A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

The Unexpected Slow Metal Hit

We live in a world that is all about the NOW. Music quickly comes and it quickly goes. Look at all the Top 10 Lists or the Charts for each week and you will see that it is a different list each week. There is just so much new music coming out at the moment and people are just churning it up.

For example, I didn’t get a chance to get into the new Trivium album because a week later, I had the new Protest The Hero album and that has taken all of my attention.

However, there are always songs that sit on the outside. Songs that the artist or the band didn’t believe could be a “hit” (I use that term lightly) or a song that should be used as a promotion tool.

But they didn’t count on the fan choices. The fan that today has the power. The fan that could pick and choose what track they could listen too.

Killswitch Engage released “As Daylight Dies” in 2006 and it is there cover of “Holy Diver” that proved to be the sleeper hit. Don’t believe me, check out Spotify. it has 6,136,523 streams. Still don’t believe me, go on YouTube and you will see it has 9,013,222 views.

Alter Bridge released “One Day Remains” in 2004. “Open Your Eyes”, “Find the Real” and “Broken Wings” followed as promotional singles. However it was the metal heavy “Metalingus” and the moving ballad “In Loving Memory” that the fans selected as the hits. Don’t believe me, check out Spotify. “Metalingus” has 3,362,193 streams and “In Loving Memory” has 2,690,909 streams. Still don’t believe me, go on YouTube and you will see that “Metalingus” has over 5,500,000 views from all the combined channels and “In Loving Memory” has over 6,000,000 combined views.

In 2011 Trivium got blasted for the “In Waves” album, however the title track is their biggest so far. On Spotify “In Waves” the song has 3,038,061 streams. On YouTube, the Official Video on the Roadrunner Records channel has 3,423,215 views and a live version of the song on the Trivium Official channel has 2,767,455 views.

Volbeat broke through in the U.S on the back of “Still Counting”. The song was released in 2008 on the “Guitar Gangsters and Cadillac Blood” album and on 21 July 2012 “Still Counting” was the number-one song on the Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks US chart. Go on Spotify and it has been streamed 19,779,202 times. Go on YouTube and count the views from all the various channels. They add up.

Bullet For My Valentine led the promotional campaign for their “Temper Temper” album with the song “Riot”, however the fans didn’t care about that song as much as they cared about “Breaking Point” and “Tears Don’t Fall (Part 2)”.

As much as Dream Theater is trying to promote the current version of the band, they can’t escape their past. The Spotify Top 10 of Dream Theater has the 9 songs from the new self titled album (that proved to be a dud), plus “On The Backs Of Angels” from the previous album. However if you go on YouTube the fans don’t care about the new album currently. “Wither”, “Pull Me Under” and “Another Day” still get the attention.

This is very different to Avenged Sevenfold, who have people very interested in their new album. In addition, all the other media outlets and bands that are talking about the album, all they are doing is adding to the legend of it. Hail To The King I say. “Shepherd Of Fire” is doing the rounds on my iPod.

Protest The Hero have led the promotional campaign of their new album “Volition” with “Clarity”, “Drumhead Trail” and “Underbite” however, it is “Mist” and “Skies” that is getting the conversation.

The market place today isn’t about the hit song now. It is about new songs vs old songs. Metal and rock songs are always late bloomers. There is no formula as to why certain songs resonate more than others with fans.

I like the story about how Dave Mustaine assisted Stryper in selecting their lead off single from the “No More Hell To Pay” album. They had a different song choice for the lead single and changed their minds after they had a chat with the Megadeth front man. Dave told them that his favourite track is “Sympathy”. This made Michael Sweet change his mind for the lead off single. That track is listed as Number 11 on the album and to be honest it is a kick arse song.

Sure, back in the day when the record labels ruled, they would employ a scorched earth policy to market a band and the lead off single and naturally we would bite as we had the time to invest and there was nothing really else out there.

YouTube and Spotify play a big part today in transforming a song into a phenomenon. Television also plays it’s part. Look at all the hit shows and they all have a section where a certain song plays and it conveys the emotion of the scene that no other music can.

Sons Of Anarchy comes to mind here, especially at the end of Season 2, when the song “Hands In The Sky (Big Shot)” from Straylight Run played in the epic last 5 minutes of the final episode.

Look at what Breaking Bad did for “Baby Blue” by Badfinger.

My wife was a fan of Grey’s Anatomy and because of that show she got into Snow Patrol (“Chasing Cars”) and The Fray (“How to Save a Life”).

In the end all artists need to do is create great music. The fans will latch onto it eventually.

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Music

Sales Numbers for the U.S.

Metal Insider

I was looking at the sales figures in the above link.  A lot of people focus on the sales aspect of everything, so if something is sold a lot of times, they class it as being successful.

