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

When Are Artists Going To Realise?

Asking Alexandria

They are a hard rock band. When are they going to realise that? Drop the stupid screamo vocals and step up the clean melodic vocals. Drop the used and abused metalcore guitar trends and step up the hard rock guitar hero status. It’s time to rock n roll.

In the song, “Until The End” they sing that they want to be the best that they could be. And that best for them lays in hard rock. If I was their manager, that is the advice I would have given them after the first album.

The recent album ”From Death To Destiny” had 13 tracks on it. They needed a John Kalodner type persona to tell them that those 13 tracks needed to be streamed down to 10 and then have all of them re-recorded with clean vocals. Hell, I can even cut the list down to 5 songs.

The Death Of Me
Moving On
White Line Fever
The Road
Until The End

And chuck in the song “Someone Somewhere” from the “Reckless and Relentless” album and they will have six.

And what the hell is going with their Spotify account. Over 100,000 followers and not one song that has a stream count over a 1000 streams. Something fishy going on there. It looks like Spotify is employing the old MySpace tricks.

The Stan Lee Wealth Paradigm

Stan Lee has been involved in creating the stories around a lot of the iconic characters associated with Marvel Comics. Since these characters are box office superstars, people normally make assumptions that Stan Lee is loaded. However that is not the case.

Did you know that Stan Lee never owned the rights to the characters he created? Yep that’s right, he was a writer for hire and Marvel is the actual owner of the characters.

Did you also know that all the web sites that state his net worth at $250 million are full of shit. This is what Stan Lee had to say about his net worth:

“I don’t have $200 million. I don’t have $150 million. I don’t have $100 million or anywhere near that. I was happy enough to get a nice paycheck and be treated well. It was a very good job. I was able to buy a house on Long Island. I never dreamed I should have $100 million or $250 million or whatever that crazy number is. All I know is I created a lot of characters and enjoyed the work I did.”

Musicians would kill for a nice paycheck and to be treated well by their label.

Musicians would kill to be able to buy a house and pay it off.

What we have in music is a massive disparity between the blockbuster acts (the 1%) and the rest.

Did you know that the record labels are saying to artists who are seeking to reclaim their copyrights that the works they created are “works for hire”? Hell, Gene Simmons pulled this trick in his battle with Vinnie Vincent over royalty payments and the judge agreed with Gene Simmons.

When are artists going to realise that their fate is in their hands?

Also the Stan Lee situation opens up another conversation.

All the developers that worked/work for Apple over the years create software that makes up the Operating System that underpins the Apple products range. As popular as those products are, the developers get their wage and that is that. They don’t claim copyright on the code they create.

So an artist is signed to a label. The label gives them an advance to record an album. The artist goes into a studio and records the songs that they have created. The label then releases the album (under the name of the artist) and hopes to god that it resonates and that it sells. To the label legal team it sounds like works for hire?

LESSONS FROM COREY TAYLOR

Take Risks. Don’t get pigeonholed writing the same stuff over and over and over.

Trivium ticks these boxes. They sure take risks musically. However AC/DC built a stadium sized career by writing the same stuff over and over and over. Because it works for one, it doesn’t mean it will work for all.

Don’t repeat yourself as a lyricist. Take new roads, open different doors.

If you want to repeat yourself, join the Max Martin or Dr Luke team. Hell, call Jon Bon Jovi and ask him for a co-write.

If you’re not feeling it, get away from it.

“St Anger” came out that way because the main songwriter was not there mentally for it.

RECORD LABEL CONTRACTS and ROYALTIES

It’s time artists take the power back and burn up all of these shitty record deals they signed as kids when they had innocent dreams of making it. Fear Factory’s Burton C. Bell had this to say about Roadrunner Records and its founder Cees Wessels;

“I still get royalties. It comes in, but it depends how much we work, how much we tour. If we tour a lot I see better royalties, if we don’t then I don’t. I have no idea when we’ll get the rights back [to our catalog], because that Roadrunner contract is bullshit. I literally signed a deal with a Dutch devil. But when you’re young, you don’t care. You’re 23 years-old and ‘we’re going to give you an advance to make your first record, we’re gonna put you on tour, sell your shirts in all the stores. You are gonna to be famous!’’Alright, make it happen!’

