A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Random Thoughts

The Grammy nominations are out and as usual the metal category reads like a comedy. Why even bother, no one cares. The Grammy’s are as relevant as the sales metric. Maybe next year they will be renamed into the Streammy’s and some magic formula will be used to find nominations.

What is it about people or organisations sense of entitlement these days?

Consumers of music are finally given a choice (legally and illegally) on how to consume their music and all the middlemen come out screaming for the Governments or the courts to write new laws or set precedents that protect their business models. In the current case, you have the publishers BMG Rights Management and Round Hill Music via copyright troll “Rightscorp” using a 1998 law to compel ISPs to support its pre-internet business model. These organisations think that shaking down people is the way forward.

Sort of like Billboard. Seriously, what kind of fucked up maths goes into their charts. Hello, look at everything that is successful and you will see one common theme. They all kept it SIMPLE. Steve Jobs knew it. Daniel Ek knows it. Sean Fanning knows it. Mark Zuckerberg knows it. However, the people at Billboard have no idea. Someone, decided that 1,500 streams of any song equals an album sale. WTF. How does the stream count of any song reflect the influence (if any) of an album?

It’s good that Billboard is focusing on what people are listening to however it is bad that they are trying to recreate that listening metric to show a fake album purchase. Buying an album does not mean one listens to it, oftentimes people only listen to the hit. Report that.

The charts are there to purely satisfy the recording industry. It was never about the consumer. The recording industry and their press outlets all want to “high-five” each other on the number ones. And then what. 99% of the classic albums never got to Number 1. “Back In Black” from AC/DC never reached Number 1 in the U.S. “Led Zeppelin IV” never got to Number 1 in the U.S. “Master Of Puppets” from Metallica never reached Number 1.

I get it. Change is inevitable. For all the talk about monies, and what are those “poor start-up independent bands going to do” in the current free music industry it’s funny to see that more indie/self-funded music is being made now than ever before. Do you think the new breed of musicians are sad because recording studios or CD plants have closed?

Of course not.

While the recording industry promotes what it has lost, it fails to see what fans of music have gained. And by those fans gaining , the recording industry gains.

In Australia, the Government posted all of the individual submissions to the Australian Government’s Piracy Discussion Paper online and one of them caught my attention.

“I have spent a lot of time and money on my song to be mastered and distributed through CDBABY and iTunes. In the last 4 months since my song was released there has been over 30,000 hits on Utube [sic] where someone has uploaded it. To make matters worst [sic] there is only about $80 in the bank from the sales. Can someone tell me how to stop this.”

The first thing that comes out of that rant is how misinformed the “musician” is.

First, if someone put the song up on YouTube, then they are obviously a fan. Connect with them.

Second, YouTube’s has a Content ID system. There are players out there that can assist with this. Find them.

Third, 30,000 views on YouTube means an audience. Surely that is a good thing. What steps are in place to mobilise and grow that audience?

Fourth, without YouTube, how would that artist reach 30,000 people. Of course that would be via a record label. Which means gatekeepers and the chance of not being signed.

Final point, no one is rushing out to buy CD’s again or mp3’s.

Another that got my attention was the following;

“I am a writer so I want copyright to be protected to protect my livelihood.”

It’s hard to believe that people are in an industry without fully understanding why Copyright came into being. In a nutshell, Copyright was always about promoting the progress of society by returning works into the public domain once their copyright expired. Once upon a time, it did and it worked brilliantly and now (since about the Seventies), not so much as Copyright got twisted into what it is now.

Copyright was never about having people’s livelihoods depending on it.

Also there is no evidence that stopping copyright infringement leads to more purchases of music, movies or books.

After reading through a bit more of the submissions, I was dismayed at some of the words used like STEALING and THEFT.

It’s COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT.

No one has stolen nothing. iTunes still has the song for sale, Spotify still has the song for streaming, YouTube has multiple copies of the song for viewing. Amazon still has the book for sale in both hardcover and e-book format.

What the people have done is COPY the work.

It’s not that hard to understand, however people need to do the research to educate themselves.

