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

Rock/Metal in the early 90s

In 1990, the biggest hit singles in relation to sales and chart placement where “Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinead O’Connor, “Vogue” by Madonna, “Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice, “U Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer and “It Must Have Been Love” by Roxette.

In 1991, the biggest hit singles where “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” by Bryan Adams, “Black Or White” by Michael Jackson, “Joyride” by Roxette, “Wind Of Change” by Scorpions and “Losing My Religion” by R.E.M.

In 1992, the biggest hit singles where “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana, “End Of The Road” by Boyz II Men, “Rhythm Is A Dancer” by Snap! and “To Be With You” by Mr Big. And of course let’s not forget “Achy Breaky Heart” by Billy Ray Cyrus.

By the early 90’s, I always believed that the remnants of the dominant 80’s rock movement was looking for ways to fit in and get back people’s attention. A lot of the acts signed towards the late 80’s had already splintered. Some got dropped and tried to get a new deal or they just left the recording business for good. And you had a lot of acts from the 80’s, who had platinum success and somehow were still together and looking for ways to survive in the 90’s. You also had the 70’s acts that re-invented themselves in the 80’s thanks to MTV and were looking to keep the momentum going well into the 90’s. Aerosmith and Kiss come to mind here.

However, rock and metal bands was a big album business. Because in 1987, after Bon Jovi’s and Europe’s explosion in 1986, the biggest hit singles in relation to sales and chart placement where, “La Bamba” by Los Lobos, “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley, “I Wanna Dance with Somebody Who Loves Me” by Whitney Houston, “It’s a Sin” by Pet Shop Boys and “Who’s That Girl” by Madonna. But Jovi was selling “Slippery” by the truckload.

In 1989, the biggest hit singles where “Like A Prayer” by Madonna, “Eternal Flame” by The Bangles, “Another Day in Paradise” by Phil Collins, “The Look” by Roxette and “Love Shack” by The B-52s. So rock and metal music did do well commercially selling albums, but it paled significantly compared to the pop world.

Meanwhile, the recording business was in a race to the bottom with a winner take all mentality. Label after label started to get sucked into the vacuum of the larger label. Changes in personnel happened so fast that once an artist was signed, a few weeks or few months later, the people who signed the artist are no longer working at the label and the interest to develop and promote the artist disappeared. So the artist is in limbo. But the label is not letting the artist go, just in case the artist makes it with another label. It’s one of the big no-no’s in the recording industry.

A record company in the 80’s would get you on radio, music television, magazines and they would push the album hard enough to achieve platinum sales. If it didn’t “sell”, they would put you in the studio again, get you further in debt and if you failed again, you would be dropped. A record label in the 90’s would sign you and then drop you before you even released anything or had a chance to get your message across.

And in today’s world it’s getting even harder to get your message across. It’s weird, because everyone has smartphones and everyone is connected however this great digital era also means that the users are the product. Facebook makes billions selling your data. 

 

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

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By the start of the 80’s, the recording business was putting its dollars into new wave and releasing “hits” made by a committee of songwriters. On the odd occasions, a band would come from left field and have a “hit”. It’s hard for people to believe this in 2016, but all of the great Seventies bands had more or less finished up.

Aerosmith was a shadow of itself, Bad Company was on its last legs, Led Zeppelin was no more, The Eagles fractured, Alice Cooper gave in to his nightmares, Kiss was fading and the graveyard list just goes on and on.

And then the revolution slowly started. 1980 gave us “Heaven And Hell” from Black Sabbath, “Iron Maiden” by Iron Maiden, “British Steel” by Judas Priest, “Blizzard Of Ozz” by Ozzy and “Back In Black” by AC/DC. 1981 gave us “Killers” by Iron Maiden, “Point Of Entry” by Judas Priest, “Diary Of A Madman” by Ozzy, “Too Fast For Love” by Motley Crue and “Mob Rules” by Black Sabbath. 1982 gave us “The Number Of The Beast” by Iron Maiden and “Screaming For Vengeance” by Judas Priest.

And then heavy metal came to the masses and wiped all styles off the map. Bands with roots who didn’t care about convention and the establishments. Bands who refined their sounds away from the mainstream without interference from know it all A&R reps. Bands who delivered songs with an honesty and angst that was undeniable.

And overnight the youth switched allegiances. We found new leaders in artists and music. MTV brought those leaders into our TV rooms. We finally had artists speaking some truth. Opportunities were slim and the odds were really stacked against us. We all wanted something to believe in and heavy metal/hard rock became our religion.

And when thrash metal came smashing through the boundaries and lunacy had found me. The words of anger and unrest got turned up even more.

Remember the truth?

That’s why certain artists became so big. Not because they were the best musicians or their records had the best sound. They spoke a truth that resonated.

