Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

If Money Is Not Filtering Down To The Artist, Whose Fault Is That?

There are still a lot of misguided people/entities in the recording industry that believe that they are immune to the changing times. Our world is constantly evolving. When will the recording industry accept that the landscape has changed.

Napster showed the recording industry what the fans of music want. The recording industry responded by shutting the service down. However, CD sales didn’t pick up as the recording industry would have hoped and what did happen was that the fans of music just went elsewhere. Suddenly there was Audiogalaxy, Limewire and KaZaA. Then came BitTorrent and The Pirate Bay.

In the end the customers just wanted free music. And even though Spotify and YouTube might give the illusion to the fan that music is free on their service, it is not. Spotify and YouTube do pay a large portion of their incomes to the rights holders.

Young people don’t purchase music the same way their parents and grandparents did. Access is more important than ownership. The car makers are being challenged at the moment as purchasing a car is no longer a rite of passage. The new housing market is being propped up by the older people, as young people are happy to rent or stay at home until their late thirties.

Spotify is a business based around access. This gives the fans greater choice whereas a purchase model takes away the choice of the fan and it makes them commit to which artist they would like to support. I remember walking into record stores, looking into my wallet to see how much cash I have and making decisions to maximise my cash with my purchases.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both. More choice means confusion and the fan just doesn’t commit to anything or they revert to trusted filters or playlists.

It is in the best interest of the recording industry and artists that streaming services gain traction. Otherwise the fans will just go elsewhere and if you take away the free tier of Spotify or YouTube, then what.

Once Napster went to a paying service, did fans start paying for music again?

Of course not.

What about Rhapsody? It has been trading for at least ten years and it has failed to get mass appeal.

The struggles that the recording industries are facing today were already quite clear in 1997 to people paying attention. The focus of sales as a success metric had to be tweaked and worked together with a smart business model. What we have here is an inability to adapt to a changing market.

Today’s world is much better for bands starting out today than in the past because they don’t need to win over the gatekeepers. They can find their own audience. They can create their own business models and make a living — unlike under the old system, where you either hit it big or you gave up and went back to your day job.

Can someone please explain how getting people to stop listening to free music magically makes them start buying music again?

What will do that, however, are smarter business models and Spotify is one link in the NEW MUSIC ECONOMY.

Shinedown just received a gold certification for their album “Amaryllis”. That means their album has moved over 500,000 units in the U.S. They moved that many units while their music was available on Spotify, YouTube, P2P and other services that offer free-tier models. They toured for over 12 months on the backs of that album. Their business model isn’t just about sales as a metric of success.

I seriously struggle to understand the long-standing debate between Spotify and artists. The debate should be between artists and the Record Labels. The debate should be between artists and the Publishers. Spotify pays the rights holders (labels and publishers) 70% of their income. From the other 30% they make, a certain percentage goes to the record labels who are shareholders of the company. The record labels had the power to negotiate a shareholding stake because of the amount of copyrights they have amassed from the artists on their rosters.

Quincy Jones posted on Facebook that “Spotify is not the enemy; piracy is the enemy”. Daniel Ek put that into dollar terms. Piracy could lead to higher concert attendances and merchandise sales, however in relation to the recording industry, piracy yields a ZERO return. Spotify at the moment has paid TWO BILLION dollars to labels, publishers and collecting societies for distribution to songwriters and recording artists.

As I have mentioned before, if that money is not flowing to the artists in a clear transparent way, then whose fault is that. The streaming services or the record labels.

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M. Shadows and The Sales Of Music Today vs The Magical Eighties

In a recent Loudwire interview, M. Shadows mentioned some viewpoints on the current state of the music business.

One of the big comparisons that every artist or media personality makes today, is the status of sales right now vs sales more than 30 years ago. And everyone today, especially artists or media personalities, always say that the Eighties was so much better. It is a bold claim to make, especially when the Eighties have been known as the era that record labels ripped off artists.

In a way, the magical Eighties was easier for an artist as “a lot of the work around them” just happened like magic. All the artist needed to do was create songs, record them in a studio the label selected, then go on tour that someone else organised. Fast forward to 2014, the artist is across all aspects of their career and they need to make the decision. Things just don’t magically happen anymore. The artist is aware and they make these things happen.

In relation to sales, let’s look at Metallica and Megadeth compared to Avenged Sevenfold.

FIRST ALBUM

Metallica released “Kill Em All” in 1983. It wasn’t until 1989 (yep six years after) that the album was certified GOLD for sales in the U.S. So much for the argument bandied about in 2014, that sales from the Eighties are better. After six months, Metallica was back in the studio recording the follow up.

Of course, on the back of the Black album juggernaut, by 1999, “Kill Em All” was certified 3 x Platinum, 16 years after it’s release. Yes, 16 years later.

Megadeth released “Killing Is My Business (And Business Is Good) in 1985 and still to this day it hasn’t been certified anything. So by default this album hasn’t passed 500,000 sales in the U.S.

Avenged Sevenfold released “Sounding The Seventh Trumpet” in 2001 and like Megadeth’s debut, it still hasn’t passed the 500,000 Gold barrier.

So if you compare the first album release of each band, all of them failed to achieve GOLD status within the first two years.

But, but…. sales of the eighties are awesome compared to today. How can bands today survive? Rubbish is what I say.

