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

Spotify 2016

In 2016, Spotify tells me I listened to 25,538 minutes of music. On average, this equates to 70 minutes of music per day. The listening minutes are made up of 958 unique artists and 3,277 unique tracks got a spin.

Remember back in the 80’s and even the 90’s, when only a handful rock and metal artists would get our attention.

  • It could be because we laid out money for their record, so we had to spin it.
  • It could be we saw the music video on TV and recorded it to VHS tape and watched it over and over again.
  • It could be due to the record labels promotional campaigns we got caught up in their scorched earth PR policy.
  • It could be due to radio playing the songs non-stop.

In the process, we made the small number of artists into global superstars and lined the pockets of the record labels in the process.

Well in 2016, I am just one fan who listened to 958 unique artists on Spotify and I am sure I am not the only one. In my case, those 958 artists came from the rock and metal genres, which means the current bands, with their current releases are competing with the history of music, plus their past hits for our attention.

And my time listening to music is fragmented between iTunes, CD’s, Vinyl, CD and Spotify. I listened to a lot of music in the 8 weeks I spent in Europe but it all came from iTunes.

My five top artists for the year are;

  • Kingdom Come – does anyone even remember them? While the commercially successfully version of the band lasted between 1987 and 1991, vocalist and main songwriter, Lenny Wolf kept the band name going with German/European musicians until he retired the band in August 2016. And since the majority of their releases are on Spotify, it was happy days listening for me.
  • Sixx:A.M. – as a Motley fan from the 80’s it was only natural I gravitate to this and it’s the best of the side projects apart from Vince Neil’s first solo album back in the 90’s. And they are a band who had new product out in 2016 and it was good enough to compete with the history of music.
  • Saxon – there was a period between April and June this year that Saxon got a lot of listens as I got myself re-acquainted with their 80’s output and then I started to delve into their 90’s plus output.
  • Whitesnake – no new product in 2016 but still a big favourite of mine.
  • Tremonti – a lot of new product over the last few years so it’s no surprise the band ended up on this list.

My top 5 genres are;

Rock, Hard Rock, Album Rock, Metal and Glam Metal.

I always hated the genre labels and their stupid pigeon holed definitions.

Seriously, what the hell is Album Rock?

To me, it’s either Metal or it’s Rock.

Friday was my favourite day to listen, followed by Saturday and Sunday. Then came Wednesday and Thursday, with Monday and Tuesday been my least favourite days to listen to music.

And finally, here is a selection of my top tracks for the year from Spotify are;

Prayers For The Damned – SIXX:A.M
The album came out in April this year and this song was the lead single that hit streaming sites in February. It’s more or less a perfect modern hard rock song like “Life Is Beautiful” and a constant on my playlists.

Run To The Hills – Vitamin String Quartet
My kids prefer this version over the original and they found it by accident by searching for “Run To The Hills” on Spotify. To be honest, the eastern European vibe is intoxicating and since I was never really a fan of the original song to start off, the Vitamin String Quartet version has become a staple.

Twilight Cruiser – Kingdom Come
It’s 21 years old and the title track to the 1995 album. The feel and the groove and that guitar lead that sounds like a wolf howling are just perfect.

Ghostbusters – Ray Parker Jr
Another track courtesy of my boys, especially my 4-year-old. I hear it and i remember Huey Lewis.

Back In Black – Vitamin String Quartet
Another track courtesy of my boys and my four-year old loved hearing the vocal melody played by a violin, which he then sang along with.

Hall Of Fame – The Script
It was the reason why I got a family premium account. The song must have screwed up the Spotify algorithm because since this was listened to by my kids, my Discover playlist has been a mess.

Dust – Tremonti
The brilliant title track of the new album.

In The Fading Light – Andy James
He came up in a Discover Playlist. It’s an instrumental from an EP released in 2013 and it’s been on my Drive Home from work playlist since i heard. The guitar lead melody is perfect and I find myself chanting it as I drive home.

Sail On – The Night Flight Orchestra
The best classic rock side project from guys in Soilwork and Arch Enemy.

