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

What Does A Million In Sales Mean?

It may be a long way to the top, but it’s even harder staying there. A lot of artists talk about the glory days, of selling a million plus albums and “having success”. They are loved and they are all over the press and magazines. Then their “fanbase” based on sale metrics move on and suddenly, the record label is not returning their calls.

Dokken, Ratt, Warrant, Poison, Love/Hate, Slaughter, White Lion, Anthrax, WASP, MSG, Stryper and Yngwie Malmsteen come to mind.

It doesn’t matter what artists did in the past. If their new album isn’t getting played on radio, (not Pandora Radio, actual DJ programmed Radio) then it’s the hard sell of the road for them. And if they don’t have the means and the smarts to hit the road, then it’s even a harder sell.

Y&T is still cleaning up on the road, despite never being on the covers of the magazines, or darlings of MTV or even having a number one mainstream hit. It’s because they are a band made outside the record label system. It was all about touring and gaining fans, city by city, state by state, country by country. Add to that list Tesla.

You notice that the acts that continue to sell and have high streams are constant on radio.

Shinedown, Five Finger Death Punch, Pop Evil, Disturbed and Seether have the top 5 songs on Active Rock Radio right now in the U.S. As a by-product of the radio play, the bands are moving product. Volbeat is another that continues to sell.

This is what Nikki Sixx meant. He saw no point in Motley Crue spending time writing and releasing an album, when Active Rock Radio would just ignore it and the Classic Rock stations would just play the old Crue songs.

Radio was never the be all and end all. The best bands developed slowly. No classic rock band was an overnight sensation. The MTV era, killed off a lot of bands by setting the expectation that all of the artists it played had millions upon millions of fans. MTV video clips sold advertisements. As a byproduct records got sold as well. That led to recorded music revenue.

Recorded music revenue, never got to the bands. Sure the bands got advances to record their albums and they probably felt like rock and roll stars during it, but the truth is the $500K advance or even the $1MIL advance, (that had to be paid back anyway) pales to the revenue the record label got in return. If an album sold a million copies at say $10 gross; that is $10 million in gross sales. Of course some of it would be kept by the record store, some of it by the manufacturers of the LP and all the rest would go to the label and somehow the band would still be in debt.

When Bon Jovi started writing the songs for “Slippery When Wet”, Jon and Richie were still living with their parents and had a million dollar debt to the label, even though they had two albums certified “Gold”. Pretty glamorous right.

In 1987, White Lion released their second album and their first on a major label, “Pride”. It had the single “Wait”, which on release did nothing. It was followed by “Tell Me” which also did nothing. However, the band was still on tour, opening up for Frehley’s Comet, Aerosmith, Ozzy Osbourne, Kiss, AC/DC and Stryper. It was during this touring cycle that “Wait” started to get some serious MTV rotation, seven months after it was released. Hot on the heels of “Wait” climbing the charts, the label released “When The Children Cry” which ended up pushing the “Pride” album into the two million mark. “All You Need Is Rock ‘N’ Roll” followed and the White Lion tour in support of the album, ended in August 1988. High fives all around. Vito was in every guitar magazine and Mike Tramp was posing in every other magazine. Pretty glamorous right.

By August the following year, “Big Game” was released. The album went Gold right off the bat, based from the goodwill that “Pride” created. The band went from 2 million U.S sales to 500K US Sales. “Little Fighter” didn’t catch on, nor there cover of “Radar Love”. “Cry for Freedom” is one of their best songs, however it looks like their serious subject matter about Apartheid just didn’t resonate with the hard rock community. “Goin’ Home Tonight” also came out as a single and disappeared quickly. The band toured, however as Vito Bratta stated in his Eddie Trunk interview, the songs just didn’t resonate with the audiences. The Monsters of Rock bill that had “White Lion” sandwiched between other bands sealed the deal in Vito’s mind that they needed to go back and write some real rock songs. The downward spiral was starting. Vito still had the Guitar covers but he was questioning how to write a “hit” as the label asked them to do. Pretty glamorous right.

