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

The Week In Destroyer Of Harmony History – October 17 to October 23

4 Years Ago (2017)

METAL T-SHIRTS

My then five year old had to draw his family in kindy class. In the drawing he had me drawn with a black T-shirt and black shorts.

When they say “Take the Black” in “Game of Thrones”, a metal/rock head says, “pffft, we’ve already done that”.

All though I’ve morphed to plain black tees as I have gotten older, I still break out the metal and rock t-shirts now and then.

When I first got together with my wife, I had a Posion T-Shirt with the sleeves cut off and she had dance music playing in the car.

I asked her if she had anything else.

The answer was no.

I asked her if she would be okay if I introduced some new music in the car.

She said okay.

The next day, I had the rock and metal mix tapes ready for indoctrination.

At first it was the more commercial sounding rock and metal.

Secretly the dance tapes ended up in a draw in my room. It was many years later that she asked what happened to those tapes.

\::/

ALBUMS

I started this post with “Just put out the damn album”.

When we laid out cash for the 10 to 15 albums we used to buy a year, we had time to digest and live with the music for a long time so we were okay with the lead up.

But.

The 8 week lead up to the release is too much these days especially when the LP run could be over in a month after it’s released.

That’s right.

That’s how fast new albums disappear from the conversation in the current environment.

The first week sales that might look great on paper are irrelevant.

Check the second week streaming numbers. Then the third, then the fourth and so on. Those numbers will show you if the fans care for the music or if only the press (that the marketing team has paid to promote your product) cares.

And people will complain about streaming revenue and how it doesn’t pay enough. Control your rights, have a song that people connect with and you will be paid well and forever.

If investment firms are cashing in, it’s because streaming pays. But it pays the organization who controls the rights.

YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music and all the rest will pay forever.

Isn’t that better than the one off transaction between the record store and the fan?

That fan could have purchased the album, taken it home, played it once and traded it.

Maybe that fan played the album a million times. But the artist wouldn’t know that behaviour. 

Data tells us what’s hot and what’s not. And like it or not, it’s always been about the hits. To me a hit isn’t the song that takes the number 1 slot on a chart.

“Fear Of The Dark” or “Hallowed Be Thy Name” or “Creeping Death” or “Fade To Black” or “Master Of Puppets” didn’t set the charts alight but the fans made those songs hit’s. Convert staples.

We don’t live in 1989, where mediocre stuff on the radio gets some traction because of the marketing/hype dollars invested into the promotion. We live in the era of connectivity and virality and hits and streaming that pays forever.

But artists need to release a continuous stream of product to win.

TRIBUTE

It’s my bible.

I played the cassette tape to death trying to learn every riff and lick. And when I couldn’t pick it all up, I shelled out $50 on Wolf Marshal’s transcription of the “Tribute” album and I spent a lot of hours woodshedding to it.

Even though Ozzy re-cut his vocals for the release there is no denying Randy Rhoads and his love for his instrument. The way he re-imagines his multi-layered guitar riffs from the studio versions and turns it all into one definitive guitar cut is brilliant. For any guitarist, new or old, this is it. It gets no better than this.

“Mr Crowley” was the first song I got stuck into. It has two shred leads and the way Randy combined those guitar lines into one definitive track for the “was he polemically” section is brilliant. And the outro lead is just one of those songs within a song lead breaks.

“Revelation (Mother Earth)” has a finger picked part at the start which is breathtaking, the interlude is subdued and relaxing but that outro is breathless. And the live tempo is much better than the studio tempo. 

“Children Of The Grave” was the next song I tried to learn after “Mr Crowley”. I love the way Randy plays the C#m riff on the 4th fret on the 5th string. That’s how I learned this song. It wasn’t until many years later I heard the Sabbath version and Iommi is down tuned to C#.

I must say, I love the tempo of this live version.

And that outro improv lead is brilliant especially when Randy starts to reference Ace ala “Love Gun”.

When I think of “Children Of The Grave”, I think of this.

“Goodbye To Romance” is the piece d’resistance in guitar playing. The jazz like chords in the verses, the arpeggio chorus riff and that guitar solo.

These day’s guitarists can do unbelievable and very advanced things on the guitar but do they have the song sense of Randy Rhoads.

JACK BLACK

My kids back then had been watching “School Of Rock” and “The Pick Of Destiny” on and off, so i did a \::/ salute to Jack Black for spreading his love of rock and heavy metal to the masses.

Because the movies capture what rock and roll is all about;

  • going against the grain, 
  • breaking rules set by the institutions/parents and having fun along the way. 

Let’s make sure it will never be forgotten. 

MY NINTH POST ON THE YEAR THAT WAS 1983

“Back To Mystery City” by Hanoi Rocks was covered. It’s unfortunate that most people know of Hanoi Rocks because of drummer Nicholas “Razzle” Dingley’s death due to being drunkenly driven by Mötley Crüe’s Vince Neil.

All death is tragic. And I remember reading an interview (I think it was in Faces) that if Razzle’s didn’t join in 1982, the band probably would have broken up. And then his death in 1985 ended the band.

“Speaking in Tongues” by Talking Heads is mentioned. “Burning Down the House” sold the album. It was everywhere. One of my hard rock bands in the 90’s even covered the song in a rock context.

“Streets” was the creative musical outlet for Steve Walsh in between his departure from Kansas.

The debut LP was released in 1983 on Atlantic Records. The deal was negotiatied with one manager and destroyed by their next manager after he argued with the President of Atlantic Records, Doug Morris.

So Atlantic just released the albums with no promo and if they stuck, good. But they didn’t stick. And they never released the albums on CD while they controlled the rights.

Steve Walsh even got a lawyer to get the albums back from Atlantic and Rock Candy re-released the Streets albums recently.

So before people beat up streaming, they need to understand how it was back then and the monopoly the labels had to kill or break a career.

The Eric Martin Band released a great melodic rock album called “Sucker for a Pretty Face”.

And I still don’t understand how “Burning” from Shooting Star wasn’t a big hit.

Maybe because they were on Virgin Records, a label known for new wave and running low on funds, so when a rock album landed in their laps they had no idea how to promote.

But the truth is that the bands first managers were stealing from em, so the band fired em.

And because these managers used to work as record promotion guys, they blacklisted the band to the radio stations.

Meatloaf released “Midnight At The Lost and Found” but it was lost as “Bat Out Of Hell” was still selling like it was a new release.

And Aldo Nova was trying to capture the highs of “Fantasy” with “Subject”.

8 Years Ago (2013)

STREAMING

The public has voted. It prefers streaming.

You would think the war is over. But it’s not.

Spotify pays millions to the copyright holders.

Now unless the artist is a DIY artist who controls their own copyright, or Metallica or Motley Crue who own their masters, most of the copyright holders are the major labels. So the labels are raking it in.

There is also a term doing the round, called “Black Box Revenue.” This is the name given to income that the record labels collect that cannot be directly tracked to the recordings of a specific artist.

To put it all into context, streaming services pay the labels an upfront fee to access their catalogues. In addition, the services then pay the labels royalties for each stream.

Yep the labels get paid twice because they “own” the masters that artists created.

Musicians always had to work hard to get somewhere, that part hasn’t changed and it will never change while others fly private on the backs of the hard work of artists.

THE LIES OF THE LABELS

During the recorded music industries heyday, there was this widespread idea, sort of like an unwritten law, that we (the fans of music) could purchase music and own it, the same way we purchased and owned the toaster and any other commodity.

Of course when it comes to music, its never that simple.

What the music fans actually purchased was a non-transferable license to listen to the music under very specific and strict conditions. If you don’t believe me read the fine print.

We basically had the right to enjoy the music in private, over and over again.

METALLICA

I had been re-reading a lot of the magazines I accumulated during the Eighties and the Nineties and I finished reading a story about Metallica from the Australian magazine “Hot Metal”.

It was the June 1992 issue.

And in the interview James Hetfield was talking about the stage design and how they would have an area in the middle of the stage set aside for taping. The fans would have to buy a special ticket for the tape section area and Hetfield saw it as a cool thing to flood the market with bootlegs.

Metallica in 1992, wanted to flood the market with bootlegs. Metallica in 2013 had the following disclaimer on their Live Metallica website “Terms of Use”; Any violation of copyright laws may result in severe civil and criminal penalties. Violators will be prosecuted to the maximum extent possible.

KIRK HAMMETT

Kirk Hammett said that there hasn’t been any great bands “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.”

