Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Maiden Live

On Friday, 6 May, 2016, I took my wife and three boys aged 10,9 and 4 to watch Iron Maiden on “The Book Of Souls World Tour” at the Qudos Bank Arena, formerly known as the Allphones Arena, formerly known as the Acer Arena in Homebush, Sydney.

The last time I saw Maiden was on the “Somewhere Back In Time Tour”. I went to both shows then, on February 9 and 10, 2008. The venue was then known as the Acer Arena and there wasn’t a spare spot on the floor or in the stands. But this time I saw red seats and spaces on the floor. Is it a sign of fading popularity?

I don’t think so, because prior to the show, Maiden got a “Gold” Certification for recorded music sales in Australia for “The Book Of Souls” album released in 2015.

As in 2008, the lights went out as soon as “Doctor Doctor” started playing from UFO on the backing intro music. And then it started with the little movie of the Maiden plane stuck in vines in a jungle.

“If Eternity Should Fail” and “Speed of Light” was the 1-2 punch from the “The Book of Souls” album to kick off the album.

When you have a legacy like Maiden’s, it’s a double-edged sword to spend the first 15 minutes of the concert playing tracks from the new album. There was some debate afterwards if this was a good thing or a bad thing especially when the audience was made up of people like me, dads and mums bringing their children to watch Maiden for the first time and children who were raised on the classic Maiden songs.

Anyway, the Dickinson penned “If Eternity Should Fail” is a great opener, and when the band kicks in with the intro lead is game on.

Waiting in line for the ending of time
If eternity should fail

It’s got a great sing a long chorus and that’s why it works live. By the time the “Ace Of Spades” influenced interlude kicks in, the floor is swaying with bodies. This song worked well live.

But the Smith/Dickinson composition, “Speed Of Light”, like “From Here To Eternity” and “Holy Smoke” before it, just don’t work as live songs. Boring and pedestrian.

“Children of the Damned”
Maiden takes us back to 1982 and we are all “Children of The Damned” again.

It’s the first of three songs from “The Number of the Beast” album and the first time, I am hearing this song live, as it wasn’t played on the 2008 “Somewhere Back In Time” tour. “Live After Death” was my first exposure to Maiden, and this song proved to be a favourite.

You’re Children of The Damned
Your back’s against the wall

Steve Harris wrote it about a book/movie, but those two lines above speak to me.

Because back in the Eighties, metal heads and rock heads got discriminated against. Since everyone that listened to metal and hard rock got classed as “devil worshippers” you can say that we were all damned and our backs were against the wall, trying to prove to others that we matter and have something better to offer this world.

Great live track and the quicker live tempo suited the song.

“Tears of a Clown” and “The Red And The Black” came next.

So Maiden went back to the new album. While I understand the importance of the song to Maiden and how it’s about comedian Robin Williams, “Tears of A Clown” just didn’t work as a live song. It’s best kept as a studio track.

Which brings me to the Steve Harris penned “The Red and the Black”. When I first heard this song on the album, I loved certain sections of it and after a few listens could honestly say it could do with some edits. Hearing the song, live, I can honestly say they should have been creative and exercised some control and edited the song down to 6 minutes instead of 10 minutes.

There is a harmony lead section of the song towards the end of the song that is excellent, however I think Maiden missed big time with these songs. Even the chants felt forced. “Fear Of The Dark” has the chants because the people/fans decided to chant along with the leads, not because Maiden wrote a song that has chants in it.

By now my four-year old fell asleep, which was a shame as his favourite song is “The Trooper” and that came up next. Actually I was surprised he fell asleep with the loud volumes.

“The Trooper”
So Maiden take us back to 1983 and the “Piece of Mind” album and play a speed metal version of the song. It was funny because in the car on the way up to the show my kids were singing the song super fast as well .

Actually, the song was that fast, that even Bruce couldn’t get all the words out in time.

Did it matter?

Not at all. My ten-year old and nine-year old lapped it up.

You’ll take my life but I’ll take yours too
You’ll fire your musket but I’ll run you through
So when you’re waiting for the next attack
You’d better stand there’s no turning back.

The stop of the music and the start of the vocal line is done brilliantly. It will remain a classic forever because of it.

“Powerslave”
The Dickinson penned title track from their 1984 album was up next and it’s one of my favourites.

When I was living this lie – Fear was my Game
People would worship and fall –
Drop to their knees.

Has our world progressed since the time of the Pharaohs?

Instead of whips and chains to work, we have wages and loans to keep us as slaves.

Tell me why I had to be a Powerslave
I don’t wanna die, I’m a God,
Why can’t I live on?
When the Life Giver dies,
All around is laid waste,
And in my last hour,
I’m a Slave to the Power of Death.

Then we are back to two more songs from “The Book Of Souls”. This time “Death or Glory” is up and to be honest it is another miss. But, “The Book of Souls” written by Gers and Harris deserves to be in the Maiden set forever and a day. It’s epic and grandiose and on par with “Powerslave”.

By know the clichéd stage antics of Janick Gers was bordering on “Dark Helmet” ludicrous proportions. Foot on the monitors like he’s doing ballet, swinging the guitar around his neck like anyone in 2016 cares about it, the Richie Blackmore splits and grabbing the guitar so the pick-up side faces the floor proved to be silly and funny at the same time.

But there was no escaping the power of  “Book Of Souls”.

A life that’s full of all the wealth and riches
Can never last an eternity

Sort of sounds like our current world. According to certain media reports we are living in a gold age of prosperity. I am sure that people in third world countries would disagree, but as the lyric states, what we have currently cannot last forever. But what is guaranteed is that the people in power and wealth would pay tooth and nail to ensure it does last forever.

