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

Saints (Winners) and Sinners (Losers)

WINNER
Machine Head are doing the opposite of what all the other bands are doing. Playing smaller venues, selling them out and doing “An Evening With..” extravaganza. The prices of tickets are affordable and not extravagant. This is one band that realizes their niche place in the metal music business and they play to their core audience, the Headcases.

In Robb Flynn, they have one of the best frontmen in thrash/metal circles that is not afraid to take a stance on an issue. He speaks to his core audience via his journals. He controls his own narrative and not the press, which is the downfall of a lot of other artists.

Flynn, along with Monte Conner from Nuclear Blast have realized that music is all about the souvenirs. The “Killers and Kings” single release for Record Store Day with the four different tarot covers proved once again that if people believe in the artists, they will spend their money. Machine Head weren’t selling music, they were selling collectibles. I purchased all four and I still haven’t opened them.

WINNER
Megadeth. As a guitarist I didn’t really dig Broderick’s uninspired lead breaks so I am pretty happy that he has left. Just because a person is super technical it doesn’t mean they are good songwriters. Seriously put those lead breaks up against the jazzy shred work of Chris Poland, the neo – classical shred metal of Marty Friedman, the tasteful phrasing of Al Pitrelli and the pentatonic chaos of Dave Mustaine and you will see where Broderick stacks up. Drummers are plentiful so I am sure that Megadeth will have no issues here finding one that will suit.

LOSERS
Chris Broderick and Shaun Drover.

The history of guitarists and drummers that have departed Megadeth is vast. The real good ones have had stellar careers pre and post Megadeth. Marty Friedman had a fan base before he joined and then he became a Japanese musical icon post Megadeth. Al Pitrelli also had an established fan base prior to joining and he was already in demand as a session guy and touring guitarist for various projects. Chris Poland did “Damn The Machine” which was an unbelievable album/band that wasn’t embraced by the waves of change that happened to metal in 1993 and Poland’s instrumental album “Return To Metalopolis” was also a favourite back in the day.

WINNER
Streaming. Fans of music didn’t care at all that The Pirate Bay got raided or that Kickass Torrents got taken down. Those raids/takedowns are all pure PR stunts by the associations and a waste of money/legal resources because copyright for the last 15 years has been hijacked and used purely for criminal pursuits and nothing to do with aiding the artist.

LOSERS
Artists and entities that compare the streaming dollars earned today to those pre 1999 sales dollars without understanding that streaming is all about scale. The more people using the platform, the higher the payments will be in the future. But no one can look that far, when everyone thinks about “right now”. The ones complaining about streaming royalties just don’t have enough fans interested in listening to their music consistently.

WINNER
Slash. He has shown that he is more Guns N Roses than Axl Rose is. His output has been solid via his many projects, like Slash’s Snakepit, Velvet Revolver, Slash (the guest vocalist album) and now Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators. He is doing what every other musician should be doing, which is releasing product and touring.

LOSER
Duff McKagan. His views on piracy/copyright infringement are restricting him from doing what he needs to do, which is, to create music.

WINNER
Dee Snider. His views on Doug Aldrich are spot on.

LOSER
Doug Aldrich. He’s a good guitar player but nowhere in the league of the Eighties guitarist he was competing against when he was with “Lion”. For the years he has been involved in music, there is not one definitive song/riff that can be attributed to Doug Aldrich.

WINNER
Data. The era of feeling it or rorting the charts is over. It’s all about the fans and what they listen too.

LOSER
Sales. Just because Spotify is killing off piracy, it doesn’t mean that people will start to buy physical CD’s, vinyls or pay to download MP3’s again. Seriously there is a lot of rubbish reporting out there stating something like “sales are worse now since Spotify has entered the market”. Well, hello genius, Spotify and streaming for that matter are also competing with sales.

WINNER
George Lynch. He realizes it’s all about the music and without making new music, he has no career. That’s why people come back. Lynch Mob, his solo career, KXM, Sweet and Lynch and now the announcement of a new project called “The Infidels” which is another pseudo-supergroup.

LOSER
Don Dokken. Without the involvement of Lynch and Pilson in the songwriting department, the band Dokken is a shadow of its former self.

WINNER
Indegoot Entertainment. They have a roster of bands that make up a very large portion of the U.S Hard Rock market, that have proven to be consistent sellers in a recorded music sales market that is contracting instead of expanding. Shinedown, In This Moment, Halestorm, Chevelle, Adelitas Way, Black Stone Cherry, Theory of A Deadman and Story of The Year.

Rock is far from dead when you have rock artists like these. And with a good roster of talent comes power on the live circuit. That is why Indegoot is a winner.

