Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, Unsung Heroes

Oli Herbert – All That Remains

I remember the first time I heard the band. It was in 2008 and the “Overcome” album just dropped. I believe it was their fourth album.

At the time I had no idea how divisive this album was to their existing fan base. I read comments to reviews and YouTube videos that blasted this album.

One fan mentioned how the album is the mass marketed pop washed version of “The Fall of Ideals” (their much loved previous album). And as I type this, I still haven’t listened to the three albums before “Overcome”.

For me, “Overcome” made All That Remains (ATR) accessible and I’ve been a fan since. And ATR had the balls to go with what they believed was right at the point in time.

Because in music when you have public acceptance of your music/certain songs, you start to write similar songs so that the public acceptance remains. Some bands totally change styles while others do it within their style. ATR did it within their style.

Anyway the first track “Before The Damned” started blasting out of my headphones. It’s also by far the most heaviest track.

From 0 to 22 seconds, the snare and palm muted guitar pattern hooks you in straight away. It’s performed by syncopated military precision. Yeah it might sound generic but so did every pedal point riff on albums in the Eighties. And if you go back to the Seventies, a lot of albums had the same blues pedal point boogie going on.

From 22 to 33 seconds, the whole band is now grooving on the intro pattern, however this time the bass drum sounds out the intro riff and the other instruments play something a bit different, like open string melodic leads and what not.

From 34 to 55 seconds the verse rolls around. The riff again is generic but within the context of the song it works and the way the drums and guitars are synchronized is excellent.

But it‘s the Chorus from 56 seconds to 1.07 that seals the deal. I was hooked by how effortlessly ATR changed from the death metal verses to the hard rock arena chorus.

We will still set in motion
Changing of the time
We have not forgotten
We control our lives

Now every review I read blasted Labonte’s clean vocals and how they lacked depth, balls or there was too much auto tune.

Basically they all said that Labonte should not do clean vocals ever in the same way Bruce Dickinson should never attempt screamo/death metal vocals.

Even James Hetfield copped criticism for his vocals on the self titled Metallica album and the Load LP’s. But every artist needs to grow and try new things. These subjective debates is the reason why I love music. You can talk the whole day and night over differing viewpoints.

When I hear a song, I listen to it from a guitar point of view.

Does the song make me want to put down what I am doing and learn it?

And this song does.

Musically it’s excellent.

At 2.04 we get this head banging metal breakdown and the solo begins at 2.09 over that same head banging breakdown riff. The solo is chromatic and diminished, in the same way Randy Rhoads shreds on “Diary Of A Madman”. This concludes at 2.19. It sounds dissonant and atonal.

After two minutes and fifty seconds the song is done. So I listened again and again and again because it’s a lesson on no filler songwriting. It’s also a great lesson in the “Progress Is Derivative” model because the song takes a lot of their influences and puts it all together in an original way.

And the main man behind the guitar is Oli Herbert. A great guitar player, founding member of All That Remains and songwriter who passed away at 44.

Rest In Peace.

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A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Copyright, Derivative Works, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Bonfire – Fireworks

When I heard the “Fireworks” album from Bonfire I got the impression that they were superstars already. The album to me is a definitive piece of hard rock, melodic rock, heavy metal and euro metal all merged into one cohesive package.

I had a friend who had a friend who had a friend that made me a copy of the album on cassette. I had no idea who was in the band, who wrote the songs, who produced it and on what label it was on.

What I did know was the music. And the music was great. It brought Bonfire from the minors into the majors for me. And as much as the press labeled them overnight sensations, overnight sensations they were not.

Claus Lessman and Hans Ziller started to work together in a band called Cacumen in 1978. “Fireworks” came out in 1987. Yep, this overnight sensation was nine years in the making. And to top it off, “Fireworks” was Bonfire’s second album, and if you add the releases from Cacumen, this overnight sensation was a five album veteran.

And here is one for those copyright maximalist. In the late nineties, Lessman and Ziller had a six-year legal battle to get back the album copyrights of their pre-Bonfire band Cacumen. The court case finished up in 2004, with a win to them.

Yep, the companies that originally released the Cacumen albums ceased to exist. They did nothing with the music while they existed. However the people who still worked at those companies held the copyrights for those releases instead of the songwriters in the band. And when the band wanted them back, they fought tooth and nail to keep them.

I can hear people asking what is the sense for holding the copyright of albums and not releasing them?

The answer is plain and simple. GREED. The record label owners were waiting for someone to come and give them enormous loads of money for the Cacumen albums they still controlled. Thank god the courts saw in Bonfire’s favour.

The band for the release consisted of Claus Lessmann on vocals, Hans Ziller and Horst Maier-Thorn on guitar and Jörg Deisinger on bass.

Who you say?

That was exactly the same thing that I said when I found out the band member names.

“Ready 4 Reaction” and “Never Mind” are a great one/two punch to kick off the album. This is what the Eighties album delivered once upon a time. That knockout one/two punch. The great albums delivered even more knockout punches on subsequent tracks and to be honest Bonfire delivered a great album.

Both songs are composed by the band members and you get that Euro Metal Scorpions/MSG vibe immediately.

The lead break and the harmonies in “Ready 4 Reaction” provided an instant connection to me. How good is Hans Ziller. The Eighties was the era of the guitar hero. While other guitarists took the limelight and the instructional tape offers, Hans Ziller let the music do the talking.

Michael Wagener’s production is also crisp and clear.

If you are a fan of music that like genre’s “Ready 4 Reaction” well here is a new one for you, melodic speed metal.

Then the tempo goes into rock territory for “Never Mind” with the pinch harmonics riff that gives Zakk Wylde a challenge for who can do better pinch harmonics. And that lead break is another powerful piece of composition.

“Sleeping All Alone” and “Sweet Obsession” are both written by a songwriting committee like the current songs that make up the top 40 pop charts. Jack Ponti and Joe Lynn Turner this time are included as songwriters along with the four band members.

“Champion”

Some people hate him
but a winner never quits
when he’s rollin’ he’s a one man blitz – look out

Aint that the truth. Everyone hates a winner, thinking that it should have been them instead. People always think that they had the better song, the better look, the better story and so on. But the reason why people win, is that they never stop.

In the end, Bonfire was one of the thousands of bands that signed contracts stacked against them and of course they got ripped off. If you have read any interview with Hans Ziller and Clauss Lessman, they say the same. A small consolation is that Bonfire was not the only band who were ripped off. But it took its toll and Hans Ziller left the band in 1989.

And one more mention as it is not on an official Bonfire album.

Sword and Stone

It’s written by Desmond Child, Paul Stanley and Bruce Kulick. By the late eighties, Desmond Child was rock royalty. Riding high on the charts with hit songs from Bon Jovi, Aerosmith and Kiss.

“Sword and Stone” sounds like a lot of other songs that came before it and a lot of songs that came after sound like it, but, man, I tell ya, there is something about this song that just makes me play it on a regular basis.

You can hear the “Crazy Crazy Nights” and “Hot In The Shade” pop metal stylings in this song. It was originally a demo for the KISS album “Crazy Nights”. Paul Dean from Loverboy also used the song for his “Hardcore” album. But the Bonfire version is the one that I like.

