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

STREAMLINE

Where do you want your fans to go?

Give people too much choice and they don’t buy at all. It’s one of the reason’s why a lot of people are still sitting on the fence when it comes to streaming. They’re not sure if it’s going to stick. My musical journey started with vinyl and cassettes, then I had to upgrade my vinyl/cassette collection to CD’s, then I ripped all of my CD’s into MP3’s and now I’m doing streaming. As just one music consumer from the millions in the world, I have Megadeth’s “Rust In Peace” on vinyl, on CD and on CD again as a remastered release. Actually, this is the same deal for all of Megadeth’s output up to “Rust In Peace”.

For Motley Crue, (it’s the same deal for all of their albums up to 1989) I have “Dr Feelgood” on cassette, vinyl, CD, CD remastered, in the box set “Music To Crash Your Car Too” and on CD again remastered with bonus tracks.

For the 1994 Motley Crue CD, I have it on cassette, the CD with the red writing and the CD with the yellow writing. Plus I have the super expensive Japanese EP, “Quaternary”.

So you can see how band sales are really inflated when you have other people in the world doing the same thing I am doing, which is re-purchasing the music in different formats and in some cases with bonus tracks upgrades.

I will used “Shout At The Devil” and “Dr Feelgood” from Motley Crue as a case study.

“Shout At The Devil” came out in January 1984. By November 1989, it was certified triple platinum for 3 million in sales in the U.S. You could safely say that Motley Crue had 3 million fans. However in May, 1997, it received its 4x Platinum award for 4 million U.S. sales. While the label and the band would believe they had picked up an extra million fans, the truth is, those million sales over 8 years came from their original 3 million fans, re-buying the same album in a different format or packaging maybe once or twice.

“Dr Feelgood” came out in November 1989. By January 1991, it was certified 4x Platinum for 4 million U.S. sales. Its next certification came in May, 1997, for six million U.S sales. Again, the band didn’t just pick up 2 million new fans. Instead it was the hard-core fans re-purchasing an album they already owned on normal CD and then with the remastered bonus tracks.

When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in the late 90’s they had too many models, all with design and functionality issues, that even Apple couldn’t keep up servicing them. So, it’s no wonder that Jobs streamlined the product range. And then Apple started to make money again. Now that Jobs is gone, Tim Cook is following the same mistakes of the other clueless leaders Apple had when Job’s wasn’t in charge. Too many products with too many bugs.

Look at the band releases these days and how many different offerings they have. The recent Metallica release has the following packages;

  • CD – normal album
  • Vinyl – normal album
  • CD – Deluxe album
  • Vinyl – Deluxe album
  • iTunes – normal album
  • iTunes – Deluxe album
  • Streaming – normal album
  • Streaming – Deluxe album

Why is there a need to have a normal album release and a deluxe album release these days?

Why can’t the album just be the album? If the band wants to put out three discs, let them and call it THE ALBUM…

Price and the how people will pay high prices for what they deem superior or rare is one of the reasons mentioned for the deluxe edition still existing but these days the deluxe edition is not in limited supply anymore. Millions are in circulation. The real main reason is due to artists and labels refusing to abandon the past.

Jobs refused to be chained to the past. Legacy ports were axed on the iMac. CD Rom drives got axed on later versions. The iPod was murdered by the iPhone. If Jobs let the past dictate the future, Apple would have been left dead and buried. But the past is the Achilles heel for the music business. The public is moving on. It doesn’t care if HMV goes under. It doesn’t care if mp3’s are declining. Hell, mp3’s via Napster is nearly 20 years old. The public at large doesn’t care about deluxe editions. Super fans and fans of bonus tracks do care but the music business cannot roll on these fans alone. It needs the majority, hence the reason why streaming has become a big player, because it offers access.

Trust me the labels would prefer to not have streaming, because the listens are anaemic on signed acts. Hell, there are DIY bands who have more listens on their account than label backed bands. But streaming exists, because the majority wanted it.

Don’t let the past dictate the future.

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A to Z of Making It, Alternate Reality, Music, My Stories, Piracy

The New Music Labels

There are a lot of discussions happening around the film industry.

For example, would the new Star Wars movie be better served as a HBO/AMC/NETFLIX/etc TV Series?

Instead of a two-hour movie for Episode 7, would it serve the Star Wars story line better if it followed the Game Of Thrones formula and produced ten 1 hour episodes.

Two hours vs Ten Hours.

What would the customers want?

