Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Be Influenced. It’s Okay.

Screw all the heirs of dead artists and their lawyers who believe that the music their ancestors created was so original and free from influence. Here is a quick list that I compiled off the top of my head from some large songs and all the artists they borrowed from or got influenced from had successful careers without a plagiarism court case.

Metallica – Fade to Black (1984)
A fan made music video on YouTube has 32,538,942 views, while a fan posted mp3 has 44,032,321 views. In other words it’s a monster of a song. But where did this monster come from.

The intro is influenced by the intro in Pink Floyd – “Goodbye Blue Sky” from 1979. The start of the outro when James is singing is influenced by the intro from Black Sabbath – “A National Acrobat” from 1973. And the song still sounds original.

Poison – Unskinny Bop (1991)
The song has over 7 million streams on Spotify.

The guitar riff is influenced by the intro guitar riff in Billy Squier – “Powerhouse” from 1986. The bass lines are very similar to the bass line from 45 seconds onwards in Great White – “Mista Bone” from 1989. Then again, that running bass line is pretty common in most songs. You hear it in “Disturb The Priest” from Black Gillian’s album “Born Again”. And the song still sounds original.

Gotye – Somebody I Used To Know (2011)
Gotye’s “Somebody I Used To Know” has close to 400 million streams on Spotify. It’s popular and catchy and it borrowed heavily from other songs. The music and vocal melodies are from the verse riff in Billy Squier – “Reach For The Sky” from 1984 and the verse riff from The Police – “King Of Pain” from 1983. And the Gotye song still sounds original.

Motley Crue – SEX (2012)
Motley Crue’s “SEX” borrowed its main riff from “Evie” (1974) by Stevie Wright (which has 1,037,491 streams on Spotify). “Evie” is also similar to “Mississippi Woman” by Mountain (almost 23,000,000 streams on Spotify), which is also similar to “Sweeter Than Honey” by Jefferson Starship (1975) and “Train” by 3 Doors Down borrows from all of them.

And all of the songs still sound unique and original, regardless of the obvious influences.

Bullet For My Valentine – “Waking The Demon” (2008)
“Waking The Demon” borrowed its main intro riff from the intro/verse riff in Slayer’s “Spirit In Black” released in 1990 on the “Seasons In the Abyss” album.

On Bullets Vevo account, “Waking The Demon” has 48 million views, while “Spirit In Black” has 96,000 views on a fan YouTube account and 462,000 views on another fan YouTube account. Be influenced and make it better.

One Song To Inspire Them All
That goes to Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir”. For a band that used the music of other artists to build a career, they ended up creating a definitive song that a lot of other bands would use as a template to build their career on.

  •  Kingdom Come – “Get In On” verse riff is similar to Led Zeppelin – Kashmir.
  • Megadeth – “In My Darkest Hour” verse riff is similar to Led Zeppelin – Kashmir.
  • Whitesnake – “Judgement Day” verse riff similar to Led Zeppelin – Kashmir.
  • Coheed and Cambria – “Welcome Home” verse riff similar to Led Zeppelin Kashmir.

A live version of Kashmir on the Led Zeppelin YouTube account has 28 million views and an mp3 on a fan YouTube account has 19 million views.

And yet all of the above mentioned songs still sound unique. If you delve into the origins of each song, you will see some influences or borrowing from other songs and the cycle just keeps on going. So here’s a big “up yours” to the all of those people who scream plagiarism in music.

Click the link to listen to the Progress Is Derivative 1 playlist.

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Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Writing A Riff Is A Combination Of What We Have Heard Before

Have a drink for creativity.

Even if we think our favourites are original, trust me, they are not. For an artist to create music, they need to hear music. And when you hear music, you write music in the style of what you have heard. You use chords and melodies from song you have heard. Nobody lives in a vacuum.

In the end it took eight unknown jurors to decide this.

The funny thing here is the Copyright Law that Corporations orchestrated via Government lobbying in the Seventies, is getting used by others to now sue those same corporations who hold the copyrights to songs. Page and Plant sold their rights to Warner for a lot of money.

But seriously, if Copyright is operating how it is meant to work, once the creator dies, all of their creations become part of the public domain. Instead, Randy California’s songs became part of a business model for a corporation. In this case, the Trustee’s of Randy’s Estate.

