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

What Does Volbeat’s RIAA Certification Tell Us About The Recording Business?

Volbeat just got a Gold Certification for digital sales from the RIAA in relation to their song “A Warriors Call” from the album “Beyond Heaven, Above Hell” released in 2010. So what does this tell us about the state of the metal/rock world in 2014 when it comes to sales.

Recognition Comes Much Later

Recognition and success come much later in the current world. In Volbeat’s case their entry in the mainstream American market was about ten years after they formed. This is extraordinary when you consider that they were very popular in parts of Europe before that. Overall, Volbeat’s first gold certification in the US has been 20 years in the making. The hardest thing today is to make a new fan or to get people to check you out. So anywhere music can be played, your stuff should be there. Volbeat do just that. On Spotify “A Warriors Call” is at 9,630,292 streams. On their YouTube account, the same song has 6,506,260 views.

If you create something that is good you will not be complaining about your income. Write a hit (and when I say hit, I don’t mean number 1 on the charts. I mean, a song that connects with a lot of listeners), you’ll make money in ways you never thought of, and you can sell your rights to the corporations you complain about, license it to every company or TV show or movie. But that means you need to create constantly as you don’t know what could connect with an audience. But that’s much harder to do than complain.

“A Warriors Call” was never a chart hit, however it connected with listeners.

The Bell Curve Is Prominent

With each metal/rock band there is a hardcore fan base that will try the band out straight away. These early fans make up 13% of the total future fan base and they are the ones that believe in the band and its music. Then within time there is a large 34% group called the early majority. These are the fans that will not try something, until somebody else tries it first and recommends it. Then there is another 34% group called the late majority. These fans adopt the band only after they see a clear majority of metal heads fully assimilating the band as a part of their daily life.

Metallica is a perfect example of the Bell Curve in action. From 1981 to 1983 they had a fan base based on early adopters. From 1984 to 1988, the fan base grew to include the early adopters and the early majority. After the explosion of the self-titled Black album that fan base grew even more as the late adopters and any laggards came to the party.

Volbeat is another perfect example. From 2000 to 2006 it was the early adopters. Then between 2007 and 2010 it was the early majority. During this period they also supported Metallica on the North American leg of Metallica’s World Magnetic Tour. And then from 2010 to know, we have the late majority all jumping into bed with Volbeat.

The internet is another perfect example. In the mid-1990s it was first used only by people who had access to and were familiar with personal computers. By the 2000s, the early majority started using it and a lot more development started taking place around communications, banking and financial services, and mass media (music, movies, books, journalism, newspapers, and television). Over the last five years, the late majority, previously unfamiliar with computers and the internet, have adopted computer skills after realizing the technology’s impact on society at large.


The core audience plus the early hardcore fans want it, but the public at large want the hits. Most people are casual listeners who don’t always go deep into every act they like. However if they want to go deep into an artist’s catalogue they will go onto Spotify. You can amass an albums worth of songs on Spotify and never actually release an album. That’s the new game.

Labels want albums because that is the best way to monetise for them. It is easier to charge money when there is a bundle of songs involved. Artists want albums, because they grew up on them and they want to be like their heroes and make a statement. However the album means nothing to the listener who has a music collection all on an iPod. Fans always wanted access and the internet era has provided that. And then there is the hardcore element that wants a little bit more like the the alternate cuts, demos, unreleased tracks and so forth.

Also remember this. The multi-Platinum “Stay Hungry” was a tight, nine-song, 37-minute set. “Blizzard Of Ozz” was 39 minutes long. Slippery When Wet was 46 minutes long. “Ride The Lightning” was 47 minutes long. All of them were classic albums that broke the bands involved to a larger audience.

What are these numbers trying to say?

You don’t need 80 minutes worth of new music to be released on one slab at one time to connect with fans. People don’t have spare hours anymore. They have spare minutes.

Streaming Is Not The Enemy

Streaming revenues will go up and you will get well paid eventually. But you need to utilize your recordings and mobilise your fan base to start streaming. If you still focus on the album sales, you will be destined for the scrapheap. So don’t keep your music off streaming services. Seriously what is the point in preventing people from streaming your music so that you can sell an extra 10,000 albums.

What advantage does AC/DC have by not being on Spotify?

What did Jimmy Buffett achieve by standing up in all his glory and asking Daniel Ek for a raise?

Record Labels

Are still clueless. Volbeat finally got a major label behind them in Universal for their latest release. The majors have no idea what connects. That is why they look to the independents or their off-shoot labels. In this case, thank god that Rebel Monster Records, which is an offshoot of Mascot Records showed interest.

Artists still want the label to make them famous as the labels have the marketing power and the relationships in place. So don’t bitch that you’re not getting paid by streaming services when in fact the record label is absorbing these payments and then drip feeding you the change.


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


Do you want an audience or a fan base?

An audience will go and check out a song after being instructed to do so. The fan base will choose what song to play or what album to play when they want to.

It’s always the techies that are getting it right for the music industry. They can see how to make dollars in between all of those ones and zeroes.