It appeared on the “Shocker” soundtrack which to be honest is a pretty wicked soundtrack and having “Timeless Love” from Saraya coming after “Sword and Stone” it was another one/two punch.

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A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Glenn Hughes

Mention the name Glenn Hughes to a lot of people and you will get a different answer each time as to who he is. Some don’t know of him, some mistake him with a sporting identity, some get it right and some just get it so wrong. However, if you are a fan of music, there is a pretty good chance that you would have come across the works of Glenn Hughes.

Especially the melodic AOR rock style of Glenn Hughes.

This primer course is based on showing a few of the big songs Glenn Hughes was involved in and then it moves over to that fertile Nineties post addiction period that was more or less ignored due to the musical landscape. However by no means is the list complete.

“Burn”

Released in 1974.

I found out about the “Burn” album by back tracking the origins of David Coverdale after the Whitesnake album from 1987 exploded. Yep, in 1987, I had no idea that David Coverdale was in Deep Purple. Actually the only Deep Purple song I knew at that stage was “Smoke On The Water” and that is because Triple M, the local rock radio station played it to death. For kids that grew up with Google, guess what it didn’t exist back then.

So it was harder to find out information about our favourite artists. Not impossible, just harder.

This meant purchasing expensive U.S magazines and reading the interviews and the reviews. Or if I didn’t have the money it meant grabbing the magazine at the newsagency and reading it there, much to the disgust of the newsagency owner.

He was a Portuguese fellow and he saw me that many times in his shop that he eventually started mentioning to me when the latest, “Hit Parader” or “Circus” or “Faces” or “Metal Mania” or “RIP” or “Metal Edge” was in.

Then he told me a little important secret about the newsagency business. That whatever doesn’t sell for the month, he returns back to the publishers. So he said that he will give me the magazines that I like then albeit with the front cover desecrated.

“Burn” was also my first introduction to Glenn Hughes. It was an immediate hit for me.

The song is credited to Ritchie Blackmore, David Coverdale, Glenn Hughes, Jon Lord and Ian Paice and you can hear the jam ethos throughout it. The performances are all top notch and the song showcases all of the members’ abilities.

There is also a version of Glenn Hughes singing it from start to finish that appeared on his solo album, “From Now On…” as a bonus track.

“When Love Finds a Fool”

It is a co-write between Glenn Hughes and Don Dokken and it was on the Don Dokken “Up From The Ashes” solo album that was released in 1990 on the Geffen label. There was a lot of money spent on that album by the Geffen company, however the interest in Don Dokken’s career was already dwindling down to just the hard core fans only.

On the Don Dokken recorded version, Hughes provides backing vocals only. It was the first song I clicked play on when I got home due to the Glenn Hughes writing credit.

And I loved it. To paraphrase like Yoda “A ballad it was” however it was delivered with a passion that was undeniable.

“The Only One”

It’s written by Glenn Hughes and Swedish guitarist Eric Bojfeldt and produced by Bruce Gowdy.

The song appeared on Hughes’s solo album titled “From Now On…” released in 1994. The album is a favourite of mine and the album has a well-rounded, polished and melodic AOR sound. And what a backing band.

Hughes was supported by a band of Swedish musicians including Europe members John Levén, Mic Michaeli and Ian Haugland as well as guitarists Thomas Larsson and Eric Bojfeldt.

Let the Viking invasion begin. Max Martin might get all the press for his pop songs, however the Swedes always had great musicians and songwriters.

“Crying For Love”

A brilliant ballad that appeared on the 1996 album “No Strings Attached” by the band Liesegang. Actually Liesegang is guitarist Bill Liesegang and his roots go back to the early Eighties NWOBHM movement and the band Xero. Actually his roots go back even further, to 1969, when he was asked to join David Bowie’s band.

Liesegang is renowned for being a guitarist that was doing all the guitar theatrics in the late Seventies that Steve Vai and Joe Satriani became famous for years later.

“Still The Night”

It’s history goes back to 1982. Originally planned for the second Hughes/Thrall album, the song ended up appearing on several other releases. It was recorded by the super group “Phenomena” project in 1984.

The version that I like is the John Norum version that appeared on Norum’s solo album, “Face The Truth” in 1992.

The song is written by Glenn Hughes, Pat Thrall and Paul Delph (RIP). Paul Delph was another talent who worked with an eclectic bunch of musicians before his death from HIV/AIDS complications.

“The Look In Your Eye”

It appeared on the “Hughes/Thrall” album released in 1982. The vocal is the starring element. How good is the pre chorus and then the falsetto melodies in the chorus.

“I don’t need anybody else
To try to run my life
I don’t need the way they try
To tell me what they think is right
We don’t need anybody else
To take what’s yours and mine
We don’t need anybody else
It’s just a waste of time”

I didn’t hear this album until a decade later. Because I didn’t get into the whole Grunge and Alternative scene. What I did do is get into purchasing records from second-hand Record Shops and the Hughes/Thrall album was one such gem. It is definitely a hidden gem of melodic hard rock.

Pat Thrall is a very underrated guitarist. A craftsmen who understands what the song needs and plays to suit.

“Surrender”

It appeared on the “Phenomena II – Dream Runner” album from 1987. Music and Lyrics came from Mel Galley. Actually Phenomena is a super group formed by record producer Tom Galley, Metal Hammer magazine founder Wilfried Rimensberger] and Tom’s brother, ex-Whitesnake guitarist Mel Galley who played with Glenn Hughes in Trapeze and on Hughes’s Seventies solo album.

What a super group line up for the recording of Surrender.

Vocals – Glenn Hughes
Guitars – Mel Galley
Keyboards – Leif Johansen
Bass – Neil Murray
Drums – Michael Sturgis

It is one of my favourite cuts.

“Face The Truth”

It’s from John Norum’s solo album of the same name released in 1992 and the he song is written by Glenn Hughes and John Norum. For those that don’t know, John Norum was the original guitarist in the band “Europe” and played on their first three albums including the mega one, “The Final Countdown”. He is also in the film clip? Then he was replaced by Kee Marcello for the tour, and the two follow-up albums that came in “Out Of This World” and “Prisoners In Paradise”. He is back as the guitarist of Europe when they reformed back in 2004.

How good is that guitar riff?

It just rocks and rolls the song to glory. If you have listened to early Europe, you will hear that “Euro-Metal Sound” that John Norum is famous for.

The song is a melodic rock gem and it is post the excellent work that Norum did with Don Dokken on the “Up From The Ashes” solo project.

“You Keep On Movin”

It goes back to 1975 and the “Come Taste The Band” era of Deep Purple with another guitarist that departed way too young. Tommy Bolin. Now that was another talent that is no more. Tommy Bolin and Paul Kossoff are my two heroes. Guitarists that just wanted to jam and play.

The song is actually written by David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes. The version that I was listening to is from the 1994 solo album “From Now On….”.

This is what we’ve lost in the transition from capturing spontaneous creations to capturing well thought out and analysed rewritten over and over again creations. That effortless feel in a song as it builds to a crescendo.

“So Much Love To Give”

Very Hendrix like and that is not surprising at all when you see that Hendrix devotee Craig Erickson is the guitarist and the songwriter.

It’s up there in the blues rock vibe of “Mistreated” from the Coverdale/Hughes era of Deep Purple.

It’s a Glenn Hughes and Craig Erickson composition.