The set is rounded off by “Hallowed Be Thy Name” from “The Number of the Beast”, “Fear of the Dark” from the album of the same name released in 1982 and “Iron Maiden” from the debut Maiden album released in 1980.

Now, “Hallowed Be They Name” to me, is a classic and man, the audience resonated with it.

Reflecting on my past life and it doesn’t have much time

When the end is near, all you can do is go back through your memories one last time because once it ends, those memories will be forever lost. It’s pretty sad when you think of the knowledge we could have if memories in our brains can somehow be preserved.

When the priest comes to read me the last rites
I take a look through the bars at the last sights
Of a world that has gone very wrong for me

In order to write “The Trooper”, Maiden had to write “Hallowed Be Thy Name” because both songs have very similar elements, especially the stop start sections of the verses, where the music stops and the vocals start.

The Harris penned “Fear Of The Dark” has achieved a new sense of immortality courtesy of the “Rock In Rio” performance on the “Brave New World” tour. Every section in the song is more or less a sing/chant along.

Fear of the dark, fear of the dark
I have constant fear that something’s always near

I always saw “Fear Of The Dark” as an analogy for fear of the future, the unknown and how the world is always throwing good and bad times into our lives. And to be quite honest it’s pretty scary sometimes.

But “Iron Maiden” to me is a big letdown. I understand its historical importance but in the end it’s a really average song.

The encore kicked off with “The Number of the Beast”, then “Blood Brothers” from the “Brave New World” album released in 2000 and the set finished off with “Wasted Years” from the “Somewhere in Time” album released in 1986.

I’m coming back I will return
And I’ll possess your body and I’ll make you burn

Metal music was known as “The Beast” in the 80’s, because it possessed our bodies and minds. And when the establishments thought it was dead and buried, a bigger beast in Grunge, Industrial, Metalcore, NuMetal, Death Metal, Black Metal all came forth, until Metal music returned once again.

Bruce made special mention that the audience and Iron Maiden are “Blood Brothers” and how in the audience he is seeing parents with children and so forth. At this time I got a lot of high fives from people around me, that I had the balls to bring my children to the show. So without any surprises, the Steve Harris penned “Blood Brothers” was up.

Maybe all the things that you know that are precious to you
Could be swept away by fate’s own hand

Live each day to the best that it can be lived, because the world doesn’t care about the houses, cars, iPads and record collections when it comes calling for you.

Finally the big one and the favourite of my eldest son, the Adrian Smith penned “Wasted Years”. I always associated this song as another “Turn The Page”, “Home Sweet Home” and “Wanted Dead Or Alive”. And it’s also a love song.

The guitar intro is legendary and Adrian Smith as a songwriter has contributed to a lot of “classics” from the Maiden 80’s era. I would call him the unsung hero of Iron Maiden.

I close my eyes, and think of home
Another city goes by in the night
Ain’t it funny how it is, you never miss it ’til it’s gone away
And my heart is lying there and will be ’til my dying day

So Maiden came to Australia. For some reason I feel that it was for the last time. I hope not.

My eldest son, he loved the show and enjoyed it along with me. My middle son, got super tired half way and just kept on yawning. My youngest son fell asleep at the concert by “Tears Of A Clown”. My wife held him the whole time.

What kind of father buys concert tickets for a Friday night show, which is the end of a school week and the start of a sport filled week playing football. We got home at 1am and by 7am we all got up for the morning Saturday games.

Metal all the way.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

The Machine Head Experience

By 9.24pm, on Wednesday, 24 June 2015 at the Metro Theatre, I had consumed my sixth beer in one hour waiting for Machine Head to hit the stage. A pretty awesome metal playlist was doing the rounds that had songs like “Sad But True” from Metallica and “In Due Time” from Killswitch Engage.

Then “Diary Of A Madman” started playing. It was ominous. The volume was initially low and the house lights were still on. Then the outro of “Diary” kicked in with the choir voices and the volume got cranked and the lights went out.

The chant went up, “Machine Fucking Head, Oh” (a point that Robb Flynn made later on in the show, that Australia is the only country to say Machine Fucking Head OH..) and the clean guitars started for “Imperium”. Everyone in the sold out venue knew that all hell was going to break loose. I was standing close to the mixer and I had a great view to the stage and to the circle pit. It was pandemonium.

Machine Head’s career was re-built upon “Imperium” and the 2003 album “Through The Ashes Of Empires” that it came from. The song is even more special based on Robb’s journals that covered the hardships in getting the album recorded.

“Through The Ashes of Empires” was released in December 2003 in Europe only. It took months to gain some traction and be discovered. In April, 2004, it got a U.S release and a subsequent world-wide release. Suddenly everybody knew it and everybody wanted to go see Machine Fucking Head live.

The knockouts kept on coming with “Beautiful Mourning” from “The Blackening” and “Now We Die” from “Bloodstone And Diamonds”.

“The Blackening” was another game changer for Machine Head. Released in 2007, it put them on the road for three years and in the process it cemented Machine Head’s reputation as a solid unit. That trend continued with “Unto The Locust” and “Bloodstone And Diamonds”.

I still think “Now We Die” should have been called “Now We Rise”. It would have been perfect in my eyes.

“Bite The Bullet” came next and then “Locust” sent everyone into a frenzy. It’s no coincidence that the first five songs all came from their last four albums.

