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

Score Card Inc

Three years ago in November, 2013, I posted a score sheet on certain artists/trends and how they are dealing with the music business.

Three years later, how are the artists fairing.

Robb Flynn
He still understands that it is not all about making records. From Nov 2013 to now, Robb Flynn via Machine Head, kept on releasing his Journals both video and written. In April, 2014, “Killers and Kings” came out for Record Store Day and the band went on tour. He started a clothing range called “Killers and Kings” that didn’t really take off. In November, 2014, “Bloodstone and Diamonds” came out and the band embarked on a lengthy “An Evening With” world tour. In June 1, 2016, “Is There Anybody Out There?” came out as a stand-alone single.

His connection with his audience runs deep. People either dig him or detest him or some people will not just forget him in an orange jumpsuit during the Nu-Metal phase of the band’s career.

Protest The Hero
Back in 2013, “Protest The Hero” showed how the record labels are so out of touch with its customers. PTH was dropped because the label told them they have no audience. However, a fan funding campaign showed a pretty impressive hard-core audience that was willing to cough up some serious dollars for the band. Even the band was blown away at the response.

And they did it again between Nov 2015 and April 2016 with “Pacific Myth” an innovative one song per month release over six months via Bandcamp. Fans had the option of two packages, and I selected the one that also had the six video releases. In between, the guys would upload drum videos, cooking videos, song transcriptions and what not.

Nikki Sixx
In 2013, he talked about a farewell tour. Well that tour finally happened and concluded in 2015. The Crue fan base didn’t really need one more world tour however, they wanted to finish up in their own way and the world tour is what we got, with a new song called “All Bad Things”. The movie is still in the works, they have their own pleasure toys, a rumour of The Dirt 2, plus lawsuits from photographers and opening bands to contend with. Seriously, squirting piss at a bunch of guys who paid $1 million to be on the tour would always end up in the courts.

With Sixx A.M. he has released an albums worth of music and the next album is coming in a few weeks. They are on tour with Five Finger Death Punch, he does his Sixx Sense Radio Show and he doesn’t like to wash his hands after going to the toilet.

Coheed and Cambria
By November, 2013, COCA had been touring non-stop on the back of “The Afterman” two album releases that came out within a 4 month window. Add to that Comic Con appearances, plus Sci-Fi conventions and appearances in Comic Shops and you get the idea that this band realises that it is not just about music and money. It is about creativity.

Since then, Claude Sanchez became a dad. He wrote more comics with his wife called “Translucid” in 2014 and in 2015 managed to release another slab of songs called “The Color Before The Sun” and go on a another world tour.

Metallica
Back in 2013, I wrote;

They need to make new music soon. There are only so many times that a band can go on a worldwide victory lap on the same piece of music. They need to be back in the studio.

Well, we are almost one week away from that new music hitting the streets and in the meantime, we have been treated to three tracks.
It’s a welcome relief to hear Metallica doing what they do best and I believe they have enough new music in their archives for another album to drop within two years this time, instead of eight.

And after hearing the album – yes it is available on the pirate sites, I can honestly say that it’s not worth the 8 year wait at all and maybe 4 song EP’s is the best way to go.

Dream Theater
I wrote in November 2013, that they need a great record soon or they will become yesterday’s news. Dream Theater has a knack for popping up with some goodies, like “Images and Words”, “Scenes From A Memory”, “Systematic Chaos” and “A Dramatic Turn Of Events”.

So in January 2016, they dropped the 130 minute “Astonishing” concept album, about a dystopian future society. Concept albums lead to different revenue spin offs like a stage play, comic book stories, video games, animations, TV series, a movie and so forth. But then again, Slayer are doing a graphic comic book series and have never done a concept album.

Stone Sour
I wrote in 2013, that something went south with their career trajectory. Of course, a beast called Slipknot would devour the creative forces of the band. Their take on modern metal is good, but with Slipknot getting more melodic, is there a reason for Stone Sour to exist.

Five Finger Death Punch
They have an audience who purchases and streams their product. Along the way, each album has received certifications for so many units moved. An onstage meltdown, a record label lawsuit and then a change of label has not slowed the band down in any way. If they can remain together, they will remain a powerhouse.

Trivium
Back in November, 2013, their new album “Vengeance Falls” was called a Disturbed covers album. The truth is, if people are talking about you, it is a good thing. And that album gave Trivium a concert classic in “Strife”. Since then, they released “Silence In The Snow” in 2015. They are always looking to reinvent themselves constantly while staying true to heavy metal. Plus Matt Heafy has a pretty cool Top 10 list of albums that changed his life.

1. Metallica – The Black Album (1991)
“A kid lent me The Black Album at school and it changed my life. I had never heard anything like it before, and I started playing guitar all the time.”

2. In Flames – Whoracle (1997)
“That was at the time of Napster, and I was into the classic great metal bands. I was on Napster and I found In Flames. I had never heard melodic death metal before, and it changed my ear on what kind of music I wanted to play.”

3. Queen – A Night At The Opera (1975)
“What I’ve always loved about Queen is that they’ve never released the same thing twice. Everything is drastically different while still sounding like Queen. Every song on A Night At The Opera sounds different to the next one and they all stand up as fantastic.”

4. Iron Maiden – Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son (1988)
“With Iron Maiden it’s hard, because I love so many of their records. They’re all so important. Seventh Son, though, is the one that really got me into Iron Maiden. It’s one of their more epic records; there’s vivid storytelling going on. Getting into Iron Maiden helped me trace the roots of the music that I love. I could see where so many metal, death metal and black metal bands had taken things from.”

5. Ihsahn – Eremita (2012)
“Emperor changed my life, and Ihsahn changed my life again with this album. He spun the idea of black metal on its head by incorporating jazz chords, interesting production and clean singing. That record taught me to never be afraid of making whatever I want to make. We’ve always done that, but this album drove that home for me.”

