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

Keep On Selling In A Free World

Five Finger Death Punch moved 119,000 units of their new album “Got Your Six”. 114,000 of those units are pure album sales and it a time of free, it even surpassed the 112,000 opening sales week of 2013’s “The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell: Volume 1”.

In the U.S, Iron Maiden moved 75,000 of their “The Book Of Souls” album and in a time of free, it is Iron Maiden’s best sales week since Nielsen Music began measuring sales in 1991. It even surpassed 2010’s “The Final Frontier” sales by 12,000 units. Again in a time of free, you would expect a sales decline to happen.

In the U.K, Iron Maiden moved over 60,000 units and Five Finger Death Punch also landed in the Top 10.

In Australia, we know that Iron Maiden came in a Number 2 and Five Finger Death Punch at Number 3.

Both of the above bands have had their BEST SALES week for these latest releases. Especially in the U.S market. For Iron Maiden, it is their best sales week since 1991. Consider that. Piracy was at an all-time low in 1991 however in 2015, when piracy is meant to be at an all time high, bands sell more than before in opening weeks.

But it’s not always like that.

Disturbed’s “Immortalized” sold 98,000 total copies. If you compare these sales with 2002, when their second album “Believe” sold 284,000 copies you can see a steep decline in first week sales.

2005’s “Ten Thousand Fists” sold 239,000 copies, 2008’s “Indestructible” sold 253,000 copies and 2010’s “Asylum” sold 179,000 copies. On the same week that Disturbed made their comeback, Swedish metal act Ghost had opening week sales of 29,000 units of their second album “Meliora”

So what does all of the above tell us?

Has anyone seen the latest MTV Video Music Awards?

How many metal and hard rock bands got mentioned

If you are an artist in 2015, there is no use comparing 2015 to 1985.

Shawn Drover can complain all he wants.

The truth is, no one really cares about his new act “Act Of Defiance” first album at this point in time.

What the above data shows me, is that the music business is not all about the first album. It is about what comes after the first album. Remember, “Kill Em All” from Metallica had a life span of about nine months, before Metallica was back in the studio recording “Ride The Lightning”. That album also had a nine month life span before Metallica was back in the studio to record “Master of Puppets”.

There is no doubt that internet piracy has affected every genre, especially the metal and hard rock genre.

Does that mean that there is no money in music?

Of course not.

Publishing agency, BMI raked in $1.013 billion dollars for the financial year. ASCAP, also raked in $1.001 billion. This is money, earned by agencies for licensing out artists songs to radio, TV, streaming services and other platforms. And the reason for this big boom is;

  • Music streaming

But with everything corporate, the payouts to artists comes after both BMI and ASCAP subtract their operating expenses and other creative expenses from the revenue. This is what happens when you have a monopoly on music licensing. You abuse it.

BMI actually paid $877 million to its thousands of members, including songwriters like Dave Grohl, Linkin Park, Nickelback and Evanescence. ASCAP on the other hand paid its members $883 million.

What about that?

ASCAP had less revenue than BMI but paid out more. Regardless, when you add the expenses that both organisations kept, that is another $600 million kept away from artists.

But BMI blamed their legal fight against Pandora for the reduced payouts?

And certain artists have jumped on the bandwagon to criticise Pandora. But so many are clueless to the work that Pandora has done to help the recording industry and the music industry at large. They have 80 million listeners.

But did you know that Five Finger Death Punch partnered with Pandora to launch their album “Got Your Six”. Mumford and Sons, partnered with Pandora for a live stream of a concert. Jack White did the same. All of these partnerships led to Pandora increasing their fan base and the artists increasing their exposure and sales.

Pandora put on 79 live events last year and this year it’s expected to rise to 120.

This is on top of Pandora paying out half its revenue to SoundExchange in licensing fees, which in turn has ensured that the company is in a loss position. Other countries are not that quick to embrace Pandora, because to date, the service only operates in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand.

Which is silly.

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

Time Is Your Greatest Friend

The recording industry is a mess, known for its creative accounting, manipulative one-sided contracts, it’s lobbying efforts to enact favourable laws that benefit the executives and do nothing for the artists and it’s monopolistic control over any new technologies that seek to bring a certain value to the consumer of recorded music.