Remember when the lawyers for Randy California’s trustee Michael Skidmore, asked for a $1 settlement along with a writing credit for Spirit guitarist Randy California and any future profits would then be received by the Trustee’s of California’s estate. Yep, I really love how copyright is used as a pension fund for people who really are not eligible to gain from it.

And what about the creative accounting from both sides.

The Trustee’s for Randy California estimated that the song earned close to $60 million between 2011 to 2014, citing a music publishing deal that Jimmy Page and Robert Plant signed with Warner Music. However, the accountant used by the Jimmy Page and Robert Plant legal team, said that Jimmy Page earned $615,000 and Robert Plant earned  $532,000 for the song. There is a massive disconnect there.

Either way, that’s some serious dough and when you add the money that other songs in their catalogue would earn, it adds up to a lot of money.

But some one is not telling the truth and when it comes to the accounting of music, the truth is the last thing being told. There are so many skeletons and the only way to find out the truth is a federal investigation.

The part the troubles me the most is how Michael Skidmore is trying to present a picture that what Randy California created is so original and free from any influences. And that is just not true.What Randy created is a sum of his influences. It’s not original and in no way unique.

And neither is Jimmy Page’s assertion that what he creates is so original and free from any influences. All music is influenced by what came before it and by what we experience.

But of course, Skidmore and his legal team are not happy with the outcome and plan to appeal. What a dead set joke and copyright is a joke as it currently stands.

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Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

What If Led Zeppelin Decided To Start Taking Bands To Court for Copying Them?

The “Stairway To Heaven” case is the tip of the iceberg for cases like this.

Mark my words, Metallica (or the corporations who will own the Metallica copyrights in the years ahead) will be sued for plagiarism by the corporations and heirs of artists from the NWOBHM movement that Metallica used on their first three albums, and the California skate-punk band they ripped off for “Enter Sandman”.

Remember Copyright was designed to encourage creativity, but in the hands of corporations and heirs of the actual creators (who never should have held the Copyright of a deceased artist), copyright is now building up to have the opposite effect, “discouraging, rather than stimulating, music creativity.

As the Conversation article states;

I don’t think that it is appropriate to consider the act of devising a tune that simply has the same “feel” and “groove” as another as copyright infringement. This is how music creativity often works. Musicians frequently build upon earlier arrangements and styles, and so the increasing occurrence of cases such as these should give us pause.”

“Borrowing from earlier pieces is a structural element of music creation in many genres (a tune cannot always be created from scratch by just improvising). Classical music composers such as Handel, Beethoven, Shubert, Mozart, Bach and Puccini all significantly borrowed from earlier colleagues. The same holds true for jazz (which has built upon popular music and opera), rockabilly (influenced by country), rhythm and blues (which derives from boogie-woogie and gospel) and the Jamaican music scene (where traditionally covering and arranging each other’s tunes was widespread and largely accepted).”

Now, the term “original” means “not the same as anything or anyone else and therefore special and interesting”. It would be difficult to find a musician who has never listened to music written by someone else.

And yes, there are artists that did do something that “sounded not like anything else”, however if you take away the sonics, the root notes of every song are tied back to a composition that came before it and so forth. Even the evil sounding tri-tone made famous in the song “Black Sabbath” has its roots to classical music. The whole British Rock invasion of the Sixties was tied to the American blues of the Thirties.

It’s pretty safe to say that the majority of music out there is unoriginal.

Just think of how many metal and hard rocks songs have a riff over an A pedal point or an E pedal point that sounds similar in feel and groove?

But for some reason, our litigious society wants music to follow the same citing mechanisms as a University essay, with citations, footnotes and a discography of music used as an influence for the song.

At the root of it all is the descending bass line, played in the same key and an attorney called Francis Malofiy, who is well-known at bringing copyright infringement suits against any song that sounds similar to another because the acts/estates he represents are so original and their music could not have been influenced by other .

It’s easy to sue Led Zeppelin, because others have done it and its well-known that Jimmy Page likes to build on past works. But man, Led Zeppelin, actually Page and Plant in particular can sue a whole generation of artists for copying their feel and groove.