Funky Town – Pseudo Echo
My kids again, however I was a fan of this version in the 80’s, so it was cool to be re-acquainted with it.

Iron Man – Black Sabbath
My kids again, because of the Iron Man/Marvel movies.

Slip Of The Tongue – Whitesnake
It’s one of my favourite cuts and it’s Led Zeppelin on steroids.

War – Live – Bruce Springsteen
My kids again and it was good that they pulled up Bruce Springsteen performing live as I wouldn’t have listened to this song or the other live songs this year if it wasn’t for the kids.

Living Out Of Touch – Kingdom Come
Quick call the stupid plagiarism lawyers. Yes, I know it sounds like Led Zeppelin. Gary Moore even wrote a song called “Led Clones” about Kingdom Come. But there is no denying that Lenny Wolf was a master of re-creating classics, in the same way the Gallagher brothers recreated Beatles classics.

Good Enough – Van Halen
The boys were watching “Spaceballs” and this song came up. I totally forgot about it as it’s been 30 years since it came out and “Dreams” proved to be the cross over hit. But the Van Halen I like is the distorted groovy rock version of the band and this song is one of the best opening tracks for an album.

So I searched it up on Spotify and added it to my Drive Playlist.

“Hello Baby”. And all hell breaks loose. Enough said

Distance – Evergrey
The opening track from their new album “The Storm Within”. As the lead single, it got a lot of listens.

My Way – Kiss
It’s from 1987’s keyboard heavy “Crazy Nights” album. It’s a cool track, I dig the clichéd lyrics and it’s cool to hear Paul Stanley squeeze his balls even tighter for some of those highs. And now my kids dig it and it’s getting constant listens.

Stargazer – Kingdome Come
My kids had one of those toy keyboards and they figured out the intro, so it became a constant song we listened to on Spotify.

Rise – Sixx AM
The lead single to Part II – Prayers For The Blessed.

Trains – Porcupine Tree
Steven Wilson just did what he wanted and wrote songs the way he wanted. He wasn’t a songwriter that was locked in to a particular genre and that is why Porcupine Tree is a favourite of mine. Love the groove, the feel of the acoustic guitars and that epic ending.

Black Rose – Volbeat
I was hooked on that 60’s bubble-gum pop vibe in the Chorus.

My Last Mistake – Tremonti
The heaviness of the music.

We Are The Ones – Dee Snider
The title track and the opening track to Dee’s solo album.

Live In Love – Times Of Grace
Does melodic pop rock heavy death metal make even sense. If it does, then this track is for you.

The Threat Is Real – Megadeth
You get the Arab voices at the start and the chainsaw pedal point riff. The threat is indeed real.

Do You Like It – Kingdom Come
A simple ode to rock music and the live show and yes, I really like it.

The Devil’s Bleeding Crown – Volbeat
This song is a favourite of mine, because it’s a boogie-fied version of “Children Of The Grave”.

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

Albums

“Blizzard Of Ozz” is 39 minutes long. A year later, “Diary Of A Madman” comes out and it clocks in at 42 minutes.  Ozzy built his career on these albums. Two albums in two years.

“You Can’t Stop Rock’N’Roll” from Twisted Sister is 38 minutes long. A year later, “Stay Hungry” comes out as a tight, nine-song, 37-minute set. Like Ozzy, Twisted Sister built their career on the backs of these albums.

“Kill Em All” is 51 minutes long. “Ride The Lightning” is 47 minutes long. “Master of Puppets” is 54 minutes long. Three albums in the space of three years and Metallica’s career is defined and built. In comparison, “Death Magnetic” is 75 minutes long and we are approaching EIGHT years between releases with the opus scheduled for an October release.

“The Number Of The Beast” is 39 minutes long . “Piece Of Mind” is 45 minutes long and “Powerslave” is 51 minutes long. In the space of three years, Iron Maiden built a career on the backs of these three albums. In comparison, “Book Of Souls” is 92 minutes long and it was released six years after their previous album.

