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

What a great idea? Give the fan a choice. Lessons from Dream Theater, Trivium, Shinedown, Protest The Hero, Coheed and Cambria

Does anyone in the music business know what works or doesn’t work when it comes to marketing a band?

For some reason, a lot of the parties involved still believe in a scorched earth marketing policy. That is where the said artist is promoted everywhere and on everything.

Will a corporate deal with a large newspaper or an online news site for an exclusive pre-album release stream help an act’s career in the long run?

Dream Theater went along this route for the “The Enemy Inside” launch, the “Along For The Ride” launch and the pre-album stream.

Three corporate deals that put money in the hands of the record label however what did it do for the band?

If you followed the band, you would have seen the comments on Facebook that when the launches happened, people in other countries couldn’t access the stream and frustration turned to anger. Of course within 24 hours the problem was fixed, however fans waited 24 hours. In the era of the World Wide Web. Geographical restrictions are old school.

In addition the album isn’t really setting the sales department alight. After a six week run, it is more or less obsolete and out of the conversation. Don’t believe, type in “Dream Theater self titled” in Google search and go to the news section.

Do TV and Newspaper ads work at all in 2013?

I rarely watch free to air TV and I rarely read Newspapers. Most of the stuff I do is online. I have an “online” life. So if I visit Loudwire, Noisecreep, Metal Insider or some other music site, I do notice ads on the side for new releases. However not once have I clicked on them or decided to hear a band because of those ads. So in my view, they don’t work.

What about YouTube plays and Spotify stream counts? This is what gets me interested. When I type in a band name into these platforms the first thing I normally play is the track with the most views/streams. These stats will help a band in the long run.

For example, Shinedown’s most streamed song is “Call Me”. The fans decided that is the song they can connect with the most. On YouTube, the fans have used that song as a soundtrack to their own video clips and the numbers are staggering.

It looks like a lot of big decisions in relation to the career of the artists are made on hunches or gut feelings by the record labels. This is ridiculous in 2013.

Labels are in this business to make money. They will be looking at what makes them money.

Trivium is on Roadrunner. Their latest album moved around 50,000 units in the U.S. Is it a dud? The label will probably use that stat and say it is. However, if you look at YouTube, you will see the video clip to “Strife” has 1,093,648 views. This has more than doubled “In Waves” that is sitting at 589,175 views. Hell, it’s even greater that Dream Theater’s “The Enemy Inside” clip which is at 891,939 views. Is the new Trivium album a dud now? Of course not.

Why?

People are listening to it. The numbers are there.

The labels flushed out Protest The Hero. The band then went the fan funding route. That route also gave them access to data. The data is a list of fans. Once an act employs a data model, they will start to get wins on the board. Once a band starts winning, others will gravitate to them.

On YouTube, the Underbite video has 137,339 views. The Clarity video has 163,773 views and the Drumhead Trial video has 250,972 views. For an independent band, those numbers are good.

Coheed and Cambria employed a data model with “The Afterman” releases? They put the focus on the deluxe packages. Those packages proved way too tempting to resist and guess what; thousands upon thousands of Coheed fans signed up to their modlife website and purchased. In the process, Coheed and Cambria made sales and gathered data of their hard core fans. That data list is close to 100,000 people.

With that Super Deluxe purchase, came the VIP Meet and Greet perk. So as long as you purchased a normal concert ticket, you had the VIP pass for meet and greets already and you could purchase another pass for a friend a discounted rate. What a loyalty program.

For example, I purchased “The Afterman” deluxe edition. A VIP pass came with this purchase. Then when Coheed and Cambria announced a Sydney show, I purchased two concert tickets at $66 each. Then I went on line and purchased another VIP pass for $15 for a friend of mine. This entitled us to early entry into the venue for either a special acoustic performance of one of the band members or a meet and greet.

Due to the large number of people that had this perk, it ended up being an acoustic performance. However, if the numbers were low, it would have been a meet and greet. The reason why the Sydney show was a success and the Australian tour in general was because Coheed and Cambria used data to connect with their fans.