SECOND ALBUM

Metallica released “Ride The Lightning” in 1984. It wasn’t until 1987 that the album was certified GOLD in the U.S, three years after it’s release. In 2012, twenty-eight years after it’s release, the album was certified 6 x platinum.

Megadeth released “Peace Sells.. But Who’s Buying” and it was certified GOLD in 1988, two years after it’s release. By 1992, the album was certified Platinum for 1 million sales in the U.S.

Avenged Sevenfold released “Waking The Fallen” in 2003. In 2009, it was certified GOLD for sales in the U.S., six years after it’s release and with the new anniversary edition coming out, expect these sales to increase even more.

So who is the winner for the second album sales. Megadeth reached GOLD in two years, Metallica in three years and Avenged Sevenfold in six years. Still, is the Eighties so much better. Both Megadeth and Metallica went back into the studio nine months later to record follow ups, while Avenged Sevenfold had a longer run before entering the studio.

Who really knows what level of sales, “Waking The Fallen” will be at in 2031. Who really knows, the amount of streams or YouTube views the album would reach by 2031?

THIRD ALBUM

Metallica released “Master Of Puppets” in 1986 and it was certified GOLD for sales in the U.S in the same year. In 2003, 17 years after it’s release it was certified 6 x platinum. The digital mp3 of the song “Master of Puppets” has also passed the 500,000 barrier. Again, massive sales numbers did not come right away. It took time and a lot of great music.

Megadeth released “So Far, So Good, So What” in 1988 and it was certified GOLD in 1990, again two years after it’s release. By 1998, 10 years after, it was certified Platinum. Again, massive sales did not come right away. It took time.

Avenged Sevenfold released “City Of Evil” in June 2005 and six months later it was certified GOLD for sales in the U.S. Eventually the album would pass the 1 million sales barrier in 2009 four years after it’s release. In addition, the song “Bat Country” also being certified GOLD in Digital sales.

So after three albums each, which band reached GOLD the quickest? Metallica and Avenged Sevenfold both reached 500,000 sales for their third album, within six months.

But…. Bands had way more sales in the Eighties than today…. The answer is NO, they didn’t.

Sales for Megadeth and Metallica got a lot better after the Black album and the Countdown To Extinction albums. Those albums converted alot of fence sitters into fans who then went and purchased the back catalogues.

In reality, sales of music really haven’t dried up. The fact that “Master Of Puppets” has moved six million units since it’s release should not be taken into account right now. Who knows how much “City Of Evil would have moved by 2022?

People still purchase music, so it is not harder for bands like Avenged Sevenfold, Bullet For My Valentine or Five Finger Death Punch to sell millions like the artists from the magical Seventies, Eighties and Nineties.

All they need is an album that will unite the fragmented metal genres in existence today.

What is harder is getting the great music heard from the rest of the noise that internet distribution has allowed. I am a believer that all great music will rise above. It might take years for some artists or it could be instant for others.

I am sure by 2030, young bands starting up will be saying that there will no band at that point in time that will be able to sell millions of albums or have their songs streamed 100,000,000 times or have YouTube views in the trillions.

However like the artist of today, they are as successful or if not more than those bands from the “glory” years.

As M.Shadows mention in the interview, don’t be worried following the sales metric as a sign of success. Focus on writing good songs and delivering live.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Copyright, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

The Great “Bark At The Moon” Song Writing Controversy

Coming into the “Bark At The Moon” sessions, the Blizzard of Ozz band was in disarray. Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake got fired before “Diary of A Madman” was released and in the process they had their credits removed from the album. The other driving force, Randy Rhoads died tragically when the plane he was on crashed into a mansion and burst into flames on March 19th, 1982.

Ozzy Osbourne as usual was at his drunken best and after delivering the “Speak/Talk Of The Devil” album, he was free from his Jet Records contract, ready to sign a major label deal with CBS.

Jake E Lee joined Ozzy’s band during the “Speak of the Devil” tour. The band at the time consisted of Tommy Aldridge on drums, Don Costa on bass and Lindsay Bridgewater on keyboards. Once that tour ended, the song writing process began for the next album.

This is what Jake E. Lee had to say on the song writing process in a recent interview with the Ultimate Classic Rock website;

Well, most of that was really me and Bob Daisley. Because Ozzy would show up and kind of play around with songs. I remember that I had the riff for ‘Bark at the Moon’ and I played that, and he said, “Oh, I love it — we’ll call that one ‘Bark at the Moon,’” because he already had the album title in mind. So he said, “That’s the one that’s going to be ‘Bark at the Moon.’” He’d come in with things like that and then he’d drink, and he’d either pass out or leave, which left just me and Bob. We’d stay in the studio and flesh out the songs. It was fun working with Bob. He wrote all of the lyrics, [and he’s] a great lyricist. So yeah, me and Bob, we had a good working relationship. It was fun doing that record.

Bob Daisley told his story to the Bravewords website in the following way;

“You see Ozzy and Sharon were trying to get me to agree to get rid of Lee (Kerslake) and get Tommy Aldridge in the band. I kept on saying no, it’s not broken, so let’s not fix it. Lee (Kerslake) was working fine. So they got rid of both of us. But a few months later, Sharon phoned me and asked me to meet her in London for a chat. She said that Randy wanted me to come back and that they wanted to do a third album. So I was supposed to do an album with Randy, Ozzy and Tommy Aldridge. It was all planned that I was supposed to do the third album, which I did but not until 1983 but was supposed to be in 1982. Obviously Randy was not a part of it and it ended up being Jake E Lee. Everything was postponed when Randy left us.”