And we all knew the truth. Our lives being controlled by the establishments, but we didn’t dare say it. So we persisted to live in a fake land. Fake, because, we all swore in reality, but on TV it was beeped out. We saw violence daily, but on the news, the pictures are blurred and classed as distressing. We knew the game was rigged, but we still played in it anyway. Why do you think cable TV become popular. It was a step towards common sense.

So “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock” resonated. Same deal with “You Got Another Thing Coming” and “Livin After Midnight” from Judas Priest. “Cum On Feel The Noize” exploded. “Fight For Your Rights” from Beastie Boys was written as a parody to heavy metal music, but it became a hit because of its message. “Shout At The Devil” and “Smokin In The Boys Room” by Motley Crue connected. “Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne told us life is not easy. “Seek And Destroy” by Metallica made us want to break stuff or each other.

We needed heroes. We needed leaders. Heavy metal artists spoke for the underclass and the repressed. We felt like we could take over the world and for a brief commercial period, we did just that. Actually, recent research has shown how heavy metal listeners have risen to positions of power in corporations and governments.

But as it the beast got bigger, we started picking sides. Black metal over thrash metal. Death metal over heavy metal. Heavy rock over hard rock. Metallica over Bon Jovi.

And then Grunge came to save us from our distress. Suddenly our leaders had no record deals. Judas Priest fractured by the start of the 90’s. So did Motley Crue. Bon Jovi took a break. Guns N Roses was on its last legs. Black Sabbath tried to roll again with Dio. Ozzy toured under “No More Tours”. And from those ashes, Metallica was there to capitalise. At exactly the right time, they released a sonic behemoth with the “Black” album and it was the lyrics of James Hetfield that people connected with. His anger at his Mum’s beliefs in “The God That Failed”, his anger at his childhood in “The Unforgiven” and heartbreak in “Nothing Else Matters”. Added to that a scorched earth marketing blitz and in 2016, we have the highest selling Soundscan album.

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

Thoughts on Streaming, Longevity and Access to Music

“Rock bands were only supposed to last around 5 years. The Beatles, as far as Americans knew them, were only around for 7 years and that seemed like an eternity to the millions of musicians that they inspired, many of which became famous rock stars themselves.”
Jay Jay French 

Once upon a time, that was the case. All of the good Seventies band had more or less finished up or turned into bad imitations of themselves by the early Eighties. Some of the musicians went onto successful or not so successful solo careers.

  • Eagles
  • Deep Purple
  • ELP
  • Yes
  • Bad Company
  • Led Zeppelin
  • UFO
  • Aerosmith
  • Kiss
  • Pink Floyd
  • Kansas
  • Alice Cooper

Throughout it all, the world was changing.

People suddenly had access to more credit than ever before. Their wages increased at an astronomical rate. Ownership of music became a big thing as MTV put our heroes into our lounge rooms.  On the heels of this new cultural phenomenon, suddenly there was more money to spend on entertainment products.

So what do all of these bands do?

They reformed. It didn’t matter if it was with the original band members (if that was possible at all) or with different musicians. The labels would bring in extra songwriters.

Aerosmith cashed in. So did Alice Cooper. So did Kiss. Desmond Child and Jim Vallance proved to be songwriters most hard rock bands started to use.

Suddenly we had rock bands lasting 20 years, then 30 years and in 2015 we have rock bands that have lasted 40 years.

But, it is the fans of music that made it all happen.

The fans of music made the record labels rich and the fans of music are the ones that ruined the record labels business models that relied on physical sales.

It is the fans of music that turned Spotify and streaming into a billion dollar industry. That’s the power of the people.

We will play the same song over and over again for decades and under the new model we are generating cash for the streaming service who then pass 70% of it on to the rights holders, which in all cases are the record labels and the publishing companies (who are also owned by the record labels). $4.5 billion dollars have been paid by Spotify and Pandora in royalties. All of that has gone to the record labels or to entities controlled by the record labels. You can see why songwriters are frustrated. Where’s all that money going?

Regardless, when it comes to consuming music and what price should be charged, the people have spoken.

The people decide what is of value and what it wants to pay for something. And artists’ should do everything they can to hook them into a new system or their system.

Look at Coheed and Cambria. I am hooked into the way they release their albums with the Super Deluxe Editions, instant digital downloads and VIP membership.

Remember when the book publishers said that e-books are undervalued and people must pay more. Did they ever think that the people don’t want to pay more?

Amazon finally relented and gave the publishers a chance to set their own prices. So what do the publishers do, they set the e-book price the same as a hardcover price. So the people screamed “Rip off” and E-book sales tanked.

Apple Music launches and it has no free tier after the three months sweetener. By default Apple along with the record labels are excluding people and to really succeed, streaming services like the artists need to hook in the casual users. Fans will always pay top dollar. But casual listeners are important as well. Spotify, Pandora and YouTube are at least servicing these listeners.

In the end the recording industry, along with the artists need to get more people paying for streaming. The bigger the streaming pool, the bigger the payouts, as long as the record labels are honest.