6. Boston – Boston (1976)
“The vocal production is insane. Everything about this record epitomises the best things of rock ‘n’ roll.”

7. The Beatles – Abbey Road (1969)
“The Beatles blow my mind in the same way that Queen do in that every song and record is so different to the last. Both of those bands have incredible songwriters as well. It’s not like nowadays where you might have one songwriter in a band.”

8. Emperor – Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk (1997)
“This is where Emperor really changed the dynamic of where black metal was going. Black metal was the rebellion to rock and metal, and was supposed to be different. “When there’s a movement like that, a lot of bands come out playing semi-similar music. That record opened up with clean guitar and there’s this classical singing; it has chaotic moments and beautiful moments all in one. Emperor makes such interesting black metal with these big dramatic moments.”

9. Depeche Mode – Violator (1990)
“Listening to Depeche Mode, you can hear that Rammstein is a combination of Depeche Mode and Metallica. Violator is one of the darkest, scariest records I’ve ever heard. It has this different kind of sadness that you feel in the music.”

10. The London Symphony Orchestra – Mozart’s Requiem (1791)
“The gothic artwork of that record is incredible, and this version for me is just the best. Listening to this, you can hear that out of all contemporary music, metal is the closest living relative to classical. It is the most epic moments of music that have always drawn me in, and I feel that with Mozart’s Requiem that is where you’re getting into the blueprint for everything that was to come.”

Shinedown
They have an audience who want to listen to them and so far, no one’s doing hard rock better than them. Their new album “Threat To Survival” has taken its influences from Adele, Imagine Dragons and other pop artists and they still made it rock hard. Daughtry and James Durbin should take note. Along the way, their fans purchased and streamed all the way to certification after certification.

Avenged Sevenfold
Say what you will about the “influences” on “Hail To The King”, doing that album was a bigger risk for Avenged Sevenfold then their new album and it paid off for them.

Fast forward to 2016, and their new album drops early. It is a creative tour de force but to me it’s already in the rear view. All of the good bits in each song are undone by the creativity of trying to push the boundaries.

Piracy
In 2013, I wrote that piracy is not that large of a problem as the majors and the RIAA make it out to be and with revenues in 2016, approaching the pre-Napster era, it’s further proof that piracy does not affect their bottom lines, especially when there are services out there that can compete with piracy.

Evergrey
The pure definition of perseverance with 20 plus years in the music business and still going strong.

By November 2013, the “new” version of the band that delivered “Glorious Collision” had splintered again and lead vocalist/guitarist Tom Englund was not sure on the next step. A reconnection with drummer Jonas Ekdahl and guitarist Henrik Danhage (who departed before “Glorious Collision”) spawned the excellent “Hymns For The Broken” in 2014 and a few months ago, “The Storm Within” builds on the atmospherics created by “Hymns”.

Megadeth
In 2013, Megadeth’s new album “Supercollider” was outsold by Metallica’s self-titled “Black” album. In 2015, Mustaine got his metal chops back and in 2016, “Dystopia” came out. Another Mustaine Resurrection was at hand.

Tremonti/Alter Bridge
Mark Tremonti knows it’s about putting new music out there and consistently. In 2013, we had “Fortress” from Alter Bridge. In 2015, we had “Cauterize” from Tremonti and 2016 has given us, “Dust” from Tremonti and “The Last Hero” from Alter Bridge. In three years, Tremonti has been part of 4 albums while Metallica ……

The Night Flight Orchestra
The best classic rock side project ever from Soilwork and Arch Enemy band members. The first album “Internal Affairs” came out in 2012 and the second “Skyline Whispers” in 2015. Essential listening to any hard rock fans of the 80’s.

Sales
In 2013, I wrote that sales are not the best metric to measure a bands reach and pull in the market. In 2016, listens are more important than sales.

Bullet For My Valentine
By November 2013, people had lost their “Temper Temper” with them, but in 2015, the band found their “Venom” again, which leads us to new music hitting the net in November 2016.

Revolution Saints
In 2013, this band existed in the head of the Frontiers President. In 2015, they released an excellent melodic AOR rock album. So much potential, so many good songs, great musicians and it all went to hell because Castronovo couldn’t keep his 5555t together. Let’s hope that Jack Blades and Doug Aldrich forgive him and they try for another album. This time with the three of them writing.

TesseracT
One of the hardest working progressive bands out there, building their fanbase, city by city. In 2011, they released “One”. In 2013, they released the excellent “Altered State” and in 2015 we got “Polaris”.

Days Of Jupiter
An unsung Swedish melodic groove rock band, that’s a cross between Evergrey and Disturbed. In 2012 they released “Secrets Brought to Life” and in 2015, “Only Ashes Remain” came out.

Sweet and Lynch
Another album would be sweet.

Muse
They play stadiums but they don’t have the same sales figures as the 70’s and 80’s legends. A perfect example of the modern world, in which massive single songs sell concert tickets.

Live
In 2013, I wrote;
Remember the excitement and the buzz of going to the show. It was uncontrollable. Everyone waiting in line to get inside, to watch a band that rules, in an era that music ruled. Today, it is too expensive to take kids to a concert and that is only for a glimpse in the back. This business needs a reset.

Concert ticket prices are still high, especially for the superstar acts. The price gauge happened as an offset to dwindling revenues from recorded sales, however with recorded music revenue now as high as the pre-Napster era, there is no reason for the high concert ticket prices.

Slash
As an artist, he didn’t need to go back to Gunners. He had enough momentum to keep going as a solo artist and with Myles Kennedy, a better front man than Axl Rose. Slash kept on releasing new music consistently, while Duff and Axl complained of piracy and artistically were dead in the water. Money triumphs over creativity and in this case, it’s really sad.

