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

Coheed And Cambria

“Vaxis – Act I: The Unheavenly Creatures” is the new album. The title can turn people away who are not fans and to be honest these long album titles did sound peculiar and they triggered an interest for me back in 2007, however I still needed another recommendation to dive in.

It started with a recommendation that came from a Guitar World interview about the “No World For Tomorrow” album, which also came out in 2007 but I still did nothing with it.

Then a few months later I was given a burnt copy of “In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth” by an old band member. I was at work and I couldn’t wait until I got home as I had some after work activities to do so I would have been home late. Anyway I placed the CD into the CD player of the PC, grabbed the shitty e-training headphones from work and pressed play.

The rest is history as I became a fan for life.

So here I am 11 years later and another new Coheed release has hit the streets. Being a fan, I have no problem spending the $172.95AUD for the Deluxe Box Set. I’ve done this same routine for the last four releases.

It’s another concept album.

My first concept experience was “Operation Mindcrime” from Queensryche, then “The Crimson Idol” from WASP and then “Streets: A Rock Opera” from Savatage. But Coheed take it to another level, with more or less each album except one being part of a concept story called “The Amory Wars”.

Here is a quick summary. There are more detailed ones out there.

A scientist called Sirius Amory discovers an energy source called “The Keywork” is actually souls who haven’t transcended. This happens on “The Afterman” album.

Many years later, a person called Wilhelm Ryan starts using the energy of the Keywork to murder and rule. Coheed and Cambria are robots created to destroy him. Along with a person called Inferno, who also is a robot, they attack Ryan’s fortress and manage to destroy it. But Ryan survives. However Coheed and Cambria think he’s dead. Thinking it’s over, their memory is wiped. This happens on “The Year Of The Black Rainbow”.

In “The Second Stage Turbine Blade” Coheed and Cambria get killed and their last surviving son, Claudio, is left to take up the charge. I’m still not sure how humanoid robots have children. But the recent Bladerunner movie also had this story arc.

Claudio finds out that he’s like the chosen one in “In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth”.

In “Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Vol. I: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness” there is a character called “The Writer” that starts to fuck up the story because he’s going through a relationship break up. It reminds me of the Matrix characters “The Keymaker” merged with “The Architect”.

In “No World For Tomorrow”, Claudio destroys the Keywork and releases the trapped souls. And the new album takes place after this event.

Now of you want to read reviews of the album I suggest you check out these reviews from Metal Injection and Rock Sins.

I more or less agree with everything they say. In my view, if the album music doesn’t convert new fans the narrative will. It’s a win-win for Coheed and Cambria.

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

Score Card Inc

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

Three years later, how are the artists fairing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Metallica
Back in 2013, I wrote;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sweet and Lynch
Another album would be sweet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Music

Return Of 2015: Part III

NUMBER 8:
Days Of Jupiter – Only Ashes Remain
If you don’t like Disturbed’s comeback album, then get into this album.

Days Of Jupiter hail from Sweden and they started in January 2010, however the members have been in various bands prior. Like anything to do with music, it’s a long way just to rock and roll.

They take Disturbed’s / Shinedown / Five Finger Death Punch and Alter Bridge style of music, amp it up with “Rammstein” style grooves, mix in some Tool progressive grooves, add in some Euro/Metal influences like Accept, Scorpions, Evergrey and top it off with Arena Rock choruses.

The result is “Only Ashes Remain”; their second album. For those that don’t know, “Secrets Brought to Life” released in 2012, is their debut album.

The opening moments of “Ashes” bring back memories of Five Finger Death Punch’s “The Bleeding”. “Broken Halo” is a hell of a good song. “Remember My Name” is a metal tour de force.

“I” reminds me of the “Draconian Times” album by Paradise Lost. “Shut Up” is a monster song, with that Rammstein marching beat and “Last One Alive” brings back the intro of “Ashes”.