Let’s start with the most obvious (of the top of my head);

  • Robert Plant to sue David Coverdale from Whitesnake for copying Plant’s vocal feel in every Whitesnake song between 1978 and 1982.
  • Robert Pant to sue Lenny Wolf from Kingdom Come for copying Plant’s vocal feel and phrasing in every Kingdom Song between 1988 and 2016.
  • Jimmy Page to sue Lenny Wolf from Kingdom Come for copying “Kashmir” and calling the song “Get It On”.
  • Robert Plant to sue Randy Jackson from Zebra for copying Plant’s vocal feel
  • Jimmy Page and the Bonham estate to sue Coheed and Cambria for the song “Welcome Home” because it sounds a lot like “Kashmir” and for the drums having the same feel and groove as “Kashmir”.
  • Jimmy Page suing Tool because songs on “Aenima” sound a lot like “No Quarter”.
  • Jimmy Page and Robert Plant suing Billy Squier for the verse in “You Should Be High Lover” because it sounds a lot like “Black Dog”.
  • Jimmy Page and Robert Plant suing Wolfmother for the song “Woman”.
  • Jimmy Page suing Jet, for the song “Cold Hard Bitch” and how it sounds a lot like “Communication Breakdown”.
  • Jimmy Page suing Soundgarden for “Pretty Noose” because it sounds like the love child of “Kashmir” and “Whole Lotta Love”.
  • Jimmy Page suing Steve Vai for a three note sequence in his song “The Attitude Song” that is derived from “The Ocean”.

See the absurdity of it all.

I am sure there are a million bands out there that have ripped off Led Zeppelin and there are a million acts that Led Zeppelin has ripped off. But Led Zeppelin made what came before, BETTER and made a lot of MONEY from it.

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The Modern Day Led Zeppelin

“I never understood bands who were only influenced by a narrow era of, say, five years of music. I think younger bands like us listen to more diverse music than previously because it’s so easily accessible.”
Matt Bellamy

Led Zeppelin is a band that is known for its unique style that drew from folk music, blues, funk, flamenco, classical, rock, reggae, middle-eastern melodies and r&b. Underpinning it all was a heavy, guitar-driven sound. Muse is a band that is known to mix styles from electronic music, rock (pop, progressive, hard, heavy, art), classical music, funk, dubstep, flamenco/latin, middle-eastern melodies and opera. Underpinning it all is a heavy guitar driven sound.

“There wasn’t much of an original music scene in Devon and when we started we realised why – because nobody wanted to watch original music. We played gigs to nobody.”
Bass-player Chris Wolstenholme

Before Muse started their quest to conquer the world, their only aim was to be better and bigger than a local funk covers band from Teignmouth called “Doctor Frank”. Matthew Bellamy taught himself slide guitar and piano while listening to Robert Johnson. Like Led Zeppelin, their music has roots to the great blues masters.

They played gigs for five years before releasing their debut album, “Showbiz”. The release of the debut album was made possible after they signed with Australian company “Mushroom Records” for a UK release and Madonna’s “Maverick” for a US release. Then they went on the road for six months. It’s very different to today’s artist, who can release straight away to a global audience. Led Zeppelin financed the recording of their debut album. Like Muse, label after label rejected them.

Looking at YouTube, the song “Unintended” has 14,006,510 views and on the channel “marninahmad” it has 6,846,728 views for a total count over 21.5 million views. “Sunburn” has 7,964,211 views on YouTube while my favourite, “Showbiz” has a combined view count of about 2,500,000 over three different YouTube channels.

By 2001, Muse released “Origin Of Symmetry” and fans of Radiohead gravitated to it, the same way fans of Led Zeppelin gravitated to Whitesnake in the Eighties.

“Plug In Baby” has 11,548,097 views. The Live From Wembley Stadium video of the same song has 7,356,704 views.

My favourite cut on the album is “Citizen Erased”. Diffuser described Bellamy’s vocals as Jeff Buckley fronting a metal band. It’s not as popular on YouTube compared to the more easily digested cross over singles. I love the movement from a heavy rock vibe to a mellow Beatles’esque vibe towards the end. On the YouTube channel of “MrMuseLyrics” the song has 121,446 views. A Glastonbury 2004 live version of the song is on the “SpencerC” channel and it has 153,239 views. A live version at the Big Day Out in Sydney in 2004 on the channel “xfadetoblack” has 273,879 views.