“Highway To Hell” is 41 minutes long. “Back In Black” is 42 minutes long. “For Those About To Rock” is 40 minutes long. Three defining albums in the space of three years and AC/DC went from an Australian band to global superstars. In comparison, “Black Ice” is 55 minutes long and “Rock Or Bust” is a return to a normal time length of 35 minutes long. Although the quality is just not there and their main riff meister is missing in action.

“Heaven And Hell” is 39 minutes long and a year later “Mob Rules” came in at 40 minutes in length. Two albums in two years and Black Sabbath’s career is resurrected as a commercial force. For Ronnie James Dio, it was 5 studio albums and six years, and when the 42 minute long “Holy Diver” dropped in 1983, the foundations to Dio’s solos career are set.

What are these figures trying to say?

You don’t need 60 to 90 minutes’ worth of new music to be released on one slab at one time every two to three years. People don’t have spare hours. They have spare minutes. You need 30 to 40 minutes of new music to be released more frequently. Based on the past, bands got traction by releasing new music every 12 months.

Labels want albums because it is easier to charge money RIGHT NOW when there is a bundle of songs involved. Artists want albums, because they grew up on them and they want to be like their heroes and make a statement.

However the album means nothing to the listener who has a digital music collection. While the label heads and the artist want to be paid right now, the fan/listener thinks differently. And the difference between now and the past, is that the listener can influence the outcome.

You buy a track or an album and you could play it once. Maybe you could play it a hundred times or a thousand times or a million times. The artist and their label will never know how many times you played the track. All they will know is the ONE sale and all the money they would have received is from the ONE sale. But if you stream a track a million times, the artist will know. But listens pay less than sales and listens pay when a track is streamed! And if it is streamed a lot it will pay.

So…

Focus on listens. Fans are made by listens. We can talk about albums, but most people are listening to songs. And if a track has longevity, then so does the career of the artist.

Like when I go to “Blizzard Of Ozz”, I listen to “Goodbye To Romance”, “Mr Crowley” and “Crazy Train” as a must.

When I go to “The Number Of The Beast”, I listen to “Children Of The Damned” and “Hallowed Be Thy Name” as a must.

Of course there are other tracks that I like depending on moods, but the ones mentioned are essentials for me.

Listens are everything and based on how copyright law is designed to last the life of the artist plus 70 years after death, the copyright holder will get paid on each and every listen, forever. And the focus should not be on making an album-length statement of 60 to 90 minutes. It should be about putting out a song that can be listened to, over and over again.

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

Just Some Thoughts on Copyright, YouTube and Rock Music

Nikki Sixx and many others want Google to pay more for each YouTube stream so they could bring their payment rates up to the same standard of other streaming providers.

You notice how the people who are now speaking out against YouTube, are the ones who control the rights to their music. It’s because they know exactly what payments they are getting compared to other streaming services. The rest of the artists are clueless and at the whim of the record label creative accounting machine.

In case you were not aware, both Motley Crue and Metallica own their copyrights. Peter Mensch on behalf of Metallica spoke out about YouTube and called it the devil. Nikki Sixx is now calling out YouTube on payment rates.

Anthrax on the other hand are clueless. They kept their new album off Spotify for a few weeks, but it was all over YouTube via fan uploads. As a band, you cannot control what your fans do with your music and how they choose to share it but what you can control is how you release it. Anthrax can’t have the release cycle the way they want it to be (pre-Napster), much the same way any business that has customers, can’t run their business the way they did back in the past. Look at Apple as a perfect example of a business trying to operate like it did when Steve Jobs was alive, while Amazon, Facebook and Google have moved on and surpassed Apple as a leader.

Because the customers are king and they decide what is of value and what isn’t.

Imagine Prince’s post death stats if his music was actually available to be streamed on Spotify. In case you were not aware, every news outlet reported how his sales increased post death. It’s fantastic that his sales have gone through the roof again, as it will benefit his current management team/label. Not him.

