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

1986 – Part 3.3: Savatage – Fight For The Rock

My journey began with “Gutter Ballet” and moved forward with “Streets: A Rock Opera” before going back to the earlier albums.

So even though “Fight For The Rock” was released in 1986, it wasn’t until the early 90’s that I heard it.

I studied WW2 in History a fair bit and the cover is instantly recognisable recreating the “Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima” photo and cancel culture today has found this recreation to be offensive or insensitive.

Who would have thought?

The band for the album is “the classic line-up” in Jon Oliva on vocals and piano, Criss Oliva (RIP) on guitars, Johnny Lee Middleton on bass and Steve Doc Wacholz on drums.

The Paul O’Neill co-writes and production credits was still an album away, so this album is produced by Stephan Galfas, who had had worked with Stryper on “To Hell With The Devil”, Meatloaf’s ignored “Dead Ringer” album and a few John Waite albums before he worked with Savatage. Post Savatage he worked on Saxon’s much maligned but a favourite to me, “Destiny” album.

The band members have voiced their displeasure with the album.

You will read the usual “record label wanted us to make it” or “pressured us to make it” phrases mentioned but if the album did well commercially, then the narrative from the band members might be very different.

For the record, I hate the power the labels had back then. They could make or break a career.

But in the end, they are in the money making business and they would do whatever it takes to make money.

If Savatage said “NO” to the record label demands, it would be career suicide. So caught between a rock and a hard place, I suppose they really had to “fight for the rock” on this one, so they could get another chance at making an album.

Musically, its Savatage as I know em. Lyrically, they are a bit different.

The Fight For The Rock

A Criss Oliva riff starts the album, rooted in the sound of heavy metal that I like.

“Warriors of the fight, you are in force tonight”, says Jon Oliva, about rock being here to stay. By 1986, it was all overused cliches.

At 2.04, it goes into a synth lick before it builds up into the solo section, which is essential listening for any guitarist.

Out On The Streets

It feels like a 70’s cut, with its acoustic guitar arpeggios and weird synth sounds.

By the time the Chorus rolls around, the major chords make it sound happy, while the lyrics are about feeling sad due to a romance falling apart.

Press play for the brief acoustic guitar melodic lick after the Chorus.

And I like the solo from Criss Oliva, it’s got blues and fast melodic legato lines with inventive phrasing.

Crying For Love

The intro with violins and fingerpicked clean tone guitars is a great listen but misleading when it comes to the song because it’s a rocker, with a classic Savatage riff from Criss Oliva in the verses.

The Chorus is Hard AOR Rock. It’s an obvious attempt.

Criss Oliva knows how to create a lead. He starts off with some fast open string pull off licks before going into his usual fast legato lines.

Day After Day

A Badfinger cover and that 70’s “Leader Of The Pack” vibe comes through.

The Edge Of Midnight

An Andrew Lloyd Webber “Phantom Of The Opera” organ begins the song, which brings in some classical elements. Lyrically it’s not the best, but musically the riffs are an amalgamation of hard rock and heavy metal.

Check out the verse riff, Skid Row would use riffs like this on two multi-platinum albums.

Hyde

There’s some good progressive metal like riffs here.

How good is it the way Jon Oliva sings “Hy-I-ide” and then Criss Oliva mimics the vocal melody the next repeat?

Lady In Disguise

A riff similar to “Wishing Well” is the centrepiece of this song. It’s almost Queen like in its musical composition.

She’s Only Rock N Roll

The main riff (which is also the verse riff) is classic Savatage, which also reminds me of Richie Blackmore’s Rainbow.

Check out the lead break.

Wishing Well

A Free cover and I think this was my first exposure to this song. The slight increase in tempo makes the track sound more metal than rock.

Musically, it’s a great song and the vocal melodies from Paul Rodgers, delivered by Jon Oliva are excellent

Red Light Paradise

It sounds like soundtrack music and for some reason, the “Cobra” movie with Stallone comes to mind.

To repeat, musically its good, lyrically it could be better but the sound is still Savatage.

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A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

The Week In Destroyer Of Harmony History – September 20 to September 26

4 Years Ago (2017)

After three weeks of zero posts it was James Durbin that got me out of the rut.

His first album dropped in 2011 and its a hard rock album. “Higher Than Heaven” is my favorite track. It’s melodic and heavy enough to rock and a co-write with James Michael and Marti Frederiksen.

Then album number 2 dropped in 2014 and it was not what I expected, more in line with the Imagine Dragons style of rock.

So I just moved on.