That postponement meant that Dan Costa was playing bass on the 1982, Winter/Spring European tour. Eventually, Ozzy got fed up with him, punched him in the face, breaking his nose and firing him all in one swoop. The call went out to Bob Daisley again to do the US Festival gig and then the third album.

The US Festival attendance figure varies however it is safe to say that the attendance was somewhere between 350,000 to 450,000 people. The US Festival was the Metal’s world “Woodstock”.

From May 29, 1983 up until 1992, metal and rock ruled. Coming into the US Festival, Bob Daisley had a week to get himself re-acquainted with the songs. In typical rock star fashion, Daisley flew in to L.A, went straight to rehearsal from the airport with some series jet lag. After another rehearsal the next day, he walked out on stage to play to a sea of people on the third day. The bands that performed on the Heavy Metal day included;

Quiet Riot
Mötley Crüe
Triumph
Ozzy Osbourne
Judas Priest
Scorpions
Van Halen

The US Festival (sponsored and orchestrated by Apple’s Steve Wozniack) was a pivotal moment for all of the metal bands involved.

Quiet Riot’s “Metal Health” was released on March 11, 1983 however it didn’t really do anything. The album then started to take off after the US Festival in May 1983 and after the release of “Cum On Feel The Noize” as a single in August 1983, it exploded.

Motley Crue already had some momentum going with “Too Fast For Love”. The U.S Festival helped cement their status as Sunset Strip favourites and when “Shout At The Devil” hit the streets in September 1983, the momentum became a tidal wave to platinum glory. Motley Crue played the perfect set, including a few of the new songs that would appear on “Shout At The Devil”, so as a concert goer, if you heard those songs and liked them, you more or less would go out and purchase the album that has them them.

Triumph, Scorpions and Judas Priest already had some serious momentum going.

1981’s “Allied Forces” for Triumph was a success and the follow-up “Never Surrender” released in January 1983 was no slouch either and it was certified Gold on September 30, 1983 by the RIAA. Isn’t it funny what a festival in May of that same year did to boosting sales.

Judas Priest had their 1982 “Screaming For Vengeance” album doing the rounds and in April 1983 it was certified Platinum in the U.S.

Scorpions had their 1982 album “Blackout” out in the market and their visibility at the US Festival in May 1983, assisted in “Blackout” reaching Platinum status in March 1984. Also in March 1984, “Love At First Sting” hit the streets with the worldwide smash “Rock You Like A Hurricane” further cementing the band’s status as superstars. This success didn’t come instantly either, as the Scorpions had been working since the start of the Seventies.

Van Halen at the time were kings of LA however their last album “Diver Down” didn’t do them any favours. The visibility from the May 1983 festival along with Eddie Van Halen featuring in Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” song would help their “1984” album released in January 1984 reach the lofty Diamond certification.

Ozzy Osbourne on the other hand was a very different place in his career. He had the momentum with the Blizzard Of Ozz band and then started losing that momentum when Sharon and Ozzy fired Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake. With the death of Randy Rhoads, all of that momentum was totally lost. So the US Festival was an important moment for Ozzy Osbourne’s career.

For Daisley, coming back into the fold after he played the U.S Festival meant that he came with conditions this time around. Two of the conditions he stipulated was to be paid for writing the songs and to be paid to play on the album. Other conditions that he stipulated was to get bonuses when the sales reached a half a million and then a million and so on. However, as usual, he got screwed again and no bonuses came. Of course when the album was released in November 1983, by January of 1984 it was certified Gold in the US.

So after the US Festival in May 1983, Bob Daisley, along with Jake E. Lee, Tommy Aldridge and Ozzy Osbourne went to New York and started writing. Writing continued in London and recording started at Ridge Farms with Max Norman Engineering and producing again. The rest of the album was finished at The Power Station back in New York in 1983. The reason for the change was that Ridge Farm Studio was losing money at that point. In typical Osbourne fashion, the favourite Tommy Aldridge struggled in the studio, with Sharon Osbourne constantly on his case as to why the drum parts were taking so long. So after Aldridge recorded the album and just before the tour, he got fired.

That is when Carmine Appice entered the fold. Appice appeared in the “Bark At The Moon” video and had a contract to do the tour. Eventually he got fired from the tour as well due to him sneaking off and doing drum clinics, which infuriated Sharon Osbourne, especially when he would come back late for sound checks.

This is what Bob Daisley had to say on the matter in an interview on the Classic Rock Revisited website;

“Sometimes he (Appice) would throw extra things into the songs that shouldn’t be there just to show his pupils that he gave free tickets to after doing the clinics. He got a little carried away with himself but it was wrong for Ozzy and Sharon to get rid of him because he had a contract to do that tour. They should have ironed out the problems but what do they do? They get rid of him and bring Tommy Aldridge back and I think it was a mistake. Carmine sued them and he won.”

How many law suits would the Osbourne’s face that all could have been avoided if they were fair to the musicians that really made Ozzy Osbourne’s solo career. Let’s get one thing out-of-the-way. The mix is horrible. Thank Tony Bongiovi for that.

“Bark At the Moon” was a title that Ozzy came up with. Ozzy mentions it and both Jake and Bob agree with it. Jake E. Lee came up with the riffs and Bob Daisley wrote the lyrics about a beast that comes out in a full moon.

