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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Music

Some Hard “Music Business” Truths – Dave Lombardo, Tom Araya and Band Agreements

Dave Lombardo hasn’t been silent when it comes to the financial “behind the scenes” happenings of Slayer. It doesn’t matter on which side you are on in this argument, one thing that is true is that these kinds of issues are real. Bands cannot exist without a band agreement in place. And when a Band Agreement is drawn up there are a few main players in it.

1. The Band themselves
2. The Manager
3. The Lawyer
4. The Accountant

Musicians are always taken for a ride when it comes to management, lawyers and accountants. The whole Adam Duce vs Machine Head saga is down to the same questions that Dave Lombardo is asking. What happened to all of that money that was grossed?

Let’s look at some of Lombardo’s claims.

He claims that in 2011, the band Slayer grossed $4.4 million and that he only earned $67,000. He also claims that he earned that same amount from the band when he rejoined the band. Sounds like a pretty shitty employment contract if you ask me.

So what do we know about 2011?

In 2011, Slayer played 62 shows based on the website Setlist.fm. Doing some simple math, Lombardo came away with $1080 per show. For a lot of independent musicians this is a nice pay-day for the whole band, however in this case it is for an individual in a band that grosses over $4 million dollars.

Now let’s do some math around the gross earnings per show from Slayer. In order to do the math, I searched the internet for a Slayer Billboard Boxscore and I found one.

Slayer in November 2013 played a show in Winnipeg, Canada and the gross sales for the show came to $57,100 and the venue was half full. The data is available on the lambgoat.com blog. So let’s just say that $60,000 gross is an average intake for a Slayer show. Multiple that gross amount by the 62 shows and you get a figure of $3.72 million. Add merchandise, licensing, publishing and royalties and you get close to the $4.4 million mark. So it is safe to say that Slayer is a million dollar business. And Dave Lombardo was just paid $67,000.

Back in February, 2013, Lombardo first announced his findings that 90% of Slayer’s tour income was being deducted as expenses, leaving 10% for the band to split amongst the four of them.

Again, going back to the math, if Slayer grossed $4.4 million, that would mean that $4 million went to expenses and $400,000 was left to be split between the original 4 members (I am assuming that the touring guitarist “Gary Holt” is part of the Expenses). So Dave Lombardo gets $67,000. That leaves $333,000 to split amongst 3. $111,000 each sounds about right.

Tom Araya claimed Dave was a working member of the band and never a partner, making mention that when Dave joined again during the ‘Christ Illusion’ album, Slayer offered Dave a contract with the band, hence the $67K amount.

This is in contrast to Lombardo’s claims who also mentions that Araya got his silence bought, when management handed over a lot of money to go against Lombardo. Lombardo claims that he was a percentage holder within the band and all that he asked for was to see the detailed expenses.

The thing is Araya is pulling a double face here, as he blasted the band’s management when it came to Jeff Hannemann’s tributes. This is what he said in an interview on Classic Rock;

“I wanted to do more – I was hoping to do more. But the nature of the business… the management gets involved in anything we do and they fucked it up. I’m throwing them under the bus. It really upset me, because it would have been more than just that.”

Money talks. Slayer is a machine that is all about the business and making profit. The person that has the cash has the leverage and in this case, the Slayer management team has that leverage. So why would they use some of the cash that Slayer earns to pay a tribute to the most important member of Slayer. Jeff Hannemann gave them all a career with his great songwriting skills.

It’s bad enough that record labels rip off artists. It’s bad enough that accountants, managers and lawyers rip off artists. But it is the worse when band mates rip off band mates.

If Kerry King and Tom Araya stuck with Dave Lombardo, they would have had the leverage. It’s like the Machine Head song, “Who We Are”.

DIVIDED WE STAND.

But it should be UNITED WE STAND.

In the same way that the audience all stood united to watch the original four at the Horden Pavillion in Sydney back in 2007, with Mastodon opening.

http://loudwire.com/dave-lombardo-claims-only-made-67000-slayer-4-million-gross-2011/
http://loudwire.com/slayer-tom-araya-elaborates-dave-lombardo-exit/
http://loudwire.com/slayer-tom-araya-why-dave-lombardo-ousted/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Remember the creed from the past.

Artists were always reinventing themselves and taking risks.

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

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

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

Life Is About Experience

I like going to the movies. It is an experience that I enjoyed growing up and it is an experience that I have passed on to my boys.

Today, we are watching “Planes”. So I purchase my tickets. Lucky for the budget, my wife had vouchers which made the tickets $8 each. Otherwise, the tickets at the Event Cinemas are $17 each.

So three tickets = $24.

Then comes the big rip. The boys wanted the “Planes pack” which involved “Planes” themed drink cups, along with a “Planes” theme popcorn box.

However, Event Cinemas, had no more “Planes” popcorn boxes and they couldn’t sell me the Planes Drink Cups with a generic pop corn box because “the generic popcorn box is a touch larger than the Planes themed popcorn box.”

Bullshit I said. Then I was told that it really has to do with stock counts. My boys finally agreed with what they want and off to the movie. Then I had to put up with kids way too young to even be there, that just kept on screaming and crying.

In relation to the movie, it is another great flick from the same “Cars” team.

What can I say, the movie just got me thinking about GRIT. In the movie, Dusty Crophopper is a crop duster who wants to be a racer. Everyone tells him that he is crazy, a dreamer and that he should be just a normal crop duster. In the end, the good old crop duster just persevered.

What I got out of the movie is that you can’t tell people what to do. Everyone has to find out for themselves. Life is about experience. Just like Bon Scott (RIP) said in “Long Way To The Top (If You Want To Rock N Roll)”, it’s a long ride that we all have to take. We have to find our own way. Every classic album that we have come to love, never came out as a debut album.

“Dr Feelgood” from Motley Crue came out in 1989. It is their best album. Mick Mars played a large part in the songwriting process. By 1989, he had been playing in bands for 17 years. Nikki Sixx, the other main songwriter had been playing in bands for 14 years. Life is about experience, and when that experience is translated into a song, it connects with other people who have lived that experience. Bob Rock paid his dues before he rocked the world with “Dr Feelgood” and the Black album from Metallica.

An album like “Appetite For Destruction” from Guns N Roses is an outlier, however if you read the stories about the album, the songs and the ideas of the songs were written years before.

Life is not always up. If you haven’t experienced disappointment, you haven’t taken any risks. Life is about losses, even more than victories. As Ivan Moody sings in “Lift Me Up”;

Lift me up above this
The flames and the ashes
Lift me up and help me to fly away

Lick your wounds, lift yourself back up and get back in the game. Learn from what happened. Don’t let it weigh you down. Quoting from Ivan Moody again; 

Best get out of my way
‘Cause there’s nothing to say
Is that all that you got?
Because I ain’t got all day

I won’t be broken
I won’t be tortured
I won’t be beaten down
I have the answer
I take the pressure
I turn it all around

Moody gets it. People see him as a winner, however he is like us. He makes mistakes, he falls down and he picks himself up again to fight another day.

Finally, in relation to the cinema experience, in this day and age, most people have decent sized TV’s with wi-fi connections and surround sound systems. It is an untapped market. Movie Studio’s should be releasing the movie to us, the same day it hit’s the cinemas. Once the movie is out, it is out. I would have been happy to pay $20 to watch it at home via a 24 hour stream. 

However the movie studios would still like to scream PIRACY instead of servicing it’s customers.

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