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

More File Sharing Equals More Music…

One of the main points of organisations or people who support stronger copyright laws and enforcement is the lies that stronger copyright laws act as an incentive for people to be creative or to make art. About 10 years ago, these lies appeared everywhere. What the public didn’t know, was that these organisations had a seat in the Government Policy room, to negotiate a range of bills in secret.

SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act) got introduced in 2011 in the US Senate for discussion. In January, 2012, people held protests in the streets and online about these bills which would put too much control of the internet into the hands of corporations and governments. Eventually, these bills didn’t pass. TPP was written in secret with the corporations, and it got passed without discussion, only for Trump to squash it and come out with another act, even better for the Corporations.

One thing throughout it all that hasn’t dropped off, is the creative output of people. There is so much more content being produced and created right now than ever before. And the consumers have choice, and a lot of it.

Multiple studies have shown that even though there was a massive increase in infringement once upon a time, at the same time there was also a large increase in creative output as well.

And of course, people will associate output versus money made. Like the way Gene Simmons did when he said “Rock is dead”. Some people create art purely for money. Others create art because they want to create or have a need to create. Money will come, merely as a by-product of creating art.

When the record labels acted as gatekeepers, they could put money behind artists and develop them. It used to happen and some labels did it better than others. But that boom in the 80’s, is not because the labels developed artists, it’s because those artists developed themselves outside the sphere of the record labels.

No one can say that a record label developed Twisted Sister, Motley Crue or even Quiet Riot. Even Metallica did their first album independently and had a cult live following before Elektra came in to sign them for “Ride The Lightning”.

For artists that had break out success in 1986, like Bon Jovi and Europe, I would say, yes, they got developed by the label and got the green light for a make or break third album.

Economist Joel Waldfogelm, did some research a while back.

He wanted to see if the rise in sharing had any drop off on the new music being produced. And the research said, no, as new music was being created continuously. However, the record labels claimed otherwise, a claim not based on evidence.

in my opinion, the study also debunked what Gene Simmons said, about “rock being dead”. Gene’s comments circled around how file sharing and streaming meant that no new acts are being developed and able to grow and release quality albums. In fact, the study finds no support for that claim.

The study looked at the best of lists on popular websites for each decade from the 80’s and found on average, about half of the best-of albums since Napster are from artists whose recording debut occurred since Napster.

The study even went further to check how many albums in the 80’s are from artists from the 70’s and how many are from artists who had their debut in the 80’s. And guess, what, the numbers match the post Napster numbers.

How can that be if no artist is being developed?

Basically, there is no evidence that new artists are no longer being developed or are not creating high quality, successful music. Then again, the great artists didn’t need an A&R rep to develop them. They had their own drive and their own motivations.

But the labels have great PR writers and they sure know how to spin a story, along with the publishers and the movie studios. But their theories are not backed by independent research evidence.

The big difference between pre and post Napster is that most of the new musicians are coming from independent DIY artists, rather than the majors. And the labels don’t like this. And they are taking money away from the legacy artists when it comes to recorded music but the legacy artists still make coin on the live circuit.

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

What Do Artists Need? Stronger Copyright Laws or Better Business Models

I absolutely support that musicians should be paid for their work.

What I don’t get is how the record labels and misguided artists feel entitled to push for stronger copyright enforcement as a way to guarantee an income which is contrary to the foundations of what copyright was designed to do.

As we all know, Copyright laws have been hijacked by Corporations that at this point in time, copyright is contrary to freedom, and in particular freedom of speech, to a degree where it is illegal to sing “Happy Birthday” at a birthday party.

The “Happy Birthday” song goes all the way back to 1893 and right now it is “protected” by copyright until 2030 because someone decided to retroactively place it back under copyright. If that doesn’t tell everybody that something is very wrong with Copyright then I really don’t know what will.

Because people who really believe in stronger copyright laws believe that if those extra enforcement laws do not exist then musicians will cease to create. Those same people believe that if people are not paid upfront to write an album, then musicians will cease to create.

The maximalist viewpoint doesn’t seem to be supported.

Look at Sweden, the birth place of Spotify and The Pirate Bay. Guess what, the country has a thriving culture around music. Sweden to me is the scene to be at right now. Other policy changes by the Swedish Government around making medical care free has also contributed to this vibrant music scene. And all of this has been achieved with the threat of copyright infringement.

Remember all of the lies that have come out from the entertainment industries.

“Home taping killed music” was a good one. Guess that is why the music business and as a by-product the recording business grew exponentially once cassettes came into the market. I guess that is why no popular music has been made since cassettes came into the market.