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 and PLATINUM 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.

Shinedown are doing super numbers in relation to sales, YouTube views and Spotify streams. They have certifications to prove it as well.

Will we have the superstars of the Eighties and Nineties again?

Of course not, but we don’t live in a monoculture anymore.

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.

STREAMING vs OWNERSHIP

If I pay $120 for a Spotify Premium account, it means that i can listen to millions of songs.

If I buy $120 worth of songs from iTunes in Australia, I can only listen to 70 songs.

If I pay $120 for CD’s, I can pick up 5 albums with a potential of 50 to 60 songs.

BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE

I’m a fan.

The music that BFMV creates is very reminiscent to the hard rock / heavy metal music created between 1981 and 1986, before Bon Jovi released “Slippery When Wet” and the majority of bands started chasing the pop metal / pop rock “pot of gold”. It is basically the same music that I grew up on.

Metallica – CHECK
Iron Maiden – CHECK
AC/DC – CHECK
Slayer – CHECK
Megadeth – CHECK
Judas Priest – CHECK

Modern influences like Machine Head, Pantera and Metallica “Black” album period are also found in the songs. It’s probably why I connected with the band.

And that’s another wrap for another week.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

The Week In Destroyer Of Harmony History – July 19 to July 25

4 Years Ago (2017)

All death is tragic.

David Z, Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington passed away. Ivan Moody was in a dark place at the time.

So many people make money from artists, and some make way more than the artists. The vicious cycles that artists are on from labels and management is borderline negligence.

The show must go on but there is no show when there is no artist.

The Jungle Giants is a band that plays a form of pop rock with dance/techno elements. I’m not a huge fan but in 2017 they were an unsigned artists that racked up over 50 million streams on Spotify. Those stats are impressive and a lot more than artists who actually have label deals.

It’s hard work controlling your own destiny. But you have the freedom to decide what path to take.

And Album number 4 just came out.

When is inspiration/influence just that and when is inspiration/influence copying? 

It is possible to borrow without “stealing”. When ideas appear in ones mind, quite often they are unconsciously inspired by a piece of music the artist has heard.

And it’s perfectly okay and very common to take an existing idea and turn it into something new. 

According to manager Barry McKay, Steve Harris stole an idea. I don’t know how you can steal an idea, but hey it happens.

Legal streaming music at the time was hurting.

Streaming companies need to license music from the legacy players for a substantial fee and then pay royalties to these organizations when the songs are listened/viewed.

And these organizations like the labels and publishers keep the bulk of these payments and pay cents to the artists they represent. 

Then they remain silent when Spotify gets sued for having music on their service.

But.

It was these organizations that approved Spotify to license their catalogues.

And I compared music streaming to Netflix who at that time had no problem growing its subscriber base and making profits, however it produces its own content, which earned it over 90 Emmy nominations.

And it’s monthly fees are identical to music subscription services, even though it costs a lot more to create a TV show or a movie than a song/album.

So how is Netflix profiting and Spotify losing?

8 Years Ago (2013)

I was trying to figure out what the hell was going on in Australia.

Corporations and Unions run this country. The Courts have been compromised by money. The mainstream media is all about half-truths and likes. No one reports with any substance or an opinion anymore as they had served whoever paid them the most.

Game Of Thrones was the most pirated show in the world, with Australia leading the way.

Why?

Unless we pay $300 plus for a PAY TV subscription, we couldn’t watch it.

Nine years later nothing much has changed. We’re still a mess. We can’t get our population vaccinated and we have a leader who just looks for the photo opportunity and has best friends who run QANON sites.

I’m an Amazon Prime Video subscriber and due to a deal they have with another PAY TV provider in this country, I couldn’t watch Bosch S7 on Amazon.

So I downloaded it.

Imagine that. I’m a paying legal subscriber and I couldn’t watch a show that the service created on their platform.

Why did guitarists like Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson, Alex Skolnick, John Petrucci and Paul Gilbert rise above all the other shredders of the era that came on the scene between 1984 and 1994?

Guitarists like Tony MacAlpine, Greg Howe and Vinnie Moore are all great guitarists, however they are still relatively unknowns outside of their guitar instrumental niche market.

Someone like Vinnie Moore played with Alice Cooper and is holding down the fort with UFO. He’s been there since 2003, 18 years. Michael Schenker only did 11, his first stint between 1973 and 78 was only 5 years.

But a lot of people still don’t Moore.

Jon Bon Jovi seemed to be pissing off his fans.

Perseverance is a massive skill. Especially when it comes to life as a musician in an internet era with information overload each day.

And success happens when you contemplate giving up.

Dream Theater almost called it a day, between 1988 and 1991, when months rolled by and no suitable singer appeared.

Quiet Riot during the Randy Rhoads years, couldn’t get a U.S deal. After Randy left to join Ozzy, Kevin Dubrow persevered under his own surname, only to resurrect the Quiet Riot brand after the death of Randy Rhoads and turn it into a Number 1 act.

George Lynch auditioned for Ozzy’s band on two occasions, losing out to Randy Rhoads once and then to Jake E. Lee. One of his earlier bands “The Boyz” had a showcase gig organised for Gene Simmons to attend. Van Halen opened the show and the rest is history. Gene even said to Lynch, to consider changing his name as he will never make it.

Ronnie James Dio spent 18 years paying his dues before finding success with Rainbow in 1976.

How many musicians starting out today, would put in 18 years of service to music?

Don’t chase trends because what is here today will be gone tomorrow.

The Record Labels aren’t worth much if they don’t have acts. And Artists really don’t need a label deal anymore.

Of course it’s more difficult going your own way, however that is the future. If you are successful you will get label interest and a deal that suits you, because without an artist, there is no profit from music for the labels.

But.

The major labels want radio hits so they find artists that are easy to sell and easily expendable.

The Heat” with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy was one of the funniest movies I had seen that year.

I provided my thoughts on the Metallica “Death Magnetic” DVD which included footage on the making of the album. It came with the Coffin Edition of the album.

James Hetfield still rules. As much as the documentary tried to paint Lars as this hands on kind of guy, if James didn’t agree or say yes, the musical idea wouldn’t be part of the song. Bob Rock once said that the problem with “St Anger” was that the main songwriter wasn’t there mentally. You can see that he is back for “Death Magnetic”.

And they went on a two year victory lap touring behind the album. They released DVD’s from shows, for the French and Latin America markets. They released live EP’s for certain markets. In Australia we got the “Six Feet Down Under” EP’s part 1 and 2.

When that died down, they orchestrated the “Big 4” shows and the “Orion” festival. They played the summer festivals around the world.

Then they celebrated their 30 years anniversary with a week of shows in San Francisco. When that died down they released the “Beyond Magnetic” EP, which had 4 songs that didn’t make the final cut. Then they released “Quebec Magnetic” and at that point in time they were doing the “Through The Never”movie.

So did anyone remember the debacle of “Lulu”?

It was old news, history. It’s like it never existed.

What a difference two years make?

“The House of Gold and Bones” by Stone Sour was becoming a favorite so I posted my review here and a review of a song “The Uncanny Valley” here.

At the time I was reading about how artists deserve to be paid for their creations because they put their blood, sweat and tears into those works.

Once upon a time, artists created music and that Record Labels looked to profit from this relationship with the artists. It didn’t always happen as making money in any occupation is a tough business.

And that’s another wrap for another week.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

The Pirate Vault #11

The Mix Tape

I did this mix tape as an album of songs I like from different artists, as I wanted to get the feel of those songs into my song writing.

Kiss – I’ve Had Enough (Into The Fire)

It’s a perfect album opener with a fast palm muted and aggressive riff. It’s a Paul Stanley and Desmond Child composition, appearing on the “Animalize” album released in 1984.

Y&T – Temptation

For track 2, it was always the most accessible tune, so here is a pop rock tune, with big harmonies.

Y&T worked hard on A&M Records and built a career. Then the big labels came calling and Geffen Records got the signature for a lot of money. And Y&T also got a label rep, who told them what songs should be worked on and what songs shouldn’t.

This one is written by Al Pitrelli and Bruno Ravel during the early Danger Danger days, with Phil Kennemore adding some lyrics and it appeared on their 1987 album “Contagious”, which Geffen earmarked to sell a lot to cover the costs of the Whitesnake 87 album.