 

Other songs from the album that have high counts are;

  • “New Born” has 14,937,412 views
  • “Bliss” has 16,908,982 views
  • “Feeling Good” has 28,681,960 views on YouTube.

Then in 2003, “Absolution” came out.

The album cover alone, done by the great Storm Thorgerson (RIP) and taken by photographer Robert Truman was enough to generate interest. You know the cover I am talking about. The floating shadows of souls who are either ascending to Heaven during the Rapture, or descending to Earth, rejected by Heaven.

The album is loaded with masterpieces.

If you are into the conspiracy side of things, then the video for ‘Time Is Running Out’, is all about the Trilateral Commission, an organization of bankers, academics, politicians, union leaders and media and energy CEOs set up in 1973, and whom Matt believed were really controlling the world. On the official YouTube channels, “Time Is Running Out (Official Music Video)” has 12,042,199 views, the “Live From Wembley Stadium” video has 11,692,168 views and the lyric video has 9,617,047 views. In addition, the song has 6,705,367 views on the channel of “Translegomaker”. In total, the song has been viewed 40,056,781 times.

But the piece d’resistance on the album and the reason why I have a lot of time for this band, is because of “Stockholm Syndrome”.

That riff.

It’s on par with those music store riffs, like “Stairway To Heaven”, “Smoke On the Water” and “Enter Sandman”. It has been copied and used by a ton of metal and rock bands afterwards.

The lyrical basis of ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ is from a bank robbery in Stockholm in 1973. Some of the hostages were held for six days and they fell in love with their captors and later defended them at the trial. If you play the song’s chorus backwards, there are internet pages devoted to it that reckon the listener would be able to hear;

“You can’t see me, we sneak off. I lost to love. Please, save the night wind and high above, I lost to love. Sing, save”?

Brilliant, remember when U.S prosecutors alleged that “Suicide Solution” said “Shoot, Shoot, Shoot” when played backwards.

This in turn leads me to the track “Hysteria” which is about obsessive behaviour and it’s got an absolute killer bass line that makes you obsessive. In the process it has accumulated over 27 million views on YouTube.

“The Small Print” is where Bellamy sold his soul in return for supernatural musical prowess, ala Robert Johnson.

Take, take all you need
And I’ll compensate your greed
With broken hearts
Sell, I’ll sell your memories
For 15 pounds per year
But just the good days

And be my slave to the grave
I’m a priest God never paid

Guess, you need to read the small print on every contract, even the ones that the record labels put in front of you.

So how do you follow-up three successful albums where each album outdid the one that came before it?

“Absolution” outdid “Origin of Symmetry” and “Origin of Symmetry” outdid “Showbiz”.

Muse did just that with “Black Holes and Revelations” in 2006. And although it looks like the album made an impact on the sales charts with all of its certifications, that really wasn’t the case. That breakthrough happened with 2009’s “Resistance” which in turn made people go deep into Muse’s catalogue, especially in the U.S market.

To prove my point, the single “Starlight” which has over 44 million views on YouTube was certified Gold in the U.S on OCTOBER 05, 2009, 3 years after it was released. Then in FEBRUARY 27, 2015, the song was certified Platinum in the U.S, 9 years after it was released.

The songs “Knights Of Cydonia” and “Supermassive Black Hole” where also certified Platinum on FEBRUARY 27, 2015. The “Knights Of Cydonia” video has 17,884,385 views while the “Live At Wembley Stadium 2007” video has 16,256,664 views. The video clip on another channel has 15,812,406 views. In total that is 49,953,455 views. “Supermassive Black Hole” has it’s glam rock influences and on YouTube, the “Supermassive Black Hole [Alternate Live Version] has 40,046,796 views on YouTube while the Lyrics video has 13,589,642 views and the live from Wembley video has 8,975,955 views. All up, that is over 62 million views.