I saw a person on crutches enter the circle pit and I said to myself that is not going to end well. Later on, I saw that dude on someone’s shoulders. He was okay, the Head Cases took care of him.

“From This Day” from 1999’s “The Burning Red”, “Ten Ton Hammer” from 1997’s “The More Things Change” and “Clenching The Fists Of Dissent” from “The Blackening” kept the knockout punches coming.

How good is that “fight” part in “Clenching”?

“Beneath The Silt” from “Bloodstone and Diamonds” was slow and groovy and “Crashing Around You” from 2001’s “Supercharger” album picked it all back up.

When I first heard “Crashing Around You”, I said to myself what an awesome rock song. It was better than anything that was mainstream back then. However, Roadrunner didn’t know what to do with the song, or how to market Machine Head and because of record label stupidity the song didn’t cross over. It’s one of my favourite cuts on “Supercharger”.

“The Blood, The Sweat, The Tears” from “The Burning Red” came next.

But it’s all about “Darkness Within” from “Unto The Locust”.

What a song, what a groove, what a melody and what a guitar solo by Phil. Along with “Bulldozer” from “Supercharger” and “Killers and Kings” from “Bloodstone And Diamonds” those three songs proved another killer trilogy in the set.

How good are the lyrics in “Bulldozer”? Another unheralded cut from “Supercharger”,

Somebody told me, I should do what they told me
But there’s a hole in their plan, and I’m tearing it down

You can almost picture the scene. Record label A&R douche telling Robb to wear an orange jumpsuit. Robb agrees for the greater good but…..

Trust our guts, follow our hearts, no one can break these nuts
These lips ain’t kissin’ asre
The path of most resistance tests all of our strength
The strength will not be denied

It’s like Robb foresaw the crap that would come their way post “Supercharger” and the mission involved to get “Through The Ashes Of Empires” recorded and then released.

Bulldozer goes against the odds
Bulldozer goes against the grain

You can interchange “Bulldozer” with “Machine Head” as both have three syllables. Machine Head goes against the odds. Machine Head goes against the grain. And thank god they did. It’s like their story before it even happened, getting dropped, then rejected. What makes the track rock is the groove.

“Sail In The Black” was excellent (although in some sections the backing synths overpowered the intro vocals) and “Davidian” from the 1994 debut “Burn My Eyes” followed.

You would think it would be over, but, NO it wasn’t.

“Now I Lay Thee Down” from “The Blackening”, “Aesthetics Of Hate” from “The Blackening” again, “Game Over” from “Bloodstone And Diamonds”, “Old” from “Burn My Eyes” and “Halo” from “The Blackening” again rounded out the night.

I didn’t see a phone or a camera recording the show. Everyone was there to experience it.

If they played “A Farewell To Arms” from “The Blackening” I would have completely lost it.

From the set list, you can see how important “The Blackening” is to Machine Head and to the Head Cases.

Yeah, Machine Head did have a catalogue before and after “The Blackening”, however their entire career will be attributed to this one album, showing the power of excellence.

A defining album, and in time it will be held in the same light as Metallica’s “Master Of Puppets” or Pantera’s “A Vulgar Display Of Power”.
By the end of the night, I had consumed 13 beers and still had room for many more.

To Machine Head, thanks for another great night in Sydney.

The future looks good, as the band is constantly replenishing their audience base. The crowd was a mixture of teens, twenty something’s, thirty something’s and forty plus. It was also a mixture of dudes and chicks. Like the song “Truckin” from The Grateful Dead, Machine Head just keep on truckin’ along and winning new fans along the way.

Two days later my ears are still ringing and I am still talking about the experience. That is what live music is all about. The experience

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Music

Black – Some Songs Just Cannot Be Covered

I had a pretty crazy 36 hours that involved a three-hour drive (with toilet stops and breakfast stops) to Canberra, the Australian National Museum, some shopping, dinner and then the next morning, we took in Questacon, some more shopping and another three-hour drive home (this time I made sure that I laid down the law on the toilet breaks).

I have three boys, aged 8, 7 and 2. I love em to death, but they drive me mad. Especially on holidays. For example, today, we had breakfast at the hotel. My eldest and me were the last ones to leave and from the looks of it, he looked pretty full. So we go back to the room and we start packing. I open the fridge to grab the few items we had in there and he asks me, “Can I have a coke?”

I am thinking to myself “WTF”. Didn’t he just tell me, two minutes ago that he is so full he cannot breathe. Now he wants to drink a bottle of coke and it’s not even 10am. I turn to look at him, with an upset angry face and reply a stern, “NO”. I hate doing that, however I am seeing that the kids have no self-control when it comes to soft drink.

Quick getaway’s are stressful. I don’t even call them getaways. I call them stressaways. Sometimes going back to work is more of a holiday than the actual holiday. Especially when kids are involved, however I wouldn’t even dream of going somewhere without them. The room we stayed in at the Grand Mercure had two levels. I don’t know what the hell my wife and I were thinking when we booked the room. For the short time that we actually stayed in the room, all we did was walk the 2 year old up and down the freaking stairs. Then towards the end of the stay, he started screaming the room down to go solo on the stairs. Fun and games. Fun and games.

So in all of the craziness of today, I had a small window, a small opportunity, a small chance to read some emails and one of them was an email from YouTube, telling me that the song “Black” is up for viewing from the Smith and Myers acoustic project.

For those that don’t know, Brent Smith and Zach Myers are from Shinedown. In order to pass time between albums, the band asked fans to vote and recommend songs that they would like to see the guys cover. The final agreed list was finalised and in April 2013, Smith and Myers went in and recorded the final ten songs acoustically.

