-platinum. Five million units were sold after “Sweet Child O’ Mine”.

For Def Leppard, it wasn’t until the “Love Bites” single came out in 1988 that the “Hysteria” album started to sell by the truckloads.

Also in 1987, Bon Jovi was still riding high from 1986’s “Slippery When Wet” album. Meanwhile, Motley Crue came out with “Girls, Girls, Girls” and U2 released “The Joshua Tree”. All three bands proved massive drawcards on the live circuit.

White Lion came out with “Pride” and surprised everyone with “Wait”. Suddenly Vito Bratta was in everyone’s lounge rooms courtesy of MTV. And because of MTV, White Lion also became a multi-platinum act.

Ozzy Osbourne paid a “Tribute” to Randy Rhoads while Kiss jumped on the Bon Jovi band wagon with “Crazy Nights”. Blues rockers Great White took the charts by storm with their “Once Bitten” album.

1987 also saw Whitesnake released their mega selling self – titled album, Heart released “Bad Animals” and the single “Alone” and Gary Moore released “Wild Frontier”.

Aerosmith also released “Permanent Vacation” signalling that their comeback was complete, while Pink Floyd did the same with “A Momentary Lapse Of Reason”.

Marillion released “Clutching at Straws”, Y&T released “Contagious” and Rush released “Hold Your Fire”.

Savatage started to make a dent in the metal world with “Hall of the Mountain King” and Alice Cooper’s comeback was picking up steam with “Raise Your Fist and Yell”.

I own all of the above albums, more than once.

Metal and Rock music is a lifestyle. Metal and rock bands appealed to my belief systems. It is that lifestyle and belief system that inspires loyalty. Cultural movements have happened on the backs of metal music.

The term heavy metal in the Eighties was used a lot. A record store lumped bands with very different styles into one Metal category. I could walk into a heavy metal section of a record shop and find Bon Jovi, Metallica, Twisted Sister, Slayer, Iron Maiden, Motley Crue, Poison, Van Halen and even Boston.

Judging by how big metal became, I guess I was not the only one that had the same belief systems. One thing that metal and rock bands did better than every other genre is the branding. Once we connected with the artists, we wanted to become to a member of the gang. We wanted to be patched in and sworn in. It was a tribe mentality.

You don’t need Spotify to know that metal fans are loyal. Looking at the releases in 1987, artists like Kiss, Ozzy Osbourne, Pink Floyd, Whitesnake, Heart, Rush, Y&T and Aerosmith had been around since the early Seventies. Yep, 17 years later, they still had loyal fans waiting for new music. Almost twenty years later, those same bands still have millions of fans waiting for a tour or new music. Can’t say much for Rick Astley.

Other artists like Def Leppard, Gary Moore, U2, Marillion, Great White and Motley Crue had been around since the late Seventies or early Eighties.

The reason why the loyalty of metal heads becomes part of the conversation is that us metal heads/rock heads are stereotyped as antisocial who contribute nothing to society. So how does that explain the numbers that metal and rock bands do on the live circuit, sales circuit, streaming numbers and merchandise sales. That is a lot of money that the anti-social misfits are putting into society.

As the saying goes, pop artists come and go, but metal artists remain forever. Once we are a fan of a band, we are fans for life.

I strongly believe that this metal global audience was achieved because of piracy. Illegal P2P in the early days led to bands like Metallica, Iron Maiden and Motley Crue earning a whole new audience. Suddenly their music was available to people who couldn’t get it. Suddenly these bands who had waning careers, had new markets to hit.

Nicko from Iron Maiden summed it up the best in the Flight 666 documentary. In the documentary, Nicko was mentioning that Iron Maiden hasn’t sold any recorded music in Costa Rica, however they had a sold out show that night.

There is an article over at Mashable that is quoting from Vince Edwards, the head of publicity for Metal Blade Records.

Edwards says that to book live shows, bands need to be able to demonstrate sales, which means using Nielsen’s SoundScan. Spotify streams don’t factor into SoundScan, so any streams that take away from sales also take away from touring. Touring, he says, is “mission critical” for bands. Streams, he says, just aren’t yet incorporated into the system. “It’s such a new metric that people aren’t really sure how to measure that yet,” Edwards said.

