Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Release Day Friday Garbage

Spotify needs to sort out their algorithms. They really need to get serious music fans involved here.

Every week my Release Day Friday songs get hijacked by crap.

Check out these hip hop/dance artists the algorithm recommended today;

  •  M.O Flashy, Hurricane (because I follow the hard rock band Hurricane)
  • Dope (because I follow the hard rock band Dope)
  • Monteaga K, Asia (because I follow the supergroup Asia)
  • InQfive, Cresta, Heart (because I follow the band Heart)
  • Charlie Puth (because I have no idea)
  • Grant Burgess, Widowmaker (because I follow Dee Snider’s band Widowmaker)
  • Coby Ras, Rainbow (because I follow Richie Blackmore’s Rainbow)

From my understanding, these artists are collaborating with other artists called Hurricane, Asia, Heart, Widowmaker and Rainbow, who have the same names as artists I follow, but in different genres. Whatever the case, surely the algorithm can be tweaked to not screw up my feed with crap.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

The More Things Stay The Same

Back in 1999, the record labels argued that they lost billions of dollars due to file sharing via Napster. They came up with this figure by saying that one file shared is the same as one lost sale. 20 years later, they are still exaggerating the same BS. And politicians get lobbied hard and suddenly there is legislation to support the record labels business models.

As internet speeds got faster, file sharing then started on movies and TV shows. Suddenly, politicians had even more money thrown at them to pass legislation from the movie studios. In democratic lands, ISP’s are forced to censor the internet, courtesy of the movie studios and music labels, which is no different to what dictatorship governments carry out on a daily basis. And when ISP’s don’t censor the internet, the movie studios and music labels take them to court for facilitating piracy. And while this is happening at the hands of the entertainment industry, the government themselves are stifling free speech by raiding the homes of reporters or by keeping eyes on the public through surveillance. ISP’s are also meant to store text messages, phone calls, web searches and tower pings on its customers.

So much for trusting the good guys.

Meanwhile, the music labels today are raking in billions courtesy of streaming (which started off as a legal alternative to peer to peer file sharing, which brought in $0). This shows, that if people are offered a legal alternative at a price which is right, they will take the legal option.

And those streaming billions were not there in the past. It took a tech company to create this revenue stream, while the record labels (the ones who should have been doing this) decided that the only way they could make money again is to get laws passed to protect old business sales model instead of innovating.

And an artist wants to have a label deal.

Why?

The labels don’t care about you and all they want is to lock up your copyright forever, because without the rights of songs, the labels have no power and if they have no power they cannot negotiate these huge licensing deals with streaming platforms.

Even the movie studios like Disney lobbied hard for laws to get passed to protect their old business models. Then Netflix, Hulu, HBO and Amazon came out with streaming services and brought in billions of dollars that were not there before. And now Disney is entering the streaming market. Enforcement doesn’t work but better legal alternatives do.

And the record labels still complain at the price of streaming. They reckon Spotify should charge more and also do away with the free tier, but are too gutless to bring out their own streaming platform and charge the money that they believe customers should pay. So they bash on Spotify or YouTube or Pandora.

And when politicians leave office, they get a nice cushy job for the very firms that lobbied them hard to introduce legislation in their favour. And this happens in democracy, which brings to mind the “One” video clip from Metallica and the scenes from the movie, “Johnny Got His Gun”.

Little Kid – When it comes my turn, will you want me to go?

Father – For democracy, any man would give his only begotten son.

We might want to re-think what the hell we are fighting for.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Spotify Family Mix

The Family Mix playlist from Spotify has really opened my eyes as to how kids consume music.

For those that don’t know, Family Mix is a playlist that combines music that a family (in our case, my wife, kids and I) listen to on our Premium family account.

For example, the song “Youngblood” came up from 5 Seconds Of Summer on the playlist, because my eldest (14 years old) listened to it. But, he hasn’t listened to it in the last six months, but before that he did listen to it a lot. And it’s the only song he listened to from that artist.

So is my son a fan or has he moved on to other songs/artists?

When I asked him, he said if they (5SoS) release another good song he will probably check it out. Basically my children are “fans of songs, not artists.”

So while the streaming stats might look great for 5 Seconds Of Summer, and their monthly listeners (worldwide) are high, how many of those listeners would go on and watch the band live?

How many are really fans of the band or just a fan of the song?

I am a fan of the song “It’s Time” but I’m not an Imagine Dragons fan by no means as the other songs don’t connect with me. But “It’s Time” did.

I suppose it’s the same old argument from the sale model.

How many people who purchased an album listened to it once and how many people who purchased an album listened to it thousands of times?

I guess, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

In streaming’s case, how many people come back to the streaming account of the artist and listen to their tracks over and over and over again, year on year. As these people are the real fans, the super fans, the ones who will buy those super deluxe packages and what not.

Because Spotify does have an Artist Dashboard, which does offer great numbers on what songs are being listened to, where and by what demographic.

But it doesn’t say which cities and demographic constantly come back to the artist account/songs and on which song.

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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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