In relation to music, Napster pretty much showed the recording industry what customers want. More single songs than a slab of songs.

It’s pretty obvious that CD’s are not making a comeback. Yes, they are still selling, however so is vinyl. Both niche markets for the time being. The majority of the listeners have moved to streaming services, digital downloads, YouTube or P2P downloading. Whatever the method used to consume music, access is the key word.

Do we want to watch a movie in our home theatres or do we want to put up with dirty Cinema’s, people talking and deciding that the movie experience was the perfect time for them to have a Subway Roll, Satay Chicken from the Thai restaurant next door or some other kind of lunch/dinner.

What people want is instant access. But the content providers would rather sell 5 movie tickets ONCE to my family than get a percentage cut from a monthly license fee from a streaming service over and over and over and over again.

The content providers would rather sell my family ONE Blu-Ray/DVD than get a percentage cut from a monthly license fee from a streaming service over and over and over and over again.

I was talking to me kids about a movie called “Who’s Harry Crumb?” a few days ago. It got them excited to watch it. So i pulled up Netflix, searched for it and it is not there.

Bummer.

Did I got out and buy a copy of it?

Of course not. We just moved on to another movie, which in this case was “The Replacements”.

Same deal with music.

The best emails I get are the ones from Spotify when they tell me a certain album from the bands I follow is available for streaming;

In the last week, those emails have covered the following releases;

  • Survival by TesseracT
  • The Book Of Souls by Iron Maiden
  • Got Your Six by Five Finger Death Punch
  • Life, Love, Loss by Degreed
  • Here To Mars by Coheed and Cambria
  • Love, Fear and the Time Machine by Riverside

I remember the old days when we all rushed to the record store or to the cinema so we could purchase the latest music or watch the latest movie just to be part of the conversation. Why would I want those days back again.

Change is happening quicker than ever before.

We went from Napster to iTunes to YouTube to Spotify. We went from MySpace to Facebook to Twitter and back to Facebook. The major labels have withered down to three. The movie studios are doing the same.

Watch out for television to do the same. Funny thing to note, is that the channels leading the way, are channels that originally started off licensing movies from the Hollywood studios. HBO, AMC, Showtime and Netflix found out that original programming is where it’s at. Create a show that connects and watch it become part of the cultural conversation. Amazon is now involved and Apple is due to enter this market.

So what does this have to do with music and artists?

Expect Spotify to lead the way and start signing up artists because even though artists can cut a record without a major label or corporation behind them, they cannot be heard without the help of the label machine. There is a lot of money in music if you control the copyrights of artists you break through. Spotify can break an artist, they just need to start signing them and developing them.

It’s just a shame that the power players in music would rather spend their resources and monies to shut down illegal music websites through the Courts while websites controlled by terrorist like ISIS are allowed to operate. It’s a shame that the power players in music have had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the new digital world post Napster.

Especially when illegal music websites have allowed fans of certain styles of music to access bands they never could before. Metallica and Iron Maiden are two examples of illegal music websites growing their fan bases in countries where they sold no physical product.

So what did these bands do with that high rate of P2P piracy?

They toured those countries.

Being an artist is a business and making money in a business is hard.

The good thing for musicians today, is that all of the craziness that happened since Napster is all over. Musicians now know what the recording industry looks like and how it all hangs together within the music industry. In my view, the current ecosystem would remain stable for the next 50 years or so.

The big change that would happen is when technology companies like Spotify, Apple, Pandora, Google and Samsung get into signing and developing new artists. When these techies become like labels they will be powerful. Because of the data which they will have and control. Will the record labels then start to litigate against these techies.

Once these companies become like labels, expect them to enter the live arena as promoters. Apple and Spotify are both involved in the festivals scene.

Times they are a changing.

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

“Why Do You Do What You Do?” And Guess What! “Rock Is Not Dead”

Gene Simmons from KISS declared that “Rock is finally dead” which stirred up a lot of debate in the music industry. Dee Snider was one of the first to post a rebuttal. Then came Dave Grohl’s rebuttal and recently it was a diplomatic Slash. Basically everything that he said I more or less agree with.

“The music business itself is not catering to rock ‘n’ roll at all. And if you’re aspiring to be a guitarist or a drummer or a singer in a rock band and trying to make your way up the ladder, the obstacles are much bigger than they were when I first started.”

The music business does cater to rock’n’roll however it is the recording business that doesn’t cater that much to it. The majority of the labels monies are focused on the pop stars singing Max Martin songs.

