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

Music Distributor or Internet Brand

Spotify is the largest streaming provider today but YouTube did have that title unofficially in the past. So with any service that is used by the masses, it’s no surprise that Spotify now takes most of the punches while YouTube becomes a takedown haven for anyone who has created anything or wants to suppress free speech.

I’m sure you’ve seen all the headlines.

Spotify should pay more, Spotify is appealing the royalty rate rise, Spotify is getting sued, Spotify settles class action suit against it.

Maybe another take on those headlines might be;

  • How much does the record label keep from Spotify’s licensing and royalty payments?
  • Artists are appealing the low royalty payments they get from their label?
  • Record labels get sued for banking billions from using the Copyrights of artists to negotiate high licensing fees.
  • Artists settle class action suit against the Record Labels for keeping Copyrights longer than they should and for murky creative accounting.

Major labels no longer develop artists but they can make artists bigger. It all depends on how much an artist is willing to give up.

Because the labels will give the artist that large advance, however it will be probably be the last payment an artist will ever see from them.

Just recently, Italian composer Ennio Morricone (Metallica uses his music as a concert intro, plus he wrote the soundtracks to a lot of popular movies) won back his Copyrights. In his termination suit, it was mentioned how in the late 70s he made a deal with a label for an upfront payment in exchange for low royalties which never got renegotiated and of course by the 90s his music was being used for concerts, it became popular again as those 70s movies got re-released on DVD and so forth.

Metallica’s licensing fee would go all to the label and nothing to the Composer. A perfect example of getting a large upfront payment and then nothing in return.

The labels are greedy, who operate on intimidation and since MTV, they have been short-term thinkers. It’s all about the profits.

So what’s next for music distribution and a company living in two worlds. Spotify has a bad rep for its payments models but also a good rep because it’s useful to artists and fans, plus it pays for life.

But Spotify still doesn’t make a profit doing what it does and it still gets extra funding, to invest and grow the business. Their podcasts is a growing business as there are a lot of people who would rather listen to non-musical content than musical.

Maybe the problem with Spotify is that it doesn’t want to be just a music distribution platform. Music is seen as a means to become a global internet brand. Sort of like Apple, who used music to sell hardware.

And all you need to do is have a look at what’s happening with Netflix. The big studios who laughed off streaming once upon a time, are setting up their own streaming services. Expect the labels to do the same, because they want control of the distribution and the murky creative accounting.

And by then Spotify would be in a position to not care, because they would have repurposed the business to be a digital brand and the artists would have it even worse, because if they think Spotify is bad, wait until the labels get control of the distribution.

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

Damn Yankees and Tangier

Oh, you young Spotify AI, recommending albums I have heard a hundred times before you were even born, but since, I haven’t listened to em on your service you need to recommend them.

So based on my Sammy Hagar listening a few weeks ago, the AI is telling me I need to check out “Contagious” from Y&T.

However I cannot stream the album in Australia, which is bizarre and why would the AI recommend an album which is unavailable to be played here. And really, would you say that Y&T is similar to Sammy Hagar?

I wouldn’t, but hey, the AI is slowly learning from me, until the time comes when its fully formed killer robotic version takes over the world in “Judgement Day”.

Since there was no “Contagious” to listen to, next up on the AI list of artists similar to Sammy is Damn Yankees. Um, again not similar, however it’s pretty easy to tell that the coders of the AI probably watched “School Of Rock” and that was enough for them to know the family tree of rock music.

When is Spotify going to realise that they need people who know the genre and blog about it, to tell them how it is done and how to make connections?

Anyway, Damn Yankees released one hell of good rock album in 1990. The brainchild of John Kalodner, it worked musically for two rocking albums. You take a piece of Styx, a piece of Night Ranger and a whole lot of Ted Nugent and you get the big bang, because no one really knew how it would end up. Well two plus million in sales is how it ended up.

“Coming Of Age” rocks straight out of the gate, and the Nuge delivers a stellar pentatonic lead break. The lyrics of a little sister, hitting the stage and coming of age didn’t do it for me, but hey rock and roll was never about making sense.

“Bad Reputation” in the first 30 seconds starts off with a power chord groove which gets me hooked, then the single note riff gets the foot tapping, before it goes into a clean tone bass groove for the verse, which reminds of Def Leppard. It’s a keeper.

“High Enough” has a cool minor key verse and a vocal melody which is memorable.

The song “Damn Yankees” could have appeared on a Guns N Roses album.

