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

A Day In The Life – Leaks and Sales with Dream Theater, Avenged Sevenfold, Coheed and Cambria, Five Finger Death Punch, Black Sabbath, Trivium, Stryper and Protest The Hero

In the lead up to the release of any widely sought after album there is one certainty. The album will leak ahead of its official release date.

So in order to circumvent this problem, artists (in conjunction with their backers/labels) are organising early stream deals of their new music (a legal way to say “album leak”).

Dream Theater and Roadrunner went all nuclear with their corporate deals for their self-titled album, which had sales on the board for the first 5 weeks and for the last 2 weeks – nothing. Since Roadrunner was cashed up due to the departure of Machine Head and Megadeth, they placed those extra dollars into Dream Theater. Was it a good investment?

Five Finger Death Punch on the other hand are doing it a touch different. They are doing all their pre-release streams, in conjunction with YouTube track by track stories of each song, along with promotional video clips plus live performances.

Avenged Sevenfold added a full live show of the “Hail To The King” album to their pre-album stream promotional campaign.

Trivium’s new album leaked a whole week before the actual pre-release stream of the album (and a full two weeks before their album came out). They kept on dropping songs in their set list’s and they also released full version streams of certain songs.

There is no sure-fire way to prevent leaks, however how an artist reacts is important.

The new Protest The Hero album leaked on Torrent Sites a week before it’s actual release date. So what did Protest The Hero do? They set up a fan connection, that allowed the fans that contributed to the making of the album to download it from a secure site. They made sure that the real fans had music in a high quality rip, along with a 50 page plus digital PDF and artwork. Then when they realised that ending of the song “Mist” was cut short in the download that they offered, they rectified it, by offering the song as a stand alone download.

Anyone who tries to stop a record from leaking is going against the way of the world.

The focus for the artist is to give the fans that legally pre-order an album access to it as soon as they are aware of the leak. This is hard when artists put all of this into the hands of the record label and the record label puts it all in the hands of brick and mortar stores, iTunes or Amazon.

Artists like Coheed and Cambria (via their http://modlife.com/coheedandcambria) website have a huge advantage over bands that continue to be ignorant as to who their fans are and in what cities their fans reside.

Protest The Hero now has a list of 8000 plus devotees that they can use to further their cause. They have their addresses, so they have an idea as to what cities and markets to hit. Other successful fan funded campaigners also have this advantage. You see the most important currency in 2013 is data.

As a band you would want to know which fans always order the Super Deluxe packs, which fans download your music, which fans stream your music and which fans purchase CD versions of the album. This is where the bands should be pushing the fans to purchase from their own web stores.

So looking at sales of music today how relevant are they. So many different metrics exist. Streaming, YouTube views, mp3 downloads and physical sales

Let’s look at the sales in the U.S of Dream Theater (by the way all sales figures are quoted from the excellent http://www.metalinsider.net website.

Week 1 – 2nd October 2013 – 33,950 sold
Week 2 – 9th October 2013 – 8,300 sold
Week 3 – 16th October 2013 – 4,275 sold
Week 4 – 23rd October 2013 – 2,950 sold
Week 5 – 30th October 2013 – 2,350 sold
Week 6 – 6th November 2013 – nothing reported
Week 7 – 13th November 2013 – nothing reported
Week 8 – 21st November 2013 – nothing reported

The above is a familiar cycle for Dream Theater with each album cycle. The numbers you could say have been pretty close with each album release since “Systematic Chaos.”

So is the new album a dud. From a record label point of view, I believe so. Roadrunner invested heavily in Dream Theater after they lost Machine Head and Megadeth. Has it paid off for them? I don’t believe so.

From a fan perspective, I don’t mind it, however it wasn’t good enough to take up room on my iPhone. The bizarre part in all of this is the gap between the album release and the tour beginning.

By January 2014, the album is old news. Whoever thought it was a good idea to leave a three-month gap between the album release date and the tour start date should be fired immediately.

