Music, My Stories

Metal Festivals

Is the metal festival really worth it these days or should bands focus on hitting the road in smaller packages like the good old days.

Machine Head are doing an “An Evening With” tour at the moment. From all reports, it is doing great business. Dream Theater has done these kind of “Evening With” tours for a long time and the fans loved it. Our favourite acts, with no support act.

Then you have other bands going on the road with one or two openers. openers.

So why do the festivals struggle to make profits.

Ozzfest is no more.

The Metallica funded Orion festival is no more. James Hetfield went on record to say that the U.S audiences don’t respect live music anymore. Was the venue all wrong, or the acts chosen.

The Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival is looking goneski as well.

Mayhem festival co-founder Kevin Lyman blamed the lack of any new “great” bands for the low ticket sales.

The Sunset Strip Music Festival, set up to celebrate the Strips place in music history is over due to poor turnouts and huge losses.

Germany’s Wacken festival also struggles to break even each year.

As the Billboard article states;

“Even though this year’s edition of Wacken Open Air sold out within 12 hours and tickets to the 2016 event are already long gone, Jensen says that the money will be used “to pay last year’s debt,” including salaries to the festival’s paid crew of 2,500. Jensen tells Billboard.com: “We’re surviving. Every year is a challenge and this one will be hard — I don’t think we’ll lose money, but the profit will be eaten. But we have to get the best experience for the fan. If we’re not doing that, we’re not successful. It’s as simple as that.”

In Australia, the Soundwave Music Festival is always in the courts over unpaid bills. In it’s heyday, Soundwave had shows in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. Now for 2016, the festival will only hit Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

Rock on the Range 2015 took place at Mapfre Stadium Columbus, Ohio May 15-17,with a line-up of Linkin Park, Slipknot, Judas Priest, Godsmack, Breaking Benjamin, Rise Against, Marilyn Manson, Volbeat, Slash, Halestorm, Papa Roach.

The concert was sold out with 120,000 tickets sold and gross sales of $4,293,389.

Carolina Rebellion 2015 took place at Rock City Campgrounds, Charlotte Motor Speedway Concord, N.C. May 2-3 with a line-up of Slipknot, KoRn, Godsmack, Slayer, Sammy Hagar, Breaking Benjamin, Marilyn Manson, Rise Against, Slash, Chevelle, Cheap Trick, Papa Roach, Halestorm.

The concert was sold out with 80,000 tickets sold and gross sales of $3,438,222.

Rocklahoma 2015 took place at Festival Grounds Pryor, Okla. May 22-24 with a line-up of Linkin Park, Godsmack, Slayer, Tesla, Breaking Benjamin, Volbeat, Queensryche, Halestorm, Papa Roach.

The concert sold 60,000 tickets from the 72,000 on offer and gross sales of $2,263,820.

Rockfest 2015 took place at Liberty Memorial Park Kansas City, Mo. May 30 with a line-up of Rob Zombie, Volbeat, Halestorm, Tech N9ne, Papa Roach, Anthrax, In This Moment, All That Remains.

The concert was sold out with 50,000 tickets sold and gross sales of $1,700,645.

Northern Invasion 2015 took place at Somerset Amphitheatre Somerset, Wis. May 9 with a line-up of Slipknot, Five Finger Death Punch, Volbeat, Three Days Grace.

The concert was sold out with 25,000 tickets sold and gross sales of $1,272,284.

In total, the five festival shows mentioned above grossed $12,968,360 in ticket sales alone.

But somehow, festivals are not making money. But let me tell you one thing, festivals are making a lot of money for a lot of people. This is the great disconnect in music where the majority of the money made from bands goes to middlemen.

There is a post over at VH1 written by Doc Coyle from God Forbid. Must say I am a fan of his blog posts.

In the post Coyle, discusses the future for American Metal festivals. It’s a great read, so check it out.

Our opinions are the same when it comes to stand alone festivals in a city being more of a success than a touring festival.

