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

It’s Always Thrown Back To The Artist

If the artist doesn’t get paid from recorded music, well it’s their fault for signing a crap deal or for signing away their rights a long time ago for a big payday. Or they are not big enough to be paid.

And when the tickets to concerts are too expensive it is their fault as well.

Seen all the craziness around Bruce Springsteen and the prices charged for his concerts in the U.S.

For an artist on who has made his living from the heartland, the prices of $4K for a ticket due to Ticketmaster’s “dynamic pricing” algorithm (based on a simple design of high demand vs low supply = price increase on the fly), has left him and his team in damage control.

Even the biggest fanzine dedicated to the boss called “Backstreets” has ceased to exist after 43 years over this. But “The Boss” defended these prices last year. The way Springsteen sees it, someone else (like a scalper or secondary ticket re-seller) was going to sell the tickets at the higher prices, so why can’t it be him and his team that gets the difference between the normal price and the price the fan is willing to pay.

Is there anything wrong with this?

It was going to happen eventually.

Artists have been ripped off for decades so when they have been around the business for a long time, you would expect the artists to do the same as the agencies that ripped them off. Businesses pay taxes when they start out while the established ones pay no taxes. And when those small businesses get big enough and have billions coming through, suddenly they also pay no taxes.

But with the rising costs to put shows on, a lot of smaller to medium artists are cancelling tours because they don’t want to overcharge their fans but they need to overcharge, in order to make some coin. And for the ones who do decide to overcharge, well their fans are not buying the tickets and suddenly the tour or the show is cancelled due to low ticket sales.

The artists and their team (which includes, accountant, lawyer, management and most probably the label if they are on a 360 contract) control it all. The final decision on ticket prices comes back to this team. When Taylor Swift blamed Ticketmaster for her prices, she was trying to save face because she got busted ripping off her fans.

Springsteen had the view that since other agencies have been ripping his fans off for a long time and that’s okay, why isn’t it okay when he The Boss does it.

Ticketing companies then find other ways to get the money from the fans, via booking fees, parking fees and super expensive food and alcohol at the venue. The merchandise companies then find ways to rip off the fans by selling $5 dollar tops at $50, because they have negotiated a set fee with the artist to be the merch supplier to begin with and then they need to split the profits with the artist.

And the artist is central here, however they are just a cog in a massive machine, which likes making money of them.

The labels cannot make money if the artist doesn’t create a song that resonates with people.

Lawyers, accountants and managers cannot make money if the artist is a nobody. They make money if the artist is a somebody.

Promotors, ticketing agencies and merchandise agencies make money from the artists. Streaming services, CD and vinyl making plants and record shops make money because of the artist.

Publishing/licensing companies make money from the artists along with radio stations.

That useless entity known as the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame makes money from the artists.

And most of the people who make money from the artists are flying on their own private jets while most artists need to tour in busses and vans.

And all the artist wants to do is write and play music and if they have an audience to enjoy playing to them. As a by-product of creating music and having an audience, they would expect to be paid fairly.

A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Don’t Have The Grit To Rock N Roll)

I just finished reading a “Wall Street Journal” article that had a section about Angela Lee Duckworth, about how “GRIT TRUMPS TALENT” and the GRIT scale that she designed.

Grit means the passion and perseverance for long-term goals. In other words, the grittiest person will end up achieving much more than the talented person who doesn’t exhibit any grit. The career of an aritst is all about the taking risks, putting it all on the line and on occasion experiencing defeat. Add to that mix, “GRIT”.

So in every facet of our lives we will face a person that has super talent and grit. We will face a person who possess some talent, but a lot of grit. Finally, we will face a person who has no talent and no grit.

When I think of GRIT, I think of Mick Mars and Twisted Sister.

Starting off with Mick Mars.

Was he supremely talented? No.

Did he have the GRIT? Hell yeah.

Just think about it for a moment. Mick Mars started off doing the band circuit around 1971 and it was 11 years later when Motley Crue got picked up Elektra. Then came the shred era with the release of Yngwie Malmsteen’s “Rising Force” in 1983 and poor old Mick Mars was blasted by the new guitar fans of the movement.

He was too sloppy, he was too old, he was too slow, he wasn’t technical enough and it just went on and on. The last laugh is being had by Mick Mars. He is still around. Regardless of what you think about Motley Crue, or the band members within, one thing they do have is GRIT.

Let’s look at Twisted Sister, the best bar band doing the tri-state scene. For Jay Jay French, it was a long way to the top. He started off Twisted Sister in 1972. Dee Snider joined in 1976. The band came to world-wide attention in 1983, with the release of “You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll” and the follow-up “Stay Hungry” in 1984.

Was Twisted Sister the most talented heavy metal band doing the rounds at this time? Of course not.

Did Twisted Sister have the grit to make it? Hell Yeah.

One could argue that the band ceased to be in 1987, so what happened to the GRIT? It lived on with Dee Snider. Regardless of the success of his post Twisted Sister bands, Dee Snider continued to battle it out. He never gave up.

Looking at some other artists, I immediately think of Vito Bratta from White Lion.

Vito Bratta is a favourite of mine and a massive influence. He is a supremely talented guitarist and songwriter, however with his exile from the music business since 1992, it looks like he just didn’t have the GRIT.

Mike Tramp on the other hand, has the GRIT (Freaks Of Nature, a new version of White Lion, plus a tonne of solo releases), but without Vito, he doesn’t have the talent in the compositions.

Jake E. Lee is another favourite of mine that has sort of disappeared from the public conversation. A very talented musician, who got the boot from Ozzy Osbourne because he couldn’t agree with Sharon Osbourne over the publishing rights of Ozzy’s music. So he goes on to form Badlands with Ray Gillen (RIP) and they release two excellent albums before calling it a day with ego tantrums and arguments.

Is Jake E. Lee talented? Of course

Does he have any GRIT? I am going to answer YES on this one. Since the end of Badlands, Jake E Lee has gone on to appear on a lot of tribute albums, along with a few solo releases and a couple of projects that he demoed songs with. The bottom line is, he never really stopped creating.

Currently, he is recording songs for a new project called Jake E. Lee’s Red Dragon Cartel.

To finish off, the immortal words of Bon Scott (RIP) from AC/DC;

Gettin’ had
Gettin’ took
I tell you folks
It’s harder than it looks