Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Censorship

The rise of the internet broke down borders and connected people. And that’s a good thing. Businesses came about and started to make money from this new technology. With every evolution in the technology, more and more businesses came about.

Who would have thought that the App store would be the first place we go to get something?

And who would have thought that the App store would support a dictatorship and censor applications because the Chinese government run newspaper slammed the company for keeping certain apps on its store. I guess having factories in China and the profits/kickbacks that come with that are more important than free speech and people’s right to demonstrate.

There will always be governments who will suppress and restrict what people see. The Russian’s are doing it, the Chinese are doing it, the North Koreans are doing it, hell, Turkey even found a backdoor and switched it off during an uprising a few years ago.

In democratic countries, governments introduce legislation to control the internet and all the technology which comes with it at the behest of the companies who pay them the most and in the name of national security.

And freedom is over simplified. In the past, torture and public hangings would be used as a way to control people through fear. But as society got more civilised and advanced, our minds became the focus.

Suddenly, surveillance and discipline is used to produce obedient citizens. When the mind believes that it is being watched, it acts properly. And over the last 30 years, surveillance cameras have become a part of life. They are everywhere and democracy has entered the surveillance society. The same society from Eastern Europe, which the fall of the Berlin Wall was meant to eradicate.

As Geoff Tate wrote in “Speak”, the system we learn says we’re equal under law, but the streets are reality, the weak and poor will fall or in “Revolution Calling”, Tate tells how he used to trust the media to tell him the truth, but now that he is older and wiser, he has seen the payoffs and he’s not sure who he can trust when everyone is a crook.

Corruption is real and somehow it finds other corrupted individuals to collude with and suppress/censor freedom. I guess the halls of justice are painted green and money is talking.

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

In The Court Of The Copyright King

The original intent of Copyright was to give the creator of the work a 14 year monopoly to monetise their work, without it being copied. In turn this would give the creator an incentive to create more works, especially if a work proved to be valuable. Once the term expired (the creator did have the option to renew for another 14 years), the work would fall into the public domain and people would be free to build on it and use it. It’s how Rock and Roll came to be, by reusing blues music in the public domain.

But not all works are valuable. Right now, there are over 30 million songs on streaming services that have no commercial value nor have they being heard. There are millions of books written which hold no commercial value whatsoever and films/tv shows made which no one cares about.

Myspace lost over 50 million songs when it accidently wiped or threw away (depending on who you believe) their servers which held the songs and they had no back up. No one even cared at this cultural loss except archivists.

The issues we have happening today in Copyright are all due to the movie studios, record labels and book publishers. Up until 1998, they had gotten so many laws passed in the name of protecting creators, but in reality, it was to protect their business models. They knew that if they didn’t hold the works of others, they would be challenged to survive.

During this time, they also sold the story that an idea is like real property (aka, intellectual property) and that if someone else comes up with a similar idea, they have stolen your property. So they kept pushing this line and they kept on saying that copyright needs stricter enforcement and longer terms.

And people believed it. But back then when these organisations held the power and creators were still alive, it was all good. But suddenly, creators started dying and their copyrights got passed on to their heirs and suddenly the labels are getting sued.

And now, these organisations are ignoring the law and have no interest in retuning the copyrights back to the creators, because in the recording business, the labels know that the more valuable copyrights they hold, the more power they have at the bargaining table.

A member from The New York Dolls’, Southside Johnny and Paul Collins are taking Sony Music to court, while John Waite and Joe Ely are taking UMG to court, all because the labels are not doing what the law says they should do.

After 35 years, creators have the right to take back their copyrights, as long as they serve the labels with a Notice Of Termination. In these cases, the creators have done everything right, but the labels are still saying NO.

Sony has alleged that the music created by “The New York Dolls” was under a “work for hire” agreement, which the band has challenged.

One thing is certain here, the labels don’t want a precedent set, in case they lose, so they will settle out of court, in the same way they settled out of court for Don Henley, Tom Scholz, David Coverdale, Eminem and many others before that.

And then they will repeat the “works made for hire” cycle again, when another artist who has created valuable art wants to reclaim their copyrights. And off to court they will go, just to settle out of court. Ridiculous, isn’t it.