Spotify does have some data that can be used to inform bands where it might be best to tour, but Edwards says that doesn’t help metal artists much, since they tend to play smaller venues.

“I think that’s kind of the big disconnect between our world and the mainstream world,” he said.

Seriously, you would think in this day and age that the label bosses would have figured out how to incorporate streaming or even piracy data into their analysis. Online piracy has been around since 1999 and Spotify streaming has been around since 2008. To rely on SoundScan data in 2015 is ridiculous.

Lucky for these clueless label heads that the metal fans are loyal and generate dollars for them.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Complicated Copyright and Why Do People Pay Good Money To Go To A Concert And Then Spend The Whole Time Filming It?

I do not understand why people go to a rock show or a metal show to film the whole damn thing on a smart phone. Seriously are they going to go back home and watch it over and over again afterwards? Of course not because it will sound like crap as smartphones are not designed to capture high volumes without distorting the sound.

Having been a high gig attendee my whole life, I have also been known recently to break out my iPhone and capture some footage or a few photos for posterity. However, I can honestly that 99% of the time I’ve never gone back and referred to my amateur filming or photography.

The reasons are simple, those captures can never accurately reflect the concert as I witnessed it.

So why did I do it? Why do other fans do it?

Is it for them to validate or prove to other people that they were there at the concert?

Like does anyone care these days. Everybody goes to concerts these days. Maybe once upon a time it was a big thing to go to a concert but these days it’s a nothing thing. Hell, I took my kids last year who were 8 and 7 to see, Kiss, Motley Crue and Bon Jovi. This year I took them to see Richie Sambora.

Do you think my father would have taken me to a rock concert at the age of 8? No chance.

Even if those people placed their concert video footage on YouTube, would anyone really care?

For example, Metallica is the biggest metal band in the planet right now. So they played “Frayed Ends Of Sanity” live for the first time and a fan of the band put it up on their YouTube account called MetallicaSoloFan and it has a whopping 2,473 views. Other accounts have the same song filmed from different viewpoints and again the view count is dismal.

Because no one cares that you went or for the crappy footage on display.

And what about the poor old fan that is standing behind a person filming the concert. As is the norm, in order to film a concert, you would need to hold up your device high above your head to capture the footage and in turn you are taking away from my viewing experience. Me and my boys copped that at the Richie Sambora gig.

However it is a product of the times. I get that.

In 2014, we don’t leave home without our Apple or Samsung devices. It is part of our make and build.

There are bands out there that would like this process of filming their show to be stopped.

The Eagles are one such band.

They want to stop people from filming their concerts by banning the use of the smart phone. Don Henley has hinted their tour of Australia could possibly be the band’s final tour and he wants fans to experience it with their eyes not their phones.

Of course we all know that Don Henley is very knowledgeable about artists copyrights and he is also opposed to fan filmed footage ending up on YouTube. For him it is all about CONTROL. He should be the one that CONTROLS how his music or the music that he is involved in is distributed.

So is videoing a concert with a phone a violation of an artist’s copyright. Don Henley says it is, however he also said that he doesn’t want the shows posted on YouTube because it spoils it for people who are going to come to a show in the future and that he doesn’t want to see Eagles content out there that sounds horrible.

However, live concert filming is done every day by multiple people at the same show. Some use it as a form of a diary record, to remember or relive that moment when their favourite song came on. Some do it to share the moment and their love for the artist. Some do it because they simple can. A smart phone or an iPad or Tablet, allows us the convenience to do so.

To put into context about how messed up the current music copyright business is you need to get your head around the Copyright laws that have been written over the last sixty years.

At a high level, every live performance has a multiple set of rights that come into play.

(1) the copyright in the music, usually controlled by the publisher;
(2) the copyright in the lyrics, also usually controlled by the publisher;
(3) the copyright in the live performance, usually controlled by the label;
(4) the band’s right of publicity;
(5) trademarks owned by the band;
(6) contractual rights (potentially arising from signage posted by the band or the venue, the ticket stub or the terms and conditions of the website to which the footage is posted.
(7) the performance rights organisation like APRA or ASCAP, from which the venue needs to obtain a license.

