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

Music Is A Long Road – A Trip Down Memory Lane with Fates Warning, Tom Petty and Dream Theater

For any artists these days, be it Bon Jovi or Metallica or Dream Theater or Motley Crue or Imagine Dragons or Shinedown or Machine Head or any new band starting off right now, they all need to understand one thing. We are living in the generation of kids born from 1997 onwards. This generation wants to consume music. Their sense of community is all online. Anyone that says they don’t have a Spotify account is not living in the modern age. These kids weren’t alive when the Record Labels ruled the day, so they have no desire for yesterday, they are all about today and what lays beyond.

For any artist these days, their whole career is about relationships. If you want an audience to invest, you need to establish a relationship. You need to make the effort. The days of touring a city based on the record sales figures for that city are long gone. Ask Dream Theater or Iron Maiden how many albums they have sold in South America? Then ask them how many people came to their shows in those countries.

Mike Portnoy stated in the linear notes on the released bootleg recording of Dream Theater’s Santiago, Chile show from June 2005 that they didn’t know what to expect from South America due to the low number if records they had sole there. They even went to the show with a cut down stage set to save money. In the end, they played to their biggest headlining audience ever.

It’s all about roots. If an artist doesn’t have any, the audience is not interested. Experience moulds the artist, it influences them. Music is an end unto itself. When done right, the sound and the feel is enough. It doesn’t need the videos, the PR sell and all the pyro that comes with the rock n roll show.

Tom Petty sang that Love Is A Long Road. That is the aim of every artist. To foster the love of the audience into a sustainable career. To paraphrase Tom Petty, Music is A Long Road. The same way that a relationship with a partner has its ups and down, so does the relationship between artist and fan. The same effort that an artist puts into a loving relationship is basically the same effort they need to put in to their music career.

The music community has shifted to being a song centric community. We just dont know it yet. The album format that used to make the most money for the record labels is almost a dead format. However artists still go back and release a collection of songs as an album.

In order for the album format to work for you, you need to create an album that is playable throughout. You need to create an album that needs to be heard over and over again. You need to create an album that stands up years after its release.

Fates Warning released an unbelievable album called Disconnected in 2000. However talk to anyone these days and it is like the band never existed. It’s been years since I’ve heard Disconnected and to my amazement, it sounds as fresh and innovative today as it did 13 years ago. Jim Matheos is the pure definition of the progress is derivative statement. He has the ability to take good things from songs that came before and mould them into something great, unique and innovative.

In the Year 2000, progressive music was at opposite ends of the spectrum. You had the Dream Theater style of progressive music on one side and the Tool style of progressive music on the other side. In between you had a band like Porcupine Tree, merging Tool like aggression with Pink Floyd like atmospherics. The mainstream was ruled by Nu-Metal bands. The missing link was Fates Warning.

With Disconnected, Jim Matheos merged the Tool and Porcupine Tree progressive elements with the Dream Theater progressive elements and put them through the Fates Warning blender.

Disconnected is a fusion of all the best progressive elements at the time into a cohesive piece of work that can be listened to over and over again from start to finish. It is a tragedy that this album is so overlooked these days. In the same way that each lick and melody from Images and Words by Dream Theater sticks in my head, Disconnected from Fates Warning does the same.

I am looking forward to hearing “Darkness In A Different Light” when it comes out on September 27. Nine years is a long time between albums. Nine years in the music business is an eternity. So much has changed. Love is a long road. Music is a long road.

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

Record Label Innovation – Kill Music Service to Protect Old Business Models

What are the Record Labels worth without the talent? ZERO!

So what do the Record Labels do to their talent?

They treat them to a world of creative accounting.

They treat them to a world where they spend monies on DMCA takedowns and litigation to protect the old income streams, instead of nurturing new income streams for their talent. Throughout life, people are always looking for something new, however the recording industry believe in selling the same old thing in music. When something different comes out like Mumford & Sons, Adele, PSY and Imagine Dragons it triumphs in unforseen ways.

The whole approach of the Record Labels and the RIAA has been if they can’t control a business, their next best option is to kill the business off. Napster showed the music business what the fans wanted, however they killed it off and to this day, not one legal service has risen to offer what Napster offered, which was Community and Convenience.

There is a song called Red City on the new Stone Sour release, House Of Gold and Bones II. In the story line, our hero is in the clutches of the bad guys and the song Red City marks the beginning of the end for the main character. If the Entertainment Industries and their stooges get their way, it is the beginning of the end for the Internet and the opportunities it gives to creators.

Sort of like the lyrics in the new Black Sabbath song, End of The Beginning that states “rewind the future to the past”. That is what the Entertainment industries want. The past to return. That is the future they want.