So White Lion took a million bucks and went away to write and record their fourth album, “Mane Attraction”. It came out in 1991 and six months later it was all over. It received no radio play. The real fans of the band loved it. But the band wanted the 2 million fans from “Pride”. The label wanted 4 million fans. As I’ve mentioned before, a lot of the casual listeners like songs more than they like the artist, especially songs that crossover. “Wait” and “When The Children Cry” crossed over and fans of other genres picked up the album. It didn’t mean that White Lion had 2 million loyal listeners. So fast forward to 1991 and White Lion can’t even move, 500K units on their new album. Actually they get nowhere near that figure. They are seen as a failure.

“Love Don’t Come Easy” didn’t sell the message of the new listening public. “Lights and Thunder” came out and no one knew what the hell Mike Tramp meant when he sang, “There’ll be lights and thunder”. The re-recorded version of the band’s debut single “Broken Heart”, also didn’t resonate with the listeners at large. Atlantic Records dropped them not long after.

Once you’re in the spiral vortex, it is not easy to get out off it. And the audience, like it or not, always gravitates to what is successful. Tastes change and moods change. Life becomes complicated. The thing is when an album doesn’t outdo it’s predecessor, it’s labelled a flop. And no one, even the record label can understand why. Once upon a time, the label would probably go for another album to see what happens. Today, as soon as it starts going wrong, no one from the label hangs around. They move on.

So what does the artist do?

They doubt their creative process, quit the business or soldier on for a few more years. But the lifers go on forever.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

The Record Label Deal

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

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

Let’s put it into context.

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

Now how can that be?

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

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

Let’s look at Twisted Sister.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But pay to play doesn’t stop just there.

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

Their song on the radio station is paid for.

Their appearance and interview in a magazine is paid for.

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

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

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

Junkyard

You could say wrong time, wrong place hurt Junkyard. Being from Australia, I am always into bands that can take the AC/DC style of rock n roll and spruce it up with their own twists without sounding too much of a copycat. Junkyard was such band that did it really well with their debut album released in 1989.

Guitarist Chris Gates came up with the name Junkyard. One name that was floated around was ‘Crack’ however they decided against that when the actual drug named crack became mainstream news.

They came from a hardcore punk scene into a scene that was splintering into a few different genres/groups.

One group was the bands that wanted to be like Motley Crue and Poison.

The other group was bands that wanted to be like Bon Jovi and Journey.

Then you had another group that didn’t mind if they merged and criss crossed between genres. Underrated bands like “Junkyard”, “Raging Slab”, “Dangerous Toys” and “Circus Of Power”.

This time the genre mash-up revolves around the following ingredients;

Bad Company/Free Classic Rock – CHECK

AC/DC Hard Rock – CHECK

Punk Rock – CHECK

Punk Rock Attitude – CHECK

Aerosmith Hard Rock – CHECK

ZZ Top Blues Boogie Rock – CHECK

Southern/Country Rock – CHECK

Guns N Roses Current Flavour Influence – CHECK

A lot of people believe that the Guns N Roses comparison is the reason why Geffen Records became interested. To put it into context, Guns N Roses didn’t really take over the world until 1988 and by then, Junkyard already had a record deal in place with Geffen records.

One other point to note is that the media always emphasised the fact that Junkyard got signed nine months after forming. However, the origins of the band and the respective musicians go back even further.

All of the band members were paying their dues way before Junkyard started. Guitarists Chris Gates and Brian Baker have been at it since 1980 beginning with punk bands “Minor Threat” and “The Big Boys”. Bass player Todd Muscat and drummer Patrick Mazingo had been at it since 1983 with the band “Decry”.

So they get together and form a new band in 1987. Labels started to become interested. Virgin came knocking first based on an 8 track demo the band did. However during a gig with Jane’s Addiction and Green River, they got approached by Geffen. The A&R rep at that time also knew about the members previous punk bands and a deal was made.

The excellent Tom Werman was on hand to produce the debut album that came out in 1989. The engineer was Duane Baron who was also no slouch in the producer chair either.

While others complain about Werman’s work ethic or input, the Junkyard team had nothing but praise. However, another candidate that was considered was Matt Wallace, who did the initial demos that Geffen financed before they gave the go ahead for the full album to be recorded. Matt Wallace was a more eclectic producer, being involved with artists like “The Replacements”, “John Hiatt” and “Faith No More”.

“Blooze”

It is the album opener and it kicks it off in style.

“Simple Man”

“Throwing pennies into the wishing well”

Chris Gates wrote it before the band even got together. I love that lyric line. So simple but effective.