I love the lyrics in “You’re No Different.” Bob Daisley has stated that it was Ozzy’s title and that Ozzy wanted the song to be about people judging and criticizing him.

Look at yourself instead of looking at me
With accusation in your eyes
Do you want me crucified
For my profanity

Concealing your crimes behind a grandeur of lies
Tell me where do I begin
If you think you’re without sin
Be the first to cast the stone

Living my life in a way that I choose
You say I should apologize
Is that envy in your eyes
Reflecting jealousy

Tell me the truth and I’ll admit to my guilt
If you’ll try to understand
But is that blood that’s on your hand
From your democracy

The lyrics to the song “Now You See It (Now You Don’t)” were composed by Daisley and were aimed at Osbourne’s wife and manager Sharon Osbourne. However Ozzy and the rest assumed the song was about sex. Even Bob Daisley stated once that the song is about hiding a sausage.

For the song “Rock N Roll Rebel” this is what Bob Daisley had to say about it on his website;

Ozzy’s title and another one about him being accused of being a devil worshiper. Some of the lyrics were his too but about 90% were mine.

“Centre of Eternity” or “Forever” was Bob Daisley’s title and lyrics. As Bob stated, it is a “tongue-in-cheek philosophical look at ‘time’ and our existence in eternity.”

“So Tired” to me was a great song. Jake E Lee hated the orchestra in the song. Bob Daisley has stated that it was his title and lyrics. On his website, this is what he had to say about the song;

Something quite unusual for me to write – a love song. The idea came from a Kinks’ song I heard on the radio one night driving back home from Ridge Farm. Their song was called ‘Tired of Waiting’ but that’s where the similarities end.

“Slow Down” is a Bob Daisley title and all lyrics are by Daisley. This is what Bob Daisley had to say about the song;

Inspired by The Beatles’ song of the same name but again, that’s where the similarities end, the lyrics are very different. I remember Jake E. Lee particularly liked this one.

“Waiting for Darkness” to me is a favourite. It is Ozzy’s title however Bob Daisley wrote all the lyrics.

This is what Bob Daisley had to say about the song;

I wrote it about the hypocrisy within organized religion, the brainwashing, mind control, paedophilia and manipulation through guilt, and that if that’s what equates to the ‘light’ then I’ll wait for the ‘darkness’. When Ozzy was asked what the song was about during his interview with ‘International Musician’ magazine, mentioned earlier, his answer was, “A witch.” It seems he didn’t understand the lyrics I’d written and he’d sung, although he took credit for writing it.

“Spiders” was a Bob Daisley title and lyrics.

This is what Bob Daisley had to say about the song;

When we were recording ‘Bark’ at Ridge Farm, there were hundreds of little spiders everywhere. They were harmless but the glut of them inspired the song idea. I turned it around at the end with ‘the spider’s in your head’…

“One Up the B-side” is Bob Daisley’s ode to anal sex and the title and lyrics are all his.

In relation to the music, Jake E. Lee has said that he would come up with riffs and the ones that got the nod of approval ended up into songs.

On the Ultimate Classic Rock website, Jake E . Lee is asked the question if he went into the making of the “Bark At The Moon” record knowing that he would not be getting any writing credits. He answered that question with a simply “No”.

This is what he had to say on the matter;

“I was promised that I would get [credit]. Because I was young and I was in the middle of Scotland recording, I didn’t have a manager or a lawyer — it was just me. From the beginning, every musician, it’s always hammered into them, “Keep your publishing” and “Keep your writing.” So those were the only conditions that I had was “OK, I’m getting song writing credit, right?” I was always assured that “Yes, I’m getting publishing — of course you are!” When I didn’t on the first record, it was upsetting. But I figured OK, what am I going to do? I got freaked — what am I going to quit? We’re about to tour on a record that I finally got to make. There’s no problem for Ozzy to find another guitar player — am I just going to be that guy that played on that record, didn’t even get credit on the record and then refused to tour because I had a problem with Ozzy? No. I had to go out and tour. It would have been stupid not to. So I was only able to put my foot down at the end of the tour. “Let’s make another record” and I was like, “OK, but this time, you know what? I want the contract first before we start recording. I don’t want to be a dick, but I don’t want to get freaked again either.”

A lot of people think that Ozzy wrote a lot of the lyrics. Ozzy has led people to believe that. In interviews Ozzy has always stated, “when I wrote that”. It is all lies.

This is what Bob Daisley had to say on the matter, in an interview on the Classic Rock Revisited website;

“The Osbournes won’t recognize or admit it’s true. They dislike the fact that, through my lyrics, I had a big hand in creating the magic and image that is Ozzy Osbourne. They’ve always tried to hide that. I remember at the time of Bark At The Moon, Jake E. Lee’s song publishing and mine had some complications. So we opted for a buyout and that’s why it says – ‘All songs written by Ozzy Osbourne.’ This of course, is not true. Ozzy did an interview with International Musician magazine, back in ’83 or ’84, they asked him how he wrote those songs and he said ‘with one finger on a piano.’ What a joke. The whole thing was ridiculous. Most people take it for granted that if someone is singing lyrics, that they wrote them.”

Now Bob Daisley got a buy out for “Bark At The Moon”, however it looks like Jake E.Lee got really screwed over for this release. There are no royalty checks for the songwriting and no publishing monies either. Let’s hope the Osbourne’s can sleep well each night, considering that a couple of million from the hundreds of millions that Ozzy is worth could right their wrongs.

