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

We Can Learn A Lot From History

I just finished reading Stephen Pearcy: Ratt and Roll. I don’t recommend it. It is the typical I got laid a thousand times and did drugs a thousand times ego trip. The disintegration of Ratt and the tough times of the Nineties is glossed over. The way the songs came together, and the influences behind them is not even mentioned.  Like all bios, you get the usual ode to trying to make it and doing whatever to takes to make it. All of the bios show their main characters as driven and determined.

Anyway it got me thinking about the Eighties and it seems that we can learn a lot from history. Back then it was Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Born In The USA” that saved the recording industry from their self-inflicted recession. In addition, a certain technology called “Compact Disc” would bring riches that the labels had never seen before.

In 2014, it is streaming and digital services like Spotify, Google Play, YouTube, iTunes and Pandora that are saving the recording industry from their self-inflicted downfall. Expect a twenty year plus reign of streaming services which will bring riches that the labels had never seen before and then keep your eyes open for a new style of Napster to hit the digital services the same way it hit the recording industry. In the end, every monopoly falls.

In 1983, a band from England called Def Leppard showed the world what can be done when rock and metal is merged with POP. “Pyromania” was the result. In 2013, a band from Denmark called Volbeat is showing the world what can be done when rock and metal is merged with country and rockabilly. “Beyond Heaven, Above Hell” and “Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies” are the results and a massive victory lap for the band.

The Eighties had a whole cultural movement form around the metal and rock bands. Today, those cultural movements are around technologies and TV shows like “Game Of Thrones” and “The Walking Dead”.

In 1983, a few new players entered the metal and rock scene in Quiet Riot with their number 1 album “Metal Health” and Metallica with their speed metal “Kill Em All” album. Dokken was also releasing its first album called “Breaking The Chains”. In 1984, a band from New Jersey called Bon Jovi released their self titled debut, along with an L.A band called Stryper and their “The Yellow and Black Attack” and a band from Seattle called Queensryche issued “The Warning”. Meanwhile Quiet Riot, Metallica and Dokken all followed up their debut albums with album number 2 in “Condition Critical”, “Ride The Lightning” and “Tooth N Nail”. Actually for Quiet Riot it was album number 4 if you count the first two releases that had Randy Rhoads. It was the norm that bands would release new music on a yearly basis and we have come full circle again.

In 2013, Black Veil Brides released “Wretched and Divine: The Story Of The Wild Ones” and followed up that album in 2014 with their self-titled fourth album. Audrey Horne also released “Youngblood” in 2013 and in 2014 they released “Pure Heavy”. Buckcherry released “Confessions” in 2013 and “F***” in 2014. Adrenaline Mob released “Coverta” in 2013 and “Men of Honour” in 2014.

In 1983, Marillion, a progressive rock band from England started to the rounds as well with a “Script For A Jester’s Tear” and they followed it up with “Fugazi” in 1984. In 2013, Tesseract, a progressive rock back from England is starting to make some in roads with “Altered State”. Both bands have issues with lead singers.

In 1983, Ronnie James Dio broke away from the band format and released his first solo record in “Holy Diver”. In 2013, David Draiman broke away from the band format and formed a solo band called Device. Two of his other band members in Disturbed also released Fight Or Flight with the singer from Evans Blue.

Established artists like Kiss had a resurrection in 1983 with the Vinnie Vincent influenced “Lick It Up” album and ZZ Top also set the charts on fire with their synth heavy “Eliminator”. In 2014, established artists like Everygrey, Europe, Protest The Hero, Volbeat, Slash, Alter Bridge and Zakk Wylde are all experiencing up swings in popularity.

But in the end, no one knows what will connect with audiences. That is the beauty of music. History will show us trends and cultural movements that come about from music, but there is no way to predict what will connect and wouldn’t.

Music, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Record Label Innovation – Bring Back The CD in Blu-Ray?

For years the compact disc was the preferred audio format for music fans. In addition those years were the most profitable in the recording industry’s history.

Fans/collectors of vinyl and cassettes started to re-purchase albums they already owned for the sake of convenience. That is what the CD offered. Convenience.

It saddens me to keep on hearing that the recording industry still prefers a return to that era instead of innovating.

The most recent “innovation” comes from Universal Music Group.

UMG is launching a new audio format called High Fidelity Pure Audio. Basically it is a Blu-ray disc that delivers high definition audio recordings. This is yet another attempt to reinstate a long-gone profit margin that has all been done before.

There is nothing innovative about re-factoring the compact disc.

Remember convenience. Fans didn’t choose to replace the CD format with MP3’s simply because MP3s sounded better. It was about convenience. Convenience is key here. For personal use, portability and speed is worth more. That is what UMG fails to understand.

UMG is banking on a demand for high-fidelity re-releases of their back catalogs.

The label business models are built upon lack of competition in their market. Once upon a time the only music available came from the established recording industry. They told us what we were going to listen to and in what format.

I liked CDs, I really did, but after a while I ran out of space. I still buy physical CDs from time to time however I never buy CDs for the music itself.

The last physical discs I bought were for the special edition of Coheed and Cambria’s Afterman: Ascension / Descension double album. This package was was sold when Ascension released in September 2012 and Descension was months away (February 2013).

So when the package arrived The Descension disc in the box is completely blank. The purpose of this is that I am meant to burn the 320 high-quality Descension track downloads to it. I still haven’t bothered to do it, however the art book that came with it is priceless.