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

Stand Your Ground

For a long time, we had no idea how we looked. Then mirrors came about and then we knew how we looked.

For a long time, we had no idea how we really sounded. Then recording techniques came out and over the last 80 years, cassettes showed us how we really sounded.

Cameras also came about and people could suddenly see how they looked and sounded at the same time.

And right now, we are surrounded by sounds and mirrors. If you have a social media account, you have a mirror looking back at you. If you filmed yourself doing something, you have a mirror looking back at you along with sound.

Our personal lives are out there for the whole world to see, regardless of your social media security settings. Even if your posts are secure and only for friends, other people who are not your friends could still potentially see them, because if your friends don’t have the same security as you and you tag them, then it’s on their wall as well.

And how dumb are we. We gave away our privacy and our lives for free to social media platforms like Facebook, who then went and made billions of dollars from our lives. And when people post something on Facebook, they either get likes or blowback. And no one wants blow back these days. Everyone wants to be liked. Even musicians.

Musicians fall into many categories via their lyrics. Some address social ills, some address loss and grief, some address relationships, some address mythology or history and some address partying and having a good time. And it takes guts to put yourself into a mix where your opinions and viewpoints can be attacked. But real artists will look to find a place that creates the change they seek and they will push boundaries in order to do it.

Freedom. It’s our fundamental right.

So what do we do when the politicians we voted in work for the corporations instead of the people?

What do we do when the politicians pass laws to benefit the corporations instead of the people?

This is a world-wide problem.

Our governments are using private companies to harvest our data from social media, based on our posts, comments, likes and friends, these private companies can determine which way you vote.

Stand your ground, don’t let the bastards grind you down, be bold, be strange, don’t let their fears make you afraid

Bastards from Machine Head

We need to stand our ground. The message is nothing new, but we have forgotten it. Machine Head is dealing with some flack in the U.S about their “Catharsis” album. But it’s only in the U.S as the rest of the world relates to the message that Robb Flynn is saying.

And Robb is sending out his message because he cares.

From birth we are taught to follow instructions, comply, obey and to avoid taking risks. The parental system likes it this way. The schooling system likes it this way. The corporate system likes it this way. The Police system likes it this way. And overall, the Government prefers it this way. But sometimes, a change happens.

And when change happens, someone feels it’s for the better and others feel it’s for the worst. And the people who feel the change is wrong, speak up.

The youth of the world have decided they will not wait anymore for adults to solve problems, so they have taken to the streets to demonstrate against guns and call for gun control.

Imagine when these kids get a chance to vote and a chance to enter politics. Change is a happening. Be prepared to change or move out of the kids ways.

We’ve got the right to choose it, there’s no way we’ll lose it

We’re Not Gonna Take It from Twisted Sister

It’s a simple assertion from Dee Snider that mobilised a generation. It’s Dee’s take on society and it comes with an action. Critics blasted the song because it doesn’t define who the “it” is. But that’s the beautiful part of the song. The “It” can be anyone who seeks to control you and take away your freedom.

But to take a stand isn’t easy. Artists are too afraid to stand up for something.

But hang on a second, that’s what being an artist is all about. However the pushback is so ferocious, especially in a social media world, artists just don’t go there.

Well popular artists don’t.

Stand your ground.

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories

Fortnite

There are still complaints about the monies streaming services pay to the rights holders of music. There are still complaints about how YouTube and Spotify have a free tier and how it devalues music.

My kids play a game called “Fortnite” on the PS4. It’s “Battle Royale” mode is free to download.  The free mode works by all players starting with no equipment except a pickaxe for resource gathering and they parachute onto the map. Once they land, they can scavenge for weapons and resources.

Over time, a “storm” surrounds the area and the players need to get to a safe area. Those caught outside the safe area take damage and potentially die if they remain outside it too long. Players can use real money to purchase in-game currency, which can be used to purchase cosmetic items. The last one standing is the winner.

I was interested in how a game which is free to download, is making some serious dollars for the development company.

Freemium

Since the game is free to download, it’s already at everyone’s price point. It can’t get any lower so it costs nothing to try it.

But hang on a second, an artist put their blood, sweat and tears into their music and because they did, they should charge for it. Then again, so did the video game developers, and they haven’t charged for it. Actually video game developers spend years on games only to see them disappear on release day, because like music, no one knows which game or song/album will be a hit or a miss.

