Copyright, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Ripped Off – Here Is My Middle Finger Salute

“Gettin’ ripped off, underpaid” ….. from “It’s A Long Way To The Top If You Wanna Rock ‘N’ Roll”

Bon Scott knew his stuff. For a person who had been trying to make it for a long time, he was well seasoned and experienced enough to come up with some great lyrics. He was a perfect fit to the youthism of the Young brothers. If you take the time to dig deep into his lyrics, you will notice a certain theme of being ripped off by promoters and record label execs, which is polar opposite to what artists are saying today. With so much backlash against streaming services and royalty payments, more and more artists are going on record to state that the “fan doesn’t support and respect music”.

So how can the music industry explain how bands that have performed live have not been paid the monies owed to them by the promoters?

The fans that supposedly “don’t support and respect music” purchased their $180 plus concert ticket. Surely this is a show of support to the acts on the bill that people value and respect music.

“So if you’ve got the money, we’ve got the sound,
You put it up and we’ll put it down,
If you got the dollar, we got the song,
Just wanna boogie woogie all night long” ….. from “Aint No Fun (Waiting Around To Be A Millionaire)”

For those that don’t know, the 2016 Soundwave Festival in Australia has been cancelled due to poor ticket sales. However, the roots of the problems go back. From the 2015 edition of Soundwave, a lot of bands are still owed money from their festival appearance.

For the full list, click on this link.

Here is a selection of a few;

The main artists;

  • Soundgarden — $2,132,075.00
  • Slipknot — $1,645,299.29
  • The Smashing Pumpkins — $1,267,446.43
  • Faith No More — $751,076.20
  • Marilyn Manson — $588,000.56
  • Incubus — $571,428.58
  • Slash — $484,628.00
  • Fall Out Boy — $394,107.14
  • Judas Priest — $349,560.55
  • Ministry — $203,952.01
  • Godsmack — $200,000.00
  • Lamb of God — $161,323.33

The medium-sized and self-financed artists;

  • Papa Roach — $93,050.93
  • Steel Panther — $92,517.57
  • Fear Factory — $78,263.96
  • Apocalyptica — $65,601.90
  • Falling In Reverse — $54,064.98
  • Atreyu — $52,044.64
  • New Found Glory — $43,279.88
  • Nothing More — $35,000.00
  • Of Mice and Men — $29,040.00
  • Killer Be Killed — $24,513.00
  • Escape the Fate — $21,985.68
  • Dragonforce — $21,000.00
  • Monuments — $19,153.00
  • Animals as Leaders — $16,607.14
  • Nonpoint — $8,137.54
  • Ne Obliviscaris — $5,720.60

Commissions to an agency for organising acts;

  • Live Nation Worldwide, Inc — $1,180,325.56

That’s some serious dollars taken from the hard-working hands of the fans and not paid to the artists. You see, a fan believes that the act would be getting their cut. It’s an unwritten law that it will happen. The fan also knows that the promoter, venue and so forth would also get their cut. Which in a lot of cases is more than the acts cut.

“Living on a shoe string,
A fifty cent millionaire,
Open to charity,
Rock ‘n’ roller welfare” ….. from “Down Payment Blues”

Life is tough and when you don’t get paid, it’s even tougher, because we all have other commitments that we need to make. So are the fans to blame again for not supporting music.

Are the fans to blame when managers, promoters and record labels rip off the artists?

“It’s a song (“I Believe In You) I wrote a long time ago. Well a long time before it got put on a record, which is kind of a drag in a way because our original managers ripped us off for our publishing (on) the first two Yesterday and Today records. We haven’t received a penny publishing to this day from those two records. I wrote “I Believe in You” about the time they were managing us so when I put it on the “Earthshaker” record well after they were gone they still took my publishing and never gave me a cent for “I Believe In You”. Anyway it was written a long time ago about a break up that I had with a long-time relationship I had with a girl so the song inspired itself more or less.”
Dave Meniketti 

There is a lot of money to be made in music and the fans are spending. The fans respect music and value music. It’s a shame that the corporate entities that benefit largely from the music that artists create don’t value and respect music in the same way.

Unless Artists make a stand and take back their copyrights or organise better rates for themselves when they sell/license their rights to the corporations, then that copyright royalty pay rise will just end up with the corporate entity the artists sold their copyrights too.

SoundExchange, the organization that collects royalties is considering an appeal at the Copyright Tribunals decision to increase the royalty rate that Pandora and other stations needs to pay.

Now why would SoundExchange want to do that?

It’s because they have collected over $3 billion dollars in royalties since 2003 and once you take their standard 30% administration costs, it adds up to a lot of money for SoundExchange for doing absolutely nothing. But they want more of that pie.

