Copyright, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

The Hard Reality When You Rely On Others To Build Your Dream

You are in a band and yet get signed. The record label isn’t really known for promoting heavy metal music, but hey, a recording contract is a recording contract and without it, you cannot move forward in your quest for global stardom.

Other bands who play a similar style have already released their albums and are starting to make headway. Meanwhile, the label keeps you in the studio, writing and recording demos before they give the green light for an album to be made.

Those “competing” bands are now onto album number 2 and 3 and your label is watching those other bands with interest, while telling you to write more songs that sound like this band and that band.

They are grooming you to be the labels competition to a band who is selling and making coin on the live circuit.

Then when you are ready to launch your assault, the label is sold to another label and you are dropped from their roster because you are unproven.

What do you do?

Do you pack up, head home and get a job or do you stick to it and restart again?

Not all members have the same drive and hard work ethic to try again, so they leave, replaced by other members with ambition that hasn’t been crushed by a record label.

“We were on MCA (record label) for three records and they were grooming us to be their version of the metal thing in the scene (like Metallica) and we got to a certain point where they’re ready to launch us on the world and then they got bought out by a bigger corporation and all the bands that they had never heard of before they just got rid of. We were one of those bands.

They were grooming us to be something big, [and] then we just got dumped for no reason at the last minute. That was kind of a big, emotional hit for us, I think. It knocked us back down to earth and we had to decide whether we were doing this for the love of music or if we were doing this for the wrong reasons.”

Flotsam and Jetson frontman Eric A. Knutson

And even when you released albums with a major label, it doesn’t mean that you got paid millions.

“After certain amount of time on a major label like Elektra, you find out how the business works, which in our particular case it was not working in our favour, you learn the definition of the word recoup.

And then you realize there is no way you can make any money unless you break big like Metallica but until then you are operating in Debt and you will never break out. Everybody gets paid first and the band gets paid last. I have the publishing which are not much money but no other royalties.

We are still in debt on the first few albums. Not only that but it’s tough to find out how much debt or profit after all these years. They send statements that you can’t read unless you are a lawyer, so I just wrote it off.

Your in debt for tour support, your in debt for videos, your in debt for everything and those are the reasons why I really like the new music business, there is more good about the new music business than there is bad. It’s more direct artists to fans and us old guys can still have a career.”

Metal Church guitarist Kurdt Vanderhoof

In a game that has Corporations acting as gatekeepers, the decks are stacked against the artist unless for some reason a band connects on so many levels that they have the power to demand a better deal.

And when gatekeepers control everything, they also control the legislation which gets passed, filling the pockets of politicians to protect their business models with basically perpetual copyright terms and what not.

But artists are fighting back. Bryan Adams is pushing for Copyright reform in Canada.

He wants a better copyright arrangement that benefits the artists. He argues against longer copyright terms, as they only benefit and make money for the record labels and the collection agencies and not the artists.

Adams wants a shorter reversion term so after a period of time, the artist should have their copyrights returned to them. Adams also states that long copyright terms have no benefit to the creators.

As I’ve said many times on this blog, basically, no one decides to start creating because copyright terms are not long enough. They create because they need to create.

And Adams lays it out that it’s the record labels and publishing houses who lobby hard for longer copyright terms, not the artists.

He even mentioned how Government committees set up to assist artists have a committee made up of record label and publishing people and no artists.

Van Morrison said that when his third album “Moondance” was released, he was paid $100 a week to survive and he earned no money from the album, because the people he trusted signed away his rights for the first three albums to Warner Bros, pocketed the money and Van Morrison got a weekly wage in the process.

And to top it off, for Morrison to get a higher wage, he had to join a Union for session players. So imagine that, Van Morrison had to be a session singer on his own fucking album. He got paid as a session singer instead of an artist. And in order to get paid he had to submit a shitload of forms and then wait for payment.

But he learned from it, has more control and is 40 albums deep into his career.

And you know what he said, when the interviewer asked what drives him to create.

He replied back with “It’s what I do.”

He didn’t mention it’s because copyright terms last 70 years after his death.