Kansas – One Man, One Heart

The Kansas tracks on this mix tape are from the Steve Morse era of Kansas between 1986 and 1988. Steve Morse was involved in the “Power” album released in 1986 and “In The Spirit Of Things” released in 1988.

These two tracks are from the “In The Spirit Of Things” album and even though I’m a Steve Morse fan, he wasn’t involved in writing em.

This one is written by Mark Spiro and Dan Huff (the same Dan Huff from Giant) and what you get is a melodic rock song, worthy of a place on the imaginary album.

Kansas – Stand Beside Me

This one is written by Mark Jordan and Bruce Gaitsch and it’s like the ballad track.

Hericane Alice – I Walk Alone

This band was good and this track is a stompy 12/8 bluesy romp, perfect to close off Side 1 of the imaginary album.

Kiss – Love Gun

You open up Side 2 with another aggressive album opener. Can’t go wrong with a Kiss cut.

Sammy Hagar – Remember The Heroes

This is a very underrated song from the mighty Sammy Hagar. It appeared on the “Three Lock Box” album, released in 1982 and Jonathan Cain (who was having an unbelievable run of high profile songs with Journey and other artists) is a co-writer with Sammy Hagar.

Kansas – Silhouettes In Disguise

It’s from the “Power” album released in 86. This track is written by Steve Morse and Steve Walsh. And it’s the fast past riff that hooks me.

Kansas – Three Pretenders

This cut is also from the “Power” album. This track is written by Billy Greer, Steve Morse and Steve Walsh. The way the guitar and synth chords work in the intro hooks me in and the vocal line from Steve Walsh is perfect.

Bad English – Possession

And it closes with a melodic rock AOR song.

Side B

And here is another take of an imaginary album.

Blue Murder – We All Fall Down

Another fast and aggressive opener to kick off the album about Louie who lost his daughter behind the tracks, as the sweet brown sugar took her.

John Sykes pulled out his Phil Lynott experiences vocally and lyrically.

David Coverdale – The Last Note Of Freedom

Hans Zimmer wrote the music and Billy Idol wrote the lyrics. I’ve read that David Coverdale has been credited as well, but I am pretty sure he wasn’t credited on the original Days Of Thunder soundtrack.

It’s a melodic rock gem, bordering between, pop and rock.

George Lynch – We Don’t Own This World

The Nelson twins sing on this track, and man, they deliver.

It’s actually written by Pilson and Lynch, so it’s definitely got their Dokken vibe, but the Nelson twins are the difference. It’s a melodic rock hit with an intro riff that reminds me of “Women From Tokyo” from Deep Purple.

Dream Theater – Lifting Shadows Of A Dream

Its Dream Theater bringing their U2 and Marillion influences to their form of progressive hard rock, and it works so good to close Side 1.

Vince Neil – The Edge

The side 2 opener is fast, a bit progressive in its structure as it moves between Spanish/Flamenco guitar riffs to metal Uli Jon Roth style of riffs. Steve Stevens played some of this best riffs with Vince Neil.

Stryper – Calling For You

After an aggressive opener, you always need a little melody. And Stryper is at their melodic best on this song.

Tesla – Cry

From the excellent “Bust A Nut” album released in 1994.

And for those who said that grunge killed hard rock artists, well it didn’t kill Tesla.

In a volatile market, made hostile by the record labels who dumped hard rock bands and then had their puppets in the press lambast the style, Tesla, stood tall and worked hard touring on this album and even got a certification in the process.

And then the labels tried to kill em off.

Megadeth – Tornado Of Souls

This is a fast rocker and the solo from Friedman is a “wow” moment.

Aerosmith – Living On The Edge

The simple riff in D, that just keeps repeating is addictive and the vocal melody from Tyler captures you.

Meatloaf – Bat Out Of Hell II – Back Into Hell

The longest song titles in the world brought the mighty Loaf back into our lives.

And even though he released 4 or 5 albums after “Bat Out Of Hell”, all of those albums ceased to exist and it was like his career was “Bat Out Of Hell” 1 and 2.

The Jimi Hendrix Story / Def Leppard – Pyromania

A friend of mine had a Jimi Hendrix compilation and I recorded it over a few different tapes. I can’t even remember what was on this side before I taped Hendrix over it.

And of course, “Pyromania” on side 2, a perfect Walkman companion. This Def Lep album is the perfect bridge between the 70’s British Rock and Glam artists merged with the NWOBHM and the LA Sunset Strip.

I also added “King Of Fools” from Twisted Sister, “Sleepin In The Fire” from WASP and “Love Gun” from Kiss to the end of it. I think you get the drift that I really liked “Love Gun”.

I even wrote a song called “Love Gin” and “Cold Gun”. I know, merging two Kiss song titles is pretty desperate.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

The Record Vault – Black Veil Brides

Let’s talk about Jinxx and Jake Pitts.

Jinxx and Jake Pitts, are the guitarists in Black Veil Brides (from here on, known as BVB). Jinxx plays rhythm guitars and violins and Jake Pitts is the lead guitarist.

Jinxx (real name is Jeremy Ferguson) is also classically trained, but the first album, he ever owned was “And Justice For All” from Metallica. Great mix in my book. His influences are of course, Randy Rhoads, Metalica and the various classical composers that inspired Malmsteen.

Meanwhile Jake Pitts learnt music and harmony theory from his mum, who is also an accomplished classical pianist in her own right. And of course, his influences are people like Randy Rhoads, Paul Gilbert, EVH, Dimebag Darrel, the Schenker brothers, the various Dio guitarists and of course Metallica.

And these two dudes are very big reasons why I am a BVB fan. Plus Bob Rock produced their self-titled fourth album and what an album it is.

But let’s start at the beginning.

Courtesy of The Pirate Bay, I downloaded their first two albums. I liked em and I purchased them from Amazon U.S as it was cheaper to purchase from the U.S and pay for delivery than to buy them here in Australia. It’s insane how physical products are priced in Australia.

Even the Guitar World magazines. A subscription from the U.S would get me 12 issues for $70 Australian. That comes to $5.83 an issue. To buy that same issue from the newsstands, the cost was $15 an issue.

Anyway, back to BVB.

We Stich These Wounds

Released in 2010, it starts off with a scratchy vinyl record playing and a small talking piece called “The Outcasts (Call To Arms)”. And then the riff for the title track, “We Stich These Wounds” kicks off and I was hooked.

The guitar playing in BVB is exactly what I like. And the “outcasts” theme is what BVB would build their songs around. Metal and hard rock bands from the 80’s had these themes as well.

Vocalist Andy Biersack is not as confident on this album as he is on the albums which followed, but heavy metal music was never about perfect pitch. It’s about the rawness, the attitude, the melody and the aggression. Of course when bands got bigger, they actually got better as well.

Then again, for all of the vocal lessons that someone like James Hetflied had for the “Black” album because Bob Rock requested it, I still prefer his chainsaw like vocals from the first four albums.

In “Beautiful Remains” the guitar solo is a shred-a-licious.

“Children Surrender” has a fast paced intro, with an excellent melodic lead and a chorus with harmony guitars and lots of wohhhs. There is screaming in the pre-chorus which I’m not a fan off, but the music is enough to get me going. And before I forget, the drumming is metronomic precision by Christian “CC” Coma.

“Perfect Weapon” and “Knives And Pens” have the best riffs on the album. On the Reddit forum’s it’s been mentioned that “Knives And Pens” is a rip off from an Avenged Sevenfold song. To me, the riff is from the NWOBHM, one of those derivative riffs that just can’t be copyrighted, so if people are looking for a well-known song, “Electric Eye” from Judas Priest comes to mind.

And the Chorus in both songs is worthy of attention.

The creepy title of “The Morticians Daughter” disguises an acoustic song which borders on the Lynyrd Skynyrd Southern Ballad Rock.

And the best solo on the album is on the song, “All Your Hate”. Listen to it and put the guitar back in the box. It reminds me of the solo in “Afterlife” by Synester Gates in A7X.

And all of the classical influences from Jinxx and Jake Pitts comes out in “Heaven’s Calling”. Crank it and enjoy it. It’s a song that deserves more attention. “Never Give In” also breaks out the classical references with a digital delay melodic riff. “Carolyn” is written by Jake Pitts dealing with his mother’s illness. Listen to it as it has so much beautiful guitar moments.

Basically, the debut has enough musical moments to get me interested. On to album number two.

Set The Word On Fire

Released in 2011.