We are finally seeing the songs starting to filter through on YouTube. What a 9 month build up to the release? Bon Jovi, Phil Collins, Pearl Jam and Adele didn’t approve the YouTube releases because that meant that Smith and Myers are effectively giving the performances away. For the original artist (or whoever owns the rights at this point in time), this means no income.

So the original 10 song release is down to six for the time being. “Acoustic Sessions” will be released digitally on Jan. 28, and the list of songs are as follows;

“London Calling” by the Clash
“Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding
“Nothing Else Matters” by Metallic
“She Talks to Angels” by The Black Crowes
“Runaway Train” by Soul Asylum
“Blue On Black” by Kenny Wayne Shephard

The other 4 songs that will be released at another time are;
“Black” by Pearl Jam
“Wanted Dead Or Alive” by Bob Jovi
“In The Air Tonight” by Phil Collins
“Someone Like You” by Adele

So I was very surprised to see the email that “Black” from Pearl Jam was up. Thinking that it was a mistake and that the song would get taken down, I suddenly made sure I found some time on my holiday to check it out.

First, let me tell you a story about Pearl Jam and “Black”. I really didn’t like “Even Flow” or “Alive” when they hit the air waves back in 1991. They just didn’t connect with me at that point in time. In addition, I was really anti-grunge because all of the rock bands that I was into started to disappear. So I was staying loyal to my team. The hard rock team.

Then in 1993, I saw an live performance of the band doing “Jeremy” going into “Rockin In The Free World” with Neil Young at the MTV Awards and I was suddenly interested. Loyalty to hard/glam rock was still strong, however in the end I am a fan of music and if there is great music to hear from other genre’s I will dig deep and hear it. So I asked a previous hard rock friend of mine who switched to the grunge side to copy the album onto a cassette for me.

Oh, the shame of admitting defeat. My mate made sure that he dug in the hooks, while twisting the knife. On my way home, I pressed play on the Sony Walkman and there it was, hidden away at track 5. “Black” had entered my life. “Her legs spread out before me”. What a hard rock lyric, however it doesn’t sound cliche or derivative of the hard rock genre. It is original and fresh.

By the time “Black” finished, I wanted to hear the whole song again, just to hear that unbelievable outro this time around. And when it finished for the second time, I rewinded the tape again and heard it again. I did that non stop for about two weeks, until the tape got tangled up (or chewed up – the people that had tapes would totally understand what I mean by this) and then I was off to the record shop to purchase the CD. I paid $27, just to hear the song “Black” over and over again, almost 2 years after it was released.

“Black” was the car that put me on the road to Seattle.

So now I am listening to the Brent Smith and Zach Myers cover of that song. It takes a lot of guts taking on a song that was a hit, however it was never released as an official single. The fans made this song go viral back in the early nineties, by spamming radio stations to play it and since the Billboard charts have some funny connection with radio plays, the song hit number 3 on the Billboard Rock Charts, beating out songs that had actual single sales on the board.

So Smith and Myers have shown a lot of guts taking on a song that has over 50 million YouTube views from all the various channels that host it. One channel from Nothingman54 has the song at 33,717,347 views.

Aaron Lewis from Staind has also taken the song on. He slowed it down a little bit and his version would have been a definite keeper if the ad lib Eddie Vedder outro was nailed. Again it was a good version, but the pure raw emotion that the original version invokes is not achieved.

For Brent Smith to cover the song and to do it justice he needed to have lived the song before covering it. I always say that some songs cannot be covered. And I have always said that Pearl Jam’s “Black” is such a song.

While the Smith and Myers version is good, it leaves me feeling a bit empty. Maybe I expected a lot more. Maybe they should have included a piano into their acoustic version, as the piano is an integral part of the song. Maybe Brent should have strummed some chords while Myers took the song on in the outro with the piano that wasn’t there.

I really really like Shinedown, so to be critical of Brent Smith (who to me is Shinedown) is painful. I actually went back to hear the original Pearl Jam version after this. Spotify has the “Ten Redux” album up and I was transported back to the same day in 1993, pressing repeat over and over again to hear the song. Then I went to the 2004 remixed version that appeared on “rearview mirror” and set it to repeat.

So even though the Smith and Myers version didn’t connect with me, they did make me go back and listen to the original version, over and over and over again. And that is the power of music. Du Du Duu D Du Du Duu

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

What Can Lorde and Spotify Teach The Metal World? Plus The Ones That Control The Talent Will Win In The Long Run

Record labels were dependent upon record sales and when the profit margins from recorded sales shifted from high margin returns to low margin returns, they screamed piracy. To them the only way they could remain in business was to have laws passed that protected their gatekeeper based business models.

However technology and innovation is always moving forward, so while the record labels are lobbying hard for new laws, at the same time they were being pulled into the future, kicking and screaming all the way.

Spotify to me is just a legal version of Napster, that has arrived in most markets. However before Spotify was even allowed to operate in certain markets, they needed to make licensing deals with the relevant record labels and publishing groups.

Spotify came into the market with the idea that they need to compete with free. And compete they did. The service even started to break artists to the masses, something that the record labels are clueless to do in current times.

Look at Lorde.
Her song “Royals” was added to Spotify on March 19th. It did nothing.

On April 2nd the song was added to the popular Hipster International Playlist by Napster founder Sean Parker. Isn’t it amazing what a little help can do and this was achieved without any dollars going into marketing. This was purely a stakeholder of Spotify, liking a song and sharing that song with the masses.

