A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit, Unsung Heroes

Music Business Brewtality

Put all the myths aside and lets not carry the delusion on any longer.

The music scene is brutal.

Anyone heard the song “Chainsaw Charlie (Murders In The New Morgue)” from WASP.

For those that have heard the song you would know what I mean. For those that haven’t heard the song, Charlie is the President of show biz who feeds on the pop stardom dreams in wannabe artists by promising to make them a star. After those artists make Charlie millions, their careers are chopped up by Charlie and his Chainsaw and discarded to the morgue just for someone younger to take their place.

In other words the junkyard of broken rock n roll dreams is piled high with the souls of artists who didn’t meet the commercial milestones that the record labels were after.

And when an artist sees that all they are worth is just an income generating machine, they start to change. Some can’t handle it and they may end up dead. Others deliver albums that polarized their fan base. Others just play the game and keep on delivering the same album over and over again. And then there are others that deliver more ground breaking work.

We all know that in the pre-Internet era, signing with a label was the only choice an artist had if they wanted to have a career in the music industry and of course, like all great monopolies the labels exploited that power and position. And I use the “career” word loosely, because we should all know by now that the monies earned by 1% of the artists prop up the whole business which in turn means that a lot of artists never really had musical careers. Sure they rode on a wave and had some cash thrown at them, however once the wave crashed down, so did their so called careers.

But the internet was supposed to level the playing field and in a way it did, however what didn’t change was the need for artists to still require a record label to be heard above the noise. Of course there are a lot of artists that are DIY artists and are quite happy to be so. However they are competing with a shitload of other artists that are DIY and Label artists.

From October last year you had Sixx:A.M, Exodus, Slipknot, Sanctuary, Texas Hippie Coalition, Scar Symmetry, Devin Townsend, Sister Sin, At The Gates, Black Veil Brides, Cavalera Conspiracy, Machine Head, Pink Floyd, Foo Fighters, In This Moment, Nickelback, AC/DC, Angels And Airwaves, Smashing Pumpkins, Marilyn Manson, Papa Roach, Periphery, Blind Guardian, Lynch Mob, Alpha Tiger, Sweet and Lynch, Serious Black, Eclipse, Harem Scarem, Level 10, Crazy Lixx, Rated X, Allen/Lande, Vega, Dalton plus a plethora of re-issues, best offs and live releases. All of these releases are on labels.

Then you go onto Bandcamp and you start to see hundreds more being self-released.

Just in one day, February 4, 2015 there were over 40 new metal releases. Now think about all of the new music hitting the net in this fashion and that was just for the metal tag on bandcamp. So with so much new music out there, how can fans find an artist and if they do, how much time will these fans invest in the artist before new music from another artist comes their way.

And that is why the music business is brutal.

Brutality Number 1:

We all know about record label mistreatment and greed. Seen this study recently about streaming monies and how they are actually distributed from the streaming platform. Click on the link and find out who is keeping the majority of the money. Trust me there are no surprises there however the take away of the study is that it was commissioned by a Record Label association and they state that it is perfectly okay for the labels to keep the majority of the streaming money because of the costs they incur to record and  upload the actual music.

Brutality Number 2:

But the real brutality in the music business is finding and then keeping an audience and once that audience is found, it needs to be replenished year after year as original fans drop out, so new ones need to come on board.

The biggest killer of the Eighties bands like Dokken, Kingdom Come, Anthrax, Skid Row, Yngwie Malmsteen and many others that had platinum albums is that their fan base didn’t get replenished as quickly as it was dissipating.

Seen interviews recently of some of the above artists. They are confused and wondering what the hell happened to those million plus fans who purchased some of their Eighties LP’s. They assumed that just because they sold a million records they had a million fans. They cant compute that people might have purchased their record, listened to it once and then never played it again. They cant compute that people might have purchased their record, listened to it once and then hocked it to a second hand store. And seriously how accurate are those stats anyway.

Soundscan metrics came in around 1991 and at least these metrics are based on sales from shops. But the fact that a large part of my metal and rock collection is from second-hand shops, well those sales don’t even rate a mention as an official sale/fan. Dokken and Malmsteen are two artists that came into my life in this fashion. Hell, Twisted Sister, Metallica, Blind Guardian, WASP and Megadeth came to me via dubbed copies of their albums on cassettes. So how does that compute as a sale/fan.

How much money do you think I have invested in those bands afterwards in merch, ticket sales and recorded music purchases? Trust me a lot.

So that is why the music business is BRUTAL towards the artists as the artists who create the music are clueless and the labels are more so, because FANS don’t just come from sales of recorded music.

