A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit, Unsung Heroes

Death, Money, Consistency and Originality

DEATH

AJ Pero died a few days ago. That iconic drum beat at the start of “We’re Not Gonna Take It” that was him. A.J Pero wasn’t the pretty boy in the band that is for sure. He was the street dog that could groove. Dee Snider might have grabbed all the fame but that doesn’t mean that A.J Pero wasn’t a star. If he didn’t roll, the Twisted machine didn’t rock. And man he was a perfect fit for Adrenaline Mob as well.

Remember that it is tough being in the music business. A.J Pero from what I know didn’t write not one song however he had a career that spanned 40 plus years. It’s because he didn’t get into music for the riches and the fame. He got into music because he loved it and he kept that love going for his whole career. He even died while on tour.

RIP.

And the piece d’resistance A.J. Pero song for me is “The Fire Still Burns” from the “Come Out And Play”.

MONEY

I really enjoyed Revolution Saints and when I looked at the song writing credits, it’s all Alessandro Del Vecchio. There is not ONE Doug Aldrich credit. Maybe the money incentive to do Revolution Saints from Sergio Perufino was too good compared to what Whitesnake had on offer.

Speaking of money, everyone reckons Metallica is losing it. Maybe its true and maybe it’s not. But what I do know is that in every business as soon as you forget about the tasks that bring in the bread and butter, two things begin to happen. Stagnation and bankruptcy. Leave the festivals to the promoters and leave the movies to Hollywood. Metallica’s bread and butter is music and it has been now 7 years since we had any new tunes from them.

Continuing with the money topic, the recording industry wants to rip apart Spotify’s freemium model.

Which is typical?

Instead of working with Spotify to make the premium option super enticing that fans of music feel the need to purchase a subscription, they want to make the premium option the freemium option and place restrictions on the freemium option. What’s even worse, studies are coming out showing that the spending on streaming music is outperforming CD sales. And in countries that adopted streaming much earlier than the U.S and Australia, streaming is even outperforming digital sales.

I had this debate with others. A lot of people would be happy to pay an annual subscription amount to listen to music of their favourite artists, provided that they KNOW that the money would be divided among those artists and not others.

This is typical of the recording business, trying to be paid multiple times for the same product. That is why all of the record labels had class action suits brought against them from artists. The label is applying the same vinyl math to digital music and the artists don’t like it.

CONSISTENCY

Getting people to pay attention just once is not enough. The ones that have a music career have done it over again and again and again. Quiet Riot got me hooked with “Metal Health” and then disappointed the fans with “Condition Critical”. Then they disappointed the fans even more with the one after “Condition Critical”. So guess what happened to them. They started a steep downhill slide.

Meanwhile, Motley Crue hooked people in with “Too Fast For Love” and then blew them away with “Shout At The Devil”.  Then, even though they kept on making albums, they became a video/singles band, with “Smokin In The Boys Room”, “Home Sweet Home”, “Girls, Girls, Girls” and “Wild Side” making decent inroads into our head spaces. There was still enough consistency there, that when “Dr Feelgood” came out, it blew us away.

Metallica was the same. “Kill Em All” was different and energetic however it was a tribute album to the NWOBHM. “Ride The Lightning” kept that energy and started to make it technical. “Master Of Puppets” refined the “Ride The Lightning” format and then “And Justice For All” took it to a whole new progressive technical thrash level. Then the paradigm shift happened and groove was back in with the self-titled “Black” album.

Currently, bands like Five Finger Death Punch, Volbeat, Avenged Sevenfold and Shinedown are showing that they are no one album/hit wonders. Machine Head was a bit inconsistent after “Burn My Eyes”, but since “Through The Ashes of Empires” they have been on song and in the process, Robb Flynn re-established the Machine Head brand.

ORIGINALITY

I am a great believer that original music is a sum of the creator’s influences. That craziness over a stupid Marvin Gaye song and his greedy heirs has reinforced my views.

For the last time YOU CANT COPY A FEEL OF THE SONG.

In other words, all music is derivative. The aim is to make it sound fresh. Look at the biggest albums or biggest songs of any bands career and you will hear similarities to other works.

