My Stories

Football And World Cup Qualification Failure…

Failing to qualify for the World Cup has highlighted how far the US game has fallen and it’s going to happen to the Australia national team soon.   

The signs of a looming catastrophe are everywhere. In Australia, we aren’t qualifying for the Youth World Cups at all and the majority of those youth national teams are made up of the best talent of the parents who can pay for $2500 a year for Elite Football. The current senior national team is made up of players who had parents who could pay the high fees for Elite Football. Not all players, but a large percentage. So is it any wonder that the only player in the current Australian team who took a unique and different way  to make it in football, had the most impact. Of course, I am talking about Tim Cahill. 

But the pay to play culture in Australia is killing the sport. It’s become even more evident over the last 5 years in this country how “elite football” in this country has become a billion dollar industry. And the competitive kids who are selected early because they are born at the start of the year and run faster than all the rest, keep getting retained in these elite programs because they were there first in, even when the kids born later have shown to have better skills and game intelligence. 

This pay to play culture eliminates the potential x-factor player and makes football a sport that kids from upper-middle class parents can play at an “elite level”. That kid that didn’t even trial for an elite team because of the fees or that kid which got selected for an elite team at U9’s and then had to withdraw because the parents couldn’t pay, is now probably kicking goals in AFL or scoring tries in Rugby League.

The biggest problem of “pay to play” is that it removes the individual from the team and from learning the language of football. It makes it all about the individual. With the investment of parents, they expect results for their child, the individual. Australia is a country that has a population which includes every race of the world and somehow the coaches/selectors are not able to find “real talent”.

I wonder why. 

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The Record Label Deal

I have been debating with people the record label route that artists take. Lets get one thing out-of-the-way pretty fast, the chances of an artist actually getting a record deal are extremely low. Then once they actually get a record deal, the chances of an artist actually making money from the deal is extremely low.

You see, in the record label good old days, when the CD ruled and big advances were the norm, the percentage of bands that actually succeeded in the music business was already low. So even back then in the heyday of the CD, if the main aim was to purely chase a record deal as a means of succeeding then the artists were already doomed for failure.

Let’s put it into context.

By the time Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora got together to write the “Slippery When Wet” album, they were still living in their parents’ house and they had a half million debt to their record label.

Now how can that be?

They had two albums out that had sold over 500,000 copies each in the U.S alone and they had toured Europe, the US and Japan for both album cycles. Surely having sales over a million units in the U.S would have earned the band members some coin. But it didn’t because the record labels creatively ripped of the artists.

Lucky for Bon Jovi, “Slippery When Wet” went into the stratosphere. So imagine if “Slippery When Wet” didn’t blow up and cross over like it did. The band then would have been in further debt and most probably no longer in the recording business as a band. The record label at the time hoped that the album would at least move 500,000 units in the U.S again. That there is proof alone that the record labels are clueless. That there is proof alone that there is no such thing as a sure bet in music.

Let’s look at Twisted Sister.

By the time Dee Snider wrote the “Stay Hungry” album which was during the recording of the “You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll” in 1983, he was living in a one bedroom apartment with his wife and kid. By then he had been in the music business for over 10 years. He didn’t rely on sales of recorded music to provide him with a living. He earned his coin by delivering the goods on stage.

Twisted Sister was a consistent crowd puller on the live circuit. You would think that would be enough to get them signed, however it didn’t. All the U.S labels rejected them, until an independent label in the U.K called “Secret” signed them. To simplify the story, this eventually led to Atlantic’s European division signing them for the “You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll” album which in turn led to the U.S arm of Atlantic picking them up, once the imported versions of the “You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll” LP started selling in the U.S.

“Stay Hungry” went global. That was 1984. Three years later and two more albums, the band was finished. Some creative legal maneuvering and accounting got Snider out of his Atlantic contract and into a contact that would prove to be a career death sentence with “Neglektra”.

And if you want to hear about record label mistreatment look no further than Dee Snider.

Metallica went the independent route initially because no label wanted to sign them. Same with Motley Crue.

Artists are faced with so many challenges in the music business.

I have been in bands, where we had to pay to play at venues who used their legendary name to con us into paying. To be honest, we didn’t need much conning as we all blindly believed that we were the ones destined for success. We saw it all as a small sacrifice in order to be “discovered”. I remember having the band meeting where we agreed to go ahead with the pay-to-play gig because that mythical record label rep could be there.

But pay to play doesn’t stop just there.

Even when an artist gets a record deal, their opening support slot on an established bands tour is paid for.

Their song on the radio station is paid for.

Their appearance and interview in a magazine is paid for.

Their album review in a magazine or a website is paid for. Don’t believe me. Tell me that last bad review that you have read. We all know that “Lulu” was pure garbage and it got good reviews.

Is that the world you want to be in as an artist?

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