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

Lizzard

They have a sound and a style. Their debut album “Out Of Reach” is an experience in itself, merging alternative rock and metal music on a background of progressive and experimental grooves.

And they are a three piece band from France, formed in 2006 that no one even knows about. The vocalist in the band is Mathieu Ricou. The bass player is William Knox and the drummer is Katy Elwell.

Who?

They sure don’t sound like a rock star names like Synester Gates or Zacky Vengeance.

Back when the Record Labels controlled who got signed and who got heard, the French metal scene was more or less ignored. For a band/artist to come out of anY European country that band/artist had to more or less dominate the country. And Europe always has a habit of turning out intriguing acts who only occasionally managed to gain widespread attention.

The Tool influence is very prominent but there are overtones of at least four other bands.

Chevelle, Earshot, 10 Years and Karnivool.

“Out Of Reach” is a perfect example of their style that merges Tool like grooves with Dream Theater like progressive grooves. All of it is underpinned by the melodic vocals of Ricou, who shifts between a Maynard James Keened to an Aaron Lewis to an Chino Moreno.

My personal favourite is “Loose Ends”. The bass groove from William Knox is hypnotic and the drum patterns from Katy Elwell just enhance the groove. Mathieu Ricou knows how to enhance the song with his vocals, his melodies, his phrasing and his guitar lines. “A Perfect Circle” also comes to mind. I still call it hard rock. At 3.05 the trance takes effect with a solid Tool like groove. Then at the 4 minute it goes into a Pink Floyd style atmospheric outro full of dissonant volume swells.

“Twisted Machine” is a stand out. It looks like all three members lived and breathed, “Aenima” and “Lateralus” from Tool while writing this album. From 3.40 the song goes into a wicked groove, ala “Schism”. I actually cranked “Schism” after and thematically the two songs flow in together. And that whole section from about 3.30 in “Schism” got me thinking of “Ragnarok” from Periphery and off I went to digest that song.

At 44 minutes “Out Of Reach” is a compact album, which is how it should be.

Since Tool is on hiatus, Earshot are more or less no more, Chevelle are trying out new musical horizons and Deftones are here and there when they want to me, Lizzard is a perfect replacement to fill the gap. They haven’t just filled the gap, they have made it their own.

They have a fan funding campaign up for their new album on Ulule. It’s in French and the Google translator is working spasmodically. 61 contributors so far and they have achieved 89% of their target. The target is 3,500 Euros.

Did I contribute?

No.

Fan funding to me is about delivering something unique to a fan. The perks are just not unique enough and $15Euro for a CD (which equates to about $22 Australian) is above what I would pay for a CD. So it will be a Spotify album.

If an album sold 61 CD’s it would be seen as a dud.

Fan Funding a CD and offering fans what the old legacy gatekeepers offered fans, is not embracing the new. It is using new and exiting platforms to prop up old business models.

People want access to the music and they will contribute for a perk if they believe they are getting value for their money. Make it worth their while, otherwise it is leaving money on the table.

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Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Piracy, Business Models, Fair Price and Amazon

Kevin Spacey shared his views recently on battling movie piracy. Spacey has the view that by “releasing films on line, in cinemas and on DVD at the same time would take a huge bit out of piracy.” He further stated that TV executives should “give “control” to their audiences or risk losing them.”

The line of interest is “Releasing films On Line and on DVD at the same time with the Cinema release”.

This is what Napster showed the music world (and at large the Entertainment world) back in 1999. It took the music business a long time to accept this. Fans wanted content and they wanted it straight away. They didn’t want the content to be released in the U.S first, then 4 weeks later in Europe, then 4 weeks later in Australia, then 4 weeks later in Asia and so on. Back in Eighties and Nineties (before Napster), there used to be an import chart. Yes that’s right. Fans of certain bands, had to pay $50 to $60 for a CD, because the music of that band was not available locally due to no distribution agreement or due to geo restrictions.

So the iTunes store came first in April 2003. Between 1999 and 2003, thousands of other illegal file sharing services appeared as the Record Labels negotiated with Apple.

Spotify came in July 2011 (for the US and 2008 in Sweden) after delays and years of negotiation with the four major record companies. In between 2003 and 2011, various other legal players came on the scene, only to be litigated into oblivion when the Labels demanded greater fees. YouTube snuck in the back door and became a streaming “unlicensed” giant. Sharing of music works kept on growing as the audiences expectations were still not met.

That is also what The Pirate Bay has shown the movie world since 2005. The funny thing is the movie business still hasn’t accepted this as fact. Once the movie is out, it is out. As soon as that movie plays on the cinema screens it is released. So why are the movie studios waiting months before the DVD version or the Blu Ray version or the Netflix version is released. If the movie is out, it is out and it should be available on all possible formats ASAP.