Fortnite was originally a game for purchase. Within a six months of its release in 2017, it had over a million users, that means user = sale. But then in September 2017, Epic (the game developer behind it) did something different. They released a free-to-play “Battle Royale” mode. Within 2 weeks of its release, it had over 10 million players.

On any given day, it has over 500,000 players playing the game. By January 2018, Epic added a micro transaction system to purchase items for the game. For Epic, the “Battle Royale” mode is a major hit. It’s like Bruce Springsteen, “Born In The USA” or Bon Jovi, “Slippery When Wet” or Europe, “The Final Countdown” style of a hit.

And it’s still going strong. And Epic is hoping the more support they give it, the better the experience will become and players will stick around.

You need to get people’s attention first.

So you have a product, release it for free and nothing happens.

How do you get people’s attention?

In Epic’s case, they had a well known brand and released the free Battle Royale mode for Windows, macOS, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One platforms on the same day. By doing it like this, they beat out other games with similar Battleground concepts tied in to a console. In other words, they were everywhere.

Then they controlled the narrative themselves. No one was waiting for a website or a magazine to interview anyone. The company controlled the story.

In music, we still get staggered releases to digital services. Hell there is a lot of music of bands I like which isn’t even on Spotify Australia, so in this case, I even get geo-blocked, which is ridiculous in our digital age. I can transact with Amazon US, purchase the album, but I cannot get legal access to music available in the US in Australia via a streaming service.

And in music, artists still do interviews with various press outlets, which means the press outlet controls the story.

Your best marketing tool is word of mouth.

Fortnite spread because the people who played it, enjoyed it and then they asked their friends to create an account and play with them online.

And their friends said “why not”, it’s free, let’s give it a try. And the ones who became hooked and enjoyed the online social experience, did the same to their circle of friends. And the process kept on repeating. 10 million users in 2 weeks.

Some people believe that marketing is about advertisements. It’s not.

Be social.

The game works because it connects people socially (albeit in a digital world). And when these people get together, face to face, they talk about it. Good music connects fans socially and crosses borders. There is a pretty good chance you would find an Iron Maiden fan in every country on planet Earth. For music, the social connection comes in two ways. In the digital world, it’s online communities and in reality it’s the live show.

Imagine listening to the song on a streaming service and you have the chance to view the sheet music and play along with it. Imagine listening to the song on a streaming service and you have the chance to remix a 5 second snippet of the song with someone else from another part of the world and make your own song.

Follow up the initial offering with more content.

The game keeps growing in popularity because its upgrades happen on a regular basis. In other words, the fans of the game are not waiting 2 years for a new upgrade. In some cases, it’s monthly and in the worst case it’s quarterly. And the upgrade enhances the original game and it doesn’t take away from it. Remember PokemonGo.

In music, fans are divided into camps of people who want albums or camps who just want content.

I come from the era of the album, but all I want is frequent content. It’s the reason why the bootleg industry was huge in the 80’s and 90’s. Hell, my record collection has hundreds of bootlegs, from live recordings, to demo recordings, to sound check jams and what not. It was the need to fill the gap between albums.

Build On What Came Before

And like all hit’s there is a writ. The developers of another game have threatened Epic over the game due to its similarities. But the other game has similarities to other games and those games had similarities to other games and the process just keeps on repeating.

One thing is certain. What used to work to break bands doesn’t work and artists need to think differently and take control of their story.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Forgotten 80s Part 4

I read an article about how a computer system was only shown how the pieces move in a chess game. Then the system was told to learn how to play the game. 24 hours later, the system had all the chess moves worked out and it was beating strong chess programs convincingly.

Then I watched the “Metalhead” episode from Black Mirror and then I read a story about how Nissan wants to create a car that reads your mind and it got me thinking of the original Terminator movie and suddenly I was in the mood for 80’s music.

So here is another list of forgotten songs from the era. Just click on the number for the previous Forgotten lists, one, two and three.

Better Days
Taking On The World
The Feeling Within
Gun

Way underrated and way under-appreciated, it’s almost criminal. With their debut album, GUN got lumped in with the hard rock/glam rock style of bands because that’s the only way the record labels knew how to promote music. Compare it to something else which is popular and hopefully you get 10% of that audience to buy blind. 30 years later, it’s still the only way record labels know how to promote music.

Better Days

The groove captures me instantly and the vocal melody is so far removed from the LA Sunset strip, it’s perfect.