Metallica’s piece d’resistance album amongst fans is “Master Of Puppets”.

We all know that “Welcome Home” is an amalgamation of songs from an obscure NWOBHM band and Rush. The format/flow of the album is based on “Ride The Lightning”. The songs are also constructed in the same way. Even their biggest selling album led off with a riff that was taken from another obscure skate punk metal band albeit this one being from California instead of England.

“The Unforgiven” had the same chords in the Chorus as the “Fade To Black” verses. “One” had an intro that was taken from “Fade To Black” and “Fade To Black” had an intro taken from “Goodbye Blue Sky” from Pink Floyd. And it goes on and on.

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

Some Music Business Truths

Music Is Not Free

Look at the complex math that goes on here. The recording and publishing industries get a yearly license fee from the tech companies like Pandora, Spotify, Amazon, iTunes, Google and so on to have their music collections on the products that the tech companies offer.

Then the recording and publishing industries (via the music fan) get paid 70% for a download and 70% in royalty payments from a stream/view.

So with so much money trading between people how can people say that music is free.

How come no one is saying that APPS are free. We are all using a plethora of apps every day, and 99.9% of them are free. If anything we expect them to be free. And has that stopped people from creating new apps.

We Don’t Need Stronger Copyright Regulations To Encourage People To Create

Back in 1999, the RIAA said that Napster and piracy would stop people from creating new music because they would have no incentive to make music anymore. Then by 2005, the same argument shifted to Copyright Reform. The recording industry argued that copyright needed stronger enforcement provisions and no due process because if that didn’t happen no new music would be created.

Well guess what.

Just the opposite has happened.

More people are making more music than ever before. What we do need is for the Public Domain to be replenished again with music.

The CD

Apple has phased out the CD/DVD drive from their computers which means the CD be another niche product in the same way that vinyl is. For collectors only, because it turns out that the majority of music lovers just wanted access to music. It was never about ownership.

The MP3

It was a by-product of the CD. As the tech got better, the quality got better. Now it will become a by-product of streaming.

Streaming plus MP3

Putting my Nostradamus hat on, I predict that the streaming services will begin to offer MP3 downloads as part of a super-premium package. At the moment 45% of people still like to buy mp3’s. 45% of a three hundred million population in the US is a lot of people.

Anyone seen the adoption curve. It’s basically a bell curve that shows that 2.5% of people are innovators, 13.5% are early adopters, 34% are early majority, 34% are late majority and 16% are laggards. So in relation to streaming, it is safe to say that we are in the early majority phase right now. So if you are an artist or a record label or a tech company, how do you get the 50% plus of the late majority and the laggards to commit earlier. Offer them a product that meets their needs.

Record Labels

Still the best way to get your music heard as they have the money and the contacts. But they are still doing it wrong. They believe that a blitzkrieg publicity campaign will ensure success. The more we’re beaten over the head with something, the less likely we are to check it out.

Music Press

Save your money and don’t take the easy way out. Promote yourself personally. Work with people. Talk to people. There are no short cuts. In today’s world, the music press has never broken a band to the masses. The band has broken themselves with their music. If you make it great they will come.

Technology And Music

Fans of music want to listen to old songs however we have no desire to use an old computer like a Commodore 64 or an Amiga 500. However if both industries want to stay relevant they need to innovate and create something new and great on a regular basis. If you don’t you will be like Gene Simmons, slowly fading in the rear-view mirror and screaming to anyone who cares about the old gatekeeping model to return.

Concerts

Streaming concerts will never work as people still want to be there for the experience even though the sound quality might be terrible. As for the price of tickets, the acts are to blame. The prices I have paid range from $50 to $250 a ticket over the last two years. Guess who charged $250 a ticket. Yep it was the big acts from the Seventies and Eighties. Kiss, Motley Crue and Bon Jovi charged that.

Bands like Avenged Sevenfold, Trivium, In Flames, Five Finger Death Punch, Richie Sambora, Coheed and Cambria all charged around the $70 to $80 mark while Protest The Hero charged $50.