Look at the recent behaviour of the one they call Prince. Even the Electronic Frontiers Foundation has inducted Prince into its “Takedown Hall of Shame”. To sum up, Prince has issued DMCA takedowns on six second clips of a Prince concert, on fan recorded concert videos of him covering Creep from Radiohead (which by the way he doesn’t even own the rights to the song), threatening to sue people for thinking of doing a tribute album to him and a takedown of YouTube video of a toddler dancing to a Prince song (which is in the Courts at the moment).

The reason why I am mentioning Prince is to show people what a misguided artist he has become. The labels send millions of DMCA takedowns each day and in a lot of cases they censor free speech under a copyright claim. They have even taken down their own websites. Universal Music Group even took down Black Sabbath’s God Is Dead YouTube stream from the Black Sabbath YouTube page.

When is the Recording industry and people like Prince going to stop complaining? When are they going to stop lamenting the passage of the good old days? When are they going to stop blaming the technologists and the fans for ruining their business models. There is a reason why Indie labels have claimed a large slice of music sales this year than the three majors. It’s because they are working on the outside, digging deep and finding those real stars, the real golden nuggets.

Music used to be cutting edge and it used to drive the conversation and the culture. These days music is just another consumable, ready to be consumed like milk. Musicians like Prince, Jon Bon Jovi, Jay Z and so forth are trying to get in bed with the Fortune 500. Where is it written that musicians must be rich? You create quality that resonates and connects, then you will be a star.

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A to Z of Making It, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Music Business Is A Tough Gig. By the way so is every other business.

What does the recent Jay Z and Samsung deal mean for the rock and metal community?

In the immortal words of Dark Helmet from Spaceballs, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

Jay-Z is one of those artists that wants to be paid RIGHT NOW. He is in the mainstream right now and married to another mainstream personality in Beyoncé. The album is certified platinum before it is even released due to the digital download deal with Samsung. This is where it was made available for free to all Samsung customers via the Jay Z Magna Carta app.

How many of those Samsung customers are actual Jay Z fans? How many of those Samsung customers will go out and spend money on Jay Z? When artists want to be paid right now, there is no connection between artist and fan. It’s all about the dollars. My friend at work is a Samsung customer and he downloaded the album because it is free. In the end, this is all about money and nothing to do about having a career.

That is what the metal heads and rock heads want. A career. It doesn’t have to be a career where the yearly salary is a million dollars. We want just a simple career where we can make between $60 to $80K like all the other occupations, however in this we are doing what we love. We want just enough so that we can compete in the housing market, be considered for loans and so forth. We don’t need to keep up with the Kardashians, the Beyoncé’s and the Jay Z’s.

Once upon a time, it used to be clear to the fans that artists created music and that Record Labels were looking to profit from this relationship with the artists. These days, the new artists are the tech heads. The technologists lead the way by creating and it is the artists that want to profit at every turn from it. The artists are starting to become the businessmen/women of the record label era.

Look at the recent Twitter rant of Thom Yorke from Radiohead. According to the gospel of Yorke, there is no incentive for new artists as they cannot make any money due to Spotify. He more or less claims that no new artists can be discovered via Spotify or make a living from Spotify. Hey Thom, Imagine Dragons is a new artist. Look at their numbers on Spotify. Even though they are not making a living off the royalties from Spotify, this tool has allowed them to spread their music to a world-wide audience, which in turn is seeing their album sales go up. Go figure that. People are purchasing albums, when the songs are available for free.

So what does Thom do? He pulls Atom of Peace and his solo work from Spotify. Maybe that is a good thing, as we don’t have time for sub-standard anymore. Hell, Thom Yorke should even blow up at Napster.

The reason why Napster exploded 13 years ago was because it was all about the community and the convenience. Napster was never about the money and it was never about the ‘free’. The fans of music spoke out loudly on how they wanted to consume their music and how they wanted to interact with it. The power brokers still haven’t listened. Today there is still no service that provided those two things the way Napster did.

Artists wrote songs for a cause or a purpose. There was always a war to fight against someone, either against the establishment, the parents or a real war. The sad reality these days is that more and more artists are thinking about the payment instead of the creative process. It’s tough making a living in the music business. That is the bottom line. Just the same way it is tough making a living in any other business.

I work nine to five and get paid a yearly salary. I am meant to work 38 hours a week, however the company encourages us to spill some blood for them which normally means putting in longer hours just so that we can be considered for a bonus. It is a tough gig, and it is a tough way to make a living as well. The music business is no different. Making money in any occupation is a tough business.

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