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Is Guitar World Still Relevant?

Once upon a time getting on the cover of a magazine was a sign of success or of dreams coming true. For the musical fan, the magazine was the only way that we could get any information from our favourite artists. The heyday for the metal and rock movements was the Eighties. Hundreds of different magazines appeared that covered certain genres and information was plentiful.

I started purchasing Guitar World magazines from January 1986. Any magazine that had content of bands/artists that I liked I devoured. Circus, Faces, Metal Maniacs, Rip, Metal Edge, Hit Parader, Guitar For The Practicing Musician, Hot Metal, Metal Hammer, Kerrang, Guitar School, Guitar One, Total Guitar, Guitar Player and Guitar.

So when I saw my favourite artists or guitarists on the cover of magazines I saw it as a sign of them making it. In all of the interviews, most of the guitarists said it was a dream come true to be on the cover of a Guitar magazine.

So how important is it to an artist to be on the cover of Guitar World today? I still subscribe to this magazine and I had all the issues for the year mapped out in front of me.

This is the cover roll for 2013.
December – Nirvana – In Utero Anniversary
November – John Petrucci
October – Synester Gates / Zacky Vengeance
September – Ultimate Prog Roundtable/Asking Alexandria
August – Jeff Hanneman Tribute
July – Tony Iommi and Ozzy Osbourne
June – Dave Mustaine / Chris Broderick
May – Brad Paisley
April – Orianthi
March – SRV “Texas Flood” Anniversary
February – The Who / Pete Townsend
January – Led Zeppelin Rides Again

Looking at the covers, I started to realise something.

Guitar World likes to play it safe. Sort of like a record label in the current environment. They are going for the sure bets, going where the money is. There is no onus on going out there and taking risks. They are looking for the hits, so that they can sell advertising.

If the “legends” have something happening or an anniversary of an album, it is a good bet that they will get a cover. Led Zeppelin, The Who, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Tony Iommi with Ozzy Osbourne and Nirvana. 5 issues out of 12 devoted to “legends”.

Then you have the tribute piece, which in this case it the Jeff Hanneman issue. Expect one to come out for Lou Reed soon.

Then it is focusing on the stars that have been proven successful previously in the magazine, like John Petrucci, Dave Mustaine and Avenged Sevenfold, who of course wouldn’t even be considered unless they have new releases coming out.

Then it has the obligatory issue with a woman on the cover. I actually liked how they covered Orianthi however the interview was a mish mash of information found on Wikipedia and PR rewrites. There was nothing there that couldn’t be found on the web.

The only issue that involved some ‘originality’ and some risk taking was the Brad Paisley issue however again after reading the interview piece, I was left wondering if the final printed version was re-written by a PR person of the artist.

Robb Flynn’s recent journal about the Through The Ashes of Empires anniversary, mentions the following in relation to mainstream media;
“The American metal media blacklisted us, magazines like Revolver told us, “we can’t cover you, but if you get to 50,000 copies we’ll give you an article.” When we got to 50,000 they said, “Well, when you get to 70,000 we’ll give you an article”. When we got to 70,000 they said, “well, the record is too old now.” The metal media of the time continued that blacklist well into “The Blackening” album cycle, when after that, they just didn’t matter anymore.”

So taking Robb Flynn’s comments and putting them up against the Brad Paisley cover issue, the originality comment I mentioned earlier doesn’t seem to fit. Brad Paisley has four pages of certifications on the RIAA Gold and Platinum database. His sales are well over the 50,000 and 70,000 ranges quoted, hence a cover.

Don’t get me wrong, each issue is still enjoyable and the lessons, plus the tabs are the reason why I still subscribe to it. However, with user posted tabs on the rise in greater numbers on the internet (along with peer reviews and edits), plus YouTube videos of guitarists covering their favourite songs, in addition to the artists themselves delving deep into the “how to play” department, does a magazine like Guitar World still have a relevance in today’s market?

It all depends on what Guitar World wants to achieve. People still like to read a nice interview however over the last decade all the interviews seem like they have been written by a PR team for the artist. Furthermore, artists can go straight to their audience today. The journals that Robb Flynn is producing are pure GOLD. So why would artists wait for the chance to appear in a magazine which could or could not happen.

Guitar World is in the business of selling advertising. It is using music and artists as it’s tool to sell advertising.

So if you are an artist, what does the mainstream press mean to your career?

In my point of view, no artist should equate mainstream press with success. Artists are on the front page for a day, and in most cases they are gone.

Has anyone read anything on Dream Theater’s or Black Sabbath’s new record the last few weeks? Dream Theater and Sabbath made a mistake. Their marketing campaign was better and larger than the music on the album. At the end of the day it’s what goes into our ears that matters. No one cares about the interviews or the press.

The publicity campaign worked once upon a time, however it doesn’t work any longer. If artists want to be around forever they need to understand that they need to grow slowly. If you peak, you should want it to happen deep into your career.

The only press that Megadeth is getting about their new album recently is that the Metallica Black album is outselling it on a weekly basis.

So what have we learned?

A cover on a magazine does nothing for your career. If you want to last in the music business, you need to earn it.

A scorched earth publicity campaign could see an increase in sales NOW. However, fans don’t want to be beaten upon the head every time you release music. In the end, great music will find its way to an audience.

The recording business is about listenability and repeatability. People could say that a track is good or bad. However will they play that track over and over again. That’s the reaction you want. If you plan to record, you need that track.