NUMBER 9:
Sweet and Lynch – Only To Rise
The people who spread the word for the project are either fans of Stryper and Dokken or Michael Sweet and George Lynch. Sweet and Lynch are two veterans of the music business who know they need to play to their core. It is the core audience that will sustain them and it will be the core audience that will abandon them when they deviate too far from it. My review can be found here.

The whole album is an example of the progress is derivative model that I subscribe too.

NUMBER 10:
Muse – Drones
I have a lot of time for this band, because of “Stockholm Syndrome”. That song was copied and used by a ton of metal and rock bands afterwards. “Drones” to me has enough to satisfy the core, and to pick up new fans. Check out “Psycho” that merges a “Black Sabbath” sludgy groove with classical overtones. Then comes “Mercy” that will satisfy the pop fans of Muse, plus it has enough grit to satisfy the rock fans. I will even go out on a limb and call Muse the modern-day Led Zeppelin.

“Reaper” kicks off with a Van Halen “Hot For Teacher” vibe and it has this “Still Of The Night” vibe from Whitesnake in the Chorus, while the bassist is playing lines like “Heart Of The Sunrise” from Yes. Brilliant.

Then you have a keyboard led song like “Aftermath” with it’s Claptonesque blues style of leads in the intro.

Chuck into the mix the Morricone themed “The Globalist” that morphs into a “Stockholm Syndrome” style movement that then morphs into an Elton John crossed with jazz movement and you can see why I call Muse the modern-day Led Zeppelin.

And the lyrics from Matt Bellamy are brilliant, especially for a band that has commercial appeal, who also racks up at least 5 million streams on Spotify each day. While Coldplay and Bon Jovi tell their audience they can move mountains, Muse/Bellamy tells them what is happening in the world at this point in time.

“Your mind is just a program and I’m the virus” ….. From “Psycho”

“Absent gods and silent tyranny
We’re going under hypnotised
By another puppeteer” ….. From “Mercy”

“I’m just a pawn and we’re all expendable” ….. From “Reapers”

“You were my oppressor
And I, I have been programmed to obey
Now, you are my handler
And I, I will execute your demands” ….. From “The Handler”

“Oppression is persisting
I can’t fight this brain conditioning
Our freedom’s just a loan
Run by machines and drones
They’ve got us locked into their sights” ….. From “Revolt”

NUMBER 11:
Coheed and Cambria – The Color Before The Sun
You can hear how fatherhood and love has affected Claude Sanchez.

“Island” kicks off the album. It’s similar in style to other major key rockers COCA have done in the past. However, the best song is Claude’s love song, “Here To Mars”.

And as usual Claude Sanchez comes up with some excellent lyrics;

“Now give me one good reason to stay here at all
When the fee is too big, our apartment’s too small
Where’s my life-saver when I’m screaming danger” ….. From “Island”

“You, you keeping on screaming from the top of your lungs,
Mr. Who Gives A Shit, just shut up” ….. From “You Got Spirit, Kid”

“You’re number one
Go on living that farce
Cause nobody gives a fuck who you are” ….. From “You Got Spirit, Kid”

NUMBER 12:
All That Remains – The Order Of Things
Maybe all the love goes to “Killswitch Engage”, but man All That Remains are up there as well.

“This Probably Won’t End Well”, “The Greatest Generation”, “For You”, “A Reason For Me To Fight”, “Bite My Tongue” (love the little jazzy breakdown solo section) and “Criticism and Self Realization” are stand outs.

And if you are looking for voices who are not afraid to speak their minds, then look no further than frontman, Phil Labonte. Check out some of his lyrics.