Three months in the current music business is an eternity. It looks like Dream Theater is getting some bad advice and to be honest they are shooting themselves in the foot.

Dream Theater need to hit the studio again for December 2013 and release a few more songs as free digital downloads. Maybe even get in some outside assistance in editing the musical pieces into actual songs.

What about Avenged Sevenfold? How are they tracking at the moment?

Week 1 – 4th September 2013 – 159,375 sold
Week 2 – 12th September 2013 – 42,000 sold
Week 3 – 18th September 2013 – 22,900 sold
Week 4 – 25th September 2013 – 17,800 sold
Week 5 – 2nd October 2013 – 15,200 sold
Week 6 – 9th October 2013 – 13,700 sold
Week 7 – 16th October 2013 – 13,700 sold
Week 8 – 23rd October 2013 – 9,634 sold
Week 9 – 30th October 2013 – 8,750 sold
Week 10 – 6th November 2013 – 7,600 sold
Week 11 – 13th November 2013 – 7,325 sold
Week 12 – 21st November 2013 – 6,900 sold

Looks like Avenged Sevenfold are going to ensure their legacy. Call this album what we will, what is clear is that it is successful. It has high stream counts, high YouTube views and decent sales on the board. They are on the road at the moment supporting it.

Shows are being added into next year. It is obvious that Avenged Sevenfold are getting better advice than Dream Theater is.

With every successful act, the haters come out. A lot of the online news sites are trying to portray this imaginary war between Robb Flynn and Avenged Sevenfold. It is all a load of crap. Online news sites are there to sell advertising. They sell advertising by getting people to bite to the stories. To make up a feud between two different bands is an advertisers dreams.

The Avenged Sevenfold album sold more in week one than Dream Theater’s self-titled album will sell in total. In week 6, the Avenged Sevenfold album sold more than Dream Theater’s self-titled album which was in week 2 of its sale cycle.

What about Five Finger Death Punch? They just released the second part of “The Wrong Side Of Heaven and The Righteous Side Of Hell.” So how is Volume 1 going at the moment.

Week 1 – 7th August 2013 – 112,500 sold
Week 2 – 14th August 2013 – 35,275 sold
Week 3 – 21st August 2013 – 22,050 sold
Week 4 – 28th August 2013 – 17,250 sold
Week 5 – 4th September 2013 – 22,450 sold
Week 6 – 11th September 2013 – 13,375 sold
Week 7 – 18th September 2013 – 9,250 sold
Week 8 – 25th September 2013 – 8,200 sold
Week 9 – 2nd October 2013 – 6,975 sold
Week 10 – 9th October 2013 – 6,625 sold
Week 11 – 16th October 2013 – 5,900 sold
Week 12 – 23rd October 2013 – 5,575 sold
Week 13 – 30th October 2013 – 5,200 sold
Week 14 – 6th November 2013 – 4,675 sold
Week 15 – 13th November 2013 – 4,200 sold
Week 16 – 21st November 2013 – 4,950 sold

What can you say about Five Finger Death Punch. All of their releases so far have achieved Gold status in the U.S. They basically have been selling albums since 2007. “American Capitalist” was certified GOLD almost two years after its release and just a few months before the release of “The Wrong Side of Heaven” duology.

The albums have some great songs on there that will make the casual metal fan commit to a purchase and they will be in an enviable position of having two albums selling at the same time.

A recent Revolver cover is showing Black Sabbath along with the comment, “Band Of The Year.” Are they serious? The beauty of mainstream rags. They kiss the butt of the PR company. Five Finger Death Punch is the band of the year. Avenged Sevenfold is the band of the year. Coheed and Cambria is the band of the year. These three bands have done way more than what Black Sabbath have achieved this year. So how did they go with the sales?