Piracy is circumvented by using ever changing, always evolving business models and strategies?

First and foremost, you need to make something that is quality. Then you need to make it available everywhere. You are putting the control and the distribution in the hands of the fans. Letting the fan decide how they want to consume it. For any artist these days, they need an entry point into the music business and that comes via your music. If it is great, opportunities will arise and you will be able to monetize it.

In this day and age, if a fan purchases a CD version of the album, this should result in an automatic mp3 download of the album as well. Amazon has this facility with AutoRip, however this shouldn’t be only limited to Amazon and on line shopping. If you purchase a CD at a brick and mortar store, the fan should be able to go home and go to a website and download the album with their key. All of the releases should be surrounded with perks. Musicians have to give fans a reason to buy. They are no different than an entrepreneur.

Once musicians give the fans a reason to buy, they need to offer it a fair price. I cannot speak highly enough of Coheed and Cambria. What they delivered with “The Afterman” super deluxe limited edition releases and the price they delivered it with was brilliant. Plus we all got to log in to the Transmissions part of the website, and could watch a track by track interview of each song, plus we could get the 320 or 192 rips of the album on actual release date including the demos.

When a Record Label is involved the “fair price” ideal goes out the window and so does any respect to the fans. As I have mentioned in my previous posts, I purchased the new Karnivool album Asymmetry from Amazon in the U.S instead of Australia, purely because of price and I also get an AutoRip of the album.

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

Do Amazon Sales Count As U.S sales?

I purchase all of my music via Amazon. I live in Australia and I refuse to pay $20 for a CD when I can get the same product via Amazon for half the price. Even when shipping is added on, I still save. What I normally do is purchase 8 to 10 CD’s at the same time and I really save. From time to time I chuck in a book or a DVD from an artist that I like. I recently did a few pre-orders and along with them I purchased “Shut Up and Give Me The Mic” from Dee Snider from Amazon for $9.99 in hardcover. In Australia the hard cover book is retailing for $32.99.

I also purchased “Hail To The King” from Avenged Sevenfold from Amazon. So the actual price of the CD/DVD deluxe edition came to $13.99. The postage cost was $2.04. The total cost of the CD/DVD delivered to my front door was $16.03. I also got an Amazon AutoRip of the album. So the total cost of the CD/DVD deluxe package with an MP3 rip was $16.03. To buy the deluxe edition of the album in Australia, the prices range from $19.99 to $28.99. Seriously, that is dead set ridiculous and a rip off.

Another thing, Karnivool is an Australian band. Their new album Asymmetry is priced at $19.99 in Australia. That is at Brick and Mortar stores. Online the CD is even more expensive. On Amazon it is priced at $11.99. So I purchased it from Amazon.

But piracy is hurting the artists, screams the RIAA.

No, piracy is not hurting the artists. Stupid record labels are hurting the artists. It is the labels that have failed the artists. It is the labels that have failed the music business.

So as a purchaser of entertainment products from Amazon (a U.S company), do my purchasers rank as U.S sales or Australian sales of the purchased product. Does the place/country of delivery get factored in when the purchases are reported to Soundscan?

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

MAKING A DIFFERENCE – Progress is derivative and quality equals success.

I am a volunteer coach and administrator for the football team my kids play. Another parent mentioned to me how it amazes them the amount of work that volunteer coaches put in and that they put in hours of preparation just to organise training. On top of that, I work full time as well, juggling work commitments, and still taking time out to prepare and make training every Tuesday and Thursday and then help out every Saturday and Sunday. Just recently I spent seven weeks attending a Youth Licence course, so that I am also qualified to coach my kids.

So I am thinking to myself, is it all worth it? Am I making a difference? Are my methods having an impact? How many artists have walked away from their dreams or the direction that lead to their dreams at this stage. In the end, musicians are just volunteers to begin with?

I am always looking for ways to improve things. I am looking outside my circle, looking at what others have experienced and drawing on that inspiration, twisting it and making it better.

John Petrucci from Dream Theater more or less said the same thing in a Roadrunner interview about the upcoming self-titled album.

“I see every new album as an opportunity to start over. To either build or improve upon a direction that has been evolving over time or to completely break new ground. This is the first self-titled album of our career and there is nothing I can think of that makes a statement of musical and creative identity stronger than that. We’ve fully explored all of the elements that make us unique, from the epic and intense to the atmospheric and cinematic.”

Like Five Finger Death Punch, like Karnivool, like Heartist, like Stone Sour, all of these bands are focusing on their core uniqueness and expanding it in new ways. Remember my catch cry: Progress is Derivative. You keep on building what you started until a connection is made, between song and listener.