Album
Back in 2013, I wrote how everyone talks about the money that is lost due to piracy as album sales shrink. Back then 20% of the tracks on Spotify have never been played. So what is the point of the album, when people ignore the songs that are not “hits”. When I go to Spotify and I come across an artist I haven’t heard before, I go to their Spotify page and hear the tracks in their top 10 list. Those tracks in most cases are pulled from many different albums.

And if any of those tracks connect with me, I might dig deeper into the album.

Rodrigo Y Gabriela
Created by their love of metal and rock music and when that same genre put up roadblocks to a career in music, they changed tact and went all flamenco acoustic on the world. Talk about paying their dues and taking risks. They moved from Mexico and took a chance in Europe. Over an 8 year Dublin residence, they honed their style and songs, so when their “official” debut album hit in 2006, what seemed like an overnight sensation was 15 years in the making.

There is nothing more difficult in the world then trying to make it as a musician. You need to show up day after day, week after week, year after year. And your brand or movement might just make some small gains. Then it hits a few speed bumps, like Rodrigo and Gabriela’s metal band losing their recording contract in 1997 and suddenly you are back at the start. But they kept on showing up, on the coast of Mexico and playing their acoustic guitars in the bars. Because showing up day after day, is the hardest part of making a difference. If you look at the history of the artists we like and admire, you will see many years in pursuit of their dreams.

It is a work of a lifetime to create an impact and build something of substance. In 2013, they were riding the highs of their 2012 “Area 52” collaboration, which involved re-working their best songs with a full flamenco band. Then in 2014, “9 Dead Alive” dropped and new music is needed ASAP.

Sebastian Bach/Skid Row
They shouldn’t get back together, because no one cares about Skid Row in the way they used too. They might have a large audience in Japan, like Dokken, but the rest of the “Youth Gone Wild” have moved on. Sebastian Bach is actually bigger than Skid Row and releases way better music than Skid Row have done without him. But, what was he thinking when he approved the photo for his memoir’s cover.

The Kindred
From Canada and the healthy progressive scene. They started off as “Today I Caught The Plague” from the ashes of another band called “A Legend Falls”. In 2011 they released the excellent “Lore” and went on tour with one of my favourite bands in Protest The Hero and their “Scurrilous Tour”. Then in 2013, a name change happened to “The Kindred” and the excellent “Life In Lucidity” came out at the start of 2014.

However, PTH needed a drummer for their “Volition” tour and it was no surprise that they tapped Mike Ieradi (who also co-founded the group) to fill the spot. Then in 2015, vocalist David Journeaux departed, with Johnny McArthur as their new vocalist and Kenny Saunders as their new drummer. So now I wait to see what comes next.

Streaming
Back in 2013, I wrote that everyone talks about the money which isn’t filtering down to the artist and how streaming is too entrenched to be replaced. Since then the record labels have grown their revenues on the back of streaming. Artists who negotiate deals with the streaming services like Metallica and Motley Crue have never complained about streaming. Suddenly, luddites Anthrax are not complaining and Scott Ian even mentioned how he believes streaming is the best thing to have happened to the recording industry.

Streaming is the future and those artist who don’t grow with this future will be too busy shrinking.

The Gaslight Anthem
They do the early 80’s Bruce Springsteen better than Bruce Springsteen these days. It was like a supergroup of independent musicians that came together in New Jersey in 2006. Their 2010 album, “American Slang” spawned an unexpected hit with the title track and “45” from their 2012 album “Handwritten” became their biggest hit. Since then, “Get Hurt” came out in 2014 and by July 2015, the band went on an indefinite hiatus.

Since the hiatus, singer Brian Fallon released a solo album called “Painkillers” in March 2016, and on April, 2016, a vinyl EP called “Georgia” was released for Record Store Day 2016 with a limited pressing run of 2,000 copies on 10″ vinyl. Let’s hope that “The Gaslight Anthem” get together for more music over the next three-year period.

Volbeat
Seen as overnight sensations however they are over 25 years in the business. It all started with “Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood” in 2008 and being added to the Metallica “Death Magnetic U.S. Tour”. Then in 2010, “Beyond Hell/Above Heaven” came out and while that was still selling, they released “Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies” in 2013 and they hit every major music market over and over again. Since then, they released “Seal the Deal and Let’s Boogie” and are continuing on their merry ways. For all the newbies, check out their streaming numbers. They are huge compared to other major label metal/rock acts.

Killswitch Engage/Times Of Grace
In 2013, Killswitch Engage released “Disarm the Descent”, their comeback album with Jesse Leach on vocals. And how good is “In Due Time” with brutal verses and an arena rock chorus. Then in February 2015, a new track called “Loyalty” appeared on “Catch The Throne: The Mixtape Volume 2” to promote “Game of Thrones”. They then toured and kept on working on “Incarnate” which finally came out on March 11, 2016. Since then, they toured and are planning on releasing a beer. Meanwhile, “Times of Grace” have five songs completed for a new album to come out, with their last one coming out in 2011.

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Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Five Finger Death Punch vs Prospect Park

Five Finger Death Punch changed management a few years back from Jeff Kwatinetz/Prospect Park to Allen Kovac/Eleven Seven. In the music business, Kovac has an envious reputation amongst other managers for getting the best financial outcome for his clients.

I think it is safe to assume that Kovac has gone through all of the contracts that FFDP has with Prospect Park and found “issues” that did not benefit FFDP in any way whatsoever. So the FFDP camp questions it and they get hit with a lawsuit from the record label who once upon a time was also their management.

Don’t you love it, when the label sues the band that made it famous?

No one even knew who Prospect Park was before Five Finger Death Punch.

Prospect Park didn’t even pay for the first album. FFDP recorded their first album on their own budget.

Once it was all done and mastered, they shopped it around for release and distribution. They found “Prospect Park”, who put some money in to market it and after it was released, it sold a massive 3,800 copies in its first week.

