Music, My Stories

The Data We Give Away

Electric eye, in the sky
Feel my stare, always there
There’s nothing you can do about it
Develop and expose
I feed upon your every thought
And so my power grows

Electric Eye by Judas Priest

In the internet age, it’s all about spying. The most obvious spying activity, which we don’t even care about are our search histories. I bet ya, if all of those search words are given to our partners, it would make “The War Of The Roses” movie look like child’s play.

However, with our uptake of social media; Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter are all making billions from content put up by their users and by selling data from their users to third parties.

And the TV industry has seen this, they know about this, and those SMART TV’s that once seemed out of price are suddenly affordable, because the manufacturer is capturing your data and selling it to a third party for a profit. But there is a high chance you didn’t agree to this invasion of privacy.

The manufacturer tracks what TV shows you watch, what ads you watch and what sport you watch. They then sell all of that data to other parties for product placements. So while the TV was cheap, the manufacturer stands to make billions by selling your data to marketing companies.

Then again, is it any different to what YouTube, Netflix, Amazon, Spotify and Apple do.

And what about the power of WeChat. It’s basically WhatsApp, Facebook, PayPal, Uber and many other softwares in one.

Is it good for one company to have so much power?

My view is no, but people just hand over their info and data because it’s easy to use and they are connected. And since it’s a Chinese company, 90% of the users are from China, which is a censored society. Which means that the Government would have access to this data as well.

As my favorite band from Australia “Cog” sings, “yes they’re making lists of people interested in this”.

Maybe it’s time we take back our privacy.

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My Stories, Stupidity

Searching

It’s a fucking good movie about our behaviors online and the digital footprint we leave. It’s shown entirely from a computer screen and the story is wrapped around the search for a missing person.

Spoilers alert.

In the movie intro, we see the first 14 years play out in 10 minutes with home videos and photos, saved in perfectly titled folders like 1st piano lesson or 1st day in Year 1, search items for certain illnesses, calendars and emails.

But when the daughter of the family goes missing and the father starts looking into her Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Snapchat and YouCast accounts, he starts to realize that he didn’t really know his daughter.

He even thought his brother was having an affair with his daughter based on text messages he read that said “please don’t tell my dad, he will kill us.”

But what that text messages didn’t say was how she was buying weed from her uncle. Without context, a lot of bad decisions can be made.

And the father has no idea with whom his daughter is communicating with.

Is that social media person communicating with your child real or an avatar for a sicko hiding behind a fake photo and fake profile?

And when he makes contact with her Facebook friends to see if they know where she is, they all tell him they didn’t really know her, have never hung out with her and wouldn’t have a clue about her whereabouts, but when her disappearance made TV news, guess what, all of these Facebook friends suddenly had posts up that said stuff like “she’s my best friend”, “we did everything together” and other crap like that, so their online social status increases.

Sort of like that Black Mirror episode about people having social media scores which gave them access to better things like applying for higher paid jobs or apartments. When their score reached a certain level, suddenly people with similar scores will contact them so they could all hang out and press like to their posts and increase their scores. Because the higher score like carries more weight than a lower score like.

And the Chinese Government thought this was a good idea and adopted this score system.

It’s a scary world when the great enabler the Internet is meant to be is used against you to determine what you are worth.

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A to Z of Making It, Music

A System That Rewards Attention

If you create a system that rewards attention, the easiest way to get attention is to be a bad actor. That underlies our media ecosystem, that underlies our political system and it’s degrading society in so many ways.

EV WILLIAMS – Creator Of Blogger, Twitter and Medium

I’m pretty sure you’ve heard the story about “Threatin” an LA band, which is basically the creation of a person called Jered Threatin and how he manages to book a European tour without really having a fan base.

He created a record company web page that was bullshit, he created a booking agency web page that was bullshit, he doctored live footage to make it look like he was popular on YouTube which was bullshit and he created a management company website which was of course bullshit as well. He also paid for Facebook likes and comments and YouTube views and many more wonderful things to do with scorched earth marketing.

And through it all, he convinced stupid greedy venue owners in Europe to book him. He even convinced them the shows were sold out. If they just did some due diligence and checked out Threatin’s Spotify account, they would see stream numbers (less than 10K) that didn’t match the spin coming from his “management” and they could have asked some hard questions. But they didn’t, they got had and they got pissed.

