A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Complacency Kills – Music Is A Battlefield

I am listening to the Avenged Sevenfold discography again today. Yep that is five days in row. What can I say, the new album, “Hail To The King” connected with me. I admit that the connection comes from the similarities of the songs on the new album to the bands that I grew up on.

As I have said many times, progress is derivative. One of the rules on success, is that you need to know how to be a member of the club. This is what Avenged Sevenfold is reaching for here on “Hail To The King.” They want to be a member of the classic rock club.  With 200,000 in U.S sales in two weeks they are well on their way. Spotify streams for the song “Hail To The King” are at 1,884,995 and YouTube plays are at 3,904,022 for the same song. Other songs on the album on Spotify have the following numbers;

Shepherd Of Fire – 495,889 streams
Doing Time – 372,238 streams
This Means War – 394,868 streams
Requiem – 333,633 streams
Crimson Day – 310,412 streams
Heretic – 277,498 streams
Coming Home – 288,336 streams
Planets – no data as yet
Acid Raid – no data as yet 

If you’re not spending money, then you are not investing in your future. That is why a DIY independent band like Digital Summer is still ticking over. All the money they make from music is invested back into the band. To supplement themselves, they hold down normal day jobs.

Don’t focus on the money aspect. Desperation can been seen a mile away and it is a turn off. Just try to be friends. Remember that the system is rigged against you. The deck is stacked against you. There are so many people that want to be in the music business, they are willing to work for free. There is no safety net. There is no fat cat with a cigar as mentioned by Yngwie Malmsteen saying that they will fund the record, they will fund the video, they will fund the tour and that they will promote you. This is what Chris Clancy from Mutiny Within doesn’t get. Piracy is not his enemy. His enemy is the millions of other wannabes that are trying to make it and are doing everything for free. Look at Netflix, their policy is to sign up shows that are pirated heavily.

The only way to make money in the music business is to be in the game a very long time. That way, you will be in a position to renegotiate and make better deals. That is why Metallica are huge and getting bigger. Spotify wanted them on their service and they came knocking with a deal that Metallica couldn’t refuse. That is why Motley Crue are still around and making more money than ever. That is why the battle over Queensryche’s name is huge. Even though the band is more or less over and the new music that is created is below Queensryche quality, the name of the band, and the legacy that comes with it carries a lot of weight in dollars. It is a full blown corporate dispute. That is why Geoff Tate has asked for the trial date to be delayed until January 2014. He is hoping that something can be sorted privately, otherwise if it goes to court and he loses, he loses a lot.

Make sure your music is good enough. If you believe that your music is good enough and you are still stuck in the same situation, then the problem is you. You have to figure out what it is about you that is not working and change it. It could be your look, your personality, your interactions with people or your lack of building proper relationships. I like the band Mutiny Within, however I hate the viewpoints that their singer Chris Clancy puts forward. He has been totally misled by others and focused totally on the money side of things.

Take Hold of the Flame from Queensryche sums it up with the lyric, “We see the line of those who find the world has passed them by / Too late to save a dream that’s gone cold.” Don’t be the one with a chip on your shoulder because of missed opportunities. John Sykes is one such talent that didn’t really get the respect and recognition he deserved outside of the core metal/rock community.

Remember that marketing isn’t the 4P’s model of Product, Price, Place and Promotion anymore. Trying to extend the 4Ps model to a world of social media doesn’t cut it anymore. This is what Roadrunner is doing right now with Dream Theater. Here is the product, here is the price, we are placing it here for sale and we are cross promoting the streams of the new songs with the USA Today website and the Grammy Awards website.

Marketing is a one to many relationship. Spotify, Pandora and YouTube are three tools that fit this ideal of marketing. You see, record labels used to charge bands for marketing back in the Eighties and the bands didn’t complain about the marketing budget. In 2013, bands are now marketed on Spotify, YouTube and Pandora and they are complaining at the royalty rates and advertising rates these services pay. It doesn’t make sense to me. Dream Theater has not officially released the two new songs on Spotify. Avenged Sevenfold released the “Hail To The King” single on Spotify and it had 700,000 streams before the album even came out.

