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

A Metal Heads Guide To The Key Of Music Success

The technology of today allows for convenient costless copying and transportation of large chunks of data across the internet. Before the rise of streaming, people were still given a raw deal when it came to digital music and forced to overpay. In Australia, an iTunes song costs between $1.69 and $2.69. This price remained the same, even when our dollar was stronger than the US dollar.

Then the ACCC, our competition watchdog launched an inquiry into these geo-blocking price restrictions. Apple went in front of the commission and stated that they didn’t set the price for music in Australia and that the price was set by the Record Labels. It was found by the Commission that there should be no reason why Australians should pay more for software and music. However, nothing has changed in relation to the prices.

When music is offered in a convenient and low-cost legal alternative, the rate of piracy drops because most people do want to support artists and the various research out there points out that is the case.

For example, let’s look at TesseracT, the band. They released a great album in “Altered State”. It didn’t sell huge amounts in the U.S, so based on the record label success model, the album is a fizzer. However, the band knows that touring is where they make their money. And that is what they are doing. Musicmetric data showed (before it went behind a pay wall) that TesseracT’s music was downloaded the most in North America via peer-to-peer Torrent networks. So guess which area’s TesseracT have toured?

Yep, North America. They are touring there again from March and April 2014. The previously toured North America between September and October 2013. Coincidence. Maybe.

In relation to Spotify, they have a combined album stream count of 1,705,734. What this means, is that if you tally up all of the album songs shown in their popular list you will get to that number.

Go on YouTube and you see that the “Nocturne” (OFFICIAL VIDEO) by Century Media Records has 302,002 views. My favourite track from “Singularity” on the Century Media Records channel has 260,817 views compared to the 130,835 on Spotify. These numbers matter. Especially for a band that plays to a niche market.

What about the band Volbeat? They fall on all sides of the equation. They are one of the most streamed metal bands out there, plus they are downloaded a lot via peer-to-peer networks and in addition to all of this, they are still selling albums in the U.S. Their “Outlaw Gentlemen And Shady Ladies” album was released on 5 April 2013 and as at 29 January 2014, it is still selling in the U.S.

Yep, that’s right, in an era were physical sales of recorded music are non-existent, Volbeat has been selling consistently for 42 weeks straight. Prior to the release of “Outlaw Gentlemen And Shady Ladies”, their previous album “Beyond Heaven, Above Hell” was still selling up to and past the release date of the new album.

From a record label point of view, this is pure gold. They have a band that can consistently sell albums and Volbeat has been doing that each week for the last three years in the very competitive US market.

That is why they are hitting the U.S market again for the third time, this time with “Trivium” and the best DIY independent band out there in “Digital Summer”.

Look at their song “Still Counting” on Spotify. It has 21,193,159 streams. On the YouTube channel of Tomas Grafström “Still Counting” has 11,725,300 views.

My favourite song “Fallen” has 12,392,089 streams. On the VolbeatVEVO channel, “Fallen” has 4,583,706 views.

“Cape Of Our Hero” from the new album has 5,838,326 streams. On YouTube, “Cape Of Our Hero” has 2,999,070 views on the VolbeatVEVO channel.

Another band that is doing great numbers both in actual sales, streams and peer-to-peer downloads is Skillet. The album “Rise” was released on June 25, 2013 and at this point in time, 31 weeks after that, it is still selling. That is what the labels want, bands that can sell week in and week out. What does the band want? They want people to listen to their music.

To compare to the current mainstream rock band, none of these bands come close to Imagine Dragons. “Night Visions” came out on September 4, 2012. 73 weeks later, the album is still moving physical albums. At this point in time the album has sold over 1.8 million copies in the US. The main songs are high on Spotify’s streaming chart. They are also very high on the peer-to-peer download lists.

Seriously their Spotify numbers are insane. “Radioactive” is at 172 million streams compared to 128 million views on YouTube. “Demons” is at 73 million streams compared to 50 million views on YouTube. My favourite “It’s Time” is at 75 million streams compared to 59 million streams on YouTube.

Music is now a game of data. The key to any artist is not how many albums or songs are sold. The key is this;

ARE PEOPLE LISTENING TO YOUR MUSIC?
ARE PEOPLE SHARING YOUR MUSIC?
ARE PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT YOUR MUSIC?
ARE PEOPLE DOWNLOADING YOUR MUSIC?
WHERE ARE THESE PEOPLE LOCATED?
MUSIC IS A RELATIONSHIP BUSINESS. DO YOU HAVE A RELATIONSHIP WITH THESE PEOPLE?