“Mistakes that are made are the gifts that keep giving” ….. From “This Probably Won’t End Well”

“They dug and shaped the earth and with their hands gave birth,
To all the modern wonders that you see, they worked from dawn till dusk” ….. From “The Greatest Generation”

“Cause I can’t wait while you think this through
We don’t have endless time, remember who left who” ….. From “For You”

“No cavalry left that we can call, we’re on our own, backs against the wall” ….. From “A Reason For Me To Fight”

“Apologies are empty words, I know you’re only sorry (because) you got caught” ….. From “Bite My Tongue”

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

Money In Music

“I’m not lying when I say I’ve got £100 in my bank account right now. In the six years I’ve been doing this, I’m not anywhere near the wage that I used to be on when I was a copper.”
Dan Tompkins – TesseracT’s old vocalist who has become the new vocalist again.

You see, being a Police Officer is a job on a salary. It is a community need to have Police Officers. They are there to keep public order and to enforce the rules. Now, being a singer in a progressive rock band means that you are one of many in a crowded marketplace. There is no salary and no guaranteed income. Everyone needs to make a living, however you need to be in the industry for the music first. Money comes a distant second.

Simply economics 101 dictates, when there is unlimited supply of a similar product, demand is low. When supply is limited, demand is high. At this point in time, there is a lot of new music coming out everyday.

So what are the fans going to latch onto?

We don’t know, there is just too much noise, so we wait. Meanwhile that act is percolating, spreading slowly from city to city, country to country. But that takes time. In some cases, a lot of time.

So, it’s time to bust a myth.

Being in a band is a financial struggle.

Being in a band with a label behind you is also a financial struggle, unless you are in the one percent of acts that cross over. The label will give you an advance that they will need to recoup from sales, touring, etc. However if you are in a band and you have an audience that cares, you can monetize that audience so that life is not a financial struggle.

In today’s market, the audience needs to go and find you. The hype and marketing of the past doesn’t work anymore.

TesseracT is a good band who are good musicians and songwriters. However, the big money-oriented labels find these kinds of acts no longer acceptable, unless they start making millions on an indie label.

It’s just a shame that so many fall by the wayside because there’s just too much saturation. It’s always been that way. There’s plenty of good music, it’s just in different places than the equivalent of what being on the radio used to be.

Being an artist means that you have to work for free and if you have worked for free and have built up an audience, then it’s up to you to monetize them. Normally, the record label would enter at this point in time. However, the myth of the label as the hero is greatly exaggerated. I remember the transitional period in the early 80s after MTV broke and made everyone a star and music become a sales driven vehicle.

Look at Protest The Hero. They had a label deal. They sold decently. They had decent film clips. They toured a lot. Then the sales dried up. By the end of it, they had no label and no money. They could have packed it in and done something different.

So what did they do?

They went to their fans to see if anyone cared. They set a target of $125K. They got a lot of hate in the process. Days after launching Indiegogo, they broke past their target. The fans cared.

Just this week, I got an email from Protest about another campaign, a subscription based service. I signed up straight away for the $25 package. Imagine they get the same 10,000 people signing up. You do the math.

Coheed and Cambria broke away from the label’s and went DIY for “The Afterman” releases. Claude got creative with the release package for the double album release and offered up an excellent Super Deluxe package at $70.

And they get opening week sales of 49,500. Assuming those sales are a mixture of Super Deluxe and Normal releases, the gross return is still pretty impressive. Then they had second week sales of 10,200. Third week sales of 4,000. Fourth week sales of 2,800. After four weeks, the band had moved over 60,000 units of the “Ascension” album. Then they went on a year-long victory lap around the world. During that tour, “Descension” comes out, three months after “Ascension” and it moves 40,600 units.

Again, you do the math on gross sales.

It’s hard making money in music, there is no doubt about it, but so is every business enterprise. There is no guarantee that every start-up will succeed, and it’s the same deal for artists. But history has taught us one thing. The artists that stick it out, percolating on the fringes, do end up crossing over. Pink Floyd, Yes, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Nine Inch Nails and Disturbed are just a few acts that come to mind quickly. And then, the sky is the limit.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Unsung Heroes

Rock/Metal Quotes

“Our first deal, for example, was for five records, so there was development there. They looked at it as: ‘Let’s invest in these first two records, and if nothing happens, no big deal. Maybe the third record will be the turning point, and then four and five we’re on the gravy train.’ I think that was the record company’s perspective.”
Alex Lifeson. RUSH

It was always the fan that had the power. Fans invest in the artist. It never mattered what the record company thought or believed as it was the fan who decided if the piece of vinyl was worth their money. The labels had the gatekeeping power to decide who got to a recording studio or who didn’t. And they used that power wisely to accumulate artists’ copyrights.

