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

The World Revolves Around Someone Selling Something

The whole world revolves around someone selling something.

At the most basic level, if you are working a normal 9 to 5 job, then you are selling your time each day so that you get a wage.

If you are a car manufacturer you are selling a vehicle. In order to sell that vehicle, the manufacturer needs to a lot of pieces to come together. They need people to create the vehicles, first in drawings/design and then in assembly. Before they even get to the assembly stage they need people to manufacture parts for the vehicles. All of the people involved in the process have sold their time for a wage. The company has paid that wage, which they forecast they will cover by the sales of their vehicles.

So what if the vehicles do not sell due to LOWER PRICES and COMPETITION in the world market places. What if the vehicles don’t sell because owning a motor vehicle is not seen as a rite of passage any more by the younger generation. Instead of having a hit car they have a dud.

Let’s use that analogy for a musician.

You are a musician. In order to sell yourself, you need to do the following; Invest time in learning an instrument. Invest time in creating. Invest time in assembling the song together in a studio or your own DIY studio. In all of the time invested, you have not earned a cent. Then you end up releasing your music to the world and the following things would most probably happen;

NOTHING. With so much competition for listener’s attention the odds of your music getting heard without an established audience is VERY LOW. Maybe the songs did get heard and are just not good enough for someone to talk about them or share them.

So what is your next step?

You will either give up or you will create more art so that you can find an audience. Or if you just want to get a gig each week that pays some dollars, you will end up in a cover band.

Just say that SOMETHING happened with your release. If your music is released on a small independent label of some sort and you have a small fan base expect it to end up on P2P networks and YouTube accounts of other users. That doesn’t mean that you had your music stolen or that you have lost sales. YouTube can be monetized while P2P/YouYube views means that you have a potential fan base.

So what is your next step?

Scream piracy or create more art so that you can connect with your growing audience.

Just say that SOMETHING MORE happened. If you music is released on a large independent label and you have a decent following (like Machine Head, Dream Theater, etc.) then expect it to end up on P2p networks, cyber lockers and YouTube accounts of other users.

In this area artists are at the level where they don’t want to lose the audience they have nor the income they generate. The life cycle is album-tour.

Just say that ALOT happened. Here the scenarios and possibilities are endless.

The question that is hitting every carmaker around the world is how do they sell their vehicles (and make money in the process) to a whole new generation because the OLD way of making a car and just releasing it and expecting people to buy it is just not working anymore. Companies like General Motors have taken on board youth-brand consultants, Subaru is trying to get the emotional connection correct (whatever that means) and Ford is using social media as a way to connect with new buyers.

That same question is hitting every musicians and the recording industry around the world.

How do they sell themselves when the old way has not been working for over 15 years.

It’s about people. The human beings that are your fans. And you need to develop that connection and relationship with them. The car makers know that and they are trying. Do you know that?

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Everyone Is Trying To Twist The Narrative To Their Own Advantage.

So Desmond Child is telling the world that Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora and himself had to split a total of $110 in 2012 for the 6.5 million streams of Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” on Pandora during a three-month span in 2012. Pandora’s published rate is about .0013 cents per stream. So doing the math, that means that “Livin On A Prayer” actually earned $8,450 for that three-month spell on Pandora. If that is true, that means that the songwriters are getting about 1.3% of the monies paid to the record labels.

Daniel Ek claims that Spotify will pay $6 million to Taylor Swift from worldwide streams. Swift’s label, claims that is a lie and that they received less than $500,000 for the streams. However what the label is forgetting to say is that the amount is for US streams only.

And Spotify argues that it is competing with free/piracy, while the artists side argue about Spotify not paying enough. They are two different arguments that have no correlation with each other whatsoever. When are people going to realise that Spotify doesn’t sell music, it provides access to it. And consumers like it, otherwise Spotify wouldn’t be starting to overtake iTunes in some markets.

Rob Zombie once upon a time hated copyright infringement and now he reckons it makes him more creative as he doesn’t have to write songs that fit a sales metric.