The album kicks off with a monster in “New Religion”, full of double time riffage. It’s all an album without any song writing credits from Jinxx, however the two producers Josh Abraham and Lucien Walker get a few credits here and there, and Marti Frederiksen, who is well known for his song writing contributions to Aerosmith, Motley Crue, Bon Jovi and other artists of the hard rock genre.

It moves into “Set The World On Fire” with more excellent riffage and you know that by track 2, Andy Biersack has found his Mr Sparrow swagger. “Fallen Angels” is track 3 and it’s a three punch combo knockout. It also has 28.4 million streams on Spotify.

“Rebel Love Song” keeps the up-tempo vibe of the album going with more riffage and killer leads. Plus Choruses that are memorable. “The Legacy” is a thrash song crossed with a pop song chorus.

“Die For You” is probably my favourite. It’s the Chorus which seals the deal. Its written by Biersack, Pitts, bassist Ashely Purdy and Frederiksen. No surprise there that the co-writing credit Frederiksen has, delivers my favourite song on the album.

After the album was finished and recorded, the guys put Def Leppard’s “Hysteria” on and starting mixing the album with the “Hysteria” vibe. They are ticking all of the boxes in my book so far of paying homage to their roots or to the best-selling hard rock albums.

The Wretched and Divine

The concept album with the “Mad Max” and “Shout At The Devil” look was released in 2012. They even had a movie made that told the story of the “The Wretched And The Divine” uprising against F.E.A.R, the overlords who protect and watch over the citizens in this dystopian Mad Max wasteland.

“I Am Bulletproof” is a perfect opener and “Wretched and Divine” is a metal track, the way I know metal. It’s guitar heavy and I like it. The guitar solo is a guitar hero spotlight full of melody, and brought to life by fast alternative picking, sweep picking, bends and legato lines.

“We Don’t Belong” is the best Bon Jovi chorus that Jon Bon Jovi didn’t write, with its woohs and ohs. “Devils Choir” has another guitar hero spotlight solo while “Resurrect The Sun” moves between being a ballad and a rocker.

“Overture” is a violin instrumental and it showcases the impressive violin skills of guitarist Jinxx. He layers those violins and creates a symphony. “Shadows Die” is up next, with its very sounding Avenged Sevenfold arrangement. “Days Are Numbered” has got this up-tempo “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) inspired riff, which connects and gets me interested.

“Done For You” is just a laid back ballad and man, it reminds me of Coheed and Cambria. And the Chorus has a repeating line of “it’s all done for you” and the ohhh backing vocals. Its haunting and hopeful. The yin and the yang.

“Lost It All” has this piano intro which immediately connects. And Biersack sings with a bass-baritone voice, which is perfect for the melancholy that the first part of the song brings out. Then the band comes in, and man, this is a good song. That’s it. It’s a good song. The way Jinxx and Jake Pitts decorate the verses with their palm muted arpeggios and Jinxx is also wailing away on his violin. And then the violin takes centre stage from about the 3 minute mark, with female gospel like vocals.

Then the big one starts, “In The End” with 84.6 million streams on Spotify and counting. Plus it has a Gold certification from the RIAA, for over 500,000 sales in the U.S.

Black Veil Brides

The self-titled album came out in 2014.

Bob Rock is producing and man, this dude takes it to another level in the sonics and the sound. It’s perfect. If you are a fan of the 80’s music or grew up during the 80’s and want an introduction to Black Veil Brides, then let this album be it. I swear it’s like a different band, that’s how good Bob Rock is in capturing everything.

“Heart Of Fire” is the opening track and it plummets your brain with the sonics, the heaviness and its super catchy chorus. And on this album, there are a lot of outside songwriters. For example, this song is written by Andy Biersack, Jake Pitts and Jinxx, along with Justin Cordle and Mark Holman. Don’t know who these dudes are or their background, but who cares, as the song is doing the talking.

“Faithless” is a thrash metal piece in the intro. Listen to it. Metallica hasn’t written anything this heavy and this good in the 2000’s. The first 40 seconds is a circle mosh pit. This song has a song writing committee of Biersack, Pitts and Christian Coma from the band, along with Tommy English and Nick Long. Again, no idea who these extra song writing dudes are from.

From about 2.50 there is this military style snare beat, which sort of sets up the song for the interlude and solo section. Again, it’s a thrash metal mosh. Did I mention the guitar solo is another entry into the guitar hero spotlight?

“Devil In The Mirror” again brings out the heaviness. This one is written by Biersack, Pitts and Jinxx from the band, along with Tommy English and Josh Moran as the outside writers.

“Goodbye Agony” is my favourite. That clean tone intro riff reminds me of “Tears Of A Dragon” from Bruce Springsteen merged with “Nobody’s Fool” from Cinderella. It’s a good song.

“World Of Sacrifice” has this bridge section from about 2.20 which gets my head nodding and there is no guitar solo spotlight on this one. Because it didn’t need one, the riffage and all the guitar melodies over it was enough.

“Last Rites” is a head banging hard rock song.

“Walk Away” is written by Biersack, Pitts and Jinxx from the band, along with Marti Frederiksen and Mark Holman. It’s a ballad, but it’s not clichéd or boring or all mushie. Just listen to the last two minutes of this song. You will know what I mean.

“Drag Me To The Grave” has another head banging and foot stomping riff along with an arena rock chorus. “The Shattered God” has another bone crunching riff in the intro. And the album closers with “Crown Of Thorns” another rocker.

After this album, Andy Biersack released two solo albums which lived in the pop and acoustic domain, under the name of Andy Black.

Then “Vale” came out from Black Veil Brides in 2018, a prequel to “The Wretched And Divine” album. And a two song single called “The Night” came out towards the end of 2019. But the band became a bit different, with bassist, Ashley Purdy leaving in 2019, replaced by Lonny Eagleton.

I’m interested to hear what’s next.

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

Piracy

The debates and arguments never cease. There is no doubt that piracy has grown the fan base of established acts but it hasn’t brought the recorded income with it. For newer artists, look no further than Ed Sheeran, who used peer to peer services to spread his music. Without it, he wouldn’t be the megastar he is.

Researchers also try to quantify how ticket sales equate to people who pirated music. And there is a lot of research out there supporting it. Metallica post Napster started to play stadiums on their own. They rarely did that previously. On top of that, Metallica tested the waters on ticket prices.

Read this interview about how they seized the moment.

I know I became a fan of a lot of bands because of pirated material. Bands like Trivium, Coheed and Cambria, Shinedown, In Flames, Evergrey, Killswitch Engage, The Night Flight Orchestra and Corroded just to name a few. And I had no qualms paying ticket prices if these bands came to town.

High profile bands from the Eighties also had a renaissance in the 2000’s because of pirated material. Motley Crue, Metallica, Guns N Roses, Iron Maiden, Twisted Sister, Megadeth, Judas Priest, Europe and Whitesnake come to mind immediately.

In the same way MTV gave the Seventies bands another chance in the Eighties, piracy gave all the Eighties acts who had some traction another chance in the Two Thousands. Provided they still wanted to work together. Bands like Skid Row, Ratt, Warrant and Dokken unfortunately missed out because key members hated each other.

It’s a pretty simple business model.

Have your music available worldwide for free and people will access it.

All of those bands mentioned above have played cities they’ve never played before and to crowds larger than before. They played these cities without selling any real recorded product in those cities.

But the Copyright holders still complain.

Seriously, is stream ripping really an issue these days. Think about the work/time involved to rip a stream. The people who are doing all of that are not interested to pay for recorded music. Those people will pay via other methods.

I can tell you that in Eastern Europe, I have not come across a legitimate music shop. The few shops I have come across (and I use that term loosely) sell rips of albums. So how do you think the people in Eastern Europe will access music.

In most cases, they will download a copy of the album. But that hasn’t stopped bands from hitting Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Hungary and Russia on tours. And streaming services are fragmented. Spotify is not available in Serbia, Romania and Russia. Apple Music is available in Russia, but not in Serbia and Romania.

And YouTube is always to blame when it comes to stream ripping, but all the service did was to provide a gap that existed in the market, which Napster highlighted and the labels tried to kill.

Seriously if stream ripping us an issue, then video ripping of video clips in the 80s would also have been an issue.

Who knew that my video ripping ways would end up being a $2000 a year music habit.

It happens. People start to invest when they are ready or have the means to. And again if there is no artist to fan relationship, all of these issues the labels find are pointless.

