A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

What a great idea? Give the fan a choice. Lessons from Dream Theater, Trivium, Shinedown, Protest The Hero, Coheed and Cambria

Does anyone in the music business know what works or doesn’t work when it comes to marketing a band?

For some reason, a lot of the parties involved still believe in a scorched earth marketing policy. That is where the said artist is promoted everywhere and on everything.

Will a corporate deal with a large newspaper or an online news site for an exclusive pre-album release stream help an act’s career in the long run?

Dream Theater went along this route for the “The Enemy Inside” launch, the “Along For The Ride” launch and the pre-album stream.

Three corporate deals that put money in the hands of the record label however what did it do for the band?

If you followed the band, you would have seen the comments on Facebook that when the launches happened, people in other countries couldn’t access the stream and frustration turned to anger. Of course within 24 hours the problem was fixed, however fans waited 24 hours. In the era of the World Wide Web. Geographical restrictions are old school.

In addition the album isn’t really setting the sales department alight. After a six week run, it is more or less obsolete and out of the conversation. Don’t believe, type in “Dream Theater self titled” in Google search and go to the news section.

Do TV and Newspaper ads work at all in 2013?

I rarely watch free to air TV and I rarely read Newspapers. Most of the stuff I do is online. I have an “online” life. So if I visit Loudwire, Noisecreep, Metal Insider or some other music site, I do notice ads on the side for new releases. However not once have I clicked on them or decided to hear a band because of those ads. So in my view, they don’t work.

What about YouTube plays and Spotify stream counts? This is what gets me interested. When I type in a band name into these platforms the first thing I normally play is the track with the most views/streams. These stats will help a band in the long run.

For example, Shinedown’s most streamed song is “Call Me”. The fans decided that is the song they can connect with the most. On YouTube, the fans have used that song as a soundtrack to their own video clips and the numbers are staggering.

It looks like a lot of big decisions in relation to the career of the artists are made on hunches or gut feelings by the record labels. This is ridiculous in 2013.

Labels are in this business to make money. They will be looking at what makes them money.

Trivium is on Roadrunner. Their latest album moved around 50,000 units in the U.S. Is it a dud? The label will probably use that stat and say it is. However, if you look at YouTube, you will see the video clip to “Strife” has 1,093,648 views. This has more than doubled “In Waves” that is sitting at 589,175 views. Hell, it’s even greater that Dream Theater’s “The Enemy Inside” clip which is at 891,939 views. Is the new Trivium album a dud now? Of course not.

Why?

People are listening to it. The numbers are there.

The labels flushed out Protest The Hero. The band then went the fan funding route. That route also gave them access to data. The data is a list of fans. Once an act employs a data model, they will start to get wins on the board. Once a band starts winning, others will gravitate to them.

On YouTube, the Underbite video has 137,339 views. The Clarity video has 163,773 views and the Drumhead Trial video has 250,972 views. For an independent band, those numbers are good.

Coheed and Cambria employed a data model with “The Afterman” releases? They put the focus on the deluxe packages. Those packages proved way too tempting to resist and guess what; thousands upon thousands of Coheed fans signed up to their modlife website and purchased. In the process, Coheed and Cambria made sales and gathered data of their hard core fans. That data list is close to 100,000 people.

With that Super Deluxe purchase, came the VIP Meet and Greet perk. So as long as you purchased a normal concert ticket, you had the VIP pass for meet and greets already and you could purchase another pass for a friend a discounted rate. What a loyalty program.

For example, I purchased “The Afterman” deluxe edition. A VIP pass came with this purchase. Then when Coheed and Cambria announced a Sydney show, I purchased two concert tickets at $66 each. Then I went on line and purchased another VIP pass for $15 for a friend of mine. This entitled us to early entry into the venue for either a special acoustic performance of one of the band members or a meet and greet.

Due to the large number of people that had this perk, it ended up being an acoustic performance. However, if the numbers were low, it would have been a meet and greet. The reason why the Sydney show was a success and the Australian tour in general was because Coheed and Cambria used data to connect with their fans.

Then the band used the data to promote special merchandise releases, Comic-Con appearances, video clip releases and side project releases.

Go on YouTube. Domino The Destitute has 1,295,151 views and Dark Side Of Me has 1,144,730 views.

Then the band promoted “The Afterman” live edition. This edition involved “The Afterman” albums plus a live CD. However, if a fan had purchased “The Afterman” CD’s before and all they want is the live CD, that was also available to them. All they had to do was log in to their account and pick what they wanted.

What a great idea? Give the fan a choice.