Lars Ulrich is now reserved and diplomatic in his responses to music piracy or copyright infringement. Maybe it is because he knows that if it wasn’t for music piracy, Metallica wouldn’t be playing sold out shows in China or the Middle East and some South East Asian countries.

Scott Ian wanted the people who downloaded the “Worship Music” album to be disconnected from the internet, even though they could have been fans who ended up purchasing a concert ticket and an over-priced T-shirt.

Gene Simmons famously said that downloaders/fans should be sued and also have their houses taken from them. He said that rock is dead because of piracy. Yngwie Malmsteen, Paul Stanley, Joe Perry and others agreed with him. Many others didn’t.

Internet Radio station Sirius XM is going to lose its case over pre-1972 sound recordings by the band The Turtles. The shameful part here is that the recording industry fought hard against making pre-1972 recordings fought hard against this. The hypocrisy here is huge. While the recording industry has fought so hard against making pre-1972 sound recordings subject to federal copyright laws, now they suddenly want aspects of federal copyright law (like public performance rights which did not exist under previous laws) to apply to those very same works. If Congress made it so those works were under federal copyright, there wouldn’t be an issue and all these works would be treated identically. But the truth is that the RIAA wants to keep these works out of federal copyright law to use them as a weapon against internet innovation.

Sony is re-evaluating it’s support for free streaming, however as a part owner of Spotify, I find it hard to believe that they will pull their catalogue from the free-tier.

Everyone is trying to twist the narrative to their own advantage.

Everybody has an angle.

And what about the musicians.

The hardest challenge facing musicians is getting people to listen to their new music and then getting them to stick around once the album because those big marketing awareness campaigns are goneski. It’s proven that they don’t work if the music is shit and the narrative is shit.

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

What Kind Of Time Is It For Musicians To Be Successful?

Today artists have the power to make, publish and become extremely successful from their own music. The need to use the almighty gatekeepers is over. Thank Napster and Sean Fanning for being real game changers and shaking up the recording business. Now every artist cane set up their own home studio and make excellent sounding recordings. They can use digital aggregators like Tunecore and CD Baby and within days, their music is sitting on Spotify and iTunes along with all of the major label backed artists.

It is a new frontier for artists and as more and more people take up these opportunities what we have is a lot of increased competition. With millions of songs still to be heard and only limited ears and time to listen, how can new music get out there. Nikki Sixx believes that everything he writes is off quality and without an avenue to get that quality heard by the fans he doesn’t have an incentive to spend time and money to create new music for Motley Crue. Gene Simmons, Joe Perry and Yngwie Malmsteen blame the copyright infringers.

Sp how do musicians get their songs heard?

There is the marketing (pitching a product) vs connecting debate.

The marketing to fans is seen as the old rock-star model while the new internet model is all about making connections with the listeners who then decide if they want to be patrons. In a nutshell, people don’t have to pay for music any more however if the music can create an emotional connection, then those listeners will choose to pay for music from their favourite artist. Look at Coheed and Cambria. They are a band that are 14 years deep into their career and their fans are loyal. The vinyl release of their 2003 album “In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth” flew out the doors. They are content with the world and the connections that they created.

However other artists are not content and they always want more. Blame MTV for making people believe that every musician need to attain platinum sales to have a career in the music industry. This leads to a distorted definition of making it. To some, making it involves platinum albums and covers on magazines. Guess those artists are in for a rude shock. While for other hard-working artists, making it involves earning a living by creating music. If this means playing in cover bands, doing studio work, busking or whatever else needs to be done, they will do it.

Being in the right place at the right time is still bandied about. The difference today is that “place” can be anywhere. It can be a physical place or a place in the digital world. Lorde got traction from being on Sean Fanning’s Spotify playlist. Volbeat got traction in the U.S by opening up for Metallica. Bands like Motley Crue, Ratt, WASP, Quiet Riot and many other L.A acts go traction by riding the wings of a new cultural movement. Five Finger Death Punch opened for Korn and Disturbed and connected with their audiences. Periphery got traction by via online forums, message boards and a regularly-updated Soundclick account.