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Unsung Heroes

Def Leppard And The Digital World

There is a Def Leppard story that did the rounds at the start of August. Almost four weeks later, it’s forgotten. That’s how fast people move on. If you are an artist and you spend 12 plus months on an album, just be mindful that it could be forgotten within a month, especially if it’s not part of a cultural movement or crossed over into the mainstream.

Anyway, back to the Def Leppard article.

No one can forget how big Def Leppard was from 1983 to 1994. Huge. Even their sound was huge with multi-layered vocals and instrumentation.

Like all the 80’s heroes, they had a bit of a back lash in the 90’s and maybe alienated some of their fan base with their 90’s sounding “Slang” album. But like all great bands from the 80’s they had a renaissance. I wrote a while back about how I believe piracy made Twisted Sister relevant again from 2000 and onwards and that viewpoint is still held for Def Leppard.

It’s actually even more relevant for Def Leppard, because the band refuses to have their 80’s output on digital services due to a payment dispute with the record label. The label (Universal) wants to pay the band a royalty based on a sale, whereas the band wants the licensing royalty payment which is much higher. The band even found it easier to create their own forgeries (re-recording some of their classics) easier than dealing with the record label.

This leads to an interesting position.

If you cannot purchase the Def Leppard 80’s output legally or stream it legally (apart from the few forgeries the band did themselves and the live releases), what should people do?

Well in this case, they obtain the music illegally (provided they haven’t purchased a legal physical copy)?

In other posts, I have mentioned how bands survive by replenishing their fan base with younger fans. It’s the reason why bands like Ratt and Dokken haven’t really gone well in the 2000’s compared to Crue, Leppard and Jovi. Well, it turns out that Def Leppard is doing a pretty fantastic job at doing just that.

“In recent years, we’ve been really fortunate that we’ve seen this new surge in our popularity. For the most part, that’s fuelled by younger people coming to the shows. We’ve been seeing it for the last 10, 12 or 15 years, you’d notice younger kids in the audience, but especially in the last couple of years, it’s grown exponentially. I really do believe that this is the upside of music piracy.”
Vivian Campbell

While the band is on the road, it works and their popularity is as big (maybe even bigger) as their 80’s popularity. The band is also a heavy user of YouTube, even though the site is the punching bag for the RIAA and the record labels. As YouTube recently said, they pay $3 per 1000 streams in the U.S. If it’s true or not, we will never know until we see proper financials from both YouTube and the labels. But if it is true, Def Leppard would be getting that cut themselves, and I haven’t heard of them taking YouTube to task over their payments. Even Metallica who controls their own copyrights don’t take YouTube to task. Both bands are heavy users of the platform, constantly putting up new content. But if you believe the RIAA and the record labels, YouTube is evil and due to its high volume of users, the payments are not enough.

But in Def Leppard’s case, you could say that YouTube is seen as a more likely driver of new fans than pirate torrent sites. Because all the research shows that YouTube has a user base made up of young people. They are also fostering a true connection with fans again which for a lot of artists who made it in the 80’s is a frightening prospect.

This model will not work for every band. In this case, each creator needs to look at the problem and find a solution that works for them. Eventually Def Leppard’s music will come to streaming services as the band will not be able to tour. But it will be on their terms and their terms only. Like AC/DC and Metallica. They signed their own streaming deal themselves and it’s got nothing to do with the record label.

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Copyright, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity

Graham Burke – A Puppet To The MPAA

In Australia, Channel 10 (one of our free to air channels) is bleeding money and it needs an investor to pay off its debt, otherwise it will cease to operate.

The first problem with channel 10 is that it doesn’t have a large sporting code on its books like Channel 9 and 7.

The second problem is it shows its news at 5pm. Seriously who is home by 5pm to watch. Most people are still at work and don’t get home by 6pm at the earliest. And if some people do finish earlier and they have kids, there is a very high chance they are with their kids at some sport and get home after 6pm. Even singles and couples will be doing something at 5pm.

The third problem is the majority of people don’t really care about its hit show “The Project” but the station believes people do as it’s got no idea how to really track its reach. Data is king these days and Channel 10 has none of its own.

The fourth problem is its own content. You cannot operate a business without your own content as it’s drawcard. Ask Netflix or even HBO.

The last problem and one that all free to air stations have is they all operate under old business models that used to work before.

There are many other problems and according to Village Roadshow boss Graham Burke, a puppet to the MPAA lobby group, piracy is the reason why Channel 10 is going under.

But wait, it gets better.

Burke links the piracy of movies his organization was responsible for back to Channel 10.

So let me get this straight. Movies that leaked on the internet many years before the movies got licensed to Channel 10 is the reason why the station is losing money.

Seriously what the….

Burke believes that an audience exists many years later for movies to be seen on free to air TV with ads.

Umm, no it doesn’t exist.

Did it ever occur to Burke that people have already seen these movies legally or maybe own a copy of the DVD or BluRay?

And Burke is meant to lead the movie business into the new age. By denying the new age exists and trying to get back the old age.

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

Copyright Fakery And Abuses

Fake news is nothing new to the world. It’s been around for a long time.

It’s become a problem now because the people/organisations who invented it, had the tables turned and fake news was/is used against them. That’s right, the media outlets who put fake news out in the world based on PR companies and Ad companies sponsorships, had the tables turned against them. The recent U.S election is a perfect example of how powerful fake news can be.

The recording and movie industries along with their associations/lobby/bribery groups in the RIAA/MPAA have been the largest perpetrators of fake news in the world. When billions of dollars are involved, these industries employ some of the most creative writers in the business to basically creating fictional works of fakery. And people believe it.

Let’s start with a few good ones.

  • Home Taping Is Killing Music And It’s Illegal
  • Copy a CD and get a criminal record
  • Piracy: It’s a crime
  • Piracy kills artists.

In other words, if the consumers of music don’t pay for every instance of music, how can musical artists or movies ever make a living?

These words of wisdom ignore independent research about the power of free music in helping musicians to be discovered in the first instance. The biggest enemy of any artist is NOT BEING DISCOVERED. Once they are discovered, they can then go on and make all kinds of money via the more friendly artist profit outlets in concerts and merchandise. But the RIAA has done such a good job at spreading fake news about Copyright, that many swallow the industry’s words of wisdom whole.

Ed Sheeran is a mega seller in today’s current musical market. I have written about him before on these pages. He began his career without a record label and promoted himself instead.

“Beyond writing the songs, Sheeran also wrote his own rules about how to sell them. Like so many others, he had set off for London as a teenager, singing on street corners and in pubs. But he didn’t knock on record company doors or wait to be discovered. Instead, he began marketing his own stuff, releasing his music himself on websites until — inevitably — a record label came calling. He had already earned half a million from his independent sales, putting the music out himself.”
CBS Article

The labels came knocking after Sheeran had built up a following. And how did Sheeran build up the following?

“It was file sharing. I know that’s a bad thing to say, because I’m part of a music industry that doesn’t like illegal file sharing, but illegal fire sharing was what made me. It was students in England going to university, sharing my songs with each other.”
CBS Article

But the labels and the RIAA want stricter enforcement for piracy and longer prison terms and bigger fines for illegal file sharers.

Because copyright has been hijacked by these Corporate entities for the last 70 years, we have situations that makes the mind boggle. Like how a band in 2017, might not be able to use a song that dates back the mid 1900’s, whose creator is believed to be dead and was passed down for generations orally. Here’s what the Yahoo article has to say on the matter;

“A Gwich’in love song, passed down for generations through oral tradition, has become a copyright roadblock for the Hummingbirds — preventing them from releasing their latest album “One Weekend” in June for months. The song Goodbye Shaanyuu is one of the tracks on the album. It’s a folk song from Fort Yukon, Alaska that dates back to the mid-1900s. But the record company dealing with the band is holding off the official release of the album, says Mumford, until the band solves a copyright issue with the song — which was written by a Gwich’in woman named Annie Cadzow, who is believed to be dead.”

This is the Copyright mess that corporations have created. Even though a corporation could hold the rights to this song, because it makes no money, it is forgotten. And now there is a band that wants to bring it back and they have to go through hell to release. The article further states;

The band has three options:

1) Find Annie Cadzow — or her family members — and get permission to use the song in their album.

2) Find out if Cadzow has died more than 50 years ago, which puts the song into the public domain. Or

3) Just release the song in hopes that no one will come forward and sue, but this is a non-option for the band out of respect for Cadzow and Gwich’in history.

