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

When Are Artists Going To Realise?

Asking Alexandria

They are a hard rock band. When are they going to realise that? Drop the stupid screamo vocals and step up the clean melodic vocals. Drop the used and abused metalcore guitar trends and step up the hard rock guitar hero status. It’s time to rock n roll.

In the song, “Until The End” they sing that they want to be the best that they could be. And that best for them lays in hard rock. If I was their manager, that is the advice I would have given them after the first album.

The recent album ”From Death To Destiny” had 13 tracks on it. They needed a John Kalodner type persona to tell them that those 13 tracks needed to be streamed down to 10 and then have all of them re-recorded with clean vocals. Hell, I can even cut the list down to 5 songs.

The Death Of Me
Moving On
White Line Fever
The Road
Until The End

And chuck in the song “Someone Somewhere” from the “Reckless and Relentless” album and they will have six.

And what the hell is going with their Spotify account. Over 100,000 followers and not one song that has a stream count over a 1000 streams. Something fishy going on there. It looks like Spotify is employing the old MySpace tricks.

The Stan Lee Wealth Paradigm

Stan Lee has been involved in creating the stories around a lot of the iconic characters associated with Marvel Comics. Since these characters are box office superstars, people normally make assumptions that Stan Lee is loaded. However that is not the case.

Did you know that Stan Lee never owned the rights to the characters he created? Yep that’s right, he was a writer for hire and Marvel is the actual owner of the characters.

Did you also know that all the web sites that state his net worth at $250 million are full of shit. This is what Stan Lee had to say about his net worth:

“I don’t have $200 million. I don’t have $150 million. I don’t have $100 million or anywhere near that. I was happy enough to get a nice paycheck and be treated well. It was a very good job. I was able to buy a house on Long Island. I never dreamed I should have $100 million or $250 million or whatever that crazy number is. All I know is I created a lot of characters and enjoyed the work I did.”

Musicians would kill for a nice paycheck and to be treated well by their label.

Musicians would kill to be able to buy a house and pay it off.

What we have in music is a massive disparity between the blockbuster acts (the 1%) and the rest.

Did you know that the record labels are saying to artists who are seeking to reclaim their copyrights that the works they created are “works for hire”? Hell, Gene Simmons pulled this trick in his battle with Vinnie Vincent over royalty payments and the judge agreed with Gene Simmons.

When are artists going to realise that their fate is in their hands?

Also the Stan Lee situation opens up another conversation.

All the developers that worked/work for Apple over the years create software that makes up the Operating System that underpins the Apple products range. As popular as those products are, the developers get their wage and that is that. They don’t claim copyright on the code they create.

So an artist is signed to a label. The label gives them an advance to record an album. The artist goes into a studio and records the songs that they have created. The label then releases the album (under the name of the artist) and hopes to god that it resonates and that it sells. To the label legal team it sounds like works for hire?

LESSONS FROM COREY TAYLOR

Take Risks. Don’t get pigeonholed writing the same stuff over and over and over.

Trivium ticks these boxes. They sure take risks musically. However AC/DC built a stadium sized career by writing the same stuff over and over and over. Because it works for one, it doesn’t mean it will work for all.

Don’t repeat yourself as a lyricist. Take new roads, open different doors.

If you want to repeat yourself, join the Max Martin or Dr Luke team. Hell, call Jon Bon Jovi and ask him for a co-write.

If you’re not feeling it, get away from it.

“St Anger” came out that way because the main songwriter was not there mentally for it.

RECORD LABEL CONTRACTS and ROYALTIES

It’s time artists take the power back and burn up all of these shitty record deals they signed as kids when they had innocent dreams of making it. Fear Factory’s Burton C. Bell had this to say about Roadrunner Records and its founder Cees Wessels;

“I still get royalties. It comes in, but it depends how much we work, how much we tour. If we tour a lot I see better royalties, if we don’t then I don’t. I have no idea when we’ll get the rights back [to our catalog], because that Roadrunner contract is bullshit. I literally signed a deal with a Dutch devil. But when you’re young, you don’t care. You’re 23 years-old and ‘we’re going to give you an advance to make your first record, we’re gonna put you on tour, sell your shirts in all the stores. You are gonna to be famous!’’Alright, make it happen!’

When are artists going to stand up for themselves and stop the label from treating them like shit.

We asked Roadrunner ‘what’s going on?’
Roadrunner Replies; ‘You’re not selling any records. That’s not my fault, that’s your fault.’
We said; ‘How is that my fault?’
Roadrunner Said; ‘You didn’t put out the right record.’
We said; ‘Did everybody not put out the right record?’

Every single label failed their artists by not innovating. The analog dollars vs digital cents mess they got themselves in, is purely of their own doing.

The Macklemore Lessons

Be in it for the long haul. The career of Macklemore has been a long one (14 years and counting). There’s no such thing as an overnight success.

Five Finger Death Punch and Volbeat are two bands that I dig a lot. Look at the musicians in each band and you will see lifers.

Michael Poulsen from Volbeat started his first death metal band Dominus in 1991. During that time, Dominus released an album called Vol.Beat. When the band broke up in 2001, Volbeat the band was born. It wasn’t until 2005 that the first Volbeat album dropped. It wasn’t until Metallica picked em up as openers in 2009, that their US career kicked into overdrive. 22 years in the business. That is a lifer.

You can do it without a major label backing you. You need people, lifers like yourself that believe in you as your team. Create relationships and remember it is a two-way street of giving and receiving

Metal and rock bands are not really good at this shit. They need to get good at this. The new breed of artists coming through will overtake them on all fronts.