If you answered YES to the first question, move on to the next question. If you haven’t answered YES to the first question, take a step back and start writing more music.

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

Kirk Hammett = Misguided Fool. We Are Actually Living In The Golden Age of Music Access

The comments from Kirk Hammet have been getting a lot of press/ink lately. They have been re-posted on thousands of other metal news sites by simply copying and pasting what he said.

For those that haven’t read it, this is what Kirk said;

“There haven’t been a lot of really, really great bands that have shown that kind of promise. I think it’s a concern. Because of things like iTunes and streaming and social networking, it’s destroyed music. It’s destroyed the motivation to go out there and really make the best record possible. It’s a shame.”

Okay so lets unpack what he really said.

“There haven’t been a lot of really, really great bands that have shown that kind of promise. I think it’s a concern.”

You see, when you detach yourself from the streets and live in your ivory tower, you don’t see what is happening at ground zero.

Five Finger Death Punch is going GOLD in a tough sales market. They have great numbers in relation to YouTube views and Spotify streams. Their albums have been selling up to the point of when their new one is released. Think about that for a second. Five Finger Death Punch has consistently moved units of their albums every week since 2007. Now compare that to Dream Theater whose new album is already dead and buried after four weeks.

Shinedown are doing super numbers in relation to sales, YouTube views and Spotify streams. They have certifications left, right and centre.

Avenged Sevenfold released a progress is derivative album that is also doing great numbers. In addition, they do super numbers on the live circuit

Black Veil Brides has achieved so much with their first three albums as well as other bands like Bullet For My Valentine, Alter Bridge, Killswitch Engage, Volbeat and so on.

Will we have the superstars of the Eighties and Nineties again? Of course not, it is a different time today, however you can’t tell me that the bands mentioned above don’t have a certain superstar status at the moment.

Will they headline the major festivals? Probably not, because no one really likes festivals any more. The festivals are on their way out. They just don’t know it yet.

“Because of things like iTunes and streaming and social networking, it’s destroyed music. It’s destroyed the motivation to go out there and really make the best record possible. It’s a shame.”

With all the information we get on our favourite artists these days, it makes us realise that our heroes are complete idiots. Kirk just doesn’t understand change. It’s constant.

Kirk’s comments are no different to the comments from other dinosaurs like Jon Bon Jovi, Scott Ian, Duff McKagan, Yngwie Malmsteen, Thom Yorke and David Byrne. Railing against the Internet, Spotify and iTunes and complaining about payments and the lack of motivation to record new music. 

Let’s get one thing clear. Music today can be made for next to nothing. That is why we have so many releases in the market place. Competition for listener’s attention is sky-high. Everybody who records something believes we should pay attention.

Kirk Hammett wants to go back to the Eighties, to a time when bands had to have a record deal to record their music. Kirk Hammett wants fans of his music to buy the whole Metallica album just to find out it was garbage (like ReLoad, St Anger) or for a few songs (like Load).  

If that is the motivation that Kirk Hammett and Metallica needs to record, then they can just give up right now.

It never used to be that way. Metal and rock artists never complained. They always ADAPTED. 

Do you hear Imagine Dragons, Daft Punk, Mumford and Sons, Shinedown, Five Finger Death Punch, Eminem, Halestorm, Killswitch Engaged, Alter Bridge, Slash or Avenged Sevenfold going on a rant about not wanting to make new music or that it is just too tough out there and no one can make it?

Could it be that most people are just not interested in new Metallica music? As Lars said in a Hot Metal interview from June 1992, that I posted earlier. The numbers they are getting for the Black album, will not be eclipsed or bettered.

Could it be that the Napster stigma is still around? The image of Lars Ulrich holding 500 pages of user names that traded in Metallica music is still fresh in people’s minds. 

The comments in relation to streaming are just wrong. Streaming is competing with PIRACY. How is that not good? With Spotify around it just doesn’t make sense to steal. It pays the artist when their music gets played and it pays the artist forever. A sale of an album is just a one stop transaction that inflates the NOW and when you start talking about the NOW, you are thinking like a Record Label.

If Kirk Hammett and Metallica or any artist out there wants to make money from recorded music, they need to find a way to get people to purchase a Spotify Premium account.

