A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Record Label Innovation – Kill Music Service to Protect Old Business Models

What are the Record Labels worth without the talent? ZERO!

So what do the Record Labels do to their talent?

They treat them to a world of creative accounting.

They treat them to a world where they spend monies on DMCA takedowns and litigation to protect the old income streams, instead of nurturing new income streams for their talent. Throughout life, people are always looking for something new, however the recording industry believe in selling the same old thing in music. When something different comes out like Mumford & Sons, Adele, PSY and Imagine Dragons it triumphs in unforseen ways.

The whole approach of the Record Labels and the RIAA has been if they can’t control a business, their next best option is to kill the business off. Napster showed the music business what the fans wanted, however they killed it off and to this day, not one legal service has risen to offer what Napster offered, which was Community and Convenience.

There is a song called Red City on the new Stone Sour release, House Of Gold and Bones II. In the story line, our hero is in the clutches of the bad guys and the song Red City marks the beginning of the end for the main character. If the Entertainment Industries and their stooges get their way, it is the beginning of the end for the Internet and the opportunities it gives to creators.

Sort of like the lyrics in the new Black Sabbath song, End of The Beginning that states “rewind the future to the past”. That is what the Entertainment industries want. The past to return. That is the future they want.

Look at the recent behaviour of the one they call Prince. Even the Electronic Frontiers Foundation has inducted Prince into its “Takedown Hall of Shame”. To sum up, Prince has issued DMCA takedowns on six second clips of a Prince concert, on fan recorded concert videos of him covering Creep from Radiohead (which by the way he doesn’t even own the rights to the song), threatening to sue people for thinking of doing a tribute album to him and a takedown of YouTube video of a toddler dancing to a Prince song (which is in the Courts at the moment).

The reason why I am mentioning Prince is to show people what a misguided artist he has become. The labels send millions of DMCA takedowns each day and in a lot of cases they censor free speech under a copyright claim. They have even taken down their own websites. Universal Music Group even took down Black Sabbath’s God Is Dead YouTube stream from the Black Sabbath YouTube page.

When is the Recording industry and people like Prince going to stop complaining? When are they going to stop lamenting the passage of the good old days? When are they going to stop blaming the technologists and the fans for ruining their business models. There is a reason why Indie labels have claimed a large slice of music sales this year than the three majors. It’s because they are working on the outside, digging deep and finding those real stars, the real golden nuggets.

Music used to be cutting edge and it used to drive the conversation and the culture. These days music is just another consumable, ready to be consumed like milk. Musicians like Prince, Jon Bon Jovi, Jay Z and so forth are trying to get in bed with the Fortune 500. Where is it written that musicians must be rich? You create quality that resonates and connects, then you will be a star.

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

It’s Time That Artists Leave The Old Way Behind and Be Leader’s Once Again

I still don’t agree with the old business model of putting together twelve tracks just to sell them for ten dollars as a package. I would like to see established bands like Machine Head, Dream Theater, Five Finger Death Punch, Shinedown and Trivium lead the way with a new paradigm. Leave the old way behind.

I know that Five Finger Death Punch are about to release a double album and Trivium have a new one coming along as does Dream Theater and Machine Head is not that far away either. All of these new releases are based on the old way. The album still has a place if done right and what that means is that all the tracks have to be of high quality. No one has time for filler these days.

Five Finger Death Punch started the writing process for their new album/s on the Trespass Festival Tour at the start of 2012. They brought out a mobile recording studio with them, to hash out riffs and put bits and pieces together, so when they got into the studio in September 2012, they already had the songs.  This is where they should have been releasing some songs. At the end they had 25 songs written that they are releasing on two CD’s.

Five Finger Death Punch are signed to a label, so of course they will need to release an album, as that is what the labels demand. So keeping that in mind, FFDP should have picked the best 10 songs for a CD release and from September 2012 to July 2013 they should have been releasing a song a month from the other 15 songs they had left. It is a different take on the old way. It is keeping the labels happy as they are still stuck in the past and it is keeping the fans happy as they are living in the future and just want content.

One thing that artists need to be clear on; streaming has won the war. YouTube is the original and unofficial streaming king. That is where the kids go to watch and listen. If artists pull their albums from legal services like Spotify, those same albums will still be available on YouTube to be streamed unlicensed. The fans have spoken. The fans killed off the CD, by embracing new technology. It is time the artists take note.

One more thing that artists need to understand: Spotify gives them 70% of the revenues. The exact same amount as iTunes. The difference is that Spotify pays you over time instead of right now and that is the problem that a lot of artists with the pressure of the label and the manager do not understand. The reason why they don’t understand it, is because the label and the manager all want to be paid RIGHT now.

Go on to Black Sabbath’s Spotify account and check to see which songs are the most streamed from them. It is all the songs written 40 years ago and nothing from the new album. Streaming services do pay.  If the artists have a problem with not getting “paid” by streaming services, they should be checking with the company they sold their rights to. Black Sabbath might scream piracy, however who is collecting the monies from Spotify streams for their back catalogue. The answer: the company that holds the rights is collecting.

I remember a time when musicians used to lead. Now technologists lead, while the artists entourage of money leaches are screaming they are not making any money, while the association who represents the Record Labels (and who claims incorrectly that they represent the artists as well) the RIAA plays Whac-A-Mole with technology. They killed Napster only to get Kazaa and Limewire. They killed Kazaa and Limewire, only to get BitTorrent and The Pirate Bay. They kill one cyber locker like Megaupload and another ten more appear. They send DMCA takedowns to Google and then another 100 new links spring up. Seriously does Google need to be doing all this work, just for providing a service like a search engine.

What artists and the labels do not realise is that Spotify and YouTube has made a dent in people’s downloading habits. Progress doesn’t happen overnight or right now. It takes years and sometimes decades. Invest now for rewards later, however the record labels do not believe in this, the managers do not believe in this and they convince the artists that they sign to not believe in this. So what do they believe in; short term profits.

The answer to success is right there in front of the artist. If an artist wants to make plenty of money in music, they need to be a superstar as no one has time for anything less. Just like there is one Facebook, one Google and one Amazon, the same filtering will happen in music and their respective niches.

Five Finger Death Punch is knocking on that Superstar door for the metal genre. They have competition from Stone Sour, Bullet For My Valentine and Disturbed, however if fan engagement is an indication then Five Finger Death Punch are the new superstars.

Shinedown is already the new superstar for the hard rock genre. Bands like Hinder, Adelitas Way, Alter Bridge, Seether, Halestorm, Three Days Grace, Black Stone Cherry, Saving Abel, Pop Evil, Rev Theory, Breaking Benjamin are the challengers.

Dream Theater is already the superstar for the progressive genre. They are unrivalled and really unchallenged at the moment.

Periphery are the Djent superstars.

TesserAct are the new Pink Floyd superstars.

Machine Head are the new superstars of the thrash genre.

Metallica have surpassed superstar status and have moved into the Legends space.

If you want to survive in the future, you need to live in it. Metallica now understands this, however AC/DC still doesn’t understand it. For some insane reason, AC/DC is holding their music back from Spotify (which is licensed and pays) while it is on Grooveshark and YouTube (which are unlicensed and do not pay).

Spotify might not even win the streaming war. Maybe Google will come up with something better, maybe iTunes Radio will win, or some other new player will come on the scene and blow everyone away. One thing is clear, there will be only one streaming champion. Diehard fans will still pay up front for songs they have never heard, however with so much music coming out at the moment and our time so limited, this is not the business model that artists should base their future on.

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