Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories

The Best Metal and Rock Top 10 for 2013

Well the year is almost over and it is time to look back at the albums that connected and hit the mark for 2013. Anyone who has been a constant visitor to this blog will notice that I have spoken about these albums in previous posts in more detail.

1. Protest The Hero – Volition

Disclaimer; I was one of those fans that contributed to this album, so the competition for the best album of 2013 wasn’t even close. Protest The Hero wins hands down. They delivered an album for the fans. It has everything that a condensed progressive technical metal album should have. Plus it has Chris Adler on drums. In 2011, “Scurrilous” was number seven on my list.

If you want the detailed breakdown, here it is;

This album also shows how the mainstream media is out of touch. Despite all the hype around Metallica, Avenged Sevenfold, Dream Theater, Korn and Black Sabbath, the biggest release of the year belongs to Protest The Hero.

And deservedly so.

They connected with their audience via Indiegogo. They have cut through all the internet noise without the need of major label. In the age of information overload, Protest The Hero relied on their audience and their music to get their message through.

2. Avenged Sevenfold – Hail To The King

Call this album what you will, however no one can take away the fact that it is a damn good listen. Having those nods to the past and building on those influences is what music is all about. In twenty years time, this album will be revered and copied, because that is how music is made.

3. Five Finger Death Punch – The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell Vol 1

Part 1 is a killer classic metal album with arena melodic rock chorus. Watch You Bleed, Lift Me Up, The Wrong Side Of Heaven, Anywhere But Here are all rock sing a longs.

4. Killswitch Engage – Disarm The Descent

Jesse Leach is back and man can he write a catchy chorus. Each song goes through so many vocal emotions, it’s one heck of a roller coaster. The Times Of Grace project brought Jesse back into the metal world. “The Hymn Of A Broken Man” was one great album and it was in my top 10 list for that year.

In 2009, I also had the self titled Killswitch Engage album at number five in my top 10 list.

5. TesserAcT – Altered State

This band is really branching out from the Djent constraints by embracing atmospheric style song writing. The math metal is still there and the vocals bring it all home. I have always said, TesseracT will be seen as the new Pink Floyd by a whole new generation. In 2011, TesseracT came in ninth position with the album “One”. I was pleasently surprised to see this one pop in Robb Flynn’s top 10 list.

6. Trivium – Vengeance Falls

Trivium have always had the balls to make decisions. Working with Dave Draiman is one of them. Seriously i cant see an issue with how the vocal melodies are phrased or delivered by Heafy. I really like this album. The music is top-notch and the songs are of high quality. In 2011, Trivium came in tenth position with the album “In Waves”.

7. Coheed and Cambria – The Afterman – Descension

Another band that is employing data to connect with fans. They have been on the road since January and released two slabs of music within 3 months. This album doesn’t have Domino The Destitute, but it has Sentry The Defiant plus others.

8. Five Finger Death Punch – The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell Vol 2

A Day In My Life. Man that chorus just hooks me in. Put to the side the cliché rhyming from Moody and just focus on the musical melodies and you will be hooked as well. It’s been played on repeat on my iPhone on my way to work and on my way home.

“American Capitalist” was fifth in my 2011 list and “War Is The Answer” was 2nd in 2009, just behind “Black Clouds and Silver Linings” from Dream Theater.

9. Volbeat – Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies

I was a fan of this band before they broke through in the U.S. It was the “Rock The Rebel/Metal The Devil” album from 2007 that made me a fan. I was really looking forward to this release and the band didn’t disappoint. It has all of their trademarks with a dash of country and hillbilly thrown into the mix.

10. Alter Bridge – Fortress

Mark Tremonti is one hell of a guitar player and most importantly a hell of a songwriter. Teaming up with Myles Kennedy has been a godsend. Alter Bridge get better with each album and they rarely fail to disappoint.

Notable Mentions

Audrey Horne – Youngblood

If you don’t know this band, you should. I swear every genre of music and time period associated with music is heard on this album. Give this band the attention they deserve. Their whole catalogue is on Spotify so there is no excuse to not check them out. Any band that is from Norway and with a black metal post deserves to be heard in a hard rock context.

Mutiny Within – Synchronicity

The only thing holding this band back is what their definition of success is and Chris Clancy. He is so hung up on fighting for the old system and how it used to be, he is failing to see opportunities in front of him.

Hearts And Hands – My Own Machine

A great pop metal or pop rock album. Hearts and Hands started off as a side project for Chelsea Grin vocalist Alex Koehler. However since he departed after their 2012 self titled EP, the band has undergone a significant transformation and their sound has shifted away from breakdowns and screams to effected guitars, acoustics and great songs.