Instead we get the normal rubbish from the RIAA and the Record Labels, about how they are losing sales due to digital piracy.

Studies have shown that Peer To Peer traffic is now below 10%. It was 60% eleven years ago.

So 11 years ago, the only choice the fans had was to buy the expensive CD or to share individual tracks. Fans picked the sharing option.

However in 2013, people don’t need to pirate anymore because there is no need to. Whatever the fans want is available for free anyway, on YouTube, Spotify, Pandora, Grooveshark and so on. It has also become easy, which is something the labels have no idea how to do. Cough Cough “DRM” anyone.

Even when artists come out bemoaning piracy they fail to understand the shift that happened in the music industry. The fans decision to pursue single tracks instead of a whole album, changed the profits from a high-margin return to a low margin return for the label.

The Lie That Fuels The Music Industry’s Paranoia
http://www.forbes.com/sites/bobbyowsinski/2013/11/27/the-lie-that-fuels-the-music-industrys-paranoia/

Peer To Peer Traffic is Down
https://www.sandvine.com/pr/2013/11/11/sandvine-report-netflix-and-youtube-account-for-50-of-all-north-american-fixed-network-data.html

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Complacency Kills – Music Is A Battlefield

I am listening to the Avenged Sevenfold discography again today. Yep that is five days in row. What can I say, the new album, “Hail To The King” connected with me. I admit that the connection comes from the similarities of the songs on the new album to the bands that I grew up on.

As I have said many times, progress is derivative. One of the rules on success, is that you need to know how to be a member of the club. This is what Avenged Sevenfold is reaching for here on “Hail To The King.” They want to be a member of the classic rock club.  With 200,000 in U.S sales in two weeks they are well on their way. Spotify streams for the song “Hail To The King” are at 1,884,995 and YouTube plays are at 3,904,022 for the same song. Other songs on the album on Spotify have the following numbers;

Shepherd Of Fire – 495,889 streams
Doing Time – 372,238 streams
This Means War – 394,868 streams
Requiem – 333,633 streams
Crimson Day – 310,412 streams
Heretic – 277,498 streams
Coming Home – 288,336 streams
Planets – no data as yet
Acid Raid – no data as yet 

If you’re not spending money, then you are not investing in your future. That is why a DIY independent band like Digital Summer is still ticking over. All the money they make from music is invested back into the band. To supplement themselves, they hold down normal day jobs.

Don’t focus on the money aspect. Desperation can been seen a mile away and it is a turn off. Just try to be friends. Remember that the system is rigged against you. The deck is stacked against you. There are so many people that want to be in the music business, they are willing to work for free. There is no safety net. There is no fat cat with a cigar as mentioned by Yngwie Malmsteen saying that they will fund the record, they will fund the video, they will fund the tour and that they will promote you. This is what Chris Clancy from Mutiny Within doesn’t get. Piracy is not his enemy. His enemy is the millions of other wannabes that are trying to make it and are doing everything for free. Look at Netflix, their policy is to sign up shows that are pirated heavily.

The only way to make money in the music business is to be in the game a very long time. That way, you will be in a position to renegotiate and make better deals. That is why Metallica are huge and getting bigger. Spotify wanted them on their service and they came knocking with a deal that Metallica couldn’t refuse. That is why Motley Crue are still around and making more money than ever. That is why the battle over Queensryche’s name is huge. Even though the band is more or less over and the new music that is created is below Queensryche quality, the name of the band, and the legacy that comes with it carries a lot of weight in dollars. It is a full blown corporate dispute. That is why Geoff Tate has asked for the trial date to be delayed until January 2014. He is hoping that something can be sorted privately, otherwise if it goes to court and he loses, he loses a lot.

Make sure your music is good enough. If you believe that your music is good enough and you are still stuck in the same situation, then the problem is you. You have to figure out what it is about you that is not working and change it. It could be your look, your personality, your interactions with people or your lack of building proper relationships. I like the band Mutiny Within, however I hate the viewpoints that their singer Chris Clancy puts forward. He has been totally misled by others and focused totally on the money side of things.

Take Hold of the Flame from Queensryche sums it up with the lyric, “We see the line of those who find the world has passed them by / Too late to save a dream that’s gone cold.” Don’t be the one with a chip on your shoulder because of missed opportunities. John Sykes is one such talent that didn’t really get the respect and recognition he deserved outside of the core metal/rock community.