The band is working with researchers in Alaska who are helping track down Cadzow’s only living daughter who’s said to be in her late 80s.

But the bassist for the band Bob Mumford believes that the song known today doesn’t sound nothing like the original song as lyrics were added and melodies got altered. So how does this sit with current copyright law that assumes that all works are so original and if there are any similarities it’s time to sue.

As the article further states;

“Folk music was widely believed to be “national treasure” — or owned by everybody. Until the idea of copyright came along. The practice of exerting copyright is actually pretty easy. The person that transcribes the oral performance, exerts ownership on it. So whoever makes the recording has copyright on it.”

And that person would have a monopoly on their creation for a certain period of time and then that work would become part of the public domain for other people to use and build upon without any restrictions.

And once upon a time it was like that. But then people had money, they purchased sound systems and vinyl records. Recorded music was suddenly monetised. Which led to many artists complaints about record label creative accounting. And it’s still going on.

The Carpenters are taking Universal Music Group and A&M records to court over the monies paid to them from digital sources. As the Variety article states;

“The Carpenters contend that accountants they hired to examine the record label books found multiple errors and that the defendants rejected the claim of royalties. He is seeking compensatory damages of at least $2 million. Among other things, according to the lawsuit, the record labels “improperly classified” revenue from digital downloads of Carpenters’ music as sales of records as opposed to licensing revenue — short-changing them from a higher royalty rate.

The lawsuit also claims that the defendants undercounted digital downloads and that they applied an incorrect base price to the sales of CDs. The lawsuit notes that the lawsuit is similar to litigation involving the recordings of Eminem in which the defendants were several affiliates of UMG. Ultimately, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that digital downloads were a licensing of master recordings rather than a sale of records.”

The labels do what they want to artists who make them millions and then the labels scream loudly to politicians to get laws passed to protect their business models.

So what about songwriters, who write songs for other artists?

As the labels get flush with cash from streaming licensing and royalty fees, they have failed to pass it on to the people who matter. But due to creative fakery of news, the Songwriters lobby group believes that the streaming services are to blame and they should pay more, with the hope that those extra payments are filtered down to the songwriters.

“We should get compensated every time someone streams a song”
David Israelite, CEO of the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA)

But wait a minute, some publishers already have their own deals with the streaming companies to compensate the songwriters, so why is there a need to force streaming companies to pay more. Spotify is barely profitable and in order to please the NMPA, a $20 million settlement was announced recently.

As the NY Times article states;

“Spotify will pay publishers between $16 million and $25 million in royalties that are already owed but unpaid — the exact amount, these people said, is still undetermined — as well as a $5 million penalty. In exchange, the publishers will refrain from filing copyright infringement claims against Spotify. The settlement concerns mechanical licensing rights, which refer to a copyright holder’s control over the ability to reproduce a musical work. The rule goes back to the days of player-piano rolls, but in the digital era mechanical rights have joined the tangle of licensing deals that streaming services need to operate legally.”

You can see what a mess Copyright has become, when mechanical rights that go back to the player piano rolls are still discussed about today. And Spotify is just one streaming services. There are others that will need to do these kind of extortion deals and suddenly the NMPA is loaded up with cash in the hundreds of millions. All because the labels, the publishers and their lobby groups don’t pass on the monies earned to the people who actually create.

“I am thrilled that through this agreement, both independent and major publishers and songwriters will be able to get what is owed to them.”
David M. Israelite

I don’t know about anyone else, but what we have is a world of mega associations/corporations and labels living large off the value that music creates without really compensating those creators. Because as we have seen all around the world, these organisations like to accumulate and live the high life, but they don’t want to pay those monies in full to the people who really earn it.

If you don’t believe me, check out this article, over at Torrentfreak, where the Greek organisation in charge of collecting and paying artists royalties, was found to have serious financial irregularities where their operating expenses outstretched it’s income, creating an 11.3 million Euro deficit, while during the same period, the CEO, GM, PR and Secretary pocketed 5 million Euro’s.

As the Torrentfreak article states;

“By Dec. 31st 2014, the undistributed royalties to members and rights holders amounted to 42.5 million euros, and have still not been awarded to members. The nature of a significant portion of this collected revenue of approximately 36.8 million euros has not been possible to assess, because collection invoices weren’t correlated to specific revenues in AEPI’s IT system.”

So next time you read a piece of news about stronger Copyright’s needed to compensate artists, remember the fakery involved in that piece of news and how people who contribute nothing to culture and music, live a jet setter lifestyle on the backs of the artists.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Unsung Heroes

Piracy Incorporated

The Pirate Bay (TPB) is going to turn 14 years this year.

From its inception, it was a facilitator, spreading the disruption caused by Napster years earlier to even larger audiences. It showed the entertainment industries how they needed to change. But they didn’t change and it took companies like Netflix and Spotify to make this happen. And they did it by using the same technology made famous by The Pirate Bay. But while Netflix realised that money is in producing your own content, Spotify and other streaming providers have not. Licensing content from someone is not a satisfactory business model. Just ask HBO, formerly known as Home Box Office. Their early business model was all licensed content and they lost money year after year, while the movie studios got richer. It wasn’t until HBO went into original content, that they started making some serious cash. As soon as Spotify, Apple, YouTube and Pandora realise that they need to enter the recording business to produce their own content, the music industry will change and disrupt even more.

TPB had to stand strong against the pressure put on it by the MPAA and the RIAA and their sister organisations throughout the world. It has stood firm against government officials (loaded up in lobbyist dollars) trying to prosecute it. It was taken down, raided and it still survives. And it keeps on innovating even when court orders become the new normal, requesting ISP’s to block the web address or domain registries to deny any applications for TPB domains. Even in it’s home country of Sweden, court appeals and cases are still ongoing. Google was even pressured to alter (in my view censor) its search algorithm, so TPB doesn’t come up.

But TPB is still alive. It has become a vessel for people to access content they normally wouldn’t have access too. In the process, it has made the world a better place.

Metal music in general has grown to all corners of the world. Suddenly, every country has a metal scene and the larger metal bands that have the means to tour are suddenly hitting markets they’ve never hit before.

The high rates of software piracy in Eastern Europe caused an IT skills explosion.

Romanian President Traian Basescu, once told Bill Gates that digital pirating helped his nation build a budding software industry.
REUTERS Article on Eastern European Piracy

The high rates of music creation software piracy led to the electronic dance explosion coming out of Europe.

In the process, artists have gained decent followings. However, while bands in the past had followings, it was assumed that every single follower had purchased recorded music and that the band had made money. But that was not the case in the past and it still isn’t today.

I had music recorded on cassette tapes and video tapes to begin with.

  •  If the radio played a song I liked, I recorded it on cassette. I did this by pressing record every time a song started or was about to start and if I dug the tune, I kept the recording going. If I didn’t dig it, I stopped the recording and rewinded the tape to the last song, so I can start again. The rewinding part was easy when the tape was new, but when you started to record after a previously recorded song, you had to rewind to that point in time. The same process was carried out with video tapes. I was explaining this to my kids and they didn’t look amazed at all by my rewinding abilities.
  • I had friends of my brothers who had dubbed music on a cassette from someone else who copied it from someone else who copied it. So on some occasions the music I got was a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy. It sure sounds like mp3 downloading to me.
  • My brothers had one friend who purchased a lot of music, but he wouldn’t let no-one copy it. I remember one time I borrowed the “Fireworks” album from Bonfire and “Blow My Fuse” from Kix from him, without asking or telling him. He reckons I stole it. What kind of thief am I, when I returned the borrowed goods?

So what can artists learn from The Pirate Bay?

The Pirate Bay spread via word of mouth. It didn’t embark on a scorched earth marketing policy. For an artist there is no better marketing strategy than word of mouth. That is how virality works. With social media, it can spread even faster. But you need to be able to follow it up, quickly and with quality.

  • Volbeat got traction in the U.S in 2012 on the backs of a song they released in 2008. This in turn started to bring attention to their previous albums. Success comes later in today’s world. In some cases, much later.
  • This is very different to say, Galactic Cowboys. Back in the late eighties, Geffen Records signed them to a deal and just kept on pushing the band onto the public with a pretty high-profile marketing campaign. The marketing budget was huge, the recording budget was huge, but the public just didn’t take to them. There was no word of mouth. No one spoke about them and when you brought them up in a conversation, it was a “who”. In saying that, I thought the band was innovative and excellent.