LOSER
Any metal or rock band that is spending months upon months creating their new album and being out of the public consciousness. The modern way is to be in our head space every day. If an artist today takes a break then they are on their way to being forgotten. And you don’t want to be in the news if it is not about your music. No one can forget what their core business is.

Slipknot took almost seven years to release their new album, only to have “The Devil In I” rack up 9.6 million streams. What about the other songs?

Yngwie Malmsteen has delivered a lot of dud albums in the last ten years and he still takes his time before issuing the next one.

WHY?

You would think after one crap album, he would get going with delivering a better song quickly to make amends. Malmsteen can be doing much more to keep in touch with his fan base which doesn’t revolve around issuing ten to twelve songs every two years under his own name.

Take a leaf out of George Lynch’s or Michael Sweets or Marc Tremonit’s or Russell Allen’s playbook.

WINNER
Kevin Churko. Everyone wants to work with him. He is the modern-day version of Tom Werman or Keith Olsen. Five Finger Death Punch, In This Moment, Hellyeah, Papa Roach are all bands that have used the might Churko as producer and on some occasions as songwriter. If you want to use sales as a statistic of reach, then bands produced by Kevin Churko are some of the best sellers in the genre.

LOSER
EVH.

My EVH Peavey 5150 Combo that I purchased back in 1995 is still my favourite amp to record with. So it is a shame that the greatest and most innovative guitarist cannot get it together to deliver new music worthy of his stature. Reading Sammy Hagar’s bio recently cemented my views on EVH who has become a person that is so out of touch with reality and a victim of his own vices. His future without any doubt is with Sammy Hagar as the front man.
WINNER
Allen Kovac’s move from management to the label business has paid off. Eleven Seven Music is another label doing their bit in bringing hard rock back to the masses. Artists involve Hellyeah, Mötley Crüe, Papa Roach, Pop Evil, Sixx:A.M, Nothing More, Art Of Dying, Apocalyptica, Escape The Fate and Drowning Pool.

LOSER
AC/DC without Malcolm Young have lost their foundation. Don’t get me wrong, I love AC/DC and always will. They will make a killing on the live circuit however no one cares for their new music. On top of all that their views about withholding their music from certain digital outlets (while it is available for free on pirate sites) shows how out of touch they are. They are leaving money on the table.

WINNER
Marc Tremonti. He showed the world that he was the brains and driving force behind Creed. He kept his career going with Alter Bridge. He started his own solo band. He went away and mastered the art of shred. His PRS guitars are state of the art and brilliant to play. Trust me on that one as I have one. The PRS through the 5150 is the perfect sound for me.

LOSER
Metallica. They are trying to replicate the corporate deals of U2 and the product saturation of Kiss. This in turn leaves the hard-core fan base squeamish. Meanwhile it has been seven years since they released “Death Magnetic” and music is the very reason why Metallica is in the powerful position they are in right now. However it seems they have forgotten that part of their career. “Lords Of Summer” will most probably be turned into a totally different song however if it doesn’t, then it doesn’t bode well for Metallica as they sit down to write the next album.

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A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Unsung Heroes

The “Now We Die” Leak

I tried to pre-order the new Machine Head album from the Nuclear Blast US store. I was after the box set package at $77.99 plus. It was easy to find and it was easy to click on “add to cart”. Then when I went to check out and I couldn’t. When I investigated it was due to some holding days parameter. It is the first time I have seen anything of the sort. Maybe it was a godsend because when I checked the FAQ on delivery costs, the label was going to charge me $55 to have it delivered to Australia.

So I sent the label a WTF email and pre-ordered the limited 48 page media book from Amazon without any fucking issue. Typical label bullshit. Here is a tip for any label web store. Make it as simple as possible. If anyone has read Steve Jobs’s bio, there is a passage there that stuck with me. He basically wanted his Apple products to be as simple as the Star Trek arcade game he came across as a child. That game had two rules. Insert Coin and shoot Kligons with red button.

I also listened to “Now We Die” from Machine Head a lot of times today.

Listen to the version on Machine Head’s account. It sounds better than the link that Robb Flynn had on his Journal post which is to a fan YouTube account. So first the song. The violin start is enough to get the blood pumping and when that opening riff kicks in it is absolutely killer. I would have loved for that violin part to come in again throughout the song in the form of a harmony solo section however it didn’t. But for some reason I have a feeling that it will come back in play somewhere else in the album. So with “Killer And Kings” and “Now We Die” doing the rounds, all I can say is that I am really looking forward to the album.

Now for the leak.