In relation to the previous efforts, “Black Holes and Revelations” was their U.S breakthrough album and they did it by condemning the architects of the Iraq war. In relation to sales, the album was certified Gold in the U.S, the same certification that “Absolution” holds. In Australian, the UK and Europe, the album was certified Platinum. Other favourites of mine are “Map Of The Problematique”, “Assassin” and “Exo Politics”.

So in 2009, we got the “Resistance” album, the one that focused on Orwell’s “1984” and written at a time when climate change, politician corruption and the GEC were all dominating the public conversation.

“Uprising” mixes TV soundtracks, with Glam Rock. The “Uprising” video has 83,740,536 views on YouTube. This is the single that crossed over and made Muse’s back catalogue sell.

The “Resistance” video has 46,877,501 views on YouTube. The song was also certified Platinum in the U.S on JUNE 22, 2010.

One of my favourites on the album is “MK Ultra” (a song named after a CIA mind control program from the 60’s). It was used by “MTV Exit” to promote their campaign against human trafficking. That video has had 988,423 views. A lyric video by user “Simona Balan” has 469,517 views. Another lyric video by “MrMuseLyrics” has 390,669 views. An audio version of the song by “21thCenturyRockMusic” has 389,305 views. There are various other YouTube channels that have the song. All up, the song has over 2.2 million views. Tiny compared to the big crossover singles.

“Undisclosed Desires” has 43,370,219 views on YouTube. Meanwhile the same song on the channel “Nitrotigerz” has 8,981,863 views.

The tours started to become massive. By know, Muse had graduated to stadiums. In the past, a band wouldn’t play stadiums if they didn’t a blockbuster album that sold over 10 million in the dominant U.S market.

In 2010 the song “Neutron Star Collision (Love Is Forever)” was attached to one of the “Twilight” films. The video of the song has had 32,928,186 views but what came after is what it’s all about.

“Survival” was used for the 2012 London Olympics, but an Olympic song it is not. It was already written before the organisers approached the band and the attention it brought the band along with the “Twilight” cross over, plus the momentum that “Uprising” generated would send the lead-off single “Madness” from the “The 2nd Law” album through the stratosphere.

In the space of three years, “Madness” has had 72,731,133 views while the “Madness (Lyric Video)” has 14,513,664 views. All up that is over 87 million views. In MARCH 04, 2015, 3 years after its release it was certified 2x MULTI PLATINUM in the U.S

“The 2nd Law”, as an album takes into account the GEC (Global Economic Crisis), Peak Oil Theory, food security, evolution, the taxation proposals of 19th-century economist Henry George and the concept of the “stress nexus”. Matt Bellamy described it as talking about the second law of thermodynamics and how, as a limited ecosystem, we are on the verge of needing an energy revolution in order to sustain the way that we’re living.

“Supremacy (Official Video)” has 15,436,255 views. How can you not get hooked by its marching Kashmir groove in the intro?

“Panic Station (Official Video)” has 8,799,941 views is one of my favourites as it merges the rock/funk grooves in the tradition of “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder and “Play That Funky Music White Boy” by Wild Cherry.

My favourite is the two-part title track ““The 2nd Law: Unsustainable” which has 6,125,511 views and “The 2nd Law: Isolated System”. It’s soundtrack music, up there with the best. The synths, the choir voices, the reporter talking, the orchestral hits, etc… It all combines brilliantly.

In 2015, in came the “Drones”.

“Drones” is Muse, stripping it back down to guitars, bass and drums. Their management team of Cliff Burnstein and Peter Mensch (yep, the same guys that manage Metallica and AC/DC) suggested Robert “Mutt” Lange (yep the same guy that did AC/DC’s “Back in Black”, Def Leppard’s “Pyromania” and “Hysteria”, Foreigner albums, Bryan Adam’s albums and Shania Twain albums).

The LP kicks off with “Dead Inside.” The Official Music Video has 13,104,415 views and the Lyric Video has 8,640,302 views.

Check out “Psycho” that merges a “Black Sabbath” sludgy groove with classical overtones. It’s a riff that has been around for 16 years. “Psycho” has 24,073,826 views on YouTube.

Then comes “Mercy” that will satisfy the pop fans of Muse, plus it has enough grit to satisfy the rock fans. I will even go out on a limb and call Muse the modern-day Led Zeppelin. The official music video has been viewed 6,650,291 times.