And trust me when I say this, the people that will end up controlling Prince’s music will orchestrate a rich licensing deal for his music to be on streaming services. Because it’s all about the greed. Then the lawsuits would come against any artist who has a song that might feel and sound like a Prince song.

If people want to respect Copyright again, then all of Prince’s songs and his catalog of unreleased songs should be part of the Public Domain.

So which way do artists want.

Do they want strong Copyright enforcement forever and a day which leads to censorship and Corporate monopolies and billions of dollars in the hands of executives who created no art and fly in their own private jets, while the actual artists are paid pennies and fly economy?

Do they want the Tidal exclusives and making copyright infringement/piracy relevant again in the process?

Do they want their fans to purchase their music only, have big first week sales and to make copyright infringement/piracy relevant again in the process?

Do they want to make it as easy as possible for fans to access their music forever in any format the fan desires and as easily as possible?

Because in music there is a lot of value in recorded music, regardless if it’s streaming or mp3 purchases or actual vinyl/CD sales.

If you want to look at the value of recorded music and how you can make money when legal alternatives are better than the pirated alternatives, look no further than China. As a music market based on recorded sales, China, had no transactional recorded music business. Piracy was huge. However it is now bringing in some serious dollars. The difference here is that the record labels have built partnerships with the techies and ISP’s, instead of litigating them to death in the courts with stupid troll like suits and take down notices.

They tried a paid model in 2012, it failed. They tried again and again, until they got it exactly right for the CUSTOMER to buy in. Now digital music revenues in China brings in millions of dollars which were not there before at all. This is a good thing, but again, how much of it is going back to the actual artists.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Where Should An Artist Be?

Megadeth’s “Dystopia” has 1,529,342 streams on Spotify. On YouTube, the audio clip has 1 million views and the video clip has 722K.

“Symphony Of Destruction” has 14,728,297 streams on Spotify. On YouTube there are a few fan created uploads that have around 4 million views, proving, once again, that fan uploads are good for the artist. They get paid from these videos as well. And the cumulative number on YouTube is close to the streams on Spotify, but it’s fragmented and quality varies.

“Hate By Design” from Killswitch Engage has 1,375,919 streams on Spotify. On YouTube 1,386,177 views.

Meanwhile, “My Curse” uploaded back in November 2006 has 14,730,324 views on YouTube and on Spotify it has 21,940,706 streams. Remember that Spotify launched in the US in July 2011 and it was first launched in September 2008. So on a service that has been operating for a shorter period and even shorter in the main US music market, it has racked up more streams.

This is telling me that once the promotion marketing run of a new song for Killswitch is over, the fans of the band gravitate to Spotify to consume their catalogue.

Now let’s go to Dream Theater’s “The Gift Of Music”. It’s got 938,792 streams on Spotify. On YouTube, the Official Video clip has 595,906 views and the Official Audio clip has 1,249,834 views.

However, an older song like “Pull Me Under” has 5,543,276 streams on Spotify and on YouTube, the official video has 4,193,933 views, the “Live At Luna Park” has 2,449,343 views and a fan upload has 1,591,017 views.

Dream Theater is a band with a small but highly profitable hard-core fan base that purchase the music of the band in CD, Vinyl or MP3 format. So the streaming stats of Dream Theater would always be lower than others because of that ownership perspective.

Bullet For My Valentine new single, “You Want A Battle” has 8,698,284 streams on Spotify and an older song like “Your Betrayel” has 21,322,709 streams on Spotify.

Meanwhile on YouTube, “You Want A Battle” has 4,166,841 views on the VEVO video clip and 1,009,159 views on the VEVO audio clip. “Your Betrayal” on the other hand has 30,619,555 views on the VEVO video clip.

Trivium’s new single “Until The World Goes Cold” has 5,249,262 streams on Spotify and the title track of the album has 3,055,965 streams. Meanwhile on YouTube, “Until The World Goes Cold” has 4,311,064 views on the VEVO video clip and “Silence In The Snow: has 3,533,303 views on the VEVO video clip.