“Come Again” is one of those songs that stands out, moving between power ballad and rocker, with great vocals and a melody which sticks around long after the song has finished. And that lead break from the Nuge, is one of his best, by far. It’s a pretty big reason why I press repeat on the song. Plus you get a bonus outro lead break as well.

“Rock City” is “Turbo Lover” re-incarnated and I dig it. It’s also a blast to play on the guitar. And those G string tearing bends and whammy dives from the Nuge are huge. After the solo break, he plays a staccato lick that reminds me of John Sykes (Children Of The Night) and Jake E Lee (Waiting For Darkness).

And “Piledriver” could have ended up on a Van Halen album with Sammy singing. Maybe that is the connection. I doubt it.

Next up, the AI is telling me artists similar to Hurricane. And the two that caught my attention are Tangier and their album “Four Winds” and “Up From The Ashes” from Dokken.

Now Tangier was more Lynyrd Skynyrd merged with Bad Company than hair rock or hair metal, but hey, the record label and magazines decided, the band was a hair band and it got promoted as such. Hence the connection to “Hurricane”. And when I got this album on LP, I spun it regularly.

“On The Line” is Tangier’s best song. There is a familiarity to it, the melody is strong and the music rocks and wails when it needs to. The lyrics paint a picture of meeting your end walking the streets at night, and it was never going to break the charts, but, hey, music was never meant to chart.

“Four Winds” is worthy of a title track and the opening lyric of feeling a cold wind blowing and how it tells a tale of a thousand years still connects. If only nature could talk, what stories it would have to spin.

“Fever For Gold” could have come from a Bad Company album and “Southbound Train” continues that Lynyrd Skynyrd merged with Bad Company vibe and I was always wondering the destination of the southbound train. Since South is down, I guess the promised land for Tangier is hell. Nice touch, I must say.

And “Sweet Surrender” feels like it came from a 1972 album, or maybe it’s the similarity to “Tie Your Mother Down” in the riff which gets me, or the harmony leads after the Chorus that sound like they came from a Sweet record.

“Bad Girl” has this repeating lick which grabs you by the throat and drowns you in the swamp it was created in.

Finally, the highly anticipated, expensive and delayed solo album from Don Dokken comes up on my home page as an album I need to play, however it is not available to be played in Australia. The algorithm again doesn’t even know that. Anyway a big missed opportunity by Geffen and Don Dokken to earn some extra cents. Then again since the masters of this recording got burned, who knows what copy of the album is available.

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Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

It’s Here and Then It’s Gone

My son wanted to play “Domino” from The Night Flight Orchestra. It is on their “Amber Galactic” album released a few years back.

He went to Spotify search, typed in the band name, when into their account, clicked on discography and couldn’t find the album. He went to his saved playlist of TNFO on his Spotify account and the album wasn’t there anymore. For reasons only known to the band and their label, the “Amber Galactic” album is not on Spotify Australia for Premium Subscribers to enjoy. It was here and then it was gone.

Even though I have purchased the CD, it’s basically remained in its plastic wrapping, and it’s a purchase made because I am a collector of bands I like, not because I want to play the CD and look at the artwork and lyrics. Hell, I don’t even know what the booklet looks like inside.

And the decision by artists to remove their music from Spotify or any other streaming service is wrong. It’s even more wrong when one streaming service has it and another doesn’t. What is even more wrong then all of the above, is that YouTube has the full album, and it pays less and torrent sites have it available for download in mp3 and FLAC, and they pay nothing.

But Spotify started in Sweden, by a Swede and here we have a Swedish band pulling their product from it. Even though the streaming company has turned the recording business around, they still are the punching bag for many.

And the loser here is the fan, who does the right thing, takes up the legal alternative, only to feel short changed or as my son said, ripped off.

Remember if the artist has no fans to connect with, they have nothing and the label has nothing.

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

2018 Spotify Stats

I listened to 6,178 different songs and devoted 43,201 minutes to music on Spotify.

So to all the people who say music is finished, remember there are millions of people around the world with similar listening habits. But “we need stronger Copyright”, the RIAA would say.

I started the year listening to “Dream Evil” by Dio and Headstones became the first new band I checked out based on a review by Deke over at ThunderBay.

I spent 34 hours or 2,040 minutes with Machine Head.

My five top artists for 2018 are Machine Head, The Night Flight Orchestra, Def Leppard, The Butterfly Effect and Dee Snider.

As you can see there are no new artists in the list. It’s a lifers game. If you are in it for a quick buck, get into the stock market or deliver Pizzas.