What’s that word again? Sharing.

On April 8th “Royals” appeared on the Spotify Viral Chart. What does this mean? It means that people have started to share it.

In relation to metal, I have posted previously how Dream Theater is doing it all wrong with their album release, putting money into marketing and believing that the old school scorched earth policy would bring results. It doesn’t. Sharing is what brings results. Fans sharing your music. Hey didn’t Napster do just this. Didn’t Napster allow fans to share music.

On June 10th “Royals” started to appear on radio. Remember when radio was cutting edge and used to be hip. This is proof that radio is a format that is dead and buried. This is proof that radio is always late to the party. This is proof that radio is clueless. This is proof that radio only plays what the record labels pay them to play.

So if you are an artist and your idea is to get your song onto radio, forget it. It is pointless. It does nothing for your career today.

Go on Dream Theater’s Facebook page and they are telling fans to contact their radio stations, so that “The Enemy Within” can be added to the playlist.

To use a quote from Flying High;
“Surely you can’t be serious.”
“I am and don’t call me Shirley.”

On July 9th “Royals” debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 – three months after debuting on the Spotify Viral Chart.
See how important sales are. By July 9th, Lorde was already a super mega star. It didn’t matter if she finally made enough physical sales to enter the Billboard Hot 100. She was already a success.

This is another lesson that the metal and rock world fail to learn. They still focus on the sales in the first week and the chart position. This is so old school and not a great measuring tool of reach or success, especially for new acts starting out.

But the metal world is still clueless. This is what we get from the bands, their PR companies and the various news outlets that report on metal and rock. Here are a few examples.

Loudwire: Dream Theater’s new DVD ‘Live At Luna Park’ recently entered at No 1 on the Soundscan music DVD chart.

Loudwire: Volume 2 of Five Finger Death Punch’s ‘Wrong Side Of Heaven; lands at No. 2 on Billboard 200.

Blabbermouth: “Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones” sold 42,000 copies in the United States in its first week of release to debut at position No. 7 on The Billboard 200 chart.

See what I mean. They are still reporting on the old system. What those websites are saying is that the first week of sales is a measure of success, which I totally disagree with. If that was the case, then the first Five Finger Death Punch album was a dud, after first week sales.

August 6 – Lorde plays her first US gig in NYC.

Slow and steady wins the race. You play where there is demand. Humanity wins out in the end. Those that can play, perform live and write their own songs will win. It’s a return to the song writer. Expect a back lash against the over processed songs written by a committee.

Forget about acts that focus on big screens and pyro technics. The people are looking for human performances. It is an escape from our increasingly digital world.

“Royals” is the most shared track in the US by a new artist this year. This is what matters. The track is SHARED. It means the fans are spreading the word, getting more people to invest time and money into you.

Spotify has finally released some information as to how they pay and it sure makes an interesting read. I have posted previously about the greed of the record labels and how that greed will ultimately kill the streaming star.

So let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. Spotify pays 70% of their revenues to rights holders. The rights holders in 90% of the cases are the record labels and publishers. The same people who lobbied hard to extend copyright terms and are lobbying hard again for longer copyright terms.

So in 2013 so far, Spotify has paid out $500 million dollars to rights holders in royalties. That’s right $500 million. When Spotify pays royalties to a rights holder they provide all the information needed to attribute royalties to each of their artists. Check out the post, it sure makes interesting reading.

http://www.spotifyartists.com/spotify-explained/

So it got me thinking about business models. It looks like to me that the new record label business model of today is to ensure that they have the talent. The one with the most talent wins.

The Record Labels are the only ones putting money out there and the rule of thumb is that if you want to dominate in the music business in the future, you have got to spend. So if record labels are spending, the talent ends up on a label.

That talent brings to the record label the following;

Any songs that BAND A writes will end up with the record label for the life of the artist plus 70 years after their death (the U.K has 90 years). So if the artist is say 30 years of age when they write HIT A, then the copyright of that song will be owned by the record label for 120 years (assuming the artist lives to 80 years of age). Talk about securing their future. Now multiply BAND A or ARTIST A by all the millions of artists who are getting into deals where they sign away their copyrights.

SECURE the most talent and be a winner in the long run.

Has anyone noticed the large push from Frontiers Records in signing up talent past and present? Has anyone noticed how they are getting the Eighties legends to re-record their classics by creating modern forgeries and in the process handing over the copyrights to Frontiers? Has anyone noticed how they are getting all of these artists together for special one-off projects like Michael Sweet from Stryper and George Lynch?

Since managers and other entities are afraid to spend on artist, the ones that do so will win. If a label is not spending money, then they are not in the game. If they are not in the game, then they do not control any talent.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, Piracy

The Rock and Metal Score Sheet

Robb Flynn

He understands that it is not all about making records, and that now more than ever it is about careers. Careers are about longevity and in the end, the money is in longevity. Each weekly Journal is like a new song. I wait for it, read it and think about it.

Robb knows that information is king. He is feeding it to the Head Cases. He is telling his audience to research whatever information they are given and make their own decisions when it comes to governments and mass media crap.

Protest The Hero

Shows how the mainstream media is out of touch. “Clarity” is not derivative, it doesn’t sound anything like what came before. Neither does the whole album. “Skies” is what progressive music should be. “Mist” is major key progressive heaviness. Despite all the Dream Theater, Korn and Black Sabbath hype, the biggest release of the year belongs to Protest The Hero.

And deservedly so.

