Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Attention, Affluence, Dominance and The Artist Is Somewhere There In Between. BUT WHY.

It irks me when a person that you are having an email conversation with CC’s in other people who really don’t need to be CC’d. Instead of coming back to the person they are originally communicating with on the email they reply back and CC a few more extra people in. It is like they are broadcasting something to someone. Maybe they want to CC in a Manager to show how great they are and how terrible I am. Maybe they just want to make me look bad. I do it as well however when I do CC in an extra person I tell the person that I am responding to why I am CC in that extra person in. I also tell the person that I is CC’d in why they are included with a question that seeks their point of view.

Maybe we all just want some attention. It seems we are all fighting for attention these days.

Guess how many people know who Kim Dotcom is?

According to the MPAA and the RIAA, he is the greatest money launderer the world has ever seen. They convinced the police force to send their SWAT teams to break down his door and arrest him in the early hours. And the funny thing is that he is virtually unknown to ordinary people. Even his companies MegaUpload and Mega are not known brands to a large portion of people. So how can this great criminal mastermind remain undetected to most ordinary people. Hell, I was in Eastern Europe and all the people who I spoke to didn’t even know who Kim Dotcom was.

This goes to show how the entertainment industries like the MPAA and the RIAA have used affluence to hijack proper due process in the courts. And that affluence doesn’t stop there. It is used to hijack many debates especially when it comes to legislation around copyright. It is unfortunate that the music industry as a whole seems to be interested in protecting their business models, dominance and control.

The biggest issue today is attention.

The record labels still believe that their affluence and their publicity campaigns will get people’s attention. But that is old school thinking. Real attention grows over time.

And attention is just part of the equation.

How do we compensate the artist themselves or the songwriters that wrote the song once they have received our attention. The Copyrights of the artists are held by the labels. The labels purchase these copyrights for a value that is far less than what they are worth. And that is a big problem between artist and label. Because the record label is using the copyrights that they have amassed over 80 years of dominance as bargaining chips in licensing deals.

Spotify pays the labels a license so that Spotify can have their music on the service. In addition Spotify also pays the labels when songs are streamed. Plus Spotify pays any profits it makes to its part owners. In the case of the US market, Spotify is partly owned by the labels. And all of this was possible because the labels amassed an arsenal of songs from the artists they signed. Did the artists receive any compensation in these corporate deals?

The environment that musicians operate in is changing all the time, and with that comes a requirement to be flexible and forward-thinking in their approach. In addition the expectations of musical fans about how they access music and how they wish to be serviced has changed dramatically over the past fifteen years. And the ones that are investing in innovation are the technological companies. The Record Labels did nothing except litigate. The artists just waited to see what transpired instead of thinking and planning their own innovation.

If you want to grow and prosper as an artist you need to be thinking ahead all the time. Not only do you need to keep pace with your fans’ expectations, but you also need to position yourself to identify and make the most of the opportunities when they arise.

Focus on “WHY” you create music rather than simply focusing on ‘WHAT’ music you deliver. This is an important message. The why is the message that your fans would connect with and follow. It is your vision. Your belief.

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

Billion Dollar Deals and Still No RESPECT for Pre-1972 Artists

How would you feel as a musician and as a creator today as you hear and read about all of these board room deals taking place between technology companies and the record labels?

Millions upon millions are exchanged from a technological company to the record labels.

WHY?

Because if a technological company wants to offer a music service they need to license the music catalogue that the record labels hold. And the music catalogue that the record labels hold is music created by artists, songwriters and producers, including those same artists that are supporting the PRE-1972 RESPECT ACT. So where is the windfall for the artists from all of these backroom deals. In a nutshell it is their music that the record labels are using as leverage.

The RESPECT ACT says that some of the biggest digital radio services in the world have decided to stop paying royalties to artists who recorded music before February 15, 1972. It looks like the record labels never paid any royalties to these artists.

The Allman Brothers have sued Universal Music and Sony Music for unpaid iTunes royalties. The Temptations sued Universal for not paying iTunes royalties properly. The Beatles sued EMI over unpaid royalties. Martha Reeves sued Motown for unpaid royalties. Roger McGuinn, from the Byrds, has never received royalties (beyond a “modest advance”) for the 15 albums he recorded with the band.

The RESPECT ACT says these companies believe that they can use pre-1972 recordings for free, forever. It looks like the record labels use these pre-1972 recordings to negotiate licensing deals, without any compensation to the original artists and the writers.

The RESPECT ACT says that while the artists of today are paid royalties every time their songs are played, the inspirational artists who came before them — Motown acts, the legends of Jazz and Blues, and the musicians who gave birth to Rock n’ Roll — all get nothing. Um, those acts never got nothing in the first place from the record labels. Modest advances maybe.

The RESPECT Act states that the decision by these companies to cut off royalties for pre-1972 recordings caused artists and record labels to lose an estimated $60 million in royalties. Music is how artists pay the rent, provide for their family, and plan for the future.

Um, what about the estimated millions of royalties that the artists have lost due to creative record label accounting.

And what about all of the producers and songwriters that worked on those music catalogues that the record labels now own and use as a bargaining chip. Based on all of the research funded by the RIAA, producers and songwriters are the ones that are hurt the most because of piracy. It looks like they are really hurt by the streaming licensing deals.

Seriously think about it.

SPOTIFY had to pay a hefty license fee to operate and in the US they had to give up half the company.
BEATS also had to pay a license to the record labels and give up some equity.
APPLE also paid the labels to license their music.
GOOGLE, AMAZON and PANDORA also have paid the labels. The list just goes on.

Some could argue that the artists, producers and songwriters got paid a decent advance for their music. And the norm in the past has been to give the songwriters and the producers a modest advance for their work in exchange for any future royalties earned. But at that time when the advance is paid no one knows how big that potential song or album could be. Or vice versa, no one knows how bad that song or album could be. But if the song or album does blow up, it doesn’t mean that the producer or the songwriter will start getting some decent royalties.

Because then the maths start to get more complicated due to that record label black hole formula known as RECOUPED. When that formula starts to be applied to any money earned from royalties there is a 99.9% chance that the artists will not receive a cent.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Complacency Kills – Music Is A Battlefield

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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