“Shot In The Dark”

Not the Ozzy version. This one is more raucous and sleazy. I think the term they used in the Eighties was “Snotty”.

“Hollywood”

Looks like Zakk Wylde was listening to Junkyard as the intro and feel of the song could have inspired Ozzy’s “I Don’t Wanna Change The World”. Chris Gates tells that story that the idea for the riff came from a “Cheech & Chong” movie however after the song was finished he went back to see if he could find the scene where Tommy Chong played the riff and he couldn’t find it.

Credit insane French Canadian video director Jean Pellerin for the cool “Hollywood” clip that MTV picked up and put into rotation.

“Life Sentence”

Musically it reminds me of Motorhead’s “Ace Of Spades”.

“Texas”

“More uptempo driven re-write of “La Grange” from ZZ Top.

“Hands Off”

It continues with the Southern Rock/Gospel Rock style feel. But the lyrics. Man they take the cake for some of the most funniest shit ever committed to music.

The darker “Sixes, Sevens & Nines” came next and by 1992 the band was dropped from Geffen. That is how quickly fortunes changed in the era of record label control. The band knew what was up. The writing was on the wall. All of their contemporaries were getting dropped.

This is what drummer Patrick Muzingo said in an interview with SleazeRoxx.

“We decided it’s about time for us to face reality and get real jobs. Sure, we were bummed and still wanted to be a band but we also were extremely responsible adults and, from the get go, knew we weren’t gonna become millionaires doing this. We all got REAL jobs and went our separate ways. Some of us continued on with new bands for a few years, others got careers. There was no drama when we spilt up. No BS.”

If you are a musician and have dreams of making millions, then I will give you a second to digest the above comments because that is reality. Even the musicians today that complain that the past was better are misleading people. Junkyard had a major label contract and when it all ended they had to go get real jobs.

They wrote and recorded material for a third album with the working title “103,000 People Can’t Be Wrong” (which was a reference to the first week sales of album number 2) but the record never got made for various reasons.

The band wanted to produce it themselves so Geffen gave them an ultimatum.

Record it with a real producer, however they will give no marketing support or touring support.

Or they would release the band from their deal and allow the band to shop the record to other labels.

But no other label would come forth to support them as all of the labels had moved on to find the next Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden or Alice In Chains.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Record Store Day

For “Record Store Day” I paid $30AUS for the “Killers and Kings” single from Machine Head.

Online I can purchase the single for $15US from the Nuclear Blast store.

So I selected the three other covers that I didn’t have and added them to my cart. The total was now sitting at $45US. Then I registered my account and since I am in Australia I was charged $29US for postage and handling. The total of my purchase was now sitting at $74US. Once I paid it via PayPal, the final payment figure from me was $82.21 in Australian dollars.

That equates to about $27AUS for each single.

Now if the Independent Record Store was selling it for $30AUS, then that would mean that the actual independent record store would be making $3 per item.

Hell if that is the mark up for each limited edition item they were selling and let’s just say that one record store sold 200 items, that would mean that the pure profit for the record store would be $600 for that day.

So is the “Record Store Day” there to benefit/save the independent record store?

And to put a spanner in the math, the actual royalty paid back to the band is a percentage on the wholesale price. And the wholesale price is about 50% to 80% lower than the retail price.

Let’s use the Machine Head example.

If the wholesale price of each single would be between $3 to $7.50 and if the royalty rate is a generous 20%. That would mean for each single sold the band would get between 60c to $1.50 royalty cut, to split between 4 people, plus a manager and a legal team.

So what happens when there is an advance upfront payment.

The band takes the money upfront, forsaking (in a lot of cases) any claims on royalties and the risk resides with the label on recouping that advance payment with the single release, the album release and other types of releases.

Either way, Record Store Day is not there to save the record stores. It is there to replace the revenue lost by the record labels due to the declining CD sales. It has nothing to do with keeping the record store open or trying to save the mum and dad independent record store.

It is pure label greed.

Sort of like how the record labels are going after Pandora again. This time around they are suing the internet radio service for not paying to use sound recordings made prior to 1972. But hang on second neither does terrestrial radio.