Love and Death – Between Here and The Lost

A hundred times better than the new Korn album. They even sound like Korn on some of the songs. Brian Head Welch is a star and this album proves it.

Sound Of Contact – Dimensionaut

Progressive Rock and a voice that sounds very similar to Phil Collins. Plus any album that has a concept attached to it, always gets my attention. Its plot follows an alienated, unnamed human who is tired of humanity and embraces his fate as a traveler of dimensions, time and galaxies. Throughout the story, the dimensionaut constructs his escape from reality, realizing new experiences and encountering love in the process.

Faith Circus – Turn Up The Band

If this band had the same attention as Avenged Sevenfold, critics would come out and comment how each song sounds like a rip off from every successful glam rock and blues rock album made in the Eighties. Music is derivative and Faith Circus deliver. It is a great listen from start to finish. Another band from Norway that deserves your attention.

Final Notable Mentions

Due to my kids overdosing on the music I placed on their iPods certain classic rock albums have come back into my life.

Twisted Sister – You Cant Stop Rock N Roll
Twisted Sister – Stay Hungry
Kiss – Lick It Up
Kiss – Asylum
Kiss – Destroyer
Deep Purple – Machine Head
Bon Jovi – Slippery When Wet
Survivor – Eye Of The Tiger
Europe – The Final Countdown

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

A Day In The Life – Leaks and Sales with Dream Theater, Avenged Sevenfold, Coheed and Cambria, Five Finger Death Punch, Black Sabbath, Trivium, Stryper and Protest The Hero

In the lead up to the release of any widely sought after album there is one certainty. The album will leak ahead of its official release date.

So in order to circumvent this problem, artists (in conjunction with their backers/labels) are organising early stream deals of their new music (a legal way to say “album leak”).

Dream Theater and Roadrunner went all nuclear with their corporate deals for their self-titled album, which had sales on the board for the first 5 weeks and for the last 2 weeks – nothing. Since Roadrunner was cashed up due to the departure of Machine Head and Megadeth, they placed those extra dollars into Dream Theater. Was it a good investment?

Five Finger Death Punch on the other hand are doing it a touch different. They are doing all their pre-release streams, in conjunction with YouTube track by track stories of each song, along with promotional video clips plus live performances.

Avenged Sevenfold added a full live show of the “Hail To The King” album to their pre-album stream promotional campaign.

Trivium’s new album leaked a whole week before the actual pre-release stream of the album (and a full two weeks before their album came out). They kept on dropping songs in their set list’s and they also released full version streams of certain songs.

There is no sure-fire way to prevent leaks, however how an artist reacts is important.

The new Protest The Hero album leaked on Torrent Sites a week before it’s actual release date. So what did Protest The Hero do? They set up a fan connection, that allowed the fans that contributed to the making of the album to download it from a secure site. They made sure that the real fans had music in a high quality rip, along with a 50 page plus digital PDF and artwork. Then when they realised that ending of the song “Mist” was cut short in the download that they offered, they rectified it, by offering the song as a stand alone download.

Anyone who tries to stop a record from leaking is going against the way of the world.

The focus for the artist is to give the fans that legally pre-order an album access to it as soon as they are aware of the leak. This is hard when artists put all of this into the hands of the record label and the record label puts it all in the hands of brick and mortar stores, iTunes or Amazon.

Artists like Coheed and Cambria (via their http://modlife.com/coheedandcambria) website have a huge advantage over bands that continue to be ignorant as to who their fans are and in what cities their fans reside.

Protest The Hero now has a list of 8000 plus devotees that they can use to further their cause. They have their addresses, so they have an idea as to what cities and markets to hit. Other successful fan funded campaigners also have this advantage. You see the most important currency in 2013 is data.

As a band you would want to know which fans always order the Super Deluxe packs, which fans download your music, which fans stream your music and which fans purchase CD versions of the album. This is where the bands should be pushing the fans to purchase from their own web stores.

So looking at sales of music today how relevant are they. So many different metrics exist. Streaming, YouTube views, mp3 downloads and physical sales

Let’s look at the sales in the U.S of Dream Theater (by the way all sales figures are quoted from the excellent http://www.metalinsider.net website.

Week 1 – 2nd October 2013 – 33,950 sold
Week 2 – 9th October 2013 – 8,300 sold
Week 3 – 16th October 2013 – 4,275 sold
Week 4 – 23rd October 2013 – 2,950 sold
Week 5 – 30th October 2013 – 2,350 sold
Week 6 – 6th November 2013 – nothing reported
Week 7 – 13th November 2013 – nothing reported
Week 8 – 21st November 2013 – nothing reported

The above is a familiar cycle for Dream Theater with each album cycle. The numbers you could say have been pretty close with each album release since “Systematic Chaos.”