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

Six Degrees Of Separation – Marc Ferrari, Oni Logan and Rowan Robertson

Did you know that Marc Ferrari featured on Pantera’s “Power Metal” album that came out in 1988?

“Proud To Be Loud” was written by Marc Ferrari  and it was originally intended for Keel’s 1987 self-titled album. The song didn’t get used, however the Pantera guys heard the song back in 1985 when Keel was in town for a live performance and wanted to record it. Ferrari then went to Texas to produce the vocal on that track and he ended up playing rhythm guitar on the song and also lead guitar on another song called “We’ll Meet Again”.

Marc Ferrari then left Keel in February 1988, after the touring cycle ended for the self-titled album. After the tour, the band were about to change labels from MCA to Atlantic Records. With anything that is record company related, the band started getting pressure from the label to get that hit single like Bon Jovi. Ron Keel’s vision for the band was much different from Marc Ferrari’s vision and when a keyboard player was brought in, Marc Ferrari stepped out.

Then Ferrari discovered Oni Logan who at the time was working in Florida. Logan moved out to California to do some demos and showcases. The band was originally called Ferrari, then Crying Shame until they were told that they couldn’t use the name. Since they had a cool logo with the C and S intersecting, they tried to keep within the C and S theme and Cold Sweat came out of that.

Enter George Lynch.

Being a higher profile guitarist than Marc Ferrari, Logan was made an offer he couldn’t refuse and left Cold Sweat on the day they either entered the studio to record their debut album / or were meant to sign their major label contract (there are differing stories). Logan for his departure more or less slowed down the Cold Sweat project, nevertheless, he went off to create the excellent “Wicked Sensation” album with Lynch Mob that came out in 1990 on Elektra. The funny thing is that Cold Sweat’s debut “Break Out” which came out on MCA Records also came out the same year. However, the Lynch Mob album did far better than the Cold Sweat album.

Marc Ferrari then started working on another project called Medicine Wheel who recorded three records and had a decent following in Japan. The records were issued on a number of small independent labels in Germany and Japan. All of this happened between the years of 1992 and 1999.

Logan on the other hand was out of a job by 1991.

Enter Wendy Dio who suggested that Logan work with Dio guitarist Rowan Robertson. The “Lock Up The Wolves” era of Dio was put on hold while Ronnie James Dio reconnected with Tony Iommi for the “Dehumanizer” album that came out in 1992. The writing sessions between Logan and Robertson spawned the band Violets Demise.

Violets Demise managed to get a major record deal with Atlantic, however by the mid-nineties, the label money makers considered hard rock music not a commercially viable product, so the album that Violets Demise recorded with Alice In Chains producer Dave Jerden never saw the light of day officially, until 2002, when it was released as Logan/Robertson Revisited on Oni Logan’s website.

After disbanding Cold Sweat and while working with Medicine Wheel, Marc Ferrari started to get some of his songs placed in films and on TV, so he developed a business called MasterSource which is a music catalogue company that licenses its music primarily in films and on TV shows. And that gig along with the work that he does for Universal is still Ferrari’s main thing. Rather than waiting for things to happen Ferrari made things happen for himself.

So by the mid-nineties, while Logan took the big offer money deal from the Lynch camp to jump ship, it was actually Marc Ferrari that had a stable source of income and in general was better off. Just goes to show that the instant payola might be gratifying when it happens however in the long-term not so much.

Then by 1998, Logan was back with Lynch Mob and recording a demo (that ended up being released as the Syzygy EP on Lynch’s website) for the sole purpose of shopping to record labels to listen to and decide whether or not they wanted to sign the band. Meanwhile, Marc Ferrari also got back together with Ron Keel to finish and complete some of the unfinished tracks the band had lying around in the vault for the “Back In Action” album however his main gig was and is the MasterSource business. While Logan was involved in an EP to obtain a deal, Ferrari was involved in a full album release on an independent Canadian label.

Meanwhile Rowan Robertson fell into a slump after the demise of Violet Demise. However by 1998, he got an audition for a band called VAST. If you haven’t heard the excellent song “Touched” from the also excellent “Visual Audio Sensory Theater” that came in 1998, then you need to give it a listen.  The best way to explain VAST is Enigma meets Metallica meets The Beatles. Even though VAST was seen as Jon Crosby’s project, it was also seen as Robertson’s entry back into the music industry.

Comparing all three, by 1998, Marc Ferrari was way better off. He didn’t have the high-profile gig as Dio’s lead guitarist, nor was he as high-profile as George Lynch however what he did do was create for himself a position in the music business. He created opportunities when they didn’t exist and he diversified, focusing on licensing opportunities and music for television, films and games.

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