Living in the same scene way too long
Everybody hopes that one of these days
Everything you want is gonna come your way
Everybody knows what they have to do
Everybody dreams like me and you

Dreaming and hoping is easy. Deciding how to make those dreams and hopes come true is hard because making decisions is exhausting. It means you need to investigate, analyse and most importantly take responsibility for making a decision. We all know what we need to do, but so few do it.

Things could be heaven but this feels like hell
So hold your head high cause you know I’d die
For better days

And sometimes, decisions made with good intent could end up going bad. It doesn’t mean it’s the end. It just means a re-calibration is necessary and further analysis is needed, because our dreams and hopes for better days, make us push through the worry and fear.

Taking On The World

The acoustic strumming sets the sombre tone, but it’s the vocal melody which is captivating. It’s unique and catchy.

When you feel that life is dragging you down day by day
You’ve gotta break away
You’re taking on the world

Life is a process. You try things and you fail. You get into a relationship and you separate. In ten years’ time you would be using a technology that hasn’t been developed yet. The world evolves and you need to evolve with it, if you want to take it on.

And the lead break is full of thought out phrases that outline the chord progression under it.

The Feeling Within

The vocal tone of this song sounds like a cross between Jim Kerr (Simple Minds singer) and Michael Hutchence (INXS singer RIP).

You don’t know what silence means (you can pray for me)
You don’t know about shattered dream
You don’t know that I can’t run (you can set me free)
Set me free from the feeling within

Those lyrics in the brackets are sung by vocalist Mark Rankin’s cousin Sharleen Spiteri, of the band Texas.

Now Forever After
Stargazer
Kingdom Come

The most well-known version of the band only lasted two albums and one touring cycle. By the late 80’s the record labels didn’t care about artist development. It was all about platinum certifications. If the band got one, they had another shot. If they didn’t get one, they got dropped. Kingdom Come went platinum with their debut and their follow up didn’t set any sales record alight, even though it was better musically than the debut.

Musically, Kingdom Come had three sides. One side was the 70’s inspired classic rock of Led Zeppelin. The other side was the blues rock of AC/DC, while the third side was the Euro melodic rock inspired by Deep Purple, Scorpions and Rainbow combined with a little bit of Toto and Styx.

Now Forever After

“Now Forever After” is from the debut album released in 1988 and it falls into that melodic rock side of the band.

It’s now, forever after
Now, sharing our laughter
For better or worse
Until we die
Now, forever after
Now, sharing our laughter
Until the end of time

If only it’s true. Actually for some it is, for others it takes a few goes to get it right.

Stargazer

“Stargazer” is from “In Your Face” released in 1989. That keyboard intro which blends into the guitar lead just works brilliantly. This is another that falls into the Euro melodic rock side of the band.

Ooh, just to know what’s the reason for making us
Is what I would like to know

How did we come to be? So many theories out there, rooted in science and religion.

Stargazer
Live it out
Meet the Maker

Our ancestors looked to the stars for answers. Then they changed to religion. As humans got wiser they turned to nature and science for answers. Everything ends, including you and me. We thought we would live forever, but this proved to be untrue. And you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.

I Believe In You
Knock You Out
Hands Of Time
Y&T

For many, “Earthshaker” was a landmark album. In my opinion, it also became a major influence to any hard rock musician around the world who heard it. It you took all of the different rock stylings happening at the time, and put them into the Y&T blender, “Earthshaker” would be the result.

For Y&T, they were just happy to have a deal with A&M, after two albums on a different label who had had no clue what to do with the band. Coming into the album, Y&T had already played the songs live quite a bit, hence the reason why everyone who heard the album said, “wow, these songs would really work live”.

By 1981 bands didn’t really do ballads or power ballads. They did songs with slower tempos that just kept on building up to a huge ending.

I Believe In You

“It’s a song I wrote a long time ago. Well along time before it got put on a record, which is kind of a drag in a way, because our original managers ripped us off for our publishing on the first two Yesterday and Today records. We haven’t received a penny publishing to this day from those two records. I wrote” I Believe in You” about the time they were managing us, so when I put it on the “Earthshaker” record; well after they were gone they still took my publishing and never gave me a cent for “I Believe In You”. Anyway it was written a long time ago about a break up that I had with a long-time relationship so the song inspired itself more or less.”

Dave Meniketti

The music business is full of rip offs. There are so many stories of former managers claiming the rights on songs from artists written while they managed the artist, but released many years later, while the band had new management. So many people who contribute nothing to the Arts make money from the Arts.