Five Finger Death Punch’s new single “Wash It All Away” has 8,796,100 streams on Spotify. The lead off single from the new album “Jekyll and Hyde” has 19,147,912 streams and an older song like “Far From Home” has 24,575,975 streams.

Meanwhile on YouTube, “Wash It All Away” has 10,711,212 views on the VEVO video, “Jekyll and Hyde” has 17,718,384 views on the VEVO video and “Far From Home” doesn’t even rate a mention apart from some fan uploaded clips.

It just goes to show the artist and their label how the fans can take a song and make it as big as a single. All by listening.

One track that is killing it on YouTube is the clip to “The Wrong Side Of Heaven” which has 66,552,910 views.

Shinedown’s “Cut The Cord” has 9,251,338 streams on Spotify and their big hit “Second Chance” has 32,160,803 streams. Meanwhile on YouTube, “Second Chance” has 12,967,621 views on the video clip and “Cut The Cord” has 13,346,588 views.

So…

For an artist, you have no idea how your fans like to listen to music. You might want them to purchase a CD, but the truth is, each fan is different and you need to cater for it. The beauty of Spotify and YouTube is that songs that are not singles become as big as singles based on the listening patterns of the fans. Artists should take note of what the fans like.

And metal and rock fans are still loyal enough to purchase music when they like it but the days of purchasing blindly are over. I’ve streamed the new Killswitch Engage album to death. Eventually I will purchase it to add to my collection. but there is a higher chance that I would purchase a concert ticket first before I purchase the album. That’s just the way it is.

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Derivative Works, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

1985

Coming into 1985, Quiet Riot, still had constant MTV rotation with “Cum On Feel The Noize” released in 1983. Judas Priest was also all over the channels with “You Got Another Thing Comin”. Twisted Sister’s anthems “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock” along with Ratt’s “Round and Round” also had constant rotation. Scorpions and Motley Crue also had constant MTV rotation with “Rock You Like A Hurricane” and “Looks that Kill”. Meanwhile, Van Halen’s “Jump” crossed over into the mainstream.

So it was safe to say that metal and rock bands were showing the music world that metal works well in a singles orientated format.

Music videos became the new tool to sell music. Suddenly we listened with our eyes and ears. “Smokin’ in the Boys Room” music video became another MTV favourite. It went under the radar from PMRC and it also kept with the mid-eighties theme of metal/rock music as a liberator to teen oppression.

The follow-up “Home Sweet Home,” showed that rock and metal was really a singles games. When the song blew up on MTV, the sales of the “Theatre of Pain” album, went through the roof. Yep, a single was selling the album.

That’s not to say that the “Theatre Of Pain” album is a bad one, it’s just that the other songs on the album where either not as good as the songs that came before or the message/tone of the songs were too deep or dark at that point in time.

Tonight (We Need a Lover)”,” Save Our Souls”, “Louder Than Hell” and “Fight for Your Rights” proved that the “Shout At The Devil” metal vibe was alive and well in the Crue. “Raise Your Hands to Rock” should have been a crossover smash but it wasn’t as the Crue was told to go back into the recording studio and capitalise on the interest that MTV had brought to the band.

“Who wrote the Bible, Who set the laws, Are we left to history’s flaws” ….. from “Fight For Your Rights”

The ones in power did. Otherwise, who the hell gives a bunch of politician housewives a say as to what should be allowed or banned. In case you lived under a rock, 1985 was also the year that a lot of different sporadic events came together in a big way.

The PMRC Satanic Panic was in full swing, with the Filthy Fifteen List and the Senate Congressional hearings. More than anything, this brought metal and rock music even more to the masses. While artists did fight for their rights, a lot of other artists had no idea what was happening.