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Music, My Stories

Life Is OK

My ADSL went down on Thursday night.

The internet today is like the lights in the house. When we click on that switch we expect the lights to work. And we have the same expectations with the Internet. And when it doesn’t work we don’t like it. My wife and kids were going to lynch me, like it was my fault that it was down. I called my ISP and I was told that the ADSL channels are being upgraded and that service will resume by 5pm, Monday, 24 November.

“How can you go to a concert, when the Internet is down?” was thrown at me on Friday afternoon as I was preparing to leave to go and watch Trivium and In Flames in concert at the UNSW Roundhouse.

I told them that there is nothing I can do about it. Upgrades are upgrades and they need to happen as I departed to go to the show.

A very sunburnt “In Flames” appeared on stage (guess they must have underestimated the Australian sun) and opened up their set with “The Quiet Place” from “Soundtrack to Your Escape” released in 2004. There was nothing quiet with that opener. We then got treated to a super tight grooving set from the Swedesters. It was also good to see that every album from 2000’s “Clayman” was represented in their sixteen song set.

Then came Trivium.

The first 7 songs, “Strife”, “Black”, “Throes Of Perdition”, “Through Blood And Dirt And Bone”, “Brave This Storm”, “Watch The World Burn” and “Down From The Sky” set the knock out punches, however “Like Light To The Flies” and “Villainy Thrives” really let the set down in intensity. In my view they have way better songs that could have replaced these two songs.

Then it just got weirder. “Into The Mouth Of Hell” was played so fast, that the person standing next to me came up with the quote of the night “it’s like mash potato, no definition whatsoever”.

“Dying In Your Arms” was another song that didn’t belong in the set list while they finished strong with “Built To Fall”.

The encore was “Anthem (We Are Fire)” and “In Waves”. Both songs are favourites of mine and I was saddened when Trivium kicked off these songs on Turbo and they sounded really messy.

Like Mash Potato, there was no definition in the riffs.

After the gig I spoke about the set list with others and we all came to the conclusion that it was a safe set. There was no “Shogun”, no “Shattering The Skies Above”, no “Vengeance Falls” and no “Pulling Harder” or “A Gunshot To The Head”.

We all saw it as a trade-off to accommodate a new drummer and Matt’s throat problems. Kudos to Corey for doing a stellar job on the growling vocals for each song. He dead set killed it. And while the new Trivium drummer Mat Madiro is very competent, he should take a leaf out from the experienced Daniel Svensson from “In Flames” about keeping a tight time and groove.

The trip home took in two beef yeeros’s from “The Souvlaki Bar” at Brighton Le-Sands. For the uninitiated think of real beef (not processed meat like the normal Doner Kebabs), fried a bit extra on the hot plate after it was cut from the roasting roller. They also put the pita bread on the hot plate to soften and when it is all put together with shredded cheese, lettuce, tzatziki, tomatoes and red onion it is just delicious.

And suddenly it was Saturday, and the harassment from my family about the internet started again.

“How can you be playing your guitar when the Internet is down?” was thrown at me over a hundred times over the weekend. Even when I explained to them that there is nothing I can do until the upgrade is fixed. A lynch mob was forming in my household.

Swimming for my almost three-year old came and went, then Summer Soccer for the elder two kids came and went.

And the internet was still down.

We packed a truck full of rubbish  and the internet was still down.

I called my ISP again and was told the same story.

I played the guitar for over 2 hours and when I checked, the internet was still down.

I had a shower, walked past my study room and the red flashing ADSL light was now GREEN.

The internet was back up.

Happy family equals happy life. And the weekend finished with my kids helping me blow out the candles on my birthday cake.

Life is okay again that the internet is back up.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy

Record Label Innovation V3.0 – The Ultimate in Vanity, Exploiting Their Supremacy

Wow, another busy week is over and record label innovation is in full swing again.

Over at TorrentFreak there is a story from Ireland about the Record Labels asking the Court to force an Internet Service provider to disconnect music pirates. Alleged music pirates that are identified by the Record Labels via the IP address. Alleged music pirates who have no rights to due process.