Actually Craig Erickson is a very underrated guitarist in the blues rock genre.

The song was released on Hughes’s first solo album titled “L.A. Blues Authority II: Glenn Hughes – Blues” after he kicked his drug habits in 1991 and it is another all-star line up of musician friends that assist in the album’s creation. As Glenn once stated it was his first album since finding his higher power. And of course it was Mike Varney who got the project rolling. For those that don’t know, Shrapnel Records was founded in 1980 by Mike Varney.

And Shrapnel was different from all of the other labels because it focused on bands featuring guitarists of extraordinary ability and it was the main label leading the neo-classical shred movement.

If it wasn’t for Shrapnel Records artists like Yngwie Malmsteen, Marty Friedman, Jason Becker, Paul Gilbert, Tony MacAlpine and Vinnie Moore would have either not been identified or taken longer to identify.

“King Of The Western World”

It is the opening track on the 1996 Liesegang album “No Strings Attached” that also has the excellent “Crying For Love” that I mentioned above.

It’s the GUITAR!

The Steve Stevens inspired “Atomic Playboys” riff that kicks it off. Talk about a riff!

Then it goes into a Journey style verse. For those that don’t know Bill Liesegang, make sure you check him out. Another underrated musician and songwriter.

“Not Necessary Evil” and “Cry Of The Brave”

Both of these songs appear on “Sacred Groove” the first solo album from George Lynch released in 1993. As a fan of George Lynch, I really enjoyed these little gems.

Glenn Hughes came into the Lynch stratosphere back when Glenn Hughes was hired to sing on the demos that would become the self-titled Lynch Mob album, released in 1992. The album features the vocals of Robert Mason who legend has it, had Glenn Hughes teaching him how to sing the songs.

There are just so many connections and relationships in the career of Glenn Hughes. And really, that is what having a music career is all about.

Building connections and fostering relationships.

Just look at the body of work that I have mentioned so far and all the different musicians that have been involved with it. How many musicians in the last 10 years have achieved anything close to those relationships?

It’s all about the band they are in and just that band. God forbid if someone tried to jam with another band. That would be cause for instant dismissal.

Mike Portnoy comes to mind as the only musician that is putting his name out there on different styles of music and with different musicians.

“Make My Day”

It’s the opening track from the “Amen” album by Manfred Ehlert. Written and arranged by Ehlert it is Glenn’s vocal performance that brings the song home.

There is a keyboard riff there that reminds me of “The Final Countdown” from Europe.

“Phoenix Rising”

The song is written by Tom Galley, Richard Bailey and Mel Galley, but it is the vocal performance by Glenn Hughes that knocks it out of the ball park.

Mel Galley is another guitarist that deserves more attention for his work output. Maybe not having the look of a glam rocker hurt his career in the Eighties, but there is no denying the work that he did with Trapeze, Whitesnake and Phenomena.

This song appeared on the supergroup “Phenomena” project in 1984.

“Lay My Body Down”

It is written by Glenn Hughes and virtuoso guitarist Thomas Larsson.

Another musician from Sweden and the land of the midnight sun. It is a musical Viking conquest.

The song appeared on Hughes’s solo album titled “From Now On…” released in 1994.

“In Your Eyes”

It is from the 1992 John Norum solo album “Face The Truth”.

It is a song written by a super group committee. The writers are Glenn Hughes, John Norum and Peter Baltes from Accept fame, who along with John Norum just finished a stint with Don Dokken.

One thing that is clear is the many relationships that Glenn Hughes as formed. Music is a common language for all walks of life and there is no greater ambassador than Glenn Hughes.

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

Money In Music, Greed, Elitism And A Lifestyle Of Not Taking Things Too Seriously

One thing about the world of heavy metal and hard rock was that we never took ourselves too seriously. It was always a camaraderie, a culture to have “Nothin But A Good Time”. A culture to “Seek and Destroy” and just have some fun “Smokin In The Boys Room”.

So when Zakk Wylde was playing “In This River” at the Revolver Golden Gods Awards for the fallen rockers and a picture of Jani Lane from Warrant came up, and it stated, Jani Lane, Motorhead, 1964-2011, it was just one of those things we had to laugh about. Of course, a lot people these days take stuff a little bit too seriously and the elite Motorhead fans were outraged that a wussy singer like Jani Lane was associated with their band.

Or what about when the Salem Community Easter Drama titled “Lamb Of God” actually used the Lamb of God logo on their tickets. It made everyone have a laugh. Because this is what metal and rock is all about. A lifestyle of not taking everything too seriously.

Then you have the other side of the metal and rock community, which is the elitism view.

First let’s go back to the beginning. It was all just rock, blues and folk.

Then it started to branch out into hard rock, blues rock, folk, R&B, Surf Rock, Brit Rock.

Then metal/heavy metal came into the picture, along with Southern Rock, Americana Rock, heavy rock, progressive rock and so forth.

Then came Funk, disco and punk rock.

Then came the New Wave Of British Metal and everything was just metal again for a few years. Regardless of how different the style of metal was, the audience always crossed over between genres. Fans of NWOBHM, also supported the LA metal and hard rock scene. Fans of that LA scene also supported pop rock and Americana acts like Kiss, Ted Nugent, Styx, Bruce Springsteen, Journey, Survivor, Reo Speedwagon and others.

It didn’t last for long as the genre that defined a cultural movement splintered into Hard Rock, Glam Rock, Glam Metal, Pop Metal, Power Metal, Thrash Metal, Death Metal, Extreme Metal, Progressive Metal, Black Metal, Metalcore, Groove Metal, Industrial Metal, Nu Metal, EMO, Punk Metal, Gothic Rock, Doom Metal, Djent, Technical Metal. Folk Metal and the list just goes on and on and on.

Within each genre, there is a subset of elitism within it. The type of elitism that sees the hard rock style as not just not hard enough for the heavy metal community. The type of elitism that sees Metalcore and melodic death metal as not evil enough for the “real” death metallers out there. Or the type of elitism that sees progressive metal as just not brutal enough compared to death metal or black metal.

Sort of like an episode I saw on the cartoon show “Metalocalypse” where the new song that the band Deathklok was writing just wasn’t brutal enough according to their singer.

The elitism goes both ways, where elitism in hard rock sees other metal bands as not melodic enough.

In some occasions it is simply down to taste. People enjoy the pop structure of the “verse – chorus” sing a long, every day, all year round.

The way I see it, people either praise someone else’s success, or they try to tear it down because they believe they should have been there and that someone stole their ride.

People attach themselves to this cancer within them that says “If this band made it, they suck” because they don’t want to admit that they wish it was them on that throne. They don’t want to admit that they are undeserving because they are not qualified or talented enough or good enough.

From the people that I know, and doing some crude math, eighty percent of wannabe musicians drop out when the going gets tough. The remaining twenty percenters keep at it, networking, planning, practicing, creating and moving on. Then from those twenty percenters, another eighty percent drop out due to starting or having families, which means that they have obligations and the need to have a stable income. So let’s say 100 start off. After the first cut, 20 will remain. After the second cut, only 4 will remain.

See no one tells you that when you reach a certain age, the power players in music don’t really want you. That is why the focus is on the young. It’s like McDonalds. Get em young and work em hard for less money.