“An audience changes the channel when their show is over. A fan base shares, it comments, it curates, it creates.”

YouTube’s global head of entertainment Alex Carloss said the above.

So where do you stand as an artist.

Do you have an audience? People who are directed to check you out?

Or do you have a fan base, people who share, comment, create playlists and do everything else.

It is a global world and YouTube is a platform that can reach all corners of the world. The reason why it is so popular is that while the major labels procrastinated over how much they would get from the streaming services, YouTube entered via the backdoor and became the leader. And it wasn’t even licensed.

Recent research has shown that by not having your music on YouTube could lead to an increase in music sales. What this clearly shows to me is that there are more factors out there that have led to reduced sales of recorded music than piracy alone. It also shows the shift of people’s listening habits. But wait, Neil Young and the Ponos team still reckon we need studio quality files. Yep, good luck with that.

If you are not using YouTube to promote yourself, then you are doing it all wrong and your career is challenged.

Even if the record labels do not renew their licensing agreement with YouTube, it will still survive. Because it is the fans that want it. YouTube’s success is made by the people, who apart from going to listen to music or view videos, they also upload as well. If I want to hear a new release before I buy it I normally go to YouTube. The whole album is there. Spotify is good as well, however it’s search algorithms are rubbish, plus it doesn’t have everything there.

I wanted to listen to Badlands “Voodoo Highway” album recently. It’s not on Spotify, however YouTube has it. Unlicensed.

I wanted to listen to Don Dokken’s “Up From The Ashes” album recently. For both, I could have gotten the CD and played it or I could have plugged in the portable drive and played it from there, however that was too much effort. Spotify didn’t have it, but YouTube did. Again unlicensed.

The record labels get wined and dined by Apple for exclusivity around their streaming service. And then when the cash rolls in from another licensing agreement to them, the artists will complain that streaming is killing the music business.


The Record Labels are still killing the music business. Their own greed will kill off streaming services. A stream is not a sale, so the royalty rates that labels pay artists are bullshit. Because the labels classify a stream as a sale which in turn brings with it a lower royalty rate.

Because if a band can stand to make $24,000 for putting up a silent album on Spotify that has been streamed for a combined sum over 4.7 million, then surely the larger acts that have 40 million streams will be making better dollars.

But they don’t.

Because that low royalty rate per stream that Spotify pays, gets further diluted when the Record Label applies it’s 80/20 split to it. Then that low 20 percent is split again by managers, lawyers, band members, etc..

What about illegal downloading of music?

It is still going on and it will never stop because people still want to have the mp3.

14 years have passed since the Napster revolution and music lovers still don’t have a legal ad-supported peer-to-peer download service for mp3’s. It’s leaving money on the table if you ask me.

Do you know what one of the main income revenues is for the record labels?

Yep, its YouTube fan clips that go viral. The ones that have unlicensed music playing in the background. With the YouTube Content ID system, labels can claim the clip as theirs and then reap the benefits that the clips views bring in.

Even Governments fear it. Turkey’s government blocked access to YouTube when an audio recording of top civilian and military officials appeared, which involved high-level security talks on Syria. The Government has classed it as illegal content. I see it as a form of censorship.

YouTube was seen as the enemy to TV stations and to the Music Industry. Now it is their greatest ally, only if they know how to use its potential. Expect to see the various YouTube networks become bigger than the movie studios in the future. Because they realise that it’s not all about the blockbuster effect. Releasing content more frequently is king.

A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Offering Premium Value To A Fan vs. Making Money For The Artist – Case study on Dream Theater and Coheed and Cambria

Are deluxe editions just basically overpriced boxes, offering the same thing over and over again for a higher price or are deluxe premium editions offering something of value to a super fan that no one can get anywhere else.

I am going to use Dream Theater for this case study. Dream Theater is in the business of making music. They have a fan base that will purchase the music. They also have a fan base that will go and purchase concert tickets and merchandise. At the moment, they have a new album coming out in September. They also have a Limited Deluxe Edition priced at $100. It is common knowledge that the labels will manufacture between 1000 to 1500 of these limited deluxe editions. So if all of the Limited Editions sell out, which is common for a band like Dream Theater, the label stands to gross $150,000.

If they sell 1,500 album downloads on iTunes at $10, they stand to gross $15,000 (of course then 30% goes over to Apple). If they sell 1,500 Standard Edition CD’s at $10, they still stand to make the same amount of money. So it is a no brainer that PREMIUM products is what artists should be focusing on.

However is the fan getting a premium edition of the album that no one else can get for that price? The answer is NO.

What the fans are getting is the same album in different formats. A CD version, a VINYL LP version and a FLAC version. $100 for format shifting. I am sure the VINLY will never be played, the CD will hardly be played as most of the fans that will purchase the album will also have downloaded the album illegally to have it on MP3 because for some reason the fan will still need to format shift what they spent $100 on to get an MP3.