A huge hit doesn’t guarantee your future in the music industry.

Music is a risk game. As long as you focus on your core and don’t alienate them, you will have a future. If you start chasing that “hit part 2”, then prepare to lose, as the label will abandon you as soon as you fail, however the core, will stay true, only if you are true.

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Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Things That Bug Me With Rock And Metal

ROCK N ROLL HALL OF FAME

Dave Mustaine should have been inducted with Metallica. A real RNR Hall Of Fame Assessor would look into the band’s career and see that all the evidence is there for Dave Mustaine to be inducted. The style of technical thrash that Mustaine brought to Metallica would end up influencing their first four albums.

The induction criteria does state that the committee looks at the influence and significance of the artists’ contributions to the development and perpetuation of rock and roll. So, I take it that Dave Mustaine’s contribution to Metallica and to the development and perpetuation of rock and roll wasn’t influential enough.

BUT for some reason Jason Newsted’s and Rob Trujilio’s contribution to the development and perputation of rock and roll in Metallica was enought.

Same goes for Vinnie Vincent, Eric Carr and Bruce Kulick. The Eighties for Kiss wouldn’t have been the same if it wasn’t for the three individuals mentioned. Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer also played very important roles within Kiss.

BANDS THAT FAIL TO UNDERSTAND THAT SUCCESS IS BASED ON MUSIC

A lot of the metal and rock bands have better marketing campaigns than actual albums. You need a great song first. The marketing comes after.

Dream Theater had a pretty expansive marketing campaign leading up to the album release, however they didn’t have the quality to support it. Good songs don’t equate to great songs and we only have time for great.

Avenged Sevenfold, Volbeat and Five Finger Death Punch had way less marketing and their albums are still on people’s tongues. If you still use sales as a barometer of success, then these bands are still moving units.

NICHES

Metal and hard rock are niches. Accept it and focus on it. It will be a lucrative business for you if you do. It will not bring back the glory days of the Seventies and Eighties, however it will give you a career.

Sometimes a metal band can cross-over into hard rock, or even the pop market. Or a hard rock band could cross over into metal or pop.

Look at Volbeat. They are a metal band, however with the style of music they play the have a certain cross over element.

Shinedown crossed over into the pop market back in 2008, with the “The Sound of Madness” album, however with “Amaryllis” they remained in the hard rock market with a small cross over into the metal market. They still had great success, even though the “sales” didn’t match the previous. But who cares about sales these days.

Killswitch Engage cross-over into a few genres, like metal, metalcore, thrash, hard core, melodic death metal and in some cases they cross over into technical djent style metal.

Dream Theater can cross-over into a few genres and it is their cross over between progressive music and hard rock that reaped the most benefits with “Images and Words” and “Scenes From A Memory” being stand outs.

VIRALITY

A song takes off because fans start to spread the word. They share links to it, they talk about it, they blog about it. A marketing campaign can never achieve this. Only great music can.

QUEENSRYCHE

When are the people involved (apart from Chris DeGarmo) going to realise that Queensryhce is no more. Move on, forge a new career and a new identity. I’m tired of hearing how great the new singer is, what a team we now have and all of that.

The Todd LaTorre band should do something similar to what the Ronnie James Dio version of Black Sabbath did before his death. Take a new name from one of their songs. As for Geoff Tate, he should go to Vegas and do a cabaret residency. His metal/rock days are over. And seriously, when you carry on like a child when people use their smart phones at a gig, you don’t belong.

VINYL, CD’s, DIGITAL DOWNLOADS

Streaming has won. The rest of us that actually purchase any music in physical form do it as a hobby. We just don’t think of it as a hobby.

I listen to most of my music on Spotify or YouTube or via the mp3’s on my iPhone, however I still purchase CD’s of bands that I like. BUT I haven’t even opened the shrink wrapping as yet. I have no need to. Buying CD’s is like collecting toys and keeping the toys in their boxes unopened. Maybe the CD’s will be worth something one day or maybe they will be beer coasters. Who knows.

MONEY IN MUSIC

There is still a lot of money in the business. Streaming pays the labels well. It’s just doesn’t filter down to the artists. Revenues from streaming services such as Spotify, Pandora and YouTube surpassed the $1bn mark.

ENTERTAINMENT LOBBY GROUPS ASKING GOOGLE TO DO MORE TO PROTECT THEIR BUSINESS MODELS

Seriously after almost 15 years post Napster we are still hearing about this. The latest is The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI). It is the usual b.s. about how Google “could do so much more” or that Google have “not been effective” in preventing illegal music downloading.

HELLO, Google is a search engine.

It is not a protector of business models.

Innovate or die.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/mediatechnologyandtelecoms/media/10704766/Music-industry-claims-Google-is-failing-to-stamp-out-piracy.html

RECORD STORE DAY

Do artists really expect their hard core fans to travel decent distances to go to a Record Store Day Event and then not find all 4 of the (let’s just use Machine Head as an example since I am a fan) new Machine Head singles, “Killers and Kings”. It’s 2014. If we can’t buy it online or if we can’t find it to buy online, then artists are leaving money on the table.

Collectors want to buy, so make it easy for us to buy. Record Store Day is not easy for everyone.

TV SHOWS THAT STILL PLAY ON THE OLD BUSINESS MODELS

My kids love “Arrow” however they hate the fact that they have to wait each week. Will any of the actual TV shows or Cable Networks follow the “House Of Cards” Netflix example and let people overdose on all of the episodes over a weekend.

Having shows appear weekly for 8 episodes, then breaking for what seems like forever and then re-starting again, then breaking again, then finishing it all off, is old school.

Embrace the new.

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