They connected with their audience via Indiegogo. Even they were blown away at the response. I suppose when you have a record label feeding you bogus stats and terrible royalty payments for a long time, you fail to realise the audience you really have. It takes guts to do what Protest The Hero did. They are the anti-stars in all of this. Hell, the biggest star they had on the album was Chris Adler from Lamb of God. Anti-stars always end up as the winners.

They have a hit album without a major label. They have cut through all the internet noise without the need of major label. In the age of information overload, Protest The Hero relied on their audience and their music to get their message through.

Nikki Sixx

Talks about a farewell tour constantly. Do you we really need one more world tour of a band that has a few members struggling to perform their own material as a band? I caught Motley Crue on their last tour.

Vince Neil was all over the shop with his voice (and on all four occasions I have seen Motley Crue, Vince Neil was always off). Tommy Lee still rocked. Mick Mars didn’t. Even though he is Twittering that he is not to blame for the end of Motley Crue, he just can’t do it anymore. He makes more noise than actual music. Nikki Sixx can still roll with it, however Sixx AM is his future now. Motley Crue has completed its run. Thanks for the memories. Bring on the movie and goodbye.

If they want another world tour, then they need to be musically spot on and hungry, like the twenty something’s they were that wanted to be legendary rock stars. I give the Crue credit, they are actually playing and are still one of the original bands doing so.

Coheed and Cambria

Have been touring non-stop on the back of two album releases that came out within a 4 month window. Add to that Comic Con appearances, plus SciFi conventions and appearances in Comic Shops and you get the idea that this band realises that it is not just about music and money. It is about creativity.

Metallica

Is all about the money. They need to make new music soon. There are only so many times that a band can go on a worldwide victory lap on the same piece of music. They need to be back in the studio.

Dream Theater

They need a great record soon or they will become yesterday’s news. Also rans. They need to go back in the studio right now and make more music. Forget about the marketing campaign and focus on making music. It is the only way they will survive. When you are famous for being famous it doesn’t last long.

At this point it’s pretty clear that the band is comfortably ensconced in their lifestyle and content to just keep doing things the way they have been for years in order to maintain the status quo. It looks like this constantly working cycle of album and tour every two years is past the point of growing and entering a phase of diminishing returns.

Stone Sour

Something went south with their career trajectory this year. They released two albums like Coheed and Cambria, however Coheed’s trajectory is on the up – constantly added to tours and festivals while Stone Sour’s has ended. At least Corey Taylor gets it. The industry is not just about music anymore. It is a lot more than that.

Five Finger Death Punch

They understand that is about blockbusters and the band that has the most blockbusters wins today. If you use sales as a metric, Five Finger Death Punch have been selling albums each week since 2007’s “The Way Of The Fist”. They already have three GOLD certifications from the RIAA and the odds are good for another two more GOLD albums with “The Wrong Side of Heaven” two part releases. The other bands that are trying to compete with FFDP are finding this out the hard way.

Trivium

Their new album has been called a Disturbed covers album. However if the people are talking about you, it is a good thing.  You can say that Trivium divided their fan base even more with Vengeance Falls however you have to risk and reinvent constantly. Trivium is building a career and a career is for the long.

Shinedown

They have an audience who want to listen to them. We have no need for another Shinedown unless that band is better. So far, no one’s doing hard rock better than them.

Streaming

Everyone talks about the money that isn’t filtering down to the artist however streaming is too entrenched to be replaced.

Spotify is doing a terrible job of putting it’s story out there which is hampered even more due to the non-disclosure agreements it has with the record labels. So while artists complain that they are cheated out of royalties, YouTube is crowned the unofficial streaming king and no artist is complaining about YouTube except the RIAA.

Streaming is the future and those artist who don’t grow with this future will be too busy shrinking.

Album

Everyone talks about the money that is lost due to piracy. Remember that 20% of the tracks on Spotify have never been played. Remember that there is a similar percentage for iTunes downloads as well. Fans want quality, not quantity.

Sales

Are not the best metric to measure a bands reach and pull in today’s market. Sales are dwindling for bands that release mediocre music while sales are increasing for bands that release great music. And the RIAA still talks about the money that is lost due to piracy however the money has moved elsewhere.

Piracy

Is not that large of a problem as the majors and the RIAA make it out to be. Remember that 20% of the tracks on Spotify have never been played.

Live

Remember the excitement and the buzz of going to the show. It was uncontrollable. Everyone waiting in line to get inside, to watch a band that rules, in an era that music ruled. Today, it is too expensive to take kids to a concert and that is only for a glimpse in the back. This business needs a reset.

Avenged Sevenfold

He who follows must have the best songs. Right now, Avenged Sevenfold does. Regardless of what other people say, they are creating music that they aspired to. For any artist out there that thinks it is any different, they are just prolonging their ignorance. Like Trivium, they are taking risks and reinventing constantly. Say what you will about the “influences” on “Hail To The King”, doing that album was a big risk for Avenged Sevenfold and it is paying off.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Question Everything – Inspiration From Killswitch Engage and Jesse Leach

After overdosing on the new Protest the Hero album “Volition” for some reason the last song “Skies” got me thinking about Killswitch Engage. So out come the headphones and on goes the new album “Disarm the Descent.” I haven’t listened to it since about July. Our favourites don’t last long in the times of today. With so much new music coming out, we move on very quickly. As Jesse Leach pointed out recently in an interview with Lithium Magazine, the title is a creative way of saying redemption or rising again.

“You’re in a state of your life where you’re approaching rock bottom and you find a way to pick yourself up again before you hit the floor.”