The album was basically dead after week one. Fantastic work by the record label and Jeff Twatnets to promote it.

However, the guys in FFDP had contacts and suddenly they are on tour with Korn and then Disturbed. I think it’s safe to say those two bands did more for the band than the label. And FFDP haven’t looked back since.

Once “The Bleeding” started to get traction on radio, the debut just started selling. People were suddenly talking about the shows and spreading the word. It wasn’t the label that did it. It was the band themselves, putting in the hard work, on a small stage, night after night. Then it was word of mouth by the fans. The band became popular and so did the label.

Kevin Churko said it best;

“Nobody in the music industry has any job without the artist.”

FFDP has made Wankerwiener from Prospect Park a rich man and like all people who come into money, they don’t want to lose it. They will fight tooth and nail to keep it. They will lie, cheat, sue and steal to keep it.

In fact if you look at the businesses that Jeff Wankerwiener/Twatdance/Kwatinetz has been involved in, you will see a sinister pattern. He was the founder of management company “The Firm” in 1997. This is the company that signed FFDP in 2007. in 2008, “The Firm” ceased operating due to high levels of debt. Several months after “The Firm” was closed, Kwatinetz founded Prospect Park and by 2014, Prospect Park had declared bankruptcy.

What a world we live in where a person who cannot manage his companies can contractually stifle creativity of an artist.

And Churko shares no love for the record label.

“Having worked with many record companies, I found it frustrating that Prospect Park repeatedly did not pay me on time. I feel if it wasn’t for the direct efforts of the band members themselves, their management and their business manager, I may still remain unpaid. They were champions for me from the beginning and I’ll be a champion for them to the end.”

Record labels are notorious for mistreating artists and producers. Late on payments or not paying at all. Creative on royalty statements and not paying at all. Remember when 30 Second To Mars was being sued by their label for $30 million just because they questioned why they had so much debt after “A Beautiful Lie” sold 3 million plus copies of the album.

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

RIAA Certifications

There is just so much hoopla about certification these days. The usual media outlets are reporting how difficult it is for artists to achieve a certification due to piracy/copyright infringement. And if the artist is on a major label, the yelling is even louder. And when artists do get a platinum certification these days, it is reported by everyone.

Of course, the certification process once upon a time was based on SALES and sales only. It took into account the people owned the music they purchased and really liked it. The fact that people might not have listened to the music over and over again, didn’t matter.

However, as streaming services have shown due to piracy/copyright infringement, people also like to have access to music instead of owing music. So what we have is the following situation;

  • Ownership of music -> registers a sale, which counts for certifications and generates a lot more money for the artist and the label then streaming services do.
  • Access to music -> registers a sale by following a formula. 1,500 streams equals 10 tracks which equals one album purchase. The one album purchase counts for certifications and the streaming equivalent of sale doesn’t generate as much income for the artist and label then the sale of a mp3 or a CD or vinyl does.

Five Finger Death Punch has a PLATINUM certification from the RIAA. Seven years after the album was released.
FFDP_Platinum_Cert

For a band that plays to a niche audience this is exceptional and proof that metal and rock fans are avid music consumers. The viewpoint from the past always was “if your album goes Platinum, it means the public has accepted it” and when others see the love that people are giving the album, more people are going to go and check it out.

Music is and always will be about longevity.

Will people still be interested in the music, many years after it was released?

Apart from selling a decent amount of product, Five Finger Death Punch are also one of the bands with decent streaming numbers. This tells me that people are listening to them on a consistent basis.

“Fantasy” from Aldo Nova went Gold within the same year it was released in 1982. But it wasn’t until 1989 (seven years later) that it was certified platinum and by 1994 (12 years from when the song was released and 5 years from its Platinum certification) it was certified double platinum.

If you apply that formula to FFDP, then “War Is The Answer” should be certified double platinum by 2021. Is this such a bad thing? According to the ones that want to be paid straight away it is.

For a lot of bands, a loyal fan base is monetized to maximum effect.

Dream Theater and Machine Head are two bands that have a small (compared to other bands) but high net worth fan base. Dream Theater only has a Gold Certification (they have other DVD/Video certifications), that came three years after “Images And Words” was released. This sole certification hasn’t stopped Dream Theater from having a career.

BB_Gold_Cert

Another band, Breaking Benjamin is also the same as Dream Theater and Machine Head. Breaking Benjamin also received a Gold Certification last year for an album they released back in 2002. Yep that’s right people, an album released 13 years ago is still in the public conversation. But what Breaking Benjamin has going that the other bands don’t is the singles. Their singles are pushing on double and triple platinum certifications.

Remember what I mentioned earlier. Music is about longevity and will people still be interested in the music, many years after it was released. But to the ones that want to be paid straight away, this is a problem.

Volbet_CertVolbeat is one of those unsung heroes here.

A hard-working band, that tours like crazy, building their audience, city by city, state by state, country by country.

Known in Europe, it wasn’t until Metallica put them as openers in the U.S Death Magnetic trek that Volbeat started to get traction in the U.S.

And then their albums started selling.

And then they went out on their own, and the shows kept on selling out.

Certifications are nice to have.

But they are not the be all and end all to have a career in music.

Longevity and people listening is the key.

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, Piracy, Unsung Heroes

Keep On Selling In A Free World

Five Finger Death Punch moved 119,000 units of their new album “Got Your Six”. 114,000 of those units are pure album sales and it a time of free, it even surpassed the 112,000 opening sales week of 2013’s “The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell: Volume 1”.

In the U.S, Iron Maiden moved 75,000 of their “The Book Of Souls” album and in a time of free, it is Iron Maiden’s best sales week since Nielsen Music began measuring sales in 1991. It even surpassed 2010’s “The Final Frontier” sales by 12,000 units. Again in a time of free, you would expect a sales decline to happen.