So is the new album a dud. From a record label point of view, I believe so. Roadrunner invested heavily in Dream Theater after they lost Machine Head and Megadeth. Has it paid off for them? I don’t believe so.

From a fan perspective, I don’t mind it, however it wasn’t good enough to take up room on my iPhone. The bizarre part in all of this is the gap between the album release and the tour beginning.

By January 2014, the album is old news. Whoever thought it was a good idea to leave a three-month gap between the album release date and the tour start date should be fired immediately.

Three months in the current music business is an eternity. It looks like Dream Theater is getting some bad advice and to be honest they are shooting themselves in the foot.

Dream Theater need to hit the studio again for December 2013 and release a few more songs as free digital downloads. Maybe even get in some outside assistance in editing the musical pieces into actual songs.

What about Avenged Sevenfold? How are they tracking at the moment?

Week 1 – 4th September 2013 – 159,375 sold
Week 2 – 12th September 2013 – 42,000 sold
Week 3 – 18th September 2013 – 22,900 sold
Week 4 – 25th September 2013 – 17,800 sold
Week 5 – 2nd October 2013 – 15,200 sold
Week 6 – 9th October 2013 – 13,700 sold
Week 7 – 16th October 2013 – 13,700 sold
Week 8 – 23rd October 2013 – 9,634 sold
Week 9 – 30th October 2013 – 8,750 sold
Week 10 – 6th November 2013 – 7,600 sold
Week 11 – 13th November 2013 – 7,325 sold
Week 12 – 21st November 2013 – 6,900 sold

Looks like Avenged Sevenfold are going to ensure their legacy. Call this album what we will, what is clear is that it is successful. It has high stream counts, high YouTube views and decent sales on the board. They are on the road at the moment supporting it.

Shows are being added into next year. It is obvious that Avenged Sevenfold are getting better advice than Dream Theater is.

With every successful act, the haters come out. A lot of the online news sites are trying to portray this imaginary war between Robb Flynn and Avenged Sevenfold. It is all a load of crap. Online news sites are there to sell advertising. They sell advertising by getting people to bite to the stories. To make up a feud between two different bands is an advertisers dreams.

The Avenged Sevenfold album sold more in week one than Dream Theater’s self-titled album will sell in total. In week 6, the Avenged Sevenfold album sold more than Dream Theater’s self-titled album which was in week 2 of its sale cycle.

What about Five Finger Death Punch? They just released the second part of “The Wrong Side Of Heaven and The Righteous Side Of Hell.” So how is Volume 1 going at the moment.

Week 1 – 7th August 2013 – 112,500 sold
Week 2 – 14th August 2013 – 35,275 sold
Week 3 – 21st August 2013 – 22,050 sold
Week 4 – 28th August 2013 – 17,250 sold
Week 5 – 4th September 2013 – 22,450 sold
Week 6 – 11th September 2013 – 13,375 sold
Week 7 – 18th September 2013 – 9,250 sold
Week 8 – 25th September 2013 – 8,200 sold
Week 9 – 2nd October 2013 – 6,975 sold
Week 10 – 9th October 2013 – 6,625 sold
Week 11 – 16th October 2013 – 5,900 sold
Week 12 – 23rd October 2013 – 5,575 sold
Week 13 – 30th October 2013 – 5,200 sold
Week 14 – 6th November 2013 – 4,675 sold
Week 15 – 13th November 2013 – 4,200 sold
Week 16 – 21st November 2013 – 4,950 sold

What can you say about Five Finger Death Punch. All of their releases so far have achieved Gold status in the U.S. They basically have been selling albums since 2007. “American Capitalist” was certified GOLD almost two years after its release and just a few months before the release of “The Wrong Side of Heaven” duology.

The albums have some great songs on there that will make the casual metal fan commit to a purchase and they will be in an enviable position of having two albums selling at the same time.

A recent Revolver cover is showing Black Sabbath along with the comment, “Band Of The Year.” Are they serious? The beauty of mainstream rags. They kiss the butt of the PR company. Five Finger Death Punch is the band of the year. Avenged Sevenfold is the band of the year. Coheed and Cambria is the band of the year. These three bands have done way more than what Black Sabbath have achieved this year. So how did they go with the sales?