Know Your Fans

Great artists have made a living long before the advent of the phonograph and the recording industry. It’s because of patronage. Loyal fans will buy your super deluxe packaging, they will view your YouTube videos, they will stream your music on Spotify and they will spread the word for you. Do you know who they are? If you don’t then you are leaving money on the table.

Success And A Career

The odds of success are really low. So what can you do differently? You need to be determined as the bar is set really high. You have to be committed to the cause and honest. If you want a career you need to always pick up a new generation of people to discover you.

You want to know an upside to music piracy. Just have a look at all of the Classic Rock acts from the Seventies, Eighties and even Nineties doing big business on the live circuit and they are making way more money now than what they made at the peak of the fame when recording sales set the benchmark.

Def Leppard, Motley Crue, Twisted Sister, Slash, Evergrey, Europe, Whitesnake, Stryper, Machine Head, Dream Theater and Tesla have been seeing for the last decade, younger and younger people coming to their shows. They sing along and know all of the words. The audience base needs to be replenishment if you want a career.

And you need to have an opinion, which is hard to have in a society that is focused on being liked. However life is short and you have one voice. Use it.

Teaching

Imagine your favourite artist as your teacher. The personal interaction is what makes a difference. Playing a big show is one thing however teaching has a greater impact. You are giving someone more than just a good time, you’re helping someone grow, hopefully to the point that they will do the same for others.

And I am  not talking about guitar clinics or drum clinics. I am talking about being an actual music teacher on your time off. It could be a six to eight week course in the city you live in. Eight 30 minute lessons per day might seem like a waste of time to you but to someone else it could be a lifetime changing experience. So what are you waiting for, make the connection.

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

The Piracy Conversation: The Good and The Bad

Anyone heard of this beautiful new piece of software called “Popcorn Time”. There are no registrations, or restrictions on content. It looks like Netflix and it is free. The user just presses play. It’s easy to use and its design is elegant.

Did you also know that “Popcorn Time” was designed by programmers in Argentina, where the movie “There’s Something About Mary” is still classed as a new release by the movie industries in that country.

So of course, the “Popcorn Time” development team created an innovative piece of software to meet a service problem for their country because the content industries failed to. There is a reason why South America has the highest rates of copyright infringement when it comes to music. Access to content is not serviced in an affordable way.

Of course the creators shut the service down when their “experiment” put them at the doors of legal threats around piracy and copyright infringement.

However the saga did not end. Remember that the internet is a copy system. So of course, the source code was made available and now other programmers took over the open-source code and made it available to people once again.

Hollywood is not up against people who want to be millionaires. They are up against educated people who want to create something new to solve a problem that they have in their home country. If the developers followed the “laws” then “Popcorn Time” would never exist. The restrictions around copyright and patents would have killed it in the start-up phase.

To compete, Hollywood needs to employ the best and the best don’t want to work for companies who see innovation as a way to prop up profits from the past. They want to work for companies who see innovation as a way to stay ahead of other companies.

So the best minds go into business for themselves, or for companies that meet their expectations or they just stay in their bedroom and innovate without the law in mind.

We all know that piracy is wrong, however it opens up the conversation to the larger issue.

Let’s put into context what piracy/copyright infringement has done.

THE BAD

It made the RIAA spend millions suing music customers.

THE GOOD

While Apple started to see a market here and began to turn those Napster digital natives into iTunes buyers by making it easy to grab the latest music, anywhere, at any time.

THE BAD

It made the RIAA/Record Labels sue/kill off thousands of technologies that would have given them better profits if they only had the foresight to innovate instead of legislate. Think of Napster, Limewire, mp3tunes and many others.

THE GOOD

With the rise of Spotify/Pandora, the music piracy problem is declining and the labels are now cashed up

THE BAD

Artists are not seeing a lot of it.

THE GOOD

Piracy opened the door for format shifting.

THE BAD

The music industry introduced DRM and the ones that got hurt by it were the ones that actually paid money to purchase the product while the pirates bathed in DRM free mp3’s.

THE GOOD

YouTube piracy has also led to another source of income. It’s actually official now that record labels make more money from fan-made videos uploaded to YouTube than they do from their official music videos. Check it out on the link at the end of the post. And this is coming from Universal Music Group.