Music was never meant to be this complicated but over the last sixty years it has come to be so.

And what about the rights of the fan who paid $600 for a front row ticket and another $100 plus at the merchandise store.

What about the rights of the fan, who had to drive 90 minutes to get to the venue and then pay another $30 in parking fees and then get charged $10 for a beer and $20 for a Hotdog and Chips.

There needs to be a sensible re-think but due to the money involved the copyright holders are not playing ball. They want stricter copyright laws, which is contrary to the public and culture in general.

ARTICLE

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

Work Ethic Of Our Fallen Idols Is No Different From Generation to Generation

Music is forever.

Our heroes will die or already have died but their music lives on.

With the power of internet it should be every persons goal to continue to reach new generations of fans, so that they too can also benefit from hearing the work of musicians like Paul Kossoff, Dimebag Darrell, Randy Rhoads, Jimi Hendrix, Chuck Schuldiner and many more.

Paul Kossoff’s career was short at 25 years of age. As a guitarist he was always looking to “have a jam”.

Randy Rhoads just wanted to play guitar, evidenced by taking classical lessons while on tour with Ozzy and then receiving a punch in the face when he told Ozzy that he wanted out.

Jimi Hendrix was always booking studio time and running his different bands through jam sessions over and over again.

Chuck Schuldiner was a technical death metaller who just wanted to be a guitarist in a band and he finally achieved that dream with “Voodoocult” and the progressive “Control Denied”.

One thing that all of these musicians are renowned for regardless of what generation they come from is their prolific musical output, their jamming ethic, their hard work and devotion to the lifer lifestyle of the music business.

Paul Kossoff was involved in 10 studio albums and 2 live albums between 1969 to 1976. Talk about jamming up a storm.

Jimi Hendrix was prolific. Apart from the official releases (three within a year), Hendrix created a musical vault so deep, his family members are still making money from his legacy.

Dimebag Darrell had 4 independent releases and close to 10 years of experience under his belt before “Cowboys From Hell” opened the door for a bigger stage to play on.

Chuck Schuldiner was involved in 9 albums between 1987 and 1999.

It’s always been tough for new bands or artists to make it. From the sixties to now, that toughness hasn’t changed.

The difference between then and now is that there are so many more people making music which in turn makes the current state of the music business highly competitive.

Seen a shortage of ticket sales recently for bands that work hard.

Seen a shortage of ticket sales for the classic rock bands lately.

Of course not.

The music business is thriving. And it is also cram-packed with music that it’s hard for a lot of music to find an audience. There is a reason why Spotify has over 4 million songs that haven’t even been played.

And if any artist wants to be in the hard rock/metal game, then the bar is set very high.

You need to compare yourself to Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Bon Jovi, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Pantera, Megadeth, Free, Ozzy era bands, Motley Crue, Queensryche, Free, Jimi Hendrix.

In the end the importance and essence of great rock music will never fade away and that bar that is sitting very high, will just keep on going higher.

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

Then And Now: Changes In Music

THEN
Music was all about achieving LIBERATION.

NOW
Music is all about the tyranny of MONEY.

THEN
Money served a purpose and it was a by-product of music

NOW
Money is the primary marker of status and success.

THEN
Music greats led the way in breaking down barriers and enhancing culture

NOW
We inhabit the world that The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Deep Purple, Jim Hendrix, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Rush, Free, Bad Company, Van Halen, Thin Lizzy, Aerosmith, Doobie Brothers, Electric Light Orchestra, Kiss, Metallica, Motley Crue, Bon Jovi and AC/DC created.

THEN
We lied about what we earned.

NOW
We still lie about what we earn as the ability to make money is seen as a primary marker of acceptance. The shame of failing financially is so great that a number of people every year commit suicide because of it.

THEN
Bands/Artists needed to be busy to make it or stay relevant.

NOW
Bands/Artists still need to be busy to make it or stay relevant. Look at George Lynch and the amount of releases since 2008. Look at Mark Tremonti or Myles Kennedy and their involvement in various projects. Avenged Sevenfold are out on the road promoting the “Hail To The King” album, working on the “Deathbat” game and an anniversary re-issue for “Waking The Fallen”.

THEN
The challenge was getting your music heard

NOW
The challenge is still about getting heard.