The Pirate Bay’s user base is growing and replenishing.

  • For the thousands that stop using the service, another thousand start using the service.
  • For the thousands that stop listening to Metallica, another thousand started listening to Metallica.
  • For the thousands that stop listening to Ratt, another 10 started to listen to em.

You do the math as why certain things get bigger or remain bigger, while other things reduce in scale.

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Unsung Heroes

Score Card Inc

Three years ago in November, 2013, I posted a score sheet on certain artists/trends and how they are dealing with the music business.

Three years later, how are the artists fairing.

Robb Flynn
He still understands that it is not all about making records. From Nov 2013 to now, Robb Flynn via Machine Head, kept on releasing his Journals both video and written. In April, 2014, “Killers and Kings” came out for Record Store Day and the band went on tour. He started a clothing range called “Killers and Kings” that didn’t really take off. In November, 2014, “Bloodstone and Diamonds” came out and the band embarked on a lengthy “An Evening With” world tour. In June 1, 2016, “Is There Anybody Out There?” came out as a stand-alone single.

His connection with his audience runs deep. People either dig him or detest him or some people will not just forget him in an orange jumpsuit during the Nu-Metal phase of the band’s career.

Protest The Hero
Back in 2013, “Protest The Hero” showed how the record labels are so out of touch with its customers. PTH was dropped because the label told them they have no audience. However, a fan funding campaign showed a pretty impressive hard-core audience that was willing to cough up some serious dollars for the band. Even the band was blown away at the response.

And they did it again between Nov 2015 and April 2016 with “Pacific Myth” an innovative one song per month release over six months via Bandcamp. Fans had the option of two packages, and I selected the one that also had the six video releases. In between, the guys would upload drum videos, cooking videos, song transcriptions and what not.

Nikki Sixx
In 2013, he talked about a farewell tour. Well that tour finally happened and concluded in 2015. The Crue fan base didn’t really need one more world tour however, they wanted to finish up in their own way and the world tour is what we got, with a new song called “All Bad Things”. The movie is still in the works, they have their own pleasure toys, a rumour of The Dirt 2, plus lawsuits from photographers and opening bands to contend with. Seriously, squirting piss at a bunch of guys who paid $1 million to be on the tour would always end up in the courts.

With Sixx A.M. he has released an albums worth of music and the next album is coming in a few weeks. They are on tour with Five Finger Death Punch, he does his Sixx Sense Radio Show and he doesn’t like to wash his hands after going to the toilet.

Coheed and Cambria
By November, 2013, COCA had been touring non-stop on the back of “The Afterman” two album releases that came out within a 4 month window. Add to that Comic Con appearances, plus Sci-Fi conventions and appearances in Comic Shops and you get the idea that this band realises that it is not just about music and money. It is about creativity.

Since then, Claude Sanchez became a dad. He wrote more comics with his wife called “Translucid” in 2014 and in 2015 managed to release another slab of songs called “The Color Before The Sun” and go on a another world tour.

Metallica
Back in 2013, I wrote;

They need to make new music soon. There are only so many times that a band can go on a worldwide victory lap on the same piece of music. They need to be back in the studio.

Well, we are almost one week away from that new music hitting the streets and in the meantime, we have been treated to three tracks.
It’s a welcome relief to hear Metallica doing what they do best and I believe they have enough new music in their archives for another album to drop within two years this time, instead of eight.

And after hearing the album – yes it is available on the pirate sites, I can honestly say that it’s not worth the 8 year wait at all and maybe 4 song EP’s is the best way to go.

Dream Theater
I wrote in November 2013, that they need a great record soon or they will become yesterday’s news. Dream Theater has a knack for popping up with some goodies, like “Images and Words”, “Scenes From A Memory”, “Systematic Chaos” and “A Dramatic Turn Of Events”.

So in January 2016, they dropped the 130 minute “Astonishing” concept album, about a dystopian future society. Concept albums lead to different revenue spin offs like a stage play, comic book stories, video games, animations, TV series, a movie and so forth. But then again, Slayer are doing a graphic comic book series and have never done a concept album.

Stone Sour
I wrote in 2013, that something went south with their career trajectory. Of course, a beast called Slipknot would devour the creative forces of the band. Their take on modern metal is good, but with Slipknot getting more melodic, is there a reason for Stone Sour to exist.

Five Finger Death Punch
They have an audience who purchases and streams their product. Along the way, each album has received certifications for so many units moved. An onstage meltdown, a record label lawsuit and then a change of label has not slowed the band down in any way. If they can remain together, they will remain a powerhouse.

Trivium
Back in November, 2013, their new album “Vengeance Falls” was called a Disturbed covers album. The truth is, if people are talking about you, it is a good thing. And that album gave Trivium a concert classic in “Strife”. Since then, they released “Silence In The Snow” in 2015. They are always looking to reinvent themselves constantly while staying true to heavy metal. Plus Matt Heafy has a pretty cool Top 10 list of albums that changed his life.

1. Metallica – The Black Album (1991)
“A kid lent me The Black Album at school and it changed my life. I had never heard anything like it before, and I started playing guitar all the time.”

2. In Flames – Whoracle (1997)
“That was at the time of Napster, and I was into the classic great metal bands. I was on Napster and I found In Flames. I had never heard melodic death metal before, and it changed my ear on what kind of music I wanted to play.”

3. Queen – A Night At The Opera (1975)
“What I’ve always loved about Queen is that they’ve never released the same thing twice. Everything is drastically different while still sounding like Queen. Every song on A Night At The Opera sounds different to the next one and they all stand up as fantastic.”

4. Iron Maiden – Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son (1988)
“With Iron Maiden it’s hard, because I love so many of their records. They’re all so important. Seventh Son, though, is the one that really got me into Iron Maiden. It’s one of their more epic records; there’s vivid storytelling going on. Getting into Iron Maiden helped me trace the roots of the music that I love. I could see where so many metal, death metal and black metal bands had taken things from.”

5. Ihsahn – Eremita (2012)
“Emperor changed my life, and Ihsahn changed my life again with this album. He spun the idea of black metal on its head by incorporating jazz chords, interesting production and clean singing. That record taught me to never be afraid of making whatever I want to make. We’ve always done that, but this album drove that home for me.”

6. Boston – Boston (1976)
“The vocal production is insane. Everything about this record epitomises the best things of rock ‘n’ roll.”

7. The Beatles – Abbey Road (1969)
“The Beatles blow my mind in the same way that Queen do in that every song and record is so different to the last. Both of those bands have incredible songwriters as well. It’s not like nowadays where you might have one songwriter in a band.”

8. Emperor – Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk (1997)
“This is where Emperor really changed the dynamic of where black metal was going. Black metal was the rebellion to rock and metal, and was supposed to be different. “When there’s a movement like that, a lot of bands come out playing semi-similar music. That record opened up with clean guitar and there’s this classical singing; it has chaotic moments and beautiful moments all in one. Emperor makes such interesting black metal with these big dramatic moments.”

9. Depeche Mode – Violator (1990)
“Listening to Depeche Mode, you can hear that Rammstein is a combination of Depeche Mode and Metallica. Violator is one of the darkest, scariest records I’ve ever heard. It has this different kind of sadness that you feel in the music.”

10. The London Symphony Orchestra – Mozart’s Requiem (1791)
“The gothic artwork of that record is incredible, and this version for me is just the best. Listening to this, you can hear that out of all contemporary music, metal is the closest living relative to classical. It is the most epic moments of music that have always drawn me in, and I feel that with Mozart’s Requiem that is where you’re getting into the blueprint for everything that was to come.”

Shinedown
They have an audience who want to listen to them and so far, no one’s doing hard rock better than them. Their new album “Threat To Survival” has taken its influences from Adele, Imagine Dragons and other pop artists and they still made it rock hard. Daughtry and James Durbin should take note. Along the way, their fans purchased and streamed all the way to certification after certification.

Avenged Sevenfold
Say what you will about the “influences” on “Hail To The King”, doing that album was a bigger risk for Avenged Sevenfold then their new album and it paid off for them.

Fast forward to 2016, and their new album drops early. It is a creative tour de force but to me it’s already in the rear view. All of the good bits in each song are undone by the creativity of trying to push the boundaries.

Piracy
In 2013, I wrote that piracy is not that large of a problem as the majors and the RIAA make it out to be and with revenues in 2016, approaching the pre-Napster era, it’s further proof that piracy does not affect their bottom lines, especially when there are services out there that can compete with piracy.