“The rock ‘n’ roll audience is rabid. It’s huge and just as alive and kicking as it ever was.”

That’s god damn right. The audience for rock music is there. Also with so much rock music coming out right now, that is the evidence right there to prove that rock is very much alive and kicking.

And that is a biggy.

With so much rock music being released every day, how is the rabid rock audience going to find it and hear it. Apply simple supply and demand economics to the equation. When the record labels controlled the distribution, the music that was released and when it was release, the actual supply to the fans was limited even though demand was high. Now with all of those barriers of entry torn down, the supply of new music is constant. And even though demand is still high, our time is limited.

Another big difference is that the way we consume music. It is still a very fragmented marketplace. Think about it for a second.

There are the usual CD sales. Amazon is still a big player in this regard along with the record labels and the unique limited deluxe editions they offer. In addition the brick and mortar stores still exist that cater in sales. Then there is the sales of MP3’s. Apple is the big player here, while Amazon offers AutoRip features on CD’s sold.

Then there is streaming. You have Spotify type streaming and the radio style streaming of Pandora. Terrestrial Radio is still there as well. So as an artist it is a confusing time. Hell, even the cashed up labels are confused as to what needs to be done as they still rely on the nuclear bomb style of marketing to push new acts or new music from established artists.

“If you’re really passionate about the kind of music you wanna do and you’re not looking at it from a dollars and cents point of view, but you just want to create new music and somehow go out there and play live and get it out there, that passion has to be honed in and it has to be real.”

So what is your view of success?

Do you have a short-term view on measuring success or a long-term view? Is success your main motivator for creating music because if it is, there are risks in a short-term view of measuring success and there are risks in having success as your main motivator?

It comes down to the “Golden Circle” idea from Simon Sinek. “How” is in the centre, surrounded by the “Why” which is then surrounded by a larger circle called the “What”.

Apply those principles to a musician. A musician knows that what they do is to write and perform music. A musician knows how to write and perform music but do they know WHY they do it. If a musician’s “WHY” is solely to make money then they need to be reminded that their “WHY” is a “RESULT” of “WHAT” they do.

As Sinek explained, people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. And if you don’t’ know why you do what you do, then how will you ever get someone to buy into it, and be loyal, or want to be a part of what it is that you do.

A perfect example of a simply WHY can be found in Zakk Wylde and Black Label Society. The WHY is to get dressed in your BLS Chapter colours, get together at the show and drink a lot of god damn beers. And guess what. People responded to that WHY in the thousands. They want to let their hair or goatees or beards down and down a few brewskis.

Protest The Hero focused on the WHY on their fan funding campaign for the “Volition” album. They told their fan base that their time with record labels has resulted in the labels telling the band that they have no fan base and that they are not a viable option for a label to support. The fans wanted to show that is not the case. And the best way was for the fans to be a part of what Protest The Hero wanted to do, which was to record an album, promote it and tour on the back of it. The fans didn’t care how they did it because we bought into the WHY they were doing it.

Claude Sanchez’s WHY for Coheed and Cambria is to tell the Amory Wars story and guess what, thousands upon thousands of people bought into it. Comics, Albums, Novels, T-Shirts, Deluxe Packages, Live Shows and Vinyl Re-Issues. You name it, we have supported it.

So ask yourself, why do you want to be  a musician?

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Music

Innovation V6.0 – While Spotify Innovates, The Governments And The Entertainment Industries Legislate

Van Morrison once said that “Music is spiritual. The music business is not”. How true that comment is.

Spotify recently announced the acquisition of “The Echo Nest” , a music intelligence company that will give Spotify and its users a better music discovery platform. As is the norm these days, it is technologists leading the way for the music business and in general the entertainment business at large.

When Spotify offered free mobile access, they had more sign ups in one month than the whole year prior. Spotify knows it’s all about domination. The history of the internet has shown us that. Pandora is unrivalled in the radio streaming stakes. Apples iTunes Radio is non-existent.

Labels are rolling it in from streaming services and they are not passing those extras on to the artists. That is not Spotify or Pandora’s fault. That is the labels fault. Again, if Spotify is that bad for the artist, then artists like Metallica and Motley Crue that actually own their own copyrights wouldn’t participate. But they did.

While Spotify innovates, the entertainment industries legislate, still focused on censorship and take downs.

Over at Italy, their communications watchdog has given itself a “Judge Dredd” like power. They are basically censoring websites based on a copyright infringement claim from a copyright holder and without any real judicial due process for the website involved.