“If we were to release those same three records now: Fly By Night – the record company would’ve gone, ‘Okay, let’s hang on.’ With Caress of Steel, they would’ve dropped us right away, because it was a commercially unsuccessful record, but we needed to make that record to make 2112. So there would be no 2112 for Rush in 2015. I’d go back to plumbing or some other job. That just doesn’t exist now, whereas back then, as nervous as they were, they still were there to support us.”
Alex Lifeson. RUSH

The labels did not support the artist. They supported a copyright monopoly. Their accountants knew very early on that holding the copyrights for songs would be a big financial winner for them in the future. The labels have used their accumulated copyrights as leverage to negotiate licence fees with Apple Music, Pandora, Spotify, Deezer and all of the other streaming services.

To prove my point, let’s look at an Italian hard rock/metal label called Frontiers Records. Look at the albums they have released, especially in the last five years. You will see a trend of certain artists, re-recording their best songs from the Eighties and Seventies and putting these recorded versions under a new Copyright. Frontiers will pay the artist for their work, and they keep the copyrights of these forgeries for a very long time.

Who is the winner here?

The artist or the record label.

“For new bands, everybody makes CDs. Years ago, nobody had CDs. You had to have a record deal. Everybody’s got it [now]. And there’s so much competition. The Internet is good in a way to get your stuff out there, but the whole music industry is wrecked.”
Vinny Appice. DIO, BLACK SABBATH, HEAVEN AND HELL,

“For me, it’s an interesting dichotomy. Because, on one hand, you’ve got people who are streaming, but then they use that to decide whether or not they wanna buy the album, as opposed to illegal downloading. But then there’s the other side of it where people are kind of using it as, basically, satellite radio, where it’s, like, ‘I’m just gonna listen to this.’ But people still pay a subscription for it. So, in one way or another, the economy is still working. It’s just that… We can’t catch up with the technology; that’s the problem. There’s so many innovations that the powers that be can’t figure out… they can’t get ahead of it.”
Corey Taylor. SLIPKNOT/STONE SOUR

The gatekeepers are no more. It’s an open market and simple economics rule. Supply vs Demand. Music at the moment is in huge supply and the demand from the fans is spread thin.

For example, in the next three months there are about 40 albums that I am interested in listening too.

For August, I am looking forward to Soulfly’s “Archangel”, Bon Jovi’s “Burning Bridges”, Disturbed’s “Immortalized”, Pop Evil’s “Up”, Five Finger Death Punch’s “Got Your Six”, Fear Factory’s “Genexus”, Bullet for My Valentine’s “Venom”, Act of Defiance’s “Birth and the Burial”, P.O.D.’s “The Awakening”, Motörhead’s “Bad Magic” and Soilwork’s “The Ride Majestic”.

For September, I am looking forward to Shinedown’s new one, Iron Maiden’s “The Book of Souls”, Slayer’s “Repentless” and Atreyu’s “Long Live”.

For October, I am looking forward to Children of Bodom’s “I Worship Chaos”, Collective Soul’s “See What You Started by Continuing”, Coheed and Cambria’s “The Color Before the Sun”, Deftones new one, Queensrÿche’s “Condition Hüman”, Sevendust’s “Kill the Flaw”, Trivium’s “Silence in the Snow”, W.A.S.P.’s “Golgotha” and Stryper’s “Fallen”.

Some I would buy and a lot I would just stream WHEN I HAVE THE TIME.