Even record labels do it. They sign an artist and they will spend some money for the artist to record a demo. They might give the go ahead for the songs to be recorded for a release or they might not release them at all. If they are not released, the artist is in limbo. Ask Tom Keifer, Dee Snider and Joe Lynn Turner, just to name a few. And if they leave the label they need to buy back their songs at an extortionist fee the label sets themselves.

Your phony friends, they all counsel you
The things they say
Oh, you know aren’t true

Ahh, yes, who doesn’t have friends like these in our lives?

Breaking up with your partner is a lot more than just breaking up with one person. When a relationship ends, people take sides. Suddenly the friends you believed you had are not there anymore.

Knock You Out

How good is the riff that kicks off this song?

Up against the ropes
I’ve been there before
I’ve been hit by the best, but never hit the floor

Proving you’re at the best when you do it your way. Never forget that. You can make your own decision. Awards are irrelevant. It’s the art that remains. Y&T remain more relevant than some of their 80’s peers who achieved platinum sales. Y&T never did.

Hands Of Time

This appears on “Down For The Count” released in 1985. I swear that intro riff was used by Winger in “Headed For A Heartbreak” to platinum glory. Progress is derivative right.

Don’t be a prisoner of your memories
They steal from your future
And fill you with lies

Negative thinking stops us from taking action. And our tendency to attach an emotion to a past event is our biggest downfall.

‘Cause you can’t turn back the Hands Of Time

What is done, is done, so move forward because time keeps marching forward.

Abandon
Heartbreaker
Dare

Both songs are from the “Out Of The Silence” album released in 1988 on A&M records. Wikipedia tells me Dare was formed in 1985 by former Thin Lizzy keyboard player Darren Wharton after Phil Lynott had dissolved the band. They had some success and when their second album “Blood From Stone” released in 1991 tanked in the sales department, the band was dropped.

Abandon

I can’t forget the things that you said to me

We rarely forget. We move on but we don’t forget. Actually, we can’t forget, because if we do forget, then how did we learn from those events.

I wish I could say that the rest of the song had some earth shattering lyrical message but it didn’t. A lot of the problems with the 80’s rock bands are the lyrics. Even Dare, coming from some experienced musicians couldn’t get decent lyrics written. Some people are good with words and others not so much. But the music is still good.

Heartbreaker

It’s got a riff that reminds me of “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” merged with “Fantasy”.

She got no money and she got no pride
Don’t let her tell you she got nothing to hide
So full of passion with a wounded heart
I still remember when our love fell apart yeah
And when everything’s right, how could I be so wrong? so wrong?

While it was right for you, it was all wrong for the other half. They just haven’t had the courage to tell ya yet.

Lovers
Fate

It’s from the “Cruisin’ For A Bruisin’ album released in 1988. A friend of mine had this album and he dubbed it on a blank cassette for me around 1992. I knew nothing of the band back then and I still don’t know anything about the band today, but what can I say, I’m a sucker for a derivative and clichéd melodic rock song and as soon as the Aldo Nova “Fantasy” influence kicked the song off, I was hooked.

Future World
We Came To Rock
Yellow Rain
Loud’N’Proud
Rodeo
Pretty Maids

They should have had more mainstream success. Not sure if the band name helped their chances or hindered them.

Future World

It’s the title song of their 1987 album.

Oh future world
There’s nothing left to save
They blew it all away

We will in troubled times and even more so today where “stable geniuses” are in power.

In troubled times
We saw the writing on the wall
We heard the fools
Who brought the human race to fall?

The human race always suffers because of a few individuals. Released in 87, this would have been referencing the Cold War between the US and USSR. Today, it’s the US vs North Korea. Leaders out of touch with reality and the people they claim to support and serve.

We Came to Rock

It’s from the “Future World” album and it’s one of those clichéd songs about going to the rock and roll show and joining the cavalcade.

If you’re feeling out of nowhere
If you got no place to go
If you’re feeling lost and lonely
When you’re down the open road

The heavy metal community is the most loyal and there is always a place for you and everyone else.

We are the faces
We are the guardians of the night
We’ll rock the ages
It’s all right
We’ve seen the fire
We are defenders of your rights
We’ll take you higher
Gonna take you to the sky

It’s easy to say in words that you are a defender of our rights, but only Dee Snider went to the US Senate hearings and defended the rights of US metal head citizens. It cost him dearly at the time, but today, he’s seen as the defender he set out to be in “We’re Not Gonna Take It”.