So what we have is the following scenario;

– Record company lawyers are filing cases against Pandora in state courts. This will enrich them.
– It will do nothing to put money in the hands of the artists.
– What will happen is that Pandora will more or less stop playing these pre-1972 recordings instead of paying another license fee that federal law says you don’t have to pay.
– If the legal bills mount up for Pandora they will go out of business and the 60% royalty rates that Pandora paid will disappear from the record label and publishing companies bottom lines.
– It would do nothing to bring in more money.
– It still doesn’t solve the industry’s biggest problem which is to find a new business model that replaces the revenue lost from the decline of CD sales.

It is pure label greed. To use a phrase that they use in relation to piracy, “IT IS THEFT, PLAIN AND SIMPLE”.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Innovation V5.0 – It Just Keeps Getting Better from Liberation Music and Rightscorp

Each week, the technology industry and the sites that enable copyright infringing are innovating at a rapid rate to stay ahead of the curve.

YIFY is one of the more popular torrent sites out there. Instead of resting on their laurels they are innovation even more. Read this article. You will see all the development that YIFY carries out. These are the people who the recording industry need to employ, not shutdown. But when the entertainment industry only cares about dollars, sites like YIFY that facilitate sharing are seen as the bad guys.

The funny thing in all of this, is that Napster showed the entertainment industries what people want 15 years ago. So why haven’t they listened. Spotify is trying to compete however it is failing because people still want to download a song for free and be able to do anything they want with it. And they want to do it easy and with no strings attached.

In relation to the entertainment industries, check out their “wonderful” innovation list.

This one has been going on for some time. Liberation Music sent a bogus take down notice to YouTube on a presentation that Larry Lessig posted back in June 2013. Now for those that don’t know, Larry Lessig is a famed professor and a copyright/fair use expert. So they picked the wrong guy to try to censor. Lessig then filed a counter-notice and Liberation threatened to sue for copyright infringement if Lessig didn’t retract his counter-notice.

So who is Liberation Music. Of course they have to be from the same country that I am from, good old Australian. So Liberation Music owns the Australian copyright for a song called “Lisztomania” by the band Phoenix. The Lessig presentation has a snippet of that music.

Let me get this straight. Liberation is an Australian label, who owns the copyright for a song in Australia only and then issues a bogus take down notice on an US presentation that has a tiny “fair use” snippet on it.

So in response, Lessig filed for declaratory judgment and sought damages for the bogus take down offer. Liberation finally came to its senses when it realised it was going to lose and agreed to settle the case with Lessig, paying him an undisclosed sum that Lessig then passed on to the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) who worked on the case.

Moving on to some innovative news, we have the latest internet troll Rightscorp at it again. This time they are trolling the torrent public trackers for IP addresses that are linked to the torrenting of songs that are on the Billboard 100. Nice business model if people actually get scared by the threats and pay. If they send out 10 million notices a year and 1 million pay the $20 infringement tax, then that is a cool $20 million.

Surely some of that money will go back to the artist, songwriter, producer or the performers. Innovation has ceased/never began for the Record Labels. All in the name of the guaranteed dollar.

http://torrentfreak.com/revealed-the-secrets-of-yify-torrents-network-140223/

http://torrentfreak.com/lawrence-lessig-wins-damages-for-bogus-youtube-takedown-140228/

http://torrentfreak.com/billboard-100-pirates-automated-fines-140227/

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

Lessons To Learn From Don Henley: How many hard rock and heavy metal bands are seeking to reclaim their recordings?

When it comes to music, I am still catching up. In the last few days, I have revisited Don Henley and Doobie Brothers.

As I was listening to Don Henley I started to jot down the songs that I liked. By the time I got to his 2009, “The Very Best of”, the list was almost identical to what was on the Best of album. After hearing the songs over and over again, I still don’t like “All She Wants To Do Is Dance”, “Sunset Grill”, “For My Wedding”, “Everything Is Different Now” and “Taking You Home”. They just don’t resonate.

Basically, Don Henley’s solo output to me as a casual fan of his music is a perfect example of some good songs and the rest as filler. I know that all the Don Henley fans will lynch me for saying it. But that is the truth to the casual fan.

From the first album, “I Can’t Stand Still” released in 1982, the standout songs to me are the title track “I Can’t Stand Still” and “Dirty Laundry”.

