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Jake E. Lee and The Red Dragon Cartel. They Are Doing It All Wrong

Did you also hear that Jake E Lee is making a comeback with a new project titled Red Dragon Cartel?

As a fan of Jake E. Lee and the work he did with Ozzy and Badlands, I am glad that he is made the decision to record music again. Man, those two Badlands albums rocked hard. Tried to find them on Spotify and no dice. Even the new Red Dragon Cartel song is nowhere to be found. Lucky YouTube has the Badlands albums streaming in full.

He is doing it all wrong. He is doing it the same way he did in 1986. This is 2013 and the music business model that worked when Jake E. Lee was at the peak of his fame does not work today.

Frontiers Records signed the project. Are there any Classic Eighties metal/rock bands or stars that Frontiers haven’t signed?

Of course the new slab of songs will move a couple of thousand in sales due to hard-core Jake E. Lee fans from the Ozzy and Badlands days and then what. Go on a small club tour, do a few festivals and then what.

Jake E. Lee needs a presence online at the minimum. Release a couple of songs and get people talking about them. See how the songs connect. Having only a Facebook account today just doesn’t cut it. If no one is biting it’s because they are not interested and that the songs are not good enough.

The lyric video for Feeder has over 48,000 views. The song is nothing really earth shattering. There is no classic riff that will stick around forever and a day to haunt my eardrums. The comments on YouTube are varied. People dig Robin Zander on vocals, but don’t like the guitars on the song. Then the comments started on the other song, Deceived. That song has the touring vocalist, Darren Smith singing. And the comments are not pretty. Maybe Jake needs a re-think on the vocalist. Maybe the fans are used to the pipes on Ray Gillen. Whatever the case is, Jake E. Lee needs to communicate with his fans if he wants to make an impact.

Sales are a one to one relationship. It starts and ends with a single transaction. The band/label gets the money and the fan gets the music.

What is the streaming policy? That is a one to many relationship that can be tracked. Data is the new currency in the music business. More so than the record sales. As an artist, you need to know who your fans are? Are they listening to your music.

If they sell less than 10,000 units, does that make the project a dud?

If anything, Jake E. Lee is basically an independent artist again. Frontiers Records doesn’t go out of its way to market any of their releases. Trust me, I am on their mailing list and all I get is the obligatory press release email saying a new release is coming out for so and so band. That’s it.

The reality that escapes Frontiers Records and the acts they sign is that music consumption and marketing have changed dramatically.

Try telling that to musicians. All musicians place a certain value on what they do. It is the usual “we poured our heart and soul” cliché. The funny thing is that worked once upon a time, when the Record Labels acted as Gatekeepers. It doesn’t work today and that is where the problems begin for musicians. They have no idea how to properly market themselves and they fail to understand the simply economics of supply and demand.

Marketing is difficult. Look at the musicians that make up Red Dragon Cartel. On vocals you have Darren Smith from Harem Scarem and Warmachine. In July he was involved in another project called Heavens Fire. How is he going to market himself? He is the lead vocalist and he has no presence. Jonas Fairley is doing his Twitter thing which is cool to see and Ronnie Mancuso is part of the same Eighties brigade as Jake E.Lee, expecting their names and the label to push the band.

You see each musician needs to market themselves in their own way. Look at Five Finger Death Punch. Each member markets themselves. The same for Motley Crue, Metallica, Avenged Sevenfold, Machine Head and so on.

The 2013 music world is littered with new releases. This is a far cry from the gatekeeper controlled release windows of the record labels. With so much supply of hard rock, blues rock and heavy metal music, the demand to listen to it all is just not there. That is why we gravitate to what people talk about. We feel like someone has done the homework for us.

The expectation that most artists have is that since they have talent, can write a song and love what they do, they should be able to charge people to listen. The reality is that there are thousands of bands trying to reach the same fans that are very careful with the money they spend on music.

Music was never a sure thing. The music world is grown bigger and way more competitive.

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

Music Is A Long Road – A Trip Down Memory Lane with Fates Warning, Tom Petty and Dream Theater

For any artists these days, be it Bon Jovi or Metallica or Dream Theater or Motley Crue or Imagine Dragons or Shinedown or Machine Head or any new band starting off right now, they all need to understand one thing. We are living in the generation of kids born from 1997 onwards. This generation wants to consume music. Their sense of community is all online. Anyone that says they don’t have a Spotify account is not living in the modern age. These kids weren’t alive when the Record Labels ruled the day, so they have no desire for yesterday, they are all about today and what lays beyond.

For any artist these days, their whole career is about relationships. If you want an audience to invest, you need to establish a relationship. You need to make the effort. The days of touring a city based on the record sales figures for that city are long gone. Ask Dream Theater or Iron Maiden how many albums they have sold in South America? Then ask them how many people came to their shows in those countries.

Mike Portnoy stated in the linear notes on the released bootleg recording of Dream Theater’s Santiago, Chile show from June 2005 that they didn’t know what to expect from South America due to the low number if records they had sole there. They even went to the show with a cut down stage set to save money. In the end, they played to their biggest headlining audience ever.

It’s all about roots. If an artist doesn’t have any, the audience is not interested. Experience moulds the artist, it influences them. Music is an end unto itself. When done right, the sound and the feel is enough. It doesn’t need the videos, the PR sell and all the pyro that comes with the rock n roll show.

Tom Petty sang that Love Is A Long Road. That is the aim of every artist. To foster the love of the audience into a sustainable career. To paraphrase Tom Petty, Music is A Long Road. The same way that a relationship with a partner has its ups and down, so does the relationship between artist and fan. The same effort that an artist puts into a loving relationship is basically the same effort they need to put in to their music career.

The music community has shifted to being a song centric community. We just dont know it yet. The album format that used to make the most money for the record labels is almost a dead format. However artists still go back and release a collection of songs as an album.

In order for the album format to work for you, you need to create an album that is playable throughout. You need to create an album that needs to be heard over and over again. You need to create an album that stands up years after its release.

Fates Warning released an unbelievable album called Disconnected in 2000. However talk to anyone these days and it is like the band never existed. It’s been years since I’ve heard Disconnected and to my amazement, it sounds as fresh and innovative today as it did 13 years ago. Jim Matheos is the pure definition of the progress is derivative statement. He has the ability to take good things from songs that came before and mould them into something great, unique and innovative.

In the Year 2000, progressive music was at opposite ends of the spectrum. You had the Dream Theater style of progressive music on one side and the Tool style of progressive music on the other side. In between you had a band like Porcupine Tree, merging Tool like aggression with Pink Floyd like atmospherics. The mainstream was ruled by Nu-Metal bands. The missing link was Fates Warning.

With Disconnected, Jim Matheos merged the Tool and Porcupine Tree progressive elements with the Dream Theater progressive elements and put them through the Fates Warning blender.

Disconnected is a fusion of all the best progressive elements at the time into a cohesive piece of work that can be listened to over and over again from start to finish. It is a tragedy that this album is so overlooked these days. In the same way that each lick and melody from Images and Words by Dream Theater sticks in my head, Disconnected from Fates Warning does the same.

I am looking forward to hearing “Darkness In A Different Light” when it comes out on September 27. Nine years is a long time between albums. Nine years in the music business is an eternity. So much has changed. Love is a long road. Music is a long road.

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