Week 1 – 19th June 2013 – 154,900 sold
Week 2 – 26th June 2013 – 45,525 sold
Week 3 – 3rd July 2013 – 25,300 sold
Week 4 – 8th July 2013 – 7,875 sold
Week 5 – 17th July 2013 – 11,950 sold
Week 6 – 24th July 2013 – 9,950 sold
Week 7 – 31st July 2013 – 8,500 sold
Week 8 – 7th August 2013 – 7,875 sold
Week 9 – 14th August 2013 – 6,550 sold
Week 10 – 21st August 2013 – 5,500 sold
Week 11 – 28th August 2013 – 4,675 sold
Week 12 – 4th September 2013 – 4,600 sold
Week 13 – 11th September 2013 – 4,100 sold
Week 14 – 18th September 2013 – 3,100 sold
Week 15 – 25th September 2013 – 2,400 sold
Week 16 – 2nd October 2013 – 2,025 sold
Week 17 – 9th October 2013 – 2,100 sold
Week 18 – 16th October 2013 – 1,900 sold
Week 19 – 23 October 2013 – no sales recorded
Week 20 – 30th October 2013 – 1,900 sold
Week 21 – 6th November 2013 – no sales recorded
Week 22 – 13th November 2013 – no sales recorded
Week 23 – 21st November 2013 – no sales recorded

A 20 week run of sales is a good thing in today’s terms. Even on Spotify, the following songs have gotten some traction;
End Of The Beginning – 959,385 streams
God Is Dead? – 1,252,767 streams
Loner – 669,762 streams
Zeitgeist – 590,057 streams
Age of Reason – 540,630 streams

What about Trivium? How is another Roadrunner act doing? This is album number six for Trivium and it’s a similar cycle to their previous album “In Waves” and a very similar trend to Dream Theater’s.

Week 1 – 23rd October 2013 – 17,225 sold
Week 2 – 30th October 2013 – 4,400 sold
Week 3 – 6th November 2013 – 2,575 sold
Week 4 – 13th November 2013 – 2,100 sold
Week 5 – 21st November 2013 – no sales recorded

Wow, that was a quick spiral out of the public consciousness. Reading the reviews of the album, a lot of people are blasting the Draiman influence on it. But hey people blasted the Bob Rock influence on certain bands as well. The bottom line is that Trivium delivered a great album that no one has really heard.

Protest the Hero was recorded as having a debut week ending 6th November of 8,775 sold and it was the guys best debut of all their albums. Amazing what a little fan funding does. If the guys hold it together, bigger things will come to fruition.

What about Stryper? 2013 has been a huge year for them, with the release of their re-recorded greatest hits album earlier on in the year, along with a new album in November.

Week 1 – 13th November 2013 – 9,575 sold
Week 2 – 21st November 2013 – 4,300 sold

Listening to the album, Dave Mustaine was right. Sympathy is the best track on the album.

It’s a tough music market and the aim of each artist is to remain in the public eye. The modern paradigm is here today and gone tomorrow. Robb Flynn gets this. That is why his weekly Journals are important. It is keeping Machine Head in the public eye while they write and record their new album.

Sales are still relevant, however they are not the only metric in which an artist should measure success.

From all of the above, Five Finger Death Punch are doing great numbers however after listening to both Volumes, I easily could have come up with a song list for one album. The remainder of the songs could have been offered as free downloads on a monthly basis, which would always bring attention to the main product, the album. Think about that, they recorded 26 songs for the album. Just say they released 12 songs on an album. The leaves 14 months worth of songs to release and bring further attention to the album and the tour.

“A Day In The Life” is a great song from Volume 2 by the way. It’s melodic, heavy and it has a great vibe happening.

But wait, piracy exists. All of the above music can be downloaded for free. So why are people paying for it. They can even stream it for free. However for some reason people are paying for it. That is what the record labels and the RIAA will never understand. People will do what they want to do.

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

One Thing Cannot Be Disputed; Those Artists Who “Steal, Copy, Imitate” Are The Most Successful

So you are one of those artists that has a song or a few songs in the list of 4 million that haven’t been streamed yet on Spotify.

Then you hear a song that sounds very similar to your song.

Do you scream “theft” and lawyer up, preparing for a court case that you don’t have the funds for?
Do you just shrug your shoulders and move on?
Do you send the artist an email and ask him to acknowledge you as a songwriter to their song?
Do you use the fame of the current song to bring attention to your song?

I am sure in 90% of the cases, everyone will do the first part. Everyone will scream theft and then they will start a long and expensive court process. If the publisher controls the copyright, then this will happen 100% of the time.

Since the Copyright industries have grown into Corporate monoliths, it is suddenly uncool for an artist to use previous works as influences for further works. Even the audience of certain bands weigh in on the argument, calling certain bands rip offs and so forth.

However, one thing cannot be disputed, those artists who “steal” are the most successful. Those who “imitate” are the most successful. Those who “copy” are the most successful.

Led Zeppelin built a career on copying blues and folk standards.

Metallica built their career by copying their NWOBM influences and many others.

Oasis built a career on copying from “The Beatles”.