“Reaper” kicks off with a Van Halen “Hot For Teacher” vibe and it has this “Still Of The Night” vibe from Whitesnake in the Chorus, while the bassist is playing lines like “Heart Of The Sunrise” from Yes. Brilliant. All of the songs deal with the main person of the concept story being overcome by oppressive forces. The official Lyric Video on YouTube has already 6,459,743 views.

In “The Handler”, the protagonist decides that they don’t want to be used by others, they don’t want to be controlled, they don’t want to be a cold, non-feeling person. It is the pivotal song where the protagonist wakes up and says that they want to actually feel something and the desire to fight against the oppressors sinks in.

This leads into “Defector,” “Revolt” and the keyboard led song like “Aftermath” with its Claptonesque blues style of leads in the intro. This is where the person tries to inspire others to think for themselves and think freely and independently. When “Aftermath” ends, the person is ready to re-engage and love again.

Chuck into the mix the Morricone themed “The Globalist” that morphs into a “Stockholm Syndrome” style movement that then morphs into an Elton John crossed with a jazz movement and you can see why I call Muse the modern-day Led Zeppelin.

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

INTERESTING: In A World Of Free, Metal and Rock Music Still Continues To Sell

There is a great article over at the Metal Insider website.

If you are too lazy to click on the link, the article covers the biggest selling metal and rock albums for 2015.

From the results, it’s pretty obvious that metal and rock fans like to purchase music. There is still a collectors mindset there. What’s even more fascinating is that a lot of the albums that have sold a decent amount in 2015 were not even released in 2015.

NOTE: The figures are based on U.S sales.

“Master of Puppets” was released in 1986 and in 2015 it sold 107,800 units. The self-titled “Metallica” album released in 1991 has sold another 77,100 units in 2015. It is well on its way to 17 million units sold in total.

Now think about for a second.

All of Metallica’s music is available on streaming services for paid subscriptions and for free. All of their music is available for downloading via legal options and illegal options. And they still continue to sell.

A band’s longevity is based around the need to replenish their fan base year after year. If you are not doing that then expect to play smaller venues. Dokken and Ratt are two bands that come to mind who haven’t replenished their fan bases from the Eighties. Both bands in the Eighties had platinum sales and played arenas. Today, they have almost no sales and play clubs.  Of course, not having the main creative forces in the current version of the band plays a part, however, even if Lynch and Pilson or Pearcy and Croucier did rejoin Dokken and Ratt respectively, it doesn’t mean that millions of people would be interested.

Metallica,  however is doing a good job at replenishing their fan base based on their selected live performances in new markets and in markets that have high rates of piracy.  They basically have a whole new generation of music fans who more or less consumed the music of Metallica for free and in most cases illegally. However, that still hasn’t stopped them from selling music and concert tickets.

As business people, the move to their own label “Blackened Recordings” was a no-brainer.

The record is how it all starts. It hooks the audience in. Anyone born in the Nineties, will know Metallica as the conformist poster artist for the labels in the Napster case. Anyone born in the Seventies and early Eighties know Metallica as a non-conformist band that pushed boundaries.

The whole Napster kerfuffle in the end just showed why it was not a good idea for Metallica to get in the way of people experiencing their music. However, they have learnt that by making their music available everywhere, they see better returns in other areas.

As an artist, it is a privilege for people to listen to your music. Respect that.

“Back In Black” from AC/DC was released in 1980. In 2015 so far, it has sold 110,000 units in the U.S.  The new album, “Rock Or Bust”, released in 2014, has sold 143,400 units in 2015.  Put it down to the band being on the road and building awareness of the new album. It just goes to show that the blanket marketing campaigns before the album release date, the Grammy appearance and all of the other medical issues/jail issues in the media meant nothing in 2015.

You see, when the music eco system was controlled by the record labels, the marketing blitz by the labels meant something. In 2015, it means nothing.

From the 2015 releases, Breaking Benjamin’s “Dark Before Dawn” has sold 209,000 units so far, Marilyn Manson’s “The Pale Emperor” has sold 124,200 units so far and Halestorm’s “Into The Wild Life” has sold 114,500 units so far.

