Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity

Sixteen Years Since Napster

“A virus that ends up eating the host”Phil Collen’s description of illegal downloading – Def Leppard 

“I think the term ‘piracy’ is absurd. Piracy is people boarding a ship with violence and killing people and physically stealing material goods. Equating somebody downloading something on his iPhone with that is preposterous.” 

Steve Albini 

“I know that bands like Ratt, that sold millions of records back in the day and then put a new album out in this era, consider an album that sells 50,000 to 60,000 today a success. There’s just so many outlets out there these days to get free music by illegal downloading. I honestly don’t know how that gauge is these days, but I’m about to find out.”

Steve Whiteman – Kix 

When it comes to illegal downloading and piracy I always think of the words that came from Nicko McBrain in the “Flight 666” video, about Iron Maiden’s popularity in the Middle East, Asian and South/Central America. For a band that have not sold many albums in these regions, Iron Maiden have no problems selling out football stadiums and arenas.

Brazil is a country the mighty Maiden machine goes back to time and time again. Downloading music and movies illegally in Brazil is high. 

However, when fans of entertainment are provided with access at the same time as the rest of the world, guess what happens;

People turn to legal means.

Netflix launched in Brazil in 2011 and at the moment it is the fourth largest market for Netflix with 69 million subscribers. And it all comes down to pricing. The cost of a monthly subscription to Netflix is the same as one movie ticket. Instead of charging for ONE movie or ONE SONG, people want access to a vast archive of songs and movies.

And guess what Netflix also did.

“Netflix also had to work hard to adapt to local consumer habits, such as issuing pre-paid cards, and getting partnerships with local banks to allow payment for users who do not have credit cards.”

Now would the “entitled” record labels and the movie studios have done all of that.

“You listen on a streaming platform because it’s CONVENIENT.”

Steve Albini 

And fans of music have decided that streaming is good for them. But greed still continues to dominate in music, and it’s funny to read stories about superstars withholding their new albums from streaming services.

The death of Rdio streaming service is an example of greed. 

 As the article states;

“The economics of streaming music are brutal. Record labels have nearly all the leverage, and take most of the gross revenue from streaming services. The only way to win is to achieve a massive scale — which is why Spotify has raised more than $1 billion, spending heavily to add subscribers in hopes they will lead to a sustainable business.”

Adele is the latest artist who has decided to withhold her new music from streaming services. It seems that she forgets that within 24 seconds of her album being released it will be all over the internet and YouTube for people to access illegally. Coldplay had their album off streaming services for a certain period of time. Their viewpoint was to capitalise on sales, however what they did capitalise on was illegal downloads. Taylor Swift is off the free Spotify service but still on the free YouTube service which pays even less. Withholding or gating any release is leaving money on the table.

So it’s sixteen years after Napster and the record labels still can’t get it right. They think it’s all about them, when in fact the artists they are meant to represent are competing with all the different entertainment products out there for mindshare.

It’s always been about listens for the artists, not sales. The more listens, the bigger the cultural impact. Sales in music is a metric designed and controlled by the labels. If sales guaranteed success then RATT’s albums that came out in the nineties and two thousands, would have gone platinum.

Let me tell you that I purchased all of the RATT albums from a second hand record store, which means the person who purchased the albums in the first place and chalked up that sale metric for the record labels, didn’t like the albums and sold them to the record store.

The first Van Halen album I purchased was “Balance”. I had the others dubbed on cassette tape. The debut album, “1984” and “5150” I had dubbed more than 5 times from the same person (who purchased the album because he like to collect music and never really listened to it). I listened to these albums a million times as I tried to figure out the guitar parts and not one of those listens made the record label any money. Once I had more disposable income, I would go back and purchase the earlier albums, but that didn’t happen until the mid to late nineties. 

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

Quality Equals Success and Those Doomsday Scenarios From Misguided Artist

Remember a time when people used to fear Doomsday. Back then Doomsday was the end of the world through some act of nature or nuclear warfare. These days Doomsday has gone all up market.

Doomsday now has a three piece suit and it is a trader on Wall Street. Each week, there is a new poll that states, “Doomsday; 98% risk of 2014 stock market crash”. “Doomsday; Critical Warning as 2013 shocker looms”. This is how far we are gone as a race. Our whole doomsday scenarios now revolve around the loss of money. Our priorities revolve around wealth and the accumulation of it.

I remember back in June 2011, Chris Clancy the vocalist of Mutiny Within, posted on his Facebook page (which was then removed) about the labels not making any money from music sales, so they take from the band’s income and after four years of working almost every day, he had only earned $100 in all of that time. There was also a rant about illegal downloads and how the band was dropped from Roadrunner because they sold less than 10,000 legal sales in the US and that their album had been illegally downloaded more than 60,000 times. It is that same argument you get from ignorant musicians, that their music is stolen because the label didn’t make any money of it.

So what does Doomsday and Chris Clancy from Mutiny Within have in common. Clancy’s priorities revolve around wealth and the accumulation of it. So when he got signed by Roadrunner, he must have thought he made it. The cold hard reality is, if he wanted to be paid millions, he should have gotten into banking. Even then, not all the people that get into banking get to make millions. That is life. Some win, some lose, others just do enough to get by. Making money is not the be all and end all.

Quality = Success

I listened to both albums that Mutiny Within did, the one under the Roadrunner umbrella, and the second one, under their own umbrella. In my view, Heartist and Mutiny Within sound very similar. So why does one band have more traction than the other.

THE BUZZ

Heartist took as much time as they could to build up an online buzz for themselves before they played any shows. So Heartist end up playing their first show and Roadrunner was there along with a few other labels. Mutiny Within didn’t build up an online buzz. They did it the old way, by building up a local scene buzz, which then got the label interested. Heartist went cyber world-wide with their buzz. They did it the new way, connecting with fans and letting the fans spread the word. That is why Heartist are touring everywhere and Mutiny Within are not. That is why the Heartist EP has sold a lot of copies, even while it is still downloaded illegally. Mutiny Within when they got signed only had a buzz in their local market.

DO IT YOURSELF

Heartist did it themselves. They kept on writing and creating, on their own time schedules and own budgets. The first Mutiny Within record was a Roadrunner financed record. Heartist was all DIY.

LETTING THE MUSIC TAKE SHAPE (without thinking it will sell)

All artists and songwriters come from a variety of music backgrounds. If you write and allow those backgrounds to come to the fore, each song will end up being different and unique. Don’t stick to one song formula, just because it could generate a hit. Remember the real hits, the songs that last forever are the outliers, the rule breakers, the game changers.

Stop thinking about the RECORDING INDUSTRY and start thinking about the music

Here is a DOOMSDAY scenario for you: The record industry started to collapse when it lawyered up and went to war against technology, beginning with Napster.

So why are artists still playing to the rules set by the recording industry.

In Sweden, Spotify is the king and the queen. Digital sales (downloads and streaming) accounts for 80 percent of music revenue in the territory and remember Sweden is the original home of The Pirate Bay.

Remember quality equals success.

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