Creators should have the same rage at cases like these as they do about Spotify’s appeal to the Copyright Royalty Board’s rates increase.

Here is a Billboard article, outlining the rage of songwriters against Spotify, but nothing against the labels for not returning the rights of songs to the creators.

In the letter, the following is mentioned;

“Our fight is for all songwriters: those struggling to build their career, those in the middle class and those few who have reached your Secret Genius level.”

 Umm, sorry, but you guys don’t fight for all songwriters. And you don’t fight for me. A letter written by a marketing person from the Publishers or Labels is proof of that.

The majority of songwriters who are struggling to build their career haven’t made any coin, although they wished they did. So this class of songwriters wouldn’t benefit in any way from the royalty rate increase. And their works will not suddenly become huge, just because the royalty pool was increased.

The middle class if they own their copyrights would see some dollars come their way however the majority of monies would still go to the organisations who hold the copyrights and the artists they hold who represent the 1% of the recording business and have value in their works. And the songwriters will still get pennies because of their shitty deals with the labels and publishers.

And what about the takedown mess happening in the name of Copyright. YouTube cops the blame, however the blame also lives with the organisations sending down takedown requests without doing their investigations to see if the takedown is legit.

Lionsgate took issue with YouTuber AngryJoeShow giving “Hellboy” a bad review, so they took down his video by making a copyright claim (claiming that they own the video). This also means that Lionsgate will receive all the revenue earned by the video. It sounds like Copyright as Censorship for me.

Previously, a YouTuber called “The FatRat” went to war against a Colombian music company after the company claimed a tune which TheFatRat created as theirs. The FatRat issues were solved when YouTube decided to investigate and saw it as a bunch of B.S and removed the claim.

There are issues from YouTube’s side of things as well, as they just take the copyright claims from others as being true, and then when the YouTuber appeals, the organisation which sent the copyright claim has the power to decide whether to grant the appeal of the claim it originally made. To me, this is all B.S. and putting power in the hands of organizations without any due process.

A company representing Disney, made a claim on a Darth Vader video put up by a YouTube channel called “StarWarsTheory”. The channel created a fan film about Darth Vader with all the necessary approvals from Lucasfilm to do it and monetise it. Eventually the claim was lifted by Lucasfilm themselves, who told Disney, this isn’t cool. Even Warner Music Group via their publishing arm Warner/Chappell, put in a claim over the music in the fan film, which they said has notes similar to “The Imperial March”.

And the problem is not just YouTube’s problem. Instagram took down a video by will.i.am because someone sent a copyright claim on it.

“We’ve removed the video you posted at 9:55 am on January 26, 2019 because it included the following content: VIBRATIONS pt. 1 pt.2 by The Black Eye Peas,” reads the alleged Instagram email.”

But hang on a second, will.i.am formed The Black Eye Peas and wrote the song.

Who knows if it was a phishing scam or the corporate copyright holder sending takedown notices via bots. Just goes to show the ridiculousness of the world we live in.

And we still have the stupid legal fight between Twisted Sister/Universal Music and Australian politician Clive Palmer which is going to the courts in June.

We all know that Palmer’s “Australia Aint Gonna Cop It” is a rip off from “We’re Not Gonna Take It”. And we all know that Palmer enquired about using the music of Twisted Sister but when he heard the price, decided to do his own derivative version of the song.

And of course, Clive being the business man that refuses to pay for anything, including the wages of his workers, is saying that his melody is based on “O Come, All Ye Faithful”, a song which is out of copyright.

Jack White is also a Eurovision winner, without even writing a song for Eurovision. What he did do is write a song called “Seven Nation Army” and since the winning song “Toy” had sections which sounded similar to “Seven Nation Army”, Jack White has been added as a co-writer because his label took the writers of “Toy” to court.

Again, these kind of cases puts the idea out there that the notes order of “Seven Nation Army” are so original that only Jack White wrote a progression like that, free from influence.