And then “The Road” came up on the New Release Playlist as I was driving.

I’d like to tell you that I knew it was Durbin on vocals just from hearing him, but I had to google it to find out. Hell I had to Google who was in that version of Quiet Riot. 

Frankie Banali has been the drummer for the band since DuBrow reformed it in the 80s after the death of Rhoads. Bassist Chuck Wright replaced Rudy Sarzo and has been in and out of QR since the 80s. Guitarist Alex Grosso has been in a lot of hard rock bands and ended up in QR in 2006. 

I wrote back in 2017 to go and listen to “The Road” first, then “Renegades” and “Freak Flag”. They are songs that should remain around for a lot longer. And I still stand by that but looking at Spotify, these songs doesn’t even rate in the Top 10.

Unfortunately this version of QR would record one more album. But, drama surrounded that release. Durbin left before it’s release and Banali went missing, only for the world to find out that he was dying from cancer.

But QR continues.

Johnny Kelly from Type O Negative and Danzig joins on drums. Jizzy Pearl is on vocals again. Alex Grossi remains on guitar and Rudy Sarzo has rejoined.

8 Years Ago (2013)

DID PIRACY ASSIST THE COMEBACK OF TWISTED SISTER?

Young people today do not realise the impact that Twisted Sister had on the music business around 1984 and 1985. Sure, other bands had greater sales and bigger tours, however no one did MTV like Twisted Sister.

But by 1987 it was game over for Twisted Sister.

So how did they come back?

LAST MAN STANDING

The “Because We Can” tour should of been renamed to “Because I Can”.

Richie Sambora didn’t show up to work but the show went on as JBJ had a replacement for Sambora on the same day.

Then Tico Torres undergoes emergency appendectomy surgery and the band POSTPONES their Mexico concert. This would have pissed the Jovi machine.

Then Tico fell ill again, but JBJ had a back up plan this time in New Jersey native and Kings Of Suburbia drummer Rich Scannella, who filled in until Tico was cleared to play.

The show must go on for JBJ as those super large merchandise deals means that the tour cannot stop. Merchandise deals become very expensive to the artist if they are broken or if the sales do not meet targets or if the promised shows are not delivered. Just ask Dee Snider.

DREAM THEATER PREDICTIONS

It was almost September 24, 2013 and the new self titled Dream Theater album would be “officially” released on Roadrunner.

Going back a few more years, on September 13, 2011, “A Dramatic Turn Of Events” was released and it had 35,750 units sold in the first week.

With Roadrunner putting a lot of money into Dream Theater, they would want the above figures to increase by at least 20% but the market at that point in time was showing a shrinkage in sales compared to two years ago, due to licensed streaming.

But as album sales went down, concert attendances went up as well as ticket prices.

MOTLEY CRUE REVISION

“MOTLEY STILL SINGERLESS” is the headline from a news break item that did the rounds in an issue of Hot Metal from June 1992.

For anyone who wasn’t aware, Motley Crue and Vince Neil parted ways in February 1992. The actual argument took place on February 11, 1992, with Motley Crue issuing the official statement on Neil’s departure on February 14, 1992.

The Crue wanted everyone to believe that they started working with John Corabi immediately, from as earliest as February 17, 1992, however it wasn’t until September 27, 1992, that John Corabi officially signed a contract to be Motley Crue’s new lead vocalist.

Sebastian Bach’s claimed that he did in fact audition during that period which Nikki Sixx denied on Twitter.

The other vocalists that are known to have auditioned are Stevie Rachelle from the band Tuff, Marq Torien from the band Bullet Boys and Stephen Shareaux from the band Kik Tracee.

40 WORD REVIEWS – FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH

It is a pretty solid album, sticking to what they know best. I would rank it the same as “American Capitalist”, part two of what came before.

40 WORD REVIEWS – DREAM THEATER

Download “Illumination Theory”, “Behind The Veil” and “The Looking Glass”. “The Bigger Picture” also has some great musical sections.  As for defining what Dream Theater is about right now; technical wizardry comes first and the actual song comes second.

40 WORD REVIEWS – THIRTY SECONDS TO MARS

The women of the world will love this album and the majority of guys will love the track “Conquistador.” A grand experiment in orchestra style theatrics merged with rock and pop sensibilities. 

CERVELLO

I just heard Cervello’s debut album (released in 2011) in 2013 and I liked it. I wanted to find out more information, only to find that they had broken up.

40 WORD REVIEWS – CANDLELIGHT RED

This album is more or less “B” grade Sevendust except for the last track “Sleeping Awake” which sounds like an “A” grade cut that should have been on Red’s “Release The Panic” album.