The Beatles built a career on copying from blues and rock standards.

Coldplay has built a career on the “progress is derivative” model.

Bon Jovi has built a career on re-writing their hits. Seriously, if you look at their catalogue, “Living On A Prayer” has been rewritten for every album that came after “Slippery When Wet.” New Jersey had “Born To Be My Baby”. Keep The Faith had the title track. Crush had “It’s My Life”.

In the rock and metal worlds let’s look at the songs burning up the rock charts.

Five Finger Death Punch – “Lift Me Up” has a vocal melody in the verses similar to “The Ultimate Sin” from Ozzy Osbourne. A lot of people call it theft, I call it influence. Imitation is a form of flattery. The song is getting the plays. People are paying attention and that is what artists want.

It is not about sales anymore, it is about listening. Are people listening to your music?

Avenged Sevenfold – the whole “Hail To The King” album copies from other artists who of course copied from other artists for their own music. Again, a lot of people call it theft, I call it influence. Imitation is a form of flattery.

Megadeth paid homage to Black Sabbath’s, “Children of the Grave” in their new song “Kingmaker”.

Alter Bridge also paid homage to Black Sabbath’s “Children Of The Grave” and Ozzy Osbourne’s “Revelation Mother Earth” in the solo section of their song “Fortress”.

Continuing on with Alter Bridge, the song “The Uninvited” has a strong resemblance to Tool’s “Schism”. Do these odes to their influences make them unoriginal? No chance. The “Fortress” album is a great showpiece in technical riffage and great melodies.

Airbourne is making a career referencing AC/DC.

Motley Crue borrowed from Mountain’s “Mississippi Queen” and Stevie Wright’s “Eve” for their song “Sex”.

Black Sabbath copied from their own past to create ’13’. “The End Of The Beginning” is basically the song “Black Sabbath” re-written again in 2012

Call it the Rick Rubin effect. He even convinced Metallica to rewrite their earlier albums for 2008’s “Death Magnetic.”

Dream Theater even borrowed from the Rick Rubin effect. They got some flack on “A Dramatic Turn Of Events”, as the songs followed a similar structure to songs from “Images and Words”. Dream Theater did do a great job at masking it, as the songs do come across as independent “stand on their own” compositions, however the hard core fans will pick up the references to their earlier material.

The next time a person is creating their little masterpiece and it sounds like something that is known before, don’t abandon it. Chances are it will connect with millions.

It is a shame that we have a generation of people that have grown up with a belief that music is created in a vacuum and they decide that legal threats is the best way forward. When Balance Sheets are affected, these industries will do anything to hold on or maintain their profits.

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What Do The Charts Tell The Metal and Rock Community?

What do the current Billboard charts tell us. On the Rock and Metal chart we had the following list for last week;

1. Korn – Paradigm Shift (1 Week on The Chart)
2. Alter Bridge – Fortress (1 Week On The Chart)
3. Cage The Elephant – Melophobia (1 Week On The Chart)
4. Stone Temple Pilots with Chester Bennington – High Rise (EP) (1 Week On The Chart)
5. Avenged Sevenfold – Hail To The King (7 Weeks On The Chart)
6. Dance Gavin Dance – Acceptance Speech (1 Week On The Chart)
7. Metallica – Through The Never (Soundtrack) (3 Weeks On The Chart)
8. Five Finger Death Punch – The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell: Volume 1 (11 Weeks On The Chart)
9. Dream Theater – Dream Theater (3 Weeks On The Chart)
10. Rush – Vapor Trails: Remixed (2 Weeks On The Chart)
11. Asking Alexandria – From Death To Destiny (10 Weeks On The Chart)
12. Skillet – Rise (16 Weeks On The Chart)
13. Volbeat – Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies (27 Weeks On The Chart)
14. Black Sabbath – 13 (18 Weeks On The Chart)
15. Bring Me The Horizon – Sempiternal (27 Weeks On The Chart)

Special mention:

Imagine Dragons – Night Visions (58 Weeks On The Chart)

So the above charts show me a few things:

1. That the fans love new music. There are 5 albums that have their first week on the charts.

2. After a week, if that new music is not great, we move on very quickly. Dream Theater is suffering this fate.

3. If that new music is great, we spread the word and the album hangs around in the “charts”.  Avenged Sevenfold, Five Finger Death Punch, Skillet and Volbeat are a few bands that are hanging around.

4. If you create a group of songs that connect, expect to be hanging around for a long time. Imagine Dragons is one such band.

5. Artists need to adapt their business practices. Instead of spending months on an album, just to see it fade away within 6 weeks, they should be releasing more frequently. It doesn’t have to be original songs all the time. It could be acoustic versions, cover versions, unique live versions, blog posts and so on.