If Threatin did pull it off and sell out the gigs based on the made up hype, maybe there would be a different discussion, but hey, people fail more than they succeed. Just because it worked for Rebecca Black and her song “Friday”, it doesn’t mean it will work for others.

But Threatin did exactly what society rewards.

Going back to Ev Williams quote.

You need to be living under a rock to not know that we are living in a social media system that rewards attention to all the bad actors. For right or wrong, feel good and happy ending stories don’t attract people’s attention like the other stories.

But fan bases are not made by being a bad actor. Bad actors will get some eyes checking out the story and then after a day or two, it’s forgotten as people move on.

Fan bases are relationships which take years to build and those relationships will then sustain the artist for many years to come.

But you need to have the tunes and the story to build it. It takes time.

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Music, My Stories

Music And Life

Gettin’ old
Gettin’ grey
Gettin’ ripped-off
Underpaid
Gettin’ sold
Second hand
That’s how it goes
Playin’ in a band

Playing in a band is tough. Everyone wants to do it, but the long road and no safety net scared a lot of people off. And the ones who stuck it out, are still sticking it out.

Some broke through, some got signed and released music on a label and some still play the bar/club scene. These days, artists can record and release their music themselves, while holding down a full time job that pays.

Music is a lifers game. You are either in it 100% otherwise it’s a hobby. Because it’s alienating. When you write music, you are normally alone, surrounded by feelings. When you are on the road, you end up alone in a hotel room and for some artists they never come out alive. It’s hard to even speak about depression today, especially when you are surrounded by social media and it’s “everybody’s a winner” message. It is the curse of modern society.

Love is all around you,
Love is knockin’ outside your door

We seem to forget it on the days we feel lost and alone in a room. But the truth is there are millions of people in the same situation, looking for a connection. It’s important that we don’t let our aggressive instincts get the better of us. If we let go of our hang-ups and go with the flow, we can be happy.

The artist always walks alone and the truth is we’re all insecure inside and lonely. We might put on a brave face and try to pretend to fit in, but we are always looking for something more.

From our earliest days, it was no different. We laid in our bedrooms, dropping the needle on our favourite records and enjoying just being alone, with an album cover and the lyrics. If we didn’t have lyrics, we would listen to the song and write out the lyrics on a sheet of paper. We didn’t want to confide in our parents as we saw them as too restrictive and we had feelings we couldn’t express. They wouldn’t have understood anyway, nor did they want to listen. But we had our records.

For me, listening to music is a form of escape. I also wanted to have fun in the city with those girls so pretty and escape the burden of suburbia, the disapproving looks from teachers and neighbours for having my hair long, the financial situation at home and all of the other issues the chaos of life throws up. If it wasn’t music, it was films. But films are about story and music, when done right is about life.

So while society might base itself around the winners on social media, the truth is we all lose, each and every one of us at some point in time.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Stand Your Ground

For a long time, we had no idea how we looked. Then mirrors came about and then we knew how we looked.

For a long time, we had no idea how we really sounded. Then recording techniques came out and over the last 80 years, cassettes showed us how we really sounded.

Cameras also came about and people could suddenly see how they looked and sounded at the same time.

And right now, we are surrounded by sounds and mirrors. If you have a social media account, you have a mirror looking back at you. If you filmed yourself doing something, you have a mirror looking back at you along with sound.

Our personal lives are out there for the whole world to see, regardless of your social media security settings. Even if your posts are secure and only for friends, other people who are not your friends could still potentially see them, because if your friends don’t have the same security as you and you tag them, then it’s on their wall as well.

And how dumb are we. We gave away our privacy and our lives for free to social media platforms like Facebook, who then went and made billions of dollars from our lives. And when people post something on Facebook, they either get likes or blowback. And no one wants blow back these days. Everyone wants to be liked. Even musicians.

Musicians fall into many categories via their lyrics. Some address social ills, some address loss and grief, some address relationships, some address mythology or history and some address partying and having a good time. And it takes guts to put yourself into a mix where your opinions and viewpoints can be attacked. But real artists will look to find a place that creates the change they seek and they will push boundaries in order to do it.

Freedom. It’s our fundamental right.

So what do we do when the politicians we voted in work for the corporations instead of the people?

What do we do when the politicians pass laws to benefit the corporations instead of the people?

This is a world-wide problem.