“I was Young and restless, Living on the edge of a dream, When someone somewhere said, Ya just gotta believe”….. from “Raise Your Hands To Rock”

That is what the metallers did. They believed in their music, their songs and their lifestyles. The below quote is from “The Guardian”;

“By the time 1985 hit, thrash metal itself was off to a healthy head start, beginning several years prior with the rise of the Bay Area titans-to-be Metallica, Exodus and Megadeth, LA’s Slayer and New York City’s Anthrax. That year saw Exodus release “Bonded by Blood”, which remains their most hallowed work. Anthrax released “Spreading the Disease”, their first album to feature legendary vocalist Joey Belladonna. Slayer unleashed “Hell Awaits” upon the unwitting masses. Megadeth released their brazen debut, “Killing Is My Business … and Business Is Good!” while frontman Dave Mustaine’s former bandmates in Metallica were holed up writing the follow-up to 1984’s “Ride the Lightning”, an album that would become 1986’s watershed “Master of Puppets”.

It was a shame that in four years’ time, it would get so commercialised, conformist and fake, that it managed to relegate itself into the back ground by 1994.

Continuing on with 1985 releases, how do you follow-up a multi-platinum album and two iconic MTV video clips?

That was the predicament Twisted Sister was in when Dee Snider sat down to write the songs that would be released on “Come Out And Play”. Bob Ezrin was interested in producing and after hearing the rough versions, opted out. Dieter Dierks from Scorpions fame was brought in instead.

Now, I need to get this out in the open. The two worst songs on the album are “Leader of the Pack” and “Be Cruel to Your School” (screw the misspelling). I wasn’t even going to buy the album and then my cousin “Mega” played me “The Fire Still Burns”, “Out On The Streets”, “I Believe in Rock N Roll” and the title track “Come Out And Play”. I was sold and laid out my hard-earned dollars.

What an album?

What was the label and Dee thinking, leading off with two gimmicky tracks, especially in a time when metal music started to fragment into different genres?

Seriously, the three singles from the album had to be, “Come Out And Play”, “I Believe In Rock N Roll” and “The Fire Still Burns”. It would have satisfied all of the genres.

“Come Out And Play” was already set up to have a Warriors themed video clip in my opinion, while “I Believe In Rock N Roll” in my eyes was set up to have a court inspired PMRC theme. And finish it all off with a live rendition of “The Fire Still Burns” and ka-chow.

But it wasn’t to be.

“When you laugh and put us down, you’re tryin’ to cover up your fears”….. From “You Want What We Got”

“Every day, I work so hard, Every day, I’m dealt the cards, Every day, I’m told exactly what to do”….. From “I Believe In Rock N Roll”

Success really is addictive and once your personality is consumed by your value of ‘what you do’, instead of ‘who you are’, you are most likely to continue to follow that intoxication and believe that you are invincible.”
Jay Jay French

If you are a fan of Twisted Sister, you would know about the “invincibility” of Dee Snider after “Stay Hungry” crossed over.

“I’m just another number, Somethin’ just ain’t right”….. from “Out On The Streets”

A decade of struggling to make it led to a burnout. Dee Snider would quit and go solo in 1987. In the end he was just a number to the record label machine. Another rocker used up and spat out down at “Chainsaw Charlies” morgue.

“They always told me I must try to be, like everyone in the nation”…. From “Lookin Out For Number 1”

Conforming leads to expectations and in my opinion, expectation is a burden that kills creativity. Dee always wrote the draft of the next album, while mixing was happening on the previous album. For example, during Under The Blade mixing, Dee wrote the “You Cant Stop Rock N Roll” album. During the “You Cant Stop Rock N Roll” album mixing, Dee wrote the “Stay Hungry” album. During the “Stay Hungry” album mixing, Dee wrote nothing.

 

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

It’s Always Been About The Songs

“The biggest thing that surprised me about fame was that it was fleeting. You work so hard to get there and you just assume that it’s some sort of finish line, or you take a victory lap and maybe spike the ball, run around the field screaming ‘Goal,” I don’t know.”
Dee Snider 

It is pretty well-known how long and hard Twisted Sister worked at getting their sound and image out to the masses. It is also pretty well-known how short their fame was in the Eighties and how quickly they faded from the conversation.

You see, the biggest untold story in music is that when an artist hits a high with one album/song, it doesn’t mean that the next album/song will also hit that same high.

