A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

The Unexpected Slow Metal Hit

We live in a world that is all about the NOW. Music quickly comes and it quickly goes. Look at all the Top 10 Lists or the Charts for each week and you will see that it is a different list each week. There is just so much new music coming out at the moment and people are just churning it up.

For example, I didn’t get a chance to get into the new Trivium album because a week later, I had the new Protest The Hero album and that has taken all of my attention.

However, there are always songs that sit on the outside. Songs that the artist or the band didn’t believe could be a “hit” (I use that term lightly) or a song that should be used as a promotion tool.

But they didn’t count on the fan choices. The fan that today has the power. The fan that could pick and choose what track they could listen too.

Killswitch Engage released “As Daylight Dies” in 2006 and it is there cover of “Holy Diver” that proved to be the sleeper hit. Don’t believe me, check out Spotify. it has 6,136,523 streams. Still don’t believe me, go on YouTube and you will see it has 9,013,222 views.

Alter Bridge released “One Day Remains” in 2004. “Open Your Eyes”, “Find the Real” and “Broken Wings” followed as promotional singles. However it was the metal heavy “Metalingus” and the moving ballad “In Loving Memory” that the fans selected as the hits. Don’t believe me, check out Spotify. “Metalingus” has 3,362,193 streams and “In Loving Memory” has 2,690,909 streams. Still don’t believe me, go on YouTube and you will see that “Metalingus” has over 5,500,000 views from all the combined channels and “In Loving Memory” has over 6,000,000 combined views.

In 2011 Trivium got blasted for the “In Waves” album, however the title track is their biggest so far. On Spotify “In Waves” the song has 3,038,061 streams. On YouTube, the Official Video on the Roadrunner Records channel has 3,423,215 views and a live version of the song on the Trivium Official channel has 2,767,455 views.

Volbeat broke through in the U.S on the back of “Still Counting”. The song was released in 2008 on the “Guitar Gangsters and Cadillac Blood” album and on 21 July 2012 “Still Counting” was the number-one song on the Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks US chart. Go on Spotify and it has been streamed 19,779,202 times. Go on YouTube and count the views from all the various channels. They add up.

Bullet For My Valentine led the promotional campaign for their “Temper Temper” album with the song “Riot”, however the fans didn’t care about that song as much as they cared about “Breaking Point” and “Tears Don’t Fall (Part 2)”.

As much as Dream Theater is trying to promote the current version of the band, they can’t escape their past. The Spotify Top 10 of Dream Theater has the 9 songs from the new self titled album (that proved to be a dud), plus “On The Backs Of Angels” from the previous album. However if you go on YouTube the fans don’t care about the new album currently. “Wither”, “Pull Me Under” and “Another Day” still get the attention.

This is very different to Avenged Sevenfold, who have people very interested in their new album. In addition, all the other media outlets and bands that are talking about the album, all they are doing is adding to the legend of it. Hail To The King I say. “Shepherd Of Fire” is doing the rounds on my iPod.

Protest The Hero have led the promotional campaign of their new album “Volition” with “Clarity”, “Drumhead Trail” and “Underbite” however, it is “Mist” and “Skies” that is getting the conversation.

The market place today isn’t about the hit song now. It is about new songs vs old songs. Metal and rock songs are always late bloomers. There is no formula as to why certain songs resonate more than others with fans.

I like the story about how Dave Mustaine assisted Stryper in selecting their lead off single from the “No More Hell To Pay” album. They had a different song choice for the lead single and changed their minds after they had a chat with the Megadeth front man. Dave told them that his favourite track is “Sympathy”. This made Michael Sweet change his mind for the lead off single. That track is listed as Number 11 on the album and to be honest it is a kick arse song.

Sure, back in the day when the record labels ruled, they would employ a scorched earth policy to market a band and the lead off single and naturally we would bite as we had the time to invest and there was nothing really else out there.

YouTube and Spotify play a big part today in transforming a song into a phenomenon. Television also plays it’s part. Look at all the hit shows and they all have a section where a certain song plays and it conveys the emotion of the scene that no other music can.

Sons Of Anarchy comes to mind here, especially at the end of Season 2, when the song “Hands In The Sky (Big Shot)” from Straylight Run played in the epic last 5 minutes of the final episode.

Look at what Breaking Bad did for “Baby Blue” by Badfinger.

My wife was a fan of Grey’s Anatomy and because of that show she got into Snow Patrol (“Chasing Cars”) and The Fray (“How to Save a Life”).

In the end all artists need to do is create great music. The fans will latch onto it eventually.

