Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity

Recording Industry Marketed As The Music Industry.. More Recording Industry Fakery…

There is a big difference between the music industry and the recording industry, but the way the record labels and the RIAA tell the story, they are the same. But the truth is; the music industry is very different to the recording industry.

The Music Industry is everything, like recording (vinyl, CD’s and mp3’s fall under this), streaming, licensing, touring, merchandise, publishing, musical instruments (sellers, manufacturers and buyers), music hardware, music software, video production and many more.

People might have come across the RIAA name, a lobby/bribery association whose sole purpose is to fight for the major record labels in Washington. RIAA stands for the Recording Industry Association of America. Notice how there is no music term in their name.

But the RIAA have a lot of creative writers who write fake news. Like these headlines;

It’s important to note a few important things here;

  • The Recording Industry is a section of the “music industry.”
  • The Recording Industry is in the business of making money from music recordings.
  • The Recording Industry is not the Music Industry.
  • The Recording Industry likes to sell and market itself as the Music Industry.

So next time you read a story about the music industry, make sure it’s not a piece of fakery about the recording business.

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

All Things Music And Metal

The RIAA record label industry body a few weeks made an announcement about how are losing billions of dollars because of streaming and that Vinyl sales generate more revenue. The announcement then led to headlines across all of the news outlets.

The New York Post had the headline “Artists make more off vinyl sales than streaming services”.

Billboard had the headline “Vinyl Sales Made More Than YouTube, Spotify and Soundcloud Ads Combined”.

The Australian Financial Review had the headline “Some artists blame music streamers for shrinking the business”.

Fortune magazine had the headline “Record Industry Continues its War on Free Music”.

Mashable had the headline “Music streaming is getting bigger and bigger, but artist revenue isn’t keeping up”.

It’s safe to say that the RIAA got what they wanted with their report.

“This is why we, and so many of our music community brethren, feel that some technology giants have been enriching themselves at the expense of the people who actually create the music.”
Cary Sherman, Chairman & CEO of the RIAA.

“Last year, 17 million vinyl albums, a legacy format enjoying a bit of a resurgence, generated more revenues than billions and billions of on-demand free streams: $416 million compared to $385 million for on-demand free streams.”
Cary Sherman, Chairman & CEO of the RIAA.

 

This is the RIAA being as dishonest as you can get.

They are basically comparing gross retail vinyl sales against the net streaming revenue amount earned. In truth the net vinyl revenue is a lot lower than the gross $416 million quoted. And the $385 streaming revenue was $0 before 2011 due to copyright infringement/piracy.

As an article at Fortune.com states;

“Sherman is saying that because ad-supported services—or in fact, any alternative music-distribution method—don’t pay as much as some other music services, they must be flawed and/or stealing from musicians and record labels. In other words, the music industry’s largest negotiating body assumes that any new distribution method or infrastructure for delivering music to consumers must by default generate as much revenue as the industry used to get from records or CDs. And if it doesn’t, that means there is a structural error in the business that the RIAA needs to fix.”

And streaming companies like Spotify have a battle being profitable.

Remember that the streaming services pay the record labels a licence fee to have the music the record labels hold copyrights too on the service. These monies are never passed onto the artist. Hell, Spotify doesn’t even have long-term license contracts with Universal and Warner Music. These labels are cashing in on licensing deals on a month to month basis.

Then based on listens, the streaming services pay 70% of their streaming revenue to the record labels and publishers and based on the contracts the artists and songwriters have with their labels/publisher, these monies are paid back to the creators in cents. Meanwhile, the record labels are rolling in billions of dollars from streaming.

Maybe that’s why Spotify needed to get a billion dollars from investors.

The money will be needed for further expansions, acquisitions of tech companies and other investments. In my opinion, for Spotify to survive long-term they need to get into the record label business themselves sort of like how Netflix is creating its own content and using that content to sell their service. That is why HBO went from licensing movies from the studios (which wasn’t profitable) to creating their own content. And now look at the company.

There is no way around it for Spotify. They are under increasing pressure to remove their free tier and the latest research from the RIAA (mentioned above) is being used as evidence to build a case against ad-supported free music.

And poor old Google is always the punching bag when it comes to the RIAA.

If Google isn’t taking flak for not censoring the internet based on what the RIAA or the MPAA see as wrong, then their YouTube service is attacked for not paying enough.

So what we have is a coalition of artists and music groups asking for the lawmakers to write new laws to support their business models. Just think of it as another Lars Ulrich/RIAA vs Napster battle. And how did that turn out.