Streaming service Grooveshark is no more.

The service had over twenty million users. Surely that is ample proof to the record labels that there is a large market for a service/product to offer what Grooveshark offered. However, the record labels have the dollars and the power behind them and any legal war of attrition will end in a record label victory.

Grooveshark’s sin was that they didn’t license the music on the service from the record labels. All the music was uploaded to Grooveshark by its “users”.

Grooveshark contended that if they paid royalties for the plays on the service they would be legit. However, the labels wanted Grooveshark to also pay for the licenses to have the “user uploaded” music on the service. On paying royalties, Grooveshark was also hit and miss, playing the same record label games against them.

But in all honesty, paying royalties is a contested issue. There is no transparency around it so the system is open to abuse.

Nick Menza (former Megadeth drummer) is complaining on social media that Dave Mustaine is ripping him off when it comes to his publishing royalty payments.

Add to that the unsignable contract that Menza (like Bill Ward and Dave Lombardo before him) were given and you can see that when money clashes with art, you have winners and losers on many different sides.

You have winners and losers between the executives and artists. You have winners and losers between the managers and artists. Finally you have winners and losers between the individual artists themselves and it all cases the main creative force is the winner.

If you want an example of the discontent, look no further than the guitar riff in “Every Breath You Take” from The Police.

That riff has been sampled in a lot of pop and rap songs. All of the monies earned from those samples goes to Sting as the sole songwriter and not to Andy Summers as the creator of the riff.

You see, Sting wrote the vocal melody and played the chords on a keyboard. That demo version of the song was then worked on by the whole band to get it to the level that we know today.

That iconic guitar riff follows the keyboard chords that Sting laid down.

A, F#m, D and E.

However the way Andy Summers chose to play it by adding the ninth note of each chord is iconic and innovative. That extra tone and the palm muted arpeggios tweaked the simple chord progression into an Aadd9, F#madd9, Dadd9 and Eadd9 chord progression. But Sting is the songwriter and he gets all the royalties for when that riff is sampled.

Sales of recorded music always goes to the record label and very rarely back to the artist.  So why are artist complaining about copyright infringement.

Monies for the artist come from other opportunities like licensing out music for advertisements of products. Australian band Tame Impala has made nothing from overseas sales however the monies they received from licensing out a song to Blackberry and to a Tequila maker ended up allowing the songwriter to buy a house and set up a studio.

As Kevin Parker from Tame Impala put’s it;

“I know what you’re thinking… “wait so…when I bought an album I was helping some businessman pay for his mansion on an island somewhere, and when some dude bought a mobile phone he was helping to pay an artist? WHHHYY?” I’ll tell you why, IT’S MONEY. It doesn’t always go where you want it to go.”

And the best take away from that Reddit session is the following;

“As far as I’m concerned the best thing you can do for an artist is LISTEN to the music…fall in love with it…….talk about it”.

The above sentiments are a far cry from what the classic rockers are talking about.

Roger Waters is angry at the techies for creating tools that facilitate “stealing” and he is angry with the “whole generation that’s grown up who believe that music should be free.”

I enjoy Pink Floyd. I like Roger Waters while he was in Pink Floyd.

I picked up Pink Floyd’s seventies output on LP from a second-hand record store (which meant that I picked up someone’s unwanted Pink Floyd records) in the Nineties and the only Pink Floyd CD that I own is “A Momentary Lapse of Reason” which I picked up from a discount bin.

Man reading his rant, he comes across as not sure if he should love his fans or hate them, because in the end it is the fans who love everything that he has recorded and spend $200 plus on a concert ticket that are downloading his songs. Not the tech companies. So which way does Waters want it.

Change is forever. Every other business can embrace change and move on however the recording industry is still fighting it. Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Roger Waters, Joe Perry and others all state that they are thankful they came out in a different time. Illegal copyright infringement is a record label problem, not an artist problem.