“Now We Die” is the official lead single from the “Bloodstone And Diamonds” album. It leaked on the Internet 3 weeks before its official release date because someone messed up. However the way Machine Head has responded to the leak is the way every artist should respond. They have uploaded the song to their own YouTube account, they have told their fans to share it to every corner of the world and most importantly they are working on getting the song/s up on Spotify as quickly as possible.

Machine Head has a pretty loyal fan base and all we want is access to the new music.

And kudos to the band on not going all nuclear on taking down the songs. Even in their anger, they understand the way the world works today and when something like this happens then you need to be in a position to capitalise on it.

Because even though music might feel like it is free it is not. YouTube pays the rights holders and so does Spotify. It’s up to the artist to promote these avenues and to get their fan base to listen. If an artist wants to get paid then get people to listen. If Calvin Harris can clock up more than a billion streams on Spotify there is no reason why a metal act can’t do the same. Those one billion streams of ONE, (yes, ONE) song would have generated closed to $7 million in Spotify payments to Columbia Records. Now how much of this goes to Calvin Harris and how much goes to the label we will never now, but hey, think about it for a second. That one song generated $7 million dollars.

And even though piracy exists, more and more people (especially the kids) are busy streaming than downloading. It’s a brave new world out there, a bit fragmented but getting better all the time.

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

Record Store Day

For “Record Store Day” I paid $30AUS for the “Killers and Kings” single from Machine Head.

Online I can purchase the single for $15US from the Nuclear Blast store.

So I selected the three other covers that I didn’t have and added them to my cart. The total was now sitting at $45US. Then I registered my account and since I am in Australia I was charged $29US for postage and handling. The total of my purchase was now sitting at $74US. Once I paid it via PayPal, the final payment figure from me was $82.21 in Australian dollars.

That equates to about $27AUS for each single.

Now if the Independent Record Store was selling it for $30AUS, then that would mean that the actual independent record store would be making $3 per item.

Hell if that is the mark up for each limited edition item they were selling and let’s just say that one record store sold 200 items, that would mean that the pure profit for the record store would be $600 for that day.

So is the “Record Store Day” there to benefit/save the independent record store?

And to put a spanner in the math, the actual royalty paid back to the band is a percentage on the wholesale price. And the wholesale price is about 50% to 80% lower than the retail price.

Let’s use the Machine Head example.

If the wholesale price of each single would be between $3 to $7.50 and if the royalty rate is a generous 20%. That would mean for each single sold the band would get between 60c to $1.50 royalty cut, to split between 4 people, plus a manager and a legal team.

So what happens when there is an advance upfront payment.

The band takes the money upfront, forsaking (in a lot of cases) any claims on royalties and the risk resides with the label on recouping that advance payment with the single release, the album release and other types of releases.

Either way, Record Store Day is not there to save the record stores. It is there to replace the revenue lost by the record labels due to the declining CD sales. It has nothing to do with keeping the record store open or trying to save the mum and dad independent record store.

It is pure label greed.

Sort of like how the record labels are going after Pandora again. This time around they are suing the internet radio service for not paying to use sound recordings made prior to 1972. But hang on second neither does terrestrial radio.

So what we have is the following scenario;

– Record company lawyers are filing cases against Pandora in state courts. This will enrich them.
– It will do nothing to put money in the hands of the artists.
– What will happen is that Pandora will more or less stop playing these pre-1972 recordings instead of paying another license fee that federal law says you don’t have to pay.
– If the legal bills mount up for Pandora they will go out of business and the 60% royalty rates that Pandora paid will disappear from the record label and publishing companies bottom lines.
– It would do nothing to bring in more money.
– It still doesn’t solve the industry’s biggest problem which is to find a new business model that replaces the revenue lost from the decline of CD sales.

It is pure label greed. To use a phrase that they use in relation to piracy, “IT IS THEFT, PLAIN AND SIMPLE”.

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

The Labels Want To Be The Good Guys

The labels want to be the good guys. They really do. However their lobby group the RIAA does not carry itself it in public in a manner that is acceptable. They put across an image that all the labels are focused solely on the now and what money can be made now. They put across an image that all the labels have no interest in planning for the future. Then the labels follow suit, flying the bullshit flag from the RIAA.

Regardless of the labels motives and business sense, they will survive.

Read the financial reports on Universal Music Group. Spotify has propped up their bottom line and that bottom line will get better each year. And with money, comes power and relationships. So how do the major metal and rock labels rate in relation to influence and relationships.

Century Media Records and Nuclear Blast are still independent labels. While Century Records lost their cash cow “In This Moment” to Atlantic, Nuclear Blast gained a new cash cow in “Machine Head”. Looking at the rosters, Nuclear Blast has surrounded themselves with a stronger group of artists however Century Media are the ones out there trying to identify new talent. Both labels will be around for a long time.