“All due respect to Mr. Simmons, I think when he talks about rock being dead, I think he talks about the old-school way of album-tour-album-tour-album-tour. That’s just not the way you do it anymore. There’s so many other things and ways to continue the history of this industry, and to continue to be on top. I mean, I’m looking out at headlining Download [festival] in the U.K. [Sarcastically] Yeah, rock is dead. That’s why there’s 85,000 people here at 11:30 at night in a downpour, and nobody left. Yeah, rock’s dead. Yeah.”

Corey Taylor. SLIPKNOT/STONE SOUR

Spot on. Fans of music haven’t disappeared and they haven’t resorted to freemium as the labels or the RIAA would like us to think. Fans still support music and artists in their own way. I purchase CD’s, I stream music, I download music and I go to concerts. The old model of album sales and then a tour is broken. So a new model is required.

“Well, we have such an incredible reaction to [JUDAS PRIEST’s latest album] ‘Redeemer Of Souls’ that really motivated us to crack the whip and get on with making the next record pretty quickly. The clock is ticking, you know. We can’t afford to wait three years, or five years now, to make the record. And especially while we’re having this great, kind of, vibe with the fans and just this massive PRIEST family love fest type of deal. You know, who wants to go home and sit down for a year?”
Rob Halford. JUDAS PRIEST

“Fewer records get sold or streamed, less money is there,” he continued. “You used to sell enough records to not go on tour. In the 90s, you used to make as much money on tour as you would selling records. Now you make one-tenth of that money on records sales or streaming. The biggest problem with the new record business is that I don’t know who the fans are. Fans are the people who will actually pay for something.”
Peter Mensch. MANAGER

They (the recording industry) have to. But probably the best route they should take, I think they’ve been playing catch-up for a long time — they’re constantly trying to readjust and adapt. I think that probably the truth of the matter, the answer is to start from scratch and create a whole new playbook. Build a whole new business plan off of that. I don’t think anybody, at least that I’m aware of, has done that, started with just a blank slate and just started over. I think that’s really what needs to be done. Just level the building and build something brand new.”
Dee Snider. TWISTED SISTER

Fans are people who will actually pay for something when they want to pay. Growing up the Eighties, I had a circle of friends who would wait with blank cassettes for the latest music I purchased. We had a running joke to say “the leeches are in the house”. These fans copied Motley Crue, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Megadeth, Whitesnake, Night Ranger and so many other bands from me. Their whole music collection was dubbed music.

So time goes on, they get older, they get jobs, the internet comes, Napster rises and suddenly they have money to spend. They didn’t start to purchase recorded music, they just downloaded that for free. What they did start to purchase was concert tickets for the bands they liked. When Maiden toured Australia for the “Caught Somewhere Back In Time” tour, they went to the shows in Sydney and Melbourne. I only went to the Sydney shows. When Motley Crue came for the Carnival Of Sins tour they went to the shows around Australia. I only went to the Sydney show. When Metallica came, they went to the shows around Australia, plus the Soundwave shows and so on. When Megadeth came, they went to their shows.

“Because, at the end of the day, it’s about people knowing the music, not owning it.”
Corey Taylor. SLIPKNOT/STONE SOUR

Perfectly said.

“The only thing that’s really been affected is albums sales. Because there’s still just as many rock fans out there as there were, and there’s a whole new generation coming up. I mean, the contracts that you signed back then — even today — you’d have to sell five, six million at a pop to be able to turn a profit. So, for people like me, it wasn’t about making money off the album sales. I mean, it’s be nice, but it wasn’t the essential.”
Corey Taylor. SLIPKNOT/STONE SOUR

“I’m talking about the cost to buy a CD. You can get a brand new record from your favourite band for ten dollars, basically. And even that’s high, ’cause most bands will sell ’em cheaper, especially the first or two the records are out. So, for ten bucks you can get a new record. I mean, it wasn’t that long ago that CDs cost $18.99 at the Virgin Megastore. Records cost half what they used to cost, and people aren’t buying them as much, which is crazy to me. It’s never been cheaper. What more do the people want?”
Scott Ian. ANTHRAX

No one wanted to buy an album. WE WANTED TO LISTEN TO MUSIC. It was unfortunate that the music we wanted to listen to was put on a piece of vinyl or a CD or a cassette and sold at a very high price.