Then the band used the data to promote special merchandise releases, Comic-Con appearances, video clip releases and side project releases.

Go on YouTube. Domino The Destitute has 1,295,151 views and Dark Side Of Me has 1,144,730 views.

Then the band promoted “The Afterman” live edition. This edition involved “The Afterman” albums plus a live CD. However, if a fan had purchased “The Afterman” CD’s before and all they want is the live CD, that was also available to them. All they had to do was log in to their account and pick what they wanted.

What a great idea? Give the fan a choice.

Instead we get the normal rubbish from the RIAA and the Record Labels, about how they are losing sales due to digital piracy.

Studies have shown that Peer To Peer traffic is now below 10%. It was 60% eleven years ago.

So 11 years ago, the only choice the fans had was to buy the expensive CD or to share individual tracks. Fans picked the sharing option.

However in 2013, people don’t need to pirate anymore because there is no need to. Whatever the fans want is available for free anyway, on YouTube, Spotify, Pandora, Grooveshark and so on. It has also become easy, which is something the labels have no idea how to do. Cough Cough “DRM” anyone.

Even when artists come out bemoaning piracy they fail to understand the shift that happened in the music industry. The fans decision to pursue single tracks instead of a whole album, changed the profits from a high-margin return to a low margin return for the label.

The Lie That Fuels The Music Industry’s Paranoia
http://www.forbes.com/sites/bobbyowsinski/2013/11/27/the-lie-that-fuels-the-music-industrys-paranoia/

Peer To Peer Traffic is Down
https://www.sandvine.com/pr/2013/11/11/sandvine-report-netflix-and-youtube-account-for-50-of-all-north-american-fixed-network-data.html

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

A Day In The Life – Leaks and Sales with Dream Theater, Avenged Sevenfold, Coheed and Cambria, Five Finger Death Punch, Black Sabbath, Trivium, Stryper and Protest The Hero

In the lead up to the release of any widely sought after album there is one certainty. The album will leak ahead of its official release date.

So in order to circumvent this problem, artists (in conjunction with their backers/labels) are organising early stream deals of their new music (a legal way to say “album leak”).

Dream Theater and Roadrunner went all nuclear with their corporate deals for their self-titled album, which had sales on the board for the first 5 weeks and for the last 2 weeks – nothing. Since Roadrunner was cashed up due to the departure of Machine Head and Megadeth, they placed those extra dollars into Dream Theater. Was it a good investment?

Five Finger Death Punch on the other hand are doing it a touch different. They are doing all their pre-release streams, in conjunction with YouTube track by track stories of each song, along with promotional video clips plus live performances.

Avenged Sevenfold added a full live show of the “Hail To The King” album to their pre-album stream promotional campaign.

Trivium’s new album leaked a whole week before the actual pre-release stream of the album (and a full two weeks before their album came out). They kept on dropping songs in their set list’s and they also released full version streams of certain songs.

There is no sure-fire way to prevent leaks, however how an artist reacts is important.

The new Protest The Hero album leaked on Torrent Sites a week before it’s actual release date. So what did Protest The Hero do? They set up a fan connection, that allowed the fans that contributed to the making of the album to download it from a secure site. They made sure that the real fans had music in a high quality rip, along with a 50 page plus digital PDF and artwork. Then when they realised that ending of the song “Mist” was cut short in the download that they offered, they rectified it, by offering the song as a stand alone download.

Anyone who tries to stop a record from leaking is going against the way of the world.

The focus for the artist is to give the fans that legally pre-order an album access to it as soon as they are aware of the leak. This is hard when artists put all of this into the hands of the record label and the record label puts it all in the hands of brick and mortar stores, iTunes or Amazon.

Artists like Coheed and Cambria (via their http://modlife.com/coheedandcambria) website have a huge advantage over bands that continue to be ignorant as to who their fans are and in what cities their fans reside.