It’s actually one of the best times to be involved in the music business. The barriers of entry are low and recording technologies are affordable. You can physically create and distribute your music without a record label and do it for almost zero dollars. However, 99% of artists would still look for a record deal and then complain against the techies when the labels don’t hand over some of that streaming money that they have collected twice, once in licensing and then again in royalty payments for the listens.

The recording industry thrives in making their world look difficult and important. They will use trumped-up numbers of job losses, creative accounting charts and blame everyone else for the reasons why the artist is not getting paid. And the stupid thing is that the artists would sign up again for another term with the label with poor royalty returns.

The music business is not rocket science. Like any form of outlet there are some golden rules and the main one is to keep a decent cash balance.

So, yes that means the artist needs to work.

George Lynch had a record deal with Elektra and was driving trucks during this period just before Dokken broke through with the “Tooth N Nail” album.

Dee Snider worked many jobs while Twisted Sister was establishing itself as a serious live band.

Even Gene Simmons had a decent cash flow happening in the early days of Kiss. If you don’t believe me, then read “Face The Music” from Paul Stanley.

Music is an investment for the long-term that involves winners, losers and more importantly re-investment back into your career.

Time is your greatest friend.

Remember that.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Everyone Is Building Their Business On The Backs Of Artists

So all the news outlets are glossing over the 1.3 million sales of the new Taylor Swift album. As is the norm everyone in the mainstream media is trumping up the irrelevant and they are totally ignorant to the reality that exists in the music business. The reality is that more and more people are using streaming services.

So where do all of the profits go to from the 1.3 million sales. There is a common viewpoint put forward by the record labels that the music industry (which is funny how they refer to the recording industry as the music industry) is in dire straits. They blame piracy. The artists blame streaming services even though Spotify pays 70% of every dollar they get to the record labels and the music publishers. Pandora pays about 55% to 60% of every dollar they get to the record labels and the publishers.

In music, the deals between record labels and artists have two levels; a) a royalty percentage for recorded music that is sold like a CD, a VINYL album or a digital download and b) a different percentage for music that is licensed for use in a film, and other types of promotions like commercials, sporting events and so forth.

Different artists have different deals. Imagine being an artist, and the retailers get 30% of your music while the record labels keep more than 80% of the money they receive.

In the digital world, many artists like Enimen and Dave Coverdale have successfully argued that digital services are being licensed by labels and thus the licensed royalty amount should apply. Def Leppard couldn’t agree with their label and that is why their output is not on digital services. However we have current forgeries that the Def Leppard band re-recorded.

Retailers have built their business on the backs of artists. The record labels have built their business on the backs of artists. The live tour promoters have built their businesses on the backs of artists. The music publishers/rights organisations have built their business on the backs of artists. Radio has built its business on the backs of artists. It looks like everyone is building their business on the backs of artists except the artists themselves.

And how does all of this tie in to what fans of music want.

A digital music study that came out of the Nordic countries is being forgotten at this moment in time. For the uninitiated, the Nordic countries Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland are the earliest adopters of streaming services in a mainstream way and their growth of their recording industry is seen as a model for the rest of the world to follow.

So what we have is Spotify who has an estimated 7 million users in Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden. This is about 18% of Spotify’s worldwide reach. The takeaway is that 78% of Nordic Internet users are digital music consumers (an estimated 13.8 million), having used services such as YouTube, Spotify, Wimp or iTunes for accessing music content. Of those 78%, 20% said they had paid for some form of digital music, either downloads or streaming. YouTube was the most popular.

Fans of music like to listen to music for free and with each generation growing up this is more prevalent. However all of those organisations that built their businesses on the backs of music sales don’t like it. Got to give it to the technology retailers for adapting to an ever-changing marketplace. iTunes downloads are down however Apple are preparing for it with their own streaming service. Spotify is now offering one family account, which makes total sense, so expect Spotify’s premium user base to rise.

It’s a brave new fragmented world and it will be for a few more years, until streaming services in the large North American markets take a real foothold. Then watch out for a new battle to begin between artist and record label for unpaid monies.

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

Attention, Affluence, Dominance and The Artist Is Somewhere There In Between. BUT WHY.

