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

The Gatekeeper Society

The artists have the power. They always had. They are the ones that create the works, the songs.

But there used to be a gatekeeper society when it came to music, and this society said to the artists, “if you want to play this game of fame, sign your life away on the dotted line.” And to make it worth your while, here is an advance payment. But the devil doesn’t tell you that they will recoup this advance payment for your whole life plus 70 years after your dead.

And this gives the rights holders of the artist’s work (otherwise known as the Copyright Holders, aka, Record Labels) the power to negotiate with ISP’s, the Courts and the Government. The artists sold away their power and the record labels make billions in streaming revenue. And because of this power the record labels amassed, they can influence law makers in passing laws to protect the record labels business models and on occasions the labels via their lobby groups, get the law enforcement arms to act as a piracy surveillance force.

Now if an artist was “out there” and didn’t fit the norm, that’s when new record labels would be formed, like Metal Blade Records by Brian Slagel (a record store employee) so he could promote the local metal bands from LA.

Or Megaforce Records, by Jon and Marsha Zazula, so they could release Metallica’s first album. Or Sanctuary Records by Rod Smallwood and Andy Taylor, who discovered Iron Maiden and named their label after Maiden’s song, “Sanctuary”.

And the gatekeeper society rules would transfer over to these new labels and suddenly we have gatekeepers here deciding which bands would get signed and which bands wouldn’t and which bands they would manufacture, amassing a large catalogue of copyrighted songs in the process.

But today, the artists themselves can write, record and release, without the need for a label (however they need a digital distributor/aggregator) to get their music on digital platforms, and of course, they will need to source their own supply of organisations who deal with physical products like vinyl, CD’s and clothing.

And it might sound daunting for some, but it’s focused work. So if anyone should be organising deals it should be the ARTISTS/PERFORMERS with the USERS/CONSUMERS.

And if the artists have their music on legitimate channels with fair and just price structures for people to access content, well the problem of piracy goes away. Then it’s up to the artist to decide what is next and how to further monetise their fan base.

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

To The Top

Desperate living- driving me mad
Writings on the wall
Crushed all our hopes and the dreams we once had
Just to watch them fall
Tooth And Nail from Dokken

When your backs to the wall and you have nothing left, you either fight to reach the next step or you give up.

Seriously, what kind of life is it, when someone has so much power to make or break a career. But that is exactly what the recording business came to be. A business with gatekeepers who could crush dreams or make dreams. Like “Chainsaw Charlie” in “The Crimson Idol”. Or like “Mr Recordman”.

If not for the money and not for the show
Are you here for me or here for the dough
Mr. Recordman, do you really give a damn?
Mr Recordman from Ugly Kid Joe

Is the label there for the artist if the money stops coming in and the shows sell a little bit less. White Lion were given a million dollars to record “Mane Attraction”. It came out and it didn’t set the world on fire. Grunge was rising in the distant and suddenly, Vito and Mike couldn’t even get in touch with their A&R rep. When the band broke up, no one from the label called them or even tried to make contact with them. It’s like they never existed. But for a brief period when “Pride” was selling thousands of units weekly, Mr Recordman was there, caring for the band.

You’ll never see a ray of daylight
So far in debt you’re struggling to survive
Dance In The Rain by Megadeth

And so many people define themselves by their status in society. Big house plus expensive car plus management job = powerful status. But, this perceived status is all in their head. No one really cares what you have or what job your do or how long you spend at work.

Why should they?

Life is short and the majority of people are too busy living. But others can’t turn away from it, because they are surrounded by people moving up. And they feel like they need to get on the same ride. So they borrow and then they borrow a little bit more. Because they believe when they get to the top they will repay it all.

The ride to the top is the reason why so many people started to play music.

MTV took the artists from the magazines and brought them into our lounge rooms. And it was free. Yeah I know there was radio, but if people wanted information on artists, they had to buy magazines or their albums. Suddenly, their TV set was doing it all for them. The reason why blank VHS cassettes sold like crazy was music and movies. People dubbed/taped their favourite clips from TV or via VHS to VHS.

And when kids have access to content, they have desires to be like their new found heroes on the TV screen. It looked easy. Learn to play an instrument, write a song and you’ll be signed and become famous.

The truth of it all is this.

If you are working for a corporation, you are building someone else’s dream. The corporation is benefiting from your hard work and the hard work of the rest. Artists have made the record labels into monoliths because they signed away their copyrights for a record deal.

And the internet was meant to level the playing field. Instead it’s made the labels even more powerful as they use the works of artists to negotiate large licensing deals.

What kind of journey do you want to the top?

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