THEN
No one toured South and Central America.

NOW
Touring dollars are in South and Central America. If you are an established band and are not touring South/Central America, then you are leaving money on the table. M Shadows from Avenged Sevenfold summed it up nicely in a recent Loudwire interview.

THEN
Platinum selling bands/artists were told that they owed the label millions. Check out Van Halen’s story during the Van Halen II era. “We went platinum. We toured for a year, we came back, and Warner Bros. told us that we owed them $2 million,” said drummer Alex Van Halen. “And on top of that, we owed them another record,” added guitarist Eddie Van Halen. “It was the end of the year. We had three weeks to deliver another record…then boom, we went straight out on tour again. The first record took about a week, seven days to do. The second record took about three weeks.”

NOW
Platinum selling bands/artists are still told that they owe the label millions.

THEN
Bands/Artists covered songs as a career choice and made them unique. They made those cover songs their own. Van Halen did it with “You Really Got Me” and again with “You’re No Good”, which Linda Ronstadt also covered.

NOW
Bands/Artists do cover songs as a tribute to their influence.

THEN
Bands/Artists borrowed heavily from other artists and styles without the fear of being sued. It was a cultural thing. Led Zeppelin comes to mind immediately. Jake Holmes played “Dazed and Confused” at a show in 1967 when he was opening up for The Yardbirds who had Jimmy Page on guitar. “Stairway To Heaven” had its whole intro lifted from a song called “Taurus” by Spirit. Again Led Zeppelin opened for Spirit once upon a time. In both cases, the artists didn’t sue.

NOW
Borrow anything, expect a lawsuit. Kudos to Avenged Sevenfold for having the balls to do so. They borrowed heavily and in turn they created an album that works brilliant live. And that is what it is all about. In addition it is one of the best metal sellers for 2013 and it is still selling in 2014.

THEN
The Record Labels didn’t know what would succeed or what would fail. Look at Metallica. “Kill Em All” was independently financed. Look at Motely Crue. “Too Fast For Love” was independently financed. Look at Twisted Sister. “Under The Blade” came out on a small independent label. “You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll” came out on Atlantic UK. The US arm didn’t want to touch the band. It was after the imported version of “You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll” started selling like hot cakes that Atlantic US became interested.

NOW
The Record Labels still don’t know what would succeed or what would fail. Five Finger Death Punch is a big seller in the world of metal and hard rock. Their first album was financed by themselves and issued on a small subsidiary label. Volbeat was a supergroup of Death/Extreme metal bands signed to a small sub label of a larger independent label.

THEN
Music was a risk business.

NOW
Music is still a risk business.

THEN
Labels invested in a lot of projects because they didn’t know what would connect.

NOW
Labels invest in fewer projects and blame piracy because they still don’t know what will connect.

THEN
Metal and rock labels signed the act first and then they figured out how to market them and sell them.

NOW
Labels sign an act based on how they decide to market them.

THEN
Recording was expensive.

NOW
Recording is cheap.

THEN
Distribution was expensive and controlled by gatekeepers.

NOW
Distribution is cheap.

THEN
Marketing was all about radio and record shops.

NOW
It is about Spotify, YouTube, social media and virality.

THEN
Labels had executive boards/owners that were music fans.

NOW
Labels have executive boards that are actual business executives with the exception of a few.

THEN
Universality is the key to success.

NOW
We have endless niches.

THEN
The release of music was controlled.

NOW
We have plenty. We are overloaded.

THEN
The song would sell the act.

NOW
The marketing hype sells the act with the exception of a few.

THEN
Rock music was liberating the masses.

NOW
It is known as Classic rock to the masses.

THEN
Acts wanted to lead. They challenged the paradigm.

NOW
No one wants to lead.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

The Ugly Truth

The major record labels put money first while a true artist sees money as a secondary product that is made in the process of creating great music.

Record Labels live by a plan about what to release and when to release it, while an artist lives by using their intuition and experience. They improvise. That is why so many of the great songs that we have come to known are products of improvisation and jam sessions. Capturing lightning in a bottle.