Frontiers have become a major player in the classic rock, melodic rock and hard rock scene. Frontiers kept the flag of melodic rock flying high since 1996, when all of the other major labels put their monies into grunge first and then industrial rock/metal and then nu-metal. Now that they have traction, I am just confused as to what their business model is.

Let’s sign up all the classic popular artists from the Eighties and get them to re-record some of their classics along with new music. CHECK.
Let’s get artists from different bands together to do a super group project. CHECK.
Let’s get female singers to re-record melodic rock songs that the label president likes. CHECK.

What about identifying new talent and breaking that new talent to the masses with creative and innovative ideas? NOT CHECKED.

Metal Blade is still independent however with strong ties to Sony Music and Warner Music Group in relation to distribution while Roadrunner used to be owned by Universal between the years, 2000 and 2006 and after that, they are under the control of Warner Music Group.

Roadrunner is still the major player here, however with ties to Warner, expect them to be “RIGHT NOW” profit driven and be all about the HYPE. With all the corporate deals they organised on the new Dream Theater album, they would have made up the advanced money plus the recording costs and more.

Spinefarm Records is part of Universal Music Group, with a lot of power to operate independently. They are getting out there and signing new talent. However, like all of the above labels, they are stuck in the old way. And that is the ALBUM.

They just need to realise that it is not about the sales anymore. While Steaming numbers and revenue are still small today, in the long term the labels will be able to reap the benefits.

Why?

Because streaming is a regular recurring revenue business.

For example, I have been streaming “Strife” from Trivium non-stop. Each stream is regularly producing revenue for that song. If I purchased that same song as a download, the revenue produced would be at the time it was sold. Every time that I would have listened to “Strife” at home or on my iPod or on my smartphone would not have produced a cent. All that the band or label would have made from me is the sale of the downloaded song. However with streaming they will continue to make money long after the album is released.

So if anyone believes that streaming is bad for music and that it is going to kill the incentive to create new music, tell them they are uneducated. If bands or artists are complaining about their payments, then they need to negotiate better deals with their labels or get back their Copyrights.

Let’s put it this way, if Metallica is on Spotify, then the rates paid back to the COPYRIGHT HOLDERS (and Metallica do own their Copyright) must be good, because Lars Ulrich and Cliff Burnstein would not allow Metallica to enter a business arrangement that is not in their favour.

The real truth is that there is much more music out there than there has ever been, so the issues that are present to artist and labels is how do they get people’s attention directed towards that new music.

Personally, I don’t even know anybody who pirates music anymore. There is no reason to pirate and legitimate customers/fans would always turn to legal alternatives.

In relation to sales figures and charts. Goneski. No longer relevant. Sales (as a stand-alone measure) no longer means anything. Focusing on recording sales is old school thinking. It’s all about everything else today.

“Recording Sales Revenue” plus “Streaming Revenue” plus “YouTube Ad Revenue” plus “Ticket Revenue” plus “Merchandise Revenue” plus “Corporate Deals Revenue” plus “Sponsorship Revenue” plus “Publishing Revenue” plus “Licensing Revenue” and then decide if you are winning or not.

Again, if you are not seeing a lot of revenue, then you need to be speaking to your label, because if you have numbers in all of the above Revenue streams then something is a-miss contractually.

Another thing that the metal and hard rock labels need to understand is that they reside in a niche. The heyday of when that niche was mainstream is long gone. Today, certain artists might have a crossover song that many people will latch onto and then it is back to the niche.

“Adrenaline Mob” released “Men of Honor” last week and by the end of the second week it will be forgotten. The songs are great, the musicianship is great, so what is the problem. The hard core fans picked it up and everyone else doesn’t know about it. It’s a twenty four seven job staying in the public eye and it’s god damn hard. It’s the labels job to figure out it out, however the labels don’t want to spend the money to innovate, so what they do is get most of the hate directed towards them because of their monopolistic extortion like practices from back in the day.

If the labels want to be the good guys, they need to be more transparent. They need to call out the RIAA when they spin shit. They need to do be realists and sensible. And the main thing they need to understand is that the days of when they had control of the distribution channel are long gone. The profit margins from the CD sales are never coming back. So don’t dwell on the past and start to move forward.

http://theconversation.com/music-sales-slump-is-streaming-or-the-music-industry-to-blame-23901

http://www.billboard.com/biz/articles/news/5915732/spotify-drove-universal-musics-75-jump-in-streaming-revenue-last-year

http://torrentfreak.com/artists-think-instead-spewing-spotify-hate-140222

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