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

The Story Of The Album – From Not Having Enough Money to Not Having Enough Time

“I don’t have the time anymore to play a 70 to 80 minute CD of a band unless it is great”.

I am constantly hearing the above statement from my peers. I am sure they are not alone. To use myself as an example, when my life was all about me, time was plentiful. Then I got married and then we started to have kids. The time that was plentiful in my youth is spread out between my wife, my three kids, my job and then doing anything in between that I could fit in for me.

So is time the reason why the album format has declined?

Going back in time, I remember going to the record store with about $20 to $30 in my back pocket. I always looked forward to those days. It was what I lived for. However as exciting as the experience was, it always had to end with me deciding which albums to buy today and which albums to buy next time around as I could never afford everything that I wanted.

So there I am thumbing my way through all the rock and metal albums. I am starting to formulate my algorithm as to what albums would end up at the register. Sometimes it could be an overpriced new release, which would mean just one album, or it could be a few older releases that I have been meaning to get and now that the price is right, I purchase them from the bargain bins.

Arriving home, I would rip off the shrink wrapping, drop the needle, sit back and enjoy the album with the lyrics to stare at while it played.

Those albums would do the rounds for what would seem like an eternity in today’s day and age.

I grew up in the Eighties and it was all about the LP. Labels always tried to maximise their sales, so they kept on releasing singles, picture singles and picture 12 inch singles and just 12 inch singles.

Of course the hard core lapped everything up, even though nothing new was on offer. The big difference in the Eighties was MTV. With the rise of music television, bands had to have that single song that would have mass appeal. So what the fans ended up getting was an album with two to three good songs and the rest was pure filler. However, we still needed to buy the expensive LP, just to listen to three songs. With the rise of the CD, this only got worse and more expensive.

When the CD first came out it was way more expensive than LP’s. The Recording Industry said that the higher prices would be temporary, due to set up costs and so forth. Guess what, the prices never went down and CD’s got pumped out in the millions. That is why the album format became unpopular to fans and very popular to record label executives.

So then the Internet comes along and changes the rules of the games. While the recording industry kept on sticking with the CD format, the fans of music showed them that they wanted innovation. When Napster exploded, the record labels failed to notice the following;

– Fans didn’t like the high CD prices

– Fans wanted back catalogue items that the record labels didn’t want to release. That is why obscure bands or bands available only on Import started to get some traction.

– Fans wanted portability

– Fans wanted convenience

– Fans wanted all of the above to be available 24/7 to them

– Fans wanted to pick and choose

The fan dynamic is changed forever by Napster. Fans used to look forward to the new releases of their favourite artists. After spending money on that new release, I played it to death because I paid for it. Somehow in the back of my mind, I needed to convince myself that I made a good decision, especially when someone else would say to me, “why would you waste your money on that, it was a crap album.”

So there I am, along with a million of other fans, playing the album over and over and over again, looking for a track or two to hook me in. When I heard Dr Feelgood from the outset, I only liked the song, Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away). With each listen, I started to appreciate other tracks. However, to this day, I still don’t like Sticky Sweet, Rattlesnake Shake, She Goes Down, Same Ol Situation and Without You.

The Crue comes to town and I needed to go. It wasn’t cheap, however I knew that they wouldn’t play certain tracks from the album ever again. Well to my surprise, the same songs that Motley Crue played in 1990, they played again in 2005 and in 2013. The Dr Feelgood tour was like a greatest hits tour, with most of the songs made up from Shout At The Devil, Too Fast For Love and Girls, Girls, Girls.

So where am I going with this?

In 2013, an album comes out. The cost of hearing it is ZERO. Spotify has it, within a day or two, YouTube will have a complete version of it. Instead of listening to each take from start to finish, I skim through. It sort of goes like this, hear the first 30 seconds. If I am hooked I normally end up listening to the whole song. If I am not hooked I move the song cursor into about 2 minutes of the song and listen for another 10 seconds. If still nothing, I move on to the next track.

This even occurs with my favourite acts. I played A Dramatic Turn Of Events from Dream Theater for about a week in 2011 and then moved on. I haven’t returned to the full album and I never will. I know that I like bits in certain songs. Breaking All Illusions has got some wicked sections and so those Outcry. On The Backs of Angels is not bad either, but not great. On the other hand, Unto The Locust from Machine Head, gets a re-spin every three to four weeks. It’s seven songs that really stand up on their own and as part of an album.

With so much music out there to digest and play, we seem to ignore our favourite acts in search of another great act to become our favourite. So to bring the story full circle, when I used to purchase albums, money was the factor as to what I decided to purchase and listen too. Fast forward to 2013, time is the factor as to what I decide to listen too.

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