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

A Metal Heads Guide To The Key Of Music Success

The technology of today allows for convenient costless copying and transportation of large chunks of data across the internet. Before the rise of streaming, people were still given a raw deal when it came to digital music and forced to overpay. In Australia, an iTunes song costs between $1.69 and $2.69. This price remained the same, even when our dollar was stronger than the US dollar.

Then the ACCC, our competition watchdog launched an inquiry into these geo-blocking price restrictions. Apple went in front of the commission and stated that they didn’t set the price for music in Australia and that the price was set by the Record Labels. It was found by the Commission that there should be no reason why Australians should pay more for software and music. However, nothing has changed in relation to the prices.

When music is offered in a convenient and low-cost legal alternative, the rate of piracy drops because most people do want to support artists and the various research out there points out that is the case.

For example, let’s look at TesseracT, the band. They released a great album in “Altered State”. It didn’t sell huge amounts in the U.S, so based on the record label success model, the album is a fizzer. However, the band knows that touring is where they make their money. And that is what they are doing. Musicmetric data showed (before it went behind a pay wall) that TesseracT’s music was downloaded the most in North America via peer-to-peer Torrent networks. So guess which area’s TesseracT have toured?

Yep, North America. They are touring there again from March and April 2014. The previously toured North America between September and October 2013. Coincidence. Maybe.

In relation to Spotify, they have a combined album stream count of 1,705,734. What this means, is that if you tally up all of the album songs shown in their popular list you will get to that number.

Go on YouTube and you see that the “Nocturne” (OFFICIAL VIDEO) by Century Media Records has 302,002 views. My favourite track from “Singularity” on the Century Media Records channel has 260,817 views compared to the 130,835 on Spotify. These numbers matter. Especially for a band that plays to a niche market.

What about the band Volbeat? They fall on all sides of the equation. They are one of the most streamed metal bands out there, plus they are downloaded a lot via peer-to-peer networks and in addition to all of this, they are still selling albums in the U.S. Their “Outlaw Gentlemen And Shady Ladies” album was released on 5 April 2013 and as at 29 January 2014, it is still selling in the U.S.

Yep, that’s right, in an era were physical sales of recorded music are non-existent, Volbeat has been selling consistently for 42 weeks straight. Prior to the release of “Outlaw Gentlemen And Shady Ladies”, their previous album “Beyond Heaven, Above Hell” was still selling up to and past the release date of the new album.

From a record label point of view, this is pure gold. They have a band that can consistently sell albums and Volbeat has been doing that each week for the last three years in the very competitive US market.

That is why they are hitting the U.S market again for the third time, this time with “Trivium” and the best DIY independent band out there in “Digital Summer”.

Look at their song “Still Counting” on Spotify. It has 21,193,159 streams. On the YouTube channel of Tomas Grafström “Still Counting” has 11,725,300 views.

My favourite song “Fallen” has 12,392,089 streams. On the VolbeatVEVO channel, “Fallen” has 4,583,706 views.

“Cape Of Our Hero” from the new album has 5,838,326 streams. On YouTube, “Cape Of Our Hero” has 2,999,070 views on the VolbeatVEVO channel.

Another band that is doing great numbers both in actual sales, streams and peer-to-peer downloads is Skillet. The album “Rise” was released on June 25, 2013 and at this point in time, 31 weeks after that, it is still selling. That is what the labels want, bands that can sell week in and week out. What does the band want? They want people to listen to their music.

To compare to the current mainstream rock band, none of these bands come close to Imagine Dragons. “Night Visions” came out on September 4, 2012. 73 weeks later, the album is still moving physical albums. At this point in time the album has sold over 1.8 million copies in the US. The main songs are high on Spotify’s streaming chart. They are also very high on the peer-to-peer download lists.

Seriously their Spotify numbers are insane. “Radioactive” is at 172 million streams compared to 128 million views on YouTube. “Demons” is at 73 million streams compared to 50 million views on YouTube. My favourite “It’s Time” is at 75 million streams compared to 59 million streams on YouTube.

Music is now a game of data. The key to any artist is not how many albums or songs are sold. The key is this;

ARE PEOPLE LISTENING TO YOUR MUSIC?
ARE PEOPLE SHARING YOUR MUSIC?
ARE PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT YOUR MUSIC?
ARE PEOPLE DOWNLOADING YOUR MUSIC?
WHERE ARE THESE PEOPLE LOCATED?
MUSIC IS A RELATIONSHIP BUSINESS. DO YOU HAVE A RELATIONSHIP WITH THESE PEOPLE?

If you answered YES to the first question, move on to the next question. If you haven’t answered YES to the first question, take a step back and start writing more music.

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

What a great idea? Give the fan a choice. Lessons from Dream Theater, Trivium, Shinedown, Protest The Hero, Coheed and Cambria

Does anyone in the music business know what works or doesn’t work when it comes to marketing a band?

For some reason, a lot of the parties involved still believe in a scorched earth marketing policy. That is where the said artist is promoted everywhere and on everything.

Will a corporate deal with a large newspaper or an online news site for an exclusive pre-album release stream help an act’s career in the long run?