Making it is hard work. It involves a lot of variables and the main one is luck. Very few make it and a lot of others have excuses for failing.

Sort of like the people who always scream to anyone who cares about how Spotify is killing the music business and pointing to pay out figures without giving the full picture as to how much the label took, how much the manager took, how much the publishers took, how much the lawyers took and how much went to the slush account for expenses.

Seen what Jared Leto said recently.

“We all know that, as content creators, artists and musicians, a great deal of our work is going to be streamed, but the issue is that artists are getting the short end of the stick. The streaming companies are paying record labels, but record labels are not paying artists.”

I have been saying this for a long time in other posts that the greed of the record labels is putting a stain on the streaming model.

“Record companies are taking giant advantages, they’re taking pieces of stock options or technology companies in exchange for guaranteeing rights to artists’ streams, there’s all kinds of deals being made, and artists aren’t a part of those deals.”

This is a biggie. Spotify needed to give over half of the company to the Major Record Labels so that they could operate in the U.S. What did the Major Record Labels use as their bargaining chip in these negotiations?

Yep, you guessed it, the right to access the music of artists past and present. And as Leto alluded too, artists are excluded from these conversations and negotiations.

Spotify is a great enabler of getting music out to the masses. It’s also set to overtake iTunes in Europe due to the closing of a digital tax law loophole in the UK – that put an end to all song downloads being priced at £0.99 ($1.79AUD). This in turn is means that iTunes is expected to lose consumers opting for subscription streaming services instead of paying for each track as a download.

In relation to the heavy metal and hard rock communities, they are not doing a really good job at promoting Spotify by still relying on album sales as a measure of success. Streaming is a tried and true business model. Hell, the whole free to air TV industry is the same model as the free streaming option. And the TV stations made a monza. In 2014, there is no fundamental reason why music needs a “sales” business model.

And while popular culture artists are raking in 100 million plus streams a song, metal and rock bands are still going the mp3/CD sale route. It is the wrong way. There should be no reason why a metal act should not have a song that has surpassed 100 million streams on Spotify by now. No reason whatsoever.

It’s the selling (instant money in the pocket right now) mentality versus the streaming (money in the pocket later) mentality and everyone wants to be paid right now. From the labels, managers, lawyers and producers, down to the individual band members. Everyone wants money to live on and get by.

But music is a risk game. Music was never an industry that guaranteed an income.

So why are bands pushing that argument.

Guitar World ran an article back in April 1997, about where are the Eighties Guitar Heroes now. Now meant 1997 for the article. One of the questions they asked each guitarist was their FINANCIAL STATUS. This is what they had to say;

WARREN DeMARTINI (RATT) – “It’s not like I never have to work again, but I had the luxury of not doing anything right away and I really enjoyed the break.”

“Out Of The Cellar” sold over 3 million copies in the U.S. “Invasion Of Your Privacy” sold over 2 million copies in the U.S. “Dancing Undercover” sold 1 million copies in the U.S. “Reach For The Sky” sold over 1 million copies in the U.S. “Detonator” sold over 500,000 copies in the U.S.

In total Ratt sold over 7.5 million records in the U.S. Using the average retail price of $10, you can do the math on the gross sales of Ratt’s music.

And that break that DeMartini took was roughly 12 months. After that he was a touring guitarist for Whitesnake in 1994, releasing instrumental albums in 1995 and 1996 and new Ratt albums in 1997 and 1999.

In other words even though he was the main songwriter in a band that grossed $75 million in album sales in the U.S alone, he still had to work his arse off.

REB BEACH (WINGER) – “I’m certainly not set financially. I still have to work. I didn’t sign the best contract. Back then, it was ‘Sign this, or we’ll get another guitar player.”

ERIK TURNER (WARRANT) – “We made millions and we spent millions. Now we’re like everyone else: we work for a living.”

BLACKIE LAWLESS (WASP) – “Slow and steady wins the race. We’re a lot better off that a lot of bands that sold a lot more records at one point because we have a cult following. We have the most devoted fans in the world. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

STEVE BROWN (TRIXTER) – “We came out of the whole thing in decent shape. We all have to work, but we don’t have any day jobs and I have a nice house.”

TRACII GUNS (L.A. GUNS) – “I’m by no means set. But I’ve established myself where people buy my records and come out to see us live.”

There is a lot of money in the music business and the ones that create it are the least underpaid.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories

Semi Obscure Bon Jovi Songs – Part 1

Bon Jovi did big business at the box office this year. During the turmoil of Sambora’s departure, Jon Bon Jovi said that he is not beholden to anyone and that the show will go on. This view point was even more evident when the final Australian leg of the tour was renamed to “Because We Did” from “Because We Can”.

I remember watching them at the recent Sydney show and thinking, man it would be so cool if they brought some of their more obscure songs and made a real night of it. The running time for the show was just over two and a half hours. So I started thinking about some semi-obscure tracks. Then again, are there really any obscure Bon Jovi tracks. Of course everyone knows the singles and even some of those songs have now slipped into obscurity and the radio platforms never go deep enough when they curate their playlists.

THE HARDEST PART IS THE NIGHT

Written by Jon Bon Jovi, David Bryan and Richie Sambora. It is from the “7800 Degrees Fahrenheit” album released in 1985.

What makes the track is the synths however there is still that Richie Sambora grit with some tasty virtuoso guitar work in the metallic interlude and solo section.

And let’s not forget the harmonies. This is what the album experience is all about. I’ve never heard “The Hardest Part Is The Night” anywhere else except in my own comfort. Then I saw a live performance video clip of it on the “Breakout” video and it cemented itself as a favourite. Yes, we live in a world of Top Forty charts that focus on the songs that moguls believe are hits however ask anybody and they will tell that the non-hit tracks from an album had as much impact as the “hits”.

“Your just a pawn in a losing game
You lose at life it aint no game”

This theme of working hard and still struggling in life would be done to multi-platinum success with “Livin On A Prayer” and “Born To Be My Baby”. This is where it all started. The main character is battling to succeed however he is just a pawn in a losing game.

“Stay alive, the hardest part is the night”

This is when you lay in bed and you just can’t sleep. Things at work could be worrying you, financial matters could be worrying you, health issues could be worrying you. This is when we contemplate, in the night, laying there in the dark.

The hardest part is the night, as we torture ourselves mentally.

Listen to how Sambora plays the Chorus riff. It is a technique that he will employ again in “Edge of a Broken Heart” and “I’d Die For You”.

It is up on YouTube on various channels. The “LoveYouAlec” channel has 192,509 views. The “bonjovi608” channel has 51,236 views. Numerous other channels also have different versions up.

What do the YouTube stats tell me? It is telling me that the song is slowly slipping into obscurity. Even though it has a small fan base that connects with it, compared to other numbers that Bon Jovi are achieving, this song is in the nose bleeds section of the stadium.

SHOT THROUGH THE HEART’

From the debut album released in 1984. “Runaway” took most of the glory as it became a radio staple however to me “Shot Through The Heart” was the reason why I got into Bon Jovi. They even used the title in the “You Give Love A Bad Name” chorus. When I first heard “You Give Love A Bad Name” I came in halfway through, so I thought the song was called “Shot Through The Heart”, so when I went to purchase the album, I saw the “Slippery When Wet” album first and it didn’t have a song on it called “Shot Through The Heart”. I picked up the debut album and saw it on there, so I purchased that instead.