As the article at Techtimes states every law is open to abuse and while the DMCA was never intended for censorship, it is being used exactly as that:

“Over the past few years, however, the DMCA has been a cause of controversy. On one end, holders of rights to content are saying that the law does not do enough to protect content creators, while on the other end, there are warnings of abuse and censorship if the law is further tightened.”

And speaking of Lars Ulrich, in case you have lived under a rock, “Master of Puppets” from Metallica has been added to the National Recording Registry in the US as a cultural, artistic or historical significant recording.

Basically anyone can nominate a recording to be considered via sending an email to recregistry@loc.gov.

Once the nomination is sent, the lobbying starts.

Don’t get me wrong, “Master of Puppets” is a great album (although I do prefer “Ride The Lightning”), but is it really a defining cultural, artistic or historical significant recording. Although Metallica is seen as leaders of the thrash metal movement, the truth of the matter is that the movement is much bigger than one band.

I would even say that the “Metal Massacre” compilation that featured Metallica (spelt incorrectly as Mettallica mind you) is more culturally significant than “Master of Puppets”. But hey, Brian Slagel, founder of Metal Blade Records, is nowhere near as important as the biggest band. Because all history is written by the winners, the ones that have the most money.

And for Metallica albums, you cannot escape the “Black” album.

That one album killed off glam rock/metal, introduced a new heaviness to the mainstream that opened the door for bands like Korn, NIN, Disturbed, Godsmack and many others to exploit in the Nineties to great success.

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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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Alternate Reality, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Is Nikki Sixx A Revisionist?

When I was studying a subject called Science and Technology at Uni, one of the topics dealt with a term called “Whig history.” For the uninitiated, this term in pop culture means, looking back at the past, with the mindset and views that you have now, and rewriting the history to suit your view points at this point in time. Of course the meaning of Whig history is more detailed, however unpacking the full history behind it, in this blog, is for another day.

Anyway here is an example of a Whig history (especially made up by me for this blog post);
“Motley Crue changed the way bands would record music videos with the release of Smokin In the Boys Room in 1985. Their fearless leader, Nikki Sixx turned the clichéd video clip into a mini movie format. The rest of the music world needed to follow suit or they would be left behind. Video clips by Twisted Sister, Van Halen, Michael Jackson would all follow the new mini movie format made popular by Nikki Sixx.”

The above is factually incorrect. In addition, the time line of events are incorrect. Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” came first, in December 1983. Then in April 1984, Twisted Sister unleashed “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and not soon after “I Wanna Rock.” Also in the same year came “Hot For Teacher” from Van Halen. “Smokin In The Boys Room” didn’t come until 1985.

The above example is to illustrate a revisionist view on history, that takes the view point of a “super hero” and how that super hero changed the course of the music industry.

First, let me say that I am a fan of Motley Crue. Growing up in the Eighties, Motley Crue and the attitude they exhibited was something that I could relate too. I have read “The Heroin Diaries”, “This Is Gonna Hurt” and “The Dirt”. I have also read “Tommyland” and “Tattoos & Tequila: To Hell and Back with One of Rock’s Most Notorious Frontmen.”

Since Motley Crue was the top band in the Eighties for me, I devoured as much information as I could on the band. This included taping interviews from all the various music shows, buying the expensive U.S magazines and trading with other hard rock fans in my local area. For example, I would give them a Poison poster and they would give me stuff on Motley Crue that I didn’t have.

So after reading the books above, especially the solo books, I was confused with some of the information that was put out there. Vince Neil’s is the worst one and his book was a very painful one to read. For the casual fan they wouldn’t notice these changes to the mythology of Motley Crue, however for the hard core, some things just didn’t sit right.

Doing the rounds at the moment are comments by Sebastian Bach. To recap, Bach claims that he was asked to join Motley Crue, before they fired Vince Neil. Nikki Sixx said that was not true. Bach took offence to that, you know that whole “don’t call me a liar” argument. In his rebuttal, Bach makes a reference to Nikki Sixx’s “The Heroin Diaries” book as being inaccurate and he also mentions that a jam session took placed between Nikki, Tommy, Mick and Sebastian. Nikki Sixx has yet to respond to this. This isn’t the first time that Nikki Sixx’s version of events has been questioned.

John Corabi, the vocalist that ended up replacing Vince Neil has also disputed certain sections of “The Dirt.” In addition, Phil Lewis from L.A Guns has called “The Heroin Diaries” a fraud. The most famous of all rebuttals is Tom Werman’s which calls Nikki Sixx a “revisionist.” Even Dee Snider, in his opening forewarning of “Shut Up And Give Me The Mic” alludes to a book written by a junkie as not being factually correct.

So how much of the truth did Nikki Sixx tweak and re-envision for the sake of a story line?

At least the soundtrack to “The Heroin Diaries” was mind blowing.

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