I came to Killswitch Engage late. I didn’t listen to their first three albums. The only song I heard was “My Last Serenade” back in 2004 and that was via a bass player friend. However at that time, nothing really connected with me and that was it. There was no urge to commit to the band for me.

Fast forward a few years and the “Guitar World” issue arrived in the mailbox. I don’t recall which month; however it was a magazine from 2007. At that time the magazine still came with a DVD of bonus content. One of the bonuses was a lesson from the Killswitch guitarists on how to play “My Curse” and after watching it, I was hooked.

So I asked my bass player friend to burn me all of their albums, which he did. At the time, I had no idea that vocalists changed, which after hearing “Alive or Just Breathing” in 2007, I realised that the tones of the vocalists didn’t match up. So what do we do when we need information? We Google. We click on Wikipedia. In addition, “My Last Serenade” suddenly mattered. The song sucker punched me and I was hooked. The timing was right in 2007, for Killswitch Engage to enter my life on a full time basis.

By the time, their 2009 self-titled album came out; I was purchasing it without even listening to a single note. As a bonus their back catalogue was on special at the time, so I picked them up as well and added the official releases to my collection. That is why I always say that no metrics can ever measure the reach or pull of a band at the time of a release.

Of course, sales data can show what is in demand at a certain point in time; however the reach and the popularity of a certain band or a certain album cannot be properly measured until years later. Remember that history is written by the winners. In music, the winners are the artists or bands that outlast the competition.

Going back to the different singers, since Jesse’s split with the band, he kept busy with other projects, like the stoner-rock outfit “Seemless” and the metalcore/hard-core influenced “The Empire Shall Fall”. During this period, he also appeared with Killswitch Engage, performing the track “My Last Serenade” alongside Howard Jones at the Roadrunner United concert in 2005.

Then in 2011, I was blown away by “Times of Grace”. Everything about that album connected with me on so many different levels. I saw “Times Of Grace” open up for “Machine Head” at the Uni Roundhouse in Sydney in February 2012. Adam Dutkiewicz had his leg in some form of a support cast and he still went ballistic on stage, commenting frequently that “Aussie girls are hot.”

In relation to “Times Of Grace”, I could hear the regret in some of the songs. When Jesse jumped ship from Killswitch he was fighting a pretty serious depression. He had just gotten married and he couldn’t deal with being on the road all the time and away from his new family.

Songs like, “Fall From Grace (my best song on the album)”, “The Forgotten One”, “Hymn Of A Broken Man”, “In The Arms Of Mercy” and “Where The Spirit Leads Me” capture the more personal side of Jesse Leach. I remember reading in an interview in the “Revolver” April/May issue with Jesse mentioning that at the time of leaving Killswitch he was “broken and unconfident”.

So when Killswitch Engage announced that Jesse Leach is the vocalist again, I was more than pleased. His redemption was complete. When Jesse left Killswitch Engage the album he worked on “Alive Or Just Breathing” was just another album in a burgeoning metalcore scene that helped to kick start the New Wave of American Heavy Metal movement.

Today, “Alive or Just Breathing” is seen as a classic. I always state that music is all about creating great music now so that it is recognised later for its greatness. As an artist grows their body of work takes on a new life of its own. It takes a while for something to be assimilated. Artists or bands have to hang in there long enough until they get their turn, getting better while they wait and releasing quality music.

“In Due Time” was the lead-off single.

“All that we suffer through leads to determination
The trials we all go through gives us the strength to carry on 

Something within us burns, desire feeds the will to live
A reason to believe I will see redemption”

As the chorus lyrics go, in due time, the shadows will gave way to the light. You just need to be patient and resilient. The words could even reference Jesse’s redemption to Killswitch and the knowledge that he had to go through all these trials so that he could come back a better person.

“A Tribute To The Fallen” has that hook that resonates. In my view this song should have led the album.

“With a new dawn we rise in renewed strength
Knowing we’ve just begun to fight this war within”

Think about all the crap that is going on in our democratic nations. Governments are spying on their own people. The Corporations and their lobby groups drive legislation. Government granted monopolies like the copyright industry are doing their best to kill innovation and when that fails, insert the corporations and their lobby groups. Transparency is promised however it doesn’t exist. Every communication is suddenly classified. Enables of pirated goods get more jail time than actual criminal offenders.

“New Awakening” has the legend behind it about how Jesse blew his voice while he was recording it in the studio. After the Doctor told him about the strain on the vocal chords, Jesse saw it as a badge of honour.

“There is more to life than this
We are more than just this flesh
We are alive and our time has come
For a new awakening”

It’s the Killswitch revolution. Killswitch wants you. Where do i sign? I’m all in.

“You Don’t Bleed For Me” connects with me because it more or less sums up our politicians and how even though they are voted in by the people, they do not work for the people. Of course there are the rare ones who do their best to speak for the people but in the end money wins the game.

“Fly your flag of righteousness
When underneath it is deviousness, it is greed and lies
Don’t pretend to know me you martyr of disgrace
With your plastic smile
I don’t believe a word you say
You don’t speak for me
You don’t bleed, you don’t bleed
You don’t bleed for me”

The closer “Time Will Not Remain”.

“None of us should be thought of as anything less than a potential to change the world”

What a lyric and what a statement. That is the reason why Jesse Leach’s return means so much to Killswitch Engage and to metal fans in general. He never stopped being who he was. He was not corrupted by the modern era. He questions social norms and ideals. He questions the crap our politicians and news outlets throw at us. He questions everything. The great vocalists always have something to say.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories

Bullet For My Valentine

I have been cranking Bullet For My Valentine lately. I started off with the new “Temper Temper” album released this year. “The Poison” album was next. I then went back to the “Hand of Blood” EP. Then “Scream Aim Fire” and “Fever”. On top of all that I have also seen the band perform live.