It was written by Jon Bon Jovi and Jack Ponti. Jack Ponti was the guitarist in the band “The Rest” that also featured a very young Jon Bon Jovi on vocals. Despite having some serious endorsements from Southside Johnny and Billy Squier, the band failed to obtain a recording contract and split up. Is the song a leftover from those days?

In an interview with The Aquarian website, this is what Ponti had to say on “The Rest”.

“It was too much time spent on the edge of making it that lead to the frustration and ultimate breakup. It was an important part in the development of my career and Jon Bon Jovi’s career.”

In a separate interview on the Dry County website, this is what Ponti had to say about “Shot Through The Heart.”

“Jon and I remained friends after the Rest. He came over and said “I want to write a song with the title, Shot Through The Heart”, so we did. He was getting songs together for his demo. I know it was over 29 years ago because my wife was pregnant and my daughter is 29. It was written in NJ of course, Toms River to be exact. I think the hook was stronger than on the record, but it’s fine. It’s an important song for both Jon and me in many ways. All your songs are like your children.”

Jack Ponti of course would go on to write with a string of other artists and went on a platinum/Grammy winning home run multiple times.

The track has this infectious piano riff. As the track soldiers it becomes more powerful, especially during the chorus. Again Sambora goes to town in this song, showing his melodic chops.

When you go on YouTube and search for “Shot Through The Heart” the first video that comes back is the official clip of “You Give Love A Bad Name” that has 42,667,226 views on the Bon Jovi Vevo channel.

However, the song “Shot Through The Heart” from the self-titled debut album has the following numbers on different user channels. User “Chris R” has the song at 355,075 views. User “bobjovilover98” has the song at 182,818 views. User “bobsnidery” has the song at 219,479 views. User “xxis16” has the song at 157,683 views. User “ichigo6232” has the song at 123,763 views. User “The Music4Life01” has the song at 148,540 views. It total, 1,187,358 views.

It was good to see the song get some concert time during “The Circle” tour.

HOMEBOUND TRAIN

It’s written by Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora and it’s got this heavy blues rock swagger that just makes it connect.

On “Slippery When Wet” it all came together for Bon Jovi and suddenly they were playing arenas and in some cases stadiums. Then with New Jersey, what can I say. If you were in Australia in the summer of ‘88, “New Jersey” played from every car and every house window. This song came from left field. It was on “New Jersey” released in 1988 and sandwiched amongst all the top 10 singles in “Bad Medicine”, “Born To Be My Baby” and “I’ll Be There For You.”

The track is good but the magic is at the three minute mark when it goes into this Elvis Presley meets James Brown meets Rolling Stones vibe. The guitar drops out and it is the bass and drums that keep the groove going and Jon does a few voice impersonations, while Sambora keeps it funky and they build up the song again when Jon keeps singing “Here I Come”. The interlude is filled with church organ and harmonica lead breaks.

On “The Circle” tour, “Homebound Train” came back into the mix with Richie Sambora on vocals. It is a fitting tribute as Richie is the main creating force on this song. Go on YouTube and watch the band have some fun rocking out to it.

“When I was just a boy
The devil took my hand
Took me from my home
He made me a man”

It’s that whole Robert Johnson legend again. It’s also playing on the term that “Rock N Roll” is the devils music. Listening to the music and letting it take you away. The power of music when done right.

STARTING ALL OVER AGAIN

It’s got this “Rock N Roll Aint Noise Pollution” style intro. This song was released as a bonus track on the Australian version of “Keep The Faith” along with the very U2ish sounding “Save A Prayer”. It is another song written by the Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora and Desmond Child song writing team

“I been waiting
Standing in the dark of hours
Trying to find the faith and the power
To get back home to you”

It’s got that loneliness vibe that we all feel when we get homesick. “Starting All Over Again” was written after the marathon “New Jersey” tour that more or less happened straight after the marathon “Slippery When Wet” tour.

Jon really throws his voice out in this song and it nails the emotion perfectly. You feel the pain of the constant album/tour cycle that he was on since 1983 to 1990.

“Do you remember
Remember the odds we were given
When we had nothing
And we thought that was living”

Once Bon Jovi made it, the haters came out. When everything gets bigger, the hate is bigger. For a musician to make it in the music business, the odds are really stacked against them.

First and foremost, back in 1983, bands needed to get that record deal to get their music out. So, getting signed is one obstacle. Then once you get signed, it doesn’t mean the record label will give you the all clear to go in and record. They could reject all the demos. That is another obstacle. Once you make a record, it doesn’t mean that people will hear it. That all depends on marketing and word of mouth recommendations. That is another obstacle. Once people hear it, it doesn’t mean that they will like it as all art is subjective. That is another obstacle.

Bon Jovi by album number three overcame all of these obstacles and created a fan base that borrowed from all kinds of genres. When you think of cultural icons, Bon Jovi (the band) is one of them. You also need to remember that just because Bon Jovi had a record deal, it didn’t mean that he had money. When Richie and Jon started to write songs for Slippery When Wet, they were still living with their parents and owed their record label $500,000. Like the lyric states “When we had nothing and we thought that was living.”

“Here’s to our old friend
Who helped us get by
Here’s to the dreamers
May dreams never die
If we believe
We can keep the good times alive”

Let’s have a drink in celebration to all of the people that assisted and let’s have another drink to all the people that are trying to make it. In a way, “Don’t Stop Believin”. If YouTube is a sign of virality then this song has none. Like “The Hardest Part Is The Night” it is slowly being forgotten. For a lot of Bon Jovi fans, they haven’t even heard it.

THE RADIO SAVED MY LIFE TONIGHT

Another tune written for the “Keep The Faith” album that never made it. It is written by Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora.

It’s got that major key vibe and it connects with my youth as a regional city kid with dreams. Putting on the radio to listen to the latest in rock. To buy all the music that I like was expensive, so I always purchased blank cassettes and kept my finger ready on the record button to record the latest song.

The radio gave me and many others the freedom and the opportunity to enjoy the music that we liked. This was before advertisers and shareholders strangled it to death by creating playlists based on who pays the most.

“I tried to sleep but in my mind I heard that song
Like a friend in need, the melody keeps me hanging on”

I always went to sleep with music roaming in my headspace. Once a melody captures the imagination, it is forever engraved. This song is vintage Jovi. That is when music works best. When the artist reveals all their insecurities and lets us know that they may not be exactly just like us, but they’re just as screwed up. We are all flawed. The most famous rock and metal stars are messed up like all of us.

The days of the past are gone. The hopes and dreams of youth are also gone, however, the music from the past still lives on. It is our soundtrack.

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This Is Love, This Is Life – The Story Of The Greatest Hits Package

The story of the Bon Jovi “Greatest Hits” album goes back to 2007. At that time, Jon was very interested in developing the country rock sound that he experimented with on the unexpected hit single, “Who Says You Can’t Go Home,” which was featured on the 2005 album, “Have A Nice Day”. The label, Universal Music wasn’t interested in allowing Jon to follow his muse, and instead wanted a “Greatest Hits” package from the band.