Then watch that one listener, hook another listener and so forth.  Then you have the outlier, the one band that did things just a touch differently; Imagine Dragons.

The band did six-hour gigs at the main Las Vegas casinos when they started out. The set list was mixed up with cover songs and originals.

Playing the casinos were classed as hometown gigs. The big difference here is that those hometown gigs are not played to hometown crowds. Due to Las Vegas’s reputation as a holiday strip, the band performed in front of new people every night. They needed to adapt fast as live performers, so that they win over a new crowd every night. That is why their album is back in the Top 10 again, 10 months after it was released. The band is touring and winning.

They have the momentum going. The numbers and the stats are on their side. Night Visions was released last September. In the US alone it has sold over 1 million copies so far. The songs, Radioactive, It’s Time and Demons have sold in total 7.2 million digital downloads. YouTube plays for the three songs number over 100 million. Spotify streams for the three songs are also close to the 100 million mark.  They performed and created as much as possible. That is the key. Created as much as possible. Progress is derivative and quality equals success.

They knocked on the doors so many times, and those doors finally opened up. They kept on improving on what they started and they got better at it.

And in relation to the kids football team, I am making a difference. 13 games into the season, they have won 10, drawn 2 and lost 1. As each day goes by, I am getting better at it and the kids are getting better at it. IT IS WORTH IT.

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

Karnivool – Progress is Derivative and what Does Different Mean These Days?

I follow Tesseract on Spotify and I was going through a playlist that Tesseract put up. When I heard the new album Altered State, I immediately made a comparison to an Australian band called Karnivool. So I am going through the songs on the playlist and I come across Karnivool. They are on the list. It is a form of validation, that my senses are correct. It makes you feel good that you are in tune with the artists that you like. So I go onto YouTube and do a search on Karnivool and I find two new songs posted,  “We Are” and “The Refusal” from the album called “Asymmetry” that is due out on 19 July.  14 songs in total.

The songs are different.  Different in the way that the two new songs are not in the same theme as the preceding album.

How?

In the same way that Sound Awake is different to Themata, if these two songs set the general theme for Asymmetry then I would say all three albums have their own individual unique theme while still holding on to some bits of the bands character, which is pretty good coming from the one band.  They are still playing to their core audience and improving, growing and experimenting. That is all we can ask for in the artists that we like.

Definitely interested in hearing more of the new album now. I remember first listening to Sound Awake and I was like these guys have changed, but the more I paid attention to it the more I thought it wasn’t in a bad way, just unique, I think I’ll be having the same feeling when listening to this album, and I reckon for a band to do that is pretty cool.

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Music, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Stone Music Festival – Lessons Learned or Not Learned

The Stone Music Festival (SMF) will be back in 2014. So what lessons have the organisers learned or not learned from the inaugural festival.

1 – The month of April for an outdoor festival is the wrong month. The organisers have put some PR spin on this by using ANZAC DAY. The festival website states that the point of the Stone Festival was to be “a timely reminder of our fallen veterans in the lead up to ANZAC Day, create a brand new Aussie ANZAC tradition”. Seriously, what a load of BS. The Stone Music Festival was created to make money. Nothing else. It wasn’t created to honour Anzac Day or the fallen veterans. If it was, it would have mentioned that from the outset, not after the festival was run. Shame SMF on using the Anzac legend in your PR rubbish. LESSON = NOT LEARNED.

2 – The festival will drop the “Stone Music Festival” brand name. For those in Australia, we know that the Stone movie is about bikies and bikie culture. The association with this movie and the bikie culture became a PR nightmare. The Sydney Bikie Wars is all over the news with shootings happening at least once a week. Fans believed that motorcycle gangs would be in attendance at the festival. The organisers realised this could be a problem. So the PR machine kicked in again, stating that any bikies in club colours will not be allowed into the venue. It was all too late. Ticket sales stalled. LESSON = LEARNED

3 – It has mentioned Muse, Kings Of Leon, Pearl Jam and The Eagles as possible contenders for next year.

The Eagles did big business in Australia on the stadium circuit, when they toured here in 2010. They haven’t released anything worthwhile, solely relying on their legacy.

Kings of Leon did big business on the Arena circuit when they toured in Australia in 2011 and are in the process of releasing their new album. If that album tanks, I am sure the organisers would book them, as they booked Van Halen and Aerosmith.

Pearl Jam played stadiums in Australia when they toured here last in 2009. This band is a dark horse, as they have that Grateful Dead cult following. The band members are connected to social media, they bootleg their own shows and release them to the fans and they are still churning out music. Personally I liked Pearl Jam on the first four albums. Backspacer wasn’t a bad album, but it wasn’t good either.