“Stay Hungry” sold over 2 million copies when “Come Out And Play” was released in 1985. At that point in time, “Under The Blade” was still selling, “You Can’t Stop Rock ‘N’ Roll” was still selling and so was “Stay Hungry”. Because when an album crosses over into the mainstream, the back catalogue of the artists suddenly become popular.

Then a new album drops and suddenly the sales are not as high as the previous album. It doesn’t mean the band is not famous or popular anymore, it just meant that a re-adjustment was going on with the fans.

A lot of fans were still digesting the back catalogue and a lot of fans moved on to the next flavour of the year.

So instead of Twisted Sister’s management team booking a normal theatre and shed tour, they booked an arena tour for “Come Out And Play”. And when the arena shows failed to sell out, the tour got canned which cost the band money. The merchandise agreement for the tour became null and void which cost the band money.

“The reality is that rock and roll, in the mainstream, it’s in a difficult place right now. People don’t buy music, and they certainly don’t buy rock bands’ music in the way that they used to. And so, for our genre, it’s kind of… We’re limping along when it comes to public appeal. I believe that rock and roll is alive and well. I just think that people need to show their support and let the genre keep thriving.”
Andy Biersack – Black Veil Brides

People never wanted to buy music. I know I never did. I wanted to listen to music. However, corporations got involved with music, and a big business was born from it. Guess how many records Kiss sold from their first album, before they started to record their second album.

If you answered 70,000 units, then you are correct. If you don’t believe me, read Paul Stanley’s “Face The Music”. Metallica’s “Kill Em All” didn’t set any sales records when it came out either. Nine months after the album’s release, Metallica went back into the studio to record “Ride The Lightning”.

But today, bands want instant success. They want their first album to sell like Metallica’s “Black” album or Bon Jovi’s “Slippery When Wet”.

“Metal was really strong in the 80s and kind of had hard times in the 90s. I think we treaded water and kept alive and kept focused on being Testament, and writing songs that we wrote without thinking or trying to change and play with what’s current at the time. It really hurt a lot of bands trying to do that. Fortunately, we didn’t do that. We went opposite. We went a little darker and heavier at that time. Then the metal got healthy again, and coming out the other end, we were in the right spot with the direction we were going, and the history we had, it just carried through. Metal has been real strong since the early 2000s. It’s been gradually picking up. I see the generation changing with a lot more younger fans coming to shows now over the last ten years.”
CHUCK BILLY – Testament

The crux of longevity is the replenishing of your fan base, year after year. And you do that by being in the game. Each album release will do some of the following;

  • Pick up new fans and keep all of the old fans
  • Pick up new fans and lose some of the old fans
  • Pick up new fans and lose all of the old fans
  • Keep all of the old fans
  • Lose some of the old fans

It’s just the way it is. You see for me, I lost interest in Testament after Alex Skolnick left. My cousin Mega, still purchased their albums, I heard them and forgot them. It was just part of getting older. Musical tastes changed for a while. That is why in 2015, my music collection has everything from folk, blues, classic rock, metal, hard rock, glam rock, thrash metal, death metal, metalcore, progressive rock, etc…

So in 2015, the album is just not as important as it was once was. With streaming it is all about the songs. For all the artists that complain about sales, the truth is if you’re popular, people want to listen to your music and they want more of it, if it is good. My kids don’t even care if the songs all came from the same album.

Today, the artists get paid every time we listen.

Elektra sold Metallica’s self-titled album and the band only got paid once for the sale. Today, Metallica is cleaning up, as fans are streaming their tracks over and over again. They are getting paid continuously. And right now payments are low, but they will grow as more people subscribe. And if we are listening to our favourites music, they will get paid forever.

So it all comes down to listens and good songs have a long listening life, a long time to make money.

And it’s always been about good songs.

Metallica did not break big until “Enter Sandman” crossed over. Twisted Sister did not break big until “We’re Not Gonna Take It” crossed over.