Look at all of the Jimi Hendrix recordings released. Each one of them have different alternate takes of songs that failed to make the cut. He jammed and improvised those songs a hundred times before he was happy with the ebb and flow of the track.

If you want songs that make money right now, call Max Martin. If you want a career, improvise and allow those glorious experiments to grow and reproduce.

Record Labels want to sell a lot right now, while an artist is looking to have a career and live forever in the hearts and minds of music lovers.

Record Labels/Tour Promoters calculate while artists inspire. AJ Maddah is a businessman/tour promoter of the Soundwave festival here in Australia. However, he fails to realise that the reason why people go to Soundwave is not because of AJ Maddah, it is because of the acts. It is the acts that inspire and mobilise the core. Treat them with respect.

Technologists today are like the artists of the Seventies and Eighties, while those artists of that era are all entrepreneurs/businessmen.

Technologists are pushing the boundaries with their creations, dropping products that the public didn’t really need and then making the public want those products. In the meantime, artists are giving the public what the artists believes the public wants, so that they don’t lose the status that a hit song from 1986 created for them.

Hit songs/albums are not made by marketing or an artist telling the world it is their best work. They are made by cultures of people who connect with the song and then share their love of that music with others.

Record Label execs come and go, however the record label corporate entity still remains. Artists on the other hand are one. Once they leave, their creations stop.

Cheap mediocre goods might sell millions in retail businesses however mediocre doesn’t cut it in music. Hence the death of the album format.

Record Labels want safety and assurance that their risk will make money. Artists are all about risking it all until some of those risks start to pay off and then some of those artists start to become the same as the record label. Looking for safety and assurance. The others will still go out on a limb and risk it all.

Record Labels are all about the wealth, the Forbes Rich List and flying private. Artists are about the essence and then when they see the talentless executives living it up on the backs of their creations, artists change and become obsessed with the same trappings that consume the Record Label hierarchy.

Record Labels think of how they can monetise the album/song. That is why they strike corporate deals with other entities for crappy pre-release streams and so forth. Artists just want their fans to hear the new music and hit the road to promote it.

Record Labels lie while an artist lays it all on the line, by telling the truth and being transparent about their lives.

Record Labels want to reach people who will pay, while an artist wants to reach and touch everybody.

Record Labels cease to be when they run out of money, however an artist never stops creating.

Record Labels judge success by how much money the artist made for them. The artist judges their success by how many people their music touched and what impact it had on society and culture.

Record Labels are here today and gone tomorrow. Look at the situation we have right now. It is down to the big three. Of course we have the independent labels. Some are good and some are bad. However, music lives forever. We know that Metallica released the Black album. We know that it is still selling. Do we care on what label it was on?

If a record label exec screws up they could lose their job, however there is a good chance that they will find another high-powered well-paying job. If an artist messes up, there is a good chance they could lose their career.

Artists realise that music is a craft and it takes practice to nurture it to something great.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories

Is Spotify Suffering From The “Newness Wears Off” Syndrome?

You know the drill. A new technology comes out and eventually it will start to get some traction. Then the word will spread about and everybody flocks to it. It’s new, it’s cool, it’s hip and its innovative. Then when it is at its peak, the people who testified for the new tech, will abandon it, looking for something new and better.

Look at the history of technology innovations and you will see a pattern.

MySpace, Facebook, Twitter are three such platforms that came, peaked and right now are suffering an identity crisis.

MySpace is finished.

Facebook got traction because it connected people in a way that MySpace couldn’t. Now, all of these connected people need to deal with the marketing of products, advertisers, like requests, fake friend requests and spam.

Twitter is well, Twitter. With so many people tweeting or having their tweets connected to their Facebook Posts or their blog posts, everything is getting lost in the mix. When a big news item hits, Twitter is the platform to go to, because people who are directly involved in these big events are the ones that are tweeting.

So what about Spotify. It has been around for a while now and in the last 3 years it set up base in a number of large music markets like Australia, Canada and of course the US.

The people tried it. Some have stuck to it. Some have abandoned it. The ones that speak out against it have never used it.