But that works by first exposing people to the service. It could take 3 months, 6 months, 12 months or years before people lay out cash. Instead, the labels put a high fee on licensing and then they want streaming services to raise the price immediately.

Did everyone miss the memo?

Music has completely changed. Once upon a time, songs would be sent out to radio or a video would be sent to MTV, with the hope that people would be hooked in enough to go to the record store and buy the album. It was all about monetizing up front. Today, songs are available instantly and monetization comes last. First comes attention. If people are checking something out, and if it sticks…it will grow.

“I think this is the new millennium Number of the Beast. That was one of our best albums and the follow-up to that (Piece of Mind) was probably the best of the lot of them. It has something for everybody. Take Speed of Light, for instance. It is the old Maiden. That intro is a testimony to Deep Purple.”
Nicko McBrain – Iron Maiden drummer

I purchased the album, however I didn’t hear it on CD. As a collector, the CD went straight on the shelf. Through the magic of the internet and Spotify, I can hear the album without paying for it. Isn’t that a better outcome than keeping the music locked up behind paywalls?

If people like it, they will spread the word.

If people like it, they will pay for the CD, pay for the vinyl, or pay to get a higher quality stream.

This is the new world, everything is different now.

The charts are irrelevant, while listens are in. If you don’t believe me, then have a look at the paltry sales that lead to a number one album in Australia.

More people are accessing music through streaming and that is a very good thing. Has anyone heard Iron Maiden complaining about their box office returns after each show, or the fact that they are one of the bands that has huge P2P traffic. It takes a non-rocker to sum up the effect of people accessing music easily.

“I’m playing three Wembley Stadium (shows) on album two. I’m playing sold-out arena gigs in South America, Korea, south-east Asia and Australia. I don’t think I’d be able to do that without Spotify or if people hadn’t streamed my music. My music has been streamed 860 million times, which means that it’s getting out to people. I get a percentage of my record sales, but it’s not a large percentage, (whereas) I get all my ticket sales, so I’d much rather tour. That’s why I got into the business — I love playing gigs. Recording albums, to me, is a means to an end. I put out records so I can tour. For me, Spotify is not even a necessary evil. It helps me do what I want to do.”
Ed Sheeran

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

It’s “2015 Chaos AD” and People Are Seeking Filters

A common question today is “How do musicians make money?”

Depending on which side of the argument you are, you either focus on the positives of today’s music market or on the negatives of today’s music market. Artists like Paul Stanley, Yngwie Malmsteen, Joe Perry, Scott Ian, Gene Simmons and Kirk Hammett focus on the headlines that read;

  • Album sales are down
  • iTunes single downloads are down
  • Streaming services are decimating artists incomes
  • Technology and the internet has killed the rock star

But it’s not gloom and doom. The old ways are not coming back. You don’t see people going back to dial up internet, three TV channels and landline telephones. So why do you expect them to start buying albums again on vinyl and plastic.

So what do artists do?

Well you can complain like others for the old ways to come back or you can look at new ways and models to increase your brand and exposure.

In the link, there is a story about Linkin Park. In 2013, they decided that they needed to change their business model to accommodate the changing recorded music market. They restructured their organisation to run like a tech start-up. They parted ways with outside management and brought everything in-house

Prior to that they released music consistently, did video games, art and they licensed their grassroots marketing service to other bands, film studios, TV stations and brands.

They studied other successful artists who diversified. They studied other brands from different markets. They formed a new strategy where creating and selling music plays a supporting role instead of being the main role.

So what about someone just starting off?

A lot of people would say “Linkin Park is huge so they have the power to do things differently.” Read the article. Everything that they have going for them started with the team that was assembled to pack and send CD’s before they made it big.

For anyone starting off, the product is first. If you have no product, you have no publicity. And publicity comes from word of mouth. It’s 2015 Chaos AD and people are seeking filters. And the cold hard truth is that in order to be heard above the noise, you still need someone to promote you and your product.

I remember reading an article about word of mouth and it stated that Google, Facebook and Amazon grew because of word of mouth. Motley Crue and even Metallica had people spreading the word for them. And people will always listen to their friends.

Look at “Phish”. Their business thrives without any media attention and their career is decades deep.

And for the ones whinging about streaming profits, the goal is to get people to stream for years. Instant payola is gone.

There is another story over at the Times called “The Creative Apocalypse That Wasn’t”.

The article states, creative artists are thriving “in complicated and unexpected ways.”

Remember the words of Lars Ulrich on July 11, 2000, in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee,

‘‘We typically employ a record producer, recording engineers, programmers, assistants and, occasionally, other musicians. We rent time for months at recording studios, which are owned by small-­business men who have risked their own capital to buy, maintain and constantly upgrade very expensive equipment and facilities. Our record releases are supported by hundreds of record companies’ employees and provide programming for numerous radio and television stations. … It’s clear, then, that if music is free for downloading, the music industry is not viable. All the jobs I just talked about will be lost, and the diverse voices of the artists will disappear.’’