40 WORD REVIEWS – WITHIN TEMPTATION

A brilliant hard rock covers album of pop songs. Songs that I originally dismissed as terrible suddenly have a new lease of life thanks to Within Temptation’s reinterpretation and Sharon’s wonderful voice. 

BURNING YESTERDAY

I have had some music laying around that I earmarked once upon a time for a re-listen in a proper way.

“Burning Yesterday” was one such band.

Their album from 2009, “We Create Monsters Not Machines” was an amalgamation of bands like Red, Papa Roach, Breaking Benjamin, Skillet and Disciple. And I liked it, so give em a spin.

And that’s another wrap for another week.

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

The Week In Destroyer Of Harmony History – August 23 to August 29

4 Years Ago (2017)

PEOPLE CREATE VALUE

Do artists create value or does the audience create value?

I believe it’s the audience.

We are the ones who decide what song or album we will give our time and money to.

And it’s a cold hard truth for any creator out there. The art they create has no value at the start. It might later, if people decide it’s valuable.

DEF LEPPARD

Def Leppard was huge from 1983 to 1992. Even their sound was huge with multi-layered vocals and instrumentation.

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.

Because of piracy.

No one could purchases or access Def Leppard’s digital music library legally between 2000 and 2017 (apart from the few forgeries the band did themselves and the live releases), so people obtained the music illegally.

And just like that Def Leppard replenished their fan base with younger fans. 

“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

8 Years Ago (2013)

MACHINE HEAD

Machine Head is a favourite. And if you want to read a post on some deep album cuts then here it is.

QUEENSRYCHE

Queensryche appealed to me for a few reasons.

  1. Insightful lyrics
  2. Great messages and themes in the songs
  3. Brilliant arrangements and guitar playing.
  4. Each album that they released with Chris DeGarmo followed my own changing musical tastes.

So I did a post on some semi-obscure Queensryche songs.

RECORD FAIRS

I did a post of my score at a Record Fair.

And I’m thinking what is the point of em when most of the stuff is priced high. But I still go. The collector in me makes me go.

100 MILLION STREAMS

Daft Punk’s track “Get Lucky” by August 2013 had been streamed 104,233,480 times. 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 down to Daft Punk from Columbia Records is unknown?

For a song that was released in April 2013, it’s proven to be a pretty good earner.

And i was wondering when Metal and rock bands would cross that 100 million mark. Well by 2021, a lot of em have and in the case of Queen, they’ve even crossed the billion mark.

DREAM THEATER

I was re-reading a Kerrang interview that Derek Oliver conducted with Dream Theater back in 1989. It has the title; “PROG ROCK LIVES… RUN TO THE HILLS.”

It’s the same Derek Oliver that negotiated Dream Theater’s deal with Atco. It’s full of praise.

But it’s not 1989 anymore.

It was 2013.

Dream Theater was about to release their first self-titled album. Music is getting released left, right and centre. Independent DIY bands are competing against label funded bands.

Was Dream Theater still one of the most innovative bands in town?

VITO BRATTA

It’s 1991 and Vito Bratta is doing the rounds for the Mane Attraction album. And he was uncomfortable.

A few years before this is what Vito Bratta said in the June 1989 issue of Kerrang magazine.

“I hate recording. I can’t stand it. I cant stand the pressures of writing and recording a record. If they told me tomorrow that i was going to go out on tour for fives years, i’d say, fine, i love it. Playing every night is what i love.”

When Vito did the Eddie Trunk show in 2007, he had this to say about the expectations placed on them by the Record Label;

“So the record company’s saying we need another “Pride”.

I say, “Ok, so what exactly does that mean?”

The label goes, “we need the hit singles”

I go, “listen the songs we gave you, on “Pride” weren’t hit singles written purposely to be to be hit singles. They were just songs that became hit singles and they were just songs we wrote. Now you’ve got somebody telling you now, you have to purposely write a hit single.

Now how do you do that?

How do you purposely write a hit single, I mean there are people out there that do that…”

In a Guitar World interview from the June 1991, Brad Tolinski asked Vito if Mane Attraction was difficult to make.

“In a way it was. It was the first time I ever felt real pressure. When we recorded our first record, “Fight To Survive”, we were real naive and just happy to have a deal.

Our next record, “Pride”, was also very relaxed. It was written over a period of three years, so we had plenty of time to compose and experiment. “Pride” went double platinum, which was both good and bad.