It irks me when a person that you are having an email conversation with CC’s in other people who really don’t need to be CC’d. Instead of coming back to the person they are originally communicating with on the email they reply back and CC a few more extra people in. It is like they are broadcasting something to someone. Maybe they want to CC in a Manager to show how great they are and how terrible I am. Maybe they just want to make me look bad. I do it as well however when I do CC in an extra person I tell the person that I am responding to why I am CC in that extra person in. I also tell the person that I is CC’d in why they are included with a question that seeks their point of view.

Maybe we all just want some attention. It seems we are all fighting for attention these days.

Guess how many people know who Kim Dotcom is?

According to the MPAA and the RIAA, he is the greatest money launderer the world has ever seen. They convinced the police force to send their SWAT teams to break down his door and arrest him in the early hours. And the funny thing is that he is virtually unknown to ordinary people. Even his companies MegaUpload and Mega are not known brands to a large portion of people. So how can this great criminal mastermind remain undetected to most ordinary people. Hell, I was in Eastern Europe and all the people who I spoke to didn’t even know who Kim Dotcom was.

This goes to show how the entertainment industries like the MPAA and the RIAA have used affluence to hijack proper due process in the courts. And that affluence doesn’t stop there. It is used to hijack many debates especially when it comes to legislation around copyright. It is unfortunate that the music industry as a whole seems to be interested in protecting their business models, dominance and control.

The biggest issue today is attention.

The record labels still believe that their affluence and their publicity campaigns will get people’s attention. But that is old school thinking. Real attention grows over time.

And attention is just part of the equation.

How do we compensate the artist themselves or the songwriters that wrote the song once they have received our attention. The Copyrights of the artists are held by the labels. The labels purchase these copyrights for a value that is far less than what they are worth. And that is a big problem between artist and label. Because the record label is using the copyrights that they have amassed over 80 years of dominance as bargaining chips in licensing deals.

Spotify pays the labels a license so that Spotify can have their music on the service. In addition Spotify also pays the labels when songs are streamed. Plus Spotify pays any profits it makes to its part owners. In the case of the US market, Spotify is partly owned by the labels. And all of this was possible because the labels amassed an arsenal of songs from the artists they signed. Did the artists receive any compensation in these corporate deals?

The environment that musicians operate in is changing all the time, and with that comes a requirement to be flexible and forward-thinking in their approach. In addition the expectations of musical fans about how they access music and how they wish to be serviced has changed dramatically over the past fifteen years. And the ones that are investing in innovation are the technological companies. The Record Labels did nothing except litigate. The artists just waited to see what transpired instead of thinking and planning their own innovation.

If you want to grow and prosper as an artist you need to be thinking ahead all the time. Not only do you need to keep pace with your fans’ expectations, but you also need to position yourself to identify and make the most of the opportunities when they arise.

Focus on “WHY” you create music rather than simply focusing on ‘WHAT’ music you deliver. This is an important message. The why is the message that your fans would connect with and follow. It is your vision. Your belief.

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

Billion Dollar Deals and Still No RESPECT for Pre-1972 Artists

How would you feel as a musician and as a creator today as you hear and read about all of these board room deals taking place between technology companies and the record labels?

Millions upon millions are exchanged from a technological company to the record labels.

WHY?

Because if a technological company wants to offer a music service they need to license the music catalogue that the record labels hold. And the music catalogue that the record labels hold is music created by artists, songwriters and producers, including those same artists that are supporting the PRE-1972 RESPECT ACT. So where is the windfall for the artists from all of these backroom deals. In a nutshell it is their music that the record labels are using as leverage.

The RESPECT ACT says that some of the biggest digital radio services in the world have decided to stop paying royalties to artists who recorded music before February 15, 1972. It looks like the record labels never paid any royalties to these artists.

The Allman Brothers have sued Universal Music and Sony Music for unpaid iTunes royalties. The Temptations sued Universal for not paying iTunes royalties properly. The Beatles sued EMI over unpaid royalties. Martha Reeves sued Motown for unpaid royalties. Roger McGuinn, from the Byrds, has never received royalties (beyond a “modest advance”) for the 15 albums he recorded with the band.