The point is that copyright protectionism is purely about protecting old business models. Stronger Copyright has nothing to do about supporting thriving new industries. Stronger Copyright has nothing to do about finding new ways of doing things. The thing is the Copyright cartels have had a big win in successfully skewing the argument that file sharing is “theft”.

Remember all of those commercials about stealing that seemed to appear on a legally purchased DVD. The irony. I purchase a DVD and then I get blasted with ads that links copyright infringement to theft. BUT, if file sharing was actually “stealing”, then file-sharers could no doubt be prosecuted under existing theft law.

But they don’t. Because file sharing is not theft of property. It is a violation of copyright. That’s an important difference.

Duplicating a pile of 1’s and 0’s does not deprive anybody of the original content. What all of this copying does is drive down the value of the product. What is the price of a song when the internet is littered with millions of copies of the same song and they are free.

That right there is a market with a customer base in the billions and it needed to be satisfied. And that is where YouTube, Spotify, Pandora and other streaming services come into play. They are there to monetize that market by competing with free through ad-supported business models. Hey, if it is good enough for the free to air TV networks, why can’t it be good enough for music networks.

But this “free market” has a big problem when it runs up against Government protected monopolies.

And the thing is, people do also pay for music. Many studies are actually showing that the biggest consumers of illegal media are also the biggest purchasers of legal media. Ultimately this seems to show that people are more than happy to pay for content they enjoy.

Metallica’s self-titled Black album is still moving on average 2000 units a week. And it is doing this even though millions of copies of the album are available to be downloaded for free. It is doing this even though it is available for streaming on Spotify and YouTube.

Volbeat has been selling records on a weekly basis in the U.S since 2011. They are doing these numbers even though their album/s are available to be downloaded on peer-to-peer networks. They are doing these numbers even though their albums are available for streaming.

Same deal with Five Finger Death Punch, Avenged Sevenfold and Skillet. Still selling, regardless of the state of piracy.

So what is it. Do artists need stronger copyright laws or better business models and terms that pay them a fair days pay for a fair days work?

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

Who Is Ahead Of The Game and Who Is Behind The Eight Ball

Ahead Of The Game
Demonoid. As the single largest semi-private BitTorrent tracker that ever existed, Demonoid offered a home to millions of file-sharers. Throughout it’s history it has been taken offline a few times and the most recent one occurred last year. However, the site is known as the “COMEBACK KID” and it is back again. Never underestimate innovation. It always trump corruption and money.

Behind The Eight Ball
As expected and predicted by everybody, the Entertainment Industries/Hollywood Studios are now suing MegaUpload. The fact that they conspired with the Government to take a cyberlocker off-line was not enough. The fact that they made a lot of people lose personal content like photos, papers and videos is not enough. Let’s spend more money and sue the organisation. I suppose the catchcry is going to be the whole “WE NEED TO SEND A MESSAGE”.

Ahead Of The Game
YouTube dominates music streaming UNOFFICIALLY.

Behind The Eight Ball
Apple’s got no streaming solution. iTunes Radio is no match for Pandora so Apple/Cook making a billion dollar deal with Beats Music (which was losing money) so that they could have a streaming solution. And Trent Reznor (who was an investor in Beats) cashed in with the Beats sale to Apple by making way more money than he ever made in music.

Ahead Of The Game
Streaming wins.

Behind The Eight Ball
Spotify laid the foundation for streaming by fighting from trench to trench. Can they compete with Apple? The word on the street is that Apple will have a better royalty rate when it comes to streams.

Ahead Of The Game
The Techies are still the winners when it comes to music and distribution.

Behind The Eight Ball
Ponos and Studio Quality music in our ear buds.

Ahead Of The Game
Independent bands that come up with creative ways to engage their fans. “The Airborne Toxic Event” a few years back released a series of stripped-down, single-shot videos for every song on their album. Check out their Spotify and YouTube numbers today. A lot of the established rock bands do not have those numbers. The lesson here is that the artists in today’s world have way more opportunities to reach out to their fans and share content with them. It’s a lifer game.

Behind The Eight Ball
Artists talking about CD sales. Or research that focuses on innovation hurting sales of music. Hell, lets bring back Eight Track Tapes and Cassettes while we are at it.

Ahead Of The Game
Number crunching. MusicMetric, Echo Nest and Next Big Sound are all out there providing analysis on music by examining all aspects of a bands presence, like Social Media, Peer To Peer, legal mp3 purchases and streaming numbers.