Evergrey
The pure definition of perseverance with 20 plus years in the music business and still going strong.

By November 2013, the “new” version of the band that delivered “Glorious Collision” had splintered again and lead vocalist/guitarist Tom Englund was not sure on the next step. A reconnection with drummer Jonas Ekdahl and guitarist Henrik Danhage (who departed before “Glorious Collision”) spawned the excellent “Hymns For The Broken” in 2014 and a few months ago, “The Storm Within” builds on the atmospherics created by “Hymns”.

Megadeth
In 2013, Megadeth’s new album “Supercollider” was outsold by Metallica’s self-titled “Black” album. In 2015, Mustaine got his metal chops back and in 2016, “Dystopia” came out. Another Mustaine Resurrection was at hand.

Tremonti/Alter Bridge
Mark Tremonti knows it’s about putting new music out there and consistently. In 2013, we had “Fortress” from Alter Bridge. In 2015, we had “Cauterize” from Tremonti and 2016 has given us, “Dust” from Tremonti and “The Last Hero” from Alter Bridge. In three years, Tremonti has been part of 4 albums while Metallica ……

The Night Flight Orchestra
The best classic rock side project ever from Soilwork and Arch Enemy band members. The first album “Internal Affairs” came out in 2012 and the second “Skyline Whispers” in 2015. Essential listening to any hard rock fans of the 80’s.

Sales
In 2013, I wrote that sales are not the best metric to measure a bands reach and pull in the market. In 2016, listens are more important than sales.

Bullet For My Valentine
By November 2013, people had lost their “Temper Temper” with them, but in 2015, the band found their “Venom” again, which leads us to new music hitting the net in November 2016.

Revolution Saints
In 2013, this band existed in the head of the Frontiers President. In 2015, they released an excellent melodic AOR rock album. So much potential, so many good songs, great musicians and it all went to hell because Castronovo couldn’t keep his 5555t together. Let’s hope that Jack Blades and Doug Aldrich forgive him and they try for another album. This time with the three of them writing.

TesseracT
One of the hardest working progressive bands out there, building their fanbase, city by city. In 2011, they released “One”. In 2013, they released the excellent “Altered State” and in 2015 we got “Polaris”.

Days Of Jupiter
An unsung Swedish melodic groove rock band, that’s a cross between Evergrey and Disturbed. In 2012 they released “Secrets Brought to Life” and in 2015, “Only Ashes Remain” came out.

Sweet and Lynch
Another album would be sweet.

Muse
They play stadiums but they don’t have the same sales figures as the 70’s and 80’s legends. A perfect example of the modern world, in which massive single songs sell concert tickets.

Live
In 2013, I wrote;
Remember the excitement and the buzz of going to the show. It was uncontrollable. Everyone waiting in line to get inside, to watch a band that rules, in an era that music ruled. Today, it is too expensive to take kids to a concert and that is only for a glimpse in the back. This business needs a reset.

Concert ticket prices are still high, especially for the superstar acts. The price gauge happened as an offset to dwindling revenues from recorded sales, however with recorded music revenue now as high as the pre-Napster era, there is no reason for the high concert ticket prices.

Slash
As an artist, he didn’t need to go back to Gunners. He had enough momentum to keep going as a solo artist and with Myles Kennedy, a better front man than Axl Rose. Slash kept on releasing new music consistently, while Duff and Axl complained of piracy and artistically were dead in the water. Money triumphs over creativity and in this case, it’s really sad.

Album
Back in 2013, I wrote how everyone talks about the money that is lost due to piracy as album sales shrink. Back then 20% of the tracks on Spotify have never been played. So what is the point of the album, when people ignore the songs that are not “hits”. When I go to Spotify and I come across an artist I haven’t heard before, I go to their Spotify page and hear the tracks in their top 10 list. Those tracks in most cases are pulled from many different albums.

And if any of those tracks connect with me, I might dig deeper into the album.

Rodrigo Y Gabriela
Created by their love of metal and rock music and when that same genre put up roadblocks to a career in music, they changed tact and went all flamenco acoustic on the world. Talk about paying their dues and taking risks. They moved from Mexico and took a chance in Europe. Over an 8 year Dublin residence, they honed their style and songs, so when their “official” debut album hit in 2006, what seemed like an overnight sensation was 15 years in the making.

There is nothing more difficult in the world then trying to make it as a musician. You need to show up day after day, week after week, year after year. And your brand or movement might just make some small gains. Then it hits a few speed bumps, like Rodrigo and Gabriela’s metal band losing their recording contract in 1997 and suddenly you are back at the start. But they kept on showing up, on the coast of Mexico and playing their acoustic guitars in the bars. Because showing up day after day, is the hardest part of making a difference. If you look at the history of the artists we like and admire, you will see many years in pursuit of their dreams.

It is a work of a lifetime to create an impact and build something of substance. In 2013, they were riding the highs of their 2012 “Area 52” collaboration, which involved re-working their best songs with a full flamenco band. Then in 2014, “9 Dead Alive” dropped and new music is needed ASAP.

Sebastian Bach/Skid Row
They shouldn’t get back together, because no one cares about Skid Row in the way they used too. They might have a large audience in Japan, like Dokken, but the rest of the “Youth Gone Wild” have moved on. Sebastian Bach is actually bigger than Skid Row and releases way better music than Skid Row have done without him. But, what was he thinking when he approved the photo for his memoir’s cover.

The Kindred
From Canada and the healthy progressive scene. They started off as “Today I Caught The Plague” from the ashes of another band called “A Legend Falls”. In 2011 they released the excellent “Lore” and went on tour with one of my favourite bands in Protest The Hero and their “Scurrilous Tour”. Then in 2013, a name change happened to “The Kindred” and the excellent “Life In Lucidity” came out at the start of 2014.

However, PTH needed a drummer for their “Volition” tour and it was no surprise that they tapped Mike Ieradi (who also co-founded the group) to fill the spot. Then in 2015, vocalist David Journeaux departed, with Johnny McArthur as their new vocalist and Kenny Saunders as their new drummer. So now I wait to see what comes next.

Streaming
Back in 2013, I wrote that everyone talks about the money which isn’t filtering down to the artist and how streaming is too entrenched to be replaced. Since then the record labels have grown their revenues on the back of streaming. Artists who negotiate deals with the streaming services like Metallica and Motley Crue have never complained about streaming. Suddenly, luddites Anthrax are not complaining and Scott Ian even mentioned how he believes streaming is the best thing to have happened to the recording industry.

Streaming is the future and those artist who don’t grow with this future will be too busy shrinking.

The Gaslight Anthem
They do the early 80’s Bruce Springsteen better than Bruce Springsteen these days. It was like a supergroup of independent musicians that came together in New Jersey in 2006. Their 2010 album, “American Slang” spawned an unexpected hit with the title track and “45” from their 2012 album “Handwritten” became their biggest hit. Since then, “Get Hurt” came out in 2014 and by July 2015, the band went on an indefinite hiatus.

Since the hiatus, singer Brian Fallon released a solo album called “Painkillers” in March 2016, and on April, 2016, a vinyl EP called “Georgia” was released for Record Store Day 2016 with a limited pressing run of 2,000 copies on 10″ vinyl. Let’s hope that “The Gaslight Anthem” get together for more music over the next three-year period.

Volbeat
Seen as overnight sensations however they are over 25 years in the business. It all started with “Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood” in 2008 and being added to the Metallica “Death Magnetic U.S. Tour”. Then in 2010, “Beyond Hell/Above Heaven” came out and while that was still selling, they released “Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies” in 2013 and they hit every major music market over and over again. Since then, they released “Seal the Deal and Let’s Boogie” and are continuing on their merry ways. For all the newbies, check out their streaming numbers. They are huge compared to other major label metal/rock acts.

Killswitch Engage/Times Of Grace
In 2013, Killswitch Engage released “Disarm the Descent”, their comeback album with Jesse Leach on vocals. And how good is “In Due Time” with brutal verses and an arena rock chorus. Then in February 2015, a new track called “Loyalty” appeared on “Catch The Throne: The Mixtape Volume 2” to promote “Game of Thrones”. They then toured and kept on working on “Incarnate” which finally came out on March 11, 2016. Since then, they toured and are planning on releasing a beer. Meanwhile, “Times of Grace” have five songs completed for a new album to come out, with their last one coming out in 2011.

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