Jon Bon Jovi rang Lucian Grainge, the CEO of Universal Music, asking for approval to go ahead with the recording of the country rock album that would go on to become “Lost Highway”. In the end, Grainge couldn’t stop Jon from going ahead with the album; however he believed that it would lose Universal a lot of money. He made Jon promise that once the album bombs, Jon will deliver a “Greatest Hits” album. Jon agreed to the terms. The album’s success surprised both Bon Jovi and Grainge, and the “Lost Highway” world tour ran from October 25, 2007 to July 15, 2008. It grossed in total $189,106,454.

After the “Lost Highway” tour, Jon and Richie got together and started writing five songs for the promised “Greatest Hits” package that was to come next. Then the global financial crisis happened, and according to Richie Sambora, he and Jon just continued writing more than the required amount of songs needed for the “Greatest Hits” package. Another argument was put forward to the label to release a new album, which in turn would postpone the “Greatest Hits” release again. From the songs written, most of them would end up on “The Circle” album, with five songs left over for the “Greatest Hits” package.

The “Greatest Hits” release in October 2010, occurred while the band was still touring on “The Circle” album cycle. The “Circle Tour” started on the February 11, 2010 and finished on December 19, 2010. It grossed $201,100,000 and each show was sold out. With the release of the “Greatest Hits” package, it gave the band further momentum to hit the road again in 2011.

“WHAT DO YOU GOT”

Everybody needs just one, someone… to tell them the truth

“What Do You Got,” written by Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora and Brett James, became the first single from the Greatest Hits package. Jon always liked to work with other songwriters. Brett James is a new addition to the Bon Jovi team, and “What Do You Got” is the end result. Brett’s specialty is country, as well as crossing over into the pop world,; similar to what Mutt Lange and Shania Twain achieved.

Jon told Billboard magazine that he actually favoured “No Apologies” to be the lead-off single and that “What Do You Got” was his least favourite.

The message is simple: “what do you have if you don’t have love, because if you don’t have love whatever you do have, just isn’t enough.” A lot of people go searching for something that was always right next to them and in the end they burn the ones they love the most.

“NO APOLOGIES”

Seems like everybody’s selling you dreams ’round here
But no one’s buying and its closing time

This is a song written by Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora and the message is simple:. “Do not apologise for who you are, it’s your life, live it the way you want to live it and not by another person’s design. Don’t back down from your beliefs.”

If the lyrical theme sounds familiar, it’s because the smash hit “It’s My Life” has the same message.

This is a song that should have been on The Circle as well. It was a leader. Houses went up for sale, and when no one was interested in buying them, the banks came in and foreclosed. The ownership dream was foreclosed on.

“THIS IS LOVE, THIS IS LIFE”

We ain’t got much but what we got is all that matters

It’s written by Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora and producer John Shanks. Producers are the unsung heroes in the music industry.

John Shanks, at first is a guitarist. He toured with Melissa Etheridge before he then started writing songs for other artist and eventually fell into Producing. He is experienced and seasoned. Shanks has been Bon Jovi’s producer since 2004. Another notable credit to Shanks’s name is the production credits for Van Halen’s, “A Different Kind Of Truth”, their comeback album with David Lee Roth.

To prove a point about the unsung hero status of producers, ask anyone, who produced, Bon Jovi’s – “Slippery When Wet”, Aerosmith’s – “Permanent Vacation” and AC/DC’s – “The Razors Edge”?

Ninety- nine percent of those people would not be able to tell you. The answer is Bruce Fairbairn. He resurrected Aerosmith’s career in the eighties, as well as AC/DC’s career in the nineties after falling album sales since “Back In Black”. In Bon Jovi’s timeline, Bruce launched the band to the masses. However, the songs remain, the band remains and the producer is long forgotten.

“This Is Love, This Is Life”, is not all that original. You can say that it is derivative, a variation of “Livin’ On A Prayer”; however it is that exact duplication that works for this song. “Livin’ On A Prayer” talks about sticking together, loving each other and if we hold true to those ideals, we will make it in the end.

Coming out of the Global Financial Crisis, this is the song Bon Jovi should have had on “The Circle”. This is the song that mattered. A lot of people didn’t have much left. Many people where picking up the pieces again and trying to rebuild their lives. Everybody was affected by the crisis,. All they had left was the realisation that this is it.

This is life. We rise, we fall and we rise again.

Back in the sixties, people turned to music for answers with the artists leading the way. Somehow all of that got lost in the changes that occurred in the music business. Artists went from leaders to followers. The “middle-finger-to-the-establishment/you-can’t–tell-me-what-to-do” artist, put on a three-piece suit and made friends with Wall Street. Music was relegated to a second-class citizen.

The world needed an artist to lead the way again.

This is what people wanted to hear post GFC. This is what they wanted their heroes in music to tell them: “It’s going to be alright. We will tough it out. We will keep the fight alive and we will rebuild what we started.”

Music needed to be a leader again. The song has the talk box throughout, like “Livin’ On A Prayer” and “It’s My Life.” The chords in the chorus are the same as the two aforementioned songs, just in a different key.

Bon Jovi had the song to lead the way, but they didn’t have the vision. They left the vision in the hands of the record label. The song appeared on their “Greatest Hits” compilation; however, it was on the two discs “Ultimate Edition”, buried away as the second last track on disc two. Anyone that purchased the single disc edition missed out on this song, unless they purchased the song via iTunes, as a single track.

“THE MORE THINGS CHANGE”

‘Stead of records, now it’s MP3s

This song is “Someday, I’ll Be Saturday Night”, part two. The vocal melodies and the chord progression in the verses are identical. It is written by Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora.

Jon has a history of recycling formulas that work. For example, “Livin’ On A Prayer” was rewritten and it became “It’s My Life,” which was rewritten again as “This Is Love, This Is Life.” The rock star to cowboy themed “Wanted Dead or Alive” was rewritten and it became “Blaze of Glory.”

The message in “The More Things Change” is simply. It doesn’t matter how much the world changes around us, people are still the same. We still listen to music. Instead of records, the radio, CD’s or cassettes, its MP3’s. We still wear our same tattered jeans from the past, and then when they rip, we pay top dollar to buy replicas. We download digitally, instead of going to the record store to purchase.

“THIS IS MY HOUSE”

This is our house
These are my people, listen, this is my town

This Is My House was only included as an iTunes bonus edition. It is written by Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora and Desmond Child.

In Australia, the song was used as the theme song for the National Rugby League in the 2011 season. Jon Bon Jovi, even appeared in the advertisements for the game.

It has been said that the song was intended as a theme song for the Philadelphia Soul, an American Football team where Bon Jovi is a co-owner (and Richie Sambora is a minor owner). It could also be about the Bon Jovi fans, and that the house, is the concert hall or stadium where the band is playing.

Regardless, the song is written for the people to sing. It’s basic, it’s catchy, it’s the battle cry in the rally.

THE MUSICAL LANDSCAPE

In an interview with Larry King that aired on December 9, 2010, Jon Bon Jovi was very open about his feelings towards the changing landscape of the music business and social media.

“My business is not what we knew. I do believe that the record industry will rediscover itself in time – not now, but in 10 or 15 years from now the kids that own those social media networks, I think that they’ll take those catalogues of music and monetize them. But not now. I don’t believe that the old guard are ready to give up those catalogues to those guys. And they’re still holding to an old, antiquated model.”