THE BAD

And still the labels send out billions of takedowns to these kinds of videos on YouTube because they still see fan made videos as a breach of copyright.

THE GOOD

However, YouTube has innovated even more and now the label is notified when a user uploads copyrighted content. The label can then choose to place advertising before the video, making royalties from the views.

THE BAD

And the labels/RIAA still scream that Google (the owner of YouTube) isn’t doing enough to protect their profits.

THE GOOD

YouTube fan made pirated videos is a massive growth area alright.

THE BAD

How much is the artist seeing? Again a lot of power in the hands of the label and a lot of money coming into the label accounts for work done by fans this time around. These monies should be at least 70% to the artist.

THE GOOD

Basically, piracy has also highlighted how broken Copyright is. The pure essence of Copyright has been hijacked by the Corporations that now hold the majority of copyrights. To further show how broken it is, Sir Tim Berners-Lee (one of the main creators of the World Wide Web) has called for a copyright reform passage to be included in any new legislation written as part of the “Web We Want” initiative. He further stated that the current law is purely there to protect the interests of movie producers, not the public at large.

THE BAD

The labels see piracy as a case for even more draconian copyright legislation and even longer terms post death.

THE GOOD

Piracy has opened up more distribution channels

THE BAD

However the “Popcorn Time” software has shown that the current movie industry is still employing the old distribution model.

THE GOOD

However, Netflix has shown the movie industry that fans of movies and TV want content on demand/twenty-four hours a day for a fair price. And Popcorn Time has shown that they want top-tier content.

THE BAD

Google is still blamed for not doing enough.

THE GOOD

Because the future is in streaming for music and video.

THE BAD

However the RIAA and the MPAA are doing their best to kill it. Pandora had to raise their fees to cover the cost of licensing the songs. Plus they also had an expensive lawsuit in relation to the royalty rate paid on a radio stream. While the movie studios still lock content away.

THE GOOD

Legacy analog revenue sources get replaced by digital revenue sources. It’s a transition right now. The transition isn’t happening fast enough for the labels however it is their fault in the end. As their need to control has more or less slowed the transition process down.

THE BAD

It is a shame that the RIAA and the record labels focus on the shortfalls between analog and digital revenues at this point in time, instead of looking at the bigger picture.

http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2014/3/21/technology/how-video-piracy-killing-hollywood-star

http://techcrunch.com/2014/03/17/popcorn-time-is-hollywoods-

http://www.themusicnetwork.com/youtube-fan-videos-earn-labels-

http://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/pandora-raises-

http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140317203156-

http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2014/3/21/technology/tuning-musics-digital-struggle

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Alternate Reality, Copyright, Derivative Works, Music, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Imagine A World With Copyright Terms Reduced To 40 Years..

Should songs still be under Copyright forty years after they have been released?

In Australia (as well as a lot of other countries) a copyright for a sound recording or a film lasts for the life of the creator + 70 years.

In my opinion this is ridiculous.

Is this what Copyright has become? A pension fund for the creator and their family members. Also with large Corporations technically owning a lot of the copyrights of creators, it is safe to say that Copyright has become a weapon to stifle creativity.

It is common for people to see that the purpose of Copyright as a means to compensate the creator of the content. Hell, that is what Wikipedia states as well, along with the large labels and movie studios . In fact, Copyright was never designed solely for this purpose.

In Australia it was stated that the purpose of Copyright law was;
…to give to the author of a creative work his just reward for the benefit he has bestowed on the community and also to encourage the making of further creative works. On the other hand, as copyright in the nature of a monopoly, the law should ensure, as far as possible, that the rights conferred are not abused and that study, research and education are not unduly hampered.”

In the U.S, the Constitution’s clause on Copyright and patents states:
“To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries” (Article I, Section 8, Clause 8)

In today’s terms, both countries are saying that the purpose is to reward the creator and to ensure that maximum creativity is happening.

John Lennon didn’t sing imagine a world with reduced copyright terms however he should have.

Let’s just say that the copyright of a song is 40 years from when it was first released. To make the law even simpler, let’s just say that the 40 years starts from when the song is first released. So if the song is remastered 10 years later or released as a live version, it doesn’t matter. The 40 years starts from when the song is released.