Sales is a one to one relationship. This is what iTunes, Amazon, Google Store, CDBaby and Brick and Mortar stores facilitate. Guess what, “Hail To The King” is out and it has moved 200,000 physical units in two weeks as well.

Notice a difference between the services that are used for marketing and services that are used for sales. Musicians fail to notice the difference, always linking marketing services to sales services and complaining about the lack of compensation from a marketing service, however when the Record Labels robbed them blind with $100,000 marketing bills, they didn’t complain.

You need to have skills, you need to know the rules, you need to know the game. You need to keep adjusting your game. On a battlefield, “Complacency Kills”. To stay on top of the music heap, you need to be on the leading edge. You need to remain motivated to succeed. Remember there is no safety net in music. You need to exceed the status quo in every way. You need to excel everyday 24/7. You need that outside perspective. If you surround yourself with enablers who have a vested interest in you making them as much money as possible, you will not get that perspective.

Standard
A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity

Quality Equals Success and Those Doomsday Scenarios From Misguided Artist

Remember a time when people used to fear Doomsday. Back then Doomsday was the end of the world through some act of nature or nuclear warfare. These days Doomsday has gone all up market.

Doomsday now has a three piece suit and it is a trader on Wall Street. Each week, there is a new poll that states, “Doomsday; 98% risk of 2014 stock market crash”. “Doomsday; Critical Warning as 2013 shocker looms”. This is how far we are gone as a race. Our whole doomsday scenarios now revolve around the loss of money. Our priorities revolve around wealth and the accumulation of it.

I remember back in June 2011, Chris Clancy the vocalist of Mutiny Within, posted on his Facebook page (which was then removed) about the labels not making any money from music sales, so they take from the band’s income and after four years of working almost every day, he had only earned $100 in all of that time. There was also a rant about illegal downloads and how the band was dropped from Roadrunner because they sold less than 10,000 legal sales in the US and that their album had been illegally downloaded more than 60,000 times. It is that same argument you get from ignorant musicians, that their music is stolen because the label didn’t make any money of it.

So what does Doomsday and Chris Clancy from Mutiny Within have in common. Clancy’s priorities revolve around wealth and the accumulation of it. So when he got signed by Roadrunner, he must have thought he made it. The cold hard reality is, if he wanted to be paid millions, he should have gotten into banking. Even then, not all the people that get into banking get to make millions. That is life. Some win, some lose, others just do enough to get by. Making money is not the be all and end all.

Quality = Success

I listened to both albums that Mutiny Within did, the one under the Roadrunner umbrella, and the second one, under their own umbrella. In my view, Heartist and Mutiny Within sound very similar. So why does one band have more traction than the other.

THE BUZZ

Heartist took as much time as they could to build up an online buzz for themselves before they played any shows. So Heartist end up playing their first show and Roadrunner was there along with a few other labels. Mutiny Within didn’t build up an online buzz. They did it the old way, by building up a local scene buzz, which then got the label interested. Heartist went cyber world-wide with their buzz. They did it the new way, connecting with fans and letting the fans spread the word. That is why Heartist are touring everywhere and Mutiny Within are not. That is why the Heartist EP has sold a lot of copies, even while it is still downloaded illegally. Mutiny Within when they got signed only had a buzz in their local market.

DO IT YOURSELF

Heartist did it themselves. They kept on writing and creating, on their own time schedules and own budgets. The first Mutiny Within record was a Roadrunner financed record. Heartist was all DIY.

LETTING THE MUSIC TAKE SHAPE (without thinking it will sell)

All artists and songwriters come from a variety of music backgrounds. If you write and allow those backgrounds to come to the fore, each song will end up being different and unique. Don’t stick to one song formula, just because it could generate a hit. Remember the real hits, the songs that last forever are the outliers, the rule breakers, the game changers.

Stop thinking about the RECORDING INDUSTRY and start thinking about the music

Here is a DOOMSDAY scenario for you: The record industry started to collapse when it lawyered up and went to war against technology, beginning with Napster.

So why are artists still playing to the rules set by the recording industry.