So 15 years have passed.

Have artists disappeared? NO

Has the music industry died? NO

But what we have are artists using a business model from the 1950’s. Spend time in a studio, record an albums worth of songs and release it. Hope that it penetrates the market and you go on a continuous victory lap celebrating the fact.

Look at any band in the history of music and they all have the definitive crossover album.

Bon Jovi has “Slippery When Wet”, Led Zeppelin has “IV”, Metallica has the “Black” album, Motley Crue has “Dr Feelgood”, Judas Priest has “Screaming For Vengeance”, Eagles have “Hotel California”, AC/DC has “Back In Black”, Kiss has “Destroyer”, Poison has “Open Up and Say Ahh..” and so on. You get the hint.

What we do know is that any record that gains traction will last longer than ever before in the current climate.

Metallica spent close to 18 months on the “Black” album and over a million dollars on it. Depending on which side of the debate you are on, it was either totally worth it or not worth it. From a band perspective, it was totally worth it. The “Black” album explosion also increased awareness in their back catalogue, which if you read my posts, you will note that even in 2015, “Master Of Puppets” is outselling the “Black” album.

But do the fans of 205 want their favourite artists to spend so much time out of the market?

While artists complain about technology changing their income streams from sales of recorded music, they seem to forget that technology has also changed the cost of recording an album/song?

If your main gig is to write songs for others, then we will be hearing your depressing stories in the press, unless you’re a Max Martin. However, if you like to play live, then the new world is for you. It’s simply economics. Recorded music is a product and performing live is also a product. Once upon a time both products were limited. Now recorded music is in infinite supply and live music is still limited. So when one product experiences a price decline, the other product which is limited, experiences an increase.

We don’t care about the corporations when it comes to music. We care about the music and the artist?

And it is unfortunate that the corporations attached the sales metric of record music as f fans caring for artists. So of course, if sales are reduced and music is illegally obtained, the same corporations with some dumb artists toe the line that fans don’t care. However, the fans do care, they just show it in different ways. But the same corporations don’t know how to make sense of the data and the artists are too poor or too far down the chain to obtain any substantial data.

Maybe that is why the direct to fan relationship has become such a focus lately. It means a leaner artist with less handlers. As the Times article states, more people are involved in music today than the glory years of the Nineties.

They are just doing it very different to what artists of yesteryear did.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Unsung Heroes

Rock/Metal Quotes

“Our first deal, for example, was for five records, so there was development there. They looked at it as: ‘Let’s invest in these first two records, and if nothing happens, no big deal. Maybe the third record will be the turning point, and then four and five we’re on the gravy train.’ I think that was the record company’s perspective.”
Alex Lifeson. RUSH

It was always the fan that had the power. Fans invest in the artist. It never mattered what the record company thought or believed as it was the fan who decided if the piece of vinyl was worth their money. The labels had the gatekeeping power to decide who got to a recording studio or who didn’t. And they used that power wisely to accumulate artists’ copyrights.

“If we were to release those same three records now: Fly By Night – the record company would’ve gone, ‘Okay, let’s hang on.’ With Caress of Steel, they would’ve dropped us right away, because it was a commercially unsuccessful record, but we needed to make that record to make 2112. So there would be no 2112 for Rush in 2015. I’d go back to plumbing or some other job. That just doesn’t exist now, whereas back then, as nervous as they were, they still were there to support us.”
Alex Lifeson. RUSH

The labels did not support the artist. They supported a copyright monopoly. Their accountants knew very early on that holding the copyrights for songs would be a big financial winner for them in the future. The labels have used their accumulated copyrights as leverage to negotiate licence fees with Apple Music, Pandora, Spotify, Deezer and all of the other streaming services.

To prove my point, let’s look at an Italian hard rock/metal label called Frontiers Records. Look at the albums they have released, especially in the last five years. You will see a trend of certain artists, re-recording their best songs from the Eighties and Seventies and putting these recorded versions under a new Copyright. Frontiers will pay the artist for their work, and they keep the copyrights of these forgeries for a very long time.

Who is the winner here?

The artist or the record label.

“For new bands, everybody makes CDs. Years ago, nobody had CDs. You had to have a record deal. Everybody’s got it [now]. And there’s so much competition. The Internet is good in a way to get your stuff out there, but the whole music industry is wrecked.”
Vinny Appice. DIO, BLACK SABBATH, HEAVEN AND HELL,

“For me, it’s an interesting dichotomy. Because, on one hand, you’ve got people who are streaming, but then they use that to decide whether or not they wanna buy the album, as opposed to illegal downloading. But then there’s the other side of it where people are kind of using it as, basically, satellite radio, where it’s, like, ‘I’m just gonna listen to this.’ But people still pay a subscription for it. So, in one way or another, the economy is still working. It’s just that… We can’t catch up with the technology; that’s the problem. There’s so many innovations that the powers that be can’t figure out… they can’t get ahead of it.”
Corey Taylor. SLIPKNOT/STONE SOUR

The gatekeepers are no more. It’s an open market and simple economics rule. Supply vs Demand. Music at the moment is in huge supply and the demand from the fans is spread thin.