My top five songs for 2018 based on listens are “Monolith” from Thirty Seconds To Mars, “A Love Unreal” from Black Label Society, “Final Conversation” from The Butterfly Effect, “The Peace” from WASP and “This Is War” from Audrey Horne.

Spotify tells me that I listen to non-mainstream artists 73% more than the average listener – so here’s to being different. I’m sure there are a lot of others who are exactly like me.

Here is my Top 100 playlist Spotify put together for me.

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Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Removing Music From Spotify

Once upon a time, it used to cost a lot of money to record. Very few acts, got signed and even less acts got a chance to record and get distributed. In other words, getting inside the record label machine was hard, however if an act could penetrate, they could have a long career even if they never had a hit.

The label kept you in business and the label promoted you to get you fans. However the truth is, it was even harder to keep a record deal than getting a record deal. Especially if you didn’t sell. And even more so, once MTV came out and you didn’t sell.

Kiss was one of those bands who benefited from this business model. They relied on the label putting some money upfront for the recording of the album, for the film clips and for tour support.

Then Napster came, then torrents, the iTunes store and streaming and Gene and Paul just kept on shouting it loud to everyone about how there is no music business, while they toured non-stop and made money from the music business.

In the process they recorded two albums in this period. Yes, you read that right, since Napster came out, Kiss have put out only two albums, “Sonic Boom” and “Monster”. But for all of the complaing about streaming, the Kiss catalogue was on Spotify Australia. Then when I looked at the Kiss catalogue a few days ago to listen to the “Lick It Up” album, it was gone. Actually, Kiss took off half their catalogue from Spotify Australia.

Are they serious? Is their label serious?

Talk about a slap in the face to the fans who actually pay for a premium account. Didn’t they get the memo that distribution is king and Spotify is the medium. It’s like taking your records out of record shops. If people cannot get access, they will just move on to something else.

Yeah, I know you can get the “classic” songs or the “hit songs” on one of the many compilations still available on the service, however those compilations don’t contain the more obscure tracks which are my favourite. I have no issue bringing out the CD or the LP as I have most of the Kiss stuff on both formats, but that’s not the point in this day and age.

Even my cult favourite band, Evergrey are hit and miss on Spotify. You don’t know what part of their catalogue will remain on the medium with each passing year. I’m against it. I’m against bands withholding their music from a service I pay for.

We are in a new era, where it’s all about consumption. Funds are tight, but Google and Spotify is not the problem. The artists are getting squeezed by the consumer. The consumer either listens or doesn’t want to listen to your music.

Stupid misguided artists bitch about streaming but it’s saving the recording business. Revenues are moving upward. And for the labels, streaming is the best, because it means less costs.

For any artist thinking of withholding their music from a streaming service, don’t do it. Don’t hold back progress. Because if you look at the past, you will see people who said the internet would kill the incentive to make music. Wrong, there’s so much more music than ever before. People said streaming would kill the business. Wrong, revenues are up and not it’s seen as it’s saviour.

Think forward, not backwards.

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Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Prices Go Up, Innovation Goes Down

Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Google have a monopoly on the market and when this occurs, we no longer have a choice, so prices would eventually go up. As much as I love using Spotify, what do you reckon is going to happen when it reaches critical mass and they have a monopoly on the market.

The monthly price would go up, as history is only too keen to tell us.  And when prices go up, innovation ceases and the consumers are then left with no voice and we then silently wait for the next revolution to take away this monopoly. Of course a key role of our governments is to make sure monopolies don’t exist, but everytime they pass a piece of legislation, they more or less give rise to monopolies. Don’t even get me started on the copyright monopoly mess governments have created.

Spotify, as much as I like using the service, gets on my nerves because it can’t distinguish the difference between artists with the same names. On my recent release radar I had “new releases” from dance acts called Tesla, Keel, Vandenberg, Exodus and Badlands. I like and follow the ROCK and METAL bands, not these crappy dance artists.

Even Kingdom Come’s Spotify profile is corrupted with music from another act called Kingdom Come which has nothing to do with Lenny Wolf’s version and their styles are completely different. So for all Spotify’s innovation, they fail on the most basic task. Keeping the acts unique, regardless of similar names.

Also, I still cant understand how acts can have some of their albums on the service but not the other albums in this day and age. Night Ranger’s biggest albums are not on the service. Y&T’s Geffen output is not on the service. Yngwie Malmsteen and Cinderella had their music on the service and some of their definitive albums from the 80’s are now absent. I don’t believe this is Spotify’s fault. The blame is on the artist or their label or some contractual clause over what monies are owned.

