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

The Week In Destroyer Of Harmony History – April 11 to April 23

It’s been a crazy two weeks with some limited posting on the site due to one of my boys tearing his ACL and then having the surgery.

So here is a fortnights worth of DOH history.

4 Years Ago (2018)

STAND YOUR GROUND

From birth we are taught to follow instructions, comply, obey and to avoid taking risks. The majority likes it this way, like the parental system, the schooling system, the corporate system, the law and enforcement system and overall, the Government. But sometimes, a change happens.

The youth of the world have decided they will not wait anymore for adults to solve problems, so they have taken to the streets to demonstrate against guns and climate change.

Imagine when these kids get a chance to vote and a chance to enter politics.

“We’ve got the right to choose it, there’s no way we’ll lose it” is from “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister. It’s Dee’s take on society and it comes with an action. Critics blasted the song because it doesn’t define who the “it” is. But that’s the beautiful part of the song. The “It” can be anyone who seeks to control you and take away your freedom.

But to take a stand isn’t easy. Artists are too afraid to stand up for something.

But hang on a second, that’s what being an artist is all about. However the pushback is so ferocious, especially in a social media world, artists just don’t go there. Some do. Stand your ground.

RELEASE DAY

There is a lot of music out there to digest. The enemy to global stardom is not illegal downloading, it’s obscurity.

Artists are not just battling for listeners attention from the artists who have new music, they are battling for listeners attention from the history of music. And even though the odds are really stacked against artists from making a living from music, people are still out there creating and releasing. Creativity is at an all-time high.

Which is a good thing, because the recording industry and the copyright monopoly tried their best to convince everyone that creativity would die due to illegal downloading all in their push for government intervention to protect their profits.

TO THE TOP

Seriously, what kind of life is it, when a person has power to make or break a career. That’s exactly what the recording business came to be. A business with gatekeepers who could crush dreams or make dreams. Like “Chainsaw Charlie” in “The Crimson Idol”. Or like “Mr Recordman”.

White Lion were given a million dollars to record “Mane Attraction”. It came out and it didn’t set the world on fire. Vito and Mike couldn’t even get in touch with their A&R rep.

When the band broke up, no one from the label called them or even tried to make contact with them. It’s like they never existed.

MTV took the artists from the pages of the magazines and brought them into our lounge rooms. And it was free. The reason why blank VHS cassettes sold like crazy was due to music and movies. People dubbed/taped their favourite clips from TV or via VHS to VHS.

If you are working for a corporation, you are building someone else’s dream. The corporation is benefiting from your hard work and the hard work of the rest. Artists have made the record labels into monoliths because they signed away their copyrights for a record deal.

And the internet was meant to level the playing field. Instead it’s made the labels even more powerful as they use the works of artists to negotiate large licensing deals.

What kind of journey do you want to the top?

8 Years Ago (2014)

YOUTUBE

The labels and the movie studios tried to kill it via the courts, but YouTube survived. And it’s got everything.

I wanted to listen to Badlands “Voodoo Highway” album recently. It’s not on Spotify, however YouTube has it. Unlicensed.

I wanted to listen to Don Dokken’s “Up From The Ashes” album recently. Spotify didn’t have it, but YouTube did have it. Again unlicensed.

YouTube was seen as the enemy to TV stations and to the Music Industry. Now it is their greatest ally, only if they know how to use its potential. Expect to see the various YouTube networks become bigger than the movie studios in the future. Because they realise that it’s not all about the blockbuster effect. Releasing content more frequently is king.

THE MOST BROKEN HEARTED SINGER

To create you need to have lived, loved and experienced highs and lows.

David Coverdale is all about the love. He built a career spanning 40+ years because he wrote his experiences into his songs. People always connect with that.

And at the height of his MTV fame, he disbanded Whitesnake.

Then when his contemporaries delivered grungier sounding albums, Coverdale came back and delivered two blues rock albums with “Restless Heart” and “Into The Light”.

He ignored every passing fad and fancy and still managed to assemble a cast of musicians to produce some of the most enduring hit records/songs of the Eighties era. Some might say that he glammed it up in the mid-Eighties. I say he adapted or else he would be dead.

GUN

It’s 1992 and the only words on people’s lips are Metallica, Guns N Roses, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Grunge, Seattle, Vince Neil leaving/fired from Motley Crue and Mr Big.