The themes in “Dirty Laundry” are still relevant today. Back in 1982, Henley displayed his disgust with the media and tabloid news. Today, people are airing their dirty laundry on Facebook, Twitter and other forums.

From the second album, “Building The Perfect Beast” released in 1984, the standout songs are “The Boys Of Summer”, “Not Enough Love In The World” and “Land Of The Living”.

What can I say, “The Boys Of Summer” was huge. It gave Don Henley a four-year victory lap (plus he served notice to Geffen Records that he will be reclaiming the recording of this song in 2019), because the third album, “The End Of The Innocence” didn’t come out until 1989. The standout songs are “The End Of The Innocence”, “New York Minute”, “The Last Worthless Evening” and the closer “The Heart Of The Matter”. The other songs don’t matter. It is these four songs that matter.

Bob Lefsetz said that to appreciate and to really get “The Heart Of The Matter” you need to have lived. You need to have played the game of love, lost and picked yourself up again. And he is right. While all of the kids make top 10 lists of what’s cool, classic songs like “The Heart Of The Matter” get lost.

“Actual Miles: Henley’s Greatest Hits” came in 1995. And I actually liked all of the three new songs. “The Garden of Allah”, “You Don’t Know Me At All”, and Henley’s cover of “Everybody Knows”.

“Inside Job” came in 2000. It was 11 years since his last solo album and on a different label. Geffen was gone and Warner Bros was in. This is the album that had better songs and since it was 11 years between solo albums, Henley had some time to perfect them.

My favourites are “Nobody Else In The World But You”, “Everything Is Different Now”, “Workin It”, “Goodbye To A River”, “Inside Job” and “My Thanksgiving.”

In between solo albums, Henley has been busy with the Eagles, Geffen contract issues, Copyright issues against Record Labels, termination rights on songs and the Eagles again.

That is why Don Henley is important. He knows his rights. While people criticise musicians who turn into business people, it was inevitable that musicians will end up taking the business path. The great record label rip off/exploitation caused it. It is just unfortunate that a lot of the musicians that didn’t achieve world-wide domination still don’t realise their rights on songs that they made famous. Not a lot of hard rock and heavy metal bands are serving notice to their record label to reclaim songs they had written 35 years ago.

While I don’t agree on everything Henley does, like sending a cease and desist letter to an independent band or trying to get a remix law taken off the radar, the bottom line is this, he is a musician that looks out for his own interests. And that is why we loved our heroes.

Remember the creed from the past.

Artists were always reinventing themselves and taking risks.

In relation to music, sometimes the audience went with it and other times they didn’t. Risk isn’t always negative. Positive outcomes can come from risk.

However it seems to be that a lot of artists are playing it safe. Don Henley on the other hand is still taking risks. Not so much musically, but politically.

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

The Winners In Music are always the Gamblers

REFORMS and CHANGES present challenges for every business. So why should it be any different for the Music and Entertainment Business?

AMC is a large power player in TV at the moment. So if they employ the Record Label business model, AMC should now scream piracy and get different laws passed to help protect their past incomes.

However they are not doing that? AMC recently announced that two new pilots have been ordered in Galyntine (which looks like a competitor for Revolution) and Knifeman (set in 18th century London and telling a story about a genius who challenges the normality of society in his quest to discover.) On top of that they already have ordered pilots for Line of Sight, Preacher, Raiders, The Terror, an Untitled The Walking Dead Spin-off and White City. Add to this list shows that passed the pilot stage and are in the scripted stage, with debuts set for 2014 like Better Call Saul, Halt & Catch Fire, Turn and King Of Arms.

That is a lot of gambles they are taking in order to remain relevant. Are the record labels doing that? Are artists doing that?

Then you have Netflix. Netflix is an innovator when it comes to movies. They provide a service to fans that the actual movie studios refused to provide.

Recently they branched out in original programming. House Of Cards was a success. Not just the show, but the way Netflix released it. This is the “all at once/binge viewing” model. This is what fans want today instead of the old school weekly episodes model.

So it was only a matter of time before other players came knocking on Netflix’s door. And that was Marvel.

Marvel will produce five shows for the platform, one each about heroes Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage (formerly known as Power Man) and Iron Fist. The four individual superhero shows will then merge into a fifth show called The Defenders where the four heroes work together as a team. If these shows prove to be popular, no one knows, however it is a risk that a lot of people are taking.