But the disconnect still exists with the money jar. In the immortal words of Bon Scott,

Gettin’ ripped off, Underpaid…. 
That’s how it goes, Playin’ in a band

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Australian Music Scene – The Rise Of The Indies

Australian Music is ALWAYS a rich vibrant scene. And it is a scene that is underpinned by Independent artists. These independent artists are the real battlers, the one’s that carry the load of the vibrant music scene. Financially it is a miserable livelihood however the emotional experience is rewarding. And there is no escaping that Australian Independent artists are some of the hardest working artists and also the lowest paid members of the Australian workforce. The sad thing is that the elite levels of Government have no idea about the Independent artists. Any Government funding goes to the large Industry bodies who don’t really disperse the monies to the artists doing the rounds on the streets.

In music we have APRA/AMCOS, ARIA, AMIN, AIR, AMA and so many other local and state bodies. So all of these industry groups and associations are part of the music industry. Their main source of income is derived from Independent artists and Government Grants. The same independent artists that are living on or below the poverty line. For these artists, the larger music industry bodies are faceless monoliths that put profit first. While they may serve the major players in the Australian music industry, they do nothing for the rest. It is another example of taking care of the one percenters and forgetting about the rest.

The solution is for the mainstream to support and nurture independent artists. These music industry bodies need to ensure that all of the diversity and innovation created by the independent sector is supported and nurtured. Because the independent sector is the oxygen of the mainstream industry bodies. Once you cut them off and the major bodies will suffocate.

That is why it is great to see that 80% of the nominations for the latest ARIA Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Album Of The Year category were released “independently”. For the uninformed independent or “indie” is basically an artist or a record label that has no connection to a major label or interference from a major label. In most cases it is the DIY style of artist. However with everything that deals with the music business, the definition is more complex than it should be. Most indie labels operate without major labels interference, however they all still use the distribution and promotion arms of the major labels.

For example, Sumerian Records is an independent label in the US. They have distribution deals with the Alternative Distribution Alliance (ADA), who is the independent music and film distribution arm of Warner Music Group who is a major label.

Going back to the bands nominated for the Hard Rock/Heavy Metal ARIA, A DZ Deathrays “Black Rat” album was released on the independent label “I OH YOU” who has an affiliation with Mushroom Records who is owned by Warner Music Group. The Amity Affliction’s “Let The Ocean Take Me” and Shihad’s “FVEY” where released on Roadrunner Records who is a subsidiary of Warner Music Group. Sleepmakeswaves “Love Of Cartography” album was released through Australian independent record label Bird’s Robe Records, which is distributed through MGM Distribution in Australia. In 2013, UK label Monotreme Records licensed their album for an international release across the UK, Europe and North America. This is a true independent band and label in my eyes. High Tension’s “Death Beat” is under license to independent label Cooking Vinyl Records, who uses RED Distribution for U.S distribution and it is also owned by Sony.

Look at some of the successful crowd funding campaigns independent artists have taken.

In Australia, heavy rock band, “I Am Voyager” went to their fans with a goal of about $10,000 and ended up getting $18,000 plus. In the U.S, Protest The Hero went to market with a goal of about $115,000 and ended up getting $300,000 plus. Haste The Day went to market with a goal of $65,000 and ended up getting $139,276. Emery went to market with a goal of $50,000 and ended up raising $110,815. Spocks Beard went to their fans for their 11th album with a goal to raise $25,000 and ended up raising $69,119. Trapt had a goal to raise $50,000 and ended up raising $56,634. Chimaira went the crowd funding route for a fan edition CD-DVD of their CROWN OF PHANTOMS album with a goal of $30,000 and they ended up raising $60,758.

Independently minded musicians and label owners are the ones that are pushing boundaries in music because they want control over what’s being released, when it’s released, and how it’s released. And they are not afraid to use the major labels when it suits them, but ultimately they’re calling the shots.

So I am sick and tired of hearing the RIAA and major label rhetoric about how artists put in their blood, sweat and tears into their music and because of piracy they don’t have a say about how it is released. The “Indies” are finding new and creative ways all the time. For a musician it is an exciting time to be a part of the music scene. Especially if you are an indie.

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Invasion Of The Swedes – The First To Embrace Streaming and Guess What… Their Scene Is Flourishing

What do all of these bands have in common?