Muse on the other hand played the Big Day Out festival in 2010 when they toured Australia, so they are experienced at the Australian festival scene. They then totally ignored Australia on the recent 2nd Law tour. Maybe that is a good thing, since that album was terrible. To me, Muse is a downward spiral. They have had their heyday.

The organisers are looking at the past. They are not looking at the now. LESSON = NOT LEARNED

Here are some current international bands that are doing big business; Kid Rock, Stone Sour, Shinedown, Killswitch Engage, Black Veil Brides, Five Finger Death Punch, In This Moment, Volbeat, Bullet For My Valentine, Coheed and Cambria, Imagine Dragons, Paramore, Papa Roach and Thirty Seconds To Mars.

4. Drugs is a big problem in Australia, so when you have a person involved in the festival that did time for drugs and the name of the festival is referencing a bikie movie, where the bikie gangs of today are the biggest movers of drugs, you will be scaring off a lot of people. LESSON = NOT LEARNED

5. Treating older fans like teenagers. Fans of music are not just 18 – 25 year olds as most organisers believe. Most of the money spent in the music business is by older fans. These fans don’t deserve to be standing for 10 hours in the rain or the sun to watch an act that they supported and grew up with. Organisers of any festival need to take this into consideration. When you have headlining bands like Van Halen and Billy Joel, you need to accept that an older fan base will be present. Show them some respect. LESSON = NOT LEARNED

6. Have a Plan B. There is no reason why these shows couldn’t move into the Allphones Arena. The second stage could have been set up in one of the foyer areas of the Allphones Arena. There was no vision, no contingency. LESSON = NOT LEARNED

7. The Supergroup Cover/Tribute band is here to stay.
Seriously, Kings Of Chaos stole the show at the venue. I remember back in time, where a certain “supergroup” in Australia was formed called The Party Boys and what fun they had as well, playing cover songs from other bands as well as songs from there solo careers/previous bands. .

8. Van Halen in the past did big numbers and so did Billy Joel. In America, those two artists still did big business last year. Of the 25,000 tickets that where on sale at the SMF for Day 1 – Van Halen, under 50% got sold. Of the 25,000 tickets on sale for Day 2 – Billy Joel, under 45% got sold. So why didn’t they do big business in Australia this time around.

Three things at play here;
1. Blame the month. As I have mentioned in the previous posts, April is the worst month to hold an outdoor festival in Australia.
2. Both artists haven’t released anything worthwhile recently. EVH is my guitar idol. When I was learning how to play in the 1980’s EVH and RR formed by body of knowledge. I even paid top dollar to get recorded cassette tapes of their demos to be sent to me. Imagine my shock when I purchased A Different Kind of Truth, and hear those demo songs on it. What a load of rubbish? I really liked the songs they did with DLR on the Greatest Hits packages, so why they couldn’t go forward in that direction is beyond me.
3. The lack of decent Australian talent. Jimmy Barnes and Noiseworks are finished. The Living End need to release something worthwhile again or they will be doing the nostalgia circuit as well. Australian fans like Australian talent, however it looks like everyone is pushing/shoving international rubbish acts past their due by date down our throats. The organisers need to be out scouting for talent. De La Cruz from Brisbane, has a recording deal in Europe with Frontier Records. They play hard rock music. Demolition Diva rocked it up at the Motley Crue and Kiss concert. Birds of Tokyo are relevant. My favourite Australian act is COG. They never got the recognition they deserved. Second placed is Karnivool and then The Butterfly Effect. These bands all have cult fan bases. And yes, I do know that COG is on hiatus or have split up, depending on what story you believe.

9. The one venue idea is ridiculous in Australia. To fly to Perth from Sydney is a four to five hour flight. Tickets return are normally $500. Talking about treating fans like dirt. Fans need to purchase a ticket to the show at $200 minimum, then book flights at $500 return. Most will end up staying the night, so then they need to book accommodation at $200 a night. $900 is a lot of money, and imagine if they are coming with a partner or their teenage kids.

The reason why Soundwave and the Big Day Out work in Australia as summer festivals is that it moves from City To City. To be honest, those two festivals have the January and February months booked down. So that leaves November, December and March for this festival. December is all about Christmas, so you can count out that month. So that leaves October, November and March. March is when Uni students return to school in most countries, October and November is the end of school exams, so already, the festival has an uphill battle to secure a suitable month. Remember Soundwave Revolution from a few years ago. They tried it in September, and it didn’t even start. It was cancelled. That was another one venue idea as well. If you are going to do ONE VENUE – do it in MELBOURNE. The Melbourne-ites go to everything. It is a different scene and culture there. LESSON = NOT LEARNED

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