“For me, the album is the calling card. You hope people are hearing the music, but it’s not essential to sell the music, and that’s the thing you kind of have to balance today.”
Corey Taylor. SLIPKNOT/STONE SOUR

“Right now I don’t even know what the music business is. I have no idea. There’s no record stores. We live in Los Angeles, and the radio sucks. It’s better elsewhere. The bands put an album out, and they don’t play it. Then everybody downloads it for free. And it’s a mess. ‘Cause people need to earn money when they play music, just like you go earn money when you go to work. It costs money to make an album. You can’t just give it away for free.”
Vinny Appice. DIO, BLACK SABBATH, HEAVEN AND HELL,

But it’s not for free. The album that you recorded has been put up on a streaming site. The label that put it up was paid a fee to license the music they have on that streaming site. Speak to your label and re-negotiate. When people listen to your album, 70% of the monies go to your label. Again, speak to your label and re-negotiate.

What is better?

A million streams or a 1000 units in sales. A million streams shows a large audience supporting your product that is waiting to be monetized in other ways.

1000 units in sales shows a 1000 people who purchased your music and then maybe listened to it once or twice or a lot. The problem is the artists don’t know either way if those 1000 units in sales are fans or not.

“Cause people are still buying CDs, but they’re also buying music on iTunes, they’re paying for accounts on Spotify. So it’s not like they’re not hearing the music. So when they come and see the show, and you play a song that is brand new and you get that huge pop, that’s what it’s all about. It’s all about that live show”
Corey Taylor. SLIPKNOT/STONE SOUR

“I understand there’s a thing called the Internet and people have the ability to steal music. So I understand why it’s happening, but you would think that people would just have the attitude, ‘I’m gonna support music, I’m gonna support the bands I love, because if I don’t support this, well, the bands I love aren’t gonna be able to make records anymore and they’re not gonna be able to tour as much anymore.”
Scott Ian. ANTHRAX

Scott Ian is unfortunately stuck in the sales equals success mentality. As Corey Taylor has stated, fans of music support the bands they like in different ways. A typical fan could fit into any of the following combinations;

– Stream for free only
– Stream for free and purchase tickets to a show
– Stream on a paid subscription only
– Stream on a paid subscription only and purchase tickets to a show
– Stream for free and purchase a CD/mp3 only
– Stream for free and purchase a CD/mp3 and purchase tickets to a show
– Stream on a paid subscription and purchase a CD/mp3 only
– Stream on a paid subscription, purchase a CD/mp3 and purchase tickets to a show
– Purchase a CD/mp3 only
– Purchase a CD/mp3 and purchase tickets to a show
– Illegally download for free only
– Illegally download for free and then purchase a CD
– Illegally download for free, purchase a CD and purchase tickets to a show
– Illegally download for free and purchase tickets to a show

“Look, if I was a kid, and it was 1977 and I had a way to get KISS albums for free, I’m pretty sure I probably would have jumped on that bandwagon. But for me to get a free KISS album in 1977 would have meant having the balls to walk into a record store, take a vinyl album, stick it under my shirt and walk out without getting caught. There was a consequence to that. So it’s a completely different thing [today]. There’s no consequence to stealing music online … or anything: movies, or books, or anything.”
Scott Ian. ANTHRAX

Look Scott, when you were a kid, I am sure that you copied an album onto a cassette tape. That is called Copyright Infringement. This is the problem that you face with the internet. People have copied your music and are spreading your music via the Internet. No one has stolen anything. The iTunes mp3 is still available for purchase, the Anthrax albums are still available for streaming and so forth.

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

The B-Sides For Engaging With Fans

Remember how cool it was to discover new bands or songs from the B-sides of singles.