Bon Jovi drummer Tico Torres mentioned the same in a December 9, 2010 interview with Paul Cashmere that ran on Undercover.fm.

“We are still on a major label but we can see the writing on the wall. Part of the problem, is that the old model doesn’t work in the current world. It was a conglomerate machine that was invented many years ago which in essence owned and manipulated bands but also gave bands a chance to get some upfront money that was again recoupable. The companies always made a lot of money of it. It got to a point where the price of records were so dear for the buying public that as soon as the internet came in there was there was another avenue for people to listen to music”.

THE GREATEST HITS TOUR

Taking a break for the Christmas period and January, the band was back on the road again beginning February 9, 2011.

“The Bon Jovi Live” tour took in the United States, Canada and Europe, with the final last show played on July 31, 2011.

Jon has stated numerous times that he doesn’t like to tour for long periods of time. The tour was used to promote the new songs. Songs like “We Weren’t Born To Follow,” “When We Were Beautiful,” “ Work For The Working Man,” “No Apologies” and “What Do You Got” were talked up during the shows, selectively placed between all the hits.

All shows on the tour sold out, with 1.5 million people attending. It grossed $142,977,988.

WHO KILLED THE MUSIC INDUSTRY

The Greatest Hits tour wasn’t without incident. Apart from doing big business again at the box office, certain band members found themselves at the centre of a controversy.

First up, Jon Bon Jovi, blamed Steve Jobs for the fact that people don’t buy records any more.

According to Jon, “Kids today have missed the whole experience of putting the headphones on, turning it up to 10, holding the jacket, closing their eyes and getting lost in an album; and the beauty of taking your allowance money and making a decision based on the jacket, not knowing what the record sounded like, and looking at a couple of still pictures and imagining it…. God, it was a magical, magical time… I hate to sound like an old man now, but I am, and you mark my words, in a generation from now people are going to say: ‘What happened?’ Steve Jobs is personally responsible for killing the music business.”

It looks like Jon was taking a page out of the Lady Gaga book of marketing, by using the press and the internet, to bring attention to himself. This cuts out the marketing team and the dollars that go into marketing.

If the comments were meant to bring attention to the band and it’s tour, it sure did, as the tech heavy internet users, quickly took to forums and blogs to blast Jon’s comments on this issue.

A lot of people put forward the question, “What about people who bought the album based on the jacket and it turned out to be crap?”. From a fan perspective, this rings true. The album format was always designed for the money. It doesn’t fit the modern world, however it remains because the artists and labels believed it is the only way they can make money.

To stay in the public eye is the new challenge. An artist can be flavour of the day and then be gone the next day in the current paradigm.

Jon’s comments about the old album system, is his way to stay in the public eye. He doesn’t want to be forgotten. He wanted a reaction and a reaction is what he got. Of course by the next day, it was all done and dusted, however for one day, he was the flavour of the month.

While Jon might be better off releasing a song a week, trying out different ways to connect with his audience, the truth is that he longs for the old way. The labels don’t want the old way to change, as that is why they released an album for $20, forcing people to pay top dollar for one good song. When people had the option to purchase what they wanted, album sales began to fall and digital singles soared. The fans have spoken: they don’t have time to hear bad music, only great music.

HELLO REHAB, SO NICE TO SEE YOU MY FRIEND

Another incident, and an unexpected one, was Richie Sambora leaving the tour in April, to check into rehab. Richie had already spent a month in rehab back in 2007, following the break-up of his marriage, the end of his high profile fling with Denise Richards and the death of his father from lung cancer; all within the same month. The reason for the trip to rehab was Richie’s love of alcohol.

The interesting part in all of this, is that Jon Bon Jovi decided to continue with the tour and play the shows with another guitarist, Phil X. Phil’s real name is Theofilos Xenidis. He is from Canada and his relationship with Jon Bon Jovi goes back to 1991 and Aldo Nova’s, “Blood on the Bricks” album that Jon Bon Jovi produced and co-wrote for Jambco.

Actually Phil X, didn’t even play a note on the album, however he did tour behind it, and the tour involved guest appearances by Jon Bon Jovi.

In that same year, Phil played with Jon and Tico on an Elton John tribute album.

Moving on from that, Phil became the go-to guitarist for producer Scott Humphrey. Phil had a job, painting the garage of Scott’s, and when Tommy Lee needed a guitar player for the Methods of Mayhem project, Scott recommended Phil. Phil took the shot and never looked back. Instead of playing on one song, he played on the whole album.

His ability on the guitar far outstrip Richie’s, though one can make the case that – as a songwriter – Richie is irreplaceable. In the end, that is what matters.

Jon said that cancelling the shows was never an option; and that a lot of people that work on putting the show together would be out of work, and that fans who booked tickets, air fares and hotels to the shows, would also be disadvantaged.

This led to speculation about the morale as fans questioned how brotherly it all is in the Bon Jovi camp. Jon is renowned for using the “brother” tag a lot when it comes to describing the relationship between the members, though this is seemingly contradicted by calling himself the CEO of Bon Jovi. The last comment made by Jon on the departure of Richie’s departure is that the show will always go on, as he is not beholden to no one.

The shows went well without Richie. Some fans complained, however it was clear, Phil X did a fantastic job. Even an MCL strain suffered by Jon on his left knee in June couldn’t stop the juggernaut of the Bon Jovi show. After surgery, Jon finished the remainder of the tour with a knee brace.

Richie even re-joined the tour in June and by July, 31, 2011, the tour had ended. That same month, Spotify launched in the U.S.

SPOTIFY

The rise of music stream technologies was a game changer in 2011. Spotify launched in July 2011 in the U.S. Prior to the U.S. launch, Spotify was dominant in the European market, especially in Sweden where it was first launched.

For Spotify to do business in the U.S, it needed to get approvals from the Big 4 labels (Universal Music Group, Sony, Warner Music and EMI). The labels are not known for their innovation, and when it came to technologies, they did their best to kill off any technology that threatened their bottom lines. However, Daniel Ek, the Spotify mastermind, surrendered half of the company to the labels and by doing so; Spotify was approved by the Big 4 to do business in the U.S.

The arrival of Spotify in the U.S. market changed the recorded music business model again. It challenged the ownership of music ideals and by doing so it put forward the rental (streaming) of music argument.

The main point is this; if a fan buys a song from the iTunes store or a CD from the Amazon store, that is where the transaction begins and concludes for the band. It is the exchange model of handing money over to receive a good. The fan owns the product. They can listen to the songs over a thousand times and the band has only transacted once with the fan which was back at the money exchange.

However, if a fan, streams a song from a band, they can stream the same song again. Each time a song is streamed, the band gets paid. The transactions between fan and band never cease in a streaming model. The relationship between fan and music never ends.

The argument from labels and artists is that Spotify streams don’t amount to a lot. The main issue with that line of thinking is that the labels and artists are looking at the now. Everyone wants to be paid now, and they want to be paid a lot. Streaming is about longevity. Streaming is digging the hole for piracy. People will always pirate; that is a given.

However, if fans of music are faced with a better legal alternative, then they will take it. Spotify free has ad’s but it is free. If you don’t want the ad’s, you buy a premium package.