And then you have this rock band from Scotland called GUN releasing a straight-ahead hard rock album that had roots in the Seventies era than the dying Eighties era.

“Gallus” was a defiant record. Serving as Gun’s second album, they let the music do the talking. But when Rock ‘N’ Roll history is written by the commercial winners, Gun will be relegated to a mere footnote. But their presence at a time when everyone was selling out to become mainstream darlings was a welcomed relief.

“Steal Your Fire”

It’s got this “AC/DC” meets “The Cult” attitude in the verse and chorus, while the Pre-Chorus has this INXS vibe. It’s a blend of rock’n’roll that is so distant from the LA Glam Rock scene however I love that Dokken “It’s Not Love” vibe after the solo section.

“Money To Burn”

Check out the “When The Levee Breaks” groove in this song. Progress is derivative is the catch cry.

“Long Road”

The tone of the vocals just resonate. It’s got that powerful “Jeff Martin/Tea Party” kind of tone vocally and the music is very melodic, like Def Leppard.

THE PIRACY DEBATE

Bit Torrent is a tool. How people decide to use the tool depends on them. The Bit Torrent protocol was designed to move large amounts of data. So, companies like Facebook and Twitter use Bit Torrent to send updates to its employees. Then you have other people who use it to download torrents.

And illegal downloading is a pretty big reason why bands are going to South America, even when the number of albums sold in the continent don’t equate to the fans who attend the shows.

Who would have thought that a bill of “Bring Me The Horizon” and “Of Mice & Men” would gross about $70,000 per show. Play 20 of those shows and you have a $1.5 million tour.

Or, who would have thought that a bill of “The Used”, “Taking Back Sunday”, “Tonight Alive” and “Sleepwave” would also gross about $70,000 per show. See above, do 20 shows and you have a $1.5 million tour.

Even the mighty “Manowar” still gross $60,000 per show.

It all adds up.

It’s hard work being an artist however if you are in the game because you love it, it makes it easier. If you are in the game to bitch and moan about piracy, then get out of it and join the bankers or the techies.

DIVIDED WE STAND

Metallica resorted to a professional coach to get it together again. So did Aerosmith.

Bon Jovi and Megadeth resorted to group therapy. For Bon Jovi it was a way to keep the band together after “New Jersey” and for Megadeth it was a way to keep a stable line-up together.

And other bands declined to use any coaches.

Motley Crue imploded at the peak of their powers with the firing of Vince Neil and then sued each other in the courts. Van Halen ousted David Lee Roth and they kept bad mouthing each other. Then they booted Sammy Hagar and the feud turned ugly with both sides airing their dirty laundry.

Sebastian Bach and Skid Row are still at loggerheads. Matt Kramer left Saigon Kick because he felt ripped off.

Machine Head and Adam Duce are in the courts because Adam Duce felt ripped off. Dave Lombardo is spitting venom at Slayer and their management team because he feels ripped off.

And Rock and Roll was supposed to be fun.

The ugly truth is that the biggest obstacle standing between musicians and a career in music is the simple fact that we cannot get along.

Bands that claim that their song writing is a democracy are lying. There is always one that will be the boss.

GUN continued…

GUN are way underrated and way under-appreciated, it’s almost criminal.

Coming in to 1994, GUN needed to make a statement. After a well-received debut album in “Taking On The World”, the follow-up “Gallus” didn’t set the world on fire in relation to sales and back in 1992, sales was the barometer of success.

“Swagger” was released in 1994 and to great success.

How could that be?

Because the band didn’t fit the conventions of the now defunct hard rock and glam rock movement. The band also didn’t fit the conventions of the Seattle sound.

They fitted the conventions of a rock band. It is that simple. It is that pure. And it was a rocked up version of an R&B Funk hit from 1986 by Cameo that connected.

“Word Up”

Who would have thought that a cover of an R&B/Funk song from 1986 would prove to be so popular. When Korn covered it, they more or less copied this version.

The first 3 albums, “Taking On The World”, “Gallus” and “Swagger” are the career albums. No shredding or weird time signatures. Just an honest, arse kicking album with gutsy vocals and prominent guitars.

However, the line-up changes kept on coming. In this case, guitarist Rob Dickson left before the release of “Swagger” to join Bruce Dickinson’s solo band. Drummer Scott Shields also left before the release of “Swagger” with Mark Kerr brother of Jim Kerr from Simple Minds replacing Shields on drums. Music is a relationship business and GUN benefited from a lot of relationships.