Like when I purchased the “Creeping Death” single and I first heard “Am I Evil” from Diamond Head and “Blitzkrieg” from Blitzkrieg. Or picking up the Whitesnake singles to “Here I Go Again” (and hearing “Guilty Of Love), “Give Me All Your Love” (and hearing “Fool For Your Loving and Don’t Break My Heart Again”), “Is This Love” (and hearing “Bad Boys” and “Standing in the Shadow”) and “Still Of The Night” (and hearing “You’re Gonna Break My Heart Again”).

Europe also promoted their back catalog with the release of “The Final Countdown” single. On the B-side there was the excellent “On Broken Wings”. Def Leppard also went into the archives when they put non album tracks “Ride Into The Sun” and “I Wanna Be Your Hero” as the b-sides to “Hysteria” and “Pour Some Sugar On Me” respectively.

Throughout music history, the b-side has often thrown up an extra, unexpected treat. And with technology advancing, the vinyl b-side is a thing of the past, and when CD singles started coming out, the B-side was relegated to a four song EP while the MP3 introduced the era of cherry-picking and the b-side was dead forever.

One of my favourite rock acts from Australia “Candy Harlots” had real good single releases. I still have the original 7 inch single of the Leeno Dee penned “Danger” that was with Ron Barrett (RIP), Mark Easton, Leeno Dee, Tony Cardinal and Marc DeHagar. On the B-side was the Ron Barrett penned “Wrap 2 Arms”.

Then a few years later came the “Danger” CD Single. However this time the B-side was another Ron Barrett penned song called “Hot Love Child”.

The intention of the single was for artists to double up with releasing two great songs at a time.

“The Beatles” single releases came to be known as the “Double A-sides”. In the Seventies, the second cut was even seen to overtake its a-side: “Beth” from Kiss comes to mind. It was their biggest hit and it was a b-side to “Detroit Rock City”. By the Eighties, the B-side started to become a method for releasing versions of songs that were not officially released. Some bands used demos of unreleased songs, while others used live recordings of released songs or demos of released songs. Other bands used the B-side as a way to record cover songs.

Bon Jovi took the “unreleased demos of songs plus liver versions of released songs” route initially with each single, while Metallica took the “demos of released songs plus cover songs route”. Both formats worked and fostered a connection with fans that ended up with both bands releasing  albums that celebrated their own paradigm.

Bon Jovi came out with the boxed set” 100,000,000 Fans Cant Be Wrong” which focused on the unreleased songs. They did it again with the 2014 re-issue of “New Jersey”.

Metallica brought out “Garage Inc” which further built of the culture that both bands created.

Motley Crue tried to get in on the act with their “Supersonic And Demonic Relics” release.

Just recently Machine Head did a similar concept with “Killers and Kings” and their cover of Ignite’s “Our Darkest Days”/Bleeding”. It was a creative release that had four different covers based on Tarot Cards. As a fan, I purchased all four of the covers and they are still wrapped in plastic.

Coheed and Cambria released all the demos plus a few unreleased songs as part of the Super Deluxe release for “The Afterman” releases.  We, (the fans) lapped it all up.

Those albums that I purchased, I played them over and over (especially the demo/unreleased songs). However, all that time and devotion from all the fans was not counted by any metric so the artist had no idea the engagement the fans had with those releases.

All that mattered was the flawed business model of the initial purchase.

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

Music Is All About Change

The new music industry is all about change.

Do you think that if you pull your music from Spotify that it is not available on YouTube with ad support (which means income) and with no ad support (which means no income).

The new music industry is about exploring different business models and seeing which one works for you.