When we went to record the follow-up, “Big Game”, everyone told us, “Don’t worry, whatever you write will sell a million.”

There wasn’t any real fire or hunger on that record. We were playing arenas, getting big checks in the mail, getting calls that we were going platinum, and so on.

On top of that, we had convinced ourselves that we had to write hit singles in order to maintain our popularity, and in the end “Big Game” was too contrived. It didn’t sell as well as “Pride”.

This is what Vito had to say on the Eddie Trunk show;

“Big Game” was a setback for the Label. It didn’t sell as many. We were doing a headlining tour of Europe by ourselves for the “Big Game” album and they (the Label) said, “wouldn’t it be great if we played at Wembley with Motley Crue and Skid Row?”

Skid Row went on and they were just killing the place. And Motley Crue had a great show and here we are sandwiched in between.

We realized, that night, on stage at Wembley that these songs from the “Big Game” album aren’t translating well in the live show.

So we all looked at each other on stage and said we need to throw in some of our better stuff in here. I was like what better stuff. We need to write more for who we are because these songs are not translating.

Then we went back to the States and we told the record label, no more tours on this album. We are going to do the album that we want to do. And they said well considering how the last album went, they said “go ahead”.

They gave us unlimited funds.

“Mane Attraction” was a half a million dollar record. They just said go and do everything that you want.”

And the album failed to connect with a large audience.

1986 vs 2013

And example of how the post flowed.

In 1986, Jon Bon Jovi was in debt to his record label and still living with his parents. Then the “band” Bon Jovi released their biggest seller, “Slippery When Wet”.

I’m 2013, Jon Bon Jovi was flush with money and the band Bon Jovi released their biggest dud, in “What About Now” and Richie Sambora was booted.

In 1986, Megadeth released “Peace Sells.. But Who’s Buying”, which in their case, everyone was buying.

In 2013, Megadeth released “Supercollider” and no one was buying.

In 1986, Queensryche released a superior album in “Rage For Order”.

In 2013, Queensryche became two seperate bands that ended up releasing two inferior albums in “Frequency Unknown” (Geoff Tate version) and “Queensryche” (Todd LaTorre version).

The fans are screaming for order.

In 1986, Vinnie Vincent invaded the charts, with a point to prove.

In 2013, Vinnie Vincent is.

COG – ARE YOU INTERESTED?

Databases store everything we do online. And one of my favorite acts Cog had a song about it many years ago.

Yes they’re making lists of people interested in this
And they’re scanning all their databases
Hunting terrorists
Yes they’re making lists of people interested in this
And anyone who speaks their mind is labelled anarchist

GOVERNMENTS SPYING

Our Government’s get caught red handed spying on it’s own citizens and artists needed to take a stand on this.

But no one did.

And that’s another wrap for another week.

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

The Week In Destroyer Of Harmony History – August 9 to August 15

4 Years Ago (2017)

Thinking short term hurts us. Every leader thinks about the now and never about what’s around the bend. The majority of people in charge of corporations only care about the now.

What is our bottom line looking like?

There is no care about their environmental footprint or employee well-being.

Record labels are the same. They focus so much on first week sales and charts as they believe it brings in an instant payday, without understanding that the payday they are really earning is from music created 30 plus years ago and it just percolated, slowly rising to the top.

Have you heard of the record labels starting to employ artists as employees and offer them retirement plans?

Of course not. That’s long term thinking.

And while everyone kept complaining that Spotify doesn’t pay, they couldn’t explain how Warner accumulated $360 million dollars in streaming fees from em.

All of those artists who sold their rights to the labels and publishers are losing out in the long run but maybe winning in the short term.

I was writing about the 80s and listening to music those bands released in the early 90s.

And I didn’t see much dumbing down of lyrics in the way the writers of the time claimed. And that’s why grunge took over. Instead I saw better lyrics, more mature lyrics, lyrics that showcased highs and lows.

8 Years Ago (2013)

Music and movies just didn’t seem to last anymore.

So why would artists and film makers spend so much time on making one project every two to three years.

George Lucas once said that the $200 million movie is dead. But in 2013, a lot of blockbusters cost over $200 million and man didn’t they flop big time.

Movies like “R.I.P.D “ (a derivative version of Ghostbusters and Men In Black) and “The Lone Ranger” (a derivative version of The Lone Ranger TV show, National Treasure and Pirates of The Caribbean) came to mind.

For some reason, Hollywood still believes that they need a $200 million movie, meanwhile, the movies that did well in 2013 had lower budgets.