The music that BFMV creates is very reminiscent to the hard rock / heavy metal music created between 1981 and 1986, before Bon Jovi released Slippery When Wet and then the majority of bands started chasing the pop metal / pop rock “pot of gold”. It is the same music that I grew up on.

Metallica – CHECK
Iron Maiden – CHECK
AC/DC – CHECK
Slayer – CHECK
Megadeth – CHECK
Judas Priest – CHECK

Modern influences like Machine Head, Pantera and Metallica “Black” album period are also found in the songs. That is why I probably connected with the band.

As I have mentioned previously, all artists are a sum of their influences. No one creates art in a vacuum, waiting for that spark of super originality to come. Sometimes, a band takes all of these influences and creates something original, however in most cases, bands fall into an evolutionary category.

Bullet For My Valentine as a band have an unbelievable chemistry. The drumming is sensational. Just listen to how the drums build the intro in “Waking The Demon”. The guitar leads are very Randy Rhoads like, the riffs are melodic and the bass playing is solid.

“The Last Fight” is a classic example of the band nailing it. Listen to the rock version and then listen to the acoustic version, with the piano and violin. Dealing with addictions is difficult and this song captures it. The lead break in the rock version is classical heaven to start off with and then harmonised in the vein of Iron Maiden.

“Breaking Point” from the new album is a dead set classic opener. I don’t know why they went with “Riot” and “Temper, Temper” as the lead off tracks to promote the album. It should have been “Breaking Point” all the way.

Who can forget the punch and groove of “Your Betrayal”? Another perfect song to get the body moving into high gear.

Then you have the speed metal style of Slayer and Machine Head in “Scream, Aim, Fire” and “Waking The Demon”?

The Iron Maiden influence is heard in “Alone” while the Judas Priest influence is heard in “Eye Of The Storm”.

Add to that the slower songs like “Hearts Burst Into Fire” and you have a band that is varied and influenced by a lot of great styles.

This band still hasn’t written their “Blackening” or “Dr Feelgood” or “Back In Black” or “Black” album. They are working towards it. Great albums come from experience. Great songs come from having lived. The band (provided that they stay together) is on its way to achieving this.

They have hooked in Terry Date for the upcoming album, so it is a step in the right direction for album number 5. Matt Tuck even mentioned that the music is no holds barred metal, unlike the previous two releases.

I didn’t think I liked BFMV to start off with. Then I heard their cover of “Sanitarium” from a Kerrang tribute album to celebrate the 20 year anniversary of “Master of Puppets” from Metallica. That tribute album was also my first introduction to Trivium and their unbelievable cover of “Master Of Puppets”.

The modern paradigm of success is to create great music and reap the benefits later. “The Poison” came out in 2005 and by 2009, it had a GOLD certification in the U.S. market.

So I purchased “Scream, Aim, Fire” when it came out without hearing a song and I suddenly realised that I liked the band.

Just like Pantera had to emerge from the shadows of the inferior hard rock / power metal scene in the late Eighties, Bullet For My Valentine had to do the same. The metalcore movement has committed the same sin as hard rock and glam rock committed. Too many derivative bands are doing the rounds and there is no substance. With the release of “Scream, Aim, Fire”, BFMV showed that they are a metal band in the true sense. With “Fever” and “Temper, Temper”, they have showed that they can rock with the best of them.

The Bullet For My Valentine VEVO account shows that “Tears Don’t Fall” has been viewed 55,738,093 times.

“Your Betrayal” has been viewed 17,391,181 times.

“Waking The Demon” has been viewed 23,947,044 times.

“Hearts Burst Into Fire” has been viewed 13,500,316 times.

“The Last Fight” has been viewed 3,232,789 times.

“Temper Temper” has been viewed 2,254,641 times.

“Breaking Point” has just been released and it has been viewed 686,885 times.

“Hand Of Blood” has been viewed 12,069,227 times.

The above figures are from the official BFMV account. Those same songs have been circulated on other user accounts with high view counts as well.

Spotify has the following top 10 songs for BFMV. For some insane reason, the “Scream Aim Fire” album is not on Spotify.

“Tears Don’t Fall” is at 18,297,766 streams.

“All These Things I Hate (Revolve Around Me)” is at 9,878,085 streams.

“Your Betrayal” is at 8,335,370 streams.

“The Last Fight” is at 5,337,727 streams.

“Fever” is at 3,696,842 streams.

“Bittersweet Memories” is at 2,673,920 streams.

“Temper, Temper” is at 1,187,795 streams.

“Tears Don’t Fall (Part 2)” is at 1,030,904 streams.

“Breaking Point” is at 884,423 streams.

“P.O.W.” is at 670,708 streams.

I am sure that if the songs from “Scream Aim Fire” could be streamed, the above list would be a touch different.

So what is this saying about the band.

They have a reach that a lot of other bands do not have in metal. Kirk Hammett said that there isn’t any new bands coming out on the scene because of the internet and social media. Tell that to BFMV and their fans. Michael Poulsen said that bands can’t live off record sales alone. He is right, they can’t, however a band can live off record sales, iTunes downloads, streaming fees, YouTube views, licensing, merchandise and live revenue. You just got to be prepared to put in the hard work.

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