Black Veil Brides had a Pre-Order pledge campaign for their new album and the perks on offer just kept on getting sold out. First week U.S sales are anaemic at 29,925 however does that mean that the album is not popular or that it is not a success. Go on YouTube. The BVBArmyVEVO account shows 2,206,786 views for the “Heart Of Fire” video, 1,208,958 for the “Faithless” audio and recently a clip went up for the ballad “Goodbye Agony” and that has already accumulated 464,059 views. Compared to their big song “In The End” with 36,560,728 views, you can see that the fan base is experiencing the band in many different ways. In this case, the band and their team (record labels, managers, accountants, lawyers and publishers) are making money from the Pledge Campaign, YouTube views, streams on other services, physical sales, mp3 sales and radio plays.

Coheed and Cambria had a vinyl remastered re-issue of “In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth” which sold out its first pressing and then they went on a sold out commemoration tour of the album. They are remaining relevant even though their last album came out in February 2013. For them, 2014 was all about touring, vinyl sales, special edition live box sets and merchandise.

Basically new business models from bands are reshaping the way music is marketed and distributed. There are countless new artists emerging and there are countless new ways for fans to listen to those artists.

The music industry of the past consisted of great control. Distribution in those days consisted of record stores. Technology has made way for new opportunities, thus creating new models. The internet has eliminated a lot of past costs within the music industry; this goes for the way music is recorded, the format of music, the marketing, and especially the distribution outlets. New models have taken away the control aspect.

Digital Summer recently asked a Facebook question to their followers about how does everyone find new music. They wanted to know how their fans had heard of them and where they usually hear new music they like? I went through the comments and grouped them into categories.

Radio like Sirius XM Octane, local terrestrial stations, Pandora, Slacker Radio, iHeart, etc got 137 votes for 26%. At this point in time radio is still the best way to get your music out there. However it is the Live show that seals the deal for the band.

Live Shows especially comments around the opening slot that they had on the current Volbeat tour got 121 votes for 23%. It looks like the band really delivers on stage. Also the comments kept on saying that the band members took time out to meet newly converted fans and showed them where they can get free downloads of the band’s music. It’s all about connecting with fans folks.

Word of mouth from fans or band members got 63 votes for 12%. With the internet connecting everyone, I expect this to be more relevant.

YouTube via the algorithm suggestions got 57 votes for 11%. The tech industry is fragmented. When you combine the platforms like YouTube, Spotify, iTunes, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, MySpace, Online publications, other online platforms and Amazon, you get a 37% reach from the Techies.

Spotify via the similar artists feature got 30 votes for 6%

Twitter via the band members following someone and that someone goes on to check the band out got 25 votes for 5%.

iTunes via the Genius or suggestions based on previous purchases got 25 votes for 5%.

Promotions like having cool looking merchandise, flyers, giving away free demo CD’s, having their stickers plastered all over town, endorsement companies, music stores got 16 votes for 3%.

Other Online Platforms like Reverbnation, Soundcloud, Google Play, XBOX Music, Last.fm, Gaming Music Videos got a combined 13 votes which also equates to 2%.

Instagram via the band members liking photos posted by users or following users got 10 votes for 2%. This was a surprise, however the work that the band members have done on this site is astounding. One fan commented that they are a Gemini Syndrome fan and when they posted a photo of Gemini Syndrome on Instagram, one of the Winterstein brothers liked the photo. The soon to be fan, clicked on his account, saw they had a band, checked out the band and then became a fan.

Facebook and MySpace got 10 votes each for 2%. Goes to show that while Facebook is a good tool for connecting with fans once you have them, it is not a good tool for finding new fans.

Online publications like Stereogum, Loudwire, Jango, Revolver, Ultimate-Guitar got 6 votes for 1%. This is another fragmented industry. The online publications offer no substance, no personal opinion. It’s just all thumbs up, pat my back and I will pat yours style of reporting.

The Pirate Bay/Torrents got 4 votes for 1%. Looks like copyright infringement is not such a big issue.

Amazon got 3 votes for 1%. This is how I found out about the band. Their “Counting The Hours” album came up with bands I might like based on my purchases.

So what does tell any new artist trying to build a career in music.

Be ready to change on the whim and be ready to try different ways of promoting, connecting and marketing your music.

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