“The Conjuring” cost $20 million and when I wrote the article in 2013 it had made made $140 million and when I checked it today, it was at $319.5 million.

“The Heat” cost $43 million to make and in 2013 it had made $190 million and in 2021 it was at $229.9 million.

“Now You See Me” cost $75 million to make and in 2013 it had made $233 million and in 2021, the figures was at $351.7 million.

So is a $200 million budget movie really worth it or should those big budgets be used to make 5 lower budget movies.

So is social media a way to broadcast to people or connect with people?

And while I was critical of Dream Theater having a listening party with no fans, a few weeks later, they invited a select group of fans to experience the new album.

I was reading a lot about “The Pirate Bay” as it turned 10 years in 2013.

From its inception”TPB” is like a number one act, albeit a controversial act, always on top of the charts.

And it all happened via word of mouth in the same way we used to talk about artists and movies back in the day.

Or you can do like Lady Gaga, who would manipulate the mainstream media to write about her and get her loyal “monsters” to spread the word.

Are deluxe editions just overpriced boxes, offering the same thing over and over again for a higher price or offering something of value to a super fan that no one can get anywhere else?

The “Dream Theater” self-titled deluxe edition box set had the same album on a CD, a VINYL LP version and a FLAC version in a box and they charged over a $100 just to format shift the same music.

Meanwhile for half the price (at $55) Coheed and Cambria’s “The Afterman Limited Edition Deluxe Box Set Amory Award Edition” gives you the albums, the demos, a DVD making of, a VIP pass, a book of the story, and notes about the songs, plus a link to download the album and demos on mp3.

Back in the Eighties, the goal was to work in the music business for a record label while you dreamed of being a rock star. Fast forward thirty years and the goal is to work in technology as the new rock stars are the tech heads.

Artists don’t need a middle man to distribute their music, but artists are in love with the story of fame and wealth however they don’t understand that the aim of the game is to outlast the competition.

The “rock star myth” was a deliberate creation of the major labels. Wannabe musicians bought it hook, line and sinker, signing everything away to be the next star. And the Labels licked their lips at all the talent waiting to be exploited.

Stand Or Walk Away” is an underrated cut from “HellYeah”.

It’s got a “Kashmir” like groove I like. The head nods, the foot starts to tap and the fingers start to lay down the beat. There is a sense of classic rock familiarity that intrigues me and it is modern at the same time.

One last thing, when the future generations write the history of metal guitarists, talented players like Greg Tribbet will be forgotten. But he shouldn’t be.

Tribbet is a sum of his influences.

He can be progressive (Mudvayne’s 2nd album is the piece d resistance in progressive riffage), he can be heavy, he can be a guitar hero and he can be soulful, bluesy and even countrish. He is a great talent.

And since we are in the single music era, go and stream the crap out of this song. It will be worth your time.

And that’s another wrap for another week.

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

Sacred Copyright

I thought I’ll go with a Dio title for this post since I’m on a Dio kick at the moment.

Ahh, Copyright. A right created for creators to have a monopoly on their creations for a limited time, which was hijacked by corporations (Record Labels, Movie Studios and Publishers) and recently Investment funds.

I’m not a fan of “The Jesus and Mary Chain” but like so many artists before them, they are going to court because their label Warner Music doesn’t want to give them back the rights to their debut album, “Psycho Candy” released in 1985, even though the law states that they should.

This got me thinking about John Waite, who also went to court, because UMG wouldn’t give him back his rights.

And he didn’t win, because on the contract he signed, it was his “loan out company” on the paperwork and not him. Loan out companies are set up by the creator to employ themselves. This gives the artists a lot of tax benefits and when organisations make agreements with the artists, it is via their “loan out company”.

Read this post on CopyrightLately.com for an excellent explanation.

So UMG took the position that Waite didn’t grant them the copyrights, his company did and a company is not eligible to terminate a copyright.

Now for the triple smack down.

Are you ready?

The termination clauses in the Copyright Act, only allow natural persons and the heirs to terminate a copyright, so individuals benefit and not corporations. Yet, it is a corporation like Warner Music and UMG who benefit if the copyrights don’t revert back to the creators.

What a mess?

Waite’s tax-planning vehicle has crashed his termination rights and he had no idea that would be the case when he formed his loan out company.

And while creators are fighting to get back their songs, other creators are fighting to get back control of their brand. The estate of Chris Cornell, which is run by Vicky Cornell, has been controlling Soundgarden’s website and social media accounts. The surviving members of Soundgarden have asked previously for access, but they have been denied and they have not been happy about it.