Bon Jovi (the band), needed to rethink their strategy. The band has always favoured the old model, of spending three to six months recording a new album, releasing that album, using sledgehammer mainstream marketing and touring for a year and a half on it. The point of the tour was to also push the new album, hoping that it would drive sales of it. They still measured their success on how many full albums were sold.

Towards the end of 2011 the band released their Bon Jovi app on iTunes and Android. It was a pretty basic application; however, it was their first step into new territory: Technology.

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The Stealing Argument Again & How Copyright Infringement Leads To Renewed Interest

Bon Jovi’s “Livin On A Prayer” has had a revival of sorts thanks to a viral clip doing the rounds from a Boston Celtics fan dancing to “Livin On A Prayer” during a stoppage in play. This happened in 2009 and the actual YouTube clip from back then has been blocked in Australia on copyright grounds by Universal Music. That clip was sitting at 3.6 million views before Universal killed it. Isn’t it typical of the labels to kill something that could make them money in the long run?

However a fresh upload of the dance routine to the Utrend.tv website on Oct. 17 has gone viral with over 11 million worldwide views.

In turn this viral interest in the dance routine has led to a renewed interest in Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On a Prayer.” But wait, copyright infringement is bad for the artist. Isn’t that the catch cry of the record labels, their lobby group and other misguided artists/organisations.

For example, there is the “Save the Music America” organisation (backed by Nashville Songwriters Association International and led by Mark Dreyer) that just doesn’t get it. They compare illegal downloading of a song with walking into a coffee shop and stealing a cup of coffee.

Remember the MPAA commercials from the early two thousands that equated copying movies the same as stealing a car. Seriously, are people still thinking like this in 2013.

For the hundredth time stealing means that Person A has taken a song that Mark Dreyer has written and Dreyer does not have that song anymore. It’s gone, stolen forever.

Copyright infringement means that Person A has taken a copy of a song that Mark Dreyer has written.

Stealing and copyright infringement are two very different things. Now if Dreyer is not getting paid for the success of his songs, then that is something that he needs to work out with the artist, publishing or label that is getting paid. Music piracy is a result of the record labels inability to innovate. Case closed. Of course, due to the one-sided contracts that artists and songwriters signed, they are the ones that are doing it tough.

Has Universal Music CEO Lucian Grange taken a pay cut recently? Of course not, as there is still a lot of money doing the rounds in music.

The whole clip of the dance routine infringes on the copyright that Universal Music holds on “Livin On The Prayer”. However is that such a bad thing.

According to Nielsen data, “Livin’ On a Prayer” has accumulated 5.1 million streams in the U.S. last week. That is an increase of 390%. But wait, streaming is bad for the artist.

The song also had up to 4,000 paid digital downloads.

But wait, piracy still exists. The song is available on all the pirate sites for free, however people still decided to pay for a legitimate version of the song. People still went and streamed a legitimate version of the song. People went on YouTube and watched the clip of the song on the various channels that host it. People still went and downloaded the song illegally. Basically, people will do what they want to do.

Even Tim Millar the guitarist from Protest the Hero is a recorded music pirate. This is what he had to say in a recent interview on the topic;
“I can’t say don’t download music. I think people should get to hear music before they buy it. Even if they just download it and come out to a show, that’s going to help the band more than it hurts them… What we were worried about was the Indiegogo campaign. We didn’t want the record to leak and then the [Indiegogo supporters] have to wait two weeks to get their copy. So as soon as the record leaked, we sent everyone a digital download code that night.”

Millar gets it. Doc Coyle gets it. Piracy is not that bad. There is an opinion piece called “GOD FORBID’S DOC COYLE: THE TIMES, THEY ARE A CHANGIN’”,

“…people that seem to hate this change are, obviously, the people who sell records, such musicians, record label people, managers, etc. Also, notice that the people most bothered are ones to tend to make the most money from music. No one ever cares about giving their demo away for free when they are unknown, but when you start make a living from music solely and record sales suddenly have an impact on your lifestyle and well-being, that stance changes. This is not a knock on those individuals — just the way it is.

At this point, you may be thinking, “Wait, isn’t Doc a musician? Shouldn’t he be pissed off that people download God Forbid records for free?”

I am not pissed off by illegal downloaders, even though I probably should be. If illegal downloading didn’t begin crushing the music industry in the early 2000’s, I would probably have made a much more lucrative living from making music. It’s affected all of us: Me, huge artists, basement bands, and even every other facets of the industry that used to see the rewards of more funding via the sales of actual physical albums, from photographers that did press shots, to the guy that directs your music video, to all of the writers for rock and metal magazines. The contraction of this industry has been devastating to the economy of music.

The only problem is, you can’t stop these changes from happening. Getting mad about it, or even worse, making someone feel bad for doing it, doesn’t really make a profound impact. Do I want people to buy my albums? Hell yeah! But I can’t stop those who download it, and the thing is, those people still may support the band in other ways, such as coming to a show or buying a t-shirt. The truth is, I buy some albums, but I also I do download some from torrents sites. The real question is, how does that affect me morally? Is it stealing in the traditional sense of the word?”

The internet changed the way people saw the world. Throughout history, industries and trades become obsolete or they evolve. I guarantee you that any musician that has tried to make it has pirated music. From taping music on cassettes to downloading mp3’s for their mp3 player. Show me one musician that says that they never pirated or infringed and I will show you a liar.

Basically the record labels, the RIAA, the book publishers and the movie studios seemed to think that people wanted the physical products to own and keep, however what the people wanted was the content. Streaming is on the scene, however it is 14 years too late. It should have been there from day one, before Napster. Now it needs to play catch up.

Going back to Protest The Hero and the interview with Tim Millar.

“I think if you (fans) can find avenues where you’re paying for music directly and you know where the money is going, you should do that. I know Bandcamp takes 10 percent, so you know that 90 percent of that money is going to the band. I’ve never bought anything on iTunes because I know artists aren’t making most of that money… But if it’s a matter of you spending $10 on the album or not hearing it at all, I’d rather you get to hear it, then come to the show and buy a T-shirt.”

The last line is the cold hard truth. As an artist, you want fans to hear your music and then to come to a show and buy some merchandise.

If that means a fan buys the album, then buys a concert ticket and then buys a T Shirt. Great.
If that means a fan streams the album, then buys a concert ticket and then buys a T Shirt. Great.
If that means a fan downloads the album for free, then buys a concert ticket and then buys a T shirt. Great as well.
If that means a fan hears the album for free and doesn’t buy a concert ticket or a T shirt, then that has to be great as well. Maybe they will commit on the next one. There are just so many variables out there, however the main variable that artists should be focusing on is getting the music heard.

In relation to the songwriters (the ones who write songs for other artists), then they should organise/negotiate a better payment deal for their contribution to the song and move on. Music was never designed to be a pension fund. But hey, people hate change and songwriters are still clueless.

Living On A Prayer renewed interest article; http://m.billboard.com/entry/view/id/73336

Misguided Artist article; http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2013/11/18/save-the-music-america-fights-digital-theft/3625845/

Protest The Hero interview: http://music.cbc.ca/blogs/2013/11/Protest-the-Hero-on-new-drummers-and-piracy

Doc Coyle Opinion Piece; http://www.metalsucks.net/2011/10/05/god-forbids-doc-coyle-the-times-they-are-a-changin/

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