For example, in the next three months there are about 40 albums that I am interested in listening too.

For August, I am looking forward to Soulfly’s “Archangel”, Bon Jovi’s “Burning Bridges”, Disturbed’s “Immortalized”, Pop Evil’s “Up”, Five Finger Death Punch’s “Got Your Six”, Fear Factory’s “Genexus”, Bullet for My Valentine’s “Venom”, Act of Defiance’s “Birth and the Burial”, P.O.D.’s “The Awakening”, Motörhead’s “Bad Magic” and Soilwork’s “The Ride Majestic”.

For September, I am looking forward to Shinedown’s new one, Iron Maiden’s “The Book of Souls”, Slayer’s “Repentless” and Atreyu’s “Long Live”.

For October, I am looking forward to Children of Bodom’s “I Worship Chaos”, Collective Soul’s “See What You Started by Continuing”, Coheed and Cambria’s “The Color Before the Sun”, Deftones new one, Queensrÿche’s “Condition Hüman”, Sevendust’s “Kill the Flaw”, Trivium’s “Silence in the Snow”, W.A.S.P.’s “Golgotha” and Stryper’s “Fallen”.

Some I would buy and a lot I would just stream WHEN I HAVE THE TIME.

“All due respect to Mr. Simmons, I think when he talks about rock being dead, I think he talks about the old-school way of album-tour-album-tour-album-tour. That’s just not the way you do it anymore. There’s so many other things and ways to continue the history of this industry, and to continue to be on top. I mean, I’m looking out at headlining Download [festival] in the U.K. [Sarcastically] Yeah, rock is dead. That’s why there’s 85,000 people here at 11:30 at night in a downpour, and nobody left. Yeah, rock’s dead. Yeah.”

Corey Taylor. SLIPKNOT/STONE SOUR

Spot on. Fans of music haven’t disappeared and they haven’t resorted to freemium as the labels or the RIAA would like us to think. Fans still support music and artists in their own way. I purchase CD’s, I stream music, I download music and I go to concerts. The old model of album sales and then a tour is broken. So a new model is required.

“Well, we have such an incredible reaction to [JUDAS PRIEST’s latest album] ‘Redeemer Of Souls’ that really motivated us to crack the whip and get on with making the next record pretty quickly. The clock is ticking, you know. We can’t afford to wait three years, or five years now, to make the record. And especially while we’re having this great, kind of, vibe with the fans and just this massive PRIEST family love fest type of deal. You know, who wants to go home and sit down for a year?”
Rob Halford. JUDAS PRIEST

“Fewer records get sold or streamed, less money is there,” he continued. “You used to sell enough records to not go on tour. In the 90s, you used to make as much money on tour as you would selling records. Now you make one-tenth of that money on records sales or streaming. The biggest problem with the new record business is that I don’t know who the fans are. Fans are the people who will actually pay for something.”
Peter Mensch. MANAGER

They (the recording industry) have to. But probably the best route they should take, I think they’ve been playing catch-up for a long time — they’re constantly trying to readjust and adapt. I think that probably the truth of the matter, the answer is to start from scratch and create a whole new playbook. Build a whole new business plan off of that. I don’t think anybody, at least that I’m aware of, has done that, started with just a blank slate and just started over. I think that’s really what needs to be done. Just level the building and build something brand new.”
Dee Snider. TWISTED SISTER

Fans are people who will actually pay for something when they want to pay. Growing up the Eighties, I had a circle of friends who would wait with blank cassettes for the latest music I purchased. We had a running joke to say “the leeches are in the house”. These fans copied Motley Crue, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Megadeth, Whitesnake, Night Ranger and so many other bands from me. Their whole music collection was dubbed music.

So time goes on, they get older, they get jobs, the internet comes, Napster rises and suddenly they have money to spend. They didn’t start to purchase recorded music, they just downloaded that for free. What they did start to purchase was concert tickets for the bands they liked. When Maiden toured Australia for the “Caught Somewhere Back In Time” tour, they went to the shows in Sydney and Melbourne. I only went to the Sydney shows. When Motley Crue came for the Carnival Of Sins tour they went to the shows around Australia. I only went to the Sydney show. When Metallica came, they went to the shows around Australia, plus the Soundwave shows and so on. When Megadeth came, they went to their shows.

“Because, at the end of the day, it’s about people knowing the music, not owning it.”
Corey Taylor. SLIPKNOT/STONE SOUR

Perfectly said.