From the 2014 releases, Foo Fighters “Sonic Highways” album has sold 87,800 in 2015, for total sales in 480,000 so far. Slipknot’s “5: The Gray Chapter” has sold 84,000 units in 2015, for total sales of 344,000 units. Nickelback’s “No Fixed Address” album has sold 101,000 units in 2015. Like the Foo Fighters it is approaching Gold status.

Led Zeppelin continues to be a selling machine, so why would they create new music when Copyright grants them and the owners of their songs, rights for the next 110 years to exploit the works.

In case you are wondering “Led Zeppelin 4” sold 75,000 units and “Physical Graffiti” sold 112,400 units in 2015.

Kid Rock’s debut “Devil Without A Cause” is still selling. For 2015 alone, it has moved 86,000 units. Add that to the other 10 million units it has sold so far.

So what is all of the above telling us.

Eventually people will pay, however if a piece of music that people want to check out is not available for free, they will turn away until it becomes convenient. Don’t expect people to pay just because you want them too.

And for all of those critics saying the new bands cannot attain the same level of success as their Seventies and Eighties counterparts, well have a look at some other stats.

 

As influential as Black Sabbath was to metal music, they are being outsold by Linkin Park, Korn and even Limp Bizkit.

Also for all of Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley’s comments about rock being dead because no one is buying recorded music, well, Kiss has never really been a big seller of recorded music anyway. Their 21 million is pretty tame compared to Metallica’s 62 million. In the end, the live show is where it’s at. Deliver there and make that show a cultural event, the sky is the limit.

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Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Stupidity Incorporated

Stupidity just doesn’t seem to go away these days. Last month the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) promoted it’s World Intellectual Property Day with a slogan from a Bob Marley and the Wailers song called “Get Up, Stand Up”. WIPO’s theme was “Get Up, Stand Up. For Music”.

Did you know that a judge ruled against Bob Marley’s heirs a few years who sought to regain control of Marley’s copyrights from Universal Music claiming that Marley wrote the song as a work made for hire and thus Universal could keep the copyright, and not give it back to the Marley Estate.

Now “work for hire” means that an artist was commissioned to write a song to the exact specifications of the record label. Wikipedia states “work for hire” in the following way;

A work made for hire is a work created by an employee as part of his or her job, or a work created on behalf of a client where all parties agree in writing to the WFH designation.

I can’t believe how a judge would seriously believe that the record label at the time “Island Records” would have given the song titles to Bob Marley and told him the theme of what the song should be about.

Anyone involved in music knows too well that is not the case for at all. “Get Up, Stand Up” was written after Marley toured Haiti and the poverty that he was confronted with in that country.

As the Techdirt article points out, you have an organisation so dumb and out of touch with culture that it using a song from an artist that has been hijacked by the corporations who push for stronger copyright enforcement.

As far as I’m concerned, Bob Marley’s copyright MUST be in the Public Domain upon death. The public is meant to be the beneficiaries here, not the heirs and not the record labels.

Which brings me to the “Stairway To Heaven” court case.

You see I am not a fan of the heirs of an artist inheriting the copyrights of the artist once they die and I am definitely not a fan of the heirs of an artist suing others for money. We can all hear that Jimmy Page lifted the riff from the Spirit track “Taurus” and to be honest made a better derivative version of the Spirit track. For whatever reasons Spirit guitarist Randy California was cool with it and nothing happened. However the heirs are now challenging that.

What a sad state it is when a court has to decide on this and whichever way the court rules, the court is putting out the idea that one track is so original and the other is not. As a musician, trust me when I say that no song or riff is created in a vacuum. Each piece of music that comes out is a sum of our influences.

One final thing to add to my rant. When can the artists get it right when it comes to the music industry and recording industry references. Check out this quote from Ron Bumblefoot, the current guitarist in Guns N’ Roses.

”The music industry started to see their customers as their enemies and everybody suffered for it. Congratulations record industry – you’ve made a mess and you still don’t know how to clean it up.”

I always state over and over again, that the music industry is not the recording industry. They are two different entities. You see, the music industry didn’t see their customers as enemies, nor did they sue them, it was the recording industry that did that.

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