6. Here today, gone tomorrow is the modern paradigm. Artist need to adapt, so that they are here today, everyday.

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A to Z of Making It, Derivative Works, Music, My Stories, Piracy

2013 Metal and Rock Releases. Are they Derivative, Evolutionary, Original or Clones?

Artists need to think about their music as a product. In the end we (the fans) are all suckers for good products. Give us a good product and we will reciprocate.

So I am listening to the new Protest The Hero album, “Volition”. What a product it is! For the record, I was one of those fans that contributed to the Indiegogo campaign so you can say that my views are biased.

And what about this for a piece of PR? As soon as they were made aware of a few leaks hitting the internet in bad quality, Protest The Hero hastily arranged a download site for their Indiegogo contributors, sent an email to everyone about it with instructions on how to get their unique download pin and away we went, downloading the album.

The best way to fight piracy is to communicate with your fan base. They are your only concern. In relation to people downloading the album some will come to a show and some will download it and hate it.

So what was my immediate thought on the new album?

Original and evolutionary. This is Protest The Hero continuing on from what they have created in the past by adding a few more bells and whistles. The decision to go the fan funded route was just the beginning. During the recording process they lost a drummer and got an even better drummer in Chris Adler. They then got some friends to build some IT support to store all the data of the fans that contributed via Indiegogo.

So to sum up, Protest The Hero were able to record, mix, master and produce an album without having any record label support and without the need of a record label advance that they would have had to pay back AND they are still able to use the record labels to distribute the standard release worldwide.

Going back to the drumming, what a brilliant job from Chris Adler? It’s inspiring in the sense of “I Want To Break Stuff” inspiring. It just feels very metal like.

While Dream Theater and Korn get a lot of ink in the press, it is bands like Protest The Hero, Machine Head and Digital Summer that are stealing the thunder by reaching out to their fans, connecting and doing it the new way. They are cutting out everyone that gets in the way of them and their fans. It is a band to fan connection. It is a fan to band connection.

On a side note, when I listen to new music from bands, I normally place the music in the following categories;

1. Progress is derivative (to others this is the stolen or copied bucket).

2. Evolutionary (this is bands building on their past a little bit each time. It is the iterative approach)

3. Original (this is something that is so divergent or out there that it hasn’t been done before)

4. Maintenance (this is where the band delivers the same album over and over again)

So looking at my top 20 list of music so far from 2013, in which categories do they fall in.

Progress Is Derivative
Avenged Sevenfold with the “Hail To The King” album.

“Lift Me Up” from Five Finger Death Punch and “Kingmaker” from Megadeth also fit into this category.

Evolutionary

This list has quite a few releases in it.

Protest The Hero leads the way with “Volition”. It builds on all of their previous efforts.

“Vengeance Falls” from Trivium is also an evolutionary album, building on the shorter song structure from “In Waves” with better melodies and technical precise riffage.

The concept album from Black Veil Brides falls into the evolutionary bucket for me. While the overall musical themes of the album are still rooted in the previous releases, there was enough growth to show a band evolving.

Mutiny Within hit the evolutionary path with the release of “Synchronicity” which shows the band moving further away from the metalcore stigma that Roadrunner put on them.

30 Seconds To Mars went all world music on “Love Lust Faith Dreams” which is again an evolution of “This Is War.” My wife loves this album.

Audrey Horne released “Youngblood” which is a further evolution from their previous album, moving more into a blues rock/metal vibe.

The next two albums are debut albums and the reason why I saw them as evolutionary is that the evolve from the sounds of Korn and Genesis/Pink Floyd.

Brian Welch’s solo project, Love and Death released the excellent “Between Here and The Lost” which is an evolution of what Korn was doing prior to Head’s departure. If i had to pick between Korn’s new one and Love and Death, my vote goes to Love and Death.

Sound Of Contact released a sci-fi concept album with “Dimensionaut” that captures the eerie spirit of sci-fi soundtracks merged with Pink Floyd/Genesis and Marillion prog.

Original

I see Volbeat as an original band.

With “Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies” they merge country with their metal/rockabilly style. This album could have fitted in the evolutionary bucket as well, however in my opinion there is another of a blend of different music styles to class it as another original release.

I just finished reading a post on the Classic Rock Magazine website with Michael Poulsen, the lead singer from Volbeat. In that interview, he states that artists cant make any more money from record sales and that selling records doesn’t put food on the table anymore.

This is strange coming from a band that shifted 300,000 units in the U.S with their previous album. So if you do the math 300,000 at $10 a CD comes to $3MIL gross earnings on the CD. The current album is sitting at about 130,000 units in the U.S so far. So if Volbeat are not getting any money from the sales of recorded music, they should be speaking to their label about re-negotiating their deal.