Vicky Cornell sued the remaining members in 2019, accusing them of withholding royalties to force her to hand over recordings that Chris Cornell worked on before his death. And at the start of 2021, she sued them again over money and then offered to buy out the other members so she could control the Soundgarden brand.

But the change of ownership is a step in the right direction.

Meanwhile, Gene Simmons from KISS has become a lobbyist, making his prophetic lyrics in “Cadillac Dreams” come true. Instead of recording new material, he is meeting with members of Congress to get laws passed so streaming services pay them more.

From the lips of Gene Simmons, “most people don’t realize every time you download a song, the songwriter is making minuscule amounts of one penny”. Umm is he talking about downloads or streams. Two totally different things there. And he goes onto a rant that there will be never be another Lennon, etc., but when you live in an ivory tower, you’re so out of touch, you have no idea what is happening and how much money new artists are making.

New Organisations which come from the labels or the publishers are still rooted in the same crappy innovation ideals of those organisations. So when Congress passed a law to create a new arm to match the unpaid royalties to artists, the first thing the new organisation did, called MLC, is nothing.

Their claim portal for artists to log in and search through unmatched songs and claim the ones they own is still not up and running.

Someone should tell Gene, to lobby this corporation to get the Claim Portal up and running.

So potentially, the unpaid royalties will now sit with MLC for at least 5 years and maybe more, before they even get a chance to be distributed.

But in all honesty, this will be a disaster, because there are a lot of conflicts of interest present when it comes to songs. Ex band members will claim songs out of spite, not because they wrote them.

Meanwhile, Gene’s punching bag, YouTube, paid over $4 billion to the labels and publishers over the last year. How much of that found its way back to artists or songwriters remains to be seen?

And the Federal Court of Australia made Clive Palmer pay even more money back to Universal Publishing, for his recreation of “We’re Not Gonna Take It” into the song “Aussies Not Gonna Cop It”, which he then used in all of his campaign videos across the nation. So instead of paying $150K for a 12 month licence to use the proper song, he has ended up paying $1.5 million in damages plus lawyer fees and what not.

What a dickhead?

And on the topic of dickheads, the major record labels (Sony Music, UMG and Warner) along with the music publishing companies are doing their best to own the title.

There hell bent nuclear strategy to go after internet service providers (ISPs) for the actions of a few users, these organisations have found a way to cut people off from the internet based on a mere accusation of copyright infringement.

A recent court decision in the U.S, has given these organisations unprecedented power and the Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF) is doing their best to get this bad decision overturned due to the incorrect instructions the judge had given the jury.

Basically these organisations claim for damages when people use the songs they have the rights for and then they get the courts and the law and the politicians to fight their battles.

Meanwhile, in Germany, the labels, publishers and independent copyright holders have teamed up with the ISP’s to block sites without the need of a court approval.

Each Copyright complaint by a label or TV producer is reviewed by a committee made up of retired judges. Streaming services make up 55% of revenue in Germany and piracy has reduced significantly. However people still seek out P2P services hence the reason why they want this kind of power.

But web-freedom activists are not happy as they believe this kind of power restricts internet freedom. The method here is to attack the services that offer illegal content rather than the users.

As the article in Billboard stated: “In Germany, the legislative environment is heavily weighted against censorship and attacks on internet freedom. Having lived under the Nazi Third Reich and communist East Germany, Germany considers privacy a hard-won freedom.

The power granted to corporations for Copyright Infringements is a form of censorship and for the German people, censorship will never happen again.

Meanwhile Twitch is getting hit with thousands of copyright infringement claims on a daily basis. So the entertainment corporations close down or take down or shake down people and services from trading in pirated works, and then when they use music in their live streamed videos, these same bodies issue infringement claims to take it all down.

Maybe a conversation between Twitch and the entertainment corporations would have resulted in a better outcome.

But that’s too difficult.

Talking, that is.

And remember when Steven Spielberg was trying to destroy streaming services and Netflix in general and he didn’t want Netflix movies nominated for Oscars because the movies that Netflix makes are shown on TV screens. Well Netflix won seven Oscars at the recent Academy Awards and that was more than any other studio.

Well good old Steve knows a good deal, and he just signed up to make movies for Netflix. I guess reality is a slap in the face.

Thank you for your cooperation. A copyright complaint is just around the corner.

And I feel like listening to “2112” from Rush right now.