Just recently, the Public Prosecutor from Italy has decided to go all “Wild West Sheriff Style” on the Internet by ordering Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) to censor dozens of websites, because he said that the websites are places that contain infringing materials. In this case, no copyright holder made any claim against these websites. Yep, it sure sounds like innovation to me.

This is how bad copyright has gotten. People believe that COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT OF MUSIC is the same thing as PROPERTY, an actual physical tangible product. And because of this viewpoint, sites that infringe on people’s copyrights are treated the same as sites that deal in stolen merchandise. When a copy is made of a song and shared, it is not theft. It is copyright infringement and it needs to be treated as such.

In recent years, studies have shown over and over again that people who share movies and music illegally are the ones that end up spending more on legal entertainment. The research is now even recognized by the “Industry Trust For IP Awareness” which is a body that includes all of the major Hollywood Studios as its members, along with the major labels in music.

The latest anti-piracy message from the IP Awareness Industry Trust is a positive one. Instead of labelling all of their customers as pirates and criminals, they are now saying that they understand people like movies and that they appreciate that people are sharing and spending money on movies. This time around they are pushing a slogan of “Moments Worth Paying For” instead of the Big Brother “You Can Click But Can’t Hide”.

Neil Gaiman is one of those people who actually is open-minded when it comes to piracy. There is a video doing the rounds from a while back (on Reddit) where Gaiman talks about piracy;

“You’re not losing sales by getting stuff out there. When I do a big talk now on these kinds of subjects and people ask “What about the sales you are losing by having stuff floating out there?” I started asking the audience to raise their hands for one question — Do you have a favourite author? And they say yes and I say good. What I want is for everybody who discovered their favourite author by being lent a book put up your hand. Then anybody who discovered their favourite author by walking into a book story and buying a book. And it’s probably about 5-10%, if that, of the people who discovered their favourite author who is the person they buy everything of and they buy the hardbacks. And they treasure the fact they’ve got this author. Very few of them bought the book. They were lent it. They were given it. They did not pay for it. That’s how they found their favourite author. And that’s really all this is; it’s people lending books.”

Let’s rephrase those questions in terms of music. Even musicians out there should ask themselves the same question.

Do they have a favourite artist?

How did they discover their favourite artist? Was it by buying their music or was it by someone sharing the music with them or was it by someone lending them a CD, a mix tape, an LP or an iPod full of mp3’s or by someone talking up the artist.

How many people discovered their favourite artist by walking into a record shop and buying a CD without even hearing it? Or in today’s world, how many people discovered their favourite artist by going onto Spotify and listening to music of someone they haven’t heard about.

Gaiman gets it. He is a realist. Hey, look over in Japan. They actually have a rental policy in place for fans of music. People hire/lend the CD, take it home, rip it and then return it for another. Personally, Spotify is a better alternative, however rights holders don’t allow it to exist at this point in time.

Finally, the great land down under, Australia is in the news again. Of course as a country founded by convicts, we have a proud history of seeing higher copyright infringement rates thanks to the lack of legitimate and affordable options.

So we don’t have Netflix and because of that we have resorted to using VPNs to mask our location and subscribe to Netflix anyway.

Of course, the free to air TV stations, the pay TV station Foxtel (who is owned by News Corp) and Quickflix along with the News Corp owned “The Australian” news outlet are labelling these paying users of Netflix as “PIRATES”. Yep that’s right. We are paying for a service that is affordable (something that Quickflix doesn’t know anything about) by masking our IP address so that we can access it and we are still labelled as pirates.

So there you have it, another wonderful week has come and gone, that shows that the Entertainment Industries still don’t get it and technologist and open-minded creators do get it.

http://www.dmwmedia.com/news/2014/03/06/spotify-acquires-the-echo-nest

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140305/10000226442/italys-public-prosecutor-orders-isps-to-block-dozens-pirate-websites-just-because-he-said-so.shtml

http://torrentfreak.com/pirates-movie-industrys-valuable-customers-140304/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Torrentfreak+%28Torrentfreak%29

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140303/11511026409/australian-broadcasters-netflix-competitors-pout-because-netflix-hasnt-banned-vpn-users-yet.shtml

http://comicsalliance.com/neil-gaiman-piracy-lending-books/

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140303/11511026409/australian-broadcasters-netflix-competitors-pout-because-netflix-hasnt-banned-vpn-users-yet.shtml

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