The RESPECT ACT says these companies believe that they can use pre-1972 recordings for free, forever. It looks like the record labels use these pre-1972 recordings to negotiate licensing deals, without any compensation to the original artists and the writers.

The RESPECT ACT says that while the artists of today are paid royalties every time their songs are played, the inspirational artists who came before them — Motown acts, the legends of Jazz and Blues, and the musicians who gave birth to Rock n’ Roll — all get nothing. Um, those acts never got nothing in the first place from the record labels. Modest advances maybe.

The RESPECT Act states that the decision by these companies to cut off royalties for pre-1972 recordings caused artists and record labels to lose an estimated $60 million in royalties. Music is how artists pay the rent, provide for their family, and plan for the future.

Um, what about the estimated millions of royalties that the artists have lost due to creative record label accounting.

And what about all of the producers and songwriters that worked on those music catalogues that the record labels now own and use as a bargaining chip. Based on all of the research funded by the RIAA, producers and songwriters are the ones that are hurt the most because of piracy. It looks like they are really hurt by the streaming licensing deals.

Seriously think about it.

SPOTIFY had to pay a hefty license fee to operate and in the US they had to give up half the company.
BEATS also had to pay a license to the record labels and give up some equity.
APPLE also paid the labels to license their music.
GOOGLE, AMAZON and PANDORA also have paid the labels. The list just goes on.

Some could argue that the artists, producers and songwriters got paid a decent advance for their music. And the norm in the past has been to give the songwriters and the producers a modest advance for their work in exchange for any future royalties earned. But at that time when the advance is paid no one knows how big that potential song or album could be. Or vice versa, no one knows how bad that song or album could be. But if the song or album does blow up, it doesn’t mean that the producer or the songwriter will start getting some decent royalties.

Because then the maths start to get more complicated due to that record label black hole formula known as RECOUPED. When that formula starts to be applied to any money earned from royalties there is a 99.9% chance that the artists will not receive a cent.

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Music

Who Should Be Credited For What?

As a guitarist, I more or less write a whole song from start to finish with completed lyrics and melodies.

When I was in bands, I would bring the song to the band and we would start jamming it. In the course of the jam session, the drummer comes up with a bass drum pattern under the current riff, so the second iteration I decide to syncopate the current chords with the pattern. Does that mean that the drummer now deserves a song writing credit?

The singer doesn’t like the chorus melody and suggests that we tweak it a little bit to suit his style. We try it out and it works. I don’t like it, however the band’s harmony is more important than my ego. With the vocal melody change, the underlying riff now needs to change as it sounds too busy. So instead of playing the busy riff, i move to just standard chords. Does that mean that the singer now deserves a song writing credit?

On both occassions the changes happened within the context of the song that I submitted. No new music was brought in and no extra lyrics got written.

The bass player locks in with the syncopated drum/guitar groove and suggest that we do that again for an interlude. The song didn’t have an interlude, so we try it out and it works well. It grooves. Does that mean that the bass player now deserves a song writing credit?

The above examples are all different scenarios that happen within a band and it those scenarios in the end that lead to court cases when bands break up or fire members.

There is always a main songwriter in each band. That is why in Motley Crue you see a lot of songs written by Nikki Sixx. Iron Maiden have Steve Harris. Skid Row has Rachel Bolan. Zebra has Randy Jackson. Badlands had Jake E Lee as the musical force and Ray Gillen as the lyrical force. Same as White Lion. Vito Bratta was the music man and Mike Tramp was the words man.

In the majority of the cases, the original song writer will be listed as the song writer. There could be a band agreement in place here that distributes monies earned from the songwriter to the other band members in relation to licensing royalties.

For example, “This Is A New Song” has Member A listed as the main songwriter and all royalties, licensing and publishing go to Member A. Member A has a band agreement in place that states that Member A needs to distribute 30% of those monies to the other three band members. So if the band has four members, Member A will get 70%, Member B will get 10%, Member C will get 10% and Member D will get 10%.

Then Member D gets fired or just leaves. The band agreement is renegotiated to include Member E who takes up the percentage of Member D.