TesseracT’s “Altered State” to me is a great piece of work. It isn’t just a bunch of songs put together and called an album. This is an album that needs to be listened from start to finish, with high quality headphones. There is so much happening that each listen is a new experience. It’s original to me.

Maintenance

All of these releases are good releases showcasing what the band does best. In a lot of cases, bands produce their greatest album by doing this and in some cases bands produce a few forgettable albums as well.

Coheed and Cambria – “The Afterman –  Descension”

Dream Theater – “Dream Theater”

Bullet For My Valentine – “Temper Temper”

Stone Sour – “House Of Gold And Bones Part 2”

Alter Bridge – “Fortress”

Killswitch Engage – “Disarm The Descent”

Five Finger Death Punch – “The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell Vol 1”

Pretty Maids – “Motherland”

Buckcherry – “Confessions”

An artist and their music can move up or down in these categories throughout their careers.

The lessons here are that bands don’t have to be ground breaking original to be successful. They just need a well thought out approach that is executed well.

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Music, My Stories

Which Band has hidden their Spotify Stream Count?

So I am on Spotify right now and I am curious to see how many streams “Dream Theater” had after 1 week of their album release.  So I bring up the “Dream Theater” Spotify account and I see a Top 10 list.

1 – The Looking Glass
2 – The Enemy Inside
3 – False Awakening Suite
4 – Enigma Machine
5 – The Bigger Picture
6 – Behind The Veil
7 – Illumination Theory
8 – Surrender To Reason
9 – Along For A Ride
10 – On The Backs Of Angels with a 1,120,058 count.

That’s it. The new album streams are not even on the account. I have my suspicions as to why.

Maybe progressive rock fans don’t want to use Spotify so the numbers are too low, and it doesn’t look cool to show them. However back on the 19 Sept 2013, the Dream Theater Spotify Top 10 was made up of the following songs;

1. Wither – 1,838,066 streams
2. A Nightmare To Remember – 1,185,005 streams
3. On The Backs Of Angels – 1,102,232 streams
4. Pull Me Under – 1,060,769 streams
5. The Count Of Tuscany – 909,535 streams
6. Build Me Up, Break Me Down – 713,216 streams
7. Lost Not Forgotten – 518,814 streams
8. This Is The Life – 515,134 streams
9. Bridges In The Sky – 406,309 streams
10. Breaking All Illusion – 404,721 streams

Despite all the marketing, the album just hasn’t penetrated deeply.

Anyway, it is a far cry compared to Avenged Sevenfold’s Spotify streams after the album was out. Back on September 12, 2013, Avenged Sevenfold had the following numbers from the new album songs;

1. Hail TO The King – 1,884,995 with YouTube views of 3,904,022
2. Shepherd Of Fire – 495,889
3. This Means War – 394,868
4. Doin Time – 372,238
5. Requiem – 333,633
6. Crimson Day – 310,412
7. Coming Home – 288,366
8. Heretic – 277,498

Dream Theater had first week US sales of 33,950 units sold and a top 10 album on the Billboard charts. It gets some ink in the papers and of course every website, is reporting on it. However what does it all mean? If bands are focusing on the album sales, they are missing the point?

As a history lesson, here are the stats from 2009 and 2011.

Dream Theater – Black Clouds And Silver Linings had the following 7 week run;

Week 1 – ending 7 July 2009 – 40,300 units sold
Week 2 – ending 15 July 2009 – 5,800 units sold
Week 3 – ending 21 July 2009 – 4,600 units sold
Week 4 – ending 29 July 2009 – 3,500 units sold
Week 5 – ending 5 Aug 2009 – 3,100 units sold
Week 6 – ending 12 Aug 2009 – 2,500 units sold
Week 7 – ending 19 Aug 2009 – 2,200 units sold

Dream Theater – A Dramatic Turn Of Events had the following 5 week run;

Week 1 – ending 21 Sept 2011 – 35,750 units sold
Week 2 – ending 28 Sept 2011 – 8,030 units sold
Week 3 – ending 05 Oct 2011 – 4,430 units sold
Week 4 – ending 12 Oct 2011 – 3,120 units sold
Week 5 – ending 19 Oct 2011 – 2,600 units sold

In the end, “A Dramatic Turn Of Events” sold in total 95,000 units.

 

 

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Complacency Kills – Music Is A Battlefield

I am listening to the Avenged Sevenfold discography again today. Yep that is five days in row. What can I say, the new album, “Hail To The King” connected with me. I admit that the connection comes from the similarities of the songs on the new album to the bands that I grew up on.