“The only thing that’s really been affected is albums sales. Because there’s still just as many rock fans out there as there were, and there’s a whole new generation coming up. I mean, the contracts that you signed back then — even today — you’d have to sell five, six million at a pop to be able to turn a profit. So, for people like me, it wasn’t about making money off the album sales. I mean, it’s be nice, but it wasn’t the essential.”
Corey Taylor. SLIPKNOT/STONE SOUR

“I’m talking about the cost to buy a CD. You can get a brand new record from your favourite band for ten dollars, basically. And even that’s high, ’cause most bands will sell ’em cheaper, especially the first or two the records are out. So, for ten bucks you can get a new record. I mean, it wasn’t that long ago that CDs cost $18.99 at the Virgin Megastore. Records cost half what they used to cost, and people aren’t buying them as much, which is crazy to me. It’s never been cheaper. What more do the people want?”
Scott Ian. ANTHRAX

No one wanted to buy an album. WE WANTED TO LISTEN TO MUSIC. It was unfortunate that the music we wanted to listen to was put on a piece of vinyl or a CD or a cassette and sold at a very high price.

“For me, the album is the calling card. You hope people are hearing the music, but it’s not essential to sell the music, and that’s the thing you kind of have to balance today.”
Corey Taylor. SLIPKNOT/STONE SOUR

“Right now I don’t even know what the music business is. I have no idea. There’s no record stores. We live in Los Angeles, and the radio sucks. It’s better elsewhere. The bands put an album out, and they don’t play it. Then everybody downloads it for free. And it’s a mess. ‘Cause people need to earn money when they play music, just like you go earn money when you go to work. It costs money to make an album. You can’t just give it away for free.”
Vinny Appice. DIO, BLACK SABBATH, HEAVEN AND HELL,

But it’s not for free. The album that you recorded has been put up on a streaming site. The label that put it up was paid a fee to license the music they have on that streaming site. Speak to your label and re-negotiate. When people listen to your album, 70% of the monies go to your label. Again, speak to your label and re-negotiate.

What is better?

A million streams or a 1000 units in sales. A million streams shows a large audience supporting your product that is waiting to be monetized in other ways.

1000 units in sales shows a 1000 people who purchased your music and then maybe listened to it once or twice or a lot. The problem is the artists don’t know either way if those 1000 units in sales are fans or not.

“Cause people are still buying CDs, but they’re also buying music on iTunes, they’re paying for accounts on Spotify. So it’s not like they’re not hearing the music. So when they come and see the show, and you play a song that is brand new and you get that huge pop, that’s what it’s all about. It’s all about that live show”
Corey Taylor. SLIPKNOT/STONE SOUR

“I understand there’s a thing called the Internet and people have the ability to steal music. So I understand why it’s happening, but you would think that people would just have the attitude, ‘I’m gonna support music, I’m gonna support the bands I love, because if I don’t support this, well, the bands I love aren’t gonna be able to make records anymore and they’re not gonna be able to tour as much anymore.”
Scott Ian. ANTHRAX

Scott Ian is unfortunately stuck in the sales equals success mentality. As Corey Taylor has stated, fans of music support the bands they like in different ways. A typical fan could fit into any of the following combinations;

– Stream for free only
– Stream for free and purchase tickets to a show
– Stream on a paid subscription only
– Stream on a paid subscription only and purchase tickets to a show
– Stream for free and purchase a CD/mp3 only
– Stream for free and purchase a CD/mp3 and purchase tickets to a show
– Stream on a paid subscription and purchase a CD/mp3 only
– Stream on a paid subscription, purchase a CD/mp3 and purchase tickets to a show
– Purchase a CD/mp3 only
– Purchase a CD/mp3 and purchase tickets to a show
– Illegally download for free only
– Illegally download for free and then purchase a CD
– Illegally download for free, purchase a CD and purchase tickets to a show
– Illegally download for free and purchase tickets to a show

“Look, if I was a kid, and it was 1977 and I had a way to get KISS albums for free, I’m pretty sure I probably would have jumped on that bandwagon. But for me to get a free KISS album in 1977 would have meant having the balls to walk into a record store, take a vinyl album, stick it under my shirt and walk out without getting caught. There was a consequence to that. So it’s a completely different thing [today]. There’s no consequence to stealing music online … or anything: movies, or books, or anything.”
Scott Ian. ANTHRAX

Look Scott, when you were a kid, I am sure that you copied an album onto a cassette tape. That is called Copyright Infringement. This is the problem that you face with the internet. People have copied your music and are spreading your music via the Internet. No one has stolen anything. The iTunes mp3 is still available for purchase, the Anthrax albums are still available for streaming and so forth.

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Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Being a MetalHead

Heavy metal bands have the most loyal listeners. All of us metal heads know it, and Spotify recently proved it.

So where are all the metal heads when it comes to streaming service launches. Apple walked out Jimmy Iovine and Drake. Tidal walked out the Pop Stars. So, where the fuck are the metal heads?