James Hetfield barked “Halls of justice painted green, money talking”, and how true is that. The Record Labels are cashed up and they will go back to the Courts over and over again just to get a judgement in their favour. Justice is based on who can pay the most and the ones that pay the most, twist the argument to suit themselves.

There is also a story of Comcast in the US sending out over 600,000 notices to its customers. The actual customer that owns the IP address linked to Copyright Infringement may not be the actual file sharer, however this small obstacle does not matter to the RIAA who spends a lot of time gathering solid evidence (yeah, right) on copyright infringers. Again, alledged copyright infringers who have no rights to due process.

Power Wolves Beset Your Door
Hear Them Stalking

The Copyright Alert system is just that, power-hungry and cashed up wolves, stalking for a way to get the internet under their control.

Soon You’ll Please Their Appetite
They Devour

The Copyright Alert system is a shakedown. Within 2 years, it will be dubbed a failure by the RIAA and then they will push for another SOPA style law. And that is when the “hammer of justice crushes you, overpower.”

Principle Management (U2’s Management Company) has lost money for the fourth year in a row, so when Chairman Paul McGuiness gets a chance, he is quick to blame Google for his losses. Talk about sense of entitlement. Google has no reason to care if Principle Management is not making money. Did Principle Management care when Google was not making money in it’s early days, while Principle raked it in?

The Ultimate in Vanity
Exploiting Their Supremacy

The large players in the Record Label’s are exactly that. Vain people, exploiting their supremacy.

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A to Z of Making It, Alternate Reality, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Chaos + Disruption = The Music Business

It’s a chaotic and disruptive time in the music business and with chaos comes opportunity.

On one side you have COPYRIGHT. And that can be broken down into a lot of other little chaotic categories like infringement, the length of copyright terms, copyright monopolies, the lack of works entering the public domain and so on.

The public domain is culture. Keith Richards once said, ‘you can’t copyright the blues.’

Culture is built and expanded by sharing stories and building on the works of others. Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and all of the sixties greats like Hendrix, Clapton and Beck used this concept. They built off the blues.

However copyright law and its real purpose got hijacked by corporations and everything changed. Instead of culture being built up in the works that the public creates and shares, the public is now faced with copyright corporations locking away works that should be in the public domain by now. These works that should be in the public domain do not benefit the original creators in any way, however they are beneficial for the few copyright monopoly gatekeepers.

For culture to thrive once again, it is important to respect the public domain.

Then on another side of the music business you have the RIAA who continually push lies out into the world, so that technology companies can do something to protect crap business models. Did you know that the global music industry sent it’s 100 million takedown notice to Google, to remove search links to certain sites. It looks like the RIAA doesn’t get it.

So if a person types in “free mp3” in Google Search what should Google return?

Sites that have free mp3’s or sites that the RIAA want Google to point to when that term is typed in. Maybe when that person types in free mp3, they want a free mp3 and have no interest in paying.

Then you have the ISP’s on another side that are caught up in the middle of all this as they offer the service that provides internet access to users. According to the RIAA and the record labels, the ISP’s allow “copyright infringement” to happen, therefore, they need to do something about it to help out the music industry. In Australia, this is heavily disputed, however in other parts of the world gradual response schemes are in place.

Then you have the technology companies trying to offer low cost services to fans of music. However, low cost to a fan means high costs to the RIAA and the record labels in licensing fees. This is before the new service is even allowed to trade. If the new service starts to trade without licensing in place, expect them to be litigated into submission.

Have you noticed that artists have not been mentioned anywhere as yet. That is how far the music business has come, where the actual music is only a small part of it, however it should be the major part of it. For the business to thrive, you need great music.

I was looking back to some of the releases in 2013 that I liked. Two of my favourites are “Protest The Hero” and “Coheed and Cambria”.

“Protest The Hero” and “Coheed and Cambria” are working to the “Keep your fan base close” mantra. Both of the bands moved from major labels into a DIY independent mindset, realising that their fans are king.

Exceptional fan service is the key driving force behind a bands success. I expect “Coheed and Cambria” will get a lot more fans purchasing the next super deluxe package for the new album because they did such a great job with “The Afterman” releases.