Protest The Hero now has a list of 8000 plus devotees that they can use to further their cause. They have their addresses, so they have an idea as to what cities and markets to hit. Other successful fan funded campaigners also have this advantage. You see the most important currency in 2013 is data.

As a band you would want to know which fans always order the Super Deluxe packs, which fans download your music, which fans stream your music and which fans purchase CD versions of the album. This is where the bands should be pushing the fans to purchase from their own web stores.

So looking at sales of music today how relevant are they. So many different metrics exist. Streaming, YouTube views, mp3 downloads and physical sales

Let’s look at the sales in the U.S of Dream Theater (by the way all sales figures are quoted from the excellent http://www.metalinsider.net website.

Week 1 – 2nd October 2013 – 33,950 sold
Week 2 – 9th October 2013 – 8,300 sold
Week 3 – 16th October 2013 – 4,275 sold
Week 4 – 23rd October 2013 – 2,950 sold
Week 5 – 30th October 2013 – 2,350 sold
Week 6 – 6th November 2013 – nothing reported
Week 7 – 13th November 2013 – nothing reported
Week 8 – 21st November 2013 – nothing reported

The above is a familiar cycle for Dream Theater with each album cycle. The numbers you could say have been pretty close with each album release since “Systematic Chaos.”

So is the new album a dud. From a record label point of view, I believe so. Roadrunner invested heavily in Dream Theater after they lost Machine Head and Megadeth. Has it paid off for them? I don’t believe so.

From a fan perspective, I don’t mind it, however it wasn’t good enough to take up room on my iPhone. The bizarre part in all of this is the gap between the album release and the tour beginning.

By January 2014, the album is old news. Whoever thought it was a good idea to leave a three-month gap between the album release date and the tour start date should be fired immediately.

Three months in the current music business is an eternity. It looks like Dream Theater is getting some bad advice and to be honest they are shooting themselves in the foot.

Dream Theater need to hit the studio again for December 2013 and release a few more songs as free digital downloads. Maybe even get in some outside assistance in editing the musical pieces into actual songs.

What about Avenged Sevenfold? How are they tracking at the moment?

Week 1 – 4th September 2013 – 159,375 sold
Week 2 – 12th September 2013 – 42,000 sold
Week 3 – 18th September 2013 – 22,900 sold
Week 4 – 25th September 2013 – 17,800 sold
Week 5 – 2nd October 2013 – 15,200 sold
Week 6 – 9th October 2013 – 13,700 sold
Week 7 – 16th October 2013 – 13,700 sold
Week 8 – 23rd October 2013 – 9,634 sold
Week 9 – 30th October 2013 – 8,750 sold
Week 10 – 6th November 2013 – 7,600 sold
Week 11 – 13th November 2013 – 7,325 sold
Week 12 – 21st November 2013 – 6,900 sold

Looks like Avenged Sevenfold are going to ensure their legacy. Call this album what we will, what is clear is that it is successful. It has high stream counts, high YouTube views and decent sales on the board. They are on the road at the moment supporting it.

Shows are being added into next year. It is obvious that Avenged Sevenfold are getting better advice than Dream Theater is.

With every successful act, the haters come out. A lot of the online news sites are trying to portray this imaginary war between Robb Flynn and Avenged Sevenfold. It is all a load of crap. Online news sites are there to sell advertising. They sell advertising by getting people to bite to the stories. To make up a feud between two different bands is an advertisers dreams.

The Avenged Sevenfold album sold more in week one than Dream Theater’s self-titled album will sell in total. In week 6, the Avenged Sevenfold album sold more than Dream Theater’s self-titled album which was in week 2 of its sale cycle.

What about Five Finger Death Punch? They just released the second part of “The Wrong Side Of Heaven and The Righteous Side Of Hell.” So how is Volume 1 going at the moment.