AND FINALLY for all those people who still believe that the entertainment industry is getting killed by piracy, here is what you should read, The Sky Is Rising, which details how much new content is coming out.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Politics and Music

“We also license our music very aggressively. This is for two reasons: We derive a huge income stream from this exploitation, and our music reaches listeners in new ways, building more fans.”
Jay Jay French

There has been a bit of backlash to politicians and other movements using popular songs as backing tracks to their campaigns and demonstrations. “We’re Not Gonna Take It” was exploited by Arnie for his California Governor campaign and recently by Trump for his presidential bid. Both times, the TS machine allowed it to happen. However, in 2012 Dee Snider asked Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan to stop using the song, because he did not support Ryan.

Prior to Trump using “We’re Not Gonna Take It” he used songs from other artists.

Steven Tyler asked Donald Trump to stop using the power ballad “Dream On” at his campaigns. Trump responded by saying that he found a better song to take its place.

Trump was also asked to stop using, R.E.M.’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” and Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in The Free World”.

In Australia, anti-Islam rally groups started to use a song from Cold Chisel at their rallies, which had Jimmy Barnes (the vocalist) taking to his Facebook page to state that he did not support these groups using the music.

So what right do artists have if any, to stop these exploitations from happening?

Did you know that Neil Young was asking Trump for money for his stupid PONO music player before Trump decided to enter politics. Then months later, Young is asking Trump to stop using his music because he doesn’t agree with his viewpoints nor does he want to be associated with it.

How can it be that it is okay for people to purchase the music of the artists, but not okay for those same people to use the music of the artists to prove a point or get a message through.

Don’t we live in a democratic society, where freedom of speech is valued?.

And then that Copyright word is put out there. If an artist sells their copyright to a corporation for a fee, then what right do they have to “use copyright” as a censorship tool. They have sold their right. You can’t have it both ways.

If anyone has the right to complain, then it is the corporation.

So which way do artists want?

I have read articles where Dee Snider is even contemplating telling Trump to not use “Were Not Gonna Take It” anymore, however I hope he doesn’t do so.

Because, in the end, music needs people to thrive and it can be used by the people in many different ways. Many supporters of political campaigns and movements are music fans. So while the artist thinks that they are taking a stand against the politician or the movement, as a by product of taking that stand they are also taking a stand against their own fan base.

Now, people might come from different walks of life and have differing viewpoints on a range of issues. Just because an artist doesn’t agree with a viewpoint it doesn’t mean the people should be stopped from using songs that they grew up with or songs that could get their message across in a way no speech could.

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Copyright, Music, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Hendrix And The Madness Of Copyright

There is a new Jimi Hendrix Biopic called Jimi: All Is By My Side out and for anyone that has seen it, you will notice that the movie is missing Jimi Hendrix’s original music. So the story goes something like this. The Jimi Hendrix Estate denied all attempts to license the music unless they had control over the story line of the movie. The producers felt that this would not gel well with their vision  so what the public has is a movie where the actor who plays Hendrix is performing cover songs of other bands.

This is ridiculous because in case anyone has been living under a rock, Jimi Hendrix has been dead for 44 years. Based on retroactive copyright terms his music will never even enter the public domain in our lifetime.

It’s worth noting that when Jimi Hendrix created his original works in the Sixties he did it under the agreement that he will have a copyright on those songs for 55 years during his lifetime. However, the corporations have ensured that agreement got retroactively changed to be life plus 70/90 years (depending on which country you reside in). It is also worth noting that a lot of his original compositions were influenced heavily by blues compositions from 20 to 30 years prior to the 60’s who already had their copyrights expire. That is why Hendirx flourished and that is why the British Invasion flourished. They built of works that had entered the public domain. That is how culture thrives, by building on what came before.

Copyright was always meant to be a deal between the creator and the public. “We (the public) will give you (the creator) exclusive rights and related legal rights for a limited time to your works, so that you have an incentive to create more, but in exchange once that limited time has passed the rights to your creations go to the public so that people can build on what you’ve created”. Copyright was never designed to a welfare system for heirs and ‘estates’ like actual property or a product to be monopolised by greedy corporations.