The goal of an artist is to write great songs otherwise say hello to obscurity. That is what gets people interested. Great music, great songs.

If you are not passionate about what you do you’re never going to make it. You need to be more into it than we are. You need to live for it.

For comparisons here is the list from 2012.

Holiday – Joe Perry (Legend)
December – The Beatles (Legends)
November – Billie Joe Armstrong (Safe Bet + High Sales Numbers)
October – Billy Gibbons (Legend)
September – Steve Vai & Tosin Abasi (Legend and Newcomer)
August – Van Halen (Legend + High Sales Numbers)
July – Slash (Legend + High Sales Numbers)
June – Slipknot (Safe Bet + High Sales Numbers)
May – Joe Walsh (Legend)
April – Van Halen (Legend + High Sales Numbers)
March – Lamb of God (Safe Bet + High Sales Numbers)
February – Pink Floyd (Legend + High Sales Numbers)
January – Billy Gibbons (Legend)

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

Kirk Hammett = Misguided Fool. We Are Actually Living In The Golden Age of Music Access

The comments from Kirk Hammet have been getting a lot of press/ink lately. They have been re-posted on thousands of other metal news sites by simply copying and pasting what he said.

For those that haven’t read it, this is what Kirk said;

“There haven’t been a lot of really, really great bands that have shown that kind of promise. I think it’s a concern. Because of things like iTunes and streaming and social networking, it’s destroyed music. It’s destroyed the motivation to go out there and really make the best record possible. It’s a shame.”

Okay so lets unpack what he really said.

“There haven’t been a lot of really, really great bands that have shown that kind of promise. I think it’s a concern.”

You see, when you detach yourself from the streets and live in your ivory tower, you don’t see what is happening at ground zero.

Five Finger Death Punch is going GOLD in a tough sales market. They have great numbers in relation to YouTube views and Spotify streams. Their albums have been selling up to the point of when their new one is released. Think about that for a second. Five Finger Death Punch has consistently moved units of their albums every week since 2007. Now compare that to Dream Theater whose new album is already dead and buried after four weeks.

Shinedown are doing super numbers in relation to sales, YouTube views and Spotify streams. They have certifications left, right and centre.

Avenged Sevenfold released a progress is derivative album that is also doing great numbers. In addition, they do super numbers on the live circuit

Black Veil Brides has achieved so much with their first three albums as well as other bands like Bullet For My Valentine, Alter Bridge, Killswitch Engage, Volbeat and so on.

Will we have the superstars of the Eighties and Nineties again? Of course not, it is a different time today, however you can’t tell me that the bands mentioned above don’t have a certain superstar status at the moment.

Will they headline the major festivals? Probably not, because no one really likes festivals any more. The festivals are on their way out. They just don’t know it yet.

“Because of things like iTunes and streaming and social networking, it’s destroyed music. It’s destroyed the motivation to go out there and really make the best record possible. It’s a shame.”

With all the information we get on our favourite artists these days, it makes us realise that our heroes are complete idiots. Kirk just doesn’t understand change. It’s constant.

Kirk’s comments are no different to the comments from other dinosaurs like Jon Bon Jovi, Scott Ian, Duff McKagan, Yngwie Malmsteen, Thom Yorke and David Byrne. Railing against the Internet, Spotify and iTunes and complaining about payments and the lack of motivation to record new music. 

Let’s get one thing clear. Music today can be made for next to nothing. That is why we have so many releases in the market place. Competition for listener’s attention is sky-high. Everybody who records something believes we should pay attention.

Kirk Hammett wants to go back to the Eighties, to a time when bands had to have a record deal to record their music. Kirk Hammett wants fans of his music to buy the whole Metallica album just to find out it was garbage (like ReLoad, St Anger) or for a few songs (like Load).  

If that is the motivation that Kirk Hammett and Metallica needs to record, then they can just give up right now.

It never used to be that way. Metal and rock artists never complained. They always ADAPTED. 

Do you hear Imagine Dragons, Daft Punk, Mumford and Sons, Shinedown, Five Finger Death Punch, Eminem, Halestorm, Killswitch Engaged, Alter Bridge, Slash or Avenged Sevenfold going on a rant about not wanting to make new music or that it is just too tough out there and no one can make it?

Could it be that most people are just not interested in new Metallica music? As Lars said in a Hot Metal interview from June 1992, that I posted earlier. The numbers they are getting for the Black album, will not be eclipsed or bettered.

Could it be that the Napster stigma is still around? The image of Lars Ulrich holding 500 pages of user names that traded in Metallica music is still fresh in people’s minds. 

The comments in relation to streaming are just wrong. Streaming is competing with PIRACY. How is that not good? With Spotify around it just doesn’t make sense to steal. It pays the artist when their music gets played and it pays the artist forever. A sale of an album is just a one stop transaction that inflates the NOW and when you start talking about the NOW, you are thinking like a Record Label.

If Kirk Hammett and Metallica or any artist out there wants to make money from recorded music, they need to find a way to get people to purchase a Spotify Premium account.

Spotify has a mission to have over 20 million premium customers. This will allow artist to take years out to record their masterpieces. Instead of working with the technology, they talk in riddles against it. 

We are living in the golden age of music access. The history of recorded music is at our fingertips and that is a good thing. Finally, there is plan in place to monetize it. If you want to monetize, you need to keep creating.