ADAPT OR DIE

The ones who adapt to the changes fast, survived. While the ones that complained and whined about peer-to-peer either perished or downsized.

Traditional music distributors are either gone or downsized. Replaced by Digital distributors.

Record Store Retail Outlets. More or less gone. Replaced by online shopping carts, streaming and digital downloads.

Record Labels. Downsized or merged. Saved by the tech industry.

Bands. Either are breaking up or are constantly replacing members.

In business, cash flow is everything but in music, cash flow is a by-product of great music.

In music, rules are meant to be broken. Innovation is about breaking the rules.

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE GUITAR RIFF?

The mighty Guitar is still in the forefront of all the main hard rock and metal music. Regardless of what music style came and regardless what technological new medium came to kill it off, (like the Eighties midi craze), the mighty guitar has fought its way back time and time again.

It is an integral part of culture, both past and present. Think of Jimi Hendrix burning one or Pete Townsend smashing one or Randy Rhoads playing that immortal polka dot guitar or Eddie Van Halen’s Frankenstein guitar.

Think of all of the album covers that featured a guitar.

But in 2014, the number 1 hits around the world belonged to “The Monster” by Eminem/Rihanna, “Timber” by Pitbull/Keisha and “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. Not a lot of guitar in those songs and if there is guitar, it is in the background, relegated to a support act.

So what happened to that riff that connects. The one that we want to play air guitar to.

Rock and Metal bands are churning out songs. Good songs. Great choruses. But no definitive riff. We hum the melodies, we tap the groove, but we don’t do the der, der, derr on the riff like “Smoke On The Water” from Deep Purple.

Avenged Sevenfold came close with the “Hail To The King” album. Pissed off a lot of people in the process. They called them copycats. But they had the balls to create a classic rock album.

And Classic Rock albums are created from influences.

HAREM SCAREM – THE FIRST THREE ALBUMS

From Canada. Not the early Eighties Australian band with the same name. And that is all the similarities that there is between the two.

The first three albums have a powerhouse set list. I was a fan of Honeymoon Suite and Loverboy, so Harem Scarem was right up my alley.

1991 – Harem Scarem

It is a strong debut with a terrible album cover. Actually all of their albums in the nineties had bad album covers.

Coming out in 1991, it was not out-of-place. Guitarist Pete Lesperance showed what a talent he is, hence the reason why he is still creating music.

Artists needed to rock. And when Harem Scarem rocked, they rocked with the best of them.

1993 – Mood Swings

Released at a time when Grunge was taking over the world, it was the definitive album from Harem Scarem. It is by far the fan favourite.

1995 – Voice Of Reason

Two years passed and we get a heavier/experimental version of Harem Scarem.

Check out tracks like “Voice Of Reason”, “Warming A Frozen Rose” and the Euro Metal vibe of “Candle”.

If you need an introduction into the world of Harem Scarem, then the first three albums are essential listening.

RECORD STORE DAY – Killers and Kings

For “Record Store Day” in 2014, I paid $30AUS for the “Killers and Kings” single from Machine Head.

Online I could purchase the single for $15US from the Nuclear Blast store. Since the single came in four different covers, 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. Maybe a bit more.

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 or are the labels using the whole “save the record store” in their promo as a way to sell over priced items.

And that’s a wrap of DoH History.

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

The Old And The New – Times Are Changing

MY MUSIC COLLECTION vs THE KIDS MUSIC COLLECTION

My Record and CD Collection

This is my record and CD collection along with the issues from Guitar World from January 1986.

My kids have all of this on their iPod’s and iPad’s.

THE PURCHASE OF MUSIC from RETAIL STORES vs INSTANTANEOUS

The Way I Purchase Music On Occassions

I took the kids to the “Record Store Day” two days ago.

They loved the record store and it was their second record store that they had visited ever. They enjoyed searching through the piles of records but hated the following things;

– the line up/wait to pay for our purchases compared to clicking a few keys and having it all happen instantaneous.

– the chance that what I wanted to buy at the Record Store Day could not be there or it could have sold out compared to having the history of music available at your fingertips without any issues. For the record, it was the last copy of the “Killers and Kings” single and the second last copy of the “The Illumination Theory” picture LP.