Dream Theater went along this route for the “The Enemy Inside” launch, the “Along For The Ride” launch and the pre-album stream.

Three corporate deals that put money in the hands of the record label however what did it do for the band?

If you followed the band, you would have seen the comments on Facebook that when the launches happened, people in other countries couldn’t access the stream and frustration turned to anger. Of course within 24 hours the problem was fixed, however fans waited 24 hours. In the era of the World Wide Web. Geographical restrictions are old school.

In addition the album isn’t really setting the sales department alight. After a six week run, it is more or less obsolete and out of the conversation. Don’t believe, type in “Dream Theater self titled” in Google search and go to the news section.

Do TV and Newspaper ads work at all in 2013?

I rarely watch free to air TV and I rarely read Newspapers. Most of the stuff I do is online. I have an “online” life. So if I visit Loudwire, Noisecreep, Metal Insider or some other music site, I do notice ads on the side for new releases. However not once have I clicked on them or decided to hear a band because of those ads. So in my view, they don’t work.

What about YouTube plays and Spotify stream counts? This is what gets me interested. When I type in a band name into these platforms the first thing I normally play is the track with the most views/streams. These stats will help a band in the long run.

For example, Shinedown’s most streamed song is “Call Me”. The fans decided that is the song they can connect with the most. On YouTube, the fans have used that song as a soundtrack to their own video clips and the numbers are staggering.

It looks like a lot of big decisions in relation to the career of the artists are made on hunches or gut feelings by the record labels. This is ridiculous in 2013.

Labels are in this business to make money. They will be looking at what makes them money.

Trivium is on Roadrunner. Their latest album moved around 50,000 units in the U.S. Is it a dud? The label will probably use that stat and say it is. However, if you look at YouTube, you will see the video clip to “Strife” has 1,093,648 views. This has more than doubled “In Waves” that is sitting at 589,175 views. Hell, it’s even greater that Dream Theater’s “The Enemy Inside” clip which is at 891,939 views. Is the new Trivium album a dud now? Of course not.

Why?

People are listening to it. The numbers are there.

The labels flushed out Protest The Hero. The band then went the fan funding route. That route also gave them access to data. The data is a list of fans. Once an act employs a data model, they will start to get wins on the board. Once a band starts winning, others will gravitate to them.

On YouTube, the Underbite video has 137,339 views. The Clarity video has 163,773 views and the Drumhead Trial video has 250,972 views. For an independent band, those numbers are good.

Coheed and Cambria employed a data model with “The Afterman” releases? They put the focus on the deluxe packages. Those packages proved way too tempting to resist and guess what; thousands upon thousands of Coheed fans signed up to their modlife website and purchased. In the process, Coheed and Cambria made sales and gathered data of their hard core fans. That data list is close to 100,000 people.

With that Super Deluxe purchase, came the VIP Meet and Greet perk. So as long as you purchased a normal concert ticket, you had the VIP pass for meet and greets already and you could purchase another pass for a friend a discounted rate. What a loyalty program.

For example, I purchased “The Afterman” deluxe edition. A VIP pass came with this purchase. Then when Coheed and Cambria announced a Sydney show, I purchased two concert tickets at $66 each. Then I went on line and purchased another VIP pass for $15 for a friend of mine. This entitled us to early entry into the venue for either a special acoustic performance of one of the band members or a meet and greet.

Due to the large number of people that had this perk, it ended up being an acoustic performance. However, if the numbers were low, it would have been a meet and greet. The reason why the Sydney show was a success and the Australian tour in general was because Coheed and Cambria used data to connect with their fans.

Then the band used the data to promote special merchandise releases, Comic-Con appearances, video clip releases and side project releases.

Go on YouTube. Domino The Destitute has 1,295,151 views and Dark Side Of Me has 1,144,730 views.

Then the band promoted “The Afterman” live edition. This edition involved “The Afterman” albums plus a live CD. However, if a fan had purchased “The Afterman” CD’s before and all they want is the live CD, that was also available to them. All they had to do was log in to their account and pick what they wanted.

What a great idea? Give the fan a choice.

Instead we get the normal rubbish from the RIAA and the Record Labels, about how they are losing sales due to digital piracy.

Studies have shown that Peer To Peer traffic is now below 10%. It was 60% eleven years ago.

So 11 years ago, the only choice the fans had was to buy the expensive CD or to share individual tracks. Fans picked the sharing option.

However in 2013, people don’t need to pirate anymore because there is no need to. Whatever the fans want is available for free anyway, on YouTube, Spotify, Pandora, Grooveshark and so on. It has also become easy, which is something the labels have no idea how to do. Cough Cough “DRM” anyone.

Even when artists come out bemoaning piracy they fail to understand the shift that happened in the music industry. The fans decision to pursue single tracks instead of a whole album, changed the profits from a high-margin return to a low margin return for the label.

The Lie That Fuels The Music Industry’s Paranoia
http://www.forbes.com/sites/bobbyowsinski/2013/11/27/the-lie-that-fuels-the-music-industrys-paranoia/

Peer To Peer Traffic is Down
https://www.sandvine.com/pr/2013/11/11/sandvine-report-netflix-and-youtube-account-for-50-of-all-north-american-fixed-network-data.html

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