If you want to look at sales of music, then look no further than metal and rock bands. In 1989, heavy metal and hard rock was the largest selling musical genre. In 2015, these genres are still selling. Even though the marketing budget of Breaking Benjamin was tiny compared to the bigger marketing campaigns the mainstream pop acts had, Breaking Benjamin still managed to beat other higher profile mainstream acts in sales recently.

Five Finger Death Punch, Avenged Sevenfold, Volbeat, Shinedown, Halestorm, In This Moment, Godsmack, Foo Fighters, Disturbed, Metallica, AC/DC and Of Mice and Men are consistent sellers these days.

I know it must sound strange to a lot of people. All of the music from the above bands is available for free on the internet, via streaming, illegal P2P, YouTube, etc. However they still manage to sell a lot of recorded music.

So what gives?

Which brings me back to the Metalhead and Rockhead loyalty.

Did you know that Motley Crue, Twisted Sister, Metallica, Megadeth, Judas Priest, Ozzy Osbourne, Night Ranger, Quiet Riot, Judas Priest, Europe, Bon Jovi, Poison and any Eighties metal band made me the great tax paying and law-abiding citizen I am today.

Who would have known that my degenerate adolescent mind and devil horn fingers would put me onto a road of happiness. If you don’t believe me, give the research a read.

The take away from the research is that being a metal head “served as a protective factor against negative outcomes.”

From Judas Priest, I learned about big brother watching (“Electric Eye”) and about life in a restrictive era (“Breaking the Law”).

From Twisted Sister, I learned about the brotherhood (“S.M.F”), the price of fame (“The Price”), standing up for yourself (“We’re Not Gonna Take It”, “I Wanna Rock”) and about looking out for yourself (“Lookin Out For Number 1”).

From Motley Crue, I learned about voicing your opinions against the establishment (“Shout At The Devil”), about premature ejaculation (“Too Fast For Love” and “Ten Seconds To Love”) , about being a pest at school (“Smokin In the Boys Room”) and just about everything else to do with drugs and sex.

From Iron Maiden, I learned about nuclear war (‘2 Minutes To Midnight”), World War II (“Aces High”, “Tailgunner”, “Where Eagles Dare”), ancient history (“Alexander The Great”, “Powerslave”), English literature (“Phantom Of The Opera”, “The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner”), mythology (“Flight Of Icarus”), the meaning of deja vu (“Deja-Vu”), the bible (“Revelations”), the 666 number (“The Number of The Beast”), samurai (“Sun And Steel”) and the 1854 Crimean War (“The Trooper”).

From Metallica, I learned about banging my head super-fast (“Whiplash”), about capital punishment (“Ride The Lightning”), about drug abuse (“Master Of Puppets”), about literature (“For Whom The Bells Toll”, “The Thing That Should Not Be”), about war (“Fight Fire With Fire”, “One”, “Disposable Heroes”) and about corruption (“Justice For All”, “Eye Of The Beholder”, “Leper Messiah”).

Remember the hysterics about subliminal messages. Court cases followed from parents who lost children tragically to suicide. Ozzy Osbourne and Judas Priest both had to front the courts over subliminal messages. It was easy to blame the music.

I guess in the end, those subliminal messages told me to study hard, read a lot, be critical, be sociable, have an opinion, be a good citizen and earn my way in life. It sure goes against all of the mainstream media’s comments and Tipper Gore’s stupid Parents Group burning albums and screaming that “metalheads” are bad for society and at risk of poor development.

In the end, Metalheads and hard rockers have proven to be resilient and diverse. We wear our skins proud and we are loyal to the end.

 

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Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

The World We Live In

I am over it.

I am over people like APRA/AMCOS CEO Brett Cottle calling on the Australian Parliament to offer legislative support to members of the creative industries.

I know from my own experiences APRA has been negligent for accepting dual song writing registrations on songs that I wrote and registered with them over ten years ago. They had the balls to call me up to ask me if I am okay with their negligence for accepting dual registrations and if I’m not okay with it, they can offer mediation to me to sort it out with the other party at a cost to be paid by me.

Yep, that sure sounds like a lot of support and respect from APRA/AMCOS towards the artists it is meant to represent. The truth of the matter is this.

Small time musicians don’t mean crap to these large organisations. All we do is generate a lot of money for them by playing live and by using our hard-earned monies to promote ourselves and get our songs on radio. Yep, APRA as a publishing and collection association collect those radio royalties (that we as artists worker our backsides off to get on radio) and those live returns from Club owners on our behalf.

They then hold the pool of monies for as long as they can before paying anything out to the artists based on a formula that no one can make sense off. That way APRA can double dip on the pool of money. They do that by earning interest on the large pool first and then they take out their admin fee.

So I am sick and tired at corporate entities that put out crap saying they are concerned about the artists. The music business and the movie business have consistently opted for legislation to combat piracy and when it comes to innovation they are continually dragged kicking and screaming into it.