– that once they found a record that had a cool cover from an unknown act, they couldn’t hear it BEFORE they decided to buy it compared to what they do on-line with YouTube and Spotify.

– the price of the special edition releases. As a hobbyist/collector I paid $30AUS for the Machine Head “Killers and Kings” single and $40AUS for the Dream Theater “Illumination Theory” picture LP. My kids thought I was insane, spending $70AUS on two products, especially when a years subscription to Spotify is just a touch more and for that you get millions upon millions of songs.

MY BOOK COLLECTION and DVD COLLECTION vs THE KIDS BOOK COLLECTION

My Book and DVD Collection

In other words, Physical books vs The Kindle Touch.

If you are a business that is in the entertainment/arts arena that is still hoping on physical sales for profits, then your business model is challenged.

Research is constantly showing that in order to compete with piracy, sellers of music, movies and books need to have a “free music approach, targeted at young users and supported by advertisements along with a high-quality music offering to older customers, where they pay for downloads but with no visible advertising.”

The take away is this comment;

“Our research shows that consumers do prefer legal and ethical options if available but each age group has different ways of making this economically viable.”

I bet that comes to a shock to the traditional labels and marketing firms. The days of when music was only made available to people who had disposable incomes are over and have been for a long time.

Music consumption is now being driven by different age brackets. The 113 million streams of Katy Perry’s “Roar” is being driven more by the kids in the 4 to 14 age bracket than the 25 plus adults. It is the song of the young, their anthem, their “We’re Not Gonna Take It”.

It all reminds me of a song I once wrote called “Times Are Changing”.

I wrote it in 1993, just when Grunge finally made the hard rock movement a footnote in history for the next decade. And the song wasn’t about the death of hard rock, it was the about the power of a cultural movement enforcing a change that no one could stop. As the pre-chorus stated;

It’s a revolution in their eyes
Against society and its lies

Times are changing, re-arranging x2

Guess the times are constantly changing and they are changing even faster in the era of the internet. And when I compare the new to the old, the times have really changed.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Demo Days Re-Visited

RULES OF THE INTERNET

Machine Head have been leading up to a demo release for the song “Killers and Kings” since February. In the lead up, Robb Flynn talked about his youth, the San Francisco thrash scene and how bands used to release demo’s of songs before the album and how the fans would go away and debate it.

Then the marketing started. Machine Head (along with Nuclear Blast) started releasing covers on a weekly basis (which look great by the way) and they got into partnership with the Record Store Day event.

So as Machine Head fans wait for Record Store Day (and of course a lot of fans are going to be disappointed if they don’t get a copy or all of the different copies), Metallica just played a new song called “The Lords Of Summer” live and then released a Garage Demo on their YouTube page. The song is crap by the way, however there are a few riffs/sections there that would end up on other songs. James wont let those riffs go to waste.

Talk about stealing another bands thunder.

The question needs to be asked, what would Machine Head or Nuclear Blast do, if the demo of “Killers and Kings” leaked online somehow before the actual Record Store Day, because when you start producing a physical product, you get the distribution chain clicking into gear. This means that a lot of hands and five-fingered people will be touching that product at certain points.

The rules of the internet dictate that gated window releases don’t work.

To put it in simply pseudocode;

Where an audience exists and if an artist has new material, release it.

I will be on the look out for the “Killers and Kings” singles and as a collector I will be trying to collect all 4 covers. Wish me luck.

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Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Things That Bug Me With Rock And Metal

ROCK N ROLL HALL OF FAME

Dave Mustaine should have been inducted with Metallica. A real RNR Hall Of Fame Assessor would look into the band’s career and see that all the evidence is there for Dave Mustaine to be inducted. The style of technical thrash that Mustaine brought to Metallica would end up influencing their first four albums.

The induction criteria does state that the committee looks at the influence and significance of the artists’ contributions to the development and perpetuation of rock and roll. So, I take it that Dave Mustaine’s contribution to Metallica and to the development and perpetuation of rock and roll wasn’t influential enough.

BUT for some reason Jason Newsted’s and Rob Trujilio’s contribution to the development and perputation of rock and roll in Metallica was enought.

Same goes for Vinnie Vincent, Eric Carr and Bruce Kulick. The Eighties for Kiss wouldn’t have been the same if it wasn’t for the three individuals mentioned. Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer also played very important roles within Kiss.