Any copyright term lasting past death is excessive and at that point it’s time for the public to receive their half of the deal.

I have heard the argument that a lot of Hendrix’s fans, family and friends are not happy about the way he is portrayed in the movie. My answer is so what. If you look at the history of biopics based on musical heroes like Jim Morrison or Johnny Cash, I am sure that fans, family and friends of those people would not have been happy about how those artists have been portrayed in movies. But that’s not the point of copyright. It’s not a right to block or censor representations the creator doesn’t like. In this case the Hendrix Estate was trying to use copyright to block a version of events that the family did not approve of.

Of course, the Hendrix estate might be making their own biopic or documentary on Jimi’s life and I am sure that they will portray Jimi in the most favorable light possible. Sort of like re-writing history from a certain point of view. However that is why other stories like “All Is By My Side” should be told and that is why copyright should not be used to censor those stories.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories, Piracy

Top 10

My 8 year old and my 7 year old love Twisted Sister. It’s the video clips that hooked them, so they started to dig deep into my LP and CD collection. Actually, the first LP they ever saw, was Twisted Sister’s “You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll.” So here it is, the Top 10 list of Twisted Sister songs, by an 8 year old and a 7 year old.

1. We’re Not Gonna Take It

When Quiet Riot topped the charts with “Metal Health” and it became the first heavy metal album to do so, it was a game changer for metal in general. For better or for worse a lot of bands got picked up by major labels in the U.S.

Twisted Sister on the other hand were still struggling to get ahead without any real support from their Atlantic U.S.

Not to be deterred Twisted Sister took this new fan interest in metal to a new level. “We’re Not Gonna Take It” is all pop and a little glam infused with a lot of rock. It’s tongue in cheek video ensured that MTV played it non stop.

Dee Snider finally fine tuned that Chorus melody he had written back in 1979.

2. I Wanna Rock

Who would have thought that in 1987 when “Love Is for Suckers,” came out that it would be a long time before Dee Snider rocked out again.

Desperado proved unsuccessful due to record label politics taking up Dee’s time between 1988 and 1989. Widowmaker came out in the midst of the Seattle Revolution and an excellent band was ignored.

3. Shoot Em Down

This can be the new anthem for the fight against censorship by the Copyright Monopolies and the Corporations that issue DMCA takedowns.

In 1985, Dee Snider along with Frank Zappa and Bob Denver appeared before a Senate committee to testify against the Parents Music Resource Center’s demands for music censorship legislation.

All of this is happening while Twisted Sister was burning to the ground with low ticket sales and crowd animosity.

In 2013, this fight is still going on. This time it is the RIAA, the MPAA and the Copyright monopolies that are trying to silence free speech with bogus takedowns.

Shoot em down I say.

4. You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll

“You Can’t Stop Rock ‘n’ Roll” laid the groundwork for the things to come. With the release of “Under The Blade” before it, the band was getting some serious respect with the metal crowd.

During the “You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll” tour in Europe, especially England, Twisted Sister was the hottest “new” group.

They where selling out 3500 seaters all over the country, they had two hit singles, been on national TV in England and had been in all the papers.

Twisted Sister tour these days and they are more popular than they have ever been. It’s true, “You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll”.

5. SMF

This is the ode to the original tri-state headbangers who would talk at length about the shows that Twisted Sister played in New Jersey, Long Island and Westchester before Twisted Sister became a huge act nationally via MTV. This is their song.

When the band broke through and toured extensively behind “Stay Hungry” the band and Dee Snider especially became overexposed. After being the underdog that gave a voice to every angry teenager in America, Twisted Sister would end up losing the respect of their loyal and possessive core metal fan base.

In other words the SMF’s abandoned them only to return in greater numbers years later.

6. The Kids Are Back

While the record industry proclaims that the industry is dead without any evidence, the kids are all plugging away and creating.

Maybe we will never see another superstar act like the Eighties however we are living in a golden time for creators.

7. Burn In Hell

From reading all the press, it always came across that ”Twisted Sister” was in control of their lives and future. I saw them as a new generation of rock bands due to their hard work ethic to make it.