Behind The Eight Ball
Lobbyists are still pushing hard for prosecution of online pirates and that new law is known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Basically it is a free trade deal that is being negotiated in secret and it has similar provisions to America’s controversial SOPA and ACTA bills.

And what about these other little innovative beauties from the entertainment industries;

DreamWorks calling for a piracy crackdown while they rake it in.

MUSO (a takedown service) is the Entertainment Industries answer to piracy. And the UK Government is providing funding.

If you are an artist, you need to keep on creating so that you can stay ahead of the game. If you are a label, you need to be finding talent and innovating to stay ahead of the game. Otherwise, you will be behind the eight ball and blaming everyone else for your shortcomings.

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

What does Vito Bratta, Chris DeGarmo, Richie Sambora, Iron Maiden and Dream Theater have in common?

The top four searched items that bring people to the Destroyer Of Harmony site are as follows;
1. Vito Bratta or Vito Bratta 2013
2. Chris DeGarmo or Chris DeGarmo 2013
3. Live At Luna Park DVD (during the period of no information on the status of the release)
4. Richie Sambora

When someone types in Vito Bratta or Vito Bratta 2013 in Google, there is a very good chance they will end up at Destroyer of Harmony.

The posts on Vito Bratta are like are like a slow hit burner for the site. People are really interested to find out what he is doing. Since he doesn’t have a social media presence himself, it’s up to hard-core fans to keep his talent going. All I am doing is trying to connect the past with the present for Vito.

Isn’t it a coincidence that all the searched topics have a lot of question marks?

The Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora split was very vague and even though Richie Sambora said recently he just wanted to spend time with his daughter, Jon Bon Jovi still wants an explanation as stated in a recent interview he did with the Herald Sun.

“… he was never fired, we certainly have no animosity and when the tour is over he can come and see me and Tico and Dave and explain what happened.”

Fans want to know what the hell is going on. They want to know what their heroes are doing. We live in an information society, now more so than ever.

Vito Bratta is leaving money on the table here. The glory days of 1988 are long gone. The glory days of someone putting a sizeable offer on the table are also long gone. The “guarantee concept” is fading. Promoters are waking up. They are starting to look at different models.

There is no point in giving an artist $200,000 a show based on what they did twenty years ago. What are they worth today?

Vito Bratta touched on this “up front guarantee” when he did the Eddie Truck interview back in 2007. He was open to the idea of White Lion reforming; however he needed to know that if he left his house, there would be something there to keep the lights running and the bills paid. In other words he was looking for a guarantee and that was something a lot of the promoters did not want to do.

Mike Tramp does his normal thing, playing small venues and clubs, sharing in the takings with the owners. There is no guarantee in what he does however it is a source of income and it gets him out there, connecting with people.

No one is guaranteed of making it in the music business. That is the nature of art. It is subjective. People will either connect on a large-scale or a small-scale.

The bottom line is this; Vito Bratta has a hard-core fan base. It is a niche audience that is made up of Eighties Hard Rock fans and Guitar Enthusiasts. It is a market that has been waiting for a long time for something new and that is why his name is searched out every day.

Chris De Garmo is missed. There is no guarantee that if he remained in Queensryche everything would be rosy and of high quality. However with the current debacle with the two Queensryche bands and a looming court case over the name, the Queensryche fans are looking for a shining light in all of this. And that light is Chris DeGarmo. He got out before it all went south.

People want to know what his thoughts are on the two Queensryche bands that are doing the rounds. They want him to create new music. They want him to step back in and save the band name.

As with everything there is no guarantee that if he does step back in, it will all work. And that is the issue. Is Chris DeGarmo prepared to leave his family for something that is not guaranteed. If he had some data that could advise him, then maybe he could commit.

In my opinion, data is actually the biggest currency in the music business however it still remains relatively untapped.

Has anyone seen the data that Musicmetric puts out?

Iron Maiden is the most heavily BitTorrent’ed band in Brazil. Brazil is also one of the biggest file sharing countries. What does this data tell Iron Maiden? It tells them that they have fans in Brazil that love music. It tells Iron Maiden that they need to get Flight 666 to South America and turn these free file sharing fans into concert ticket paying fans.

Having the data available to track where a bands fan base is more vital and more important than how many units an artist sold from a recorded product.

Iron Maiden has not sold great numbers in South and Central America since Peer to Peer Sharing started. However, they have toured the continent on a yearly basis, selling out large stadiums in the process and heaps of merchandise as well.

In relation to Dream Theater, the whole Live at Luna Park DVD/CD/Blu-ray release was a debacle. The fans wanted answers. Their Facebook page had thousands of comments from fans, all asking what is happening with the DVD release. The responses went unanswered for about eight weeks before Dream Theater made any comment on the delays.