Week 1 – 7th August 2013 – 112,500 sold
Week 2 – 14th August 2013 – 35,275 sold
Week 3 – 21st August 2013 – 22,050 sold
Week 4 – 28th August 2013 – 17,250 sold
Week 5 – 4th September 2013 – 22,450 sold
Week 6 – 11th September 2013 – 13,375 sold
Week 7 – 18th September 2013 – 9,250 sold
Week 8 – 25th September 2013 – 8,200 sold
Week 9 – 2nd October 2013 – 6,975 sold
Week 10 – 9th October 2013 – 6,625 sold
Week 11 – 16th October 2013 – 5,900 sold
Week 12 – 23rd October 2013 – 5,575 sold
Week 13 – 30th October 2013 – 5,200 sold
Week 14 – 6th November 2013 – 4,675 sold
Week 15 – 13th November 2013 – 4,200 sold
Week 16 – 21st November 2013 – 4,950 sold

What can you say about Five Finger Death Punch. All of their releases so far have achieved Gold status in the U.S. They basically have been selling albums since 2007. “American Capitalist” was certified GOLD almost two years after its release and just a few months before the release of “The Wrong Side of Heaven” duology.

The albums have some great songs on there that will make the casual metal fan commit to a purchase and they will be in an enviable position of having two albums selling at the same time.

A recent Revolver cover is showing Black Sabbath along with the comment, “Band Of The Year.” Are they serious? The beauty of mainstream rags. They kiss the butt of the PR company. Five Finger Death Punch is the band of the year. Avenged Sevenfold is the band of the year. Coheed and Cambria is the band of the year. These three bands have done way more than what Black Sabbath have achieved this year. So how did they go with the sales?

Week 1 – 19th June 2013 – 154,900 sold
Week 2 – 26th June 2013 – 45,525 sold
Week 3 – 3rd July 2013 – 25,300 sold
Week 4 – 8th July 2013 – 7,875 sold
Week 5 – 17th July 2013 – 11,950 sold
Week 6 – 24th July 2013 – 9,950 sold
Week 7 – 31st July 2013 – 8,500 sold
Week 8 – 7th August 2013 – 7,875 sold
Week 9 – 14th August 2013 – 6,550 sold
Week 10 – 21st August 2013 – 5,500 sold
Week 11 – 28th August 2013 – 4,675 sold
Week 12 – 4th September 2013 – 4,600 sold
Week 13 – 11th September 2013 – 4,100 sold
Week 14 – 18th September 2013 – 3,100 sold
Week 15 – 25th September 2013 – 2,400 sold
Week 16 – 2nd October 2013 – 2,025 sold
Week 17 – 9th October 2013 – 2,100 sold
Week 18 – 16th October 2013 – 1,900 sold
Week 19 – 23 October 2013 – no sales recorded
Week 20 – 30th October 2013 – 1,900 sold
Week 21 – 6th November 2013 – no sales recorded
Week 22 – 13th November 2013 – no sales recorded
Week 23 – 21st November 2013 – no sales recorded

A 20 week run of sales is a good thing in today’s terms. Even on Spotify, the following songs have gotten some traction;
End Of The Beginning – 959,385 streams
God Is Dead? – 1,252,767 streams
Loner – 669,762 streams
Zeitgeist – 590,057 streams
Age of Reason – 540,630 streams

What about Trivium? How is another Roadrunner act doing? This is album number six for Trivium and it’s a similar cycle to their previous album “In Waves” and a very similar trend to Dream Theater’s.

Week 1 – 23rd October 2013 – 17,225 sold
Week 2 – 30th October 2013 – 4,400 sold
Week 3 – 6th November 2013 – 2,575 sold
Week 4 – 13th November 2013 – 2,100 sold
Week 5 – 21st November 2013 – no sales recorded

Wow, that was a quick spiral out of the public consciousness. Reading the reviews of the album, a lot of people are blasting the Draiman influence on it. But hey people blasted the Bob Rock influence on certain bands as well. The bottom line is that Trivium delivered a great album that no one has really heard.

Protest the Hero was recorded as having a debut week ending 6th November of 8,775 sold and it was the guys best debut of all their albums. Amazing what a little fan funding does. If the guys hold it together, bigger things will come to fruition.