And while I type this, I got an email from Netflix saying my monthly subscription is going up to $13.99. The reasons for the increase was a one line paragraph, saying “to keep on delivering the best service possible”. So I’m working the numbers through in my mind. I might watch a TV series once every 3 months because of the time investment needed. The last one I watched was “Altered Carbon” and that happened over 10 days, and I started “The Rain” three weeks ago and I’ve only watched one episode.

So the price increase based on what I watch is not worth it in my mind. My kids rarely put it on anymore as they are hooked on Fortnite and YouTube videos of people playing Fortnite. Yep, you’ve read that correctly. It doesn’t make sense to me either.

But like all technology companies, once you reach critical mass, the price goes up. Maybe it’s time to reassess my financial commitments to these organizations.

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

Across The Years In May

I knew that Cinderella’s “Long Cold Winter” had its 30th Anniversary on May 21, 1988. So I went to Spotify to give it a listen and it’s no longer there. But it was there before. I can’t understand why artists withdraw their albums and then bring them back when they feel like it. Go on YouTube, and the whole album is there, and it pays less. Talk about leaving money on the table. I guess it’s Cinderella’s loss.

Anyway, I also knew that on May 23, 1979, Kiss released “Dynasty”. It was my first Kiss album on LP and of course, due to having so little product to listen to, it became a favourite. However, my brothers friends who had the earlier Kiss albums up to “Love Gun” hated this album. And the good thing is, when I went to Spotify, it was there, available, to be listened too. Gene and Paul are very critical of the current business models, but they are also business minded people who don’t want to leave any source of income unattended.

It’s like going back in my room, dropping the needle and being greeted with the fast picked E note that is “I Was Made For Loving You”. While “Loving” is modern and of the times, “2,000 Man” is a rock and roll relic out of place on this glitzy melodic rock disco album. And back then, the year 2000 seemed so far away and now we are 18 years past it.

“Sure Know Something” has that groovy sleazy bass line in the verses and when the guitars start crunching in the Chorus the song moves from a disco R&B feel to Hard Rock. And when “Dirty Livin’” starts up, I am floored by the diversity of the album. It’s covered a lot of ground musically. Actually, when I heard “The Night Flight Orchestra’s” debut album back in 2012, I was immediately reminded of “Dynasty”.

“Charisma” and “Magic Touch” keep the momentum going. “Hard Times”, “X-Ray Eyes” and “Save Your Love” bookend the album, but I would have been happy if the album finished at “Hard Times”, with one of my favourite lyrical lines in “the hard times are dead and gone, but the hard times have made me strong”. Damn right they did.

Continuing with May releases over different timespans, on May 24, 1988, Van Halen released “OU812”.

The piece d’resistance is “Mine All Mine”.  It wasn’t just competing with the singles from this album for attention, it was competing with “Jump”, “Panama”, “Dreams”, “Summer Nights” and “Why Cant This be Love” for attention. Because in the MTV era, songs had some legs.

The drumming is frantic, making a clichéd keyboard riff sound heavy as hell.

Oh, you’ve got Allah in the east
You’ve got Jesus in the west
Christ, what’s a man to do?

Exactly, what is a man to do when belief systems go to war. Sort of like Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s famous film clip “Two Tribes” when Reagan and Gorbachev went at it.

And how good is the guitar solo from EVH?

Then the single “When It’s Love” keeps the pop metal momentum going, but “AFU(Naturally Wired)” is vintage EVH. Its chaotic and yet so focused. And how cool is that bridge riff just before the crazy solo. I know Sammy loves “Cabo Wabo” and I love the solo section of the song and I dig the music, but man, I don’t like the lyrics.

“Source Of Infection” is wild abandonment on the steroid level scales of “Hot For Teacher”.  “Feels So Good” is a favourite of mine and “Finish What Ya Started” is groovy and sleazy. To be honest, I’ve overdosed on these songs as the clips always appeared on the TV shows, but man, those verses on “Feels So Good” just get me all the time.

“Black and Blue”, “Sucker In A 3 Piece” and “A Apolitical Blues” close out the album, and the star here is “Sucker In A 3 Piece”. It should have come after “Finish What Ya Started”.

And everything these bands represent is opposite to what is adored today by the masses. Today it’s all about the beat and it doesn’t feel personal which is opposite of what music should be. Music is personal. So while some people go to the show to have a good time, the majority of people still go to connect with the band on the stage.

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