In the U.K, Iron Maiden moved over 60,000 units and Five Finger Death Punch also landed in the Top 10.

In Australia, we know that Iron Maiden came in a Number 2 and Five Finger Death Punch at Number 3.

Both of the above bands have had their BEST SALES week for these latest releases. Especially in the U.S market. For Iron Maiden, it is their best sales week since 1991. Consider that. Piracy was at an all-time low in 1991 however in 2015, when piracy is meant to be at an all time high, bands sell more than before in opening weeks.

But it’s not always like that.

Disturbed’s “Immortalized” sold 98,000 total copies. If you compare these sales with 2002, when their second album “Believe” sold 284,000 copies you can see a steep decline in first week sales.

2005’s “Ten Thousand Fists” sold 239,000 copies, 2008’s “Indestructible” sold 253,000 copies and 2010’s “Asylum” sold 179,000 copies. On the same week that Disturbed made their comeback, Swedish metal act Ghost had opening week sales of 29,000 units of their second album “Meliora”

So what does all of the above tell us?

Has anyone seen the latest MTV Video Music Awards?

How many metal and hard rock bands got mentioned

If you are an artist in 2015, there is no use comparing 2015 to 1985.

Shawn Drover can complain all he wants.

The truth is, no one really cares about his new act “Act Of Defiance” first album at this point in time.

What the above data shows me, is that the music business is not all about the first album. It is about what comes after the first album. Remember, “Kill Em All” from Metallica had a life span of about nine months, before Metallica was back in the studio recording “Ride The Lightning”. That album also had a nine month life span before Metallica was back in the studio to record “Master of Puppets”.

There is no doubt that internet piracy has affected every genre, especially the metal and hard rock genre.

Does that mean that there is no money in music?

Of course not.

Publishing agency, BMI raked in $1.013 billion dollars for the financial year. ASCAP, also raked in $1.001 billion. This is money, earned by agencies for licensing out artists songs to radio, TV, streaming services and other platforms. And the reason for this big boom is;

  • Music streaming

But with everything corporate, the payouts to artists comes after both BMI and ASCAP subtract their operating expenses and other creative expenses from the revenue. This is what happens when you have a monopoly on music licensing. You abuse it.

BMI actually paid $877 million to its thousands of members, including songwriters like Dave Grohl, Linkin Park, Nickelback and Evanescence. ASCAP on the other hand paid its members $883 million.

What about that?

ASCAP had less revenue than BMI but paid out more. Regardless, when you add the expenses that both organisations kept, that is another $600 million kept away from artists.

But BMI blamed their legal fight against Pandora for the reduced payouts?

And certain artists have jumped on the bandwagon to criticise Pandora. But so many are clueless to the work that Pandora has done to help the recording industry and the music industry at large. They have 80 million listeners.

But did you know that Five Finger Death Punch partnered with Pandora to launch their album “Got Your Six”. Mumford and Sons, partnered with Pandora for a live stream of a concert. Jack White did the same. All of these partnerships led to Pandora increasing their fan base and the artists increasing their exposure and sales.

Pandora put on 79 live events last year and this year it’s expected to rise to 120.

This is on top of Pandora paying out half its revenue to SoundExchange in licensing fees, which in turn has ensured that the company is in a loss position. Other countries are not that quick to embrace Pandora, because to date, the service only operates in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand.

Which is silly.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Unsung Heroes

Rock/Metal Quotes

“Our first deal, for example, was for five records, so there was development there. They looked at it as: ‘Let’s invest in these first two records, and if nothing happens, no big deal. Maybe the third record will be the turning point, and then four and five we’re on the gravy train.’ I think that was the record company’s perspective.”
Alex Lifeson. RUSH

It was always the fan that had the power. Fans invest in the artist. It never mattered what the record company thought or believed as it was the fan who decided if the piece of vinyl was worth their money. The labels had the gatekeeping power to decide who got to a recording studio or who didn’t. And they used that power wisely to accumulate artists’ copyrights.

“If we were to release those same three records now: Fly By Night – the record company would’ve gone, ‘Okay, let’s hang on.’ With Caress of Steel, they would’ve dropped us right away, because it was a commercially unsuccessful record, but we needed to make that record to make 2112. So there would be no 2112 for Rush in 2015. I’d go back to plumbing or some other job. That just doesn’t exist now, whereas back then, as nervous as they were, they still were there to support us.”
Alex Lifeson. RUSH

The labels did not support the artist. They supported a copyright monopoly. Their accountants knew very early on that holding the copyrights for songs would be a big financial winner for them in the future. The labels have used their accumulated copyrights as leverage to negotiate licence fees with Apple Music, Pandora, Spotify, Deezer and all of the other streaming services.

To prove my point, let’s look at an Italian hard rock/metal label called Frontiers Records. Look at the albums they have released, especially in the last five years. You will see a trend of certain artists, re-recording their best songs from the Eighties and Seventies and putting these recorded versions under a new Copyright. Frontiers will pay the artist for their work, and they keep the copyrights of these forgeries for a very long time.

Who is the winner here?

The artist or the record label.

“For new bands, everybody makes CDs. Years ago, nobody had CDs. You had to have a record deal. Everybody’s got it [now]. And there’s so much competition. The Internet is good in a way to get your stuff out there, but the whole music industry is wrecked.”
Vinny Appice. DIO, BLACK SABBATH, HEAVEN AND HELL,

“For me, it’s an interesting dichotomy. Because, on one hand, you’ve got people who are streaming, but then they use that to decide whether or not they wanna buy the album, as opposed to illegal downloading. But then there’s the other side of it where people are kind of using it as, basically, satellite radio, where it’s, like, ‘I’m just gonna listen to this.’ But people still pay a subscription for it. So, in one way or another, the economy is still working. It’s just that… We can’t catch up with the technology; that’s the problem. There’s so many innovations that the powers that be can’t figure out… they can’t get ahead of it.”
Corey Taylor. SLIPKNOT/STONE SOUR

The gatekeepers are no more. It’s an open market and simple economics rule. Supply vs Demand. Music at the moment is in huge supply and the demand from the fans is spread thin.