With the rise of Beats Music, expect the young ones (kids born from 1991 onwards) to go off and explore it. They will give it traction. Then the mainstream will talk about it, trump it up and the young ones will go into something else while the old guard moves in. Like Neil Young who seems to think that people really want large music files taking up large amount of space. Sort of like Facebook. It was the mecca for the youth. Then their parents joined and the youth bailed. No one wants to be friends with their parents on Facebook.

In relation to music, bands on record deals were real slow in adopting Facebook, while the independent bands started using it ASAP. I don’t even have a Facebook account anymore and when I go onto it, it is purely to see what my favourite bands are up to and what people are talking about. In a way it has become like a go to website.

Spotify however needs a game changer. Sort of like how the move to APPS changed the iTunes store. And it’s all about the FREE. Fans of music showed the world that they want FREE music to listen to. And don’t say that FREE doesn’t work. How the hell did Free To Air TV exist and grow over the last 60 years.

Beats Music needs people to vouch for it, promote it. And when people finally get around to using it, it needs to deliver. However, for the kids, YouTube does the job. And that’s the world we live in. One that has all the information that we require at our fingertips and its FREE. Notice the emphasis on FREE again. The public spoke out big time when Napster crashed the party. Our friends testified about it and then we testified about it to others. No one even raised the question of copyright infringement because it was so damn cool.

So what is cool today?

I am all over the shop when it comes to music. I still purchase CD’s from the bands I like. This is more or less done from Amazon and I get the AutoRip feature with it, so then I download the mp3 version of the album to place on my iPhone. I stream music on Spotify. I refer to YouTube. My kids are YouTube fanatics.

And the funny thing is that I don’t use iTunes anymore. Who would have thought that day would have come. And that is what Spotify needs to think about it. Now that the newness has rubbed off, what’s next. Consolidation. How can you consolidate when the modern paradigm is DISRUPTION?

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

Chaos + Disruption = The Music Business

It’s a chaotic and disruptive time in the music business and with chaos comes opportunity.

On one side you have COPYRIGHT. And that can be broken down into a lot of other little chaotic categories like infringement, the length of copyright terms, copyright monopolies, the lack of works entering the public domain and so on.

The public domain is culture. Keith Richards once said, ‘you can’t copyright the blues.’

Culture is built and expanded by sharing stories and building on the works of others. Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and all of the sixties greats like Hendrix, Clapton and Beck used this concept. They built off the blues.

However copyright law and its real purpose got hijacked by corporations and everything changed. Instead of culture being built up in the works that the public creates and shares, the public is now faced with copyright corporations locking away works that should be in the public domain by now. These works that should be in the public domain do not benefit the original creators in any way, however they are beneficial for the few copyright monopoly gatekeepers.

For culture to thrive once again, it is important to respect the public domain.

Then on another side of the music business you have the RIAA who continually push lies out into the world, so that technology companies can do something to protect crap business models. Did you know that the global music industry sent it’s 100 million takedown notice to Google, to remove search links to certain sites. It looks like the RIAA doesn’t get it.

So if a person types in “free mp3” in Google Search what should Google return?

Sites that have free mp3’s or sites that the RIAA want Google to point to when that term is typed in. Maybe when that person types in free mp3, they want a free mp3 and have no interest in paying.

Then you have the ISP’s on another side that are caught up in the middle of all this as they offer the service that provides internet access to users. According to the RIAA and the record labels, the ISP’s allow “copyright infringement” to happen, therefore, they need to do something about it to help out the music industry. In Australia, this is heavily disputed, however in other parts of the world gradual response schemes are in place.

Then you have the technology companies trying to offer low cost services to fans of music. However, low cost to a fan means high costs to the RIAA and the record labels in licensing fees. This is before the new service is even allowed to trade. If the new service starts to trade without licensing in place, expect them to be litigated into submission.

Have you noticed that artists have not been mentioned anywhere as yet. That is how far the music business has come, where the actual music is only a small part of it, however it should be the major part of it. For the business to thrive, you need great music.

I was looking back to some of the releases in 2013 that I liked. Two of my favourites are “Protest The Hero” and “Coheed and Cambria”.

“Protest The Hero” and “Coheed and Cambria” are working to the “Keep your fan base close” mantra. Both of the bands moved from major labels into a DIY independent mindset, realising that their fans are king.