We all want more if the artists are great and the hard truth is that very few are.

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, Piracy, Unsung Heroes

Keep On Selling In A Free World

Five Finger Death Punch moved 119,000 units of their new album “Got Your Six”. 114,000 of those units are pure album sales and it a time of free, it even surpassed the 112,000 opening sales week of 2013’s “The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell: Volume 1”.

In the U.S, Iron Maiden moved 75,000 of their “The Book Of Souls” album and in a time of free, it is Iron Maiden’s best sales week since Nielsen Music began measuring sales in 1991. It even surpassed 2010’s “The Final Frontier” sales by 12,000 units. Again in a time of free, you would expect a sales decline to happen.

In the U.K, Iron Maiden moved over 60,000 units and Five Finger Death Punch also landed in the Top 10.

In Australia, we know that Iron Maiden came in a Number 2 and Five Finger Death Punch at Number 3.

Both of the above bands have had their BEST SALES week for these latest releases. Especially in the U.S market. For Iron Maiden, it is their best sales week since 1991. Consider that. Piracy was at an all-time low in 1991 however in 2015, when piracy is meant to be at an all time high, bands sell more than before in opening weeks.

But it’s not always like that.

Disturbed’s “Immortalized” sold 98,000 total copies. If you compare these sales with 2002, when their second album “Believe” sold 284,000 copies you can see a steep decline in first week sales.

2005’s “Ten Thousand Fists” sold 239,000 copies, 2008’s “Indestructible” sold 253,000 copies and 2010’s “Asylum” sold 179,000 copies. On the same week that Disturbed made their comeback, Swedish metal act Ghost had opening week sales of 29,000 units of their second album “Meliora”

So what does all of the above tell us?

Has anyone seen the latest MTV Video Music Awards?

How many metal and hard rock bands got mentioned

If you are an artist in 2015, there is no use comparing 2015 to 1985.

Shawn Drover can complain all he wants.

The truth is, no one really cares about his new act “Act Of Defiance” first album at this point in time.

What the above data shows me, is that the music business is not all about the first album. It is about what comes after the first album. Remember, “Kill Em All” from Metallica had a life span of about nine months, before Metallica was back in the studio recording “Ride The Lightning”. That album also had a nine month life span before Metallica was back in the studio to record “Master of Puppets”.

There is no doubt that internet piracy has affected every genre, especially the metal and hard rock genre.

Does that mean that there is no money in music?

Of course not.

Publishing agency, BMI raked in $1.013 billion dollars for the financial year. ASCAP, also raked in $1.001 billion. This is money, earned by agencies for licensing out artists songs to radio, TV, streaming services and other platforms. And the reason for this big boom is;

  • Music streaming

But with everything corporate, the payouts to artists comes after both BMI and ASCAP subtract their operating expenses and other creative expenses from the revenue. This is what happens when you have a monopoly on music licensing. You abuse it.

BMI actually paid $877 million to its thousands of members, including songwriters like Dave Grohl, Linkin Park, Nickelback and Evanescence. ASCAP on the other hand paid its members $883 million.

What about that?

ASCAP had less revenue than BMI but paid out more. Regardless, when you add the expenses that both organisations kept, that is another $600 million kept away from artists.

But BMI blamed their legal fight against Pandora for the reduced payouts?

And certain artists have jumped on the bandwagon to criticise Pandora. But so many are clueless to the work that Pandora has done to help the recording industry and the music industry at large. They have 80 million listeners.

But did you know that Five Finger Death Punch partnered with Pandora to launch their album “Got Your Six”. Mumford and Sons, partnered with Pandora for a live stream of a concert. Jack White did the same. All of these partnerships led to Pandora increasing their fan base and the artists increasing their exposure and sales.

Pandora put on 79 live events last year and this year it’s expected to rise to 120.

This is on top of Pandora paying out half its revenue to SoundExchange in licensing fees, which in turn has ensured that the company is in a loss position. Other countries are not that quick to embrace Pandora, because to date, the service only operates in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand.

Which is silly.

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