BANDS THAT FAIL TO UNDERSTAND THAT SUCCESS IS BASED ON MUSIC

A lot of the metal and rock bands have better marketing campaigns than actual albums. You need a great song first. The marketing comes after.

Dream Theater had a pretty expansive marketing campaign leading up to the album release, however they didn’t have the quality to support it. Good songs don’t equate to great songs and we only have time for great.

Avenged Sevenfold, Volbeat and Five Finger Death Punch had way less marketing and their albums are still on people’s tongues. If you still use sales as a barometer of success, then these bands are still moving units.

NICHES

Metal and hard rock are niches. Accept it and focus on it. It will be a lucrative business for you if you do. It will not bring back the glory days of the Seventies and Eighties, however it will give you a career.

Sometimes a metal band can cross-over into hard rock, or even the pop market. Or a hard rock band could cross over into metal or pop.

Look at Volbeat. They are a metal band, however with the style of music they play the have a certain cross over element.

Shinedown crossed over into the pop market back in 2008, with the “The Sound of Madness” album, however with “Amaryllis” they remained in the hard rock market with a small cross over into the metal market. They still had great success, even though the “sales” didn’t match the previous. But who cares about sales these days.

Killswitch Engage cross-over into a few genres, like metal, metalcore, thrash, hard core, melodic death metal and in some cases they cross over into technical djent style metal.

Dream Theater can cross-over into a few genres and it is their cross over between progressive music and hard rock that reaped the most benefits with “Images and Words” and “Scenes From A Memory” being stand outs.

VIRALITY

A song takes off because fans start to spread the word. They share links to it, they talk about it, they blog about it. A marketing campaign can never achieve this. Only great music can.

QUEENSRYCHE

When are the people involved (apart from Chris DeGarmo) going to realise that Queensryhce is no more. Move on, forge a new career and a new identity. I’m tired of hearing how great the new singer is, what a team we now have and all of that.

The Todd LaTorre band should do something similar to what the Ronnie James Dio version of Black Sabbath did before his death. Take a new name from one of their songs. As for Geoff Tate, he should go to Vegas and do a cabaret residency. His metal/rock days are over. And seriously, when you carry on like a child when people use their smart phones at a gig, you don’t belong.

VINYL, CD’s, DIGITAL DOWNLOADS

Streaming has won. The rest of us that actually purchase any music in physical form do it as a hobby. We just don’t think of it as a hobby.

I listen to most of my music on Spotify or YouTube or via the mp3’s on my iPhone, however I still purchase CD’s of bands that I like. BUT I haven’t even opened the shrink wrapping as yet. I have no need to. Buying CD’s is like collecting toys and keeping the toys in their boxes unopened. Maybe the CD’s will be worth something one day or maybe they will be beer coasters. Who knows.

MONEY IN MUSIC

There is still a lot of money in the business. Streaming pays the labels well. It’s just doesn’t filter down to the artists. Revenues from streaming services such as Spotify, Pandora and YouTube surpassed the $1bn mark.

ENTERTAINMENT LOBBY GROUPS ASKING GOOGLE TO DO MORE TO PROTECT THEIR BUSINESS MODELS

Seriously after almost 15 years post Napster we are still hearing about this. The latest is The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI). It is the usual b.s. about how Google “could do so much more” or that Google have “not been effective” in preventing illegal music downloading.

HELLO, Google is a search engine.

It is not a protector of business models.

Innovate or die.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/mediatechnologyandtelecoms/media/10704766/Music-industry-claims-Google-is-failing-to-stamp-out-piracy.html

RECORD STORE DAY

Do artists really expect their hard core fans to travel decent distances to go to a Record Store Day Event and then not find all 4 of the (let’s just use Machine Head as an example since I am a fan) new Machine Head singles, “Killers and Kings”. It’s 2014. If we can’t buy it online or if we can’t find it to buy online, then artists are leaving money on the table.

Collectors want to buy, so make it easy for us to buy. Record Store Day is not easy for everyone.

TV SHOWS THAT STILL PLAY ON THE OLD BUSINESS MODELS

My kids love “Arrow” however they hate the fact that they have to wait each week. Will any of the actual TV shows or Cable Networks follow the “House Of Cards” Netflix example and let people overdose on all of the episodes over a weekend.

Having shows appear weekly for 8 episodes, then breaking for what seems like forever and then re-starting again, then breaking again, then finishing it all off, is old school.

Embrace the new.

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