The above demonstrates that entertainment is all about the new. If artists are not investing in their future, they might as well scream piracy or move into another career.

In business, you need to adjust your way of doing things to suit the reforms, otherwise you will go out of business. So why is it that in the Entertainment business, the major players need laws to be re-written, they need people prosecuted, they need websites taken down, they need the police to act on evidence provided by the Lobby Groups and they just scream and complain about everything else.

Music was always a risk game. The great success stories in the music business always came from left field. Even now, if you look at the great mainstream success stories recently, no one predicted Adele to sell over 10 million albums of her “21” album and she did that with her album available for free on all the illegal downloading sites.

No one expected an unknown New Zealand singer Lorde to out sell “the superstars – backed by a huge marketing budget” like Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus. Of course, she got a big boost by Sean Parker, who added her song “Royals” to his Hipster Spotify list, which has over 800,000 followers.

Money spent building up and marketing an artist doesn’t always make money. What the label or the A&R rep believes in doesn’t always equate to what the fans of music believe in.

No one predicted that the self-produced and financed Five Finger Death Punch debut album would be certified GOLD in the US, three years after its release. “The Way Of The Fist” was released and distributed via Finnish record label Spinefarm in Europe and in America it was distributed via artist and talent management company The Firm. They didn’t even have a major label behind them.

The album came out on July 31, 2007 in the U.S, selling only 5,400 copies in its first week and debuting at No. 199 on the Billboard 200 chart. In relation to charting, its highest position was No. 107 on the Billboard 200 chart. However, the album just kept on selling on a weekly basis and it was certified gold by the R.I.A.A for selling in excess of 500,000 copies as of April 1, 2010. Don’t be surprised if the album is certified platinum by 2015.

There is plenty of money to be made if the artist is good and if the artist is in a position to take it. If the music is poor, then it is no one’s fault except the artist.

No one has a guarantee that they will make it in the music business. No one is entitled to make it in the music business.

That is what art is all about. Entertainment is not a safety net. It is always about the new. If artists can get by in music, good luck. If they can’t, then they need to write better songs. No one cares if family and friends like the song.

In Australia, we have a shortfall of skilled fitters and machinists. We are even importing them from overseas. However to be musicians, the queues stretch across city blocks when X Factor, Voice, Idol and Got Talent shows hit town.

Today there is a new generation of artist that have grown up with the “everyone gets a trophy” paradigm regardless of how good they are. So you have a new generation cruising on sub-standard effort. It is those artists that didn’t play in the local soccer team that end up succeeding.

In my opinion, the music business began to decline when the label executives tried to become as famous as the artists. That is when the labels stopped caring about music and started caring about the Forbes Top 100 and profits. That was when reforms, innovation and changes went out the window, to be replaced by maintaining the profits that came.

In relation to profits, if artists are not making any money from music, what that means is that they are basically not good enough at the moment to capitalise. This applies to artists starting off, to artists paying their dues and to artists who were once successful. Artists need to realise that they are not entitled to people’s attention today based on past victories.

Look at your local sporting franchise. When they start losing, they struggle to fill stadiums, however when they are winning, no one can get a ticket.

In relation to music, I love Metallica, however everything they have done since the Black album has been worth a listen, but that’s it. There is no desire to go back and give it multiple spins. To prove my point, go and name the full track list of Reload without Googling it. However, they have taken gambles. St Anger was a gamble, the symphony concert was a gamble, the LULU project was a gamble and the 3D movie was a gamble. Some pay off and some don’t.

YouTube and Spotify allow us to sample and move on. If it is great, we stick around. But the music industry complains.

The truck drivers that transport CD’s are out of work, the people who work at the CD manufacturing warehouses are out of a job, the $2000 a day recording studios are out of business because people can record at home. Finally, you have the recording industry propping up the large record stores like HMV.

It’s not like anyone wants to go back to the days when we paid twenty dollars to buy an album, just to get home and find out it’s terrible. It’s not like we want to go back to the days of not being able to afford the great records that we couldn’t hear because we outlaid our money on duds the week before.

If the music is that good, the fans will come out to seek it and when we do, the artist needs to be in a position that they can capitalise on it as there’s plenty of money to be made.

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