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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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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy

So…. You Want A Record Deal

“Contracts are a bitch, and we’ve signed some raw ones. And we need to start trying to make some money off of our catalog, which is 10 albums deep, plus all the side stuff. We haven’t made any money from record sales, album sales. It’s all gone to the major labels. A lot of people make money off of us; we just don’t make money the way the deals are structured. We just aren’t excited to get back into any kind of contract. So if we find a new home at a new label, wherever it is, it’s gotta be a special deal where you get something for your hard work.

Vocalist/Guitarist Pete Loeffler from Chevelle

Music sells because artists create. As much as the labels would like to believe it’s about them, it isn’t. They are faceless nobodies to the majority of music consumers.

But the A&R reps and CEO’s of these labels fly private, while the artists that make them millions tour via vans. Which in the last 12 months, hasn’t been much, as all touring has ceased.

So the artists do what they normally do when they have downtime. They create more art for release.

CHEVELLE just finished their recording contract with EPIC. A deal signed in 2001, when there was no streaming, no iPhones and no YouTube.

With each label release, the advance they got for the album was bigger than the last advance, which for the label, would have been small change.

“We’ve sold six million albums for Epic Records, and they’ve made 50 million dollars. It’s lopsided.”

Vocalist/Guitarist Pete Loeffler from Chevelle

Their first album, released in 1999, was produced by Steve Albini and released on an independent label. Albini was always warning bands about signing to major labels back in the very early 90’s.

It was their second album, “Wonder What’s Next” that was the catalyst to make me a fan and many others as well. It was released on Epic.

But I got it a few years after it came out.

The first time I heard their music was when I picked up the “Music As A Weapon II” CD, a live collection from the Disturbed run of shows in which the opening bands all got a song or two featured on the CD. And that was when I heard “The Red”. It was like Tool learned how to write concise groove rock songs and I was all in.

“The fact of the matter is when you sign a record deal with a major, they own it for, like, 20-something years. We said, ‘We’d re-sign with you if you just sent some of it through the pipeline to us.’ All the profits, they’re keeping everything. And if they just send a little bit through, maybe we can talk about this, continuing on.”

Vocalist/Guitarist Pete Loeffler from Chevelle

Once upon a time, a major label deal was an opportunity to participate in the music business. 99% of the bands made zero money off the deal.

With the turn of the century, every label claimed that piracy killed the recording business. But acts still moved units.

Chevelle are not the first nor will they be the last who had been ripped off on the pay as Bon Scott would put it. Thirty Seconds To Mars and EMI went to war over a similar unfair contract after “A Beautiful Lie” blew up everywhere.

Maybe we need to look at the labels in the same we see businesses. There are laws which prevent businesses from merging because of the large market monopoly they would hold. There is a great story over at WIRED.COM called “Big Music Needs to Be Broken Up to Save the Industry”.

The article talks about how bad government policy in the U.S over a long period of time left mergers unchecked and this led to the creation of three major labels financing 70% of the music consumed. In other words the release less than other labels but because of their market power dominance it’s consumed more.

And the new recent proposed laws to rein in Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook will also affect Sony, Universal and Warner. Because as streaming gets bigger so do the labels.

The article mentions research conducted in 2019 on streaming payments and the three major labels get $1 million an hour from streaming payments combined.

Think about that $1 million per hour. And this was 2 years ago. It will be more right now as streaming grew exponentially last year.

Streams are cheap for the labels. They don’t have to ship streams or store streams and there’s no breakage of streams like physical. All of the cost of the infrastructure is on the streaming service.

Labels are making money. And the artists….

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

Music Scales

There was a line of thinking in the early 2000’s that the value of recorded music would be zero. That the album would be used purely as a promotional tool to get the artist on the road. That no one would make music anymore because why would they, if they can’t make any money from album sales.

Time Warner got so scared of these kind of conversations and Napster and illegal downloads and peer to peer sharing, that in 2004, they sold their music division of Warner Music/Atlantic/Elektra and their many associated labels for approx. $2.6 billion. In 2018, that same division, is valued at $15 billion.

Today, we have so much new music that it’s hard to keep up. The money received from recorded music is going up, because of streaming. And apart from the ones who made it or had public acceptance of their music or the oldsters, no one really creates to be paid.

They create because they need to create. It’s an outlet for them. It’s a way to express who they are, to put their thoughts and ideas into characters and into stories in the songs. If they do get paid afterwards, well that’s a by-product of their need to create.

And music gets bigger. If the artist has a song that connects or becomes a hit, it costs the label or the artist nothing to continue to sell that hit. Word of mouth would do that.