Artists as usual get short-changed by all of the corporations taking their cut. And even when they perform live, it looks like they are still being shafted by the promoters.

In Australia, the recording industry revenues are growing and have been since 2012. And what was the defining moment in 2012 that caused this shift in revenue.

Of course, it was the arrival of Spotify in May 2012.

And that is what fans of music do. We double dip. I like to stream and on occasions I love owning something physical from the artists that I support.

Since 2008, those physical purchases include only the special deluxe pieces of art that bands produce. To pay $30 for a DVD/CD special edition album release is just not worth it. I would rather pay the $12 a month Spotify subscription and access that digitally. Recently, I was one of 40,000 people who purchased Coheed and Cambria’s “The Color Before The Sun” Super Deluxe Edition for $70US and I am one of many who have pre-ordered Dream Theater’s new album “The Astonishing” for $170.

Music doesn’t exist without its best customer; the fan. So as a fan, here is a big middle finger salute to all of those comments about fans of music not respecting music.

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

Say Hello To Lemmy From Motorhead

Lemmy Kilmister has been in the news again for ill-health and for some reason Ozzy Osbourne’s “No More Tears” album came to mind. Great album and if you want a great review of it, look no further than the one that Bob Lefsetz did.

You see, while Ozzy Osbourne went onto another victory lap with the “No More Tears” album, selling millions, Lemmy continued his niche career, putting out “1916”, “March Or Die” and “Bastards” within a year of each other.

History will show that if it wasn’t for good old Lemmy writing some killer lyrics, the album would have been a different beast as two of his tracks proved cross-over hits.

Several of the tracks “I Dont Want To Change The World”, “Mama, I’m Coming Home”, “Desire” and “Hellraiser” were all co-written with Lemmy from Motorhead. In a Hot Metal interview from October 1991, this is what Ozzy said about the Lemmy Kilmister connection;

“The reason I got Lemmy to help out with some of the lyrics is that I like his tongue in cheek attitude. He’s cynical, but he can say fuck you in four sentences. One the greatest lines he wrote was “Tell me I’m a sinner, I got news for you, I spoke to God this morning and he don’t like you.” I’d hum a melody and sing “Mama I’m coming home” and he would take it from there. It’s really weird coz I listen to that song and it’s as if i wrote it. It’s as he’s read my mind.”

Lemmy further recalls the arrangement in his autobiography “White Line Fever”.

“That was one of the easiest gigs I ever had – Sharon rang me up and said, ‘I’ll give you X amount of money to write some songs for Ozzy’, and I said, ‘All right – you got a pen?’ I wrote six or seven sets of words, and he ended up using four of them…I made more money out of writing those four songs than I made out of fifteen years of Motörhead – ludicrous, isn’t it?!”

Ludicrous alright.

The “No More Tears” album was meant to be called “Say Hello To Heaven”. At the last-minute, it got changed. Ozzy said in a Hot Metal interview from November 1991, that the album was originally scheduled to be released at the beginning of 1991, however it took a significantly longer time to see the light of day. It finally came out in September 1991.

First there was the change of producers from “Thompson/Barbiero” to “Rick Rubin” to “Duane Baron/John Purdell”. The shift from Thompson/Barbiero to Rick Rubin involved the scrapping of all the work on the grounds that it was too much like Black Sabbath.

 

As with previous Ozzy projects, a certain bass player from the past was also involved up to a certain point.

Bob Daisley got another SOS call from Ozzy’s camp after all of the songs were written and played on the whole album. Daisley was also the original lyrical writer for the songs, however according to Daisley, Sharon Osbourne didn’t want to pay him and that is where Lemmy came into the picture.

However, Lemmy would also experience some of the pain that Bob Daisley and Jake E.Lee experienced about not been credited for their work. In an interview on Banger.com, this is how Lemmy put it.

“I wrote two songs on that album (Ozzmosis)-one they didn’t fucking credit me for! And I did four on “No More Tears”. So that’s six. Ozzy and I are old friends and he asked me to give him some songs for the new album-I gave him ten, he used two. It’s not a very inspiring album, I didn’t think, especially after “No More Tears”

History will show that Ozzy Osbourne wrote every song on the “Bark At The Moon” album and history will also show Lemmy as having one songwriting credit on Ozzmosis.

That’s show business, where the people with the money get to do what they want and the ones that actually contribute something worthwhile get shafted.

And Lemmy is a true superhero. For him it was all about the music. His output is massive.

Live long Lemmy.

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

The Age Old Problem Of Music

The recorded music industry has finally stabilised and it is competing with free. Whatever arguments are put forward for recorded music to go behind paywalls, the world we live in demands that music be free. Piracy of music is no more.