Yellow Rain

Also from “Future World” and this one references Vietnam. Musically it starts off acoustically, like Gary Moore’s “Victims Of The Future” before it becomes a speed metal song.

Left home as heroes
Fools when they returned
Blamed for all the damage
And the villages they burned
Betrayed by their leaders
Murderers they were called
Denounced as crazy maniacs
And locked behind the walls

It was the first war that was all over TV and the prime time news. Everyone saw the burning children, the napalm bombs and Agent Orange. And the poor soldiers didn’t come home to a ticker tape parade. They came home in pieces, mentally and physically.

Loud’N’Proud

It’s also from “Future World” and it wouldn’t be out of place on the “Screaming For Vengeance” album.

Gonna hit this town tonight
Let your troubles out of sight
Scream out, spread the word around
Get all up and stand your ground

Again, it’s all about going to the rock and roll show, being part of community and don’t let institutions get in your way of living out your dreams.

Rodeo

Also from “Future World”

I was born and raised on the street
I grew up in a jungle of stone

Like all of us. All social circles have become concrete jungles.

I walked my own directions
For fortune and fame

The ones, who made it, walk their own path and the ones who follow might make it, but they don’t last.

Life is a rodeo
Somebody makes it
Somebody don’t
And even though
You feel like losing
Don’t ever let it go

It’s the unwritten rule of life. Never give up, keep on going. From when we are born, we fight for every breath, for every step, every single day.

And sometimes when I came to a crossroad

Should I stick to the left or the right?

We always try to make the best decision with the information we have at the point in time. It might be right, it might be wrong, but we still make it. Because we need to.

Under The Gun
Turn It On
Danger Danger

For a band formed in 1987, they had Al Pitrelli on guitar for a brief time, then after they got a recording contract, Pitrelli left and was replaced by Saraya guitarist Tony “Bruno” Rey (who actually played on the debut album) before returning to Saraya and Andy Timmons replaced him and played on the rest of their debut album, which was released in the same year.

Under The Gun

From the debut album released in 1989 and its the same lyrical theme as “Runaway” and “Fallen Angel”. But musically and melodically it’s addictive.

Turn It On

Also from the debut and the guitar playing from Andy Timmons is what hooks me. The way he colours each bar with arpeggios, power chords, palm-muted pedal tones and double stop inversions is brilliant.

Long Way From Home
Angel In My Heart
Britny Fox

Carbon copy of Cinderella, Britny Fox formed in 1986 in Philadelphia. In fact, the band had former members of Cinderella in its roster and their connections to Cinderella allowed the band to secure a major recording contract.

Long Way From Home

The debut album is not on Spotify, however the follow-up “Boys in Heat” released in 1989 is.

My love’s with you always, oh yeah.
Long way from home.

On the road is a killer. You are away from friends and family and the band mates are suddenly not as likeable as you thought they were when you saw em only a few hours a day for practice.

Angel In My Heart

Also from “Boys in Heat”, it’s a simple hooky song.

Misery Loves Company
Nobody Knows
Hard Luck
Letters In The Rain
Lillian Axe

Formed in 1987, they caught the attention of Ratt’s management which led to a record deal with MCA and Ratt’s Robbin Crosby producing the band’s first album, Lillian Axe.

As Wikipedia tells me, neither the debut nor the 1989 follow-up, “Love + War”, met commercial expectations and the group was quickly dropped.

Misery Loves Company

The song is from the self-titled debut released in 1988.

The intro riff is a derivative version of “Breaking The Chains” from Dokken.

The poor get nothing while the rich get fat
Start living good, the I.R.S. takes that
I kinda wonder if there’s really any good at all, at all

While the rich pay nothing and hide their billions in offshore tax havens.

Nobody Knows

The song is from the self-titled debut released in 1988.

Nobody knows when there’s clouds in the skies
When there are tears in your eyes
Nobody knows when you’re hurting so bad
So what if they had?

Exactly. So what if people knew how bad your hurting or how low your feeling. What can they do to change it? How people deal with pain and disappointment is very subjective. Each person has their own unique way of overcoming obstacles.

Hard Luck

The song is from the self-titled debut released in 1988. The lyrics are forgettable, but the music and melodies work.

Letters in the Rain

From the follow up, “Love + War”, released in 1989, the lyrics deal with a person reading letters his ex-partner left in the rain, and after being heartbroken for so long, he finally moves on, only to have the ex-partner return asking for a second chance. But the music and melodies are cool.