When a band member leaves or is fired, they are angry. They feel betrayed. They want payback. They want recognition. So what do they do. They start legal proceedings. They start to claim they should be credited as songwriters. They start to claim mismanagement of monies and how they have been underpaid. They start to claim that “This Is A New Song” was their idea and that Member A took that idea from them.

For example, should Sting take all the Puff Daddy royalty monies? Apart from Puff Daddy lifting the chorus vocal melody, it is the Andy Summers guitar riff that is heard throughout his version. Granted, that the guitar riff is based on Sting’s chord structure. Maybe there needs to be a bit more common sense used for licensing arrangements if pieces of music are sampled.

I am currently listening to the Lynch Mob album called “Wicked Sensation”. It is a great album and it involves some of the best work of the guys involved. A look at the album credits shows that all the music was done by George Lynch. This is what bass player Anthony Esposito had to say about the song writing sessions that took place in an interview on the Metal-Rules website;

“George plays the way George plays and there are always little turnarounds that he’ll always throw in. Oni [Logan] is a genius at taking little things, like “Do that little lick, George. Give me that.” and making that the verse. … Oni’s very talented with that; you can hear what Oni did to George. My argument is that George goes around telling everybody that he wrote all the music, listen to every record George did after that and it doesn’t come close. WICKED SENSATION was completely a band effort and the reason why it came out so great is you had [Wild] Mick [Brown], Mick is like the king of the chorus, he writes these big choruses, these hooks, he’s like a Beatle guy. It was all of our colours and I’m the dark guy, I was always like the punk rock guy. I think I brought in the dark textures like “For a Million Years” and “Hell Child” that are like dark, you know, because Dokken wasn’t dark, Dokken was “foofoo”, with a great guitar player. Lynch Mob had none of that, it’s all the elements of the four of us and that made that record so awesome because it wasn’t just one guy writing it all.”

So let’s use Lynch Mob as an example.

George Lynch comes in with music. Let’s just say that it just riffs. No song structures, just riffs. Oni Logan picks out the bits that he wants and he writes vocal melodies to those riffs. So the music is created by George Lynch and the lyrics/melodies are created by Oni Logan. However, those initial riffs from George Lynch are just that, riffs, so the song is arranged by Oni Logan, as he was making the call on which pieces of music to use for verses and choruses. So should be another credit for ARRANGEMENT. If that is the case the credits would look like this;
MUSIC – LYNCH
LYRICS – LOGAN
ARRANGEMENT – LOGAN

Another way is that George Lynch comes in with the music, all arranged in an intro/verse/chorus fashion. Oni Logan writes the lyrics to the Lynch’s arrangement. If that is the case the credits would look like this;
MUSIC – LYNCH
LYRICS – LOGAN
ARRANGEMENT – LYNCH

Another way is that George Lynch comes in with the music, all arranged in an intro/verse/chorus fashion, however Oni Logan re-arranges the order of the riffs. The verse riff becomes the intro, the chorus riff remains as the chorus and the intro becomes the verse riff. Mick Brown then makes the chorus the pre chorus and a asks George Lynch to come up with a riff to suit his vocal melody. If that is the case the credits would look like this;
MUSIC – LYNCH
LYRICS – LOGAN, BROWN
ARRANGEMENT – LYNCH,LOGAN, BROWN

Another way is that George Lynch comes in with the music and the lyrics with vocal melodies all arranged.If that is the case the credits would look like this;
MUSIC – LYNCH
LYRICS – LYNCH
ARRANGEMENT – LYNCH

In my view there needs to be a rethink here. How is the ORIGINAL CREATOR going to be credited? They are the ones that spent time in solitude coming up with musical ideas and the lyrical ideas before presenting it to the band.

Dee Snider is credited as the songwriter for Twisted Sister. He has a contract with Jay Jay French, where 20% of the publishing income goes to Jay Jay French. Should he have that contract? What about when the band goes through the process of jamming on Dee Snider’s mouth ideas.

The bottom line is this; if the original band stays together and it’s always smooth sailing and monies are paid on time and honestly (without any creative accounting) no one really cares who is credited. However as soon as band members leave and are replaced it starts to get messy.

Expect dirt like this to come out with Adam Duce’s case against Machine Head.

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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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