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

Create The Undeniable Song – It Will Sell

I am listening to “Are You Gonna Go My Way” today, the third studio album by American rock musician Lenny Kravitz, released in 1993.

It’s funny that after all this time I still like only 3 songs from the CD, which are “Believe”, “Sister” and “Are You Gonna Go My Way” in that order. There is also a track called “All My Life” that appeared on some bonus CD’s or as a B-side that is also up there. However, to hear all of the songs mentioned, I had to purchase the record label “promotional tool”; the good ol’ expensive CD.

That is why the album went multi-platinum everywhere.

Consumers of music had to purchase 10 to 14 songs, just to hear 4 to 5 songs. Of course we could have purchased the singles, however at $7 a single (that was the price in 1993), why spend $14 on two songs, when for $20 (on sale) or $27 (as a new release) you could buy the album.

I actually purchased the album for the song “Believe”. That is a great song and a dead sit hit in my book. When that lead break cuts in at the end, along with the strings, it’s goose bumps all the way.

The album went Gold (U.S) in May, 1993, three months after its release. By June, 1993, it was certified Platinum (U.S). By January, 1995, it was certified 2x Multi-Platinum. If you look at Kravitz’s most recent certification, it is for a single. How times have changed?

I don’t want to pay for a batch of songs I don’t like anymore. I didn’t used to be this way. I lived for music.

Misguided people think that piracy ruined the recorded business. What they don’t realize is that most people didn’t want the album/CD. People wanted that unique track. When the CD came and the record labels started charging us a fortune for it, albums suddenly became very long.

Instead of getting 35 to 45 minutes of music every year, we started to get 50 to 70 minutes of music every two to three years.

So the recording business saw the large profit margins and just kept on marching along with the overpriced CD’s business model, using MTV to push and promote the artists. So when people got the option to download, to cherry pick what they wanted to hear, a whole new market place was born.

We didn’t have to pay attention to what the major labels pushed on us anymore or any other label for that matter, because we started to have options. Today, we have options galore. That is why there will not be any super stars like there used to be. Competition in the market place diluted the record sales.

When I see artists like Thom Yorke and Nigel Godrich complaining about Spotify, I just shake my head. Thom and Nigel have to be real damn great just to have a little bit more than a tiny audience today. The old paradigm of fans purchasing CD’s that had a lot of filler because very little content was available is over.

To stand out today, artists like Thom and Nigel have got to be incredible. Protest The Hero went via Indiegogo to raise funds for “Volition”. Their goal was $125K and they ended up getting over $341,146 USD from a fan base of 8361 fans. I gave $50. A small audience that was happy to spend money.

The report from the “London School of Economics” called “Copyright & Creation: A Case for Promoting Inclusive Online Sharing” hits the nail on the head. Online piracy is not hurting the music industry. It has put a dent in recorded music sales, however that was inevitable with the shift in technology, the over saturated marketplace and the years of fan abuse by pushing overpriced CD’s. It’s simple economics. There is so much supply and the fans of music demand only what is great.

There is an argument from certain song writers that since people began downloading music without paying, royalties for them have dried up. Some have even had to take full-time jobs. Big deal is what I say. If you are a songwriter, then write more songs and better ones. Copyright was never designed to be a pension fund.

The bottom line is this – if the artist creates that undeniable song, they will have no problems selling it. The song will sell itself. I parted with $27 back in 1993 for the song “Believe.”

Looking at all the certifications around the world from the industry bodies, one thing is certain. The singles are dominating. So all those metal and rock bands spending years and dollars on a long player are doing it wrong.

Even Metallica now, have single Platinum certifications from songs that were released on their first five albums.

The following songs were given a GOLD certification by the RIAA (U.S) on December 13, 2012.

  • For Whom The Bell Tolls
  • Fade To Black
  • The Unforgiven
  • Master Of Puppets
  • Nothing Else Matters
  • One
  • Enter Sandman (was also given a Platinum certification for both digital and physical singles)
  • The Day That Never Comes
  • Until It Sleeps

Five albums are presented in the above list that ranges from 1983 to 2008.

We don’t need new laws to provide better protection for artist copyright. We need artists to create great tracks. We need laws that reduce copyright and puts the focus back on the Public Domain.

We don’t need to encourage internet service providers to make their customers do the right thing. We need to give customers a reason to buy.

If the customers have that reason, then they will buy.

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

So What Is It With Bands And Producers Not Liking Each Other After An Album Explodes?

What is it with artist’s dishing out hate on a producer that was involved in producing their greatest triumph?

A good producer is meant to be tough and opinionated. They are meant to challenge the artist, so that the artist delivers the goods. Look at what Bob Rock did to Kirk Hammet in Metallica, especially around “The Unforgiven” solo piece. If you look at Kirk’s legacy that will be the solo that he will be remembered by. I remember in the “Classic Albums” documentary of the “Black” album, as well as in the video, “A Year and A Half With Metallica”, Bob Rock said something similar like, “it is a great song and it needs a great lead. What Kirk is playing at the moment is not great. He has to live and breathe this solo.”

Bob Rock got the guys to slow down the tempo on “Sad But True” and detune everything down a whole step. He told Lars Ulrich to take drum lessons before he started to record his parts. Which producer does that? Lars Ulrich is coming off 4 definitive thrash albums and there is Bob Rock telling him to take drum lessons. He questioned James on his lyrics and his melodies, something that hasn’t been done before. He recommended vocal lessons as well to the formidable front man.