It’s still all about great songs, a story/narrative to tell, determination, perseverance and luck. Determination is a positive emotion that involves persevering towards a difficult goal in spite of obstacles. Determination occurs prior to goal attainment and serves to motivate the behaviour that will help achieve one’s goal.

The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand. (Vince Lombardi)

IN THE END, regardless of what the artist does, it is the LISTENERS/FANS that decide. The power is in their hands. And those relationships start like all relationships with a simple hello.

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

Credibility = Musical Differences

Music used to be about finding some Avant garde musical and lyrical edge and pushing yourself and that edge to the limits.

Want to be as big as Metallica. Forget about the Napster court case and remember that Metallica once was a band that had an edge. They were an outlier versus the LA Glam Rock movement.

When did it all change?

Now it’s about what maintains.

Now it is about what can an artist do to ensure that the nice income they got from the last recording and tour cycle remains the same?

So they go away and recreate the same album thinking that is what the fans want.

Now imagine thousands of artists doing the same thing and pretty soon, we, the public will be ploughed under by the plethora of product that all sounds very similar. And we do either two things. We switch off completely and go back to the classics that we know or we gravitate to a few current acts and decide that they will be the ones that we stick with.

Because we don’t have time to sit back and listen to every new album just to find that one song that could blow our mind.

Musicians didn’t want to make the same music everybody else did. It was all about finding your style.

Musicians didn’t care about how they looked. It was all about how they played.

Musicians didn’t want to sell out to the corporation because it took away their street cred.

And credibility is everything.

That is why Rock/Metal bands didn’t really last forever.

Credibility equals musical differences.

How long were The Beatles together? Eight or nine years.

What about the original line up of Kiss? Eight or nine years.

Twisted Sister (the version of Dee Snider, Jay Jay French, Eddie Ojeda, Mark Mendoza and AJ Pero) had a run of 7 years before AJ Pero was booted and another year after that the band itself was goneski for a long period of time.

Motley Crue had a run of 11 years before Vince Neil was outed.

Led Zeppelin had a run of 12 years before the tragic passing of John Bonham and even though they got together with Jason Bonham on a few occasions, you could honestly say that was the end.

The Doors had a run of 6 or so years before the tragic passing of Jim Morrison.

What about Jimi Hendrix? He had a three-year reign before he tragically died.

Dokken had a run of 7 years before they went down in flames just because George Lynch couldn’t get over the fact that the band he was in was called Dokken.

Credibility is the honesty and openness of our past heroes and the lyrics in their songs.

Motley Crue didn’t come out and pretend to live the destructive lifestyle they sang about. They actually lived it. Same goes for Guns N Roses.

Dee Snider wrote his career defining songs when he was poor and broke. He had the anger and the credibility of knowing what it was like to be poor and hungry for success.

With Desperado and especially Widowmaker Dee Snider was in the same position as he was before the “You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll” success and he wrote a lot of great songs for those projects that no one has really heard. Listen to “Reason To Kill” from the Widowmaker album, “Blood and Bullets”. Elektra boss Bob Krasnow at the time would have hired multiple body guards to protect his sorry ass.

This is what music was.

Truth.

The basic human connection to one another.

And now with music available 24/7 everyone is sacrificing that truth in desperation to chase a trend that makes money. But the ones that had longevity in music never chased trends. Like Frankie said, they did it their way.

That is why in most new acts, most people know the singles, the real stand out songs from the album.

That is the difference between the new breed and the old acts. The fans of the old acts know the material. Because when you have that one album for a six month period, it is all that you listen too.

I will let you in on a little secret. All of our heroes are “years in the making” success stories. They started something, failed, looked stupid doing it, dusted themselves off and started something again.

But everyone these days wants to parade themselves as a winner. Which is BS.

What we need are musicians pushing the limits of their art.

We forget the latest song we listened too in a matter of minutes but we are still talking about the latest Game Of Thrones episode.