“Protest The Hero” on the other hand have fallen into the fan funded conundrum where the perks always arrive later than expected for international fans. I live in Australia and I am still waiting for the perks to arrive. The band have been clear with their information, advising that it will take 6 to 8 weeks.

It’s good old business 101, “treat your customers right and they’ll stay with you forever”.

Then you have bands like Five Finger Death Punch, Avenged Sevenfold, Dream Theater, Stone Sour, Killswitch Engage, Trivium, Volbeat, Alter Bridge and TesserAct that have label deals.

Should those bands go independent like Protest The Hero or Coheed and Cambria. It all depends on a person’s definition of success and hard work. Going independent means that you need to build a team around you like any business start-up.

What are the benefits of going independent?

The lesson is simple. Selling your artistic freedom and independence as a “success” strategy can bring lucrative rewards. But it’s not always the best move for your career, as you are also selling off important data to the record label. The record label doesn’t want to know your fans or connect with them. They want you to do it, so that the label can make money of that relationship and then pay you a percentage of it.

Coheed and Cambria moved over 100,000 units of their deluxe “Afterman” editions. At $60 (I think it was $68, however I will use $60 for the example) an edition, that comes to $6 million in revenue. If the band was on the label model, what percentage would the band see from that $6 million.

The music market/business is filled with acts trying to make it. It is going to take a huge effort to stand out amongst the rest. Music is a lifer game. It is a slow and steady approach that builds careers.

Artists should be looking at development. With each song release, artists should never be afraid to try things out. Even try out new technologies that make it very easy for their fans to interact with them and their music. In a company, this is called research and development. Investing in your career is never a mistake.

The artists have the power to make the record labels redundant, purely to be used as a distribution arm if needed, however with the rise of streaming technologies, even this arm can be in danger of disappearing. Bands like Coheed and Cambria, Protest The Hero and Digital Summer have seen the recorded business side of things and have decided, hey we can do it better. That’s what great businesses are made of.

So in all of this chaos, who will rise and who will fall? Time will tell, however if you compare music to technology, you will see only a select few rise to the top. Smartphones and tablets is all Apple and Samsung. Amazon has online shopping cornered. Google is the king of search. Spotify will win the streaming war. Facebook rules social media. iTunes rules the mp3 and app market. Will the same fate happen in the music business?

2019 Crystal ball predictions;

Coheed and Cambria – will get bigger and bigger. Their style is unique, so expect them to keep to that style, sort of like how AC/DC releases music in the same style or Iron Maiden.

Protest The Hero – proved to themselves that they still matter. Will get bigger and more crazier. The future of progressive metal.

Machine Head – will still be bigger then what they are. Robb Flynn understands the internet and understands the change that is coming. He will make sure that Machine Head rides the wave all the way to the shoreline, while Adam Duce circles in the undercurrent, ready to litigate the band into submission.

TesseracT – will become the next Pink Floyd.

Digital Summer – are one of the hardest working rock bands around like Twisted Sister and Dream Theater. They will get bigger as they are lifers.

Avenged Sevenfold – will become the new Metallica.

Five Finger Death Punch – I have a feeling that they will break up after one more album.

Shinedown – will be bigger than what Aerosmith ever was.

Volbeat – will remain relevant in their niche genre.

Metallica – will still be relevant in the same way the Seventies act remained relevant.

Dream Theater – will still tour and do a lot of side projects, however they will be replaced by TesseracT and Protest The Hero.

Black Veil Brides – will take over the void left by Motley Crue and Guns N Roses.

Trivium – will deliver an astounding progressive technical metal album.

Killswitch Engage – will remain relevant in their niche genre.

Alter Bridge – The world needs Led Zeppelin to continue. Expect Alter Bridge to fill this void. They have one of the best vocalists of the modern era in Myles Kennedy. Marc Tremonti is a prolific writer. Call his Creed project, “The Yardbirds” and Alter Bridge as “Led Zeppelin.”

Bullet For My Valentine – will deliver their own version of “Master Of Puppets” and “The Blackening”.

Lets see how it pans out.

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