Up until 2005, Dream Theater more or less avoided South America due to the “what they wanted to be paid so that they can bring the full show vs. what the promoters wanted to pay”.

This is what Mike Portnoy had to say on South America, on the Ytse Jam Bootleg DVD live release of their Santiago, Chile performance that took place on June 12, 2005.

“..the promoters in South America were apprehensive to give us what we would normally get to put on a show not knowing what the turnouts would be like. So in order to finally do a proper tour of South America, we agreed to bite the bullet and strip down; do the tour completely barebones so the promoters could feel out what to expect on future tours.

Well, surely they must have been shocked (as were we) when 20,000 people showed up for our very first show in Santiago, Chile.”

There you go; both the promoters and the band had no idea about the size of the fan base. Dream Theater avoided South America due to a hunch. That hunch is “hey the guys are not moving a lot of sales in Brazil so that must mean that they have no fan base.” Even for 2005, this line of thinking was outdated.

There is change coming to the live business. It’s slow but it is happening. What is a ticket worth these days for a concert? Normally, a number is pulled from somewhere and the promoters go to market to see if the fans are willing to pay for it. If the tickets don’t sell, then discounting begins and that more or less alienates the true hard-core that paid top dollar up front.

This even happened to Dream Theater when they played Sydney on the Black Clouds tour. A fortnight before the show, the tickets went to half price, just so they could fill the venue (that more or less sold out two years prior).

In the end the fans are an artists best asset. Treat them with the respect they deserve and not like the rock star that is portrayed in the Protest The Hero song, Underbite.

Iron Maiden article http://www.theguardian.com/music/2013/nov/29/iron-maiden-llp-stock-exchange

Jon Bon Jovi Herald Sun article http://m.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/music/jon-bon-jovi-reflects-on-his-latest-and-most-challenging-world-tour/story-fni0bvjn-1226771962259

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

The Lies Of The Beautiful Record Labels And The RIAA

During the recorded music industries heyday, there was this widespread idea, sort of like an unwritten law, that we (the fans of music) could purchase music and own it, the same way we purchased and owned the toaster and any other commodity.

Of course when it comes to music, that was never the case. What the music fans actually purchased was a non-transferable license to listen to the music under very specific and strict conditions. Nothing else was transferred to us with our expensive $30 purchase of a CD, other than the right to enjoy the music in private, over and over again.

So what do we have now. We have sales of music falling. Actually they have been falling for some time. The RIAA and the record labels are attributing this to piracy alone, linking the decline of sales with the increase of P2P file sharing usage.

So for the RIAA and the Record Labels, plus some misguided artists, it is simple, these two events correlate, so it implies that one is causing the other to move.

The thought that fans of music have changed the way they consume music doesn’t compute for the Majors and their association.

The arrival of iTunes and the chance to cherry pick what we want rather than complete albums is a pretty good indication that revenue streams would reduce. Instead of spending money on an expensive shiny piece of plastic for two songs, we could now just download those two songs.

The arrival of YouTube and streaming services have also put a dent into the traditional sales model. Of course, piracy does play its part, however with the increase in people attending concerts and festivals, one needs to ask the question, did piracy assist in this?

Watch the Iron Maiden doco, Flight 666. Nicko McBrian talks about not selling an album in Costa Rica, however they have sold out the local sports stadium. Twisted Sister haven’t released any new music, however in Europe they have a massive fan base that includes both old and young. Did piracy cause this?

The arrival of many platforms that allow DIY bands to release has caused a flood of new music to enter the music business. Competition is now at an all-time high.

What about the price of music? Normally if demand for a certain product drops, the prices for that product fall as well, to reflect the lower demand. It is simple economics. So what do the record labels do? They maintain the high prices so that they can maximise profits. So the recording industry is holding on to high price points and they blame piracy in the meantime for the decline in sales.

So if people are purchasing less music or illegally downloading content, how is this effecting the income of artists? Do artists still have an incentive to create music.

For starters, the majority of artists do not get into music to be millionaires. They get in to music because it satisfies a basic human need to be creative.

In relation to less incentive, this doesn’t seem to be the case. There is so much music hitting the market that no one has enough time to hear it all. In addition, if the artists is doing the live circuit, incomes in this arena are increasing. Some artists that don’t sell a lot sure get a lot of people into their shows.