It needs to be the other way around.

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

The Music Industry Is A Competitive Marketplace. Just ask “Burning Yesterday”.

I have had some music laying around that I earmarked once upon a time for a re-listen in a proper way. Proper to me in this day and age means headphones.

Burning Yesterday is the first band and their album from 2009, “We Create Monsters Not Machines.” Burning Yesterday is based in Nashville. The sound is polished and for an independent band, they sure sound like a major label act. All the songs are pretty solid.

If you like bands like Red, Papa Roach, Breaking Benjamin, Skillet and Disciple then you would rate this album very highly. If you don’t mind those bands, then you will not mind this album. If you don’t like those bands, then you will not like this album.

From all the bashing that the album format has gotten, one thing I do like are the connections. For example, on this album Robert Venable was the producer. For those that do not know, Robert Venable has worked on the following albums;

  • Megadeth – The System Has Failed
  • Spoken – Illusion
  • Love and Death – Between Here & Lost
  • Disciple – Horseshoes And Handgrenades
  • Disciple – O God Save Us All
  • Seventh Day Slumber – Love and Worship
  • Seventh Day Slumber – Anthem Of Angels

A point of interest is that in their electronic bio, it states the following;
“We Create Monsters Not Machines” was produced by Travis Wyrick (P.O.D., Disciple, Pillar, Since October, 10 Years).”

CD Baby also states the above comments, while Allmusic and Wikipedia has the producer as Robert Venable. My interpretation is that Travis Wyrick was used in a songwriter/executive producer role, while the actual album was produced by Robert Venable.

So if the album is good (and it is that good that it made my Top 20 for the year) why didn’t it set the world on fire? The answer is simple. COMPETITION IN THE MARKETPLACE and TIME.

2009 was a tough year for any new artist releasing music. Actually every year is a tough year for any new band. For the fan base that Burning Yesterday is trying to appeal to, they had to compete against the following bands and their releases for that year;

  • Red – Innocence and Instinct
  • Pillar – Confessions
  • Breaking Benjamin – Dear Agony
  • Casting Crowns – Until The Whole World Hears
  • Thirty Seconds To Mars – This Is War
  • Seether – Finding Beauty In Negative Spaces
  • Daughtry – Leave This Town
  • Stryper – Murder By Pride
  • Chevelle – SciFi Crimes
  • Veer Union – Against The Grain
  • Adelitas Way – Adelitas Way
  • Three Days Grace – Life Starts Now
  • Skillet – Awake
  • Madina Lake – Attics To Eden
  • Halestorm – Halestorm
  • Thousand Foot Krutch – Welcome To The Masquerade
  • Smile Empty Soul – Consciousness
  • Decyfer Down – Crash Love
  • Ten Second Epic – Hometown
  • Cavo – Bright Nights, Dark Days
  • Papa Roach – Metamorphosis
  • Muse – The Resistance
  • Burn Halo – Burn Halo

The thing is I could go on forever about similar sounding bands and styles that had reasonably good albums released in 2009. For any artist that is starting out, piracy should not be their biggest concern. Their biggest concern should be competition. How do they compete in the market place in this day and age. Piracy should be used as a metric of demand.

So Burning Yesterday spend their time and money on getting a good production team and recording an album of good tunes. They actually entered the studio with producer Travis Wyrick in 2007. The album came out at the start of 2009. So they release it into a market place, that is saturated with hundreds of new releases on a daily basis. Apart from the core audience who are aware of the band, it doesn’t spread.

My view has always been the same. Musicians are entrepreneurs. They are people who organize and operate a business, taking on the financial risk to do so. They have to give people a reason to buy their product against all the other competing products. The Michael Jackson superstar business model created by the record labels in the early Eighties is dead and buried. It is never coming back. Different superstars will rise within different genres and communities, however they are the ones that will need to create the buzz.

The days of record labels breaking really great bands to the public are over. It is the bands that need to break themselves. Sure, Record Labels can be useful as distribution agents, however the final marketing starts and ends with the band.

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