Our governments are using private companies to harvest our data from social media, based on our posts, comments, likes and friends, these private companies can determine which way you vote.

Stand your ground, don’t let the bastards grind you down, be bold, be strange, don’t let their fears make you afraid

Bastards from Machine Head

We need to stand our ground. The message is nothing new, but we have forgotten it. Machine Head is dealing with some flack in the U.S about their “Catharsis” album. But it’s only in the U.S as the rest of the world relates to the message that Robb Flynn is saying.

And Robb is sending out his message because he cares.

From birth we are taught to follow instructions, comply, obey and to avoid taking risks. The parental system likes it this way. The schooling system likes it this way. The corporate system likes it this way. The Police system likes it this way. And overall, the Government prefers it this way. But sometimes, a change happens.

And when change happens, someone feels it’s for the better and others feel it’s for the worst. And the people who feel the change is wrong, speak up.

The youth of the world have decided they will not wait anymore for adults to solve problems, so they have taken to the streets to demonstrate against guns and call for gun control.

Imagine when these kids get a chance to vote and a chance to enter politics. Change is a happening. Be prepared to change or move out of the kids ways.

We’ve got the right to choose it, there’s no way we’ll lose it

We’re Not Gonna Take It from Twisted Sister

It’s a simple assertion from Dee Snider that mobilised a generation. It’s Dee’s take on society and it comes with an action. Critics blasted the song because it doesn’t define who the “it” is. But that’s the beautiful part of the song. The “It” can be anyone who seeks to control you and take away your freedom.

But to take a stand isn’t easy. Artists are too afraid to stand up for something.

But hang on a second, that’s what being an artist is all about. However the pushback is so ferocious, especially in a social media world, artists just don’t go there.

Well popular artists don’t.

Stand your ground.

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Music, Unsung Heroes

Demo’s

I reckon Napster became popular because of all the unreleased material on the site like live bootlegs, alternate takes and demo’s. 

In the race to offer legal streaming/digital options, we’ve lost access to these kinds of takes forever. Then again YouTube does have a lot of this stuff and if people prefer to go to YouTube and search that way they can.

And the reason why these demo’s, unreleased songs, B-sides, live takes and what not became so sought after is because bands/artists held songs back. In some cases these are the personal tracks were the artist is laying it all out for people to hear. That’s why the music became so big back then. When we got access to these hidden closet tracks, we felt close to our heroes. But somehow we’ve lost that magic. 

Today, everyone releases everything they record. Go on social media and 90% of artist accounts are controlled by their publicity agents, so it’s all about the money, the success, the marketing and no personal opinions are offered. But the ones that control their own social media accounts, I believe, they are leading better creative lives and are having more success doing so. 

Their engagement with their fans, smack downing trolls and their opinions is the same as those unreleased tracks and demoes. I follow a few on Twitter like Dave Mustaine, Zoltan Bathory, Mike Portnoy, Nikki Sixx, Dee Snider, Phil Soussan, David Coverdale, Jason Bieler and Lzzy Hale. All of them control their own accounts and they engage with their fans. Most importantly they offer their opinions. You might disagree or agree with them, but in the end you value them more because they are laying it all out there. Like those outtakes and demos that never made the album once upon a time.

And we all need that other perspective and other viewpoint. We live in a world that has so many niches and everyone believes they are a superstar. But people only care about you when they see you as human, when they see you offering your opinion. That’s what sells your brand, your music, your live show, your comic and what not.

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

Michael Poulsen

We all come from different bands, mainly death metal bands and punk bands. So we’ve been in the scene for many years since the ’90s. I released my first demo with my first death metal band in 1991 or something. I also released four albums for a death metal band called Dominus back in the day. My song writing was kind of changing. It turned into be a little bit more rock songs. It seemed like all the inspiration that I had from my parents when they were playing their records from the ’50s got to me in a way that when I was writing, I wanted to include that ’50s feeling in my song writing. That came very naturally. But I just wanted to keep a distorted sound from the guitars and the pounding drums.
Michael Poulsen 

Volbeat started to break into the U.S market in 2010 on the back of their “Death Magnetic” opening slot. But the journey to fame/success or world-wide recognition started a long time ago. Almost 20 years before their U.S breakthrough. It started in a totally different scene and in a different continent.