Evergrey, Corroded, Yngwie Malmsteen, Crashdiet, Avatar, In Flames, Europe, Soilwork, Jeerk, John Norum, Angeline, Baby Jane, Arch Enemy, April Divine, Cervello, The Night Flight Orchestra, Pretty Maids, Wig Wam, Fatal Smile, H.E.A.T, Hardcore Superstar, Scar Symmetry, M.ill.ion, Machinae Supremacy, Meldrum, Meshuggah, Overload, The Poodles, Shotgun Messiah, Sister Sin, Coldspell, Kee Marcello, W.E.T, Work Of Art, Audiovision, Dream Evil, At The Gates, Angelica, HammerFall, Tad Morose, Hollow, Pain Of Salvation, Opeth, Sonic Syndicate, Dead By April, April Divine, Bonafide, Crazy Lixx, Diamond Dogs, Plan Three, Treat, Takida, Royal Republic, Renegade Five, Vains Of Jenna, Amon Amarth, Bathory, Candlemass, Karmakanic, Degreed, Diamond Dawn, Eclipse, Gemini Five and House Of Shakira.

They are all from Sweden. And it was “Tearing Down The Walls” the fourth album from the band H.E.A.T that got me thinking about this invasion.

And the thing is they have always been producing so many good bands and great music. But when the record labels controlled the market, we didn’t know of the bands unless they broke big like Europe, Roxette, Yngwie Malmsteen and so on. Now with the internet, we know a lot more.

“Address The Nation” from 2012 was the first piece of music I heard from H.E.A.T and then I went back and heard their 2008 self-titled debut and it’s 2010 follow-up “Freedom Rock”. I liked them all, so I had high hopes for the fourth album. Going in blind, “Point of No Return” didnt disappoint. After listening to Bonfire a few days ago, I can honestly say that H.E.A.T reminds me of a cross between Europe and Bonfire. And that is a good thing.

Which melodic hard rock band these days isn’t from Sweden. It’s a Viking musical invasion in so many ways.

Max Martin is rocking the Billboard Top 10 charts with his pop formula. Other artists are also breaking through. Avicii and Swedish House Mafia are the big EDM artists that have crossed over recently.

And a lot of the hard rock and metal bands that I mentioned earlier would probably not tour the Americas or Australia on a frequent basis however they have a career touring around Europe and Japan. And trust me, they are big markets to hit.

H.E.A.T for example have shows all over the continent. And you know their name is built on the backs of song number 14 on album number 1. Yep, “1000 Miles” almost has 3 million streams on Spotify.

And for a Swedish band, H.E.A.T’s new album is not even available to be streamed.

Which is a big contrast to say the band called “Takida”. Yep, they are another Swedish band and their song “You Learn” from their 2011 album “Burning Heart” has 21,853,323 streams on Spotify. WTF.

I can tell you that a lot of American major label acts do not have those stats. I just checked Five Finger Death Punch and they are nowhere near this figure. To prove that it is not a one-off fluke I checked out some of their newer material from 2014 and the song “One Lie” is sitting at 900,000 plus streams. I went deeper and the song “Curly Sue” from their 2007 album is sitting at 7,677,597 streams. Bands would kill to have these stats and I bet a lot of people reading this would be saying, who the fuck is Takida?

The same could be said for the band “Mustasch”. Their song “Double Nature” from 2007 has 8,627,129 streams. Yep they are another rock band from Sweden. If you want to compare streams, Dream Theater’s “On The Backs Of Angels” has 1,419,649 streams.

Then what about the band called Sabaton? Their song “Ghost Division” has 7,817,664 streams. Or the Swedish band “Dream Evil” that features Gus G. Their song “The Chosen Ones” has 1,161,146 streams. Or the band “Dead By April” and their song “Mystery” that has 11,643,378 streams.

Isn’t it funny how the home country of Spotify also has one of the most vibrant rock and metal scenes in the world. But wait a second. I am sure I have heard the RIAA and their proponents scream that because music has been devalued, no one will create anymore.

Well it looks like someone forgot to tell the Swedes.

But, the RIAA and their proponents still screams piracy and the copyright industry still screams for stronger copyright enforcement. But the truth of the matter is that all eyes should be on Sweden. Here is a country that has embraced streaming and guess what, their musical scene is flourishing.

Once you add in all of the crossover artists like Swedish House Mafia and Avicii, along with songwriting king Max Martin (aka Martin Sandberg) it is safe to say that free music to a consumer DOES NOT MEAN THAT CREATORS HAVE NO INCENTIVE TO CREATE.

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