8. Come Out And Play

When I hear this song, I immediately think of the bands history playing the bar scene, especially when Dee screams out “Join our cavalcade / Enter the world we made.” That cavalcade started when Dee Snider joined in early 1976. That cavalcade kept on growing along with a growing collection of record company rejection letters.

The critics called “Come Out and Play” an uneven album. The weakest tracks on the album like “Leader Of The Pack” and “Be Cruel To Your Skuel” got released as singles. The singles that should have been released are the title track, followed by “The Fire Still Burn” and then “I Believe In Rock N Roll.” Imagine the film clip of “Come Out And Play” if Twisted Sister paid homage to “The Warriors” movie.

In the end “Come Out And Play” didn’t fit the “Michael Jackson business model” of the labels. Twisted Sister went from being hot to being the whipping boys again.

9. The Price

People have a lot of trouble dealing with failure. Twisted Sister had been through so much rejection it made them even more determined to make it. Everything comes at a price.

10. Stay Hungry

It was difficult for Twisted Sister to land a record deal, and the band ended up struggling for nearly a decade before finally getting their big break in the early ’80s.

Unfortunately, when this break finally came, the band would end up being the poster child of record company overexposure.

Stay Hungry stands as a reminder. With each rejection, you need to stay hungry and find the fire again.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music

Dee Snider – Wake Up (The Sleeping Giant) – What Do You Mean I Don’t Write Good Lyrics

Wake Up (The Sleeping Giant) is from Love Is For Suckers released 1987. It was supposed to be the opening track on Dee Snider’s first solo album. Instead it was the opening track of the final Twisted Sister album.

Coming into the Love Is For Suckers period, Twisted Sister had released two defining albums in You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll and Stay Hungry. Both of those albums are produced by Tom Werman. They then used Dieter Dierks from Scorpions fame as the producer on Come Out And Play.

Tom Werman assisted the band in fleshing out the songs. Just listen to the demo’s on the Stay Hungry 25th Anniversary edition and you will hear half-finished songs. So Come Out and Play comes out and it doesn’t do as well as Stay Hungry.

Dee cops a lot of blame for the commercial failure of Come Out And Play. He was the one that wanted to use Leader of The Pack as the leadoff single. The songs on the album are all written by him.

In my view, the album didn’t flop. Come Out And Play showed Twisted Sister who their actual fans are. With Stay Hungry, you had two massive anthems that would pick up the casual swinging fan. With Come Out And Play you had the real fans coming back again. However, the tour had a lot of cancellations and half empty arenas. Put that down to more bad management decisions who over inflated the size of Twisted Sister’s fan base.

Rumour has it that Reb Beach, from Winger fame, played guitar on the Love Is For Suckers album. Beau Hill was tapped to produce the album. Beau would go on to produce albums by Winger and Warrant.

Who the hell are they to say
What we can do and how we can play
We got the numbers, yeah,
We got the might
We got the strength and
We got the right
We got the reason, yeah,
We got the night
So wake up the sleeping giant

Dee was always good at writing the anthem of the SMF’s vs the world. Wake Up The Sleeping Giant is no different. The WE in the song, is the fans, the black sheep, the ones that everyone was calling devil worshippers. I am surprised that Dee got pressured into releasing this album as a Twisted Sister album. From the exterior it looked like no one could pressure Dee to do what he doesn’t want to do.

It’s our rights they’re abusing,
It’s our right to fight back
So rally the troops and
Let’s start the attack

It’s the war cry against the censorship that was taking place against heavy metal music. Again it’s about the Rock N Roll show, where the disenchanted youth can go and let their hair down.

Love Is For Suckers had Slippery When Wet from Bon Jovi, Girls Girls Girls from Motley Crue, and Whitesnake 1987 to compete against. All of those albums were in the Billboard Top 10. Look What the Cat Dragged In from Poison was just outside the Top 10 at number 13.

From hearing Hot Love, you can tell that Dee was thinking of that hit pop metal single that all bands started to record.

In the end Love Is For Suckers has good songs that should be part of the Twisted Sister live set. Wake Up (The Sleeping Giant) is one of those songs.

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