For example, in the next three months there are about 40 albums that I am interested in listening too.

For August, I am looking forward to Soulfly’s “Archangel”, Bon Jovi’s “Burning Bridges”, Disturbed’s “Immortalized”, Pop Evil’s “Up”, Five Finger Death Punch’s “Got Your Six”, Fear Factory’s “Genexus”, Bullet for My Valentine’s “Venom”, Act of Defiance’s “Birth and the Burial”, P.O.D.’s “The Awakening”, Motörhead’s “Bad Magic” and Soilwork’s “The Ride Majestic”.

For September, I am looking forward to Shinedown’s new one, Iron Maiden’s “The Book of Souls”, Slayer’s “Repentless” and Atreyu’s “Long Live”.

For October, I am looking forward to Children of Bodom’s “I Worship Chaos”, Collective Soul’s “See What You Started by Continuing”, Coheed and Cambria’s “The Color Before the Sun”, Deftones new one, Queensrÿche’s “Condition Hüman”, Sevendust’s “Kill the Flaw”, Trivium’s “Silence in the Snow”, W.A.S.P.’s “Golgotha” and Stryper’s “Fallen”.

Some I would buy and a lot I would just stream WHEN I HAVE THE TIME.

“All due respect to Mr. Simmons, I think when he talks about rock being dead, I think he talks about the old-school way of album-tour-album-tour-album-tour. That’s just not the way you do it anymore. There’s so many other things and ways to continue the history of this industry, and to continue to be on top. I mean, I’m looking out at headlining Download [festival] in the U.K. [Sarcastically] Yeah, rock is dead. That’s why there’s 85,000 people here at 11:30 at night in a downpour, and nobody left. Yeah, rock’s dead. Yeah.”

Corey Taylor. SLIPKNOT/STONE SOUR

Spot on. Fans of music haven’t disappeared and they haven’t resorted to freemium as the labels or the RIAA would like us to think. Fans still support music and artists in their own way. I purchase CD’s, I stream music, I download music and I go to concerts. The old model of album sales and then a tour is broken. So a new model is required.

“Well, we have such an incredible reaction to [JUDAS PRIEST’s latest album] ‘Redeemer Of Souls’ that really motivated us to crack the whip and get on with making the next record pretty quickly. The clock is ticking, you know. We can’t afford to wait three years, or five years now, to make the record. And especially while we’re having this great, kind of, vibe with the fans and just this massive PRIEST family love fest type of deal. You know, who wants to go home and sit down for a year?”
Rob Halford. JUDAS PRIEST

“Fewer records get sold or streamed, less money is there,” he continued. “You used to sell enough records to not go on tour. In the 90s, you used to make as much money on tour as you would selling records. Now you make one-tenth of that money on records sales or streaming. The biggest problem with the new record business is that I don’t know who the fans are. Fans are the people who will actually pay for something.”
Peter Mensch. MANAGER

They (the recording industry) have to. But probably the best route they should take, I think they’ve been playing catch-up for a long time — they’re constantly trying to readjust and adapt. I think that probably the truth of the matter, the answer is to start from scratch and create a whole new playbook. Build a whole new business plan off of that. I don’t think anybody, at least that I’m aware of, has done that, started with just a blank slate and just started over. I think that’s really what needs to be done. Just level the building and build something brand new.”
Dee Snider. TWISTED SISTER

Fans are people who will actually pay for something when they want to pay. Growing up the Eighties, I had a circle of friends who would wait with blank cassettes for the latest music I purchased. We had a running joke to say “the leeches are in the house”. These fans copied Motley Crue, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Megadeth, Whitesnake, Night Ranger and so many other bands from me. Their whole music collection was dubbed music.

So time goes on, they get older, they get jobs, the internet comes, Napster rises and suddenly they have money to spend. They didn’t start to purchase recorded music, they just downloaded that for free. What they did start to purchase was concert tickets for the bands they liked. When Maiden toured Australia for the “Caught Somewhere Back In Time” tour, they went to the shows in Sydney and Melbourne. I only went to the Sydney shows. When Motley Crue came for the Carnival Of Sins tour they went to the shows around Australia. I only went to the Sydney show. When Metallica came, they went to the shows around Australia, plus the Soundwave shows and so on. When Megadeth came, they went to their shows.

“Because, at the end of the day, it’s about people knowing the music, not owning it.”
Corey Taylor. SLIPKNOT/STONE SOUR

Perfectly said.

“The only thing that’s really been affected is albums sales. Because there’s still just as many rock fans out there as there were, and there’s a whole new generation coming up. I mean, the contracts that you signed back then — even today — you’d have to sell five, six million at a pop to be able to turn a profit. So, for people like me, it wasn’t about making money off the album sales. I mean, it’s be nice, but it wasn’t the essential.”
Corey Taylor. SLIPKNOT/STONE SOUR

“I’m talking about the cost to buy a CD. You can get a brand new record from your favourite band for ten dollars, basically. And even that’s high, ’cause most bands will sell ’em cheaper, especially the first or two the records are out. So, for ten bucks you can get a new record. I mean, it wasn’t that long ago that CDs cost $18.99 at the Virgin Megastore. Records cost half what they used to cost, and people aren’t buying them as much, which is crazy to me. It’s never been cheaper. What more do the people want?”
Scott Ian. ANTHRAX

No one wanted to buy an album. WE WANTED TO LISTEN TO MUSIC. It was unfortunate that the music we wanted to listen to was put on a piece of vinyl or a CD or a cassette and sold at a very high price.