Lars even said that once the Black album was finished, he couldn’t talk or see Bob Rock for over 12 months. Bob Rock has even gone on record saying that it was a tough album to make. The end result is every bands dream coming true. The biggest selling album of the SOUNDSCAN era with a total of 16 million sales as at December 2012. The Black album still to this day moves 2,000 units per week in the U.S. A a lot of websites pointed out that it outsold, Megadeth’s new album “Supercollider”.

As much as Nikki Sixx dishes on Tom Werman, the facts are out there. With Tom Werman, Motley Crue had three multi-platinum albums in “Shout At The Devil”, “Theatre of Pain” and “Girls, Girls, Girls”. Each album has sold 4 million copies plus in the U.S. That is a total of 12 million plus sales in the U.S market. Furthermore, the bulk of the “Decade Of Decadence” album is made up of songs from these albums, and that album also sold over 2 million copies in the U.S. In addition, the “Music To Crash Your Car” box sets also had the three albums produced by Tom Werman on them.

If all the stories about the drug use from the Motley Crue members are to be believed, then Tom Werman deserves special recognition for getting anything musical onto tape.

Dee Snider also doesn’t have many kind words for Tom Werman. If anyone has read Dee’s bio, “Shut Up and Give Me The Mic,” you can connect the dots and come to a conclusion that Dee is also blaming Tom Werman for the failure of Twisted Sister’s next album even though Tom Werman never worked on it. The routine used to be that Dee Snider would be working on songs for the next album, while the current album is being mixed.

According to Dee, in his bio “Shut Up and Give Me The Mic” due to Werman being difficult to work with and Mark Mendoza doing his best to sabotage everything that Dee was working on, he couldn’t take the time out from the studio to work on songs for the next album. So when it came time to write the songs for Come Out And Play after the hugely successful “Stay Hungry” tour, Dee’s mindset was in a different place. He had money, he had fame, he had success and he didn’t have the same hunger, anger and motivation that he had during the Stay Hungry recording. If he wrote the songs during the “Stay Hungry” sessions, the output could have been very different. Super producer, Bob Ezrin even passed on working on “Come Out And Play”, because he didn’t hear any great songs.

However, the facts are there. The Tom Werman produced “Stay Hungry”, sold over 3 million copies in the U.S alone. The singles, “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock” also sold by the truck load and they sounded great on radio, due to special radio mixes that Tom Werman did for them. It’s funny that the song “The Price”, didn’t get the same radio mix and it tanked as a single, even though it is the strongest of all three songs.

In relation to Nikki Sixx and Dee Snider, Werman said the following on Popdose.com;

“There were two individual musicians who had a problem with me in the studio out of about 200 musicians I produced. Nikki Sixx was a friend until he revised history in his book. Dee Snider was a friend, until the Twisted Sister album became a hit, and he couldn’t deal with sharing the credit for its success. Both of these guys were literally back-slapping glad-handers; years later, they soured badly. I had fine relationships with all the other members of those two bands.”

Kix was another band that was critical of Tom Werman. Bassist and band leader, Donnie Purnell hated and distrusted Werman.

George Lynch from Dokken also had a problem with Tom Werman, when Werman requested that he play a better lead break on a particular song. If you believe Don Dokken, George Lynch has an uncontrollable ego. If you believe George Lynch, Don Dokken has an uncontrollable ego. Regardless who you believe, when Lynch was asked to play a better lead break, he had a dummy spit.

And now here are the facts for Dokken’s “Tooth N Nail” and Kix’s “Blow My Fuse”. Both albums on release went to GOLD status within a year. “Tooth N Nai”l was released in 1984 and ended up reaching PLATINUM status in the U.S in 1989 (yep that’s right, four years after its release), after the mega successful “Back For The Attack” album, got people interested in Dokken’s back catalogue. “Back For The Attack” reached PLATINUM status within 2 months of its release date.

“Blow My Fuse” was released on September 12, 1988. By November 2, 1988, seven weeks later, the album was certified GOLD by the RIAA. In May 1989, the single “Don’t Close Your Eyes” was released. By February 5, 1990, eight months later, the single was certified GOLD by the RIAA. Finally, on August 28, 2000, the “Blow My Fuse” album was certified PLATINUM by the RIAA. Yep, that is almost 12 years from when it was released. This is what the artist of today need to take into account. Great music will live on and it will keep on selling for a long time.

However, so many artists and record label executives want the platinum sales with the first release. Dokken’s back catalogue sold well after the mega successful “Back For The Attack” album (their 4th album). Metallica’s back catalogue sold even more, after the mega successful “Black” album (their 5th album). Motley Crue’s back catalogue sold well again after the mega successful “Dr Feelgood” album (their 5th album). However in today’s mindset of profits before creativity, most bands will not get to the fourth or fifth album. Most bands will not have a comeback like Aerosmith or Alice Cooper did in the Eighties. I digress.

Dream Theater, especially Mike Portnoy blasted Dave Prater on the “Images and Words” sessions, however with Prater at the helm, Dream Theater had their biggest album to date. Read the book “Lifting Shadows”. The interviews with Prater are brilliant. The rebuttals of the band members are in some cases subdued but fiery at the same time. Somewhere in between all of the stories is the truth.

Of course, Dream Theater with Dave Prater at the helm have had their most success in relation to album sales. “Images And Words” is the album that Dream Theater is still doing victory laps with in 2013.

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