The Right To Rock
United Nations
King Of The Rock
Don’t Say You Love Me
Keel

The rock is strong with Keel.

The Right To Rock

Released in 1985, it’s the title track.

All my life I’ve been fighting
For the right to make my stand

So what happened? How did we go from fighting and making a stand, to not caring?

Don’t internet users in the U.S care about net neutrality?

Don’t people in Australia care about the power corporations have with the courts and our leaders?

Don’t let anyone tell you
How to live your life

But they do tell us how to live our lives. If you have a credit card, you are being told how to live your life with each monthly repayment. If you have a mortgage, you are being told how to live your life with each monthly repayment. God forbid if you are late. If you have are employed, you are told how to live your live every single day, just so you get that fortnight or monthly pay into your account.

‘Cause it’s our way of life
I’m fighting for freedom
For the golden rule
The right to say what I feel

But we are too scared to say what we feel in case we get ravaged by the social media righteous police.

United Nations

From the self-titled album released in 1987.

We are the new generation
We got the inspiration
We’re feelin’ strong so spread the news
The youth of every nation
Will make this declaration
This is the way of life we choose
Together we will rock
Forever we will roll

We thought hard rock would last forever but it didn’t. All great empires fall, and rock was no different.

And someday we will rise
To take control

1986 was the year metal and rock took control.

We are united nations
Under the flag of rock and roll
We are united nations
United we will stand

If only we remained united, but we didn’t.

King Of The Rock

From the self-titled album released in 1987.

In the arena is the kingdom I call home
This coliseum is my dome, whoa!
I make my own rules, I call the shots
I’m not afraid of you and I’ll fight for what I’ve got

By 1987, we had moved on. The call to arms about the rock and roll show got old.

This concrete battleground is where I’ll make my stand
If you’re with me, raise your hands

We had splintered by now. Metallica went on tour with James Hetfield having a sticker on his guitar that said something like “Kill Bon Jovi”. Mustaine called Queensryche “Yuppie metal”. Any artist that introduced keyboards or had keyboard players got labelled as sell-outs. Any artist that brought in outside writers also got labelled sell-outs. The label marketing machine was in overdrive creating new genres. We had Glam Rock, Pop Metal, and Glam Metal.

We had hard rock, progressive rock, psychedelic rock and pop rock. We had thrash metal and speed metal. We had heavy metal and technical metal and progressive metal. Death metal was becoming a thing. Europe was having their own thing happening with power metal, progressive classical metal, folk metal and the embers of a black metal scene were beginning.

In the states, hard core was a thing and when it became heavy, grindcore became a genre. Punk was just punk, once upon a time. Then it became post punk, punk rock, punk metal and punk pop.

It’s like that scene in “The Warriors” with Cyrus trying to unite the gangs. It didn’t end well.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Copyright Suits

Poor old Lana Del Rey. Radiohead are suing her for copyright infringement in her song “Get Free” which has a verse that sounds similar to “Creep” released in 1992. On her own Twitter page, Del Rey mentioned the below;

“I know my song wasn’t inspired by Creep, Radiohead feel it was and want 100% publishing – I offered up to 40 over the last few months but they will only accept 100. Their lawyers have been relentless, so we will deal with it in court.”

Boy George had the best quote on his Twitter account. “Radiohead were sued by The Hollies and now Radiohead are suing Lana Del Rey. Utter Madness!”

For those who don’t know, when “Creep” came out in 1992, everyone said how similar it sounded to “The Air I Breathe” from The Hollies, released in 1972. So of course if a song shares a chord progression and melody with another song, the artist must be sued for copying.

So the song’s writers Albert Hammond and Mike Hazlewood sued and received co-writing credits and a percentage of the song’s royalties. And now, Radiohead are doing the same.

But Radiohead claim they are not suing Lana Del Rey. All they want is a credit, and Radiohead’s Publisher disputes what Del Rey put on her Twitter account.

And how many copyright infringement court cases does “Uptown Funk” need to get through. The song came out in 2014. In 2015, members of The Gap Band were added as songwriters of “Uptown Funk” because The Gap Band had a song with the lyric “Oops! Upside Your Head” and so does “Uptown Funk”.

In 2016 it was certified Diamond for 10 million track sales in the U.S. Also in 2016, the funk band Collage sued claiming “Uptown Funk” was a copy from their 1983 song, “Young Girls”.