So if you look at the sales, you will see a lot of hard rock and metal bands doing low numbers for the week.  One can easily jump to conclusions.  The album is bad, it bombed or the industry favourite, piracy.

However, to me the sale numbers mean nothing.  What is important here, is the length of time the music has been out.

Let’s start with Volbeat.  They have two albums that are selling.  Yippee, you say.  Here’s the thing, Beyond Heaven/Above Hell was released in September 2010.  Yes, 2010.  It has been around for over 2 and a half years.  What does this tell you?  They did it without the mainstream sledgehammer across the head marketing like Bon Jovi and Justin Timberlake.  They did it by creating great music and letting the people spread the word.  The funny thing is, the song that made them popular in the U.S, Still Counting is not even on this album (it is from an earlier album from 2007 called Guitar Gangsters and Cadillac Blood) and was added as a bonus track later on.  Talk about great music waiting to be found.  It was released in 2007 and it wasn’t until 2012, that people really heard Still Counting, appreciated it and starting buying it.

You need to remember, there is so much music released each days, (I checked the new release schedule and i counted over 400 releases on one day).  Multiply that by 52 weeks, and you have a lifetimes worth of music to go through.  We need a filter and what better filter than people spreading the word.  Not by the hundreds, but the by the thousands and in PSY’s case, by the millions.

Volbeat’s new album Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies entered the charts in the top 10.  They had the usual big first week sales and second week drop, however this time around, the audience was waiting for a new release.  Time will tell if this album will have the same longevity.

From hearing it, it’s a good album, but it doesn’t have the defining song, and that is what fans want.  Bon Jovi had Wanted Dead Or Alive on Slippery When Wet, Motley Crue had Kick Start My Heart on Dr Feelgood, Metallica had Enter Sandman on the Black album, Poison had Nothing But A Good Time on Open Up and Say Ahh.. and so on.

In This Moment has been doing business since August 2012.  34 weeks.  Bon Jovi’s What About Now, has more or less stalled.  Justin Timberlake’s is slowly declining as well.  Will they still be selling in 34 weeks time.  For Bon Jovi, i am sure they will not.

Otherwise, is a band that i have been following for over a year now.  Each week, you see them move between 400 and 700 units.  They are touring their arses off, picking up new fans along the way.  The album came out in May 2012.  It will make a year, where it has been selling low numbers.  To me this is a success story.  If they stay at the rate they are, they will be passing 40,000.  What’s 40,000, I hear people saying?  That is a year’s worth of touring.  The music is the entry-level to all the other things in the business.  You don’t make money from selling music.  You make money from the doors that music opens.

Stone Sour have two albums that are selling, House of Gold and Bones Pt 1 and Pt 2.  The concept story is the entry for the multimedia projects to come, like the graphic novels, the motion picture movie and the tour.  It’s not all about sales, it’s about different income streams.

Coheed and Cambria has already walked the path that Stone Sour is walking right now.  They have had their concept albums put into comic form, graphic novel and companion books.  Claudio Sanchez has also signed a deal to develop the Armory Wars story into a motion picture film.

Black Veil Brides is another band, involved in the multimedia aspect, with their concept album, Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones.  

Shinedown is one of the best hard rock bands doing the scene right now.  Amaryllis has been out for over a year now and the band is still moving units.  Why, because people are spreading the word, they are hearing the songs live and are liking them.

For the critics that have called this album a failure, just because it didn’t move the same units as The Sound of Madness is a shallow viewpoint to have without any analysis.  A song like Second Chance comes around once in a decade.  That song alone moved over 2 million mp3’s.  The Shinedown tour is doing decent business at the box office.

The key here is longevity.  You don’t want to be here today and gone tomorrow.  You want the music, the band, to remain public, to be in people’s’ minds.  So many have released albums and have been forgotten.  Does anyone remember that Joe Walsh released a new album last year, or that David Bowie and Bon Jovi released an album in the same week.  They have been forgotten.  The hardcore fans will say otherwise and that is okay they are entitled to their opinions.

Life today is all about information.  We have a tonne of it.  We are connected 24/7.  There is always something coming out that takes the flavor of the minute.  Black Sabbath released God Is Dead, and it was tanking, regardless of what the artists and Loudwire said about it.

Ozzy then releases a statement about his fall back into addiction, trying to drum up press and then Sharon chimes in.  It ain’t working, the song is a dud at nine minutes long.  It’s a four-minute song on a 12 inch extended remix.

I am seeing them in two days at the Allphones Arena in Sydney.  I might eat my words after hearing it live.  No one is talking about them.  The 13 album is already in the rear view mirror and it hasn’t even been officially released.  They are touring Australia and there is no buzz.   

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