As I have said many times, progress is derivative. One of the rules on success, is that you need to know how to be a member of the club. This is what Avenged Sevenfold is reaching for here on “Hail To The King.” They want to be a member of the classic rock club.  With 200,000 in U.S sales in two weeks they are well on their way. Spotify streams for the song “Hail To The King” are at 1,884,995 and YouTube plays are at 3,904,022 for the same song. Other songs on the album on Spotify have the following numbers;

Shepherd Of Fire – 495,889 streams
Doing Time – 372,238 streams
This Means War – 394,868 streams
Requiem – 333,633 streams
Crimson Day – 310,412 streams
Heretic – 277,498 streams
Coming Home – 288,336 streams
Planets – no data as yet
Acid Raid – no data as yet 

If you’re not spending money, then you are not investing in your future. That is why a DIY independent band like Digital Summer is still ticking over. All the money they make from music is invested back into the band. To supplement themselves, they hold down normal day jobs.

Don’t focus on the money aspect. Desperation can been seen a mile away and it is a turn off. Just try to be friends. Remember that the system is rigged against you. The deck is stacked against you. There are so many people that want to be in the music business, they are willing to work for free. There is no safety net. There is no fat cat with a cigar as mentioned by Yngwie Malmsteen saying that they will fund the record, they will fund the video, they will fund the tour and that they will promote you. This is what Chris Clancy from Mutiny Within doesn’t get. Piracy is not his enemy. His enemy is the millions of other wannabes that are trying to make it and are doing everything for free. Look at Netflix, their policy is to sign up shows that are pirated heavily.

The only way to make money in the music business is to be in the game a very long time. That way, you will be in a position to renegotiate and make better deals. That is why Metallica are huge and getting bigger. Spotify wanted them on their service and they came knocking with a deal that Metallica couldn’t refuse. That is why Motley Crue are still around and making more money than ever. That is why the battle over Queensryche’s name is huge. Even though the band is more or less over and the new music that is created is below Queensryche quality, the name of the band, and the legacy that comes with it carries a lot of weight in dollars. It is a full blown corporate dispute. That is why Geoff Tate has asked for the trial date to be delayed until January 2014. He is hoping that something can be sorted privately, otherwise if it goes to court and he loses, he loses a lot.

Make sure your music is good enough. If you believe that your music is good enough and you are still stuck in the same situation, then the problem is you. You have to figure out what it is about you that is not working and change it. It could be your look, your personality, your interactions with people or your lack of building proper relationships. I like the band Mutiny Within, however I hate the viewpoints that their singer Chris Clancy puts forward. He has been totally misled by others and focused totally on the money side of things.

Take Hold of the Flame from Queensryche sums it up with the lyric, “We see the line of those who find the world has passed them by / Too late to save a dream that’s gone cold.” Don’t be the one with a chip on your shoulder because of missed opportunities. John Sykes is one such talent that didn’t really get the respect and recognition he deserved outside of the core metal/rock community.

Remember that marketing isn’t the 4P’s model of Product, Price, Place and Promotion anymore. Trying to extend the 4Ps model to a world of social media doesn’t cut it anymore. This is what Roadrunner is doing right now with Dream Theater. Here is the product, here is the price, we are placing it here for sale and we are cross promoting the streams of the new songs with the USA Today website and the Grammy Awards website.

Marketing is a one to many relationship. Spotify, Pandora and YouTube are three tools that fit this ideal of marketing. You see, record labels used to charge bands for marketing back in the Eighties and the bands didn’t complain about the marketing budget. In 2013, bands are now marketed on Spotify, YouTube and Pandora and they are complaining at the royalty rates and advertising rates these services pay. It doesn’t make sense to me. Dream Theater has not officially released the two new songs on Spotify. Avenged Sevenfold released the “Hail To The King” single on Spotify and it had 700,000 streams before the album even came out.

Sales is a one to one relationship. This is what iTunes, Amazon, Google Store, CDBaby and Brick and Mortar stores facilitate. Guess what, “Hail To The King” is out and it has moved 200,000 physical units in two weeks as well.

Notice a difference between the services that are used for marketing and services that are used for sales. Musicians fail to notice the difference, always linking marketing services to sales services and complaining about the lack of compensation from a marketing service, however when the Record Labels robbed them blind with $100,000 marketing bills, they didn’t complain.

You need to have skills, you need to know the rules, you need to know the game. You need to keep adjusting your game. On a battlefield, “Complacency Kills”. To stay on top of the music heap, you need to be on the leading edge. You need to remain motivated to succeed. Remember there is no safety net in music. You need to exceed the status quo in every way. You need to excel everyday 24/7. You need that outside perspective. If you surround yourself with enablers who have a vested interest in you making them as much money as possible, you will not get that perspective.

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