Exceptional fan service is the key driving force behind a bands success. I expect “Coheed and Cambria” will get a lot more fans purchasing the next super deluxe package for the new album because they did such a great job with “The Afterman” releases.

“Protest The Hero” on the other hand have fallen into the fan funded conundrum where the perks always arrive later than expected for international fans. I live in Australia and I am still waiting for the perks to arrive. The band have been clear with their information, advising that it will take 6 to 8 weeks.

It’s good old business 101, “treat your customers right and they’ll stay with you forever”.

Then you have bands like Five Finger Death Punch, Avenged Sevenfold, Dream Theater, Stone Sour, Killswitch Engage, Trivium, Volbeat, Alter Bridge and TesserAct that have label deals.

Should those bands go independent like Protest The Hero or Coheed and Cambria. It all depends on a person’s definition of success and hard work. Going independent means that you need to build a team around you like any business start-up.

What are the benefits of going independent?

The lesson is simple. Selling your artistic freedom and independence as a “success” strategy can bring lucrative rewards. But it’s not always the best move for your career, as you are also selling off important data to the record label. The record label doesn’t want to know your fans or connect with them. They want you to do it, so that the label can make money of that relationship and then pay you a percentage of it.

Coheed and Cambria moved over 100,000 units of their deluxe “Afterman” editions. At $60 (I think it was $68, however I will use $60 for the example) an edition, that comes to $6 million in revenue. If the band was on the label model, what percentage would the band see from that $6 million.

The music market/business is filled with acts trying to make it. It is going to take a huge effort to stand out amongst the rest. Music is a lifer game. It is a slow and steady approach that builds careers.

Artists should be looking at development. With each song release, artists should never be afraid to try things out. Even try out new technologies that make it very easy for their fans to interact with them and their music. In a company, this is called research and development. Investing in your career is never a mistake.

The artists have the power to make the record labels redundant, purely to be used as a distribution arm if needed, however with the rise of streaming technologies, even this arm can be in danger of disappearing. Bands like Coheed and Cambria, Protest The Hero and Digital Summer have seen the recorded business side of things and have decided, hey we can do it better. That’s what great businesses are made of.

So in all of this chaos, who will rise and who will fall? Time will tell, however if you compare music to technology, you will see only a select few rise to the top. Smartphones and tablets is all Apple and Samsung. Amazon has online shopping cornered. Google is the king of search. Spotify will win the streaming war. Facebook rules social media. iTunes rules the mp3 and app market. Will the same fate happen in the music business?

2019 Crystal ball predictions;

Coheed and Cambria – will get bigger and bigger. Their style is unique, so expect them to keep to that style, sort of like how AC/DC releases music in the same style or Iron Maiden.

Protest The Hero – proved to themselves that they still matter. Will get bigger and more crazier. The future of progressive metal.

Machine Head – will still be bigger then what they are. Robb Flynn understands the internet and understands the change that is coming. He will make sure that Machine Head rides the wave all the way to the shoreline, while Adam Duce circles in the undercurrent, ready to litigate the band into submission.

TesseracT – will become the next Pink Floyd.

Digital Summer – are one of the hardest working rock bands around like Twisted Sister and Dream Theater. They will get bigger as they are lifers.

Avenged Sevenfold – will become the new Metallica.

Five Finger Death Punch – I have a feeling that they will break up after one more album.

Shinedown – will be bigger than what Aerosmith ever was.

Volbeat – will remain relevant in their niche genre.

Metallica – will still be relevant in the same way the Seventies act remained relevant.

Dream Theater – will still tour and do a lot of side projects, however they will be replaced by TesseracT and Protest The Hero.

Black Veil Brides – will take over the void left by Motley Crue and Guns N Roses.

Trivium – will deliver an astounding progressive technical metal album.

Killswitch Engage – will remain relevant in their niche genre.

Alter Bridge – The world needs Led Zeppelin to continue. Expect Alter Bridge to fill this void. They have one of the best vocalists of the modern era in Myles Kennedy. Marc Tremonti is a prolific writer. Call his Creed project, “The Yardbirds” and Alter Bridge as “Led Zeppelin.”

Bullet For My Valentine – will deliver their own version of “Master Of Puppets” and “The Blackening”.

Lets see how it pans out.

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