When are artists going to stand up for themselves and stop the label from treating them like shit.

We asked Roadrunner ‘what’s going on?’
Roadrunner Replies; ‘You’re not selling any records. That’s not my fault, that’s your fault.’
We said; ‘How is that my fault?’
Roadrunner Said; ‘You didn’t put out the right record.’
We said; ‘Did everybody not put out the right record?’

Every single label failed their artists by not innovating. The analog dollars vs digital cents mess they got themselves in, is purely of their own doing.

The Macklemore Lessons

Be in it for the long haul. The career of Macklemore has been a long one (14 years and counting). There’s no such thing as an overnight success.

Five Finger Death Punch and Volbeat are two bands that I dig a lot. Look at the musicians in each band and you will see lifers.

Michael Poulsen from Volbeat started his first death metal band Dominus in 1991. During that time, Dominus released an album called Vol.Beat. When the band broke up in 2001, Volbeat the band was born. It wasn’t until 2005 that the first Volbeat album dropped. It wasn’t until Metallica picked em up as openers in 2009, that their US career kicked into overdrive. 22 years in the business. That is a lifer.

You can do it without a major label backing you. You need people, lifers like yourself that believe in you as your team. Create relationships and remember it is a two-way street of giving and receiving

Metal and rock bands are not really good at this shit. They need to get good at this. The new breed of artists coming through will overtake them on all fronts.

A huge hit doesn’t guarantee your future in the music industry.

Music is a risk game. As long as you focus on your core and don’t alienate them, you will have a future. If you start chasing that “hit part 2”, then prepare to lose, as the label will abandon you as soon as you fail, however the core, will stay true, only if you are true.

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

The Winners In Music are always the Gamblers

REFORMS and CHANGES present challenges for every business. So why should it be any different for the Music and Entertainment Business?

AMC is a large power player in TV at the moment. So if they employ the Record Label business model, AMC should now scream piracy and get different laws passed to help protect their past incomes.

However they are not doing that? AMC recently announced that two new pilots have been ordered in Galyntine (which looks like a competitor for Revolution) and Knifeman (set in 18th century London and telling a story about a genius who challenges the normality of society in his quest to discover.) On top of that they already have ordered pilots for Line of Sight, Preacher, Raiders, The Terror, an Untitled The Walking Dead Spin-off and White City. Add to this list shows that passed the pilot stage and are in the scripted stage, with debuts set for 2014 like Better Call Saul, Halt & Catch Fire, Turn and King Of Arms.

That is a lot of gambles they are taking in order to remain relevant. Are the record labels doing that? Are artists doing that?

Then you have Netflix. Netflix is an innovator when it comes to movies. They provide a service to fans that the actual movie studios refused to provide.

Recently they branched out in original programming. House Of Cards was a success. Not just the show, but the way Netflix released it. This is the “all at once/binge viewing” model. This is what fans want today instead of the old school weekly episodes model.

So it was only a matter of time before other players came knocking on Netflix’s door. And that was Marvel.

Marvel will produce five shows for the platform, one each about heroes Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage (formerly known as Power Man) and Iron Fist. The four individual superhero shows will then merge into a fifth show called The Defenders where the four heroes work together as a team. If these shows prove to be popular, no one knows, however it is a risk that a lot of people are taking.

The above demonstrates that entertainment is all about the new. If artists are not investing in their future, they might as well scream piracy or move into another career.

In business, you need to adjust your way of doing things to suit the reforms, otherwise you will go out of business. So why is it that in the Entertainment business, the major players need laws to be re-written, they need people prosecuted, they need websites taken down, they need the police to act on evidence provided by the Lobby Groups and they just scream and complain about everything else.

