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

Are People Listening And Sharing Your Album?

I still can’t listen to the new Evergrey album on Spotify in Australia. I went to the AFM Records Facebook page and I saw they have a post that states “Listen to the new Evergrey album on Spotify and add it to your favorites!” So I went on to Spotify and like the day before only “King Of Errors” is available for streaming. I then saw on the AFM post that they had a Spotify Embed link, so I clicked on that and the whole album came up on a webpage. I clicked on the other songs on the webpage and in my Spotify player I got the message “This track is currently not available in Australia.”

And I was like, WTF. It’s like 2014. What the hell is AFM Records thinking withholding the album from Spotify? And what the hell are they thinking of doing a gated released based on which countries/zones?

This is silly. Evergrey is not known as a huge seller of recorded music in Australia. All of the CD’s that I have purchased from them I have done so as Imports. So whoever is the brains at AFM should return the brain they have and get a new model that is fitted for 2014 and beyond as they are leaving money on the table by not making the album available on Spotify, while YouTube who pays less has it.

Also the norm is that when I purchase an album from Amazon, it comes with an AutoRip feature that allows me to download an mp3 version of the album. Sixx A.M’s “Modern Vintage” had that feature, Godsmacks “1000hp” had that feature however Evergrey’s new album is not even part of that agreement either. AFM Records is out of touch with the modern world. Their answer to Spotify is to charge consumers more to have access to music.

Sales are irrelevant. It is an old metric and no way a guarantee of success. Seriously ask any artist what they would prefer. To be number 1 on an irrelevant chart or to be number 1 on Spotify or YouTube. Consumers of music have moved over to the access model. So why not service those fans as well as the fans that want to buy the album.

The only important thing today is how many people LISTENED to the album.

It is a different train of thought and the usual media outlets don’t publicise it. Think I am wrong, go on any Blabbermouth post about a band and there is always a paragraph or two about first week sales and what the album charted. Seriously, who cares. The future is that artists will get paid for every play of their track for all time. The money is in play. The more people who are subscribing and listening, the more each play is worth.

And the future is also in sharing. It doesn’t matter how many people download albums (legally or illegally). What does matter is how many people shared them via social media or word of mouth. Every artist thrives on their audience talking about their material. That is how they keep their audience and how they replenish it. I have talked to anyone who listens about how good “Hymns For The Broken” is and every time the people I told went to hear the new album they said the same thing. “King Of Errors” is great but why isn’t the album up on Spotify”

The old mainstream hype does little. New albums are hyped and are instantly forgotten. Like “13” from Black Sabbath or the self-titled “Dream Theater” album. However, if you go on Spotify, you will see that people are listening to these albums. The play counts are rising. In Australia, even Stone Sours “Looking Glass” got a stream increase thanks to Slipknot.

And U2 did do a $100 million deal with Apple (which seems to have inspired Lars Ulrich immensely). As Lars said in a recent Billboard music and branding discussion, he doesn’t care if the endeavor was a success or not. The way I read that is “as long as the band gets a cool hundred million who cares if the music is shit.” Metallica has earned their success and the truth is successful artists make more money than ever before. It’s just that these artists want to make the same as the techies and bankers do and in their quest to line their pockets they forget about creating quality art. And they forget that in 2014 and beyond it is all about the plays and the shares. Get 3 million plays a week for one song on a consistent basis and watch the money come in (provided you have a fair recording contract in place).

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

Hands In The Sky Big Shot – Great Music Will Live On Forever

I have been on a Sons Of Anarchy binge lately. Just recently I finished Season 2 and the final episode had an unbelievable piece of music that complemented and enhanced the desperation of the final scenes. You need to see it, to understand what I mean.

Of course I wanted to know more about this piece of music. So I Google “Sons of Anarchy Season 2 Music”. I come across a WIKIA page that shows me each episode and the songs that played on each episode. I click on the final episode of Season 2 and I see that the last song listed is from a band called “Straylight Run” and that the song is called “Hands In The Sky”.

So I go onto YouTube, type in the band name, and there it is. I came across 16 videos with a combined play count of 1,498,818. Spotify streams have the count as 110,507.

I want to go deeper, because that is what we do, when we come across something that connects with us.

The song was released on an EP, called “Prepare To Be Wrong” from 2005. God damn. I am hearing this song in 2013. That is 8 years after its release.

The audience (both legal and illegal) who watched “Sons Of Anarchy” on December 1, 2009 heard the song for the first time. If you dig deeper you will see that the actual song hit YouTube from December 4, 2009, which is right after the “Sons Of Anarchy” episode.

By February 2010, the band went on indefinite hiatus due to money complications. This is strange, especially when “Hands In The Sky (Big Shot)” was doing the rounds courtesy of the TV show.

Of course, with Victory Records being the label that released the EP, it would be safe to assume that Victory Records would have kept their reputation intact by pocketing handsomely and not giving a cent to Straylight Run.