The major record labels in the U.S killed off the 20 million strong membership of Grooveshark as it wasn’t legit enough for the record labels. Well guess what happened the next day. It was cloned and made available for users to stream music on.

Can we also make the distinction between the recording industry and the music industry?

They are two different categories. The recording industry is part of the music industry. The music industry at a high level also contains the live industry, the merchandise industry, the publishing companies, the collection agencies, the local clubs, etc..

So when I see people saying that the music industry cannot compete with piracy, it is totally a clueless and dumb statement to make.

I don’t see the live industry complaining because of piracy. I don’t see the merchandise industry complaining because of piracy.

Piracy is a recording industry problem. Actually I still find it hard to hear when people in the recording industry still complain about competing with piracy or pirates. People just don’t get it. The recording industry (and by default they acts on their roster) are competing against other products for fans/customers. It has been proven time and time again that if the customer sees value in the offering, they will pay for it.

There is a lot of money in the industry right now. “Blurred Lines” is just one song and it took in over 17 million dollars since 2013.

When it comes to music, I stream via Spotify for free and I buy physical CD’s from Amazon in the U.S or from the band direct. I never got into paying $1.29 or $2.19 for a digital mp3 of the song. However I do have a lot of mp3’s. When you buy pre-release albums from bands directly or via a fan funding campaign, you always get an mp3 version of the album. Amazon offers Auto-Rip and then there is the CD’s I purchased which I rip and put on my iPhone.

While ripping a CD is acceptable to an MP3 file is acceptable in the recording industry, the DVD I purchase is not allowed to be format shifted to an AVI file.

Torrentfreak is a website that I got to regularly to keep up to date on the latest issues around Copyright issues. So it’s no surprise to see that the MPAA is putting their hands in foreign policies. In this case, it was lobbying hard the UK Cameron government to not legalize DVD ripping. However the lobbying efforts didn’t pay off and the private copying exceptions became law in October last year.

Speaking of the MPAA, they are sure doing their best to keep their business model flourishing. Thanks to the Sony email hacks, the world know has official proof that the MPAA are offering grants to academics to write pro-copyright papers that can be used to influence future copyright policies.

As the article points this is nothing new for the MPAA.

Last November we revealed that the MPAA had donated over a million dollars to Carnegie Mellon University in support of its piracy research program. Thus far the Carnegie Mellon team has published a few papers. Among other things the researchers found that the Megaupload shutdown worked, that piracy mostly hurts revenues, and that censoring search engine results can diminish piracy. As expected, these results are now used by the MPAA as a lobbying tool to sway politicians and influence public policy.

So how is Brett Cottle from APRA/AMCOS or those stooges at Village Roadshow any different to the MPAA? All of these organisations profit from the creative works of others however they contribute nothing creatively.

In the end if copyright becomes too extreme, creativity will die.

Thank god in heavy metal and hard rock some common sense is prevailing when we hear similarities between songs. So far we haven’t had the court cases like “Blurred Lines” or the out of court settlements between Sam Smith and Tom Petty for the “Stay With Me” and “I Won’t Back Down” vocal similarities or the other out of court settlement between the song writing committee for Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk” and The Gap Band’s 1970s funk hit “Oops Upside Your Head.”

Music survives because the creators are constantly borrowing, sharing, and reacting to the different connections the 12 notes in the musical scale offer.

“The Ultimate Sin” is a forgotten song in Ozzy’s solo career (even though Jake E.Lee does perform it with Red Dragon Cartel) and it was good to hear part of the vocal melody get resurrected by Five Finger Death Punch in “Life Me Up”. Yes, they are similar for those small sections and if anything fair use is the order of the day.

Hell, we all know that Avenged Sevenfold’s latest album “Hail To The King” references a lot of great metal albums from the past. What about Kingdom Come’s “Get In On” and it’s references to Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir”. As I have always said, music is derivative.

It’s getting ridiculous how everyone is slapping copyright lawsuits on everything and the reason why that is occurring is that corporations own the copyrights. Hell, even George Clinton who has been sampled by every hip hop artist known, is fighting Bridgeport Music (a publishing company) to get his rights back. Basically at this point in time, George Clinton has NO royalty rights.

Yep, the person who copyright is designed to protect and the person who actually created the music has NO royalty rights to his music. And of course, in case you didn’t know Bridgeport Music was also one of the plaintiffs in the “Blurred Lines” copyright case.

But hey, Bridgeport Music, like APRA/AMCOS would lead you to believe that they are pushing copyright agendas for the artists and that stronger copyright is needed to combat piracy. On the other side of the fence you have a housewife from the fifties who wrote the lyrics for a song called “G.I. Blues” which was later turned into a hit song for Elvis Presley who is not credited as a songwriter because she didn’t pay the $25 copyright fee back in the sixties.

But, wait, according to the corporations who own the copyrights, the world needs longer copyright terms and stronger enforcement rights.

That’s the world we live in.

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