Why would people bother?

My kids are happy with free and putting up with a few commercials. I am happy with it as well, and on the occasions that some of my favourite artists release an album that has a super deluxe edition, I purchase it.

All of this low price points does lead to a mathematical outcome. Profits are tighter, which in turn means  large recording budgets go down. Who cares, right? With pro-studio equipment so cheap, 95% of musicians are DIY’ers’

But, are profits really tighter for the record labels. The whole Spotify/Sony contract highlights just how much money Sony is getting from being the holders of so many copyrights. Sony’s negotiating power is strong because of the artists that create musical works.

Unions have negotiating power because they have the workers behind them. Sony has negotiating power because they have accumulated the copyrights from artists that signed contracts with terms stacked against them. The unions fight for workers’ rights and better wages. Sony fights for a higher fee to their music catalogue and then fails to pass on the monies to its artists, both old and new.

The power of the labels has been accumulated by paying low dollars for a song. Take “Louie, Louie”. The song was written on toilet paper in 1955, recorded in 1957 as a B side and it did nothing. In 1959, Berry sold the rights to the song for $750. In 1963, the song became a hit. By 1987, Berry was living on welfare at his mother’s house. However, Berry did have some luck in a lawyer friend who managed to get his rights back just in time for the song to be licensed to an alcoholic drink commercial. Berry in this instance is part of the rare 1% that do have some luck. For the other 99%, no dice.

You know what the funny thing is, someone like Frank Zappa back in the early Eighties had the foresight to offer a proposal to the record labels to replace the LP model. Zappa proposed that the labels should store their recorded music vaults in a central location and offer the music via phone or cable TV straight to the user stereos via a subscription model. In Zappa’s words “providing material in such quantity at a reduced cost could actually diminish the desire to duplicate and store it, since it will be available any time day or night.”

The reason why Zappa was thinking outside the square back in 1982 was that the recording business was already in a state of bother, that the Internet and Napster brought to the forefront, 20 years later.

Change is constant. News used to be slow, we had three TV channels, music, books and films had gated/window releases, fewer people travelled and fewer people finished school. Not anymore.

You see, change for one side of the debate is always better and for the other side not so much. For the music consumer, the shift to access models over ownership models with lower price points is for the better. But it is far from perfect for the record labels and other gatekeepers. Even old school artists don’t like these changes. People have argued that it has led to unemployment or that creators have no incentive to create new music.

The age-old problem of music was always access. How do people hear it?

MTV broke down a lot of those access problems and made musicians into global superstars. MTV, P2P downloading and streaming are new approaches to age-old problems. While the record labels ignored the volcanic ash of Napster, the techies escaped the volcano blast and thrived.

The error of the record labels was in believing that what was familiar would not change. They got used to the high profit margins of the CD, so they found it hard to believe that in the space of a few years, those profits could disappear. Those marketing strategies and gated releases that have proven themselves over so many years, no longer bring in the sales the labels wanted. Instead it leads to an increase in P2P downloading.

Streaming has competed with P2P. Spotify has pumped millions upon millions into the recording industry. Money that was not there before. So what do the record labels, along with Apple and other misguided artists supporting Pono or Tidal want to do. Their solution to the age-old problem of access is to put it behind a pay wall.

Nice one. Let’s see how well that goes down.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Divided We Stand. But It Doesn’t Have To Be That Way.

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

Motley Crue imploded at the peak of their powers with the firing of Vince Neil and then sued each other in the courts. Then when Vince Neil was back in, John Corabi was out and soon it was Tommy Lee that was out.

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.

Van Halen ousted David Lee Roth and there was a few years of bad mouthing each other. Then when Sammy Hagar was ousted, the feud turned ugly with both sides airing their dirty laundry.

Guns N Roses appetite for destruction more or less has the band as an Axl Rose solo project. According to Axl, “Slash is a cancer”. There was a lawsuit as well from Axl to Slash to stop the “It’s Five O Clock Somewhere” album as Axl claimed those songs were written for Guns N Roses by Slash.

Scott Weiland had a nasty split with his first act, Stone Temple Pilots (on more than one occasion) as well as with the Velvet Revolver project that featured Slash.

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.

Paul Stanley went to town on Ace and Peter, calling them anti-semitic. Gene Simmons said that Ace and Peter didn’t deserve to wear the make up.

Dream Theater and Mike Portnoy ended their relationship abruptly.

And Rock and Roll was supposed to be fun. Yeah right, I hear people say.

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.