Think about the first two Black Sabbath album’s. Both albums were recorded and mixed in a short amount of time. The costs would have been minimal. And fast forward 50 years later, “Paranoid” has 362 million streams on Spotify. “Iron Man” has almost 220 million streams. “War Pigs” has 122 million streams. “N.I.B” has almost 50 million streams.

In other words, the costs of making the album evaporate quickly and the rest is almost pure profit, especially in the era of digital, where music lives forever and pays forever. So the labels have assets that will never go down to zero.

A few weeks ago I was thinking how Frontiers from Italy is constantly putting money out to get artists to record new music. From looking at the metal and rock genre, Frontiers have the most releases from any label that I am aware off. They even get artists from different bands to work together, like Michael Sweet and George Lynch. Well, the Frontiers execs are aware that by having assets like the copyright of the music in their building, those assets will never go down to zero.

And Frontiers is thinking, we need to have a catalogue of songs like Universal and Warner’s.

Warner Music has the history of recorded music as an asset. Led Zeppelin. They have it. Prince. They have it. Twisted Sister. They have it.

You get the drift.

And people will always want to listen to songs from artists, so Warner will get paid for decades, until the copyright runs out, which in my lifetime will never happen. In other words, music is a better investment than anything else. If you buy physical property, you would need to maintain it, renovate it and keep paying bills for utilities, however music just scales.

And people will keep on creating and the labels will get bigger if they are the ones funding the creating. But creators are smarter these days and they know that if they give up their copyrights for a fee right now, they might miss out on millions later.

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

Certified Sales And Reach

I’m digging the data that comes from Stream N Destroy.

Based on RIAA certifications (total album units certified by the RIAA) Iron Maiden has 6.5 million sales in the US.

Megadeth and Tesla are also sitting at the same certification amount across their catalogue.

Who do you reckon has the biggest audience when it comes to playing live from the 3 bands?

Which tells me that Iron Maiden must be the most heavily pirated band there is. Their sales of recorded music compared to their sales of concert tickets and merchandise just don’t correlate. They get the same attendance as Metallica would get, yet the difference in certified album units between the bands is huge.

Metallica is at 63 million certified units.

While Megadeth and Tesla do play live, the crowds they get compared to Maiden are very different but they have the same amount of certified album sales.

So sales of recorded music does not correlate to massive concert attendances.

David Lee Roth, Muse and Dokken are sitting at 3.5M certified units but Muse plays gigs to 15,000 people and are headliners for certain European summer festivals.

Dokken even at their height didn’t play venues that big nor did David Lee Roth as a solo artist.

Like with Maiden, the sales of certified units don’t correlate with the concert attendances.

Since the sales don’t correlate to the increased demand for concert tickets, is it illegal downloading or the access to music via streaming driving the growth?

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Feed The Copyright

It’s not even funny how much money the legal fraternity makes from music and Copyright issues. The legal teams of labels, artists and the heirs of artists make money from Copyright disputes. The legal teams of the same group make money from just representing those groups in contract negotiations and so forth.

But depending on what you read, streaming services are the problem because they don’t pay enough. Because these services also make money. While the streaming companies are running at a loss, the value of the people at the top of the Executive doesn’t diminish and their stock value is high.

Everyone is making money from so many different things except the artist. But it’s the artist who creates the content that engages with a person, who then becomes a fan and decides to spend their money on the artist.

This is what happens when artists are never allowed to be in the negotiation room when legislation is being drawn up.

When Corporations like the record labels are involved in the negotiations with their list of politicians on their payroll, well legislation looks very one sided. And when the labels get artists involved like Sonny Bono, these artists gets a handsome payday from the labels for their involvement which is probably a lot more than they would get from sales or even streams of their recorded music at that point in time.

So artists are now waiting for a judge to clarify whether they can reclaim their rights from record labels, even though the Copyright legislation states that they can.

The labels are digging deep with their counter arguments to prove that the termination requests are invalid. There best one is to say that the songs are “works for hire” which means that the label was an employer and the artist an employee, however the label didn’t meet any commitments that an employer needs to meet to be classed as an employer like annual leave, long service leave, sick leave, retirement pension contributions and yearly review of said salary and bonuses and so forth.

And the lawyers make even more money.

Remember when the streaming bodies disagreed with the Copyright Royalty Board on the new rates they need to pay to songwriters for streaming.

Well this disagreement went to an Appeals Tribunal and it’s all going back to the Copyright Royalty Board to renegotiate/review and to be a bit more transparent as to how the CRB do things or come up with things. Of course, this will be another public relations nightmare for Spotify, but then again they are the labels biggest client.

And it’s more money from the artists diverted to lawyers.

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