In 2017, Lastrada Entertainment, owner of the copyright of Roger Troutman and Zapp’s “More Bounce to the Ounce”, put papers in court claiming the first 48 seconds of “Uptown Funk” and the repetition of the word “doh” crossed the line into infringement.

Seriously, this is how messed up it all is. “Oops, upside your head” and “doh”, crosses the line into infringement. And suddenly the songwriters of “Uptown Funk” is starting to resemble a football roster.

And now at the end of December 2017 and going in to 2018, 1970s rap group The Sequence are suing Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson, claiming “Uptown Funk” is infringing on their 1979 single, “Funk You Up” and of course everyone wants credit and monetary damages.

The thing that is scary is that the people who sued Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson, believe that their words and music are totally original, created in a vacuum and free from any influence. I don’t think so.

And for even more stupidity, Taylor Swift has a lawsuit to contend with based on words and phrases.

The two songwriters Nathan Butler and Sean Hall believe they should be credited on Taylor Swifts song “Shake It Off” because a song they wrote in 2001 called “Playas Gon’ Play” has the phrase, “Playas, they gonna play/And haters, they gonna hate” which they believe Swift ripped off by having the phrase, “Players gonna play, play, play, play, play, and haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate,”

Wow. Just wow.

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

Rock/Metal in the early 90s

In 1990, the biggest hit singles in relation to sales and chart placement where “Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinead O’Connor, “Vogue” by Madonna, “Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice, “U Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer and “It Must Have Been Love” by Roxette.

In 1991, the biggest hit singles where “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” by Bryan Adams, “Black Or White” by Michael Jackson, “Joyride” by Roxette, “Wind Of Change” by Scorpions and “Losing My Religion” by R.E.M.

In 1992, the biggest hit singles where “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana, “End Of The Road” by Boyz II Men, “Rhythm Is A Dancer” by Snap! and “To Be With You” by Mr Big. And of course let’s not forget “Achy Breaky Heart” by Billy Ray Cyrus.

By the early 90’s, I always believed that the remnants of the dominant 80’s rock movement was looking for ways to fit in and get back people’s attention. A lot of the acts signed towards the late 80’s had already splintered. Some got dropped and tried to get a new deal or they just left the recording business for good. And you had a lot of acts from the 80’s, who had platinum success and somehow were still together and looking for ways to survive in the 90’s. You also had the 70’s acts that re-invented themselves in the 80’s thanks to MTV and were looking to keep the momentum going well into the 90’s. Aerosmith and Kiss come to mind here.

However, rock and metal bands was a big album business. Because in 1987, after Bon Jovi’s and Europe’s explosion in 1986, the biggest hit singles in relation to sales and chart placement where, “La Bamba” by Los Lobos, “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley, “I Wanna Dance with Somebody Who Loves Me” by Whitney Houston, “It’s a Sin” by Pet Shop Boys and “Who’s That Girl” by Madonna. But Jovi was selling “Slippery” by the truckload.

In 1989, the biggest hit singles where “Like A Prayer” by Madonna, “Eternal Flame” by The Bangles, “Another Day in Paradise” by Phil Collins, “The Look” by Roxette and “Love Shack” by The B-52s. So rock and metal music did do well commercially selling albums, but it paled significantly compared to the pop world.

Meanwhile, the recording business was in a race to the bottom with a winner take all mentality. Label after label started to get sucked into the vacuum of the larger label. Changes in personnel happened so fast that once an artist was signed, a few weeks or few months later, the people who signed the artist are no longer working at the label and the interest to develop and promote the artist disappeared. So the artist is in limbo. But the label is not letting the artist go, just in case the artist makes it with another label. It’s one of the big no-no’s in the recording industry.

A record company in the 80’s would get you on radio, music television, magazines and they would push the album hard enough to achieve platinum sales. If it didn’t “sell”, they would put you in the studio again, get you further in debt and if you failed again, you would be dropped. A record label in the 90’s would sign you and then drop you before you even released anything or had a chance to get your message across.

And in today’s world it’s getting even harder to get your message across. It’s weird, because everyone has smartphones and everyone is connected however this great digital era also means that the users are the product. Facebook makes billions selling your data. 

 

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Changes

Love him or hate him, one thing is certain. Nikki Sixx is a lifer in the music business and once he and Allen Kovacs got back control of Motley’s catalogue in the late 90’s, they went about reinventing his image and persona, until he became bigger than the rest of the Crue guys combined.