In Sweden, Spotify is the king and the queen. Digital sales (downloads and streaming) accounts for 80 percent of music revenue in the territory and remember Sweden is the original home of The Pirate Bay.

Remember quality equals success.

Standard
A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music

Heartist

I am listening to an EP called Nothing You Didn’t Deserve from the band Heartist. They are signed to Roadrunner. The band members in Heartist all came from older bands and older projects that did the standard grind of playing as many shows as they can. This is how the music business was run once upon a time. It doesn’t work in the current times however people still try and run it this way.

So what do the members of Heartist do? They leave those bands and get together to form Heartist.

They knew how the game is played and decided to not participate this time around. So they wrote as much music as they could before releasing any of it to the public. They sat on their EP for over a year and a half, making sure it got into the right hands at the right time. From being in various projects, they made a lot of friends through shows and networking. They put up demos on YouTube and sent them to various connections that they had been acquainted with.

They developed a strategy. They took as much time as they could to build up a buzz before they played any shows. If they just recorded their songs and released them on line, with no real demand or market to satisfy, it would have been a great waste of time. However, they waited, kept on creating that buzz and in the end the stars aligned and they got lucky.

They played their first show and Roadrunner was there, along with a few other labels. Management was also in attendance. They played one show and then Roadrunner signed them.

Is it a good thing that they are on a major metal label like Roadrunner? In my opinion, no, however it was a goal for the band to be signed by a label. You can say that being on Roadrunner has given them a chance to play with Killswitch Engage and go on tour. Could they have done that themselves? Maybe, however we will never know.

Vocalist Bryce Beckley sounds like Spencer Sotelo from Periphery. Another comparison I can make is to Chris Clancy from Mutiny Within, an ex – Roadrunner signed band. Guitarists Jonathan Gaytan and Tim Koch remind me of Adam Dutkiewicz and Joel Stroetzel from Killswitch Engage. Rounding out the band is Evan Ranallo on bass and Matt Marquez on drums.

For a first off release that is also self-produced, this band has potential plus. It’s heavy and progressive with good melodies/riffs and a certain range of diversity within the songs as well. However they need that one great song to hook me in and I haven’t heard it yet. This is a good thing, as they have done enough to keep me interested, wanting to hear more.

Disconnected is the opening track and it comes very close to making that connection. In an interview, on the http://highwiredaze.com/wordpress/heartist website, Matt Marquez the drummer describe the meaning of Disconnected in the following way;

“This song is about the spirit of a dead man still being stuck here and not being able to move on to the afterlife until he finds out why his life took an unexpected turn for death. He can see and hear people and try to make his presence known, but ultimately he is on his own in finding answers that could bring him closure to finally move on to the afterlife.”

Heart Of Gold also comes close to greatness. Back in the Eighties, metal bands or rock bands always had that one song on the album that was sort of called the CROSSOVER song. One that is rock or metal enough to please the rock fans, and one that could satisfy the large pop audience. This is that type of song for Heartist. It is meant for the charts and it is a good song that deserves to be on the charts. It has more integrity than what the other songs are on there. It has that Linkin Park feel and they recently released a YouTube clip, handmade using over 3000 printed images and stop motion photography.

Tangled is another song that comes close to greatness. As with Disconnected, I am hearing a Periphery connection, especially in the vocal melodies.

Rhinestone has a Dream Theater style intro that hooks me in, however it goes downhill from there and The Answer has an awesome 30 Seconds To Mars style intro, however the Chorus doesn’t take it to the next level.

Where Did We Go Wrong has an unbelievable pre chorus and chorus. The song is about losing a relationship. The kind of relationship where one party is putting all of their effort into making a relationship work and it’s just not working, while the other person is giving up and no one really understands why it is all over when it is over.

Nothing You Didn’t Deserve needed more work to it in my mind. It starts off heavy and melodic and it has some decent sections. The lyrical theme on the other hand is world class. It deals with psychosis. The male character has split personalities that are battling each other. The screaming parts are the darkness and the melodic singing is the light. It is a different twist to the clichéd heartbreak song. He gets cheated on and like all metal songs, it ends in death, so that nobody else can have his love.

Heartist are a product of their time.

Standard