What the fans are also getting from Dream Theater are some extra’s that to be honest are not really worth it and do not really make it a limited edition. The whole remix angle of a song has been used to death by other artists especially in the hip hop and EDM genres . There is nothing creative here and to be honest, I find it hard how the marketing team from Roadrunner saw this as a great initiative. They did it on the Black Clouds and Silver Linings release as well. That is the label business for you, so stuck in the old that they fail to see the new.

Is the music in itself a premium product? Are digital downloads a premium product? The answers are both NO.

So what is a premium product? A premium product is something that is scarce. It is something that is rare and unique. It is something that is off high quality and something that it cannot be found again.

A premium product is not something that is created via an automated machine and then packaged into a nice box. It is something that has a personal touch to it. A premium product is difficult to create again exactly the same. It is in our human nature to pay for something more if it is personalized. That is why we pay more for a signed CD. That is why we pay more for a meet and greet.

So I am about to purchase the Limited Edition Collectors Box Set from Dream Theater. I see that it is priced at $100. So I am thinking now, what do I get for the $100 plus postage of about $25 to be shipped from Sydney to Wollongong (which is about 70 minutes away). All up I am giving over $125. This is what I will get:

* Custom 2GB USB stick in the shape of the Majesty Symbol containing Isolated stems of “Behind The Veil.” Fans are encouraged to post their remixes; prizing to be awarded; details forthcoming.

* “Take This For The Pain (Mike Mangini Audition Improv Jam)”- 30 minute documentary of previously unreleased Mangini audition footage and jam.

* Exclusive 7” of “The Bigger Picture” on clear vinyl, wrapped and sealed with a custom wax seal

* Gel-skin iDots of Majesty symbol for the iPhone

* 2-Disc embossed Deluxe Edition digi which includes bonus disc of 5.1 audio mix and expanded packaging

* 180-gram 2-LP embossed gatefold vinyl that includes a download of the album as high quality FLAC files

So now I am thinking of what I am getting above that I cannot get anywhere else that makes me feel special. The answer is NOTHING. However, this is a very common premium limited edition release from Record Label funded bands.

So I am now comparing this to my purchase of Coheed and Cambria’s “The Afterman Limited Edition Deluxe Box Set Amory Award Edition.”

I purchased that for $59.99 with shipping costs of $22.95 (which is coming from the US to Australia) with a total price of $82.94.

So what did I get with the Coheed and Cambria purchase;

* 64 page Coffee Table Book that covers each song, they real life story that influenced the song, the lyrics to the song, plus how that song has been made to fit The Armory Wars storyline. (This was the best part of the purchase)

* DVD of Coheed and Cambria on the Road

* Digital Downloads of both albums plus the Big Beige demos on actual release date

* CD of The Afterman: Ascension

* CD of The Afterman: Ascension – Big Beige Demos – that includes bonus tracks

* Blank CD to burn The Afterman: Descension – (which I still haven’t burned as I already have the Digital Downloads)

* Blank CD to burn The Afterman: Descension – Big Beige Demos – that includes bonus tracks and remixes – (which I still haven’t burned as I already have the Digital Downloads)

* Sirius Armory Medallion and Certificate

* VIP Pass (which I used with my concert ticket purchase when Coheed and Cambria toured Australia)

At the time of my purchase I believed it was a brilliant price for the content I am getting. Fast forward 12 months and I am thinking what did I get above that I cannot get anywhere else. The answer is the 64 page Coffee Table book that goes in depth into each song story.

It looks like Coheed and Cambria have realised that the book is the reason why the deluxe edition proved so popular, so now they have done it death. The released the book in a VINYL edition, and they have released it again with the two Afterman CD’s plus a LIVE release.

The game is changing all the time. Artists need to think with a different mindset.

Music, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Adrenaline Mob and Mike Portnoy – Is He Serious?


Is he serious? In my view, he made a big mistake.  Mike Portnoy is not a star. He doesn’t have the pull to have multiple projects happening at the same time.  He is just a drummer. That’s it.

So it looks like the Mike Portnoy philosophy of success is create a band.  Once a band is created, believe that you are the bands main songwriter.  Believe that you are a God.  Believe that you are the reason why people come to the shows.  So you create another band and then another band and then another band.  Then, when a certain band has some success, you just walk away from it, because your other bands schedules conflict.  It’s not a very grown up thing to do.

In my view, Adrenaline Mob had a future.  Winery Dogs has no future, Flying Colors is over and Transatlantic has a cult fan base, however it is not something to build a career off.

Looking through all the comments on Facebook and various blogs, one thing is clear, the fans are starting to turn away from Mike Portnoy. Fans are the ones who break bands these days.  They are the ones that promote the release on their Facebook accounts, on the blogs they visit, on YouTube, on Twitter and so on.  Once the fans start to turn away, once the fans put their hands up in the air and say we don’t care anymore, it’s over.

The best thing to ever happen to Mike Portnoy was John Petrucci, and he pissed all that away, because he couldn’t handle the fact, that Petrucci was the star and not him.