Spotify has a mission to have over 20 million premium customers. This will allow artist to take years out to record their masterpieces. Instead of working with the technology, they talk in riddles against it. 

We are living in the golden age of music access. The history of recorded music is at our fingertips and that is a good thing. Finally, there is plan in place to monetize it. If you want to monetize, you need to keep creating.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Spotify – Will Rock and Metal bands reach a 100 million downloads in such a short time frame?

Daft Punk’s track Get Lucky has been streamed 104,233,480 times so far. Spotify generally pays 0.004 a stream to the rights holder. So by doing the math that comes to $416,933.92 in payments from Spotify to the rights holder. How much of this money is distributed is given down to Daft Punk from Columbia Records is unknown. For a song that was released in April, this has proven to be a pretty good earner.

YouTube also shows Get Lucky getting close to 112 million plays. What YouTube will end up paying for that is unknown, as the payout figure is calculated on the type of advertisements shown.

To me, the Spotify and YouTube stats prove that if a song makes a connection with people, people will be going back to the song over and over and over again. As an artist, this is the statistic you want reported to you as you know that people are playing your song or songs.

In relation to sales they come a distant last, however just to make this post complete, Get Lucky has been downloaded over 2.4 million times in the US and over 1 million times in the UK. This means that the song in combined sales (US + UK) has earned roughly $2.4 million (that is based on using the iTunes 0.7 formula).

So if your view of the recording business is that “I WANT TO BE PAID RIGHT NOW” then the sales figure is your brass ring. However, in time the sales figure will die down.

If your view of the recording business is that “I WANT PEOPLE TO PLAY MY SONGS FOREVER and BE PAID FOREVER” then the streaming figure is your brass ring. Streaming has taken the concept of listening to a song a million times at home on your stereo into the digital world.

For all the complaints about streaming payments, an important note to make is that there is NO RELIABLE data from the PRE-NAPSTER era, that suggests that musicians received more money from recorded sales. The good old ADVANCE from the Record Labels always clouded the creative accounting employed by them.

Sound recordings these days are purely for promotion purposes. If you can make money from it, like Daft Punk has, great. In the end, once artists start looking for sales of their recorded music they start to become entrepreneurs. An entrepreneur is an individual who organizes and operates a business, taking on the financial risk to do so. As an entrepreneur you have to offer something which somebody else wants to buy. If you want to make money you need to provide something of value that somebody else wants to pay for.

In relation to radio plays, yes terrestrial radio does pay more, however with the rise of internet connections in all new automobile’s, terrestrial radio is dead. They just don’t know it yet. The world has shifted online and with all things online there is always one winner that comes out on top. Google, Facebook, Amazon, iTunes and Twitter are just some names that come to mind.

So what are the rock/metal numbers like for new music that came out in April 2013.

Bring Me The Horizon is sitting at 3.2 million for the song Shadow Moses.

Paramore is sitting at 7.6 million for the song Still Into You.

Fall Out Boy is sitting at 20.1 million for the song My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark.

Killswitch Engage is sitting at 1.2 million for the song In Due Time.

Volbeat is sitting at 2.63 million for the song Lola Montez.

Device is sitting at 525,000 for the song Vilify.

Rob Zombie is sitting at 347,000 for the song Dead City Radio And The New Gods Of Supertown.

If it is a numbers game, metal and rock has a long way to go to get to the 100 million streams of Get Lucky. One thing is clear, online streaming will not slow down. If you are a DIY artist, you need to play in this field. Streaming is just one cog in the complex machine that the music business has become.

If one of the bands above had that crossover songs, then….

 

For some artists it works really well, for others not so well. In relation to sales, Killswitch Engage, Rob Zombie, Volbeat and Device are still selling physical and digital units as they tour around the U.S. All of the bands have moved over 100,000 units each for their albums released in April.

If you are comparing sales numbers to streaming numbers, the streaming numbers are way more spectacular. In the end, all artists want to be heard. So what are are the artists doing, to give the people a reason to listen to them.  

The live business, the merchandise business and the recorded music sales business are other cogs in the complex machine that the musical business has become. 

One last note, Black Sabbath’s Paranoid has earned close to $44,000 from Spotify. Not bad for a song that was released forty odd years ago. Now who gets that money and how it is distributed amongst the band members is a different story entirely.

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