It’s because there is a need inside him to create and that is what drives him. Having an audience or the chance of an potential audience who cares, motivates him. Not copyright.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Spotify – Will Rock and Metal bands reach a 100 million downloads in such a short time frame?

Daft Punk’s track Get Lucky has been streamed 104,233,480 times so far. Spotify generally pays 0.004 a stream to the rights holder. So by doing the math that comes to $416,933.92 in payments from Spotify to the rights holder. How much of this money is distributed is given down to Daft Punk from Columbia Records is unknown. For a song that was released in April, this has proven to be a pretty good earner.

YouTube also shows Get Lucky getting close to 112 million plays. What YouTube will end up paying for that is unknown, as the payout figure is calculated on the type of advertisements shown.

To me, the Spotify and YouTube stats prove that if a song makes a connection with people, people will be going back to the song over and over and over again. As an artist, this is the statistic you want reported to you as you know that people are playing your song or songs.

In relation to sales they come a distant last, however just to make this post complete, Get Lucky has been downloaded over 2.4 million times in the US and over 1 million times in the UK. This means that the song in combined sales (US + UK) has earned roughly $2.4 million (that is based on using the iTunes 0.7 formula).

So if your view of the recording business is that “I WANT TO BE PAID RIGHT NOW” then the sales figure is your brass ring. However, in time the sales figure will die down.

If your view of the recording business is that “I WANT PEOPLE TO PLAY MY SONGS FOREVER and BE PAID FOREVER” then the streaming figure is your brass ring. Streaming has taken the concept of listening to a song a million times at home on your stereo into the digital world.

For all the complaints about streaming payments, an important note to make is that there is NO RELIABLE data from the PRE-NAPSTER era, that suggests that musicians received more money from recorded sales. The good old ADVANCE from the Record Labels always clouded the creative accounting employed by them.

Sound recordings these days are purely for promotion purposes. If you can make money from it, like Daft Punk has, great. In the end, once artists start looking for sales of their recorded music they start to become entrepreneurs. An entrepreneur is an individual who organizes and operates a business, taking on the financial risk to do so. As an entrepreneur you have to offer something which somebody else wants to buy. If you want to make money you need to provide something of value that somebody else wants to pay for.

In relation to radio plays, yes terrestrial radio does pay more, however with the rise of internet connections in all new automobile’s, terrestrial radio is dead. They just don’t know it yet. The world has shifted online and with all things online there is always one winner that comes out on top. Google, Facebook, Amazon, iTunes and Twitter are just some names that come to mind.

So what are the rock/metal numbers like for new music that came out in April 2013.

Bring Me The Horizon is sitting at 3.2 million for the song Shadow Moses.

Paramore is sitting at 7.6 million for the song Still Into You.

Fall Out Boy is sitting at 20.1 million for the song My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark.

Killswitch Engage is sitting at 1.2 million for the song In Due Time.

Volbeat is sitting at 2.63 million for the song Lola Montez.

Device is sitting at 525,000 for the song Vilify.

Rob Zombie is sitting at 347,000 for the song Dead City Radio And The New Gods Of Supertown.

If it is a numbers game, metal and rock has a long way to go to get to the 100 million streams of Get Lucky. One thing is clear, online streaming will not slow down. If you are a DIY artist, you need to play in this field. Streaming is just one cog in the complex machine that the music business has become.

If one of the bands above had that crossover songs, then….

 

For some artists it works really well, for others not so well. In relation to sales, Killswitch Engage, Rob Zombie, Volbeat and Device are still selling physical and digital units as they tour around the U.S. All of the bands have moved over 100,000 units each for their albums released in April.

If you are comparing sales numbers to streaming numbers, the streaming numbers are way more spectacular. In the end, all artists want to be heard. So what are are the artists doing, to give the people a reason to listen to them.  

The live business, the merchandise business and the recorded music sales business are other cogs in the complex machine that the musical business has become. 

One last note, Black Sabbath’s Paranoid has earned close to $44,000 from Spotify. Not bad for a song that was released forty odd years ago. Now who gets that money and how it is distributed amongst the band members is a different story entirely.

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