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Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Piracy

Deja-Vu. 2011 vs. 2013 with Dream Theater and Trivium – Random Thoughts on their new songs

It’s like déjà vu again. In 2011, I was listening to new songs from Trivium and Dream Theater. Trivium had just unleashed In Waves as its promotional single for the In Waves album and Dream Theater had unleashed On The Backs of Angels as its promotional single for the A Dramatic Turn of Events album.

I remember listening to both songs back then and taking into account both of the band’s position in the musical landscape. Dream Theater to me, had the most to prove, as this music would be their first without founder Mike Portnoy.

In my opinion In Waves is a stronger song than On The Backs of Angels. The song wins all the time. I was listening to Images and Words yesterday and the reason why that album is awesome 21 years after its release is the songs. Learning To Live, Metropolis and Take The Time are progressive as hell, but man, I can physically hum the whole songs to anyone including the progressive interludes.

Images and Words is Dream Theater. That album represented what Dream Theater are all about and it set in motion everything that was to come. This new album is self-titled, therefore it should represent what Dream Theater is all about.

Anyway I digress, going back to my 2011 experiences. In relation to the albums, both of them had a six week U.S sale run (physical sales) and then disappeared. Will history repeat itself? I think so.

Dream Theater – A Dramatic Turn Of Events
Week 1 – ending 21 Sept 2011 – 35,750 units sold
Week 2 – ending 28 Sept 2011 – 8,030 units sold
Week 3 – ending 05 Oct 2011 – 4,430 units sold
Week 4 – ending 12 Oct 2011 – 3,120 units sold
Week 5 – ending 19 Oct 2011 – 2,600 units sold

Trivium – In Waves
Week 1 – ending 17 Aug 2011 – 20,640 units sold
Week 2 – ending 24 Aug 2011 – 6,700 units sold
Week 4 – ending 07 Sept 2011 – 2,890 units sold
Week 5 – ending 14 Sept 2011 – 2,890 units sold

Artists are so scared if an album under performs these days. WHY? The album sales figures quoted above is not the metric to judge success on. Dream Theater have hardly sold any music in South America, however they play to their biggest crowds there. I wonder how that came to be?

As Nicko McBrain said in Flight 666 The Movie, Iron Maiden hasn’t sold an album in Costa Rica, however they are playing a stadium show that is sold out with 30,000 people attending. Put it down to piracy, file sharing, Bit Torrent or copyright infringement. The bottom line is this, if what you create is great, expect it to be shared.

Before the Internet, before YouTube, before streaming services like Spotify, fans had to own the music to hear it. That is no longer the case. The history of recorded music is at our fingertips. Fans are participating in this new arena, while artists and labels are still banging their heads against the wall judging success by album sales.

Even Mike Portnoy asked fans to buy The Winery Dogs as a show of support to the label and to show to them that this project is viable. Why does he care about sales? Look at all his posts, show after show. He is blown away at the reaction they are getting. Isn’t that the validation he should be seeking?

So here we are in 2013. We have Trivium’s new song Brave This Storm and Dream Theater’s The Enemy Within.

So what is the verdict.

I can’t say that The Enemy Within is anything special. Some bits remind me of Scenes from a Memory, but really, I could see this song fitting on A Dramatic Turn of Events. It is not a great leap forward in musical terms. Let’s hope that the other songs make the “definite statement.”

Hopefully what we heard was their “Commercial” piece for the album, in the same way that Forsaken was seen as the “Commercial” piece in Systematic Chaos. If this new album turns out to just be ADToE part 2, then yeah I’ll be pretty disappointed, and everyone will know what a pivotal role Portnoy played in the band and how directionless they are without him.

On the other hand, I was very cautious as to how the Trivium and David Draiman collaboration would work. From hearing Brave This Storm, I would say they are on a definite winner. The song is heavy, it is a progression from what they started with In Waves, it is all math in the verses and it is very melodic. Let’s hope that the other Trivium songs are not Brave This Storm 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and so on.

For some reason this got me thinking about a song from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers called Rebels which is the lead off track on his 1985, Southern Accents album.

With one foot in the grave
One foot on the pedal
I was born a rebel

Are musicians/artists rebels in 2013? It seems that they all want to be winners. Seen any posts from a musician recently about what they think, what they feel, what they are going to do and it doesn’t relate to selling music. Our heroes are even beholden to the Corporations.

Randy Blythe is one artist that shows his humanity. He uses his photographs and puts stories around them, which always relate to a personal part of his life. We are all human. We win and we lose. Blythe focuses on his work, not the sales pitch.

There is new news every day, so if Dream Theater and Trivium want their story to survive, they need to keep it alive by making news every day

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