What about Stryper? 2013 has been a huge year for them, with the release of their re-recorded greatest hits album earlier on in the year, along with a new album in November.

Week 1 – 13th November 2013 – 9,575 sold
Week 2 – 21st November 2013 – 4,300 sold

Listening to the album, Dave Mustaine was right. Sympathy is the best track on the album.

It’s a tough music market and the aim of each artist is to remain in the public eye. The modern paradigm is here today and gone tomorrow. Robb Flynn gets this. That is why his weekly Journals are important. It is keeping Machine Head in the public eye while they write and record their new album.

Sales are still relevant, however they are not the only metric in which an artist should measure success.

From all of the above, Five Finger Death Punch are doing great numbers however after listening to both Volumes, I easily could have come up with a song list for one album. The remainder of the songs could have been offered as free downloads on a monthly basis, which would always bring attention to the main product, the album. Think about that, they recorded 26 songs for the album. Just say they released 12 songs on an album. The leaves 14 months worth of songs to release and bring further attention to the album and the tour.

“A Day In The Life” is a great song from Volume 2 by the way. It’s melodic, heavy and it has a great vibe happening.

But wait, piracy exists. All of the above music can be downloaded for free. So why are people paying for it. They can even stream it for free. However for some reason people are paying for it. That is what the record labels and the RIAA will never understand. People will do what they want to do.

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A to Z of Making It, Music

Social Media is Not Just About The Broadcast – What Dream Theater can be doing better compared to other bands?

Dream Theater is all about the advertisement/broadcast. Look at their Facebook account and it is all about the sell. This is expected as they have a new product and they are trying to push it. However, have they spent any time reading, listening or understanding what their fans are saying? The fans are the best advocates and for some reason bands are not realising it.

Compare what Dream Theater is doing to what Robb Flynn is doing for Machine Head with The General Journals: Diary Of A Frontman… And Other Ramblings. He is engaging with his fan base through personal stories. Of course they still have the sell aspect going on for their Mayhem shows and no one is expecting the artist to stop the sell. The difference is those personal touches and stories.

Compare what Dream Theater is doing to what Randy Blythe from Lamb Of God is doing on Instagram. He takes unbelievable photos and the stories he shares with those photos via Instagram is all about engagement with people. There is no sell here. It is authentic and heartfelt. This is pure gold.

Compare to what Dream Theater is doing to what Trivium is doing on Facebook. Both bands have the same label and both have albums coming out within a month apart. Trivium had the official download of the song Brave This Storm (it was just one post and the post was called Transmission #2) and then it has all been fan and band pictures posted from various shows. Dream Theater have plugged the new song post after post after post. We get it, you have a new song.

Also when Dream Theater had the corporate deal with USA Today to stream the song, a lot of their fans from other parts of the world couldn’t listen to it. Of course that problem was fixed within a couple of days and then Dream Theater started re-posting links for the song.

I recently posted that the years of when artists took a year to make an album and went on a two to three year victory lap are over. The artists that still take a year to make an album in this current climate are doing themselves a great disservice as they will have an album that is basically dead on arrival. The faithful will buy the album and then the victory lap is over.

It looks like the bigger the network around a band, the less they focus on fan engagement. Bands or artists cannot expect to use their social media accounts only when it suits them, just because they have a product to push or a song to push and expect that the fans will remain engaged.

A perfect example is Metallica, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden or Bon Jovi. Dream Theater is trying to play in this field, however they don’t have the runs on the board to play against Metallica or Bon Jovi.

Bands with better runs on the board than Dream Theater like Five Finger Death Punch, Shinedown, Halestorm, Lamb Of God, Sixx A.M, Kid Rock and Stone Sour are still looking at ways to engage with their audience on different levels. Don’t focus on how many followers or likes you have. It’s all about connections and trying to make those connections bring value to the relationship.

Bands like Metallica and Bon Jovi use PR agencies to run their social media accounts. Of course the whole business model of the PR company is the less is more model and to have total control over the message. This is in contrast with the social principles of giving out as much information and seeing what connects and what misses.

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