Music was always a risk game. The great success stories in the music business always came from left field. Even now, if you look at the great mainstream success stories recently, no one predicted Adele to sell over 10 million albums of her “21” album and she did that with her album available for free on all the illegal downloading sites.

No one expected an unknown New Zealand singer Lorde to out sell “the superstars – backed by a huge marketing budget” like Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus. Of course, she got a big boost by Sean Parker, who added her song “Royals” to his Hipster Spotify list, which has over 800,000 followers.

Money spent building up and marketing an artist doesn’t always make money. What the label or the A&R rep believes in doesn’t always equate to what the fans of music believe in.

No one predicted that the self-produced and financed Five Finger Death Punch debut album would be certified GOLD in the US, three years after its release. “The Way Of The Fist” was released and distributed via Finnish record label Spinefarm in Europe and in America it was distributed via artist and talent management company The Firm. They didn’t even have a major label behind them.

The album came out on July 31, 2007 in the U.S, selling only 5,400 copies in its first week and debuting at No. 199 on the Billboard 200 chart. In relation to charting, its highest position was No. 107 on the Billboard 200 chart. However, the album just kept on selling on a weekly basis and it was certified gold by the R.I.A.A for selling in excess of 500,000 copies as of April 1, 2010. Don’t be surprised if the album is certified platinum by 2015.

There is plenty of money to be made if the artist is good and if the artist is in a position to take it. If the music is poor, then it is no one’s fault except the artist.

No one has a guarantee that they will make it in the music business. No one is entitled to make it in the music business.

That is what art is all about. Entertainment is not a safety net. It is always about the new. If artists can get by in music, good luck. If they can’t, then they need to write better songs. No one cares if family and friends like the song.

In Australia, we have a shortfall of skilled fitters and machinists. We are even importing them from overseas. However to be musicians, the queues stretch across city blocks when X Factor, Voice, Idol and Got Talent shows hit town.

Today there is a new generation of artist that have grown up with the “everyone gets a trophy” paradigm regardless of how good they are. So you have a new generation cruising on sub-standard effort. It is those artists that didn’t play in the local soccer team that end up succeeding.

In my opinion, the music business began to decline when the label executives tried to become as famous as the artists. That is when the labels stopped caring about music and started caring about the Forbes Top 100 and profits. That was when reforms, innovation and changes went out the window, to be replaced by maintaining the profits that came.

In relation to profits, if artists are not making any money from music, what that means is that they are basically not good enough at the moment to capitalise. This applies to artists starting off, to artists paying their dues and to artists who were once successful. Artists need to realise that they are not entitled to people’s attention today based on past victories.

Look at your local sporting franchise. When they start losing, they struggle to fill stadiums, however when they are winning, no one can get a ticket.

In relation to music, I love Metallica, however everything they have done since the Black album has been worth a listen, but that’s it. There is no desire to go back and give it multiple spins. To prove my point, go and name the full track list of Reload without Googling it. However, they have taken gambles. St Anger was a gamble, the symphony concert was a gamble, the LULU project was a gamble and the 3D movie was a gamble. Some pay off and some don’t.

YouTube and Spotify allow us to sample and move on. If it is great, we stick around. But the music industry complains.

The truck drivers that transport CD’s are out of work, the people who work at the CD manufacturing warehouses are out of a job, the $2000 a day recording studios are out of business because people can record at home. Finally, you have the recording industry propping up the large record stores like HMV.

It’s not like anyone wants to go back to the days when we paid twenty dollars to buy an album, just to get home and find out it’s terrible. It’s not like we want to go back to the days of not being able to afford the great records that we couldn’t hear because we outlaid our money on duds the week before.

If the music is that good, the fans will come out to seek it and when we do, the artist needs to be in a position that they can capitalise on it as there’s plenty of money to be made.

Standard