Sixx A.M. released “The Heroin Diaries” back in 2007. The album along with the book was an instant purchase because Crue was my favourite band in the 80’s. Their attitude, their pop choruses, the street life lyrics and their simple but effective riffage all connected with me. And even though I had many different guitarists’ as influences, Crue showed the world that you don’t have to be the most gifted musicians to write effective songs that connect.

The 10th year anniversary edition of “The Heroin Diaries” came out today, so I’m giving it a few spins. And you know what; it stands the test of time. It’s a pretty good album. My favourites still are “Life Is Beautiful”, “Accidents Can Happen”, “The Girl With Golden Eyes”, “Van Nuys” and “Pray For Me”. The first three songs I mentioned also get a 2017 treatment.

Man, 10 years is a long time in music. You could be here and then you could be gone. You could be the star of the scene or then you could be forgotten.

Think about it. In 1989, the Crue released “Dr Feelgood”. By 1999, the Crue was creatively non-existent. But that was back in the era of when the record labels controlled the industry.

The internet has given bands a longer life span. Yes, the net has created so much noise, which makes it hard to rise above, however the internet and piracy to a large extent has spread the music of bands to every single corner of the world. Which means that someone right now is listening to an artist they’ve never heard before. Changes are a-happening.

In 2007, Avril Lavigne had the best-selling record globally. She hasn’t released anything since 2013 and you don’t even hear about her in the news. But once upon a time she was everywhere. She might be the star again. There’s no reason why she shouldn’t. Fall Out Boy had the best-selling album in the U.S in 07 however Fall Out Boy has the rock work ethic and they have been consistently putting out new product since then. They have a new one coming in 2018. Some of it sticks and some of it doesn’t.

The TV show that was popular in 2007 is not here anymore and the pirate sites you visited to get your content fix are gone and there is a high chance you are paying monies to a streaming service. Because in the end, that’s all we really wanted, access to products. Not ownership. Changes are a-happening.

In 1997, used to be the sale was the transaction. In 2007, the label still saw the sale as the transaction because that’s all they knew but it was an irrelevant metric. In 2017, the label still sees that sale as the transaction. However, it’s the listen. While society and consumerism has changed at a rapid pace, the labels and the charts are still stuck in an old paradigm. If you don’t believe me, check out the news stories on how the algorithms for the Billboard charts are changing yet again. First they changed to count something like 1200 streams as a sale. Now they are changing again to weight listens from paid streaming services higher than freemium listens.

Seriously WTF.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Attention 

Once upon a time I was thrilled to see my heroes in mainstream publications. But now there are a billion online outlets and we get most of our stories direct from the artist via social media. And the generation born from the mid 90’s onwards want an immediate bond with the artist, a connection. They don’t care about interviews artists do when they are releasing an album with magazines and blogs. By working in the old rules, the artist is handing over their own narrative to someone else to control. It doesn’t make sense especially when the tools are right in front of them to take ownership and tell their own story, the way they want to tell it. 

But humans do tend to be lazy.

EBay has 171 million users and it’s struggling to stay relevant. So how is any different for an artist. I constantly come across news stories of artists telling people who don’t care their streaming payment after a million streams. Want to make money in streaming, get over a 100 million streams. Want to make even more money, get over a billion streams. One thing is certain, streaming will pay you forever, so metal and rock fans need to stream en masse. 

Which means metal/rock bands need to get out of the “album mindset” and focus on the “continuous stream of product mindset”. If you want to win, you need to play, so it means you need to be in the marketplace all the time. The new way is to release music first and the hype comes after. But artists/record labels are still focused on hype first and then release.

There is money to be made, but the music needs to have longevity. It needs to sustain. Bubbling under the surface is better than exploding fast and then falling fast. And if something doesn’t work, you adjust on the fly. That’s how it works in the digital world. Nothing is set in stone. It’s chaos, anarchy. Artists need to create anarchy with their product instead of following the 1930’s marketing 101 rules.

And how many times have you heard of an act employing a scorched earth publicity campaign, which they hope will turn people onto the band or make people believe the band is bigger than what they really are. But they forgot that the music accompanying the release is of substandard quality. And it’s the music that will survive, not the publicity campaign.

Remember, all the digital places that lost our attention. It’s no different for an artist.

People will care about you; love what you do, your music and your connection to them via social media. Then some of those people will grow and change and fall out of love with what you do. You need to accept that and understand that your fans are telling you one thing; your style of music is not for them at this point in time. And once you are aware of this information, what will you do with it to get back their attention.

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