“For me, the album is the calling card. You hope people are hearing the music, but it’s not essential to sell the music, and that’s the thing you kind of have to balance today.”
Corey Taylor. SLIPKNOT/STONE SOUR

“Right now I don’t even know what the music business is. I have no idea. There’s no record stores. We live in Los Angeles, and the radio sucks. It’s better elsewhere. The bands put an album out, and they don’t play it. Then everybody downloads it for free. And it’s a mess. ‘Cause people need to earn money when they play music, just like you go earn money when you go to work. It costs money to make an album. You can’t just give it away for free.”
Vinny Appice. DIO, BLACK SABBATH, HEAVEN AND HELL,

But it’s not for free. The album that you recorded has been put up on a streaming site. The label that put it up was paid a fee to license the music they have on that streaming site. Speak to your label and re-negotiate. When people listen to your album, 70% of the monies go to your label. Again, speak to your label and re-negotiate.

What is better?

A million streams or a 1000 units in sales. A million streams shows a large audience supporting your product that is waiting to be monetized in other ways.

1000 units in sales shows a 1000 people who purchased your music and then maybe listened to it once or twice or a lot. The problem is the artists don’t know either way if those 1000 units in sales are fans or not.

“Cause people are still buying CDs, but they’re also buying music on iTunes, they’re paying for accounts on Spotify. So it’s not like they’re not hearing the music. So when they come and see the show, and you play a song that is brand new and you get that huge pop, that’s what it’s all about. It’s all about that live show”
Corey Taylor. SLIPKNOT/STONE SOUR

“I understand there’s a thing called the Internet and people have the ability to steal music. So I understand why it’s happening, but you would think that people would just have the attitude, ‘I’m gonna support music, I’m gonna support the bands I love, because if I don’t support this, well, the bands I love aren’t gonna be able to make records anymore and they’re not gonna be able to tour as much anymore.”
Scott Ian. ANTHRAX

Scott Ian is unfortunately stuck in the sales equals success mentality. As Corey Taylor has stated, fans of music support the bands they like in different ways. A typical fan could fit into any of the following combinations;

– Stream for free only
– Stream for free and purchase tickets to a show
– Stream on a paid subscription only
– Stream on a paid subscription only and purchase tickets to a show
– Stream for free and purchase a CD/mp3 only
– Stream for free and purchase a CD/mp3 and purchase tickets to a show
– Stream on a paid subscription and purchase a CD/mp3 only
– Stream on a paid subscription, purchase a CD/mp3 and purchase tickets to a show
– Purchase a CD/mp3 only
– Purchase a CD/mp3 and purchase tickets to a show
– Illegally download for free only
– Illegally download for free and then purchase a CD
– Illegally download for free, purchase a CD and purchase tickets to a show
– Illegally download for free and purchase tickets to a show

“Look, if I was a kid, and it was 1977 and I had a way to get KISS albums for free, I’m pretty sure I probably would have jumped on that bandwagon. But for me to get a free KISS album in 1977 would have meant having the balls to walk into a record store, take a vinyl album, stick it under my shirt and walk out without getting caught. There was a consequence to that. So it’s a completely different thing [today]. There’s no consequence to stealing music online … or anything: movies, or books, or anything.”
Scott Ian. ANTHRAX

Look Scott, when you were a kid, I am sure that you copied an album onto a cassette tape. That is called Copyright Infringement. This is the problem that you face with the internet. People have copied your music and are spreading your music via the Internet. No one has stolen anything. The iTunes mp3 is still available for purchase, the Anthrax albums are still available for streaming and so forth.

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Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Being a MetalHead

Heavy metal bands have the most loyal listeners. All of us metal heads know it, and Spotify recently proved it.

So where are all the metal heads when it comes to streaming service launches. Apple walked out Jimmy Iovine and Drake. Tidal walked out the Pop Stars. So, where the fuck are the metal heads?

If you want to look at sales of music, then look no further than metal and rock bands. In 1989, heavy metal and hard rock was the largest selling musical genre. In 2015, these genres are still selling. Even though the marketing budget of Breaking Benjamin was tiny compared to the bigger marketing campaigns the mainstream pop acts had, Breaking Benjamin still managed to beat other higher profile mainstream acts in sales recently.

Five Finger Death Punch, Avenged Sevenfold, Volbeat, Shinedown, Halestorm, In This Moment, Godsmack, Foo Fighters, Disturbed, Metallica, AC/DC and Of Mice and Men are consistent sellers these days.

I know it must sound strange to a lot of people. All of the music from the above bands is available for free on the internet, via streaming, illegal P2P, YouTube, etc. However they still manage to sell a lot of recorded music.

So what gives?

Which brings me back to the Metalhead and Rockhead loyalty.

Did you know that Motley Crue, Twisted Sister, Metallica, Megadeth, Judas Priest, Ozzy Osbourne, Night Ranger, Quiet Riot, Judas Priest, Europe, Bon Jovi, Poison and any Eighties metal band made me the great tax paying and law-abiding citizen I am today.

Who would have known that my degenerate adolescent mind and devil horn fingers would put me onto a road of happiness. If you don’t believe me, give the research a read.

The take away from the research is that being a metal head “served as a protective factor against negative outcomes.”

From Judas Priest, I learned about big brother watching (“Electric Eye”) and about life in a restrictive era (“Breaking the Law”).

From Twisted Sister, I learned about the brotherhood (“S.M.F”), the price of fame (“The Price”), standing up for yourself (“We’re Not Gonna Take It”, “I Wanna Rock”) and about looking out for yourself (“Lookin Out For Number 1”).