Remember that marketing isn’t the 4P’s model of Product, Price, Place and Promotion anymore. Trying to extend the 4Ps model to a world of social media doesn’t cut it anymore. This is what Roadrunner is doing right now with Dream Theater. Here is the product, here is the price, we are placing it here for sale and we are cross promoting the streams of the new songs with the USA Today website and the Grammy Awards website.

Marketing is a one to many relationship. Spotify, Pandora and YouTube are three tools that fit this ideal of marketing. You see, record labels used to charge bands for marketing back in the Eighties and the bands didn’t complain about the marketing budget. In 2013, bands are now marketed on Spotify, YouTube and Pandora and they are complaining at the royalty rates and advertising rates these services pay. It doesn’t make sense to me. Dream Theater has not officially released the two new songs on Spotify. Avenged Sevenfold released the “Hail To The King” single on Spotify and it had 700,000 streams before the album even came out.

Sales is a one to one relationship. This is what iTunes, Amazon, Google Store, CDBaby and Brick and Mortar stores facilitate. Guess what, “Hail To The King” is out and it has moved 200,000 physical units in two weeks as well.

Notice a difference between the services that are used for marketing and services that are used for sales. Musicians fail to notice the difference, always linking marketing services to sales services and complaining about the lack of compensation from a marketing service, however when the Record Labels robbed them blind with $100,000 marketing bills, they didn’t complain.

You need to have skills, you need to know the rules, you need to know the game. You need to keep adjusting your game. On a battlefield, “Complacency Kills”. To stay on top of the music heap, you need to be on the leading edge. You need to remain motivated to succeed. Remember there is no safety net in music. You need to exceed the status quo in every way. You need to excel everyday 24/7. You need that outside perspective. If you surround yourself with enablers who have a vested interest in you making them as much money as possible, you will not get that perspective.

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Piracy

MAKING A DIFFERENCE – Progress is derivative and quality equals success.

I am a volunteer coach and administrator for the football team my kids play. Another parent mentioned to me how it amazes them the amount of work that volunteer coaches put in and that they put in hours of preparation just to organise training. On top of that, I work full time as well, juggling work commitments, and still taking time out to prepare and make training every Tuesday and Thursday and then help out every Saturday and Sunday. Just recently I spent seven weeks attending a Youth Licence course, so that I am also qualified to coach my kids.

So I am thinking to myself, is it all worth it? Am I making a difference? Are my methods having an impact? How many artists have walked away from their dreams or the direction that lead to their dreams at this stage. In the end, musicians are just volunteers to begin with?

I am always looking for ways to improve things. I am looking outside my circle, looking at what others have experienced and drawing on that inspiration, twisting it and making it better.

John Petrucci from Dream Theater more or less said the same thing in a Roadrunner interview about the upcoming self-titled album.

“I see every new album as an opportunity to start over. To either build or improve upon a direction that has been evolving over time or to completely break new ground. This is the first self-titled album of our career and there is nothing I can think of that makes a statement of musical and creative identity stronger than that. We’ve fully explored all of the elements that make us unique, from the epic and intense to the atmospheric and cinematic.”

Like Five Finger Death Punch, like Karnivool, like Heartist, like Stone Sour, all of these bands are focusing on their core uniqueness and expanding it in new ways. Remember my catch cry: Progress is Derivative. You keep on building what you started until a connection is made, between song and listener.

Then watch that one listener, hook another listener and so forth.  Then you have the outlier, the one band that did things just a touch differently; Imagine Dragons.

The band did six-hour gigs at the main Las Vegas casinos when they started out. The set list was mixed up with cover songs and originals.

Playing the casinos were classed as hometown gigs. The big difference here is that those hometown gigs are not played to hometown crowds. Due to Las Vegas’s reputation as a holiday strip, the band performed in front of new people every night. They needed to adapt fast as live performers, so that they win over a new crowd every night. That is why their album is back in the Top 10 again, 10 months after it was released. The band is touring and winning.

They have the momentum going. The numbers and the stats are on their side. Night Visions was released last September. In the US alone it has sold over 1 million copies so far. The songs, Radioactive, It’s Time and Demons have sold in total 7.2 million digital downloads. YouTube plays for the three songs number over 100 million. Spotify streams for the three songs are also close to the 100 million mark.  They performed and created as much as possible. That is the key. Created as much as possible. Progress is derivative and quality equals success.

They knocked on the doors so many times, and those doors finally opened up. They kept on improving on what they started and they got better at it.

And in relation to the kids football team, I am making a difference. 13 games into the season, they have won 10, drawn 2 and lost 1. As each day goes by, I am getting better at it and the kids are getting better at it. IT IS WORTH IT.

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