Week 1 – 19th June 2013 – 154,900 sold
Week 2 – 26th June 2013 – 45,525 sold
Week 3 – 3rd July 2013 – 25,300 sold
Week 4 – 8th July 2013 – 7,875 sold
Week 5 – 17th July 2013 – 11,950 sold
Week 6 – 24th July 2013 – 9,950 sold
Week 7 – 31st July 2013 – 8,500 sold
Week 8 – 7th August 2013 – 7,875 sold
Week 9 – 14th August 2013 – 6,550 sold
Week 10 – 21st August 2013 – 5,500 sold
Week 11 – 28th August 2013 – 4,675 sold
Week 12 – 4th September 2013 – 4,600 sold
Week 13 – 11th September 2013 – 4,100 sold
Week 14 – 18th September 2013 – 3,100 sold
Week 15 – 25th September 2013 – 2,400 sold
Week 16 – 2nd October 2013 – 2,025 sold
Week 17 – 9th October 2013 – 2,100 sold
Week 18 – 16th October 2013 – 1,900 sold
Week 19 – 23 October 2013 – no sales recorded
Week 20 – 30th October 2013 – 1,900 sold
Week 21 – 6th November 2013 – no sales recorded
Week 22 – 13th November 2013 – no sales recorded
Week 23 – 21st November 2013 – no sales recorded

A 20 week run of sales is a good thing in today’s terms. Even on Spotify, the following songs have gotten some traction;
End Of The Beginning – 959,385 streams
God Is Dead? – 1,252,767 streams
Loner – 669,762 streams
Zeitgeist – 590,057 streams
Age of Reason – 540,630 streams

What about Trivium? How is another Roadrunner act doing? This is album number six for Trivium and it’s a similar cycle to their previous album “In Waves” and a very similar trend to Dream Theater’s.

Week 1 – 23rd October 2013 – 17,225 sold
Week 2 – 30th October 2013 – 4,400 sold
Week 3 – 6th November 2013 – 2,575 sold
Week 4 – 13th November 2013 – 2,100 sold
Week 5 – 21st November 2013 – no sales recorded

Wow, that was a quick spiral out of the public consciousness. Reading the reviews of the album, a lot of people are blasting the Draiman influence on it. But hey people blasted the Bob Rock influence on certain bands as well. The bottom line is that Trivium delivered a great album that no one has really heard.

Protest the Hero was recorded as having a debut week ending 6th November of 8,775 sold and it was the guys best debut of all their albums. Amazing what a little fan funding does. If the guys hold it together, bigger things will come to fruition.

What about Stryper? 2013 has been a huge year for them, with the release of their re-recorded greatest hits album earlier on in the year, along with a new album in November.

Week 1 – 13th November 2013 – 9,575 sold
Week 2 – 21st November 2013 – 4,300 sold

Listening to the album, Dave Mustaine was right. Sympathy is the best track on the album.

It’s a tough music market and the aim of each artist is to remain in the public eye. The modern paradigm is here today and gone tomorrow. Robb Flynn gets this. That is why his weekly Journals are important. It is keeping Machine Head in the public eye while they write and record their new album.

Sales are still relevant, however they are not the only metric in which an artist should measure success.

From all of the above, Five Finger Death Punch are doing great numbers however after listening to both Volumes, I easily could have come up with a song list for one album. The remainder of the songs could have been offered as free downloads on a monthly basis, which would always bring attention to the main product, the album. Think about that, they recorded 26 songs for the album. Just say they released 12 songs on an album. The leaves 14 months worth of songs to release and bring further attention to the album and the tour.

“A Day In The Life” is a great song from Volume 2 by the way. It’s melodic, heavy and it has a great vibe happening.

But wait, piracy exists. All of the above music can be downloaded for free. So why are people paying for it. They can even stream it for free. However for some reason people are paying for it. That is what the record labels and the RIAA will never understand. People will do what they want to do.

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

Create The Undeniable Song – It Will Sell

I am listening to “Are You Gonna Go My Way” today, the third studio album by American rock musician Lenny Kravitz, released in 1993.

It’s funny that after all this time I still like only 3 songs from the CD, which are “Believe”, “Sister” and “Are You Gonna Go My Way” in that order. There is also a track called “All My Life” that appeared on some bonus CD’s or as a B-side that is also up there. However, to hear all of the songs mentioned, I had to purchase the record label “promotional tool”; the good ol’ expensive CD.