From Motley Crue, I learned about voicing your opinions against the establishment (“Shout At The Devil”), about premature ejaculation (“Too Fast For Love” and “Ten Seconds To Love”) , about being a pest at school (“Smokin In the Boys Room”) and just about everything else to do with drugs and sex.

From Iron Maiden, I learned about nuclear war (‘2 Minutes To Midnight”), World War II (“Aces High”, “Tailgunner”, “Where Eagles Dare”), ancient history (“Alexander The Great”, “Powerslave”), English literature (“Phantom Of The Opera”, “The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner”), mythology (“Flight Of Icarus”), the meaning of deja vu (“Deja-Vu”), the bible (“Revelations”), the 666 number (“The Number of The Beast”), samurai (“Sun And Steel”) and the 1854 Crimean War (“The Trooper”).

From Metallica, I learned about banging my head super-fast (“Whiplash”), about capital punishment (“Ride The Lightning”), about drug abuse (“Master Of Puppets”), about literature (“For Whom The Bells Toll”, “The Thing That Should Not Be”), about war (“Fight Fire With Fire”, “One”, “Disposable Heroes”) and about corruption (“Justice For All”, “Eye Of The Beholder”, “Leper Messiah”).

Remember the hysterics about subliminal messages. Court cases followed from parents who lost children tragically to suicide. Ozzy Osbourne and Judas Priest both had to front the courts over subliminal messages. It was easy to blame the music.

I guess in the end, those subliminal messages told me to study hard, read a lot, be critical, be sociable, have an opinion, be a good citizen and earn my way in life. It sure goes against all of the mainstream media’s comments and Tipper Gore’s stupid Parents Group burning albums and screaming that “metalheads” are bad for society and at risk of poor development.

In the end, Metalheads and hard rockers have proven to be resilient and diverse. We wear our skins proud and we are loyal to the end.

 

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy

P.S.T (Piracy, Streaming and Touring)

All the talk in the media from the old gatekeepers is that piracy is bad for the artists or that Spotify’s free music-tier is bad for artists.

So can someone tell me how Motley Crue is playing in Abu Dhabi?

If we lived in the world of the old gatekeepers, the record labels would be in control and Motley Crue would have sold hundreds of thousands of albums (on a consistent basis) in the UAE before it was even considered to tour there.

However, in the internet age, it is a much different world.

Motley Crue suddenly has an audience in the UAE.

Is this audience courtesy of piracy or legit sales or legit streams?

There is a strong indication that Motley Crue’s UAE audience is due to piracy.

Do you know the Middle East is a huge region when it comes to illegal P2P downloading?

The following statement found in the book “Introduction to Private Security” by John Dempsey sums it up perfectly;

In Europe, Middle East, and Australia, P2P traffic consumes anywhere between 49 percent and 89 percent of all Internet traffic in the day. At night, it can spike up to an astonishing 95 percent.

You can do some further reading on countries where P2P piracy is very high at the following link.

Even though it is from 2011, the data tells us a few things.

Eastern/Central Europe, South America, Asia, Australia and the Middle East have high rates of P2P piracy as regions.

When you break it up to countries, China, Colombia, India, Russia, Malaysia, Turkey, Taiwan, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and Italy lead the way.

So let’s look at some of the recent tours bands have undertaken.

Metallica in 2011 did the “2011 Vacation Tour” that focused on Europe, South America, Asia and for the first time ever, they took in India.

In 2012, Metallica undertook the “European Black Album Tour” that focused solely on Europe.

In 2013, Metallica undertook the “Summer Tour 2013” which took in again Asia, Europe, South America along with North America.

In 2014, Metallica did the “Metallica by Request” tour which again took in Europe and South America.

Is it coincidence or shrewd planning that Metallica has taken in those markets. Hell, India is known as a nation of P2P downloaders, however it hasn’t stopped Metallica or Iron Maiden touring there.

Iron Maiden’s “The Final Frontier” tour (2010/11)  took in Eastern Europe, along with Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, South Korea, Japan, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Puerto Rico.

The “Maiden England World Tour” (2013), took in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Chile and Eastern Europe again.

The “Somewhere Back In Time” tour  (2008/09) took in (apart from the North American and European markets) India, Australia, Japan, Mexico, Costa Rica, Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Puerto Rico. Then on the second leg it took in Dubai (UAE), New Zealand, India (again), Mexico (again), Costa Rica (again), Venezuela, Colombia (again), Ecuador, Brazil (again), Chile (again), Peru, Argentina (again).

The Bon Jovi “Because We Can” tour from 2013 took in Brazil, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, Mexico, Japan, Australia, China, Malaysia, Singapore, China (again), Abu Dhabi (UAE) and Israel.

This was on top of the normal European and North American markets.

The “Bon Jovi Live” tour set to kick off in September 2015, takes in China, Malaysia, Singapore, Macau, Abu Dhabi (UAE) and Israel.

Five Finger Death Punch haven’t been around as long as Metallica, Iron Maiden or Bon Jovi, however it still hasn’t stopped them from hitting Japan, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand on their recent “Wrong Side Of Heaven” tour.

Avenged Sevenfold’s “Far and Middle East Tour” from 2012, took in Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, Philippines, Malaysia and UAE.

Their “Hail To The King” from 2014 took in Brazil, Australia, Mexico, Chile and Argentina on top of the normal European and North American markets.

Their “Asian Tour 2015” will cover China, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, Indonesia and Hong Kong.

Again the question must be asked, is it coincidence or shrewd planning. Streaming services can tell the bands which countries or even cities are streaming their songs and at what rates. Other firms out there like Music Metrics can tell bands, which countries or even cities are illegally downloading their music.

All of this data, once in the hands of a person that knows what to do with it, is a marketers dream.

Articles always point out that “pirates” are the biggest spenders and after seeing large bands hit markets with high piracy rates and still sell out shows, I would agree with that assertion.

Piracy, Streaming and Touring go hand in hand.

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