That would mean that all songs from 1972 and before would have been in the public domain at the start of 2013.

That would mean albums from Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Eric Clapton, Cream, Rolling Stones, Yes, Pink Floyd and many others would be in the Public Domain.

Would that affect those bands in any way?

Would it affect the people who wrote the songs?

Lets look at Led Zeppelin. If copyright is 40 years from when the song was first released that would mean that Led Zeppelin I to Led Zeppelin IV would be copyright free. That means all of those songs are available to use.

Imagine all the music that would be created by building on the material. Image all the music that would be created by remixing, sampling and re-using the songs. All of those songs would available for people to re-record without any restrictions. It will not diminish the original songs in any way. It would give them a second life and a new audience.

Why should any creator in 2013 be stifled by over-reaching copyright laws when it comes to creating art?

The acts from the Sixties and Seventies, brazenly borrowed and built upon songs that already existed. Keith Richards even said that you can’t copyright the blues. All of those bands infringed heavily on other people’s copyright. However back then the Copyright monopolies didn’t exist, so it was okay.

Surely the 40 year monopoly that artists from the Sixties and Seventies have on the music they created is sufficient compensation for their creations. However copyright is still seen as a major profit line in the business model of artists. Since the Government and the large players have focused almost exclusively on monetizing via copyright, they will argue until they are black and blue any attempt to change copyright as they see change as an attack on their incomes.

Seriously, who do you think will be holding the copyright to the Led Zeppelin songs, 10 years after Jimmy Page and Robert Plant have passed. Trust me, it will not be the family members. It will be the corporations and the record labels. They will hold the monopoly on these songs. You can see it happening now with Disney and how they are stopping Mickey Mouse from entering the public domain by lobbying for longer copyright terms.

So what new songs would these corporations be creating by holding a monopoly on the copyright. The answer is simple. NOTHING.

Remember that Copyright was also designed so people are inspired to create more. So what has Jimmy Page created in the last 15 years. The answer is nothing. There is nothing wrong with that either, because he can rely on his copyright monopoly and issue box sets every 2 to 3 years. Since 1990, Jimmy Page has issued 13 box sets of Led Zeppelin’s seventies output. In 23 years, Jimmy Page has released the same music, over and over again 13 times.

Remember, copyright is to give to the author of a creative work his just reward for the benefit he has bestowed on the community and also to encourage the making of further creative works. So what happened to the further creative works.

I love Jimmy Page and he is a huge influence on me. However, apart from the excellent Coverdale/Page project and his reunion with Robert Plant, his creative output has been poor since the start of the Nineties. Even in the Eighties, Jimmy Page’s output pales in comparison to Robert Plant’s recorded output and work ethic.

By the way did you see that BitTorrent traffic is down in the U.S? How can that be, especially when the labels and the movie studios are still screaming piracy and copyright infringement.

It’s funny what some innovation can do. That is how you compete today. You innovate, not stagnate. NetFlix and YouTube account for 50% of all net traffic.

However in Europe and other parts of the world, access to the latest films and TV shows is not as instant so unauthorised BitTorrent users continue to grow there.

The labels and their back-handed politicians will argue that their six strike policy is the reason why BitTorrent traffic is down. I would argue back that all that has done is increase the use of Dark Nets.

This is what the article said on that;
“The use of “dark nets” such as Tor and encrypted digital lockers is growing in popularity. These can be harder to track.”

So get ready for the next round of b.s from the labels and their lobby groups. We need Google to do more to stop copyright infringement, we need dark nets to be busted to save our children, we need cloud services stopped because they encourage racketeering and copyright infringement on a grand scale.

They will complain about everything, except innovate. Spotify wasn’t created by the music industry. Pandora wasn’t created by the music industry. iTunes wasn’t created by the music industry. The iPod wasn’t created by the music industry. NetFlix wasn’t created by the movie industry. Napster wasn’t created by the music industry. YouTube wasn’t created by the music business.

But the entertainment industries spin it like it was them that created these legal alternatives. The truth is they where dragged kicking and screaming into these new technologies.

BitTorrent traffic down: http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-24911187

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