Straylight Run started off on Victory Records due to a contract that John Nolan and Shaun Cooper had with the label courtesy of their other band “Taking Back Sunday.” That contract was fulfilled with the EP release in 2005. Then Universal Republic picked them up for their 2007 release “The Needles The Space” only to be dropped when vocalist, guitarist and pianist Michelle DaRosa left. They went all independent for their next two EP releases and then called it a day after that.

Great music will always be found. “Hands In The Sky (Big Shot)” will live on forever. It is now a part of pop culture. It really captured the desperation of the scenes and now I can’t stop playing the song, along with Neil Young’s “Hey, Hey, My, My” which was used to close Season 3.

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A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music, My Stories

Call Me – Shinedown

This song is a hit, however it was never released as an “official” single. How can that be? The fans have spoken. “Call Me” has racked up 12.83 million streams on Spotify and 11.2 million plays on YouTube. These are the numbers that matter. It is the most played/streamed song from Shinedown.

In a recent interview with the website “artistdirect”, Brent Smith, the vocalist from Shinedown was asked the question if they had played “Through The Ghost” live yet.

“We have not. We’ve actually been asked if we’re going to do that. “Call Me” also gets asked for quite a bit. It wasn’t a single, but it is asked for. There might be a possibility of adding a few songs.”

I can understand the reasons why the band is not playing the song, as it is deemed a ballad and probably not suited for the high energy show that Shinedown puts on, plus they already play a ballad in “Second Chance”. However based on the numbers above, it is a fan favourite.

When I first heard “Call Me”, I immediately thought of Tracy Chapman. The vocal style and the phrasing was the trigger. It is written by Brent Smith and Tony Battaglia.

Tony Battaglia is an interesting choice. He is a frequent colloborator with Shinedown and has also co-written songs for Puddle of Mudd and Submersed (a very underrated band that is sadly no more. Eye Empire has the vocalist and Creed has the original guitarist as its backing guitarist). He also played guitar and composed songs with the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC. He was the vocalist in a band called BlackJack that goes back to 1978.

Having the additional song writer can be a double edged sword. The song could be clichéd or it could sound forced or it could lack personality. In this case, it works well. The song is perfect with as a piano/orchestra style song, as the vocal melody is so strong, it doesn’t need anything else.

Wrap me in a bolt of lightning
Send me on my way still smiling
Maybe that’s the way I should go,
Straight into the mouth of the unknown

If you have been addicted to something in your life, you would understand the bolt of lightning reference. You are charged up, electrified.

I left the spare key on the table
Never really thought I’d be able to say
I merely visit on the weekends
I lost my whole life and a dear friend

Coming into this album, Shinedown took 18 months to get it right. Brent Smith wanted “The Sound Of Madness” to be the record that would define him. You know the saying, that an artist gets their whole life to do their first record and then they are given about three months to do their second one.

That is what happened to Shinedown. The first album, “Leave a Whisper” took a lifetime and it achieved platinum status. The follow up “Us and Them” had all the writing, recording and everything else done in six months and it achieved gold status. While all of this “success” is happening, the main creative force behind Shinedown is getting burned. Two band members would leave before “The Sound Of Madness” was even started.

That is what you hear on the album and in the strained voice of Brent Smith. His experiences. This is what Rock Music got right once upon a time. It was about music that defined culture. Then came the dollar signs and that is where Rock Music has remained. Shinedown’s “The Sound of Madness” is a monster of an album on the same playing field as Motley Crue’s “Dr Feelgood” and Bon Jovi’s “Slippery When Wet”.

I’ve said it so many times
I would change my ways
No, nevermind
God knows I’ve tried

When Brent Smith decided he wanted no time limit for this album, he wasn’t looking for anything connected with money. He was looking for that raw and honest connection. The music became the vehicle for it. That is why songs like “If You Only Knew”, “Second Chance” and “Call Me” resonate with people. We have lived it and we have experienced something similar.

Call me a sinner, call me a saint
Tell me it’s over I’ll still love you the same
Call me your favorite, call me the worst
Tell me it’s over I don’t want you to hurt
It’s all that I can say. So, I’ll be on my way

Great music will last forever. Five years since “The Sound of Madness” was released, “Call Me” is still being played/streamed/viewed. “Call Me” wasn’t the hit song from the album, however it is the song from the album that will not be an obscure footnote in history.

I finally put it all together,
But nothing really lasts forever
I had to make a choice that was not mine,
I had to say goodbye for the last time

When you are at rock bottom, you find something to get you through. As much as people talk about support from family and friends, in the end if you don’t want to fix yourself, no one else can make you. Music is always there for you. There is a reason why Motley Crue didn’t give us “Dr Feelgood” as a debut album.

I kept my whole life in a suitcase,
Never really stayed in one place
Maybe that’s the way it should be,
You know I live my life like a gypsy

Are we settled in life? Are we happy with what we have in life? We always want something else, that when we are asked what we want, we answer back that we don’t know, but we know that we want something else.

Brent Smith broke down a lot of walls on “The Sound Of Madness.” It’s personal and as a fan it is an emotional roller coaster ride. It’s evolution through experiences.

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