Every band I have been in imploded because I was writing the music and the lyrics from the beginning. So when the other members realised that I am getting extra royalties and publishing moneys, then money becomes a factor and suddenly everybody wants to write a song or make suggestions to change a finished song just so they could a songwriting credit.

And I said NO a lot of times.

And that starts to put a strain on the relationship and the band dynamics. Eventually we became assholes to each other and one of the main commandments that I swear by is to “Don’t Be An Asshole”.

It’s easier said than done. Especially in metal and rock circles. You know, we are all alpha males in this business.

So how can we achieve a healthier band dynamic.

We need to handle criticism better. At one point in my life, the way I offered criticism wasn’t at all constructive and criticism towards me was seen as a personal attack.

Don’t be assholes to each other as everyone is replaceable.

True love of music is the best reward. Money is a byproduct.

Realise that if the guitarist does come in with a completed song, or an albums worth of songs, it’s okay. Same goes for the other musicians in the band. And if your song doesn’t make the cut, that is also okay.

If the band is a democracy, then happy creating, however let me tell you one truth. Bands that claim that their songwriting is a democracy are lying. There is always one that will be the boss.

Look at Van Halen. Songwriting credits originally showed Edward Van Halen, Alex Van Halen, Michael Anthony and David Lee Roth. However it is a well-known fact that Eddie Van Halen wrote all the music and David Lee Roth wrote the lyrics, with little input from Van Halen’s rhythm section.

Slow and steady wins the race. Remember a music career is a lifers game.

You will get screwed by someone in the music business. Don’t let it get you down. Roll with it and learn from it.

In order to be seen or be heard, we need to stand united.

Don’t see every other artist or band as competition. The history of rock n roll shows that it was friendships and recommendations from other artists that broke artists to an audience. This is needed even more so in 2014.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories

Any Publicity Is Good Publicity

I love the latest Journal Entry by Robb Flynn. It’s a crack up around the new A7X album.

“Avenged Sevenfold – Now with more Metallica”

“After hearing Heretic, Dave Mustaine flips out, blames Obama, Metallica and UFO’s for A7X stealing Symphony Of Destruction.”

Any publicity is good publicity. I posted previously that it was a ballsy move releasing some of the songs with so many similarities. I am not against it, as I have always said progress is derivative. “Hail To The King” has people talking, and that is what you want from an album, especially in this day and age, where albums come out and by six weeks they have disappeared. You want the album to stick around for at least 12 months in people’s minds.

I can’t believe that some people are losing their minds in the comments section on Facebook. No one can take a joke these days. There are a whole heap of people sticking up for A7X, while others are completely writing them off. Poor old Robb Flynn is copping it as well. I couldn’t stop laughing though with all these A7X fans making comments like, “I don’t hear any similarities to the songs mentioned”, I was like WTF, what rock have you been hiding under?

For the record I am cranking this album again today. And you know what, if a kid is hearing this kind of music for the first time and Avenged Sevenfold is their first introduction to Heavy Metal music, then what an introduction it would be for them. I played it to my boys (ages 8 and 7) and they really dig it. They haven’t really heard much Metallica and Megadeth so they don’t know the songs written by Megadeth and Metallica. This is much in the same way, when the Eighties bands came out, I didn’t know about the Sixties and Seventies bands that the Eighties bands were “influenced” by. So for an introduction to a new generation, “Hail To The King” is a great sounding album.

Tracks 1 (Shepherd Of Fire), 2 (Hail To The King), 3 (Doing Time), 5 (Requiem), 7 (Heretic), 8 (Coming Home) and 9 (Planets) are standing out at the moment. I was never a fan of “Sad But True”, so I am not really a fan of “This Means War”, however it does have some cool melodic lead breaks. I think the vocal melody is too much like “Sad But True” and that makes me dislike it as I didn’t like the original vocal melody anyway. On the other hand, I am a fan of “Symphony Of Destruction” and I really like what A7X did with “Heretic”. I still prefer the original. The ballads are boring as.

I remember when I started purchasing LP’s from Seventies era bands like Mott The Hoople and Slade in the Nineties via the second hand record shops. I swear I heard the first three Motley Crue albums on those albums as well as Def Leppard up to “Pyromania”. The same deal with Aerosmith’s Seventies output. I heard Guns N Roses (GNR) and Motley Crue straight away.

Recently I have been listening to NWOBHM, especially the more obscure bands and Metallica has ripped all of them off. Diamond Head is the most obvious. Then you have the unknown band like “Bleak House” that got really ripped off for “Sanitarium (Welcome Home)”. If Bleak House was still together in 1986, when “Master of Puppets” came out, they could have used that to their advantage. “Thanks to Metallica for bringing attention to our song “Rainbow Warrior” with “Welcome Home (Sanitarium).”

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