A million bands will start-up today, however a very small amount will stick it out and become lifers in the game of music. And from the lifers who stick it out, an even smaller amount will end up rising above the noise and get some recognition. And even a smaller amount will make some serious money from it.

It turned into a very unique thing where we combined a lot of different styles. We kept the distorted sound, but you could definitely hear inspiration from a lot of the rock music of the ’50s, as well heavier music from the ’70s and ’80s. When you mix all that together, it becomes Volbeat. We never really branded the band in a certain style or direction. It was all about just playing. I think that led us to being who we are today. For us, it’s not important to be 100% metal or 100% rock ‘n’ roll or anything. It’s music, and we’re inspired by so many different styles and bands. You can hear that in the Volbeat music.
Michael Poulsen 

What an awesome concept!!

To take what came before as influence and use it to create something that is different. And the borrowing from different eras and cultural appropriation is what music is all about.

I also like how it’s seen as “Volbeat’s music” and not some term that came from a record label rep or a magazine editor. For those that don’t know, record companies (in most cases) came up with the terms that bands got labelled with. For example, Nikki Sixx is very vocal on Twitter about how “a record company came up with the derogatory term “hair metal” so they could sell new metal rock to a new generation.

A lot of metal histories try to track back the movement of heavy metal to a single artist. In most cases they pick the artist who had the most success. However like any popular invention, it is a combination of many little things. The first Apple Mac didn’t just come from nowhere without any influences. It was an amalgamation of products from other companies with some new additions and interface tweaks courtesy of Wozniack and Jobs. And music is no different. Music is a combination of influences with a few little tweaks here and there.

When you look at metal history, you don’t see a lot of black musicians listed there as influences, yet the whole metal movement was heavily reliant on the blues in those early formative days. Black Sabbath, the band seen as the first metal band, covered blues songs as Earth. But when you look at the written history of Black Sabbath, the writers talk about the blues of white musicians as influences to Sabbath. They talk about the influence of classical music to Black Sabbath which again is mainly written by white people.

The Beatles played Blues, Soul, Motown and Rock and Roll covers in their early days, made up predominantly of black artists. So did Black Sabbath. Hell, the Beatles even took a Chuck Berry song and called it “Come Together”.

Robert Johnson is cited as a large influence to Keith Richards who was introduced to his music by Brian Jones. Eric Clapton worshipped at the altar of Johnson and many years later, re-recorded all of Johnson’s classics. Howlin Wolf had a lot of songs covered by many white artists across many different genres.

We were sacrificing a lot of stuff in the beginning like jobs, education, girlfriends. Being away from family. And it was just to dedicate ourselves to the road and all the hard work there is to be an active band, to survive. We’re from that generation where we built everything up. There was no internet, no mobiles. It was old-school and I’m very proud of that. That could be part of why we’re still around. We earned our stripes.
Michael Poulsen 
Paying your dues and building up experiences matter. Esepcially when it comes to creativity. The pain of loss manifests itself into art. The happiness of life ends up as a song and so forth.

Today, bands are so eager to get the attention, to get the success, before the work. I’m not a fan of that. I think there are too many youngsters who concentrate too much on the success before they actually concentrate on the music. The music is what it’s all about, and it has to come straight from the heart. We started playing in small bars and it was never because we wanted to be a successful band. We just wanted to do something. We wanted to belong somewhere. Friendship, brotherhood. And it just escalated. Somehow we got bigger and bigger, and the success came. So success was never the important thing for us. It came along and of course it feels good now and we do embrace it. But there’s a lot of stuff we don’t do because we still want it to be about the music. There are lot of TV programs in Denmark where we were getting offers to be on every f—–g day. All the commercials. But we turned it all down because it’s not the reason why we started a band. We’re very aware of not overdoing anything that is Volbeat. We want to be on the road, we want to make records and we want to earn the right to be successful. And we did that from the very beginning. So I can only say that too many young bands concentrate on success before they concentrate on the music. They will fail because that’s not what music is all about.
Michael Poulsen 

We’re living in the social media connection revolution. With so many people connected to each other and everyone building monuments of their lives online, young artists believe success is around the corner. Music is seen as a way to become successful. But if you get in the game with the mindset to be successful over creative, you will not last. Your success is based on your creations. Your success is based on your experiences and your community. It’s easy to license your music to TV shows and Commercials. It’s seen as a way to make easy money for a lot of artists. But then your music turns into a jingle. At least you got paid, right.

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