That is why the album went multi-platinum everywhere.

Consumers of music had to purchase 10 to 14 songs, just to hear 4 to 5 songs. Of course we could have purchased the singles, however at $7 a single (that was the price in 1993), why spend $14 on two songs, when for $20 (on sale) or $27 (as a new release) you could buy the album.

I actually purchased the album for the song “Believe”. That is a great song and a dead sit hit in my book. When that lead break cuts in at the end, along with the strings, it’s goose bumps all the way.

The album went Gold (U.S) in May, 1993, three months after its release. By June, 1993, it was certified Platinum (U.S). By January, 1995, it was certified 2x Multi-Platinum. If you look at Kravitz’s most recent certification, it is for a single. How times have changed?

I don’t want to pay for a batch of songs I don’t like anymore. I didn’t used to be this way. I lived for music.

Misguided people think that piracy ruined the recorded business. What they don’t realize is that most people didn’t want the album/CD. People wanted that unique track. When the CD came and the record labels started charging us a fortune for it, albums suddenly became very long.

Instead of getting 35 to 45 minutes of music every year, we started to get 50 to 70 minutes of music every two to three years.

So the recording business saw the large profit margins and just kept on marching along with the overpriced CD’s business model, using MTV to push and promote the artists. So when people got the option to download, to cherry pick what they wanted to hear, a whole new market place was born.

We didn’t have to pay attention to what the major labels pushed on us anymore or any other label for that matter, because we started to have options. Today, we have options galore. That is why there will not be any super stars like there used to be. Competition in the market place diluted the record sales.

When I see artists like Thom Yorke and Nigel Godrich complaining about Spotify, I just shake my head. Thom and Nigel have to be real damn great just to have a little bit more than a tiny audience today. The old paradigm of fans purchasing CD’s that had a lot of filler because very little content was available is over.

To stand out today, artists like Thom and Nigel have got to be incredible. Protest The Hero went via Indiegogo to raise funds for “Volition”. Their goal was $125K and they ended up getting over $341,146 USD from a fan base of 8361 fans. I gave $50. A small audience that was happy to spend money.

The report from the “London School of Economics” called “Copyright & Creation: A Case for Promoting Inclusive Online Sharing” hits the nail on the head. Online piracy is not hurting the music industry. It has put a dent in recorded music sales, however that was inevitable with the shift in technology, the over saturated marketplace and the years of fan abuse by pushing overpriced CD’s. It’s simple economics. There is so much supply and the fans of music demand only what is great.

There is an argument from certain song writers that since people began downloading music without paying, royalties for them have dried up. Some have even had to take full-time jobs. Big deal is what I say. If you are a songwriter, then write more songs and better ones. Copyright was never designed to be a pension fund.

The bottom line is this – if the artist creates that undeniable song, they will have no problems selling it. The song will sell itself. I parted with $27 back in 1993 for the song “Believe.”

Looking at all the certifications around the world from the industry bodies, one thing is certain. The singles are dominating. So all those metal and rock bands spending years and dollars on a long player are doing it wrong.

Even Metallica now, have single Platinum certifications from songs that were released on their first five albums.

The following songs were given a GOLD certification by the RIAA (U.S) on December 13, 2012.

  • For Whom The Bell Tolls
  • Fade To Black
  • The Unforgiven
  • Master Of Puppets
  • Nothing Else Matters
  • One
  • Enter Sandman (was also given a Platinum certification for both digital and physical singles)
  • The Day That Never Comes
  • Until It Sleeps

Five albums are presented in the above list that ranges from 1983 to 2008.

We don’t need new laws to provide better protection for artist copyright. We need artists to create great tracks. We need laws that reduce copyright and puts the focus back on the Public Domain.

We don’t need to encourage internet service providers to make their customers do the right thing. We need to give customers a reason to buy.

If the customers have that reason, then they will buy.

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